Friday, November 16, 2007

Early morning radio stinks/Establishing a self

Each day delivering newspapers I lose approximately 5 minutes on route time from flipping between radio stations. The quality of programming sharpens the reminder of how much I miss Sirius. The cardboard music, screaming commentators and discussions of paranormal activity feel like an entire day of eating Twinkies and Cocoa Puffs. I can get the BBC on Minnesota Public Radio out of Worthington, MN, but the BBC has gone down hill. Everything relates to the US and the Middle East according to this perspective of the news--way less than six degrees of separation. I know more happens in the world than the daily living of our friend Pervez in Pakistan.

Today I turned off the radio and blissfully created my own rhythm of prayer, running, and tossing newspapers. The toss is improving. I enjoy the radio--we are close friends. I questioned turning it off and reflected on my co-dependency with the radio. We have our own distinct identities. I can live as a self. I will always give the radio a chance--staying at home with the girls, the radio provides me with adult language and ideas. I do miss the quality on Sirius--and no, I do not speak of Howard Stern or Larry the Cable Guy.


Daughter #2 is developing her own self. I call her Destructo--ripping and yanking, tearing and pulling. I don't remember such violence toward objects from her older sister. I don't see her as a risk to become a terrorist, but I really have to watch. Part of the problem is that she seems to lead with her head. Sometimes it looks like she plays football without a helmet, joined Fight Club, or joined the MMA circuit. With an older sister that likes to provoke, I live in the midst of a powder keg. I don't jump at every scream, but after 6 weeks at home now, I have learned the nuance attached to screams.

Or so I thought.

#2 comes screaming toward me after lunch the other day. The scream that indicates pain. I get up and move toward her and see a big gash on her head. Most head alterations show up well. Twelve months old, and she competes with Telly Savalas for lack of hair. Most head owies show up well. I see a splotch of red. Immediately I get ready to call 911. It doesn't look good. My heart races.


We ate Boca burgers and fries for lunch. #2 got a hold of her sister's ketchup filled plate and turned it into a hat. Doctor call aborted.

I think we're both developing a self. In the image of God?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

ebay like crazy and delivering newspapers

I don't believe any one is reading my words these days, but I thought building a writing habit makes for better reading in the future.

My wife and I are putting significant energy into eliminating debt in our lives. Since moving out of my last interim position, we have tried to live on one income, and realized that we can't right now. I need to bring home some (veggie?) bacon. Sure, this realization has taken some of the romance out of being a "stay at home dad," but we have been recently persuaded by Dave Ramsey ( and his class creepily titled "Financial Peace University" that if we're ever going to be good stewards, we need to start acting like it, especially now when we're both not bringing in full-time salaries. So...I'm not spending my time cleaning the house in high heels and pearls, but I am making meal plans, cutting coupons, taking my girls to the park, reading to them out of joy more often, reading the Bible because I hope God speaks to me rather than looking at God speaking to me as gravy while preparing for a sermon or Bible study. That sounds like a better life already. We are paying off debt, saving money, living more within our means and working together. I wake up at 230 am and deliver about 170 newspapers, and look for ways to make a little money using ebay. I preach occasionally, and enjoy it a little bit more, looking at the mismanaged details in a congregation and say to myself, "not my problem." The gospel rings a little differently now. I am thankful and blessed.

I don't miss a lot of the things we used to do. In some ways, I'm not really sure how we spent our money. Some things have fallen away, partially because of our focus on our goals. I didn't take the annual football trip, and I cancelled my Sirius. Those were the only cuts that hurt a little bit. But I'm not in agony. We take special joy in doing the things as a family that we do budget, and we have some room to be spontaneous. As we follow through on our goals, maybe we'll take up some of our former joys again--but at least we'll have a better plan to take on those joys.

In closing, simplification has changed me, and the project has brought my wife and I closer together. The gift of time has brought the girls and I closer as well. I guess I never stop growing up. A disclaimer--if you check out Dave Ramsey--he does have a lot of wise words, and a great system to be a better steward. He shares a lot of wisdom that I had received from other financial teachers in my life--a class from Lutheran Brotherhood, Suze Orman, etc. Dave offered the best system. I had to grit my teeth several times during my financial learning curve because I think some of his political statements and views on poverty are sickening. But my wife and I are adapting to where our stewardship education matches our values and understandings of what would be good as we serve God together.

Gotta go check on ebay.



Thursday, January 25, 2007


What Would You Do With A Cross That Sucks?

This year I am devoting significant energy toward clutter removal in my household. My goal: remove/recycle 10 pieces of unneeded crap from the household per day (BTW, this is NOT a New Year's Resolution). As I remove kitch, junk, low priority knick knacks, etc., I am finding all kinds of crosses (I am thankful not to have the one pictured). Today I found a rainbow cross eraser that my daughter probably received at a fair at church. I have a hard time throwing crosses away, no matter how much they suck (maybe I COULD throw away a flag cross). Trivializing the cross seems to be a much grander offense than disposing of a cross.

My wife and I were in the midst of our seminary training when we were married, so many folks took it upon themselves to give us the wedding/marriage cross (with the two rings in the middle). We only have so much space in our house for wall hangings--if we hung up all of the crosses or even some of the crosses we have received we might end up like the congregation I am serving right now--with images of Jesus in the men's restroom watching all partakers of the urinals empty their bladders. Yes, in my congregation, Jesus watches you pee. I suppose I should be thinking about Jesus when I pee, but sometimes I have a one track mind--like on my aim.

Perhaps these surplus crosses will go to the goodwill, so that others can think about the cross while they urinate.


Friday, January 19, 2007

Surprised by a simple grace

An old friend surprised me over the Christmas sesason with a letter and photo of his family. I don't think we've been in contact for at least 12 years. I like to consider myself one who takes the step and gets in touch with long lost friends, or maintains communication with folks. To be surprised by grace is a gift to any day.

Grace has transformational power. Rememberance of the grace has slipped in and out of my mind since I received it a month ago--I was triggered to write back to my old friend when I heard a shared favorite song on the radio: "Peace of Mind" by Boston. For this household of two pastors, grace comes from hearing from friends. Grace also comes in the form of the first day of a weekend, a day to go at my own pace--let the cleaning and the errands go. Write a letter to an old friend, doing things with my girls with no particular goal. Space to be rather than driven by doing. I lost my will to write over the past few months. Part of that involved holiday hullabaloo, part of it involved the system shift of parenting two children, part of it involved my own dark place. Today I write. Tomorrow I shall write again.