Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Our New Baby

Yeah, this was the news. Ok, so maybe it's a bigger deal to us than anyone else on the planet, but living without a vehicle has been, quite possibly, THE most difficult part of our move to Ohio for Bridgette. Today, we rectified that - provided our Credit Union doesn't drop a hammer on us.

But, I've got the car parked in the parking lot right now. We've got a ton of paper work signed, wrote a check and have the insurance. It's just up to our Credit Union to overnight us the final financing stuff (man, I just wish I had cash lying around to pay for stuff like this, oh well). But since they let us drive away with it, I think it's official.

If you want to see more pictures of it, try here, or you can stop by our place to see it in the driveway (or garage) as it'll be Bridgette's car for getting groceries (actually, that's my job) and getting to the park and stuff - and our new family vehicle. It just might fit a second car seat AND all the gear for 2 kids. But there's nothing imminent there folks, sorry to get your hopes up. But at least we're "ready"...

Monday, October 29, 2007

I want to share some news...

...but until all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed, I think I'm going to wait. Suffice to say that we've been contemplating and praying about a decision that has caused a little bit of stress in our lives for the past few months. Today, I got a phone call that might have been the news we were waiting for to move forward. Hopefully, by this time tomorrow we should be able to share. But until then, I'll leave you guessing. Don't you love cryptic blog posts? Kinda makes you want to e-mail me, eh? Go ahead...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Brennan & Daddy time

While this picture was actually taken last weekend, it's a pretty accurate look at Brennan and me and our day today. No, we didn't hit up another corn maze, but we did spend a bunch of time together. I've owed him - and particularly Bridgette - a little bit over these past two crazy weeks. And I'm really glad we got to spend some time together. This morning we hit up the park together for an hour or so. He ran nearly the entire way there and back, which is a brisk walking pace for me. He tired himself out so much that he nearly fell asleep eating his lunch afterward.

When he finally woke up from his 2.5+ hr nap, we went outside and raked leaves. He loved just walking around the backyard while I raked it all. He toted around some of his outdoor toys (frisbees, baseball bat, etc) but particularly loved saying hi to our neighbour's dog Ginger and walking in the leaves. Then, I mowed most of the backyard (the part that actually grows) and Brennan did an excellent job of staying out of the way and staying near the pile of leaves.

After our outdoor activities ended, we came inside and I made dinner. The entire time, Bridgette was out and about. This would be unheard of a scant 6 months ago. I found it next to impossible to cook dinner or do virtually anything worthwhile around the house while I was home alone with Brennan if he wasn't napping. I'm amazed at how much more able he is to play on his own when he wants to be. This of course is not always the case - but at least there are times now. He's actually growing up - and I'm enjoying every minute of it...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It wasn't that long ago...

When this story was all over the news, and we were only a scant few miles from the fires, with friends who were very close to losing their homes. California is a beautiful state and we enjoyed living there greatly, but stuff like this is so regular it's scary. Mudslides & forest fires in the West, hurricanes (east) and droughts (west) in the South, snowstorms and blackouts in the East... I'll stick with the Buckeyes as being the main problem in the Midwest...

Monday, October 22, 2007

"Aaaawwwwwwnnnn..."

Long night - made only longer AFTER I fell asleep - and Brennan kept waking up. I'm not even going to begin to explain because I have no clue. The Bengals game was awesome - well, at least half was. Down 23-10 after the Jets scored a field goal on the opening drive of the second half (which I missed in the VERY SLOW concession line), they came back to score 4 straight TD's and only a last second hail mary TD made the game look close - 38-31.

Anyway, the day was great - but full. The Young Family potluck was fun - although my head was on a swivel as Brennan ran around and outside every chance he got. Luckily, he was more interested in the little rocks than in playing in the actual parking lot. My sermon went well. I got some good feedback - although I'm curious to get John & Becky's in a couple hours when we have our Monday meeting. Unfortunately, Bridgette said it was actually more confusing in the pulpit than when I read the original manuscript to her while she was driving. Hmm...

If you're interested yourself, feel free to read on:

I have a favourite morning ritual at home – and it involves leaving. It’s not exactly that I love to leave – it’s more so what happens as I’m leaving. It begins with me telling Brennan that I’m leaving – and I give him a kiss. Then, I turn to Bridgette and kiss her, reminding Brennan that ‘the last kiss is always for Mommy.’ Somewhere in the midst of this, Brennan begins to say ‘Bye Daddy’ – which I reply with ‘Bye Brennan.’ This continues as I walk out the door, into the garage, get into the car… all the while, Brennan with his face smooshed up against the screen yelling ‘Bye Daddy!’… and me replying “bye Brennan!” As I pull out the driveway, Brennan rushes to the front window where he continues to emphatically call out ‘bye Daddy!!” – waving while, I too, wave and say good-bye. It’s a pretty neat routine. It makes it so much easier to leave in the morning, knowing that he’s happy and excited. And I think it comes straight down to one thing – he knows that I’ll be back. We have a very similar routine in the evening when I pull in – Brennan pressed up against the screen door, yelling “hi Daddy!” as I exit the car replying ever-louder “Hi Brennan!” Brennan can be excited when I leave in the morning because he knows I’m coming home at night. It’s our little routine.

Coming from a broken home myself though, I know that this is not exactly a routine that plays out in all of our lives. It’s not so easy to say goodbye to someone when we don’t know where they’re going – or when or if they’ll come back. It’s not easy to say goodbye to a parent – or a spouse, not knowing whether this will be the last time that we see them. I think that is why the faith question put before us this morning is so poignant. We find it roughly in the middle of John’s gospel. John has described Jesus calling the first disciples, turning water into wine in Cana, baptizing, healing and teaching – all the while moving closer and closer to the final night spent with his disciples, explaining what will happen in the next few days – the betrayal, the trial, the crucifixion and his resurrection… Jesus has just finished predicting his betrayal – Judas has left the room and Jesus explains that he is going to leave and in the meantime, his disciples must love each other…
Simon Peter said, “Lord, where are you going?”
And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.”
“But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I am ready to die for you.”
Jesus answered, “Die for me? No, before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
(John 13:36-38)

Ouch. I can just imagine what Peter must have felt like. Sitting there, yet again, singled out by his own big mouth, fated to deny that he knew Jesus in what may prove to be one of the most critical moments in Jesus’ life. But at this point, this is really just an aside to the story at hand – to the true dialogue between Jesus and Peter. You can see from Jesus’ initial response and Peter’s second statement, that the issue of geography is not what is at stake for Peter. It’s not really a concern where Jesus is going – it’s more important whether Peter can continue to be with Jesus wherever it is. Peter only wants to know where so that he could join Jesus.
I think it’s the same in our own lives, isn’t it? When my mom asked me where I was going when I was a teenager, she really wasn’t asking “where are you going?” –What she was asking was “Who will be there? What will you be doing? Will you be safe? Will I stay up half the night worrying about you?” Those are not the questions of geography – those are the questions of relationship. They are the kinds of questions we ask people who we care deeply about when they leave – whether we actually come out and say them or not. Sometimes, the question is simply “Where are you going?”

What Jesus is essentially saying is that his leaving is not going to break the relationship that they share. By his leaving in fact, it will begin a new kind of relationship – a deeper relationship than was previously possible. Jesus continues…
“Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know where I am going and how to get there.” (John 14:1-4)

Now, before we continue I want to backtrack a bit in the gospel of John. I mentioned earlier about Jesus’ first recorded miracle – it was a wedding feast in Cana – Jesus turned water into wine. You jump ahead a bit and you have John the Baptist talking about himself being the best man to Jesus – the bridegroom. And now we have Jesus, addressing his disciples and using the same type of language as you would find in the betrothal ceremonies of that day. At that point in Jewish culture, the process of becoming married looked quite different than it does now. It would usually begin with a negotiating process between the groom and the father of the bride. When they had agreed on a bride “price” the groom would be presented to the bride and he would offer her a cup of wine. She would have the opportunity to drink the wine, and accept the proposal, or refuse the wine and decline the proposal. If she drank the wine, they would be legally betrothed – bound as husband and wife from that point – but something very interesting would follow. Instead of the two of them running off to Maui for a two week honeymoon – the groom would tell the bride that he is going away – to prepare a place for her in his father’s house – in approximately 12 months he would return with his groomsmen to take her back to live with him – her entourage would follow and the party would take place once they consummated their marriage.
Is this not fascinating? Jesus’ words to his disciples – “There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you… When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” Jesus is actually taking the Jewish betrothal liturgy and applying it to his relationship with his disciples. Peter asked “Where are you going?” – Jesus replied with “I’m preparing a place for you – because you are my bride – I have chosen you – and I am going to come back for you” Jesus is taking the relationship of his disciples to an entirely different level – no longer are we talking about children – maybe Peter’s question was something like a child’s, asking a parent where they were going – like Brennan asking Bridgette & I where we’re going when we go out on a date… but Jesus has an entirely different response, it completely reorients the whole dialogue – Jesus is looking at this relationship not as a parent and a child – but as a bride and a groom – on a deeply intimate level here – that is the kind of relationship that Jesus is talking about having with his disciples.

Now, I need to make an aside here that I think is very important. We have a tendency to look around us and see our world, our circumstances, and to imprint what we see onto God – onto Jesus. We use the word Father when we talk about God, which of course is fine if we’ve got a great father, but if our dad left when we were 6, or abused us, it’s tough to take that father image and put it on God. We’re talking about marriage here – which is fine if you’ve got a great marriage – where you’re still blissfully in love – but what about being single? What if you’re divorced? If all you’ve seen of marriage has been painful and bitter – how can holding up marriage as this intimate relationship that Jesus desires with us be helpful? Well, the truth is, all our human relationships are faulty. Family, marriage, friendships – we can’t look to these to describe God’s desired relationship with us. Instead, we have to look to God to understand what is intended of our human relationships.
You see – when Jesus turns the tables on Peter here – when he reformulates the image of their relationship – Jesus’ relationship with all his disciples – with you and me for that matter – he is actually going back to the original image that God provides with Israel. With Moses on Mt. Sinai – God created a covenant with a people who had just been enslaved in Egypt. This covenant bound the people of Israel to God – and more importantly God to this people. Time and time again, like you and I, they broke the covenant – they didn’t live up to their responsibilities – but God remained faithful. You see, that’s what Jesus is saying to Peter here. Jesus is saying – you may deny me tomorrow. You may be unfaithful to me and abandon me. You may betray me and cause me great pain. But the point is NOT what you do. The point is NOT your fickle feelings or your ability to live up to what you have promised. The point here – is that I love you so deeply and so intimately – so much more than anyone you have ever known – that I am telling you, right here and now – you are mine.

“Where are you going?” When we ask that question to Jesus, the truth is, we’re not talking about geography. Thankfully – Jesus’ response isn’t about geography either. Jesus response is about a profound love that will drive him to the cross to take on our sin – so that we can be invited into that intimate relationship with him and receive that deep and abiding love from him.

Here again the words of God through Hosea the prophet,
I will show love to those I called ‘Not loved.’ And to those I called ‘Not my people,’ I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’ Then they will reply, ‘You are our God!’”

Friends – God in Jesus Christ has claimed you as His own. He has loved you as his own – and he has prepared a place for you who are his own.



Liberty Presbyterian Church
Faith Questions Series #6 - “Where Are You Going” 10/21/07
John 13:36-14:4
[Hosea 2:14-23]

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Go Bengals!?

Tomorrow is a big day. It ends with a VERY generous opportunity to go cheer on my beloved Bengals in Cincy - my first ever live NFL game. I'm psyched. I'm especially excited that there are like 40+ people going to be at this simple little "young family" potluck. I'm blown away at the response so far. I'm trying to figure out ways that we can minister to and connect this growing segment of our church. Being in the midst of it myself I realize that it might be the most difficult stage in life - you've got young kids who have schedules, aren't quite playing by all the rules yet and you're in the early to middle stage of your own career which means time and money are usually factors. Throw in the fact that you're probably disconnected from your extended family and many of your college friends. The need is definitely there. Now to figure out how to minister in the midst of it. Maybe my sermon will be helpful - I'll upload it in the next couple days in case you're bored...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New Look

I love the environment (hey, I just sat through Al Gore's "In Inconvenient Truth") but I'm done with the green blog. I hope you like this one - feel free to let me know. With my very little skill in html, and much help from friends, I've made some changes that I've been wanting to do for awhile. But please let me know if there's something else you think needs to be done...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Twitch...

Have you ever had your eyebrow twitch? I do. It's not an everyday thing, but I've had it happen for over a week before. It came back yesterday. It's been intermittent. but today, during our staff meeting, I really was getting frustrated. I think it's stress related. This week is a doozy. I've mentioned it already - that this is one of those weeks where everything comes together - but not exactly in a good way. There are a lot of great things happening, and had they been happening, say, in consecutive weeks, they'd each be awesome. But when they converge - it kinda makes you crazy.

Going down our Order of Worship - I've got 5 stars beside things I'm doing. That includes the sermon. I've got a meeting tonight, one tomorrow night, a possible meeting Sunday BEFORE worship (if tomorrow night's meeting doesn't net enough Elders for a quorum) then a potluck after church for young families - which is either going to be awesome or a mess - we'll see. Then of course, I've been invited to the Bengals game that afternoon. So, the day could either end up as a smashing success - or with me smashing my head against a brick wall somewhere in Cincy.

In either event, I'm just hoping my eyebrow will quit twitching...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

In my Father's house

Sunday, I'm preaching a sermon in a series about faith questions. I came up with "Where are you going?" It's what Peter says in John's gospel when Jesus mentions that he's leaving. I figured, why not, eh? Don't we ask that question of each other all the time? Don't we ask that question of God all the time? There are tons of times in our lives where we wonder where God has gone. We feel alone, like God left us. I'm not interested in preaching on the poem Footprints I think it's a great poem but it can be a little too easy sometimes. But in reading through this passage, and in looking at what Jesus replies to Peter's question, I end up coming to a fairly different place than I'd expected.

Interestingly enough, Jesus' response comes out of the Jewish betrothal ritual. It's just one in a list of images and references throughout the NT of Jesus as the bridegroom - and therefore as the church as the bride. The idea of the intimate covenant of marriage being extended to God-humanity. This of course is not new - Hosea is all about it and so is Song of Songs. So, I've decided to take a passage from Hosea and use it as our Scripture reading. Then, I've selected some passages talking about God's turning/returning to Israel and their's to Him to run during the prelude. Interestingly enough, we've got new members joining Sunday too. so, I've got juxtaposed to the question "Where are you going" and the idea of God leaving us, with some imagery of the radical covenant between God and humanity, and the decision on our parts to be part of that.

At this point, it's all mixed up in there (there being my head). I'm not sure where I'm landing with it - but it IS only Tuesday. But I just can't get over this idea of Jesus being so intimately involved with us that it can be compared to marriage. I'm only 7 years into mine, and I'm still discovering what that radical covenant can be. And it's amazing to know that I can look at God and see how intimate it can be - and see how intimate God wants that relationship to be with us.

Is there something in that agony of the ecstasy of separation. Something about the heart growing fonder? As Jesus goes to prepare a place for us - to return some day to take us to be with Him - is there something on our parts, as we wait and eagerly anticipate - where our longing for him grows? Is there something there to be preached? Is there something there that we need to be reminded of - that in the empty silence there remains a presence that is too deep for words? Is there something there, in the promise of faithfulness - the words of promise given by THE Word that quenches the thirst of our ears to hear truth?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monday?

It's just one of those weeks. I wish I had twice the time. I'm not usually the guy in the office until dark, but I doubt I'm going to get it all done this week. But the one thing I've got to make sure happens - is a good sermon is preached on Sunday...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Let there be an office!

And Liberty said - let there be walls and a window, let there be furniture in that office, and let it wrap from corner to corner, and let there be light in that office, and more light once the fire inspectors come. And let there eventually be chairs for people to sit on to meet. And let there be a computer, but not a Mac, and an all-in-one printer. And so it was... after Liberty township took its sweet time with permits.

And that is where I write this post from - my new office. I no longer office-squat in the youth "office" with its beaded tapestry, pink, orange and green walls and incessant flies (amongst other creatures I have only "heard" about). It was a great office while it lasted, except for the flies, but it is nice once again to be in a space that is mine, where I can feel comfortable "making it my own" and not worry about anyone else needing to stop in and use the computer or have a confidential meeting. We aren't exactly overflowing with meeting places. I even conducted my first "meeting" in here last night, but I'm going to have to work through the logistics of stuff because it felt a little cramped last night, but I'm sure once everything is in, all the kinks will get worked out...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Take a Compliment!

Whenever a man's friends begin to compliment him about looking young, he may be sure that they think he is growing old.
Victor Hugo

I'm not entirely sure what it is - I've philosophied about it with friends before, but I have this thing about compliments. I think I've gotten better. I try to be very gracious when I receive them, not say stupid things and all - but I have this general feeling, much like Hugo's quote above, that there maybe two sides to the coin.

I mention this because I received a compliment from the sound guy Saturday after the wedding I officiated. He said I did a good job. I'd actually been extremely hot and messed up slightly on both of their names early in the service. I did realize and corrected right afterward, but there seemed a few awkward moments, for me anyway. So, when the sound guy said "you did a good job" what I heard was "don't worry, it wasn't that bad." The funny thing of course, is that he repeated this to John (co-pastor at Liberty) and John repeated the compliment to me. I mentioned this to Bridgette on the way home from church Sunday, and she agreed that I need to stop distrusting people's compliments.

I think part of it happens to be a little "glass is half full" kind of thing. I have a general rule that I expect the worst and hope for the best - that way I don't get disappointed if bad things happen. Throughout my life - except for in sports - I feel like I've been blessed beyond my expectations. Of course, if you have no expectations...

Anyway, I share this because I've been reflecting on it and I'm curious to know if anyone else feels the same - or completely opposite of this. Do you always trust a compliment? Or are you of the "glad-handing" variety, where you expect that people just say that kind of stuff? I'm interested to hear...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

"I lovee"

videoOk, so today was a particularly busy day. Thursdays always end up like that. It's my last kick at the can so to speak before Sunday, and I was cutting out early Thursday for an afternoon meeting. I don't like to go into the "office" on Friday (my "day off") or Saturday, provided I can help it. I try to create a "weekend" with these two back-to-back days off. It works most of the time, and with this weekend coming up, where I've got a wedding, and therefore a wedding rehearsal, there are a lot more things I have to have prepared, and a lot more opportunities to be back in the office - not how I like to spend Fridays and Saturdays.

Anyway, in light of that I thought it appropriate to remind myself and others of why we all need to take time away - and who it should be with. I hope you'll enjoy this as much as Brennan does...

Monday, October 01, 2007

Installation



Ok, it's official, official. Yesterday, amid a houseful of family (8 adults a toddler & an infant, only 2 being US citizens... almost felt like a refugee family...) I had my installation sevice. I was installed as the Associate Pastor of Liberty Presbyterian Church. It was the final "step" in this whole process. Unlike being ordained, being installed will (hopefully) happen again when I take another call (down the road, no time soon) to be a pastor at another church. It's not quite as big a deal as ordination - but you still repeat all 11 vows and the church answers 3 of their own. It's pretty neat - and especially so when you are given a charge by another pastor.

I appreciated very much, everyone's participation in it and was so glad my family was there to witness it - and my mom won a prize at the ensuing Chicken BBQ! How cool is that!