Tuesday, March 30, 2010

God's Friendship

This past weekend, I had the privilege to join retreatants and leaders from my alma mater on the last Kairos retreat of the school year. My talk focused on God's friendship. I can assure you that God's friendship was overflowing throughout the long weekend. Stay tuned for some posts discussing God's friendship - the mystery, freedom, gift, and risk - in more detail.



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Finding the Kairos Cross

This week, I have struggled to keep track of writing utensils. On Monday, my office did not have a single writing utensil available. So I ventured down the hall to an abandoned office in search of a pencil or pen. Much to my delight, a pencil stared back at me upon opening the center desk drawer. This pencil worked great. But, of course, all pencils need to eventually be sharpened. On Tuesday morning, I asked a coworker if he knew where the nearest pencil sharpener was located. He informed me that the only one he knew of was in the water treatment room - literally, about a half mile away. Well, fortunately, it was about lunch-time and I was in need of a short drive (and a Starbucks skinny vanilla latte). Upon returning back to the plant, I grabbed a pen out of my Bible before exiting the car and happily continued on my working way. Except, about an hour later, after running an errand in the plant, my pen had disappeared. It was just starting to get ridiculous. Not willing to break down and ask coworkers for a pen or pencil again, I found the pile of junk that came with me from Bremen and was convinced there had to be a pen. I located a box that looked promising, opened it, and saw a brown string. Surprised, I grabbed the string and pulled out my Kairos cross. This was pretty amazing considering that the retreat is coming up this weekend and I had assumed the cross had ended up misplaced during the move. No, it had been right there with me all the time - I just couldn't see it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

What's Next, Papa?

Last week at the end of the Kairos team meeting, we went around the circle and shared what we were looking forward to most about the upcoming retreat. When it came to my turn, I heard these words come from my mouth, "I'm looking forward to seeing what the Holy Spirit has in store." Honestly, this kind of startled me because it just came out of nowhere. However, it should not be surprising at all.

My journey through Romans has reinforced this so much over this past week:

So don't you see that we don't owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There's nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God's Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" (8:12-15, MSG).

It is so easy to get caught up in a grave-tending kind of life - a life of woe, a life of the flesh, a life of fear, a life of anxiety. Yet, in the midst of all of this God's Spirit beckons us to new adventures.

What's next, Papa?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

An Arby's Experience?

The Starbucks Experience has become a common phrase. It recognizes that there is often something attached with the item that is purchased. In the case of Starbucks, many people have found something else attached to that mocha, latte, coffee, or tea. Perhaps this something else is the culture, ambiance, music, or environmental awareness associated with the brand.

However, have you ever heard anyone talking about an Arby's Experience?

I mean, have you ever been in Arby's and heard:

Hey, man, that was the best roast beef sandwich.

Dude, isn't this radio station awesome?

Aren't these hard plastic chairs comfortable?

Well, last Monday, I pulled up to the Arby's drive-thru window in Lafayette while en route to class.

While I was rummaging for some change, I heard this voice, "Hey, how's it going? Isn't it beautiful out today?"

I was kind of taken aback and turned toward the window kind of dumbfounded. This was the most friendly fast food worker ever. He proceeded to carry on a quick conversation of which my responses were "Yeah," "Sure," "Yep" because I was still kind of shocked. After all this is not what fast food is about, is it? Don't you normally just pull up to a drive-thru window, pay, and get on your way? Yet, this brief exchange was so unusual, so different from all previous fast food experiences. This guy single-handedly created an Arby's Experience.

The reason this is particularly interesting to me is that this Arby's employee stepped out of the factory-like mentality of the typical fast food establishment. All of the sudden it wasn't just about producing sandwiches in the fastest way possible. So tomorrow night, I'm planning on conducting an experiment by going back to see if this place really is different. If so, I think it is safe to say that this particular Arby's is onto something different for the fast food industry. Sure, McDonald's can renovate all they want, but a conversation can go a long way, too.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Emotional Bank Account

Check out this post at the Bremen Castings blog.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Taking (a picture of) a Leek

You might recall from the last post that I discussed the cooking of my wonderful almost-wife, Jenn. Well, last evening we were just relaxing for a few minutes and Jenn was sharing her plans for the St. Patrick's Day meal. She said that she was planning on making corned beef and cabbage and potato soup. I'm thinking that sounds awesome. But then she throws in a curveball of sorts.

Jenn says, "Oh, I need you to pick up some leeks and chives after work."

I'm thinking, "Leeks, what the heck are leeks? Isn't leek something you have to take when the bladder is about to burst?"

"Oh, sure," I reply. "Just one problem, though, I'm not sure what a leek is."

We proceeded to look up leek on Wikipedia and I felt confident that I could find them in the produce section at Target.

So today after work, I set off on the mission for leeks and chives. At the produce section, I see these things labeled leeks. They are HUGE - much larger than I expected to see based on the picture.

I grab the leeks and chives and head up to the cash register.

The cashier asks, "What are these?"

I reply, "Don't worry, I had no idea either. They are leeks. My fiancee is making an Irish dinner for St. Patrick's Day."

The lady behind me comments, "Oh, we just go to the Irish pub."

I said, "My fiancee really enjoys cooking. I'm extremely thankful for that.."

They said that they would be, too!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Art of Cooking

I am fortunate to know many artists. These folks share some common characteristics. They are passionate about what they do. They don't follow rules. They share their gifts.

Jenn is an artist in several areas. For obvious reasons, one of my favorite forms of her art is her cooking. When it comes to cooking and baking, she is a true artist.

How does she approach cooking?

She researches
Jenn peruses magazines and tunes into the food network. She even gleaned inspiration from Cook or Be Cooked for Wii. Jenn does the work necessary to learn different techniques and gain new ideas.

She experiments
Most anyone can follow a recipe if they really try. (Okay, some people really cannot follow a recipe, and they should probably stay away from the kitchen. ) Jenn, however, makes nearly every recipe her own. Tonight, for example, she is making Shepherd's Pie. She was not pleased by the quantity of butter in the recipe and is going to try lowering it with some strategies. She is frequently modifying recipes to reduce calories and fat. (Of course, this is difficult with cookies!) Among other areas, she also experiments with color, texture, and seasoning.

She gives
Probably the most delightful thing about Jenn and her art is that she gives. Just this morning, she asked me to invite Troy over for dinner on Wednesday night. She invited her brother as well. When I went to Bremen a few weeks ago for work, she sent cookies for Mom and Dad.

So for my part, I do the dishes and step in on an as-needed basis to chop vegetables and help with cookies. Okay, she used my idea for pears in the salad this week, too! :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010


As discussed in my previous post, I was recently running and came to an intersection. Over the past few months, I have encountered this intersection many times while running - sometimes more than one time a day. However, on this particular run, the intersection had much more meaning. In fact, I couldn't get the intersection out of my head and decided to take a picture of it. (Actually, I'd like to try taking a picture again and blur out the background. A nearby dog was barking like crazy so we were creating quite a disturbance. It was not a great time to be artistic!)

You see, on that particular run, I look up and saw a cross created by the two road signs, Mt. Cavalry and Winding. This intersection kind of summarizes life. Life is this kind of winding road with detours, country roads, potholes, and freeways. Eventually, though, the winding path comes to a place call Mt. Cavalry. And at this intersection is a cross. The key, though, is what happens after this encounter. A couple of options exist.

Option 1
Turn around and go back.

Option 2
Keep traveling along that Cavalry road.

Option 3
Stay at the Cross.

Option 4
Move on down a New Winding road with the confidence and freedom of new life.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Post Coming Soon

I have worked quite diligently this week with the hopes of having time allotted for a blog post for this morning. I'm doubling up for a few weeks with classes because of the wedding and ensuing vacation coming up in June. The nice thing, though, is that I know what the goal is. In other words, yes, these few weeks are hectic, but it is time well-spent in light of the event (and the start of our life together) that's coming. (Kind of a major understatement.) However, it made me pause and think this morning. Goals and a direction are important. They provide an understanding of what we are working towards. I've been doing some inquiring this week and making some observations. This is leading to some new thoughts about goals and direction.

Okay, the real reason for this post is to set up the next post. A few weeks ago, I was out running and came to an intersection. I have encountered this intersection several times but something struck me about it on that particular run. I looked at the road names and couldn't get a thought out my head. It was a thought for a picture. Last Friday, Jenn and I went on a walk and took the picture. The picture didn't end up being anything too special but it captured the point. More to follow.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pussy Willow

I just don't know why everyone laughs.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Law

I recently alluded to The Law.

Now, I'm not specifically talking about our current systems of laws. However, they probably in some ways help to understand the concepts shared by Andrew Farley in The Naked Gospel.

Instead, I'm talking about The Law of the Old Testament.

More specifically, as Farley writes, "performance hoops to jump through in order to impress God."

I can relate on a very personal level to what it is like living under The Law.

Sure, it is not a law written down in any ancient text. Rather, it is a self-imposed sort of law that was most prevalent in my early college years. It had to do with grades and performance. I still remember spending hours in the basement of the library (the dungeon as I thought of it) studying for tests, studying quizzes, studying, studying... Why? I was afraid of failure, afraid of losing scholarship money. And my sense of self-value was confined to academic performance. So after coming out of the dungeon, I would then wonder around campus knowing that something was not right but not able to understand what was wrong.

Only now, are the pieces starting to come together.

However, what is clear is that these types of laws - whether self-imposed or rooted in churches or other institutions - don't make much sense. What are some other vestiges of "law-mindedness?" Some things that come to mind are concerns over church attendance and belief that in order to get closer to God we need to do all kinds of activities.

None of this sounds like freedom.

It sounds like prison.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Voices of God

A friend shared that he also has some kind of perhaps semi-spiritual experience in bookstores.

He wrote, "I love entering a book store without a single plan or idea of what I am going to buy."

Several words came to mind when I read this statement.


I have often considered the different images of God... God in others, God in nature, God as teacher...

However, the different voices of God have never even been on the radar. Yet, why wouldn't God use a book to share something with us? Why wouldn't God use a gurgling stream or a buzzing wind mill turbine to offer some insights? I have always assumed that the voice of God had to sound like someone talking. Now, this narrow view sounds kind of confining, perhaps absurd.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pressing On Revisited Yet Again

Jenn and I spent Saturday morning and early afternoon with friends in Lafayette. While Jenn and Katie were shopping, Nick and I headed over to Barnes & Noble.

As strange as it sounds, going to a bookstore has almost become a spiritual experience. Somehow, more often than not, a book just kind of jumps off the shelf. This day was no different. As I looked over titles, a book stood out from all of the rest:

The Naked Gospel by Andrew Farley.

I mean who wouldn't be a least a little curious about a title that includes Naked and Gospel?

So I started reading and before long am already at page 55. Why? This is a book that makes so much sense to me. Because it makes so much sense, it is almost like speed reading. Pieces from my ongoing spiritual journey start to make more sense. Questions about what is going on in our world become a tiny bit more clear.

It even applied to a recent decision as related in a previous post.

It has to do with laws.

More specifically, The Law.

Well, time for work, but more to come.