Saturday, November 20, 2010

Love You, Bye

Jenn and I take turns praying at meals.

At one recent evening meal, it was my turn to pray.

Some of you know that when I'm hungry, I tend to get a little crazy. I also tend to get a little crazy when juggling more than a couple activities. This particular night, I was definitely more than a bit frazzled.

So we sat down to eat and I prayed.

Of course, I got to the point in the prayer when it was time to end.




I heard, "Love you, bye," exit from my mouth.

I was thinking, "What in the heck just happened?:
At first, I was a little embarrassed by this. I mean, who says, "Love you, bye" to end a prayer. That is how my wife and I end phone conversations. That is not how you are supposed to end a prayer.

I have wondered about this situation, though, several times since its occurrence.

I mean, isn't prayer supposed to be a conversation with God? So where did the "Dears," "Amens," and other formalities start entering into the picture?

The worship band at Horizon used to joke around quite a bit before church. Then, invariably someone would say, "Okay, it's time to dial up." In other words, "It's time to pray." At the time, this just seemed part of the humor.

Maybe, though, prayer really is more like a phone conversation or a face-to-face conversation - a conversation with a spouse, friend, coworker, or parent.

"Love you, bye."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Action versus Reaction

An action is offensive.
A reaction is defensive.

An action is doing something before a problem becomes a problem.
A reaction is trying to fix a problem after it has already happened.

An action is part of a calculated plan.
A reaction is a response to a crisis.

An action is taking the first step and allowing others to follow.
A reaction is, at best, forcing people to follow.

An action involves forward thinking.
A reaction involves backward thinking.

An action changes an idea into something.
A reaction changes something into something.

An action is a vitamin.
A reaction is an aspirin (or alcohol).

An action is exercise (eating right, getting enough sleep, etc).
A reaction is cold medicine.

Special thanks to my coworkers-in-change, Matt Gongwer and Trent Miles, for their contributions and inspiration.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thank you, God

The past few days have been quite a whirlwind. Honestly, it is wonderful to be sitting here in the living room with my feet propped on the coffee table.

On Wednesday evening, Nick and I ventured up to the chiropractor. (This trip in itself turned out to be quite humorous and featured a vocal performance by Ben. K. To avoid digressing too much, I'll get back to the main point.) Upon returning, I noticed that my brother's car and brother-in-law's truck were parked on the street in front of the house. This is not totally unusual because Jenn makes dinner for them from time to time. However, she typically would have mentioned that we were having them over for dinner. As I walked up to the front door, though, I could see more of our friends through the front windows. Jenn had put together a surprise pasta party in anticipation of Saturday's run. Surrounded by friends and family, we enjoyed some amazing spaghetti, breadsticks, salad, and brownies.

On Saturday, around mile 24, the love and support of my wonderful wife, friends, and family started pouring out as tears. All, I could do was just say, "Thank you, God. Thank you, God."

Later, Jenn asked me about what I thought about during the run.

Here are some of the thoughts.

I thought about my wonderful wife and her encouragement. I pictured her riding her bike during training and offering much needed water.

I thought about some of my closest friends and my gratitude for them. I prayed for those struggling with health issues.

I sang "You Are My Strength" and pictured a group of friends singing the same song at a little church in Wisconsin.

I thought about seeing "Marathon" on my mom's refrigerator calendar and "Run, Todd, Run" on the poster in our living room.

I thought about long bike rides with friends in Bremen and Rensselaer.

I thought about running in the mountains of Vermont.

I thought about Kerry, also running in the marathon, and her encouragement.

And yes, by mile 24, all that I could say was, "Thank you, God."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Let's have a picnic."

Friday evening was cold and dark.

Obviously, this was a perfect night... for a picnic.

After putting together a great comfort meal of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, Jenn exclaimed, "Let's have a picnic!"

So we put some blankets down on the living room floor and moved the food from the kitchen to our picnic blankets. We proceeded to enjoy a picnic and movie - a walk-up-and-sit instead of a drive-up movie.

Although this picnic was relaxing, it also left me challenged. We managed to turn an "ordinary" meal into something different, something "extraordinary." What does this mean for the remainder of the day? What other ordinary parts of the day can undergo transformation into something extraordinary? Yes, this left me feeling challenged.

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans, 12:1-2, MSG)

Monday, November 8, 2010


We are very fortunate to have received Fiestaware from many of our friends and family as wedding gifts. This morning, I looked at our breakfast table and was just kind of mesmerized by the colors. It mind sound kind of goofy, but the table looked full of joy. The table looked vibrant. I have learned a great deal from Jenn at this table. Instead of virtually inhaling the food, I have learned to slow down and enjoy the food and company. I usually still have to pause and let Jenn catch up :), but we are so fortunate to eat meals together and just enjoy each other's company.

This morning as I was gazing at this vibrantly happy table, a verse from The Message came to mind:
He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he's there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds it proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross. (Colossians 1:18-20)

God brings together colors in vibrant harmonies.

God brings together people in vibrant harmonies.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Jenn and I recently moved into our new home. Last evening, we went on a trip to Lafayette for what Jenn describes as "retail therapy." For me, this translates to Jenn dropping me off at Starbucks. I read and write. She shops. It works out great. Anyway, she was searching for a few key items for the house.

One of these items was a mat for our precious puppy's food and water bowls. This mat was an issue at our previous residence. While drinking water, Gus would invariable splash some onto the mat. The mat absorbed the water, and, over time, the moisture damaged the floor. Jenn unsuccessfully looked for a mat at Target while I was sipping a pumpkin spice latte.

After she picked me up, we stopped at PetSmart. The mat she found was $10 or $11. She was not happy with this price and was also afraid that it would end up doing the exact same thing as the previous mat. She described what she was looking for in a little bit more detail. She needed something that would protect the floor. She needed something to keep the moisture from getting trapped against the floor.

We went to Walmart and checked the pet section and still did not find anything that would work. I decided that it was time to think outside of the pet area. My first thought was a dish drainer. Nope. My second thought was a car mat. Sure enough, we found this clear floor mat for the rear seat of a car. It is stain resistant rubber so it provides a barrier between the water splashes and the floor. It also captures the water and allows it to evaporate instead of seeping to the floor. Even better, the mat was only about $4.

Problem solved!