Archive for May, 2010

The last several weeks we have been visiting different churches in our area. While I cherish my storied Lutheran heritage (my great grandparents were Lutheran missionaries to China, my grandfather was a Lutheran pastor, I went to Lutheran parochial schools and universities — you get the picture), I feel called to pursue a more fervent worship of Christ. I posted about it a while ago here. And there has not been one pivotal event or item that has prompted this seeking, but rather a buildup of experiences over the last few years. And I refuse to say we are “church shopping”. That label resonates of a consumer Christianity basis — a “what’s in it for me” spiritual centeredness. What we are looking for as a family is a place where we are called to worship God with our whole beings and souls, a place that is scripture based and where we can grow in scripture, and where we can serve with servant’s hearts.

Our latest visit was to a Saturday service of one of the local megachurches. Of course, such an experience is new to our whole family and we need to take cues from others to fit in and follow the service and processes. We also went with several other family friends of ours.

We sat in the front row in the upper deck (again, this is a very large church — arena is what I more likened it to). Some of the interesting rituals I am not used to is being offered a meager Holy Communion, both in litergy and in vittels. It was also at the early part of the service. Soon enough a plate of micro-chips (not like the computer chips – more like very small pieces of cracker) and a tray of grape juice is offered by the ushers walking down the steps. It is not unlike the peanut guy at the baseball stadium. And if you wanted peanuts and didn’t know that by raising your hand he would hurl one your way you would be just as caught off guard.

So I picked out a micro-chip and grape juice vial while trying not to hold up the process. No recitation of scripture — “In the night he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, broke it, and gave thanks…..”. No looking inward at your heart in examination. There was nice music and a call for forgiveness of sin but not to the seriousness or ritual I was expecting for such an important sacrament.

I adjusted and just tried to enjoy the experience knowing this was all new. Soon enough the ushers were bringing down something else. It looked like a prince’s velvet hat turned upside down with a wooden handle on it. He offered it up at the other end of the pew where I was at…..which had all our kids. One of the girls took it…..and then placed her communion “shot glass” into it. The other girls followed suit so when it got to me it had a few of those communion cups in it rattling around. However, what the kids failed to realize was that this wasn’t the communion cups disposal bag, but rather the offering “plate”. I reached in to take them out and was harassed by a buddy behind me — “You are supposed to put money IN. Not take money OUT”. I was unable to discreetly retrieve the rattling communion cups so I inserted my check into the not-very-Lutheran non-communion-plate velvet contraption and passed it down.

Note to self : when visiting a new church and being unfamiliar with the rituals, be sure to sit IN THE VERY MIDDLE so you have people on all sides of you to observe on how to do something right.

By the way, the message was great and right on. It is in line with what I have been blogging about here lately for the last several weeks. Go check it out here — Kindness and Gentleness When No One Notices.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Thank you Lord for the drudgery of Monday. It reminds us how good we have it and that not everyone is as blessed as we are.

Thank you Lord for the doldrums of Tuesday. They are a mirror of life and remind us to rely upon You.

Thank you for the milestone of Wednesday. It is halfway through the week and reminds us that you are always with us — beginning, middle and end.

Thank you for the optimism of Thursday. While it is not Friday yet, it is so close and reminds us of the nearness of Your kingdom.

Thank you for the excitement of Friday. Enough said.

Thank you for the fun of Saturday. It is what adds immense flavor to our lives.

Thank you for the worship and rest of Sunday. It is what mends us, replenishes us, and brings us closer to you.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

So yesterday I am in a meeting and my cell phone vibrates. The display indicated it was my daughter who NEVER calls me. She is a teenager and utilizes text messaging almost exclusively. So for her to be calling me I think it is quite important.

I step out of my meeting and answer the call. Turns out it is my wife. She is at the Metzger’s, the local country feed store that also has an arrangement with the local animal rescue organization. She tells me there is a dog there she wants and if it is ok that she brings it home. I really don’t know why she was calling me because she knows what the answer is — but it was nice of her to let me think I actually had a say in something I really didn’t.

She named him Lil’ Tex and he is slowly becoming a member of our family.

The kids love him and he sure is a cute little thing, isn’t he?

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

I don’t know where I stumbled across this image, but it sure is funny…..and true!

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Fireflies are one of the really cool things about being in Kentucky. I grew up with them in Texas and think they are one of God’s amazing creatures and gifts. So every year we look forward to when they come out. There is just something about sitting on the porch and watching them flicker on and off. It’s even cooler to watch the amazement of a child as they catch them in a jar.

So tonight was our third night in a row to seeing fireflies outside. Looks like they are really here and we can enjoy them all summer.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

The other afternoon as my son and I were returning from Lowes, we happened upon a lone turkey hen on our country road. I slowed the truck down to a crawl so we didn’t spook her. She slowly meandered along the fence line looking for an easy escape but not necessarily wanting to fly her way out of it.

She kept going down the fence line and wasn’t finding easy egress. I lifted my foot off the brake and just let the truck idle along our lonely country road. We eventually caught up to her and she was getting a bit more frantic in getting away. However, she couldn’t find a break in the wire fence and hid in the brush, which gave her cover but also prevented her from utilizing her flying option. My son and I ended up only 6-8 feet away from her in the truck. We were able to get a really good look at her. I had never been that close up to a wild turkey and she was beautiful. We were both amazed we were able to get so close. After a long look, I decided to slowly idle away to give her some relief and an opportunity to get back under cover. It was a neat time though.

On my way home from work this evening, I spotted an even cooler scene. Along two ponds on my work commute there are two geese raising their goslings. I have spotted them in the field with their young blobs of feathers. Well, tonight they were all out swimming. One of the geese was leading the armada in the front and the little goslings were all following in a neat line bobbing about. The other goose brought up the rear as expected. It was a beautiful sight of nature and I enjoyed the 10 seconds or so that I could catch a glimpse of as I drove by.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

This post is a follow up to my impromptu lunch with Jesse from a week and a half ago. If you haven’t done so already, read it first.

As Jesse got into the back seat and we headed towards our nearby lunch destination, I became aware of the unpleasant smell of alcohol. Knowing that my friend and I had just come from work and neither one of us had been drinking, my acute deduction powers kicked in pointing to Jesse. In a respectable way as lovingly as I could, I asked him if he had been drinking already today (seeing as it was only 11:30am). Jesse confessed to having a beer and I made it clear to him that I had provided him funds for a bus ticket to get home and that I wanted to see him use that money for just such an effort. Expectedly, he stated that he, indeed, would be purchasing a bus ticket after having lunch with us. It was a disappointing, but very human, piece of information.

The three of us grabbed a table and began the process of making the situation as normal as can be. I gave Jesse a summary of the day’s events on how my friend and I ended up at lunch and what our relationship was. My friend and I have many similarities in our lives and it was kind of neat to summarize a few of those in front of a stranger. It was my goal to get Jesse to feel comfortable and be a part of the conversation and lunch events, not just be a third wheel or spectator. I have found that in situations like these it is very important to, not only tend to someone’s physical needs, but to make them feel wanted, loved and important. It is these human aspects that society often misses when trying to take care of these situations. And they are almost always left out in government “solutions” and programs because it is subjective and not quantifiable. But that doesn’t mean it is not important. Quite often, it is more important than the problem itself whether it be homelessness, unemployment, addiction or abuse.

My friend and I asked Jesse some basic informational questions and answered similarly — where we live, where we’re from, people in our lives, etc. We found out Jesse lives down in Franklin county outside of Bowling Green. He does carpentry construction and has not had a good go of it since he fell off a roof a while back. Unfortunately, he is also recently divorced and out of work. He was up in Crestwood visiting his 17 year old daughter and was trying to make his way back home. He has lived in Kentucky all his life and seems like a pretty nice guy when he isn’t drinking the 6-10 beers a day he said he had a problem with. I found it interesting that he clarified that he doesn’t get “drop dead drunk” but rather just drinks throughout the day. He admitted he had a problem with alcohol and said he had been to a few AA meetings but didn’t “get it”. He wondered how a bunch of people sitting around saying their name and admitting they were alcoholics actually helped anyone. I told him that I knew many people have been helped by AA and that he might need to give it another shot.

The conversation progressed as we ordered and received our food. I found it interesting that Jesse didn’t order extravagantly or even get a drink. He ordered off the lunch specials menu and asked for water. As we dug into our grub, the discussion turned spiritual. My friend and I had an opportunity to witness to Jesse and share the hope we have in Christ. (“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” — 1 Peter 3:15) Jesse said he believed in Christ and occasionally attends church at home. I encouraged him to fully pursue his relationship with Christ and to seek help in defeating his alcohol demon. I told him we all have our demons and that none of us can do it alone. It is only in the freedom and redemption in Christ’s death were we can truly live free from sin’s declining spiral.

After finishing his meal, Jesse kindly thanked both of us and said goodbye. He left out a side door and headed down the street towards the local bus line that would take him downtown to the Greyhound station. We watched him walk out of sight as we finished up our meals and drinks. I was hopefully optimistic that he would use the funds to get back home. And hopefully, just hopefully, it will be a small step towards normalcy and possibly recovery some day. He has been in my prayers often since that day and will continue to be.

And a lesson I learned a while ago continues to ring true. Again, I have learned that I don’t need to have all the answers to be a part of the solution.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

I spotted this sign Friday at the church where I attended the Chick-Fil-A Leadercast (of which I still need to blog about).

“To all moms:
Our thanks and prayers!”

Additionally, I have an applicable Bible verse:

“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction,
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
They will be a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.” – Proverbs 1:8-9

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

H/T to Theo.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Funny…..I was in prayer a lot today — travel, needs identified, requests, etc. And I had forgotten it was the National Day of Prayer until I saw a news headline while walking through the airport in Detroit. While I am glad our government recognizes the power of prayer, I sure don’t need to government to approve or disapprove my communicating with the one who created me.

On my flights home I observed a few interesting, random items.

– As the pilot came on the intercom in the low, slow voice (I think there is a special aviation “intercom voice” class that is a requirement) he apologized for the 1/2 hour delay but hoped to make it up. He told us that we were carrying a human blood shipment and due to that the flight was considered an ambulance and would get special priority clearance on the ground for takeoff and in the air to Louisville. I thought that was kind of cool.

But then it hit me…..aren’t they ALWAYS carrying human blood? Hmmmmm……

– A guy that was the spitting image of Col. Sanders (the happy KFC guy) boarded the plane. I could not determine which was more interesting: the fact that he looked like Col. Sanders’ twin brother or the fact that he was wearing an old fashioned pale pink suit. He looked like an Easter peep version of Col. Sanders. Pretty funny.

He sure was pimpin’ though!

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net