Saturday, May 30, 2009

Potato Creek

Last evening, Ben, Trent, and I took off on a quick adventure to Potato Creek. You might say that there is not much of an adventure involved in going to Potato Creek. Well, it was an adventure for us because we took our bikes. We loaded the bikes up with 2 tents, sleeping bags, food for two meals, some clothes, a camp stove, and some other gear. We left about 5:30 PM from Bremen and were at the park gates by 7:00. However, along the way, we decided that it would be a good idea to have stuff to make S'mores. So we kept riding another 3 miles into North Liberty and picked up the last box of graham crackers - it was dusty - marshmallows, and chocolate. Back at the park, we made quick work of setting up camp. Then we checked the camp store for firewood. They were out and the next load wasn't due in until 9:30. So we went back to camp, started up the camp stove, and cooked our beans and hot dogs. Yes, we each had the equivalent of a can of baked beans and 2 hot dogs. While Trent kept the food hot, Ben and I headed back to get the wood. We were able to pack a lot of wood into two paper grocery bags and loaded up our bikes with the wood. As we were loading, a guy said, "Geez, you guys are going to have fun with that." We explained that we brought everything for camping in on bikes and thought we would manage okay. We did. We had enough wood for two fires - one last night and one this morning.

A few observations/comments/etc...

We were pretty blown away by seeing so many huge campers. There was even this guy sitting on a lawn chair staring at a TV built into the side of of his RV. Why??

We managed to get by just fine with relatively few items - far less than the normal comforts of home

We had a lot of stares - especially when we were loading up. It was like it finally dawned on the campers across from us that yes we came on bikes.

It was great to plan something together and see it to fruition

This morning, I woke up and started reading some in Mark.

What struck me in just the few chapters that I read was the movement.

"The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him." (1:5)

"Come, follow me..." (1:17)

"Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee .... and followed him" (1:20)

"Jesus got up, left the house, and went off to a solitary place to pray" (1:35)

"Some men cane, bring to him a paralytic" (2:3)

Okay, I just got into chapter 2 and you can see the list is already long.

It is really easy to get caught in rut, to get caught up in our hurts, habits, and hang-ups. This really, really makes it difficult to interact with God. However, there seems to be a pretty strong precedent in scriptures for movement - for positioning. This short bike trip provided a brief opportunity to get out of the box and this morning provided a few minutes to reflect a little more deeply on a few chapters of Mark.

Take care,


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Things we take for granted

The other night, Ben and I wanted to play Rockband. However, we had a bit of a problem. To play Wii (or watch a DVD), it is necessary to change the input. Enter a serious problem. We couldn't figure out how to do it without the remote and the remote was missing. In fact, it was missing for more than a few days. But I guess it was easier to just use the buttons on the TV as opposed to locating the remote. Yet, when it came time to play Wii, this minor inconvenience escalated into something a bit more critical. So we started searching and Ben found the remote between the 2 sections of the big green sofa (at least this is where I think it ended up being). We changed the input and played some Rockband. Later, though, I realized that this was kind of a reminder. We certainly are fortunate too have so many "things." In fact, we probably take many, if not most, of these things for granted. So I'm hoping to be a bit more cognizant of my surroundings and appreciating what is around me.

Take care,


Monday, May 25, 2009

A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down


Chim Chim Cher-ee

Let's Go Fly a Kite

Ring a bell?

"Mary Poppins," you say.

Yesterday, Jenn and I went with a group from her church to the Broadway in Chicago production of Mary Poppins at the Cadillac Palace Theatre.

Okay, I'll be honest that I wasn't really sure what to expect about going to see Mary Poppins. However, this show was amazing... the music, the props and scenes, the lights. Yes, Mary Poppins even flew. Dare I say that it was, uh, magical.

Well, sure, why not?

Probably my favorite part of the show is the transformation that Mr. Banks undergoes. At the beginning of the show he is this banker. Everything is black and white. He doesn't have time to spend with his kids - the nanny can take over them. He no longer wants to know everything about the stars like he longed to as a child. Along comes this lady, Mary Poppins, and everything turns upside down. By the end of the show, Mr. Banks has come to the realization that life is not all about dollars and cents. It is about people, about family.

And yes, kites.

Take care,


Saturday, May 23, 2009


Tonight, I took the advice of friends, Abby and Trent, and am relaxing at home. This was actually a difficult decision because some other friends were going to a new Mexican restaurant in Plymouth. Actually, though, in light of my last experience eating this type of food on Saturday night and then running on Sunday, this was probably the right decision! In all seriousness though, does anyone else think that the pace is almost frantic lately? I mean, it seems like we bounce around from event to event, activity to activity, place to place, and it just never ends. When Chad and I were young, we used to play Atari Pong. (My favorite was when the block would get "stuck" and just go back and forth.) That is what it kind of feels like - just going and going. It gets tiresome and exhausting. So in all honesty, there is a lot of merit to unplugging for a little while. Tonight, as I'm resting here, I'm reminded of some verses from Matthew:

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (28-30, Message)

These verses say to keep company with Jesus. However, this is not easy. In fact, the frantic pace that seems to becoming more and more of the norm makes this incredibly challenging. It makes it incredibly difficult to listen for God's voice, to be aware of God's presence. Yesterday, I had a gmail conversation with a friend that I have not talked with in quite some time. This friend also had some wisdom to share:

He just have to block out the noise and listen.

So that's what I'm going to do for the rest of the night.

Take care,


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Road Trip and Bike Ride

Yesterday, Marcia, Matt, and I went on a road trip... to Milwaukee. Yes, we left at 6:00 AM from Bremen and went off on our merry way to Milwaukee. After a bit of detour, we ended up the conference center in Milwaukee and went to the wire processing technology show. Actually, the show surpassed my expectations. We learned about how our customers process our wire. Some of the processes included cutting, stripping, terminating, heat-shrink tubing, and ultrasonic welding. It was pretty cool to be in a low stress environment learning about these processes. This knowledge will help us to be more effective communicators with our customers. We were actually back in Bremen just before 6:00 PM so this trip was a whirlwind with quite a bit of driving. Yet, it was a great day with good conversation in the car and learning opportunities at the show.

Tonight, Trent, Ben, and I headed out for a bike ride just over 30 miles. However, tonight's ride was different from any ride in the past. Trent and I had our saddlebags (with school books). We're hoping to do a couple overnight bike trips and maybe a little longer trip this summer. So tonight was the first foray into carrying the packs on the bikes. Two hours later we were back at the house and pretty tired. However, this was a great ride. As sick as it sounds, I really enjoyed the extra work needed to keep the bike moving!

Take care,


Monday, May 18, 2009

On Shin Splints and Risks

Recently, I have been dealing with some shin splints. After doing some research, I think they actually started on a recent trip. I was eager to get some running in but did not know the area so headed to the treadmill at the hotel. Unfortunately, it was not a very good treadmill and the speed adjustment didn't work right. So I'm pretty sure that this change in surface and the speed changes contributed to the shin splints. After getting some advice, I've been icing my shins and popping some ibuprofen. This morning, I was thinking about shin splints. In a weird way, I'm actually kind of thankful for them. Why? Well, this year, I set a goal to run a 1/2 marathon. For me, this is stepping out of the box. But stepping out of the box can be risky. Actually, stepping out of the box is risky and opens up the door to failure, to pain.

This past week, I realized something. I had just withdrawn from a class (only to unwithdraw a few hours later). I had withdrawn from the class because everything just seemed too overwhelming. Yet, the second I pressed "submit," I knew something was wrong. I enjoy being a student. I enjoy learning. Why the heck would it make sense to withdraw? This led to some further self-evaluation and it dawned on me that I have changed a lot in recent months - in ways that I'm not proud of - in my role at Copperfield. Now, I get defensive and angry. The moment I click my card key at the door, this numbing sensation pervades my very being. I even started to forget one of the things that gives me energy - school and learning.

Well, yesterday, it was time to step out of the box and try to describe this to my boss. I was a bit nervous to hear his response. But much to my surprise he thanked me for talking about it. Remarkably, he even said that it is very likely others are having similar experiences and that we need to continue a dialogue regarding this issue. Wow, this is not what I anticipated but it will be interesting to see what happens. Regardless, it was right to be honest. It was right to take the risk. It was right to step out of the box.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Asking... giving... and receiving

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to visit the Dominican Republic. In fact, if you haven't read these posts, feel free to read them by clicking here. Unlike my previous trip, I decided to send out support letters and was quite overwhelmed by the response. You know, it wasn't even really the money that mattered - it was the fact that people cared about me, about the trip, and about the Dominican Republic.

Recently, I received a support letter... from a member of the Bremen Marching Band. They are planning a trip and are in need of funds. This band program has improved drastically over the last year or so. The marching band made it regionals for the first time in years and the concert and jazz band performances have been incredible. As a former member of the band - a very small band at the time - it has been amazing to see this growth - in both numbers and quality. So long story short, I was really excited to receive this letter and having the opportunity to support this organization. I signed my check, put it in the mail, and didn't think about it any more.

Fast forward a few days.

This past week was particularly trying for many reasons, but that's not really the point.

In the middle of feeling completely overwhelmed and at or near the breaking point, this guy I know comes up to me. He is the father of the aforementioned student. I was more than a little surprised when he said the most sincerest "Thank you" that I have ever received. I was also more than a little surprised by the peace that kind of settled over me with those few simple words. So this entire cycle - this interrelationship - is pretty interesting and amazing. It really highlighted in my mind that we just never know. We never know when some seemingly insignificant gesture could turn totally around. It also highlighted something else - that there are likely many people out there ready to give. They just need to be asked.

Take care,


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Well, I'm up a bit past my normal weeknight bed-time. But I'm really okay with that and plan on changing it up tomorrow a bit and sleeping in a little. Today has been more than an interesting today. It was a complicated day filled with a lot of emotions, anxieties, questions, frustrations, and fears. I felt completely overwhelmed and even withdrew from the class that started tonight only to unwithdraw a few hours later. Ultimately, I decided to call my mom for advice and quickly things started to come into perspective. One of her questions: Have you been praying? Honestly, not enough and, of course, the age-old excuse of not being able to come up with words to pray passed from my mouth. "What about listening?" she asked. Listening.

So tonight Dr. Shavey starts class with a devotion and the first verse he shares:

4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:4)

or from the message

2-4Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Tonight, things make so much more sense in many ways and I'm so thankful for my conversations with Mom and later with Jenn. I'm also thankful for the tests and challenges, the doubts and fears, that surrounded me today. I'm hoping that this has been a baby step on the path of spiritual maturity.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

On Milestones and Moms

Today, I met up with Greg and Mark for the Sunday morning run. These mornings have been great opportunities to run with some outstanding athletes. This morning I reached a milestone of 13 miles. One year ago, the though of running had not even entered my mind. I know this for a fact because a quick check of previous blogs entries revealed that the first time I had tried running was on 6/10/08. Now, eleven months later, I'm up to 13 miles. What's next? In a few weeks, I'm planning to run in the 1/2 marathon at the Sunburst. At this point, I don't have a goal other than to complete the race. This kind of affirmed something though in my mind - the importance of milestones and setting and reaching goals. All of this indicates movement and change. Last night, on the way to Hacienda,Trent, Abby, and I talked about changes and different "graduations" on the journey of life. I guess the opposite of these changes would probably be stagnation. Although changes come with challenges, stagnation is something that really scares me.

Shifting gears, today is Mother's Day. The card I picked out for my mom had a road-sign with "Mom's" printed on it. In college, we used to frequent a truck stop called Grandma's. There was just something about Grandma's that always brought us back. Maybe it was the name. Maybe it was the grilled cheese sandwich. Maybe it was just being there with close friends. Or maybe it was all of the above. At this point in my life, I am really glad to have a place called Mom's to frequent. Maybe it is those Saturday brunches. Maybe it is the chance to spend time at "home." I'm so thankful for Mom - her love and her support. (Of course, the food is great, too!)

Friday, May 8, 2009

500 MCM in Lafayette

It is Friday night nearly Saturday morning already. My last post was on Monday and it is the weekend already again. This work week was rather interesting and culminated in a trip to Lafayette this afternoon/evening. Before going into this trip further, I just want to note a transition that happened during the week. For reasons I'm not sure about, a bunch anger had built up in me and it finally burst this week - not in the most positive way - but it burst nonetheless.

Consequently, this led into a pretty exciting Friday. Recently, I was asked to help out on a product produced in our Lafayette facility. This has been exciting for several reasons. First, it has allowed us (different facilities) to work together for a common goal. Too often, it seems easy to develop negative competition. This type of competition pits people/facilities against each other in such a way that the only way to succeed is to make everybody else look bad. This project has been so refreshing because it has quite simply allowed us to work together, learn from each other, brainstorm together. My hope is that we have improved the product in question are also building a foundation for future opportunities. Second, it has allowed me to get out to another facility. Also, too often, it is easy to have a narrow view of industry, production, engineering, and quality that is isolated to a single facility. Yet, other facilities offer additional insights and ideas.

So anyways, the jury is out until Monday when the wire is processed by our customer, but I am cautiously optimistic that we are...

better together.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Change Revisited

Well, I'm not sure what to make of this exactly. On Saturday night all I could think about was taking a day off (Sunday) and just chilling at home. In fact, I had planned on getting over to Grace and Salem UM churches on Sunday morning to make announcement for the food drive. Honestly, though, I felt completely out of gas and in need of a serious recharge. Of course, in these times, my natural inclination is to retreat for a few moments. In so many words, I kind of brought this up to Jim on Saturday night at his bonfire and he more than willingly offered to cover the announcements.

After spending the evening at the bonfire and enjoying an amazing run on Sunday morning, I sat down on the big green couch with a book and settled in for a day off - a mini retreat of sorts. About 45 minutes later, I realized that this was not going to work and took a quick shower and headed out for the announcements. I don't know, it just didn't feel right to stay home. So I met up with Jim at Grace and we did our spiel and ducked out to head to Salem. Interestingly, the pastors of the two churches had "swapped pulpits" due to the upcoming merger so the pastor of Grace was at Salem. I talked with him for a few minutes before church and he asked if I was leaving after announcements. No, I planned to find my brother and stay for the service. He said that I'd hear the message again from a few weeks ago. Actually, I had even written about this message in my blog. The chain of events that transpired for me to be sitting in a pew listening to this message again seemed a bit of a stretch. This time I took a few more notes.

Life is about movement, change, and transition. However, we often don't like these changes. Actually, much of life is about life and death... and death is painful.

Some examples that he mentioned...
Empty nest syndrome

All of these can be difficult and involve some form of death... death to the way things were, death to one self. Yet, on the flip side is life... new life.

The key though is the hope that we have in Jesus. Without this hope, it is so difficult to face these and a myriad of other changes that occur in life.

Some time ago, a friend shared a story about a funeral that he had attended. The time at the cemetery was quite bizarre because the family of the deceased literally dove onto the coffin as it was being lowered into the ground. They just could could not handle the loss. There hope had died with the deceased and in some ways they were going with the deceased. This is an example of life without hope.

I'm still trying to decide if it was just an odd coincidence hearing Pastor Garver's message a second time. I'm guessing probably not and am wondering if this could have been some preparation for something. Regardless, I'm going to cling to hope even when things seem complicated and unclear.

Take care,


Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Starbucks Experience

Yesterday, Jenn and I ventured up to Mishawaka and this included a stop at the Main Street Starbucks. First, we walked in and noted that the place was packed - in a good way. Some people were deep in conservation. Others reclining on the sofa. Yet, we were able to walk right up to the cashier and order two mochas - a tall and a grande - without whipped cream. At the end of the counter we sat down in two comfortable chairs. I propped my feet on the foot rest and we waited for our drinks. The barista finished one drink and said, "Here is one of your drinks." I started to get up but then she said, "Just stay seated, we'll have the other one done in a minute. You two just look so relaxed."

Just stay seated.

This was such a welcome statement. Even though it probably only added another minute or two of real time to our brief respite, those few moments felt great. And the extra comment, "Just stay seated," made all the difference.

Take care,