Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Haircut

"I hate this town."
Any of you who have ever been to Omaha know that it is a beautiful city. For someone to say this, there had to be something behind it.
I asked the brunette lady cutting my hair to explain herself and out gushed her story. It was sad. She left an established business, friends, customers, family...basically her home (in another state) to follow a man that she loved. But that "love" was short-lived. He dumped her soon after she moved here and she's been dealing with the pain ever since.
It was kind of funny, actually. I sat there and tried not to wince as she cursed, swore and stumbled through her story, hoping she would not snip off part of my ear. She told me that she knows she needs to work on her anger issues. She also confessed to me that she had quit smoking, but enjoyed the occasional beer here and there.
When it was over, I could tell she was overjoyed that I just listened to her. I kept waiting for her to ask what I did for a living. I wonder if that would have changed anything.
Sometimes, I have used the old guilt-trip, "Does anyone KNOW you're a Christian? Can they TELL?" when I'm teaching. Here's the problem with that logic...
What is the OTHER person's definition of "a Christian?"
If she had thought I was a Christian, she might have clammed up, thinking I was perfect and wouldn't identify with her struggles of anger, forgiveness, and addiction. She might have feared that I would berate her for not having a better vocabulary. She might have been mistreated by a Christian in the past. What if her "ex-boyfriend" was a "Christian?"
Don't get me wrong...I DEFINITELY want people to know I am a Christ-follower. But I hope that means they see Christ in me and not ME in me.

Monday, October 29, 2007


You might notice something new on the right-hand size of my blog: A little sign that says "NaNoWriMo Participant."
Don't worry, I haven't become a member of a cult or anything.
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. I will be joining about 80,000 other crazy people in trying to write 50,000 words of a fictional novel in the month of November.
I'm terrified because I have our youth rally, Akastasia, coming up in just a few weeks (right in the middle of November!) But, I'm sure other people have excuses, too. I'll just have to work around it and give it my best shot.
I'm not sure I can come up with 2,100 words per day. Can my mind really handle that kind of creativity? Can I be THAT prolific? I don't know, but I'm gonna give it my best shot. I told a friend, "If I go down, I'll go down fighting!"
So, please forgive me if the blogging slacks off in a few days. I'm SO excited for November 1st to get here! I'll try to post some updates. Who knows? I might I even post an excerpt from my novel! Mmmm...maybe that will have to wait until after some editing has been done!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Come on, Hertz!

Thanks for your concern about my dad. He is actually here visiting us for a few days, and he's doing OK.
Some more things to note about Dad...
  • He gets bonus stuff like Wal-Mart gift cards all the time. These are given when a customer calls in with a good report on a customer service rep.
  • He once helped Phil Mickelson's wife and family out. The golfer was traveling from one contest to another, and his family wanted to accompany him. Somehow, a mistake was made in the booking process. Dad made some phone calls and found them a vehicle. Phil Mickelson was gracious and sent a signed visor to my dad as a "Thank You!"
  • He has been Employee of the Month approximately ONCE EVERY QUARTER every year he's worked there. Oh, and did I mention he works with 400 other people in his department?

So, this TOP-NOTCH employee gets fired without a warning or anything?

Hertz, get your facts straight! You are losing a good employee, and doing wrong in the process!


On another note, please be praying for a friend of mine who is struggling. He is really trying to get his small business off the ground, and is getting discouraged. It's been a couple of years and he is still in debt up to his ears, and hasn't seen much return on his investment.

I think, deep down, he knows that God would not do anything to HURT him. But, his question is why God would ALLOW this to happen after he asked for God's advice very earnestly before making this decision.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Honest Business?

So, I found out some disheartening news tonight. I'm sure my parents LOVE me spreading this info...I'm sorry but I can't help it.
My dad lost his job today. What did he do? He was a booking agent for Hertz. The apparent reason for firing? His sales conversations were too long. Here are some things that really bug me about this situation:

1. Don't you WANT to have FRIENDLY salespeople? I actually appreciate it when I'm ordering something and find I have something in common with the salesperson.
2. He was given NO warning. They told everyone a few months ago that they needed to shorten call time. Last week, they called in my dad and told him he was suspended until Monday, when he would find out if he was being terminated. He was.
3. My dad is the HARDEST WORKER Hertz has ever seen. He has been with them for like 12-plus years now. He works overtime like no one else I know...he even offers to work some holidays! At one point he worked his way up to the position of training a new class of sales clerks. NO ONE works harder or is more loyal than my dad.

Gee, Hertz, it's not BLATANTLY OBVIOUS that you don't want to pay his retirement!! Why can't you show some class and honor and do the right thing? You didn't even offer him a severance package! Are there NO honest businesses anymore?
Well, go ahead, Hertz. Go ahead and BOW to the Almighty Dollar...because you won't be seeing mine anymore.
BOO, Hertz....Boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Excuses, excuses

"Daaaaaaaaaaaaddyyyyyy. I farted."
This was my son's latest excuse for not going to bed. It came after "I go pee pee" and "I go poo poo."
We have officially reached the "Terrible Twos." Fischer will do anything to avoid his bed. He is still a pretty good kid, but he now knows how to push our buttons. We are still trying to figure out the best reinforcement for him. It is very trying on our nerves.
So if you see us walking around like zombies, it's because our nerves are shot.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


They surround us. Probably more and more every day. They are biding their time, looking for chances. They are eager and yet patient.
They are X-Men. Mutants.
But...not the way you're thinking.
They are definitely creatures of evolution. People who have been changed, only not by a mutant strand of DNA. No, these people have been changed by Christ.
Some of them used to walk around like us. Some were caught in webs of their own problems. All of them made mistakes in their past. Some have had run-ins with the law, or have fought against addictions.
But they are different now...different inside and out. Their purpose is no longer for themselves. They serve a nobler cause than themselves.
Their difference from society is a source of great joy for them. They don't try to be different to be noticed. They just are different.
They have been changed from the inside out. Changed by Christ and his story. Their DNA has been mingled with blood of another type. They are Christ Men (and Women) or X-Men if you like (a la "Xmas")
I saw an X-Man tonight. He is so awesome to watch in action. His care for his family is evident. His past no longer defines him. He is eager to serve and goes beyond the rest of us to do so.
Here's to all the X-Men out there. Be different. Be bold. The world is watching.

Monday, October 15, 2007

When Mundane Becomes Magnificent

When does something mundane become magnificent? When does the "everyday" become "extraordinary?"
  1. When you are silent enough (not preoccupied with other things) to appreciate it fully.
  2. When you do the mundane with someone you love.
  3. When you realize God is still with you, even during the everyday stuff.

This might sound ridiculous, but here are some mundane things that I have been magnificent for me recently:

  1. Sounds of the road. Turn off the radio and listen for the whirring of your heater, or the hum of your tires on the road. Can you appreciate the wind whistling outside your window?
  2. Time slowed for a few moments this morning as I gazed at leaves changing colors before my very eyes. They have started their change from a "camoflauge green" to brilliant fire-colors. You only get once a year to appreciate those shades of red and orange.
  3. Tracy called me at work today. The sound of her voice brought me back home for a few minutes. I could hear a little bit of frustration mixed with joy in her voice. Odd combination, huh? I love listening to the happiness in her voice as she gets to share things with me. I can tell she's excited to talk to me...and I am excited to hear from her.
  4. Fischer and I were playing cars earlier this evening. We went on a "cross country" drive when we left the living room, drove our cars down the hall and into his room. It was sheer joy and fascination as crawling under his bed became "a tunnel" for our cars. Back in the living room, he took his attention off his play (for just a second, mind you) and lifted his big blue eyes to look at me. "I love my daddy," he smiled. All of a sudden it was OK that we had already played cars 52 times this week. How's that for mundane?

So when has the mundane become magnificent for you? A drink of water after two days of Dr. Pepper? Sleep after an all-night study?

Sunday, October 14, 2007


OK, so I'm trying to get into the habit of writing everyday as practice for National Novel Writing Month. Hey, I didn't say it would be GOOD...I just said I'm trying to write every day!!!

Went to my first Huskers game the other day. It's alway exciting to go to a stadium and see the passion of the fans firsthand. I must say that Husker fans are some of the most loyal and gracious fans I've ever met. Who else would stay in the stadium as their team was being blown out? They were also kind to me as an Oklahoma State fan. They have a tradition here of releasing red balloons when a touchdown is scored. It would have been cool to see that happen...but the fans were so discouraged they would let the balloons go if the Huskers just got a first down!

My winning streak (in golf) against my father-in-law only last three days. We played again at Bay Hills Golf Course in Plattsmouth. I was massacred. The course is pretty, but deceiving. The first couple of holes make it look like a pretty flat course. The rest of them are up and down...hilly as I've every seen! I'm glad I didn't walk it! It was a beautiful course, but hard. I should have put my driver away on several holes and played safe!!!

The teens and their families were supposed to make the annual trek to Vala's Pumpkin Patch this afternoon, but we were rained out. I was kinda disappointed, because the kids really seem to enjoy going out there, and there were at least four or five that were bringing their friends. I also enjoyed the time because I got to talk with some of the parents around the campfire last year, and I really enjoyed that time.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Crazy Thoughts #2

How's this for irony...remember the Wal-Mart story from yesterday? Remember how I helped a lady who almost lost her money?
Today, I forgot my lunch, and went out to grab a quick bite around noon. After I had ordered some KFC, I was waiting at the drive-thru window when I made a horrifying change from yesterday at Wal-Mart was NOT in my pocket!
I had left my wallet in my golf bag, so I had no debit card and no ID for the bank to cash a check I just happened to receive yesterday.
No lunch for me!
Later, when I came home I turned the house upside-down looking for that money! Guess what the final verdict was...?
I think I left my money in the Self Check-Out lane at Wal-Mart!! Where was MY Good Samaritan? :) (The good folks at Wal-Mart are checking on this for me.)


I failed miserably on my little experiment today (see yesterday's blog for details.)
No, it wasn't because I turned ON the music. It was my heart. Instead of talking and listening to God, I practiced Sunday's song service! It's like my brain manufactures stuff to do if there's no noise!
That just tells me that I need silence more than ever...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Crazy Thoughts

She headed for Wal-Mart's exit, anxious to leave without human contact. As she speed-walked behind her cart, something floated out of her purse, as if lifted by invisible hands. Two crisp $20 bills landed on the floor in front of me.

"Ma'am?! Ma'am?!"

Maybe she'd had a bad day. Maybe she deals with people all day long and was ready for "me" time. Or maybe she just didn't think I was calling out for her. Whatever the reason, she was NOT turning around.

In a fraction of a second, these thoughts burst through my mind:
  • Lady, your unsocial attitude is about to lose you 40 bucks!
  • 40 bucks is a lot of money.
  • I haven't had $40 in my pocket for a long time.
  • I bet I could put that money to good use.
  • She probably wouldn't even notice...
  • NO! Do the right thing!

Time sped up again...

The good Samaritan Wal-Mart greeter saw what was happening and caught her attention, "Ms, he's calling for you."

As she thanked me, I shook my head at my unbelievable conversation with myself. What a crazy mind I have! Don't worry, I was prepared to run her down in the parking lot if it got that far...


Speaking of crazy thoughts, I'm trying an experiment this week (it just started this morning.) I've decided that there will be NO music when I'm in the car. I've decided to try silence for a bit instead of noise.

You might be surprised at what happens when you "turn off the sound." I found out a few things:

  • My mind went crazy trying to fill the emptiness caused by lack of noise.
  • I had so many scattered thoughts it was like I had my own radio show in my head!
  • When I tried to pray, I got off track several times (not off the road, but off the track of praying.)
  • It took about 10 minutes before my thoughts became focused, and I had some clear, uninterupted thoughts. It amazed me that I came up with some great ideas for a future lesson on prayer by being quiet.

I'm so used to background noise that I've forgotten what silence sounds like. I didn't realize how frazzled our nerves can get trying to process all the sounds we bombard ourselves with every day. I've forgotten that silence is the best way to hear God's loving whisper...

Can you hear it, or is there too much noise?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Best Day Off

  • Slept in (OK, it was only until 8:30, but that's sleeping in for me!)
  • Eggs and sausage for breakfast...thanks, Linda!
  • Read some more of "Pilgrim Heart" by Darryl Tippens. It's starting to really make me think!
  • Dreamt of ideas for National Novel Writing Month (which is NEXT month!) What do you think? Should I do it? It's around 1,500 words a day!
  • Played a new golf course with my father-in-law...Ashland Golf Course.
  • You can't get better than golf on a 68-degree autumn day in Nebraska...
  • ...except when you beat your father-in-law...
  • ...and when you break 100, which is a first for me!!
  • Did I mention I beat my father-in-law for the first time today?
  • Supper at Julio's.

They don't make 'em much better than that!

Monday, October 08, 2007

I LOVE This Place!

I love the Southwest Church of Christ!

We have a wonderfully diverse group of people. I am becoming friends with people whom I would NEVER contact if I lived by the world's standards. Usually if you don't have much in common, you move on to the next person. In Christ, you find something (no matter how small) that you have in common and CELEBRATE your similarities AS WELL AS your differences!! You love the other person NO MATTER WHAT! And that means that people love me even if I seem "bizarre" to them! What a great place to call home!

Our shepherds are prayerful, wise warriors. Sometimes a warrior needs to know when to retreat. Sometimes they tell me to "back off" when I want to go full steam ahead with something. Most of the time I look back and see the wisdom in their counsel. I wish the congregation knew how much their shepherds care for them and pray for them. I wish they could hear the hearts of their shepherds as they open up to God.

I love the familiar faces I get to see in the office: Patty (our "administrative assistant"), Cindy (director of our adoption services), and Jim, the "usual" (not normal!) guy that's in the pulpit!! I look forward to our office meetings and our occasional venture out of the office to hunt...for a great restaurant. I appreciate how Patty helps me remember little details when I am forgetful. I appreciate how Cindy recently volunteered to do housing for our youth rally ( can't back out now!!) I appreciate Jim stopping in my office to talk to the "junior minister" from time to time, and also his inspiring messages on "Heaven" recently.

I love the teens I work with. Oh sure, they can be a pain their problem of TALKING SO LOUD IN CHURCH THAT EVERYONE CAN HEAR THEM...but I still love them! :) I appreciate how they try to make visitors feel welcome. It makes me feel good when they compliment me for a lesson or activity they enjoyed (teens don't do that!) I love it when we are all working in the same direction and I get to witness their excitement!

I love this church, in good times and bad...because I think that's how God loves me. I think He is positive when I am negative. I hope I can be like that more often...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

You Can Run But You Can't Hide

Just finished reading this autobiography of Duane "Dog" Chapman. He is better known by the title of his A&E TV show "Dog: The Bounty Hunter."

Even though it lacks lyrical beauty, this book was still fascinating. Dog's story is not beautiful, but harsh and real. You can tell there is a big heart inside this man, despite his history.

He begins and ends the book talking about family. His mother was obviously an inspiration to him as a person of faith. His dad, a rough-and-tumble boxer who knocked his kid around at home.

Dog's story roams from his childhood to his biker days, which were spent getting high, getting drunk, and getting together with loose women. A bad association landed him in a Texas jail as a young man. The book tells of his struggle to shed his checkered past, and make an honorable name for himself. After years of struggle, he has shared his story with many through the seminars of Tony Robbins, the well known motivational speaker. And finally, we read how Dog made a name for himself as a bail bondsman and bounty hunter. First, because he hunted down and apprehended serial rapist Andrew Luster. Secondly, because he works hard to plant seeds of change in the hearts of the criminals he hunts.

Even though it's full of foul language and immoral situations, I am glad I read this book. I couldn't believe how many times God was mentioned! Duane's conversations with God are real. He does not hide his struggle with faith, and yet has deep conviction that God has a plan for his life.

His story reminded me of Israel's story in the Bible. "We love you God, you are great!" soon turned into, "We'll do things ourselves...we don't need God!"

Isn't it great that our past does NOT dictate our future as far as God is concerned? I hope Dog knows that God can forgive and that he does not have to work himself to death to "make things even." But I am glad he does what he does and works to keep America safe and to help those who need a little mercy.