January 28, 2008

Why Did You Run?

Today started out as a normal Monday. I hit the office and entered my normal routine consisting of email, some audio editing of yesterday's sermon, scheduling for this week, and prep work for staff meeting. Then, there was staff meeting, which is always a joy. There were some good laughs, some reflection on the book, Making Room for Life, for Randy Frazee. There was discussion of the good and bad from yesterday's service, and some looking forward to this week. After that came TBWJ. TBWJ is short for Taco Bell With James. It's a consistent Monday activity for Frank and James.

I had planned to stay in the office and work over lunch so I could be off tomorrow for my wife's birthday. But, because of peer pressure, I went along. And, I'm glad I did.

As we were driving up Cedar Street, I noticed a guy run across the street right in front of Taco Bell. I would have thought he was just crossing the street, but he didn't stop running when he got across the road. My mind thought, "that's a little odd" and continued on with pulling into the parking lot at Taco Bell. Shortly thereafter, we were inside Taco Bell ordering some food. As I stepped up in line to order a number 5 (I think), we were all startled with a guy screaming at the top of his lungs, "Why did you run?". Startled by the shouting and the commotion, I turned and saw a big white guy with a gun strapped to his leg pulling the guy--who I had just seen minutes before running across the road, backwards over the cattle herding bars by the counter. He was quickly joined by a couple more brutes with guns. Quickly, the ruckus escalated with the jawalker pleading with the rest of us who were just staring in awe that we were getting a live version of Dog the Bounty Hunter in front of us to see the injustice that he was suffering--being arrested by some thugs with guns.

All of this happened in a few moments. Everyone in the place stopped what they were doing to watch. The taco chefs in the back even made it to the front counter to watch for a moment. Then, as quickly as it began, it was over. The arrest had been made. The Jaywalkers was on his way to a car waiting outside. As he headed to jail, we returned to our normal lives, eating our tacos and slurping our sodas.

It was fun to watch something that exciting happen in front of us. Yet, not in that moment did we wonder what the jaywalker had done to get him in the spot he was in. We laughed about his inability to run into th allotment behind Taco Bell to hide from the bail bonds boys, but we had no sympathy for him. I doubt that any of us in that place thought anything more of the incident. Not until now, as I've thought through it, have I realized how cold my reactions were today.

Why are we so cold?

January 26, 2008

Google Maps

Last night I had to look up the location of the eye doctor that my normal physician has referred me to for the spot on my eye. In the process, I spent some time looking at the goole map. I looked at Africa to see where one of my students is getting deployed to in the fall. Then, I wondered if I could see the the compound of Northwest Haiti Christian Mission from their satellites. It took a moment to figure out where it was, but I was able to zoom in and see the steeple of the church across the street there. It brought back the rush of memories--being carried by a Haitian man to a boat to go to the Tortuga Island. I remember the smells and the sounds of riding the bus from Port-a-Prince--the fresh bread smell along that road at 5:00am. I can vividly see the faces of the kids at the orphanage in Port-de-Paix. I remember becoming a jungle gym for them. I think of how they clung to us as hard as they could. What a flood of thoughts and emotions.

From there I moved on the map of east Tennessee. I looked at the areal views of the Roan Mountain area--where Steph and I would retreat to every once in awhile to take in the mountain views. I looked up the Laural Falls area, where we hiked one day with Brian and Betsy Carter in the rain. I remember almost dying from exhaustion as we hiked out of the gorge back to the Appalachian Trail. I also focused in on Erwin, the little town stuck between the mountains south of Johnson City, whose claim to fame is the hanging of a rampant circus elephant in 1916. I thought back to laundry days up in the hollow (pronounced hollar) at Nathan's trailer on the side of the mountain. Those were wonderful days of frozen Skyline chili and hockey on the computer. I remember the rainy days sitting on his porch in his recliner chair, talking about life, God, and what we were doing with it. I prayed for my friend David, who is a minister and part time prof now in the area there as I looked for his house. I also peeked in on our old apartment on Cedar Grove and thought of our lives there.

Reflection is a good thing for me. It helps me to remember where I've been--where I've come from. It helps me to think about the heritage that I am carrying with my faith. It helps me to remember the beauty of God's creation that I've been able to take in with my senses. It gives me purpose and hope for today, tomorrow, and the next day.

January 16, 2008


The only thing bad about winters in Michigan in my opinion is the lack of sunshine. Sunshine makes any day seem better, even if it is a horrible day. Sunshine makes your soul feel warmer, even on the coldest of days.

Lately, we have not had much sunshine. And, in the process, not many sunrises. One of the things I love about getting up early and heading into the office is catching the sunrise. There is nothing better than watching the dark sky explode with the color and brightness of a new day. It gives me extra hope for the day.

This morning there was a beautiful sunrise. While I sat at Cornerstone Coffee and worked, it burned my face and made it difficult to see my computer screen. It made me think of our discussions this past week in Sunday school as we talked about Genesis 1 and God's acts of creation--that he was able to speak things like the universe and the sun into existence and that he saw them as good. Even more, that he saw his creation of man better than the creation of them. It serves as a reminder to me that our God of creation is still there and in control, always trying to blind me with his presences like this morning's sunrise. Luckily, was able to have open eyes and see this morning!

January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

2007 to me has been one of the longest years. When we began this year, South was in transition. We were reworking our mission statement to Seek, Study, and Serve. We were also without a Sr. minister. That meant more work and leadership for me. It was good to be able to serve and lead, but it felt like I was continually trying to catch up to everything that was going on around me.

Because of the hectic nature of work, time at home was invaluable. There's nothing better to deal with stress than coming home and saving momma from the insanity by playing on the floor for a few hours with a hyper active 3 year old. Hannah has grown so much this year. One month she'll put on a new pair of jeans that need to be rolled up 3 or 4 inches. Then the next month, she's outgrown them. It has been a bittersweet. She's not my little baby anymore.

God blessed us in the transitioning time at South. He brought the Weller family to us in August. Having Frank on staff as our Sr. minister slowed life for me down a little. It was a nice change. Well, nice really doesn't do the change justice. I've thoroughly enjoyed having Frank across the hall in the office. We have had a ball doing ministry together for the last 5 months--which has seemed like a year in itself.

The only real regret I have with this year is that I did not read as much as I would have liked. I started this year with big aspirations. Yet, this morning, as I updated my blog template, I only had a couple books listed in the sidebar. There were a few books that didn't make it there, but for the most part, life took up the reading time. That will change this year.

So, there is a new year ahead. A new year with tons of possibilities. There's a whole shelf of books waiting to be read. There is the beginning of my 8th year of ministry here at South. There's the excitement of moving my family into a "new" house. There will be the joy/sadness of seeing Hannah start preschool, continuing to grow up right before our eyes. There will be another year of life beside my wife and us celebrating our 13th year of marriage. Its going to be a great year