Thursday, July 31, 2008

Water Falls?

So last night I wrote this not-so-insightful post about hiking. Tonight, I am sitting on my front porch sipping some home-made wine and reflecting. (Okay, first, I'm literally sipping the home-made wine because the glass is 1/4 full. Second, some day, I'll get a post up on the home-made wine.) So the trail led to a waterfall. Okay, it was a tiny waterfall as waterfalls go - but come on, this is Indiana (honestly, I have probably peed more aggressively than this waterfall). Actually, I ended up finding a real waterfall later on the hike, but this picture turned out better. To continue on with the traps, though, mentioned last night. This summer has been a major learning experience for me. Quite frankly, I don't know what to make of it yet, but I have been learning about God's Truth. The other night, Jim gave me a little piece of paper that summarized things in such a way that I was able to start putting words to my feelings. According to God's Truths, I am totally accepted and deeply loved by God.
Totally accepted.
It is not about always getting A's in classes. It is not about having a best job (whatever that means anyways). It is not about ITP. It is not about a messy house. It is not about drinking a beer from time to time. It is not about still being single at age 28. It is not about bad habits. It is not about dropping the occasional s, d, or f-bomb.
It is about being totally and unequivocally accepted by God.
Does all the crap (feel free to substitute another word here) just vanish? Poof. Gone.
But does that mean it is okay turn around, retreat, hide?
Tonight, Trent, Ben, and I headed out on our longest journey yet on the bikes - 40 miles. Today, I was quite nervous. I just felt like it might not doable today - and I didn't want to look like a goober. But we made it together - and actually increased our mph.
Two nights ago, I was walking back from the grocery store with some strawberries and I saw this older fellow riding his bike. One voice said, " Set your strawberries down, jump on the bike and join him." Another voice said, "Dude, you are too tired - just go inside and eat your berries." So I hopped on the bike. It was memorable ride. We talked. We just rode and talked.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Well, I intended to put up two pictures tonight. However, blogger doesn't seem to be working quite right tonight and the other picture won't upload into the post. I spent this past weekend camping with some friends from college. On Saturday, after spending the afternoon canoeing, I headed out to the trails at Shades. Upon encountering the above trail, I had to make a decision - keep on going or turn around and go back. As you can see, the trail turned into a stream. Honestly, I wasn't too crazy about getting my shoes all muddy again. I have a hard enough time keeping things clean the way it is let along dealing with washing shoes. (My walking partner was just commenting tonight about my phenomenal housekeeping.) However, the allure of the trail was much too strong and my hike continued. It kind of reminded me about my own journey through life. Sometimes I end up at these decision points when the journey ahead seems too messy, inconvenient, or difficult. Sometimes the journey seems too scary or painful. Sometimes the journey seems too filled with questionable choices and insatiable thirsts. Its during those times that we can fall into traps - want to call its quits, turn around, and head back to safety. Last night, I learned about traps that we fall into such as performance, approval, blame game, and shame traps. I am particularly susceptible to a combination of the performance and approval traps. The performance trap says, "I must meet certain standard to feel good about myself." If I don't... fear of failure. The approval trap says, "I must be approved by certain others to feel good about myself. " If I'm not approved... fear of rejection. So this past weekend, I continued on the hike (messy shoes and all) and ended up... (hint: kind of unusual for Indiana)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Asking For Help

Okay, so a few weeks ago, I asked for help. This is a really difficult thing for me to do. Asking for help inherently means admitting that you don't have have it all together. For quite some time now, I have experienced some intense fatigue. This is because I wake up every night between 2 and 3 AM. When I tried adjusting my going to bed time, the waking just shifted forward the same time. It is very strange. After waking up, I struggle to fall back asleep. So a few weekends ago, I made two poor driving decisions in the one weekend. This really shook me up and I realized it was time to ask for help. I got up the nerve and called my doctor. We had a really positive conversation. (It turns out we share some similar interests and we actually ended up talking about books that we have read for most of the time.) However, he explained this chemical called serotonin. We have a serotonin bank account. Just like any other back account, if you take out too much, it goes in the red and there can be problems - like sleep problems. So anyways, I've been stepping up the exercising and taking a mild anti-depressant. Overall, the sense of fatigue is beginning to diminish and sleeping is improving. Asking for help. I guess it wasn't as hard as I expected.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Right now, I am sitting on my front porch, enjoying the cool evening air and some tasty frozen grapes. If you have never tried frozen grapes, try them.

Over the last few days, I have had amazing opportunities to connect with friends and acquaintances from many circles. On Thursday morning, my doorbell rang at 6:22 AM. Two groggy high school kids were standing at the door ready to go bike-riding. Earlier in the week, I had made a comment to one of the kids about going bike riding in the mornings. He seemed interested so I said come by on Thursday. Sure enough, he showed up with a buddy in tow. We rode 14.3 miles (the lake route from my house). I am so proud of these guys.

On Thursday evening, Richard and Sara met me out at the farm (we needed firewood) and we headed to meet Nick down at Saint Joseph's. It was so great to sleep again on campus. It was like being home again. After my morning run, I headed over to the administration building and was able to meet with my former freshman advisor. We chatted and renewed our friendship.

Big Joe met up with those mentioned above (Richard, Sara, Nick) and we all headed down to Shades State Park. Ultimately, we were joined by 7 others for the M.O.B. (Men of Bennitt) camping weekend. All the men in the group share the common characteristic of having resided in Bennitt Hall at Saint Joseph's. We had a blast and there is more to follow in a few lines. I'll put up some pictures from a hike at some point soon.

Anyway, I ended up back in Bremen in the middle of the afternoon and headed over to a wedding reception for one of my first childhood friends and his wife. We haven't talked in several years and we spent some time catching up.

So anyway, we were out on the river canoeing on Saturday. The river was low and rocks were a problem. Nick and I struggled but after some practice became experts at getting back into the canoe. Other people struggled, too. There was a family that tipped several times. Another pair sunk their canoe. These people needed help. They needed some assistance. You could see (and hear) their frustration - even from a distance. Fortunately, some members of our group were available at the right times and they helped the family get going again. They helped get the sunk canoe back afloat and to shore. I spent some time reading in Mark this weekend. I was really struck by Mark 1:37, "and when they found him [Jesus], they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!" You know what? The capsized canoers were looking... for help - for restoration. My friends stepped out there and restored the canoes (and the canoers) to the preferable positions.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lightning Bugs

This was a perfect evening for walking. As we were walking, I looked at the lightning bugs dancing merrily along the woods. Lightning bugs. I remember trying to catch lightning bugs with my brothers. We would catch a few lightning bugs and put them in a Mason jar with holes punched through the lid. The jar would end up in one of our rooms. It is crazy that a few tiny specs of light can penetrate the darkness in such a profound way. We experienced darkness in Vermont a few weeks ago. It was so dark that I couldn't see a person standing right in front of me. Yet, it only takes a single little bug to penetrate the darkness.

I don't know about you, but I see a lot of darkness in the world that we inhabit. However, I also see a lot of lightning bugs dancing merrily in the darkness. They are beckoning to come join in the game - to bring light to the world.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


At a few minutes before 6 tonight, Ben, Trent, and I set out on a bicycle journey to Wauky (a.k.a. Wakarusa). Actually, we missed our turn and ended up at SR19. (I talked with my Mom this evening and mentioned that we road on 19. She wasn't too pleased because it has quite a bit of traffic. That's why Mom is great.) We then cruised into the beautiful community of Wakarusa.

Trent mentioned accountability on this trip. I think he is going to write about this, but want to offer some thoughts, too. We had planned for this bike outing several days ago. We set a time and place to meet. We even set a goal for miles - 28. Well, as noted above, we missed a turn... and ended up on a 2 mile detour. So we actually ended up reaching the 30 mile mark. It is probably not just a coincidence or an accident that we passed the mile goal for tonight. I suspect it is an accountability thing. There are a lot of areas in my life where I need to be held accountable. I'm not sure what this looks like but I can sense the need... and the potential benefits.

A few other notes:

Ben is a beast on the Red Racer. I'm pretty sure that he could have kept on going strong. We have a goal for 50 miles coming up soon.

Riding bike offers the opportunity to appreciate the simpler things in life... like singing/shouting Row, Row, Row Your Boat in a round when passing houses; the shade of a canopy of trees over the road; the beautiful expanse of a cornfield standing tall and proud after the recent rains; the camaraderie of friends; a drink of warm water; the coolness of the evening breeze; ringing the manly bicycle bell for innocent bystanders; sweat - particularly in conjunction with the evening breeze; thinking about more comfortable bike designs. It seems like more and more, we are driven/expected to strive for the more complex - the newest car, the biggest house/fortress, the latest electronic device, the latest style. Yet, there is never going to be enough of these items to appease our insatiable appetites. In my own life, I would like to start appreciating, really appreciating, the simpler things on a much more regular basis. Tonight, I am going to appreciate sleep.

Out (passed out, that is)

Monday, July 21, 2008

God's Presence

It is late. I am tired. However, I haven't written about God in awhile. (At least one person out there informed me that, at least for awhile, I wrote about God too much.) This evening I've been thinking about God's presence. I have sneaking suspicion God is present in places that we would never imagine. He is undoubtedly working right in front of me - and I fail to see Him. It is kind of like Peter, Susan, and Edmund in Prince Caspian. Lucy is able to see Aslan, but the others are not able to see him. They are too tired, too scared. Yet, young Lucy sees Aslan and believes. Eventually, the others also see Aslan.

Is God moving right in front of us? Is God right there - eager to lead us through the forests and the gorges of life? I know that he is - yet it is scary.

I probably relate most with Susan:

"But I've been far worse than you know. I really believed it was him - he, I mean - yesterday. When he warned us not to go down to the fir wood. And I really believed it was him tonight, when you woke us up. I mean, deep down inside. Or I could have, if I'd let myself. But I just wanted to get out of the wood..."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Biking and so on (and so forth!)

I had two really great biking experiences this week. On Thursday, I set out for the 14.3 mi lake route. I really wasn't anticipating anything out of the ordinary. However, about three miles into the trip (I know this due to a great find by Trent, - this is a great website), when I turned left at the T with 4th Road and Grape, the ride became quite exciting. All of the sudden, I was riding beside two deer! They turned out of the cornfield onto the road as I was turning. We continued on for the length of the cornfield and then they darted back into the field. Wow. Riding bike with the deer. I have been reading the Chronicles of Narnia, so of course my mind started wandering. What if the deer could talk? What would they say - about me, about us? What would creation (God's Creation) say about me, about us? Hmm. Kind of disconcerting.

On Saturday, Ben, Trent, and I set out on the Tour de (Rural) Bremen. Somehow we all managed to be up and on the bikes by 7:52 AM. (This is much easier for some than others.) We had a great 20 mi ride. Ben led the way on the Red Racer. This bike is very strange. I seem to remember it from another time and place. (Oh well, must be reading too much of the aforementioned Chronicles.) We wound our way through rural areas and even hit some dirt roads. Near the end of our journey, the skies began to look ominous. We were completely drenched by the time we hit the 20 mi mark. Yet, it was so worth it. Guys, looking forward to Tuesday.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Extreme Bocci (or Bocce or Boccie)

On Wednesday evening, several brave folks venture to the local sledding hill. You might be wondering why anyone would go to the sledding hill during the middle of summer. Well, you are not alone. Other people were wondering the same thing as they walked past us on the walking trail. The sledding hill is the site of a new lawn sport (I am a big fan of lawn sports) called Extreme Bocci (or Bocce or Boccie) Ball. Have you ever played Bocci Ball and just thought, "This lawn sport is just too tame?" Well, I have. Last year, we initiated a new version called Extreme Bocci. What is a required? A sledding hill. The hill adds entirely new dimensions to the game. For example, it is quite possible that you will not be able to see the target ball - it could be on the other side of the hill. You will also quickly learn that weighted balls do not tend to stay put on a hill. They really like to roll all the way down the hill. It is also quite enjoyable to launch bocci balls off the top of the hill. A few summers ago, we invented another variant, Water Bocci. This version is played in the lake. You never have to worry about rolling and the ball make a great splash when it hits the water.

We live in a small town. I learned a new phrase from Ben this week, Bremenoid robot. We got some strange looks from walkers and some laughs. However, being a Bremenoid robot doesn't sound too appealing to me.


(Oh, by the way. Yesterday, I learned another way to avoid being a Bremenoid robot. Wear a neon yellow-green shirt to work on Friday. )

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Okay, I've put up a few posts on Vermont (as duly noted by Ben). We also went jumping. (Note the outstanding farmer's tan.) True confession: I was very scared about this jump. (This is not a confession for those bystanders who witnessed this jump.) Why was I scared? The rock wall slopes away from the jump site toward the water. Consequently, I could see the wall below me and was scared that I would not jump out past the wall and into the swimming hole. I envisioned myself sliding painfully down the rock wall and to the bottom of the swimming hole never to jump - or for that matter, do much else - again. My knees were shaking. Each time I tried to take the plunge, I would get right to the edge and then... step back. Finally, after some patience and encouragement from Jim and Ben (Hey guys, can you do that again? I just want to watch - and make sure that you survive one more time), I jumped. Wow, that was a great feeling. I ended up doing it again.

Later, I started thinking about my life. To often, I get scared - scared of rejection, scared of failure. The easiest and safest option is to back away and avoid the pain. Instead of diving in, I often try to hedge my position a little bit - try to provide some safety.

This time, I jumped.


Stay tuned for some pictures from 2008 Extreme Bocce (or bocci or boccie - thanks ball.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Block Party and Dancing

While in Vermont, we made it to a real block party. I have never had the opportunity to go to a neighborhood block party. Neighbors swarmed the yard and The Illusion provided music. Dancing. Food. Friends. Everyone had a great time. (Maybe we need to have a block party in B-town.) We caught up with The Illusion later in the week at Woodstock (Vermont). As you can see in the second picture, certain unidentified people were caught dancing.

Monday, July 14, 2008

4th of July in Landgrove

We arrived in Landgrove in time for the 4th of July parade. The parade included a marching band and many Landgrovians. The parade ended at the WWII monument and a gentlemen shared some sentiments. The festivities ended with a sing-a-long accompanied the Landgrove symphony orchestra.

I enjoyed listening to conversations between the Landgrovians. I quickly became aware of intense familial loyalties. In addition to these loyalties, it also became apparent that the people were loyal to the land. Many of the properties in Landgrove have been in families for generations. Land is important to them. They identify with the land.

We concluded the holiday festivities in Ludlow. We watched some wonderful fireworks.

Following the fireworks, everyone was eager to sleep due to the long drive and festive day.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


On Thursday, July 3rd, seven intrepid travelers departed on a journey to Vermont. Our little group was diverse with ages ranging from 21 to 82. The group included 3 women and 4 men. At home, the group includes a pastor, a future graduate student in philosophy and theology, a town employee, an employee at the local pharmacy, a process engineer, a student in the arts, and a dedicated volunteer. However, in the mountains of Vermont, each person, in his or her own unique way, became an explorer - an explorer of God's creation, an explorer of God's Word.

For one week, we called the village of Landgrove home. After excursions, we always knew that we had reached Landgrove when the pavement ended and the dirt road began. Landgrove is a place almost on a different time. The pace seems a little bit slower - even as the world around continues to move rapidly forward. Cells phones don't work. Wireless Internet is not available (the posts after July 3rd were written in advance and scheduled for posting) . The backyard is the West River and it is difficult to escape the sounds of the river. At night, the darkness permeates in such a way that it is not possible to see someone walking directly in front of you. In moments of quiet, some hear strange music. Some rest on the rocks of the river as cool drops of rain pelt the flesh. Some explore the library of books dating back to the late 1700s. Some bask in the glory of the stars as they penetrate the darkness.

This is Landgrove.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Back Home Again in Indiana

After 14.5 hours of traveling by car, it was nice to land in my own bed this morning at 2:45 AM. The group spent a wonderful week on retreat in the mountains of Vermont. More to follow.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


When I pick up a book to read, I almost always pick up a pen. Books and pens - they seem to go together. I like to underline and make notes.

The other day, I ventured to Walmart (Wally World to some) in search of the Chronicles of Narnia. I was hoping to get all seven books in one large book. I headed back to the book and magazine section and quickly located the book - on sale!

My intention for reading this book (or series of books in one large book) was purely for enjoyment. (I had only ever read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and was interested in reading the rest of the books - particularly in the light of the recent movie release.) I have found it quite though-provoking in some places. In fact, I have underlined some passages. This was surpising to me because I have never spent much time in the fantasy genre.

I really liked this observation from The Magician's Nephew: "For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are."

So much truth exists in this observation.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Follow-Up to Neighbors

A few weeks ago, I wrote about neighbors. Others shared some great comments about in response to this post. If you have not read them, please check them out.

Recently, my neighbor asked for a favor. I was heading out for a bike ride and heard someone calling my name. It was my neighbor. She needed some help. We chatted for awhile - we talked about our houses, summer trips, and yard work. This was by far the longest time that we have spent together in the last 4 1/2 year. Hopefully, a bridge will continue to develop.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Power of Thanks

I am nominally the senior chemist at the company. However, the vast majority of my efforts involve cost reductions and process engineering. This requires a balancing act between the requirements of management and the needs of our production associates. It is easy for me to slide down the slippery slope of feeling that I am not meeting the requirements of either group. Last week, I had the opportunity to share some information at the shift meetings. I was pleasantly surprised to get positive feedback from both groups. In fact, one of the production associates actually pulled me aside the next day and said "thank you" for the cost reduction efforts. This was a huge lift for the day a significant reminder about the power of gratitude.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Whew, It's Already July...

It is hard to believe the first Wednesday of July is already nearly over. I have been busy the last few evenings working on the final exam for fundamentals of business law. This was my first business class at Bethel College. I enjoyed getting back into a "live" classroom again after taking many classes via real-time streaming video. However, it occurred to me today that this is my ninth year of post-secondary education. This journey has included Saint Joseph's College, Purdue University, Ivy Tech State College, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Bethel. Right now, I'm planning on taking some pre-requisite business classes in the fall and then deciding if I want to continue in an MBA program at Bethel or maybe Notre Dame. At this rate, I may become a student-for-life. I still struggle with figuring out what to do "when I grow up."