Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A sense of loneliness

I was a little hesitant to write about this because I don't want it to come across as sounding like a proverbial pity party. That is not the intent at all. Instead, in keeping with the title of this blog, I just want to share something that happened on Sunday afternoon. Sunday, after leaving a lunch-time gathering (that included the best fried fish and peach pie ever), I ended up back at my house to finish some studying for econ and accounting. While studying, I was overcome by this incredible sense of loneliness. It was quite strange and I'm not sure what caused it or why. I'm not sure how to describe it exactly other than it felt like being in a box. I didn't really feel anxious or anything - just alone, separated. This pretty much zapped me and tonight I'm actually starting to get some energy back. The last two days have been "going-through-the-motions" type of days. I think, though, this experience kind of offered a glimpse at what life would be like without Jesus. What would it be like to be alone - totally separated from others, from Jesus? Now that would be lonely.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Reflection on today's crash

As I'm sure you heard today in the news, the U.S. House of Representative rejected a $700 billion bank bail-out plan. The Dow Jones lost 777.68 points at least partially in response to this vote. Now, I don't really understand fully how we got to this position or what the solution is going to be. (I'm not sure anyone does. Hence, the situation that we are in today.) However, as I was driving to and from class, something about this news really struck me. I guess that it has to do with interconnectedness. None of us lives in a bubble. The decisions other people make affect us. Likewise, the decisions that we make affect other people. The events leading up to today's vote did not happen in a day. The credit crunch and other economic problems developed over months, probably years. Think about all the people who must have made many decisions during that time frame. Guess what, in the end, we are all going to be in this boat together. What about the decisions that I make every day? (What about the decisions that you make every day?) Getting up. Going to work. Blogging. Going to the weight room. Brushing teeth. Buying groceries. Making a phone call. Taking a dump in the bathroom at work. Buying pop tarts from the vending machine. Reducing the size of a wire. The list is endless. These decisions are not made in isolation. Whether I see it or not, other people are or will be affected - positively or negatively. (Yes, even choosing to brush my teeth.) Some of these decisions even enter a second-round of impact. What is the compound effect of all these decisions (and ensuing cascades of repercussions) over a day... a year... a life-time?


Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Weight Room

Last Thursday, I was on the stepping machine leaving a pool of sweat on the floor below me. My eyes burned from the sweat. My mind still experienced some morning grogginess. Some muscles were kind of sore. Thoughts of the impending start of the "real" day comingled with the rawness of the morning workout.

Then, I started thinking about Jesus - actually Jesus and the weight room.

I used to be very intimidated by the weight room and, for that matter, anything that remotely resembled any type of sport. Yet, in mid-August, a friend asked if I wanted to join him and some others in the mornings at the weight room. My initial reaction, "Yeah, sure." (Translated: You have to be kidding me. No way.) However, I quickly learned that the weight room is not so intimidating. In fact, it meets people right where they are - regardless of their strengths... or weaknesses. In fact, a guy like me, who is not particularly strong, can get started on a program with lighter weight and keep adding weight and/or repetitions. In some ways, this really reminded me of Jesus. Friends bring people to Jesus (think about the paralytic lowered down into the house). Jesus meets people right where they are and then says follow him and see how he does it. Then he says, "I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly" (Matthew 11:30, Message). I italicized the words heavy and ill-fitting because this ties back to the weight room. Obviously, I have to start with weights that I can move (or else they would be too heavy or ill-fitting). If I keep it up long enough (keep company with the weight room), I'll be able to add more weight and this will be the new "fit" but the old weight will now be light. Okay, so I hope this isn't too goofy sounding but it is pretty cool to think about Jesus on the stepping machine.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Staycation - Exercising the Mind and Body

Thursday night, we met at the trailer again for a campfire. Actually, quite a group showed up. Among them, a family who had dropped off items two weeks ago. This time they stopped by to hang out with us at the fire. Anyway, the second picture highlights the staples of any campfire. We made a lot of s'mores!
So in my last post, I alluded to kind of reaching a breaking point. Yesterday turned out to be an amazing and rejuvenating day. It started at the same time as any normal weekday and included lifting with Jim and the guys and then swimming. However, the swimming session ended up extending to 22 laps. After swimming, our lifeguard, Clella, talked about all the yummy apple desserts she had been making. Believe me, my stomach did not need any encouragement to keep growling. So I headed home for some food and tackled my accounting homework. Later, I headed out on a approx 20 mile bike ride with Trent. We really didn't track the miles and went off-road for a bit but it was definitely more than 15. While biking, we talked quite a bit and he shared some interesting stuff from his organizational behavior class. It had to do with the balance between creativity and constraint in the working environment. I started thinking about if Jesus ever exhibited constraint. I'm not sure and am still thinking about that one. After biking, I met Brett at the Panda Garden for lunch and then hit the research for 5 continuous hours. My group is studying the economic impacts of Memorial Healthcare System and Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center. The data and research proved quite interesting and there were some pretty stark differences between the two organization. It was time for a study break so headed out on the white cloud rolling tailgate party to the football game and witnessed another Lion victory. Back at home, studied for next week's econ exam. So all in all, Friday was my kind of day.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Taking a day off

Two knuckleheads in ties (click on link for more info)

Fall Colors (from my photographer aunt)

Pics from Baptism

So the last couple weeks, months have been so busy. Do you ever just get to the breaking point? I'm there and decided that in order to preserve my sanity and the sanity of these around me it was time to take a vacation day. I made a bit of a mistake this fall in taking two classes. I really enjoy both classes and am meeting some cool people like Officer Williams and others. However, I didn't sufficiently consider marginal analysis before starting the semester. Now that the semester is under way, though, I can define marginal analysis (thanks to econ): An examination of the effects of additions or subtractions to the current situation. Adding more and more activities affects the current situation. For me, I reach a breaking point and start getting tired and having stinky attitude. So the vacation day is going into play tomorrow in order to finish my part of the econ group project this weekend. The hope is that eventually there will be some quality decompression time during the weekend, too. This whole marginal analysis thing is really on my mind, though, particularly in light of the economic gloom. Well, perhaps more will come on that another day. Anyway, I'd just like to share some pictures that have found their way into my email recently.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I really like to work with powerpoint. This is probably my favorite thing to do at work because it provides a great change of pace. It is fun to experiment with colors, pictures, and artistic elements. After some advice from a few friends, this is the format that I came up with for the economics project. The top of the slide includes the "status bar." The blue ball moves as topics change throughout the presentation. Below the status bar is a title bar for specific information on each slide. The boxes include shadowing with blue to match the moving ball. The bottom of the slide includes room for source information. Hopefully, having this design done in advance will help facilitate completion of the project - just need to fill in the categories! On this powerpoint, I also experimented with the title slide. The title slide was actually made using windows movie maker and includes a "traditional" title slide with pictures from the two health care facilities alternating with each other and the title slide. This program is easy for an amateur like me to put together a cool little video clip.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


On Sunday morning, I pulled out the watermelon that Grandpa brought into town when we met to finalize the purchase agreement for the house. I pulled out a paring knife and realized that there could be trouble. The length of the knife blade was less than the radius of the watermelon. It didn't seem likely that I could get a clean cut through the melon. However, I was really eager to sink my teeth into that refreshing, juicy, sweet, fleshy interior of the melon. So I took my short paring knife and plunged it into the exocarp (rind) of the melon and was quite startled. The rind nearly burst entirely apart on its own. I flipped the melon over, repeated, and what was once a whole melon was now two halves. I have cut open many melons before and never had one that just burst open like this. I eagerly sliced off a portion of one half and dug into that wonderful fruit. While eating, it occurred to me that we are kind of like watermelons. We kind of have these exocarps that are hard and tough to penetrate. The exocarp protects the tender interior. Yet, there is this amazing fruit ready to burst through this exocarp - just waiting for something to penetrate right to the heart. The cool thing is that once this rind is penetrated, then there is access to the good stuff and with that good stuff comes seeds - seeds that might fall in good soil and start the whole process over again.


Monday, September 22, 2008

David Crowder

On Sunday, after finishing the Apple Fest 5K, a fellow stopped me and asked, " Have you ever heard of David Crowder?" I replied, "Sure, we sometimes play his music at church." (I've also read one of his books.) The fellow then says, "Well, you look just like him." Now, this actually is not the first time that I have heard something like this so I pulled up a picture of David Crowder from google image search. I don't know, maybe if I learned how to have my hair stick straight out like that, grew the goatee, and bought the glasses. It was kind of cool, though, to have a random person walk up and make that comment - not something that happens everyday.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wearing Ties

Friday night at the fire (check out the log on that fire - this is leftover from hedge "trimming"), Trent and I agreed to where ties to church on Saturday night. This kind of stemmed from a couple of conversations but we made the decision and went forward. You see, typical church attire for guys at our church is jeans or shorts and a t-shirt or maybe a polo. So this seemed pretty crazy to wear ties. But, I think we were both a little shocked by the feedback and attention (at least I was). I'm guessing at least 12 people commented about the choice of attire. It is kind of weird when you stand out in the crowd. However, last night I thought about this for a few minutes and I'm not sure it is a good thing. Is our church so homogeneous (i.e., of uniform structure or composition throughout - see www.m-w.com) that doing something as simple as wearing a tie stirs things up? What if it were the other way around? My aunt shared a story about how a person walked into her church and didn't have the right "look." Maybe the person was a little disheveled or something - can't remember exactly. But anywho, that person was more or less ignored. Kind of the opposite scenario but something that I'm going to think about and try to be cognizant of in the future.


Saturday, September 20, 2008


Last night, we tailgated at Roxanne's house for the high school football game. The action started around 5:30 and included cornhole, campfire, food, and food. The cornhole competition was pretty intense and animated. The spread of food included some fabulous chili of which I gladly partook of two full bowls. (I return back to the chili later.) The Lions roared and turned in a sound victory 61-7 over the Cavaliers. After the game, Troy and Trent headed to my house for a campfire. Chad joined us later. It was an interesting guy time filled with conversation and laughs. Those who had partaken of the aforementioned chili also provided some musical entertainment. But in all seriousness, we talked about some pretty deep stuff (well, Chad might not have been there for the serious part). As I was dozing off around 2:00 AM, I was thinking about campfires. There is something about campfire that is special. In the darkness of the night, the fire provides light. The aroma of smoke wafts to the nostrils. The heat of the fire warms the body. Chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker lingers on the taste buds. The flames seem to beckon us to "play" with the fire and attempt to burn any number of items. It is during these times that, for whatever reason, it seems like we feel free to be a little bit more of ourselves. We open up a little bit, share what is on our minds, think about the future, reminisce, imagine, concoct goofy ideas. Good times.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Addendum to Homecoming Part II

This is an addition based off of comment to Homecoming Part II:

We are


We are





This morning I hit the road around 6:30 AM. It was still quite dark. The sky was dark. I could just make out the road in front of me. The headlights from cars were blinding. Of course, I ducked off to the side of the road when they passed. As I was running, I experienced the darkness of the night turning into the light of day. It is kind of a weird time of day. For me, it almost seems like the darkness is lifting. It is so gradual and yet at moments it seems like brightness increases in much more rapid spurts. The amazing part is to be outside - not in a car or in the house - but outside immersed in it. Trees and houses begin to take shape. The path ahead becomes clear. The black sky turns to grey to dusty blue and then finally blue. In church, we sometimes sing
Marvelous Light:

Into marvelous light I'm running
Out of darkness out of shame
By the cross you are the truth
You are the life You are the way

This is what I kept singing this morning as the darkness turned into light or the light overtook the darkness...

Into marvelous light I'm running... over and over and over again.

And the darkness dissipated and was overpowered by the light.

The crazy thing is that this happened just a few minutes later at the pool. We are the first people into the pool each day and so when we first get into the water it is still dark. Then the lights gradually turn on and the water becomes sparkly blue. These events just really struck me today. Why? Because it is so easy to let the darkness encompass and yet there is a way out and the light overwhelms the darkness. Even when I was in Vermont and experienced complete darkness, the smallest flashlight beam penetrated the darkness. It was a amazing to take this into the workday. The light overwhelmed so much of the darkness that had been lurking in my soul this week. It vanquished the darkness.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Running? Part II

Yesterday, I went to adult chapel at Bethel. It was actually pretty interesting. The new dean of adult studies shared some reflections about his life and that he doesn't really know what he wants to do when he "grows up." Note: he is 56 years old. I have made this same comment quite a bit in the last few months. I just have a strong sense of wanting to do something different.

The dean shared some scripture from Ephesians. When I got home, I was curious to check out the text from The Message (after reading from NIV). My breath was taken away for a moment as I read the words:

1-3In light of all this, here's what I want you to do. While I'm locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

This really kind of startled me because for some reason I have been running - this past Saturday I reached the 5.5 mile mark and won the Homecoming 5K a few weeks ago. I have no idea why I'm running. In fact, I remembered writing about this a few months ago. However, I have sensed that is training, training for something. I'm going to keep reflecting on these verses and see if there is any additional clarity.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Homecoming Part II

A few days ago, I wrote about Homecoming. Tonight (this is actually Saturday night - I'm reflecting and typing several posts tonight), I'm returning to this theme. Why? I received a great email from Trent this week and it finally dawned on me why this word has been so interesting to me over the last few days.

I think homecoming kind of captures something right now and something that is coming. According to Merriam-Webster online, a home is "1a: one's place of residence."

I live right here in the house where I am sitting on an ugly green couch with my feet propped up on a hexagon end-table. Yet, home is coming, returning.

So home is here and home is coming.

Or maybe,

The Kingdom is here and the Kingdom is coming.

Or how about,

The King is here and the King is coming.

How about this?

Jesus is here...

and Jesus is coming.

Uh oh, I guess I'm going to be thinking some more (some more = s'more?? haha).


Monday, September 15, 2008


So Friday I was at work and one of my work buddies said, "Wow, check out the veins in your arms. That's cool." (This might be paraphrased a bit, but you get the point.) This is so strange to me because I never knew about this being cool until a few weeks ago when my brother was home from school. He stopped by at the tailgating to hang out and instead of saying hello, he said, "Wow, your veins are starting to stick out. That's awesome." Actually, these aren't the only two people who have commented about this. So although this is something that I never knew about, I was kind of excited. Friday night, I was driving to Elkhart and still pondering this whole vein thing. Then, all of the sudden, I thought, "Ah geez, Todd, don't be vain." Then, I laughed - get it vain, vein. But in all seriousness, it was pretty cool to have some people comment about my veins. However, it would be great if I could start turning this around - okay, I still don't get the whole vein thing - and complimenting and encouraging others.

A Great Comment

This is Trent's comment in regards to my last post:

Put them all together and you get an "Unmarried college knight who doesn't have a seal to mate with." I like that definition.

I like that definition, too.

Ben, I'm not sure Ramen noodles are food.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Chicken Helper and Some Randomness

As a bachelor, I find the whole issue of meals to be quite difficult. If I cook, then invariably I make too much and end up throwing some away. If I eat at Subway, then I'm not making very good use of my dollars. (Too use an economic term, my consumer choice is not great - I'm not getting the most bang for the buck.)

Enter Chicken Helper.

Chicken Helper is this amazing box containing some pasta and some magic dust that - when coupled with some cubed chicken, milk, and water - turns into this nice main dish. It is actually quite versatile. Tonight, I added a can of sliced mushrooms and a beautiful tomato and seasoned to taste with pepper and garlic powder. Snow peas are an excellent complement to this dish or you can throw them right into with everything else.

So when I typed bachelor up above, I was curious about the definition and had to laugh when it showed up at http://www.m-w.com/. Brace yourself for this one.

1: a young knight who follows the banner of another
2: a person who has received what is usually the lowest degree conferred by a 4-year college, university, or professional school ; also : the degree itself
3 a: an unmarried man b: a male animal (as a fur seal) without a mate during breeding time

I really liked the first definition. I like the sound of that, a young knight who follows the banner of another. Me, a knight. That sounds pretty cool.

Now for a total change of subject...

This past Saturday, Trent had us sing a Christmas song, "O Little Town of Bethlehem." Christmas songs in September? Awesome.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

... A Fire Wagon

This wagon is the best. Its features include oversized tires, suspension, and wood side rails. The wagon itself is a great place to store all of the necessities: firewood, plates, napkins, hot dogs, buns, graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate, lighter (or matches), and roasting forks. The fire pit (pre-loaded with kindling and some wood) rests perfectly on top of the side rails. The lawn chair fits perfectly on top of the firepit. The cooler contains the remaining essentials: water, ketchup, and mustard. Wow, it is amazing how everything fits together so perfectly. On Thursday, I almost called Keith because he offered to bring his truck over to take the supplies. Why? I thought it might look a bit goofy pulling this gem down the road, through the intersection (having one of only two stoplights in Bremen), and into the parking lot of Woodie's grocery store. However, I decided to take the plunge, and go for the goofy option. I set off on the journey down the driveway to the alley. Turning left onto the alley, I encountered some rough areas and thought the fire pit might slide off. My fears diminished with each passing foot and I proceeded to the road. I turned right and proceeded up to the stoplight and waited for the green light. It came and the Fire Wagon ended its inaugural trip at the parking lot of Woodie's. Why? The trailer is parked here to collect personal care products. A fire pit creates a great opportunity to interact with people in the parking lot. People like smores.

If you are in the area next week on Thursday, that's 9/18/08, stop by between 6:00 and 8:00 PM for a hot dog and smores. Bring personal care products to donate.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's...

Some might say this is art. Others might say, junk.
However, when the light turned green, a few lucky people witnessed this gem roll through the intersection. Yes, there were stares. I think that there might have even been a gesture. But, alas, after a treacherous journey, it arrived at its destination (and made it back safely, too).
What in the world is this?
The lucky winners can join in next Thursday from 6:00-8:00 PM.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mark 2

I never used to read the Bible too much. It just seemed too cumbersome, too boring. About a year ago, I was sitting in church and the pastor said to start reading the Bible - every day. Every day. You have to be kidding me. Well, I decided to give it a shot. And to be quite honest, there are definitely some days that it is pretty much going through the motion with eyes glazed over. However, even this creates a habit and provides the opportunity for deeper exploration. In my Wisconsin Recap, I shared that Pastor Marvin talked about, "Jesus in the house" in reference to Mark 2:1-12. So this passage has been in my thoughts for a month now. For some reason, I just keep turning back to it and learning more with each review. Tonight, it is late again and I'm tired but still want to write a post and read the Bible - so I'm going to do both.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul asks

"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" (3:16)

So when I think of God's temple, I think of God's house.

So this is almost like Paul was talking to me and asking,

"Dude, what is up with you? Don't you know that you are God's house and that God's Spirit lives in you."

Now that is pretty scary stuff. Well, what would this look like?

Back to Mark 2. I asked the question, what is it like when Jesus is in the house?

Mark 2:1-12 (New International Version)

1A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."
6Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7"Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
8Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you thinking these things? 9Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your mat and walk'? 10But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . ." He said to the paralytic, 11"I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." 12He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!"

So here's a quick summary of words/phrases I think match up with the red words/phrases.

Contagious - so many gathered
Teaching - preaching
Helping others - carried by four of them
Bold - they made an opening
Faith-filled - faith
Forgiving - your sins are forgiven
Facing opposition - Why does this fellow talk like that?
Healing - take your mat and go home
In awe - amazed
Praising - praised

These are some of the characteristics of what is it like when Jesus is home. Those of you who know me, know that there are some significant gaps. However, I have the hope, and faith, that in time these gaps will diminish.

What are other characteristics of what it is like when Jesus is in the house?


Monday, September 8, 2008

Ethics and Accounting

In accounting tonight, we spent sometime talking about ethics. Enron is the classic case of a breach of ethics in accounting. It was sobering to contemplate the ramifications of decisions made by a few people. A few people essentially destroyed two gigantic companies and left 1000's of people without jobs and retirement plans. Within months, people lost their livelihoods. Faced with seemingly insurmountable stresses, some even committed suicide.

It was even more sobering to realize that we are all people. Maybe the decisions that I make or you make won't have this kind of impact. But, we are all susceptible to the underlying motivation behind these unethical decisions... greed. We are all faced with difficult decisions... decisions of right and wrong. Sometimes I don't always consider that the decisions I make can potentially affect others. Enron is certainly a powerful and sobering reminder of this reality.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Men of Bennett (MOB)


Well, tonight I have a lot on my mind: house worship and what that looks like, baptism (I was baptized last night - Cella and I went down into the water together), communication (today I became acutely aware of the complexities of communication), time and place (how they are connected and what they mean). However, tonight, I'm going to write about Homecoming.

On Friday night, I returned to my alma mater, St. Joseph's College, for Homecoming festivities. As I approached Renssealer on Highway 114, my heart leapt with the first glimpse of the twin tours peaking out from the trees to my left. The next 20 hours were a time of incredible joy and excitement. I spent time with close friends and mentors. We reclaimed our relationships - it was as if the conversations had never ceased. Walking around campus offered me a time of personal renewal and restoration. It is a haven for ideas, creativity, and spirituality. This visit was also different because I had the privilege to meet up with my youngest brother, one of the newest members of the Puma family. We posed for a picture outside the dorm that contains my old dorm room. This room is now his room. It is kind of strange how things work out.

As I drove back to Bremen, I reflected upon this word, Homecoming. Actually, I think it is kind of strange word. I suspect it exists because other phrases just don't seem to work.

Come home.

Go home.

Going home.

Coming home.

I am coming home.

Home coming I.


Merriam-Webster online (http://www.m-w.com/) defines homecoming as:

1: a return home


2: the return of a group of people usually on a special occasion to a place formerly frequented or regarded as home; especially : an annual celebration for alumni at a college or university

I'm not sure that these definitions adequately describe homecoming. The word seems to connote a sense of expectancy, a sense of movement that is not captured in these definitions. We aren't their yet, but we are coming.

However, I started thinking about it a little bit differently because I'm not really sure that home and coming really match up too great. (If any of you are English-type people and want to help me out on this that would be great.) This is how I would "derive" homecoming.


Coming home.

I am coming home.

However, there might be another way of looking at this. Let's try again.


Home coming.

Home is coming.

What would it be like for the spirit of St. Joseph's to come here? What would it be like for that joy, heart-leaping, renewal, and relationship reclamation to come here and increasingly be part of every day. I guess that is the challenge.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Check This Out

The last 2 days have been a bit of whirlwind and I'm fried. Check out this great post by Trent. Out.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Opportunity Cost

Last night was the first night of ECON233 at Bethel College. We packed 4 chapters worth of material into about 3 hours so this made for a pretty intense evening. Okay, so I'm a self-professed dork and actually found this material pretty interesting. The graphs, the examples, the case studies all seemed quite relevant. However, I was also quite frustrated. Why? I started thinking about other things that I could be doing... walking or maybe even riding bike with a friend, reading Chronicles of Narnia, sleeping, thinking about student ministry material for Thursday night (by the way, I'd like to get a post up about tonight at some point), and on goes the list. Then, right before my eyes appears two words: opportunity cost.

"Opportunity cost is the best alternative sacrificed for a chosen alternative. Stated differently, it is the cost of not choosing the next best alternative."

Ruminate on this one for awhile.

Right now, I'm taking a few minutes to blog about opportunity cost. What else could have been done during those few minutes? Laundry, dishes, sweeping, calling a friend - these are just a few of the possibilities - the alternatives sacrificed for these few minutes of blogging.

Okay, maybe blogging is a pretty simplistic example, but seriously, what would happen if I took an inventory of my time throughout the week? What would happen if I took an inventory of the time in the week that Jesus is the "next best alternative" instead of the "chosen alternative?" Hmm. Not too pleasant of a thought. The cost would be pretty high.

Good night.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Same But Different Part 2.43

Okay, so you might be tired of reading these same but different posts. That's fine, please check out the links to the right - particularly those of some new bloggers Ben and Abby.

While continuing to reflect upon this idea of same but different, I recalled reading some beautiful paragraphs in Prince Caspian.

"I don't think Edmund would have had a chance if he had fought Trumpkin twenty-four hours earlier. But the air of Narnia had been working upon him ever since they arrived on the island, and all his old battles came back to him, and his arms and fingers remembered their old skill. He was King Edmund once more."

"Of course, if the children would had attempted a journey like this a few days ago in England, they would have been knocked up. I think I have explained before how Narnia was altering them. Even Lucy was by now, so to speak, only one-third of a little girl going to boarding school for the first time, and two-thirds of Queen Lucy of Narnia."

Same but different. Edmund and Lucy are still Edmund and Lucy. Yet, as the inhale that refreshing and inspiring air of Narnia, they begin to undergo changes. They "remember" the skills of their previous visits to Narnia. They find new strength and courage.

This idea of breathing in the air of Narnia is just so beautiful. I had the opportunity to visit northern Wisconsin a few weeks ago. One thing that always amazes me is the refreshing pine smell that permeates the air. Getting out of the car that first time upon arriving, I felt renewal - despite having traveled for eight hours. It makes me think about the air that I breathe every day. Does the air stinketh or is it life-giving?

The other thing that strikes me about this change in Edmund and Lucy (and the others) is that it is not instantaneous - instead it is gradual - only one-third of a little girl .... and two-thirds of Queen Lucy of Narnia. This is a difficult idea for me to swallow - this concept of time and transition.

Well, if you managed to stick with this post, you can continue thinking, pondering, wondering. I'm off to start the day again.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

See You at the Trailer

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Same but Different Part 2

This summer has involved some intense change in my life. I started out the summer filled with fear and frustration.

Fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Fear of losing my job. Fear of disappointing my parents. In writing about this now, it almost sounds absurd. However, this is something that I have dealt with for a long time. The memories from my first year at college are still so vivid. I was so scared of losing the scholarship - either because of grades or some kind of screw-up - even being in the wrong place at the wrong time. So I holed up in the basement - the dungeon - of the library and studied and over-studied and fretted and worried. At night, I remember walking around campus with tears in my eyes and feeling so lonely. Eventually, this all began to change and lift. However, it returned with a vengeance at Purdue. I got scared... and I bailed. It happened when I would have relapses of ITP. I remember spending the night in the hospital in Lafayette - alone - not even telling my closest friends where I was. Why? I didn't want to be perceived as weak and was to scared to ask for help - admit my own fallibility. Fast forward a few years and I'm starting my fifth year at work and nearly ready to bail, again. Why? The same fears that had gripped me in the past. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. All of this triggered some response mechanisms: anger, gossip, talking about other people, f-bombs. Quite frankly, my attitude sucked. The self-talk became overwhelming and left my mind spinning and me exhausted. I felt paralyzed and bailing seemed to be the only solution.

Or was it?

Some things started to change. I met some cool people and spent time with quite a few amazing people. I started experimenting and trying some new things - like jumping into rivers and sleeping outside under the stars (okay, even smoked some cigars and a corncob pipe).

One night early in the summer, I heard a voice say, "Go for a walk." So I started out on the walk. Then, I heard, "Run." So I ran.

At work, I started letting go - letting go of things that I just didn't have any control over. I took this wasted energy and started putting it into more positive efforts. Guess what? We started finding cost reductions that I didn't think even existed and we are still finding more - sometimes we find new cost reductions every day. I've even been known to sing out on the production floor - particularly when wearing the neon-green T-shirt.

A few weeks ago, a colleague said something that shocked me, "You are different."

Maybe he's right. I really don't know what the future holds, but I do know that for the first time in my working career, I actually look forward to getting to work. It is kind of amazing really and I'm thankful - thankful for this new chance.