Thursday, October 30, 2008
I opened to the verse, looked at the title for the passage, and immediately started to fight back tears.
Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character
I read this passage (10-31) at Grandma's funeral.
I remember sitting in the pew and then seeing it was time for the scripture reading. I passed the beautiful casket, climbed two steps, slowly turned, and faced a church full of faces - the faces of family and friends. Grandpa sat in the front pew to my right with the rest of the immediate family extend on to the left. I looked down and somehow read through this passage - and was struck by how accurately it described her.
I learned a lot that day.
Together, as a team, Mom and Dad read a letter that Dad had written to Grandma. I was blown away by their obvious unity and love for one another as they supported each other through this difficult endeavour.
Before the funeral, the casket was still open for visitation. Grandma and Grandpa's Sunday school class all gathered together just before the end of the visitation time. Together, they filed past the casket - all together for one last time.
I remember the tears of a little girl who also called Grandma, Grandma.
I remember hugging Grandpa and him saying, "It is hard. Isn't it?"
So I learned a lot about love, about unity, about family, about pain.
But I also learned about comfort.
As Matthew writes, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" (5:4).
And with this comfort
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
On Saturday night, I missed church at Horizon because of wedding. A buddy from work got married. It was a nice evening. On Sunday, I decided to go to church at Grace UMC.
The message was quite thought-provoking. I think it ties in kind of with my last post. The pastor talked about Acts 9:36-42. This passage is about a lady named Dorcas. She dies and her friends are really sad. They hear that Peter is in nearby town and send some guys to bring him back to their town. Peter arrives and goes into the room with Dorcas. He prays and says, "Tabitha, get up." She opened her eyes and got up. On Sunday, I noticed that the only part of this passage that had previously drawn my attention was verse 40. How do I know this? Well, I had circled, "Tabitha, get up." This is because that is what I thought the story was all about - bringing someone back to life. However, Pastor Garver shed some further light into the story.
Why were her friends so upset?
She was a disciple.
She was "always doing good."
She was always "helping the poor."
She made such an influence on her friends that they sent people out bring back Peter.
Dorcas sounds like a pretty cool lady. Her name is cool enough. Okay, in all seriousness, she sounds like a lady who left a legacy when she finally did die. She made a difference. She impacted the lives of others. In fact, the pastor pointed out that her legacy continues to this day with a Tabitha school in Tel Aviv and the Dorcas Society. (Tabitha is Aramaic translation of the Greek name Dorcas.)
Both Dorcas and Tabitha mean
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Great-Great-Great-Great Grandpa Huff
Psalms 139:13-16 (NIV)
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
After my grandma died, I became pretty fascinated with the local cemeteries - specifically, the Bremen and Huff cemeteries. In fact, for several months, I regularly walked through the Bremen cemetery and looked at the stones. In a strange way, these walks gave me an incredible sense of time and place. When I started thinking about just my own ancestors, the odds of me (or any of us) living at this time in this place seem absurdly slim. Yet, as the Psalmist describes, this has all been planned out before any of us came to be. Now that just kind of blows my mind. I think it adds an incredible sense of value and purpose to our lives. No one else will ever have the chance to live in this specific location at this specific time under these specific circumstances with these specific opportunities. Kind of mind boggling.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Tonight, I drove through snow showers on the way home from Bethel. That was kind of shock to the system!
Okay, this may come as a shock to those of you who know me best. This past weekend, I commenced on a house cleaning journey. Yes, after closing on the house, reality hit and I now have this desire to start over with a clean slate. The first step in this process is the elimination of "low hanging fruit." This is stuff that does not require much thought. Examples include old magazines, broken items, old notes and papers from work that somehow found their way into the house, and tattered clothes. The second step has been cleaning out closets and drawers in order to put in the stuff that does not currently have a home. Honestly, I kind of hover back and forth between these two steps because I have cleaning ADD. I bounce around from cleaning project to cleaning project.
The weekend ended with 4 larger trash bags out on the curb. On one hand, it was kind of embarrassing to have this much rubbish to purge. On the other hand, it was such an amazing feeling to let the bags drop... let go of all that junk. I kind of felt lighter, less burdened. This cleaning process will continue on for probably a few more weeks. Not sure what will happen after that.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I stayed at the Best Western in Oswego. It had a fitness club in the basement that was open to hotel guests so it was nice to be able to continue with some of the routine from back home in Bremen. The work at the Oswego facility included broad topics and will take extensive effort in the weeks and months to come. However, I really enjoyed spending time with several of the employees. It is not often that one has the opportunity to work with individuals so excited about change and continuous improvement. This has been a bittersweet week, though. Folks, we are in some extremely tough economic times (as if anyone needed this pointed out). Our company is not immune to this reality and the difficult decisions required in these troubled times. In the midst of these struggles, we need amabassadors of hope.
Friday night, I flew back into O'hare and headed down-town (in the dark and rain) to meet up with John, David, and Megan. I went to school with John and we shared a wall for three years. We ate at great little Italian restaurant and shared many stories and laughs. Needless to say, it ended being a late night and I rolled back into Bremen at 3:30 AM this morning.
Because I left my computer cord out in New York, I'm writing this at the farm after partaking of some phenomenal chocalate chip pancakes!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
My back-pack is actually a decent looking back-pack. I mean it is not all torn up or soiled or anything. Just looking at it, you would never expect anything unusual about. Yet, within the back-pack was this bundle of nastiness that had fermented for awhile. Unzipping the back-pack led to the release of this odor and I had to pull out the shorts and deposit them directly into the washing machine. Things are not always the way they appear on the outside. I have been learning that first hand over the last couple days. Sometimes it is necessary to unzip or peal back a few layers to see what is really on the inside. The inside is not always very appealing. However, I have also been constantly reminded of this passage from Romans (I still haven't read past Chapter 3):
Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors. But God isn't so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you've done. (2:1-2, MSG)
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
First, I never expected to be here in Bremen at this stage in my life. Honestly, I worried for a long time what people must think of me still living here in this town - that I must be some kind of failure or bum or something.
Second, in my mind, somehow by not owning a house, I always had a quick way out. Granted, it is not like a house ties a person down permanently. However, there is just something about owning a home that seems to convey a sense of commitment. Me, I wanted to have quick way out - didn't want to have any obligations.
Well, after some serious reflection both of these points dissipated and now almost seem absurd. This lack of commitment, though, reminded me of these words from Revelation 3:16:
So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Some stories from Martin's supermarket...
In our class, we actually had a Coke vendor who supplies many stores including Martin's. He poignantly (this might seem like an odd word choice but it really fits) described what it feels like to him as vendor entering Martin's. The employees say hi and ask about his family. They even have vendor appreciation day when they provide donuts and coffee or even a lunch. Get this. Some other stores only allow one vendor in at a time - so any other vendors need to wait before they can stock their shelves!
Another person shared that his kids actually make a point of visiting Martin's when they are in town. Why? Because they want their kids to experience real customer service. The person shared that one time one of the kids was in town and in a hurry. He was met at the door by the hostess and inquired about the item. The hostess actually took him to the shelf, picked up the item, and handed it to him! Now that is service.
Contrast that with a story from a competitor. A couple went to a competing store and couldn't find an item. They asked an employee. The employee curtly replied that the item was in a different department and the stocker for that area would not be in for an hour. She then proceeded to inform them that they could come back in an hour for help.
At first, this whole things really perplexed me because I am so used to having one, local grocery store. However, after hearing these stories, I began to understand the importance of customer service and why Martin's has succeeded despite fierce competition from much larger stores. Good old customer service and relationships really do matter. (Did you know that Martin's has never marketed the phrase "My Martin's?" This developed from public sentiment.)
My group studied the hospitals in St. Joe County. Based on our research, Memorial clearly has more economic impact in the county. Actually, it seemed pretty apparent to me that they have quite a bit more positives going for them then their competitor, SJRMC, does - on paper. I'm not going to go into the details other than to share a story from a group member. She had taken one of her children to SJRMC for a scheduled procedure. She had difficulty find a parking lot. The registration was delayed. The procedure was delayed. She ended up leaving about 6:00 PM - hours later than expected. She also had many experiences at Memorial so knew both hospitals and actually had a positive story to share about getting in and out of Memorial right on time. Yet, the bottom-line for her was that she felt that the employees at SJRMC really cared about her and her child. This sense of family prevailed over any other deficiencies at the organization. That is pretty crazy to think about. In her mind, the family environment won - not the more convenient experience, not the hospital with better financial data.
Well, I had another loose end to write about but had a wonderful walk with Aunt Lois partially through this. So some other thoughts will come at another time.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
This morning, I had the opportunity to meet up with Justin and some other great people at the Fall Frolic in Mishawaka. Let me tell you, it was a little difficult crawling out of bed this morning and then being met by a blast of chilly air upon opening the door. Honestly, the thought crossed my mind to just call it a day and head back to the hay. However, Justin had planted a seed in my mind with a comment to a post awhile back and it was time for the seed to sprout.
I entered the address into the GPS and set forth in the Cavalier. Of course, I didn't think about the road construction on Main (you would think one of these days I would remember), so I ended up a bit behind schedule. However, I arrived at the race site, registered, and waited for the race to commence. The area was charged with energy from runners eagerly anticipating the start of the race. Actually, these things are kind of strange. People actually PAY to participate in these runs. Yet, everyone is out having a good time.
Justin showed up shortly thereafter and it was great meeting several of his friends. As race-time approached, everyone headed over to the starting line. The announcer hoped that everyone would set a new PR. Of course, I had no idea what this meant. All I could think of was public relations. A "What?" slipped out and I was promptly informed that PR is personal record. (Duh!)
Anyway, after a few moments, the race commenced. The chilliness of the morning began to wane and the sun began to rise further into the sky. Its radiant beams and the exertion of running warmed the body (and the soul).
As I was running, these words from Romans kept going through my mind.
[let] him set the pace
[let] him set the pace
[let] him set the pace
I have this open right now and the passage reads:
What we've learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We've finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade. (MSG 3:27-28)
Wow! What does it look like to proudly or anxiouly trying to run the parade? For me, it has typically meant having expections so high that they are attainable by me and others. Until recently, this was the foundation of my academic career. I found personal self-worth in grades and being the best (whatever that means). At work, I have been quick to judge others, quick to criticize. Yet, all of this only leads down a path of frustration, anger, sadness, and loneliness.
However, I think back to a night in June when God set the pace.
Justin commented that the cool thing about running/walking/jogging is that anyone can do it. There is a pace for everyone! I guess that is kind of the way it is with Jesus. We can come running, jogging, walking even crawling to Jesus. There is no one pace - the key is that he sets the pace.
After the race, there is an awards ceremony. As the announcer entered into the category winners of the 10K, several people from Justin's group of friends were called in close succession. Everyone within this group cheered to support their friends. Even the announcer commented that she hoped the group stuck around until all awards were given because they were so animated. Encouragement. It sure seemed like they were getting "in step" with each other. It was so cool!
Justin, thanks for the opportunity to meet up with you folks today.
It was a great change of pace!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Our group studied Memorial Hospital and Healthcare System and Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center. One member shared detailed personal experiences from both systems. It was amazing to hear her describe the importance of relationships and actually feeling care. This sense of family overcame other issues such as difficulties parking and long wait times. What does this say about how we make decisions? What does this say about the importance of building genuine relationships? I was blown away by the multiplier effect as revenues from the healthcare systems entered into second and third rounds of spending. This demonstrates in a quantifiable manner that something relatively small can explode into a huge impact. What does this say about each one of us?
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
1. What does your job as Bremen Process Engineer entail?
Wire break analysis and problem-solving; copper size analysis and reduction; maintaining and creating new set-up sheets; setting up new parts for production; monitoring die wear; advising on lubricant maintenance; testing tin line solutions; evaluating tin quality; basically, whatever I can do to serve the company
2. What do you like most about your job?
The friendships that have developed are what I like most about my job. I am very fortunate to have friends from several disciplines. The parts about my job that I like the best are opportunities to teach, develop presentations, and write reports. I am passionate about technical communication and enjoy any opportunity to educate our employees and customers. PowerPoint is an amazing tool for creatively expressing ideas.
3. Where did you work before Copperfield?
I started full-time at Copperfield around Christmas of 2003. However, I worked part-time through college back to 1999. Growing up, I spent time working on the farm driving tractors and working with the pigs. While at St. Joseph’s, I was a Mathematics Teaching Scholar, a freshmen leader, and the American Institute of Toxicology Intern-Scholar. At Purdue, I was a graduate teaching assistant. Aside from my student teaching stint While at St. Joseph’s, I was a Mathematics Teaching Scholar, a freshmen leader, and the American Institute of Toxicology Intern-Scholar. At Purdue, I was a graduate teaching assistant. Aside from my student teaching stint at Renssealer Central Middle School, I have never put my 5-12 teaching license to use.
4. What do you like to do in your free time?
Well, I don’t have a lot of free time. However, I enjoy reading (the Bible, popular theology, Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy), playing in the worship band at Horizon church, working out in the mornings, hosting or attending gatherings with friends, campfires, and playing piano. I also am an adamant believer in life-long learning and have completed a master’s degree in materials and chemical synthesis and am currently taking business classes.
5. What is your favorite TV show or movie?
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
“Shake ‘n’ bake!”
“If you’re not first, you’re last.”
6. Favorite sports (teams)?
Personally, I enjoy running and biking. These are new hobbies that I started this past summer. We made it out to 50 miles in one ride to meet our goal for this summer. I’ve run in a few 5Ks and hope to do a 10K yet this fall. My favorite teams are the Bremen Lions and St. Joseph College Pumas football teams. (Of course, as a band guy, the honest truth is that the best parts of the games are the half-time shows featuring the Emerald Alliance and Puma marching bands. Go bands!)
7. What is a little known fact about you?
I have ground up human kidneys, livers, spleens, brains, and skeletal muscles (some with maggots) in a blender. I have also studied the diphenhydramine (Benadryl) concentration in decomposed tissue from a plane accident in the mountains.
Monday, October 13, 2008
I can ride my bike with no handlebars
I can ride my bike with no handlebars
Look at me, look at me
hands in the air like it's good to be
Awhile back, I wrote about practicing bike-riding without the handlebars. I'm up to three blocks now.
Anyway, I think in some ways this is kind of like developing a relationship with Jesus. He wants to take control of the handlebars. He wants to do the steering.
Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? (Mt 16:24-26, MSG)
However, there is a bit of a catch.
Someone still has to do the pedaling!
By the way, click here for an interesting twist on the multiplier effect.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
If you need a good laugh, check out the videos posted here. You just never know when someone is going to be taping.
I have some things on my mind.
From my reading this week...
This week, I started reading through Romans and came across some interesting verses. (I have read these verses before because they have under-lines and notes in my hand-writing. Yet they seemed different this week.) Actually, now that I open up to the book, I didn't even get past chapter 2 because some of the verses just left me thinking.
1-2 Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors. But God isn't so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you've done. (MSG)
This is something that I struggle with quite a bit at work. It is so easy to criticize decisions that other people make. Yet, most of the time, I should probably be on the receiving end of the criticism.
14-16 When outsiders who have never heard of God's law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God's law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God's yes and no, right and wrong. Their response to God's yes and no will become public knowledge on the day God makes his final decision about every man and woman. The Message from God that I proclaim through Jesus Christ takes into account all these differences. (MSG)
This one pretty much left me perplexed. I'm not sure what to make of it. Who are the "outsiders?"
From economics class...
The Big 3 automakers are on the verge of collapse. Just today, I heard that one or more might file for bankruptcy. How can this happen? The automakers count for at least 1% of our GDP. How can an entire industry literally implode. This doesn't happen overnight or just because of a recession. This has to take years to develop.
Why are we so prone to act on emotion when it comes to the stock market? People are selling like crazy. Yet, historically, investment in sound and diverse companies leads to positive returns. At this point, the more people sell, the further this thing is going to spiral downward.
A few days ago, someone made a comment that opened up some nasty wounds. Quite frankly, when the statement was made, it took everything I had to withhold making a very smart-ass comment. I got out of the situation and cooled down a bit without creating any damage. However, I was blown away by my own response and how this opened up things that I thought had healed. Yet, I spent some time reflecting and realized that this time around things were a bit different. When the original events transpired, it led me to a very self-defeatist type of place for several months. This time, although it made me quite angry, it didn't define me. This is an identity situation.
Interestingly enough, we have been revisiting John 20 the last few weeks. (We studied this in Vermont.) As a youngster, I remember hearing about Jesus appearing to the disciples and him showing them the wounds in his hands and side. The implications of this never really seemed to matter until much more recently. After the resurrection, Jesus still has the wounds. This is huge. The wounds are still there. Yet, Jesus is different - different enough that people don't even recognize him. He is the resurrected Jesus. This just blows my mind.
From the Bremen Enquirer...
A few days ago, I wrote about the Emerald Alliance. Well, the paper added some additional detail. This is the first year for competitive marching band at the high school since 2003! I had chance to meet the band director last night. His enthusiasm is incredible and the group continues to improve each week.
Did anyone else notice how incredibly beautiful it was today?
Well, it is now Sunday, so I'm off to start the Sabbath with a long snooze.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Tomorrow is Friday. Whew. What a ride.
If you are reading this tonight, have a great tomorrow!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
I wrote this last night but was unable to post due to Internet connectivity issues…
Tonight, it is great to be sitting here on the green couch with my legs propped up on the hexagon end-table. This weekend has been a bit of whirlwind and it is nice to relax for a few moments of reflection.
Last Wednesday, I was out running in the morning. I left the house around 6:30 and headed out into the darkness. However, it was quite different than previous morning excursions. The temperature had dropped significantly and the coolness wrapped up my body. I could see my breath for the first time this fall. Yet, the coolness felt refreshing as the perspiration started to come forth from the exertion. I passed fields of corn and soybeans and inhaled the richness of harvest-time. Into the fifth mile, the rain started to pellet my exposed face and legs with pins of cold water. Throughout this run, I attempted to pray. Like so many other times, the words did not seem to flow so I prayed the Lord’s Prayer.
“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done,
On Earth as it is in Heaven.”
This portion of the prayer really seemed to hit home as my body was overwhelmed by the sensory experience of this run.
It is all about Jesus and His Resurrection.
In our common way of talking about when someone dies, we talk about them going to Heaven. We talk about them escaping their worn out bodies. The relatively popular song, “I’ll Fly Away,” is filled with these allusions.
Yet, the empty tomb is a reminder that the body is not something that is just abandoned as trash. Why is this important to me? Well, it makes our existence here on Earth important and meaningful. We aren’t just living here temporarily so that we can abandon our bodies – and all the aches and pains – and whoosh, head off to Heaven.
However, this is what really started to make me think. The word body does not just include people bodies.
What about the body of Christ, the Church?
What about real persons living in communal bodies?
What about the planetary bodies, like the Earth?
Again, these are not just things that will go away into the dump heap. They are real and tangible and in need of ongoing resurrection. I think this is what Paul is trying to get at when he writes, “I die every day,” (I Corinth 15:31) because with death comes resurrection. Yet, It is not just about individual salvation and resurrection. Sachs writes in the Christian Vision of Humanity, “’My’ resurrection is not complete until the entire created world enters into its promised fullness.”
The run reminded me to be aware of the the resurrection that is going on around me – to be sensitive to the sights, the smells, the experiences - and to be a participant in this amazing endeavour as I anticipate the return of Jesus to Earth.
Tomorrow night, I hope to start sharing some examples of resurrection in action. Please feel free to contribute your observations and experiences!
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Restoration, resurrection, and the importance of the tangible body
Average Propensity to Serve vs Average Propensity to Soak (This is a concept that I came up with on my own based off of econ concepts. It applies to church life and I'm really excited to share.)
Powerpoint 2007 - Our company has not upgraded to '07 and I had no idea how awesome this new version is. I've been working on the econ powerpoint and I'm beside myself with excitement at the new design possibilities.
However, I'd just like to take a minute before heading to the shower (and maybe even getting my hair to untangle) to write about a friend.
Today, a friend stopped by to use my computer and Internet. He is a new student at Ivy Tech this fall and was looking for an article to review. In the process, he pulled up two of his papers and asked for some help with punctuation.
English is his second language.
I really admire his eagerness to head back to school and rise to the challenge of learning, reading, and writing in a language other than his own native tongue.
This has to be extremely difficult and frustrating. Quite frankly, I can't imagine going to school and having to write about chemistry, accounting, or economics in Spanish. Sometimes, it is hard enough to write about in English!
I wish him the best of luck on this new adventure!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
The temperature has dropped a bit this week so the fire felt great. We just started roasting hot dogs when the high school principal stopped by with a special delivery. Last night, he managed to interfere in the homecoming TPing of the school. Evidently, the kids dropped everything and ran. They left behind a bunch of unopened packages of toilet paper that managed to end up in the personal care products trailer. Thanks to the high school kids for this donation!
After walking the fire pit home, I opted to not study for the upcoming accounting exam and headed over to Clella's house. We had a pleasant conversation. Thanks to Clella, my coworkers will enjoy some peach pie. (I'll enjoy it, too!) Now, it is time to the hit hay. Tomorrow is Friday!!
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Tonight, we talked about the multiplier effect. The multiplier effect is this phenomenon that happens when money is spent. Okay, yesterday, I purchased bananas and apples at the grocery store. Usually, I just think about giving the cashier the money and then taking my apples and bananas. However, what happens to that money after it leaves the cash register? Well, some of it goes to cover the cost of the apples and bananas. Some of it goes to pay utilities for the grocery store. Some of it goes to pay property taxes of the establishment. Then there is some that goes to the employees. Guess what these employees do. They go buy more apples and bananas (or maybe they go down to Subway and get a sandwich). Down at the Subway, a certain amount of the money used to purchase the sandwich goes to the employees at Subway. One of the Subway employees heads up to Meijer (after getting gas and coffee at the BP) to buy a pair jeans... My $4.05 just carried out into a portion of many future transactions and maybe ended up having an overall economic impact of $6.48. So move the decimal points a few places and change purchases and $4,050,000 has an impact of $6,480,000.
As I was driving home tonight, I started wondering about the multiplier effect. What if we changed the unit from dollars to... smiles, hugs, charitable contributions, love, praise, encouragement? What if someone smiled 405 times and the total impact of second, third, and fourth rounds of smiles ended up being 648? That's a pretty good return on investment - especially when a lot of investments are losing ground right now.