home sick today
Wednesday October 25th 2006, 10:50 am
Filed under: personal

i haven’t been stopped by sickness in a long time. but i sure am today. sharp stomach pain, wicked back pain, fever. absolutely slept like crap last night.

our exec team were to have a day away today for some visioning stuff, and i was leading it. and two of our team members flew in just for this. but there’s just no way.

i’m really bummed. and i’m hoping i’m better before friday, as i’m supposed to fly to dallas to speak at another JH believe (and my son max is coming with me).

being sick just sucks. i’m home a second day. had to miss a key day with our exec team yesterday, bail on my 7th grade guys small group last night, cancel an appt i’d worked months to set up for today, and cancel a special date with my daughter for tonite (for which i’d bought theater tickets). i don’t have space for sick.

i’m supposed to fly to dallas tomorrow morning and speak five times tomorrow and saturday, then fly home saturday night. we’ll see…

Friday October 20th 2006, 5:46 pm
Filed under: personal

last night, at the canadafire event in vancouver, i had to punt, big time. i’d planned a talk based on my understanding that the audience would be a split of youth workers and high school and university student leaders. well, for whatever reason, they didn’t have as many youth workers this year. and “student leader” was, well, maybe, a loose definition. at least it wasn’t quite what i expected. mark yaconelli (also speaking at the event) and i joked a lot about how many 12 year-old youth ministry leaders there must be in canada. the moment i walked into the auditorium and saw the crowd, i knew i was in trouble (with what i had planned). and when the female emcee roled (literally) out onto the stage and starting whooping it up, i instantly stood up, walked to the lobby, and started pacing, while trying to think of an entirely new talk i could give, 15 minutes from that time.

oh, and yesterday at the airport, i had another random encounter. i was standing by the airport exit, chatting with darian, the event host, when chris seay walked past me (chris is the pastor of ecclesia in houston, founding pastor of university baptist church in waco, ys author, many-time ys speaker, husband of a former girlfriend of mine). we had a manly hug and a nice short chat. the world just trips me out sometimes.

now, after a 5am start and two flights, i’m in minneapolis, getting ready for the wedding rehearsal of my friend.

the power of suggestion
Thursday October 19th 2006, 9:25 am
Filed under: personal

when liesl (my daughter) and i were in london a couple months ago, we took a little trip to greenwich, and bumbled about in their wonderful market. i found a booth with beautiful hand-paintded t-shirts with chinese caligraphy. the old chinese lady in the booth told me her husband painted the shirts (who knows?). i considered many of them, and ended up buying one that, in big gloopy jackson-pollocky caligraphy says “calmness”.

well, that’s what i was told it says. it could say “i’m a stupid american”, and i’d still be smiling.

my wife laughed when i showed it to her. people at my office laughed yesterday when i wore it for the first time and told them what it said.

i explained that i’m hoping it has some power of suggestion.

travels, again
Thursday October 19th 2006, 9:25 am
Filed under: personal

today i’m off to vancover, to speak at canadafire, a cool gathering of youth workers and student leaders (high school and college). then, friday i head to minneapolis, to officiate the wedding of one of my best friends and a former ys-staffer. a ys wedding! they met at one of our conventions, when my friend was hanging out with me, and she was working the event. then, sunday, i head on to grand rapids for a monday morning meeting about our spanish ministry. home monday night, wheezing and spent, i’m predicting.

a mini cycle of grief over pain
Wednesday October 18th 2006, 11:11 am
Filed under: faith, personal

everyone’s heard of the stages of grief as described by kubler-ross:


they seem so self-evident when you see someone go through the pain of the death of a loved one.

but i noticed last night that i was cycling through a mini version of these stages, faced with the pain associated with the rape of the teenage daughter of a friend of mine (which happened yesterday, in full daylight, in the parking lot of a target store).

after a blindingly quick “no, please tell me that didn’t really happen” hope that the initial report wasn’t accurate (denial), anger was clearly the initial response. i suppose that’s also somewhat tied to my choleric personality. i suppose, to some extent, anything that’s clearly out of my control can bring a response of anger. that sounds pretty crappy, i realize; but it’s probably true to one extent or another. i’ve been learning to notice that initial response in me and address it quickly — not stuff it, but address it for what it is, just a reaction, and not reality, and not usually worthy of acting on.

normally the ‘bargaining’ stage is described in personal terms (”i’ll try to be better…”), i found this showed up in my a more legal way: i spent a bit of thought time trying to wrestle with why god allows crap like this to happen. back to my ‘problem of evil’ problem. a little job-like cross-examination of god on the witness stand. of course, that doesn’t get me anywhere. and, ultimately, i do believe that god was and is grieving over this pain alongside me and my friends. but there’s that lingering tension between my belief that god could have intervened, but god rarely does intervene. the ‘helpful counsel’ that we’re just not aware of how often god does intervene isn’t very helpful in a situation like this.

unresolved on bargaining, knowing there’s not likely to be a deeply satisfactory resolve to those questions during my life on earth, i quickly slid into the depression stage. again, i can see how this is tied to my personality. the awareness of my complete lack of ability to exert control over a situation often leads to a modified state of depression. i’m not talking ‘clinical depression’ here: more like deep frustration, or exasperation.

and that’s where i sit this morning. the cycle was pretty quick up to this point, but no acceptance yet.

on the way home from the hospital, the girl asked her parents if they could stop by our house to have me pray for her. i was blown away that she asked for this. i believe, in fact i know, that god was present with us in that time. our hugging and tears and prayers and love for one another is what the body of christ is supposed to do in the face of pain. and a little sliver of hope kicked in: hope for healing, hope for protection (that one’s difficult, i admit, but i hold onto it), hope for justice.

create your own jackson pollock
Friday October 13th 2006, 11:28 am
Filed under: personal

jackson pollock is one of my favorite modern artists. i have this beautiful “summertime” painting in my office. it’s not quite the size of the original, which i’ve sat and stared at in the tate modern in london. the original is about 20 feet long — mine is about 5 feet long. anyhow, i absolutely loved this jackson pollock dribble painting site. fun, fun, fun!

(ht to bob carlton)

oh, and this face-maker is a fun time-killer also.

seems a good time to be a tiger fan
Friday October 13th 2006, 11:28 am
Filed under: personal

so, i grew up in detroit, and was a nominal detroit tigers fan as a kid. as much as anyone would have been, i guess. but, to be honest, i’m not a big baseball guy. i enjoy watching live games, but games on tv kinda bore me. i’ve been a nominal san diego padres fan since living in sd.

but now that the tigers are kicking some serious butt, it seems like a good time to revive my childhood nominal tigers fan status.

go tigers!

convention end
Monday October 09th 2006, 2:31 pm
Filed under: youth ministry, youth specialties, personal, youth work

whew. made it through my talk. is was 100% suprised by the fact that our staff had filmed my kids giving an intro of me. totally caught me off guard! at one point, they asked my kids which of my many hairstyles they disliked the most, and max went into this long, articulate description of when i occasionally wear a headband these days, and liesl added, “he’ll probably wear it in front of you guys.” i’m wearing the pickin’ headband today.

then, when i was describing an arrogance-fueled, but ultimately embarassing moment from my past involving break-dancing, i mentioned that the only thing i was good at was “the strobe”, which is moving your body to look like it’s under a strobe light. the audience started yelling “do it!”, to which i responded, “i don’t know how anymore. really. i can’t do it.” they cheered louder and louder, and it became horribly, terribly, terrifyingly obvious that i was going to have to do the strobe after 20 years of not doing it, on a stage, in front of a couple thousand youth workers. i was talking about humility, so, well, it didn’t exactly seem like i could keep saying ‘no’ to protect my ‘dignity’. and, as one would expect, they all had a good laugh at the middle-age fat white guy attempting a break-dancing move he was clearly unable to perform. :o)

the convention’s over, and this is always the depressing afternoon. well, not ONLY depressing — because there’s a deep-seated sense of fulfillment and wonder and satisfaction, that youth workers are going home encouraged and challenged. but it’s depressing because they’re all going home. and our staff will tear down and pack up and wander around the now-empty halls, viscerally feeling the absence of the youth workers who brought life to this convention center.

i fly home tomorrow. anaheim convention is in three weeks, or something like that!

this makes me think of yac
Sunday October 08th 2006, 11:24 pm
Filed under: youth specialties, personal, humor

farting-teddy-bear.jpgyou might wonder why a remote-control farting teddybear would make me think of the late mike yaconelli. well…

several years ago, jeannie and i were trying to find a christmas gift for mike and karla. we ended up finding a remote-control fart machine for yac. it became one of his favorite toys. he was especially fond of calling in every new employee at ys, and having them sit in the seat in front of his desk (on the bottom of which he’d attached the fart machine), and, while having a chat with them, pushing the button over and over so it sounded like they were farting. eventually, he couldn’t contain himself and would break down into his trademark hysterical sniggle laugh. it was wonderfully juvenile.

after he died, we gave a remote-control fart maching to every employee of ys as a christmas gift, in honor of yac. yup, that’s the kind of company we are.

so… that in mind: the remote control farting bear would have been right up his alley.

the 3rd anniversary of mike’s death is the 30th of this month.

(ht to bobbie)

a funny little insight
Friday September 29th 2006, 6:55 pm
Filed under: personal, thinking...

i’ve always been a ridiculous optimist. really. i almost always think things will work out, that the future is bright, and that good and right and truth will prevail.

but today i was feeling really pessimistic about a meeting. i told someone, “i don’t think i can hope for a win in this; just less of a lose.” but the result was better than i expected. and i realized that when one is pessimistic, they get to experience results that are better than they expected. ha. maybe that’s why you pessimists do what you do, because you like having better-than-you-expected experiences!

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