Saturday, August 30, 2008

Same but Different Part 1.5

So D.J. and I were talking about the swimming and the renewal of sorts that came from jumping into the pool. He offered a valuable insight into the scenario with his question, "So it's a mental thing?" I was a little confused and asked for clarification. He said it was like my mind was saying that I was tired and sore and ready to be done but in reality the body was capable of more. This really blew me away. It really is a mental thing in so many ways. However, what happens when the mind is renewed? Transformation. New life.

Romans 12:2 (New International Version)
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Once again, I'm pooped. This has been another long day after being up way too late last night/this morning.

I have some more to write about same but different, but this will wait for another day.


Some good advice

Well, it is already Saturday morning.

Here is some great advice that Jennifer shared (I'm not sure where it originated):

If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the precipitate.
Nothing like some great chemical wisdom. After all, chemistry is the central science!


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Same but Different Part I

We make wire and cable at Copperfield. I work primarily in the wire fabricating portion of the business. We receive 5/16" (.3125") diameter copper rod and draw (think stretch) it down to diameters as small as 0.0037" and nearly everything in between. After we get the wire down to the correct size, we apply heat to the wire and this gives it back some ductility. We then take the correct number of wires of a given diameter and bunch or twist them together to make a larger wire. Sometimes we take these bunches and twist them together to make still larger bunches. Last week, we made a cable made up of 3325 little wires - 19 bunches of 7 bunches of 25 little wires. Some of the finished wires are very flexible and some are rigid. Some are small and some are large. However, regardless of the construction, diameter, flexibility, ductility or any other properties, it is all copper. The finished product looks very different from the incoming rod, but it is still copper. Regardless of the shape or form, it is the same but different.

I have switched up my morning work-out from biking and running to lifting, cardio, and swimming. This just kind of happened, but it has been a blast (literally in some cases). The morning starts with lifting, and then cardio, and finally swimming. By the time it is time for swimming, I'm starting to feel pretty tired and even sore and very drenched (I need to mop up my puddles after elliptical or stepper). Then it is time for swimming. I walk to the edge, pause for a moment, and take a jump. Instantly, I feel refreshed. The muscles start to relax and the tiredness seems to wash away and it is time for some laps. Wow, I'm still the same tired and maybe even sore Todd and yet I'm a little different, a little refreshed. Enough energy is available after all to swim some laps. In that moment, as the water encompasses me, I am the same but different.

I've been thinking about this whole same but different thing most of the day. Part II will come hopefully tomorrow because there is much more to the story.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Tonight, my good friend, Jan, and I took one of our western walking routes. We always share some pleasant conversation - about our day (or week depending on time between walks), about our families, about life. I always learn a lot on our walks. Tonight was no different

Jan shared that oftentimes we have to look for God. If we don't look, we probably aren't going to see. This is something that I have really been learning about this summer and hope to put into something coherent.

I'm going to paraphrase here, but she also noted that it takes time - three years - to start fitting into a job. Again, this is something that really hit home - particularly in this time of increasingly instant gratification.

Okay, I'm really tired and need to hit the hay.

(By the way, isn't there something special about eating breakfast at night?)


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What's the problem?

So next week I start some undergraduate classes in economics and finance at Bethel. These are prerequisites for a potential MBA. Because the classes are part of the adult studies program, they include first assignments. So for these classes, I need to read a couple chapters for each class and write a short paper for one of the classes.

Have you ever wondered, "What's the problem?" I mean, why are there rich people and poor people? Why are there wars? Why is there suffering in much of the world? Why are there starving people who will not make it through tonight? Why are there so many unhappy people?

The first paragraph of Chapter 1 in Tucker's Economics Today defined the problem as scarcity. Scarcity is "the condition in which human wants are forever greater than the available supply of time, goods, and resources. Because of scarcity, it is impossible to satisfy every desire."

Folks, it is impossible to satisfy every desire. That is why the rich have to increase their wealth. That is why houses are replaced with larger houses. The text stays primarily in the material realm - money, houses, cars boats... However, I think it is probably safe to say that this applies across the boards. It is impossible to satisfy every desire. We aren't loved enough. We aren't happy enough. Our thirsts are never quenched.

Jesus offers an alternative economy.

John 6:35 (New International Version)

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."

He is more than enough.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Wow, you can actually see the house

I can't believe today is Sunday and my last post was Wednesday. Thursday and Friday were my first days at the weight room. This is something new for me and I'm really looking forward to giving it all that I can in the next few weeks and months to come. Thursday and Friday were also the shift meetings at work and I was able to share that one of my projects has resulted in over $1 million in savings so far this year. On Friday evening after the rolling tailgate party, Jim, Holly, and I took off on a trip through the countryside to the Little Egypt cemetery. We took the White Cloud. The White Cloud is this amazing old school bus. Random couches, chairs, and even a bed take the place of the original bus seats. As we were leaving the parking lot, Jim asked if I wanted to try driving. It has been a long time since I drove the dumptrucks on the farm so I was more than a bit nervous but really wanted to give it a shot. The drive was great and we made it back to town - despite passing by one of the supposed haunted places of Indiana.

Saturday, after riding bike, Trent and I started "trimming" some hedges and bushes around my house. I put trimming in quotes because more fitting words might include slaughtering or obliterating because Trent brought Ben's chainsaw. Let me tell you something, there is nothing quite like holding a chainsaw, pulling the cord, and hearing that baby roar to life. Oh the power! Abby captured some pictures of this exhilarating event. (The guy on the ground in the top picture is my brother, Troy. He stopped by for awhile, too.) We did some serious damage and had quite a bit of fun doing it. Actually, we did round two this morning and ended up with a truck and trailer filled with trimmings. In fact, Trent looked at the hack job that we ended doing to the tree in the top photo and said, "That just needs to come out." So he addressed the situation and in a fleeting hour it was gone. As we were working this morning, one of my neighbors stopped by and commented, "Wow, you can actually see the house." I started thinking about this. The hedges and bushes were so overgrown that it really concealed a good portion of the house. Strangely, I could relate to this. It is so easy for life to get overgrown by the weeds of life - worries and fears. These can choke the life right out of me - make me into someone who I'm not, conceal me. Last night, Jim talked about the parable of the sower. (This is also the same message that he referred to a turd sandwich but that is probably worthy of its own post.) Matthew 13:22 (The Message) refers to the weeds of life: "The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears the kingdom news, but weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle what was heard, and nothing comes of it." Nothing comes of it. I really hope to continue on the journey closer to Jesus and away from the strangling weeds. I have renewed hope that rather than being strangled, by God's grace, I can produced a crop (see vs 23)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Letting go of the handle bars

Tonight, as the daylight waned, I set out on a quick bike ride through town. Under the protective shield of the darkening evening, I did some experimenting.

I tried letting go of the handlebars. (Disclaimer: I am not an advocate of riding bike at night or letting go of the handlebars.)

My balance is not the greatest. In fact, if I spit when riding bike, then I have a tendency to nearly lose control. It is kind of funny really, as long as there is nothing too close. Nevertheless, tonight, I tried letting go.

Okay, I'll be honest, after about 15 minutes of practicing, I still couldn't let go for more than a few seconds. However, those few seconds offered a glimpse into something different. I mean, the handlebars are there for a reason right. Bicycles have handlebars (or some kind of steering mechanism). That is just the way they are. We use the handlebars to steer. As I was trying to let go, I could just sense the bike wanting to go out of control and I would quickly grab the handlebars again. However, with some practice, I gained just a little bit more freedom (albeit just a few seconds) and the bike continued on course.

This reminded me about Jesus. Life is kind of like the bike. I try to steer the bike and my arms and shoulders and back start to get soar. But I keep steering to avoid going out of control. Yet, the more I let the go of the handlebars - the steering wheel, the reigns, whatever - of life, the closer I can get to Jesus. Yeah, it might seem rocky or out of control but Jesus is right there offering to take more control of the handlebars.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Man's Orchestra

I'm writing this in response to a recent inspirational, ingenious, and thought-provoking post by Trent.

Every man is his own orchestra. His inspiration comes from beans, beans, and, well, beans.

Beethoven. Bach. Purcell. Hadyn.

Yes, their music is beautiful, relaxing, and peaceful. Yet, there is nothing quite as sonorous as a nice out. When running or riding bike, it provides that extra boost. It is a source of jokes - my favorite being, he who farts in church sits in his on pew. A friend frequently comments that he enjoys his orchestra. I still vividly remember one of my co-workers in Indianapolis describing his butt-trumpeting... tah tah tah tah.



Even the technical terms seem to just flow off the lips.

There is nothing quite like the reverberation of a nice eructation release in the woods or on the lake. I confess that sometimes when I press the copy button at work it is like a signal passes from my finger to, well, you get the idea, and this release happens.

Claim it.

Take pride.

Enjoy the music.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back to the Manger

A few days ago, I wrote about the inn. The Mandisa CD mentioned yesterday includes a reference to the manger.

"His ways are higher
His ways are better
Though sometimes strange
What could be stranger
Than God in a manger."

God's ways can definitely be strange... so strange in fact that it is so easy for doubt and fear to well up from the depths. Last evening, for a few moments, doubt flooded me like a tidal wave. It came out of no where. I just got home and ... whoosh.... it hit. Should I have stayed at Purdue (I' m not sure where that came from, it has been almost five years.)? Should I be teaching right now? What about this still being single thing?

I wonder what Mary and Joseph were thinking as "She [Mary] wrapped him [Jesus] in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." I wonder if the had any doubts... any fears. After all, what could be stranger than God in a manger?

She placed this little baby - Jesus - in a manger because there was no room in the inn. There was no room in the inn.

Maybe another way to put it is that Jesus was too big for the inn.

Jesus was too big to come as one might expect a king to come.

Jesus was too big to take stay in the inn. Yet there was plenty of room in the manger. I grew up on a farm and can almost smell the crap in the barns even as I sit hear typing.

Jesus - too big for the norm, the common-sense, the safe way - placed in a manger. I guess it is not too far-fetched to think that Jesus might be right here, too, at the interface of my way and His way - right where doubt would want to spring forth.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Weekend Musings


On Friday, Ben, Trent, and I went on one more bike ride before Ben left for school. I have written probably too much about biking in recent weeks, but just want to recap. Several weeks ago, we decided that we were going to ride 50 miles in one ride before the end of the summer. I'm pretty sure Ben came up with the goal. We met every week, starting at twenty miles, and increasing by 10 miles each week. We met our goal last week. On Friday night after a relaxing ride, we celebrated with Wooden Peel pizza, campfire, probably even a few beverages. Abby joined us for the pizza and Lois came by for the fire. In my own experience, I often forget to celebrate. It is so easy to get caught up in what is going bad or what is going wrong. Yet, when good things happen, it is so easy to take them for granted. So Friday, we celebrated... reaching a goal, a beautiful summer evening, friendship. The challenge though, is to really turn the tables and celebrate, praise in the bad times, too. I picked up a CD yesterday at the Pulsefest by Mandisa (from American Idol). She has this song, Shackles (Praise You) that includes these words,

"But as I lift my hands, I understand
That I should praise You through my circumstance."

Any circumstance.

The past month and a half have been amazing. Unfortunately, it didn't really hit me until tonight how much I should be praising God for all that has happened. Yet, the next step will be to praise God not just in the highs, but the lows, too.


On Saturday, Keith, Danielle, and I met the Zimmers and Danielle's brother and sister-in-law at the Pulsefest. This is a huge concert - 50,000 people - just a few miles up the road. While strolling around the grounds, I was surprised to find two aunts and a cousin; Caleb, the Subway guy; Landon, a former co-rider of the big yellow limousine; Sharen and her two girls, family friends; Kevin and his family, co-workers. It was nice to be able to say hello and catch up a little bit. After seeing Landon when coming out of the pee station, I went back to my chair. I then noticed Kevin and his family - a mere three rows directly in front of me. Strangely, we had been there for 3 hours before I saw them. It was almost like I needed to be looking for people. What about the other49,895 people? What about every one I walk by or ride bike by? What about people at work? How many people need to be seen?


I was struck by these words... (Jim, feel free to correct if they are wrong.)

"A lot of [what we call] Christianity is about beating people up."

"Jesus says cast out the Word and God's Spirit will draw people."

I was struck by these words - particularly in light of the comment posted by anonymous in regards to the previous post, "Most people want to get through the day." We "Christians" don't seem to be offering a better alternative to what people doing to get through the day. In fact, we confuse the situation by focusing on "soul-searching", "sin", "heaven and hell", decision time." I don't know about you, but the connotations associated with these words/phrases don't sound too enticing. They seem to stand in stark contrast with the Jesus of the Gospels. The phrase that stands out over and over again in the Gospels is Kingdom of God. In Jesus, we are perfect, whole, complete. What if anonymous could have written these words? What if we exuded Jesus in our words, our actions, our love in such a way that God's Spirit draws in other people. I can tell you that the much of the last 5 years - particularly at work - I have walked around like a bitter, angry person. All I could see is what other people were doing wrong and how sorry I felt for myself and this just simmered within my very soul. Hmm. I guess that was enticing.

Going Away Party

Last night, Steve and Amy and a going away party for Kevin. Kevin is heading to California for graduate school. He is taking a major step out of the boat. What would happen if more people started stepping out of the boat - not afraid to be different, to even risk sinking?

Puma Gathering

Last night, I eventually ended up at a Puma gathering. It is kind of strange how conversations seem to pick up again just like they never ended. We all seem to share this bond, this common thread.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Wow, time has passed by rapidly tonight. I can't believe it is already 12:30 AM. Some of the student ministry kids were over tonight for a campfire. I just got the fire lit and it poured. So I roasted some hot dogs until the fire went out and finished them off in the microwave. Later, Lois, Ben, and Jan stopped by and the fire continued burning. The moon is very bright tonight. Ben and I were trying to figure out how to use this to persuade another person to go on a night bike ride. When I checked email, I read Jane's message about also seeing the beautiful moon tonight. It is pretty crazy that people can be enjoying the moon and probably the same time - and be hundreds of miles apart.

"Now that you are all feeling comfortable,...

I'd like to talk with you about Jesus."


The quote comes from comedian Jim Gaffigan. When I shared this quote with the students tonight, they responded with silence. Why are we so uncomfortable talking about Jesus? I know in my own experience that I can feel embarrassed to talk about Jesus. One student brought up that she doesn't know enough to talk about Jesus. Another student said that he didn't know how to talk about Jesus without making it sound like he was judging the other person.

I would be really interested in any comments that you are willing to share about why we are uncomfortable talking about Jesus.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Impending explosion

Before leaving for Wisconsin, I realized that my refrigerator had quit working. Because I was in a hurry, I pitched all the unsealed and frozen goods and left the sealed containers in the fridge, unplugged it, opened the doors, and headed for Wisconsin. When I returned, my mom and dad let me borrow their little refrigerator. Tonight, I was trying to figure out what to have for dinner (Subway was already closed). Forgetting that my refrigerator was broken, I opened up the door and beheld this fine specimen. There is some serious chemistry going on in this milk jug. In fact, it is evolving enough gas to make the jug bulge. This is why I find flatulence and eructation to be so important. I certainly don't want to walk around bulging like this milk jug because of built up gases. This thing looks like it could explode.


A few more pics...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wisconsin Recap

This past weekend, Ben and I traded in the bikes for a trip to Wisconsin. I haven't been to the cabin in a few years. Actually, I hadn't even planned to make the trip this year. But, for some reason, I scheduled to take this past Friday off and head up for a quick trip. Then, last week, I decided to take Monday off as well. I am so thankful for this trip and the opportunity to spend time with family and friends. My family vacationed at the cabin as I was growing up. I now see how much I took this retreat for granted. It is strange how, some years later, I have new appreciation for the cabin and the North Woods.

A few memorable events...


The first day did not go great at all. I just could not seem to get my knees up onto the board. The next day, I discussed strategy with my brother, Chad, and after many attempts finally got my knees up onto the board. However, by that time, I ran out of strength and was unable to put together a nice run. Although this was a very frustrating experience, I am glad that I tried. Maybe next year will bring better luck.


Some of us checked out the casino at Mole Lake. None of us won. After one hour, I was out $16. It was interesting to watch the people at the casino. It was almost like they were in a trance as they watched the slot machines. It is strange, though, because the next night, I was tempted to see if anyone wanted to try out the casino again. (Interestingly, I later found out that I wasn't alone in wanting to go back.)

Hearing Pastor Marvin say, "Jesus in the house."

We went to church in Argonne. It was a neat experience. The pastor is from India and he just moved to Wisconsin two month ago. Pastor Marvin talked about Mark 2:1-12. This passage of scripture is about the paralytic. I have heard this discussed many times - primarily involving the paralytic and the faith of his friends. In addition, Pastor Marvin talked about the house and the owner of that house. What is it like when Jesus is in the house. Yikes - better watch out. When Jesus is in the house, mobs of people swarm around - friends and enemies. People might come by and cut a hole in the roof because they want to help a friend who is living on the margin. A paralyzed man might get up and walk.

Saying good-bye.

Saying good-bye to Aunt Jane was extremely difficult. It has always been hard to say good-bye to Jane. I still remember clinging to her wedding dress on the steps of the church and crying - sad that she was moving so far away. When it was time to say good-bye this time, I'm pretty sure we both cried - at least I know that I did.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Home Again

9 hours, 4 pit stops (we drank way too much liquid), and a huge traffic jam in Chicago, we arrived back in B-town. Time for sleep.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Inn

Yesterday, I was reading and reflecting on the pier. I was in awe of the beauty around me... the radiance of the sun, the rolling of the waves, the bald eagle peering down at me. I happened across the nativity story in the Gospel of Luke. For some reason, I was really struck by there not being any room in the inn. It would be easy to say that there simply was no room in the inn. However, I started wondering about this from a larger perspective. The nativity narratives are kind of the Gospel in miniature. What does it mean to not have any room in the inn? The inn is the place of safety, the "normal" place to stay overnight, the warm place. There wasn't room for Jesus in the inn. I wonder what that means for me, for us.


Tater Todd (my first-grade nickname - we always had tater tots at lunch. tater tots - Tater Todd)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mission Accomplished?

If you have been reading this blog, you are "in-the-know" about the bike trips over the last few weeks. Tonight, Trent, Ben, and I hit the 50 mile mark. Our goal was to reach this before Ben goes back to school. We eked it out tonight. At this point, it would be easy to say "mission accomplished." However, we spent a lot of time talking about spiritual formation and what that looks like. I'm wondering if our biking adventures have been training for something more.

By the way, in another biking post, I mentioned recognizing things that I'm thankful for when biking. Just a few additions... food (words fail to describe the grilled burger consumed later after the ride) and the shower.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008


I need to get to bed tonight. Last night, we were hit with some pretty intense thunderstorms. Around 11:30, there was an incredible thunder boom. It actually lasted for probably 10 seconds and rattled the windows of my house. It was a little difficult to calm down after that boom. However, I have been a bit struck this week by the reality that I have been reading about two different transformations. One transformation is in the book of Ruth. I really like this book that is nestled between Judges and 1 Samuel. It is short - a quick read. Naomi undergoes an amazing transformation in this book. The contrast between these two verses is quite striking.

Ruth 1:20 (New International Version)
"Don't call me Naomi, " she told them. "Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter."

Ruth 3:17 (New International Version)
"He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, 'Don't go back to your mother-in-law [Naomi] empty-handed.' "

Believe it or not, this is actually not the main point of the book. The rest of the story is pretty exciting, too.

The other transformation is in the The Voyage of the Dawn Treader from the Chronicles of Narnia. Eustace is an annoying knucklehead of a fellow. However, he is undergoing quite a transformation in the book: "It would be nice, and fairly true, to say that 'from that time forth Eustace was a different boy.' To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice. The cure had begun" (p. 476).

Monday, August 4, 2008

I wanted to be a dinosaur

Last night, I posted a powerful passage from Isaiah. It is loaded. I want to eventually share some reflections on the Chronicles of Narnia as they relate to this and a few other passages (at least in my goofy mind).

However, there is something much more pressing to share tonight. That's right. You guessed it. - the latest movie in the Will Ferrell series. So I went to the movie, Step Brothers, last night with a good friend from college. Although this movie didn't totally meet my expectations - it is not Talladega Nights - I enjoyed the movie. (It lacked the memorable quotes of Talladega nights. "If you're not first, you're last," "Shake 'n' bake," "Dear eight pound, six ounce, little baby Jesus.") Out of curiosity, I checked out Roger Ebert's review and he did not like it much at all. As I read his commentary, I actually pretty much agreed with him. The movie is very crude, filled with some really mean actions - hitting people with cymbals and shovels, trying to bury people alive, rubbing "something" on the drum set, and quite a bit of foul language. However, at the end of the movie, the father/step-father of the 39/40-year-old son and step-son made an interesting comment, "I wanted to be a dinosaur." He told the guys this to encourage them to get up on the stage and fill in for the band that flopped. Most of the movie, the dad/step-dad lamented that the two guys were not amounting to anything. They lived at home, wanted to make bunk beds, and went up to the tree-house. He wanted them to move out, "grow up," and get jobs. However, when the new family collapses and the guys end up doing just that, the dad/step-dad comes to the realization that he misses the original guys. He tells them to get up on the stage and pursue their dream - Prestige International. To say that they wow the crowd is an understatement. Okay, so I'm probably weird, but I started thinking about a passage from the Bible. (Is this normal at a Will Ferrell movie?)

Matthew 5:48 (The Message)
"In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you."

What is this "growing up?"

What is this "God-created identity?"

I ask myself these questions a lot. While the two step-brothers are probably not folks to emulate, I have to wonder how compatible our social "norms" are with the Gospel.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Isaiah 43:18-21 (The Message)

16-21This is what God says,
the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
who carves a path through pounding waves,
The God who summons horses and chariots and armies—
they lie down and then can't get up;
they're snuffed out like so many candles:
"Forget about what's happened;
don't keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I'm about to do something brand-new.
It's bursting out! Don't you see it?
There it is! I'm making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.
Wild animals will say 'Thank you!'
—the coyotes and the buzzards—
Because I provided water in the desert,
rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
the people I made especially for myself,
a people custom-made to praise me.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Did you lose your razor?

I have never been aggressive when it comes to shaving. The last couple weeks, my commitment to this task has dissipated even further - maybe once every 7 or 8 days. So yesterday, I went to work sporting my favorite neon yellow-green t-shirt and some rather scruffy facial hair. I was a little surprised when two people commented about the facial hair.

One person said, "Did you lose your razor?"

I replied, "No."

Okay, this probably seems goofy but I thought about this interaction today on my bike ride. First, just to be clear, the comments really didn't bother me. In fact, I thought they were pretty funny. Second, and more importantly, I started thinking about picking and choosing the characteristics that constitute "fitting in."

(I'm returning to this after about 8 hours - not sure if any of this will actually amount to much but anywho...)

Who decides what is correct for facial hair anyway? Why was this characteristic singled out from any number of other characteristics? I think it is probably a probably a general tendency to selectively judge others based off of some defined set of characteristics. I catch myself (sometimes not in time) judging others. Academic credentials is just one area where I am quick to judge others.

At times, the church is also quite selective about judging others and focusing primarily on certain sins. I'm becoming more and more convinced, though, that the church has no business treading down that path. Church should be about loving, about kingdom-building - not being the standard bearer against a handful of specific sins.