Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fun at the Fair

So tonight, I had my final for economics. I have missed zero points so far this semester so I wasn't overly concerned. For the first time in my academic career, I took the exam and was the first to walk out the class. My first priority was to get on the phone with Jenn and we talked all the way back to Bremen - except the call dropped about 3 times. Upon arriving in Bremen, I was pleased to see that the parade was still going strong. Seeing Ben's bike missing, I took off to find him and ended up talking with Jim and Jan. We eventually all went down to the fair. Honestly, the fair is something that I have started to enjoy again. It is amazing that we live in a small town and yet rarely see so many people. So the fair is just a great time to run into people and talk with them. Of course, the corn dog, corn on the cob, and elephant ear with blueberry topping are pretty tasty.

Take care,


Monday, June 29, 2009

The Simple Things in Life

Lately, I have been learning to truly enjoy the simple things in life. Lately, one of my favorite things to do is to drink a cup of French pressed coffee with Jenn. We also recently had a wonderful time flying kite. I am so thankful for these opportunities.

Tonight, I was sitting at the dining room table and heard sounds of the marching band coming across the field. Jenn has talked about how she enjoys hearing the bands practicing at the college. I also enjoy hearing the music drift across the school yard from the high school. Tonight, I was surprised by the volume of the band. Even though they are still a pretty small group (this is only the second year of marching band following a several year hiatus), their dynamics and ability to achieve an impressive volume are awesome. The sounds of the fight song stirred up some pretty fond memories of marching band at Bremen and St. Joe. (Interestingly enough, two college first-year students started band at St. Joe ten years ago this August. That is pretty hard to believe!) I just had this amazing compulsion to go over to the track in order to better hear and see the band. Later, I had the opportunity to talk with the director and am so pleased by his enthusiasm and his restoration of the band program.

Take care,


Sunday, June 28, 2009


Well, looking back I see that the last post was on Wednesday. I didn't quite realize the tremendous adventure that would ensue after this last post. So much has happened in the last few days and I have much to reflect upon and share. However, the most important event over the last few days is that she said "yes."

Last Thursday, while sitting in the Syracuse airport, this strange sensation came over me and I realized that the next day, Friday, I would propose to Jenn. Believe me, this was not in the plan. Actually, I had picked out another day later in July and was just starting to get things together. However, the pieces had come together too perfectly.
Earlier in the week, Jenn had offered to come up to Bremen for the weekend instead of me going to Rensselaer. She offered to bring food for the grill if I would do the grilling. She also asked if it would be okay to bring her dog, Gus. I said that would all be great but that I needed to mow the church yard and would be home about 6.
So while sitting in the airport, it occurred to me that Jenn would certainly not suspect Friday night - after all she was bringing the food and Gus would provide a bit of distraction. The plan quickly came together.

On my way home from O'hare, I stopped off at Jenn's parents' house and had the big discussion with them. On Friday at lunch, I took off on a quick shopping spree and picked up a tablecloth, silverware, wine glasses, cloth napkins, stereo player, and flowers. Back at work, the anticipation was killing me and I could not wait until 5. At 4:58, I made a mad dash out to the car and picked up my canopy from Lois. At home, the canopy went up along with lights. I set the table with the St. Joe china and glasses, wine glasses, our picture, and candle. The music featured a CD that Jenn had burned recently and sent. I also set out some more candles and pulled out one of the bottles of wine that made the trip back from Germany.

When Jenn arrived, she was a bit distracted by Gus and just kind of said something about me being busy. Down-playing things a bit, I just said that I wanted to do something special since she had brought the food. So we proceeded to grill and enjoy a wonderful dinner. However, I wasn't sure how to make the next move. Jenn came to the rescue. She brought some pineapple for me to grill. After taking the pineapple off the grill, I asked if she wanted to try roasted marshmallow on the pineapple. She said sure so I took off into the house, changed into different clothes, grabbed the flowers and ring and marshmallows.

Jenn was playing with Gus when I came back out. I said that she might want to sit down. On one knee, I stumbled out a proposal. With tears streaming down both our faces, she said, "Yes."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

phone charger and trust

Last night, I got home from class (the last one before the final!) and finished packing for today's journey to Oswego. This is certainly a time of many changes both professionally and personally. Today and tomorrow, I'll be focusing on learning the products and machines that will be transferring to our Bremen facility as Oswego closes down. As I was packing, I ran through the list of items in my head, jeans, shirt, socks, toothbrush, ... charger cord.

Charger cord.

Where in the heck is the charger for my cell phone? Ben can attest that for the next 1/2 hour I scrambled around the house trying to find the charger cord.

Why? Well, the battery on the phone is not fully charged and the Oswego plant zaps the battery. All I could think about was getting into a bind out in New York and my phone being dead. So I guess the cell phone (and charger) kind of provide a sense of security. I remember quite vividly being at the Syracuse airport in December during a blizzard and using the cell phone to talk to the travel agent, my boss, the travel agent... you get the point.

Eventually, though, I realized that the charger was not going to be found and the opportunity for a reasonable sleep was rapidly fading. (It was already 11:00 and my 5:00 AM depart time was rapidly approaching.)

So I took a deep breath, turned off the phone (to save the battery), went to bed, and slept.

This morning, when I got to the plant to pick up the car, I reached into my computer bag and pulled out the phone charger.

Honestly, I don't remember putting the charger in the bag and I had just carried the bag into the house before starting to look for the charger. So I must have walked in the door with the bag, seen the charger, and immediatley put into the bag without even thinking about it or... well, who knows?

Take care,


Monday, June 22, 2009

A Drive

Today, I had the opportunity drive around northwest Indiana for about 4 hours. I had a half day and was on a mission. The day far surpassed my expectations. I'm going to spare you the details other than to say that sometimes it is necessary to step out, to open doors, to take a drive. After stopping for a McDouble, small fry, and an iced vanilla latte, I was ready for the journey. About 40 miles into the trip, a light bulb came on in my head. Past events started to connect. Future possibilities started to become endless. My hand reached for the phone and I started making some calls. Sure enough, the calls that I made affirmed my light bulb moment. Later in the afternoon, I made another discoverey. Somewhere along the journey over the last several years, my confidence level had drained significantly. Yet hearing a few simple words from a near stranger boosted my confidence level. I have been really trying to reflect over the last few weeks on God offering a wellspring of opportunities. Now, I'm really starting to believe in the possibility of these opportunities.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Last night, I had kind of welcome message on my answering machine. Greg called to say that he and Mark were not running this morning. Consequently, I slept in some this morning and that was nice for a change of pace. However, by about 9:00, it was time to get moving and go for a bike ride. My journey led me south on Fir to 12B, through Bourbon, to County Line Road and back towards Bremen. Over on County Line Road, I barely missed hitting a mouse. This mouse was a sad little thing running in a near perfect circle over and and over again. I'm not sure what it was doing other than running in circles. It was actually pretty sad. Inevitably it will encounter its demise and be plastered to the road only to be rinsed away by the rains and returned back to the earth. Writing this now, it dawned on me that riding bike is also similar in some ways to this mouse. You have to start and end in the same place - usually anyway. Maybe it is not quite so bleak as the mouse, though, because one can improve endurance, stamina - you get the point.

At any rate, I was reminded of a point that Jim brings up pretty regularly:

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I also thought about how often I find myself running around in circles - "fixing" things for the third, fourth, fifth times, trying to find my keys or sunglasses, letting anxieties and frustrations cycle back through time and and time again.

Yet, Jesus offers this seemingly simple way out of these circles:

"Come, follow me." (Matthew 4:19a)



Saturday, June 20, 2009

Let's Go Fly a Kite

A few weeks ago, I went with Jenn and her family to see Mary Poppins at the Cadillac Theatre in Chicago. Ever since, I have had Mary Poppins songs in my hand - one of them being the title of this post. In addition, the hobby store here in town has had a sign for kites. So I've really wanted to fly a kite for a few weeks now. Today, Jenn and I went out to the farm for lunch and then we came back into town to find a kite. Unfortunately, the hobby store was closed so we went down to Family Dollar and found a $4 Spiderman kite. I was pretty convinced that we wouldn't have enough string so we headed to Ace and found kite string. We came back to the house and went over to the old ball field across the road and starting flying the kite. The wind was acting kind of strange because it would be quite gusty and then almost no wind at all. So we took turns trying to get it up in the air. Just when we thought we had it, the wind would stop and the kite would dive back to the ground. Finally, we ended up getting the kite up a good height and payed off the entire spool of kite string. We sang a little bit and then just like that the kite took a dive and ended up in the fence by the football field. We ended salvaging the kite and most of the string.

Later, I thought more about flying kite and it kind of reminded me about life. The journey is certainly filled with a lot of highs and lows. Some days we really are soaring to the highest heights, but the reality of it is we live in a broken world. With this brokenness can some some pretty serious nose dives. I guess in my life, these highs and lows are most clear in my work (perhaps incorrectly translated in my mind as purpose). My expectations are often way too high for me and for others. Of course, this often leads to disappointment and frustration. At work, I also have profound desires to improve, communicate, meet goals, and positively impact others. Of course, these desires can also lead to disappointments and frustrations. Finally, I just struggle with something so deep - a longing to make a difference in the world. At its worst, all this leads to incredible feelings of doubt - almost a sort of numbness.

In all of this, it is incredibly hard to distinguish between self-talk, God's voice, the voices of friends, emotions, and logical thinking. My hope is that prayer and reflection on scripture will help to clear out some of the clutter squelching God's voice.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


A few days ago, I changed the "about me" section of this blog. I actually meant to save it to write about it, but I couldn't find it tonight. I must not have ever saved it but that is probably okay. If my memory is correct it said something like

"senior chemist at Copperfield (after five years not sure what that means) ... finished masters degree in materials and chemical synthesis from IIT ... play keyboard in worship band at Horizon Ministries...."

The other night, I decided to change this "about me" section:

Learner. Thinker. Perceptive. Passionate. Thirsty. Seeker.

I guess this has been on my mind after recently reaching my 29th birthday.

What I noticed about my "about me" section is that each attribute was attached to something: work, school, church, etc.

Matthew talks about identity:

5:48"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."

The verse doesn't say "live out your Copperfield-created identity, IIT created identity, Horizon created identity."

The verse says live out your God-created identity.

This is something that I want to do - take the attributes God has given me - and live out my God-created identity.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Story

I was a little hesitant to share this story, but it has been on my mind for a few days now. I don't think they will be too upset with me sharing this...

On Saturday, I was able to get out to the farm (on my bike) for a later lunch of BLT's. (Yes, bacon!) When I walked into the dining room, I noticed this dress hanging from one of the cabinet doors.

This was no ordinary dress.

So I proceeded to inquire a little bit more and Mom shared her side of the story. She has been been wanting to get a dress for Chad and Meg's upcoming wedding, but hadn't really found anything yet. So she had a day off from work and took off to Treat's in Plymouth. (At this point, she said Grandma Huff would have been so pleased - and she would have!!) She quickly saw a dress that she liked and even the shoes to go with it. However, she told the lady that was helping her that she needed to go home and talk it over with her husband. The lady said that they would hold it for 24 hours for her to decide. Back at home, Dad said that she should get it. Meg also said to get it. So the next day, Mom took off back to Plymouth to pick up the dress. The same lady was there from the day before but I guess she seemed a little worked up. Mom's immediate thought was that they had sold the dress already to someone else. The lady pulled out the slip and it said balance zero. Still not quite sure what was going on, Mom was now getting a little upset because she was sure someone else had bought the dress. Well, someone else had...


The lady at the store was so excited and I guess even a bit emotional. Mom was so pleased. (For the ladies out there, don't worry, she bought the shoes, too.)

Anyway, thanks Mom and Dad for a great story.

Mom, you deserve it.

Great work, Dad.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Sunday was a pretty interesting day. It left me feeling inspired and incredibly thankful. The morning started out with a run with Greg and Mark. I bowed out at 7 miles because I'm hoping to focus more on biking for a few weeks. However, during the run, I was thinking about how Jenn has started to run this spring. It has been so great to hear her talk about increasing her distance. I'm just so excited for her!

After getting back from the run, I made some coffee in the French press (thanks Jenn!!). For the next two hours or so, I just lay on the front porch. This has become one of my favorite Sunday morning activities. I take the sleeping bag and a blanket out to the porch with several pillows and just lay there reading as the sun (and temperature) continue to rise. This is a beautiful time in the morning. I've been reading a book, The Five Love Languages. (More to follow on that book in another post.)

After reading for awhile, I put the front racks on my bike and took it for a test ride to the farm. Each pack had 2 textbooks for a total of 8 textbooks on the bike. It is great that all those books are finally getting some use again!

After a nice lunch with my mom, I headed back into town to meet Tim for a bike ride. We road for about an hour and fifteen minutes and then headed to the pool to dive for rings. We did this last year and it was great fun to go for it again this year. We throw three rings per person out at a time and the goal is to pick them all up in one dive. We are getting pretty proficient at this. Swimming time ended with some aqua jogging.

Then, Ben and I headed out on a covert operation that has been in the works for some time. Georgia called and said all was clear so we took off in our white shirts and skinny black ties to help out in a mission. At the Miles' house, we picked up food and some other gear. We left a little bit nerous following a warning from Georgia to make sure that the basket did not end up in the lake. At Mary and Jerry's, we loaded the food and gear in the speedboat and we took off with Jerry across the lake for the rendezvous with the pontoon boat that had left probably 20 minutes earlier. As planned, we found Trent and Abby. Well, she said, "Yes," and so we served up the food for their dinner. (Fortunately, Georgia sent food for the help, too!) Photographer Ben snapped a lot of great pics. I got to be a food artist when placing the strawberries on the cheesecake and managed to get the plates to and from the table without breaking anything. Special congratulations to Trent and Abby! Thanks for your friendship, and I wish you the very best in the journey to come!

Take care,


Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Weekend

Well, this has been quite an interesting weekend. Suffice it say that I'm exhausted and heading to bed momentarily. However, I'm going to bed inspired.

Take care,


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Forever Young

Today, on the way back from visiting Jenn and her family in Hobart, I listened to Bob Dylan. I haven't listened to his music for awhile now so it was great to listen to the songs. However, today, one song in particular seemed to keep forcing my finger to the replay button. The song, #6, Forever Young:

May God bless and keep you always,
May your wishes all come true,
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars,
And climb on every rung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

Tonight, at dinner, the discussion involved this idea of people growing up. One person commented that a lot of people never really grow up. He said that they get kind of stuck in some kind of teenage rebellious limbo and never get out.

I'm not sure what Bob thought was he was singing these lyrics, but when I listen to the lyrics, it is not that kind of "young." Nor is it some kind of fountain-of-youth type of young.

For me, the song overflows with the dreams, awe, and joy of youth. It exudes possibilities and promise.

It is a song about living.

It is so easy to fall into traps... to forget to dream... to just go through the motions... to just sit around waiting for the "good life" (retirement)... to focus on presents and not presence... to long for more of the material when there never can be enough... believe me, the list goes on.

But what about the dreams of making a difference, making the world a better place?

But what about gazing up into the night sky and shouting out awe upon seeing a shooting star?

But what about the joy and zeal of creating that special fort in the woods?

This passage from Mark came to mind:

13-16The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: "Don't push these children away. Don't ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in." Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.

So maybe Bob was right on with this song.

Take care,


Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Rest of the Story

Recently, I received a phone call from a friend. He wanted to share a story about some students in his group. The group is planning a trip later in the year and is in the process of getting funds assembled for the trip.

Two of the students in the group are siblings and like many families money is a little tight right now. However, my friend shared that the brother knocked on his door one evening with money for both of the siblings to go on the trip. A bit surprised, my friend casually inquired about the money and the brother replied that his sister raided her savings accounts and decided to pay for both of them to go on the trip. We live in a society that seems to be focusing increasingly on the self - on having the the right clothing, having more money, living in the right neighborhood. Yet, this young lady really stepped out and selflessly gave of her own probably limited and hard-earned funds to support her brother. I really admire her and am thankful to have heard the story.

Just over a week, I wrote about Pentecost after playing trumpet at a service and listening to an outstanding message. Today, I returned to Acts again and didn't get much past the first verse:

1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach

Today, one word in this verse stood out. Actually, tonight something else stands out, too.

First, the word:



In the first book, Luke wrote about what Jesus began to do - not what he had completed or finished. No, he wrote about what Jesus had started. It is pretty cool how much later the verse was enumerated as it is in the NIV. Why? The verse does not end in a period. Jesus began something and their is more to the story.

The young lady in my friend's group is part of the rest of the story.

Take care,


Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Tonight, I arrived home after a 1/2 day covert operation. Of course, I was hungry. So after a quick stop at Woodie's, I sat down on the futon for a quick dinner. The cold meat of choice this week is turkey, so I had yet another turkey and cheese sandwich. Then, I picked up one of the strawberries. The strawberries have not been very good over the last few weeks. (I purchase them pretty regularly.) Consequently, my taste buds were delighted upon biting into the first strawberry because it was the best strawberry that I have ever eaten. It was so sweet and yet kind of tangy, too. The remainder of the berries had this great flavor. Two hours later, I can still taste the berries on my tongue. This ended up kind of being a simple lesson in patience. I'm a big fan of strawberries but they have not been very good for several weeks. At the grocery store, I almost walked right by without getting a box. Yet, the berries ended up being excellent... and well worth the wait!!

Monday, June 8, 2009


Last Saturday night during the message, Jim asked Ben and I to share a little bit about last year's trip to Vermont. We talked about our experiences cliff-jumping into the river. My first jump was absolutely terrifying. I backed away from the edge several times and asked Jim and Ben to repeat more than once. I needed proof. The rock seemed to angle too far in front. I was so sure that I wouldn't jump far enough and would end up plastered on the rock below. All of this was complicated by my relatively poor vision. Everything was blurry. Eventually, after seeing those guys successfully land in the water enough times, I believed that I would also end up safely in the water below... and took the leap. Sure enough, a moment later, I was surfacing and laughing. What a great feeling... to take a leap and conquer fear.

This past Saturday was another one of those moments. At the Notre Dame football stadium, I had the chance to run through the tunnel to the sounds of the ND fight song and finish my first 1/2 marathon. Sports and anything athletic have always been something that I have kind of feared. I just always felt really awkward with anything sports-related so my experiences were limited pretty much to t-ball, elementary basketball camp, and some church-league softball. So just to finish this run was pretty amazing.

Tonight, another leap. Recently I noticed a posting in the mathematics department at Bethel - the school where I'm working on my MBA - for adjunct faculty. Although both of my degrees are in chemistry, I have a pretty extensive background in math. So I was pretty excited to get an email to come up for an interview. They will get back with me a week or so but just the thought seemed pretty exciting.

The last year has included several other leaps - the most amazing leap occurring in the last six months. I'm really looking forward to the leaps to come.

Jim included this verse in Saturday's message:

Romans 5:2 - And that's not all. We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand--out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

I'm so thankful for these leaps - for these throwing open of doors, these discoveries - and for God's love - a love that conquers fears.

1 John 4:18 - There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Sting

Grandma Huff died two years ago. It is amazing that sometimes the sting still seems so real. Today, on the flight back from Oswego, I thought some about that time and two vivid images came to mind.

First, Dad shared a letter that he had written to Grandma. This letter was powerful, but I think the more striking image was that Mom stood right there with him. They made it through together. Mom even read a portion of it that Dad was not able to read.

Second, right before the funeral, Grandma's entire Sunday school class lined up and gathered around the open casket for one last farewell. I guess that these two images are so permanently etched in my mind because they so beautifully capture a sense of togetherness - of being together on this journey of life.

Take care,


Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Tonight, I'm in a hotel room typing for a few minutes before heading to bed. Tomorrow is going to be a long day. We are meeting around 6:00 PM and then going over to the plant here in a Oswego. The plant is closing and the production is moving to Bremen and Lafayette. I'm not going into any more details other than to say that it is frustrating. It is frustrating to know that this closure is dramatically going to affect the lives of some really good, hard-working people. Lately, I've been trying to pray more. This is a major struggle but tonight I guess I'm going to pray for these people and that they can find some sort of peace in this transition.

This evening on the plane, I continued reading Acts 2 (and went back to Acts 1, t00). I have been really intrigued by these chapters. One thing that I have done is just to circle words that stick out to me.

Spirit enabled
Utterly amazed

These words all in some way convey life in the Spirit.

Lately, I have been trying to think less about me, Todd, and trying to think more about others. With this shift in focus, interestingly enough, some of these words are starting to become more "real" in my life after kind of an extended stay in the desert.

Take care,


Monday, June 1, 2009

On Trumpet Playing and Pentecost

On Tuesday evening when I got home from school, I checked the answering machine. Pastor Bill from Grace UMC here Bremen left and message for me to call him. Thinking it was probably too late to call back, I waited until Wednesday but assumed that he wanted me to play trumpet at the upcoming unity service of the new Bremen United Methodist Church. Sure enough, the next day we communicated again by phone and he asked me to play on Sunday.

This actually was a really interesting and symbolic service. Two churches came together as one. Two congregations - two families of believers - combined to create one new church.

Interestingly, this celebration occurred on Pentecost.


Honestly, I would not even have known it was Pentecost on Sunday if I hadn't played trumpet at this new church.


Honestly, I've never even really thought much about Pentecost.

And, yet, it is one of the most important days in the Christian calendar.

So, as I was playing trumpet during the processional, I saw my brother and others carrying in the large, empty cross from the former Grace church and I glanced and those assembled under the headship of the resurrected Jesus.

This Jesus who conquered death.

This Jesus who turned the world upside down.

This Jesus who broke the status quo.

This Jesus who called people to abandon their lives and follow him.

This Jesus who reached out to those on the margin.

This Jesus who honored the Old Testament but started a New Testament.

Dr. Cindy Reynolds reflected on Acts 2 during the message.

She particularly highlighted the beginning and ending of the chapter.

"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place." (2:1)

"Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, 'What does this mean?'" (2:12)

At Pentecost, the waiting of generations is over.

The Holy Spirit comes down and....

Promises are fulfilled.

Power fills the people in such away that they boldly proclaim Jesus so that the entire world can understand.





So it was pretty amazing to look around at two churches becoming one in this modern-day Pentecost celebration of sorts. I'm pretty thankful that the trumpet served as the instrument to participating in this celebration.

Take care,