Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mmm. Deep Dish

When visiting foreign cultures, it is important to try the food of the natives. We like these natives, and their food!

Our Hotel View

The view of the Lincoln Park zoo and Hancock building from our hotel; we are 5 minutes by car (and 20 minutes if you want to walk in this weather) from the DePaul campus.

Famous Kelly line several weeks ago, when discussing DePaul University's location in Chicago: "Wait, Chicago is near water? What?"

So much for high school geography. Our public schools are flawless.

Off for Due's pizza in a while.

Leaving for DePaul

At LAX. Mom dropped us off a bit early.

Fun times, waiting an extra hour for your flight. Note approaching plane outside window. Luckily, it stopped prior to thonking Kelly in the, um, back end.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

25 Random Things

After several of my friends tagged me for the 25 things, I am relenting, and posting my 25 things. Unfortunately, as I am a somewhat dull fellow, I should only really post about 12 things. If you suffer from sleep disorders, read this, and you will very likely be snoring by #5.

There is some unwritten rule that you have to tag 25 other people, and coerce, shame, or somehow force them to write their own 25 things. I have no intention of doing that. But I have tagged some of you....not that it means anything, mind you.

So, here goes, Steve's Amazingly Mundane 25 no particular order:

1. I share the same birthday (not year) as both Lionel Richie and Brian Wilson. I am sure this has deep meaning. Michael Jackson and I are almost the same age, having missed each other's birthdays by a matter of weeks. Again, profound hidden meaning here. Its up to you to interpret.

2. I am an only child. My Mom used to tell a story that when I was 3 or 4 years old, I would sit next to a little hole in the wooden fence of our neighbors yard, put my eye up to the hole, and call out for the little girl (same age) next door to come and play. Is that sad or what? Don't worry, my story gets better.

3. If left alone on a desert island, and only allowed one type of food, it would be the In N' Out menu. Manna from God, as far as I am concerned. Call me shallow.

4. Many years ago, I smuggled Bibles into the former Eastern Block. On multiple occasions. It was scary, and hysterical, and amazing. It changed my life forever, and I am not kidding.

5. My Dad was a B-17 bomber pilot during World War II. I am very proud of this, and of my Dad, for his service to our Country.

6. I have a lifelong fear of grasshoppers. Ask my daughters about this; it a source of humor for them.

7. If I could have one job other than the one I have (which I love, and am very thankful for) it would be as a Boeing 747 captain. But only for a year or so, I think it might get boring after a while, and the staying in hotels and airport food would soon loose its glamor.

8. I am an early adapter. Cell phones, computer stuff, solar power. I love technology.

9. The older I get, the less I know for sure, but the deeper my faith feels to me.

10. I enjoy just about all kinds of music, but I find my tastes changing over time. Right now, I am rediscovering Stevie Wonder, I love anything John Rutter rights or conducts, and I just love going to Disney Hall for classical concerts.

11. I once blew out my knee in a burger restaurant, slipping on a lump of guacamole that had been spilled on the floor. Its true. Pathetic, but true. I would have like to have been able to say I was saving a drowning child or something noble. But no. Such is my life.

12. My last two years at college I had a press pass to all the football and basketball games. I took photos for UCLA right on the field / court. It was very cool. I nearly got killed in a couple of sideline tackles and full court break-aways.

13. While we are on college, after my freshman year, I had the best job in the world (save for the pay), or so I thought. Summer of 1977. I was in charge of the golf carts at the Rivera Country Club. I used to hang with Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Bill Cosby, and Glen Campbell. Really, they were nice guys. I could play all the golf I wanted, every day, after 4PM, AND bring a friend for free. I once shot an 84 at Riviera. I have a witness.

14. I have been to Fairbanks, Alaska for work. Everything about Alaska is completely overwhelming, and awe inspiring. God definitely out did himself when He created Alaska.

15. I received fuzzy Crocs for Christmas from my family this year. My daughters are horrified at the thought of me wearing them in public. To them, its worse than wearing sandals and dark socks.

16. I used to be the little bartender for my parents house parties when I was growing up. I would wear a little vest and dress slacks. It was frightening.

17. Only children almost always still give me the creeps. I think that is related to Number 16.

18. I have witnessed a night time Space Shuttle launch. The closest they let you get to the launch pad is something like 3 or 5 miles away, and the violence of the liftoff ignition still (from that far away!) literally thumps against your chest. Words cannot describe the visual, physical, and emotional sensation of it. Ask someone who has seen one. It defies description.

19. My greatest living hero is John Wooden. I have a basketball signed by him in my house.

20. I cannot understand how anyone can travel on a commercial flight without getting a window seat. I mean, you get to FLY! And all the stuff God made, it's right there outside the see! Even if its cloudy below, the view, people!

21. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be the Dad of the two amazing daughters that live at our house (for only a bit longer now). And I never thought I would be married to such a total babe as my wife. I love you Nance!

22. I am a crappy skier. Its just not in my genes.

23. I did not try sushi until I was about 35 years old. Previously, I had thought, "Ew, raw fish". Now, I think, "Ew, stupid me." I lead a sheltered life. And, as you can see, I am running out of steam here.

24. James Taylor is amazing. He could sing the phone book, and I would be happy. I know, I am SO middle-aged. Deal with it.

25. Like my friend, Nate, I often doubt myself, feel insecure, wonder about why bad things happen to good people, cry over suffering, get needlessly angry at little things, say insensitive things to people I love, and worry that I am gradually becoming a grumpy old guy like my Dad. But then, I remember that my life is not my own, that I have been miraculously redeemed, and that God loves me more than I will ever know. Its times like these that I am reminded of my favorite verses from the Scriptures, from II Corinthians 12:

"My grace is enough; it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What If It All Falls Apart?

I have been doing some Internet reading recently, and it seems that not all in the world of evangelicalism is bright and sunny. Storm clouds are on the horizon - an ominous change of sorts. Massive climatic change in the happy world of American evangelicals might be underway. Good bye Dr. Dobson, southern mega-churches, and blue-haired people on cable TV. Hello ambiguity.

Everything might be falling apart, and it feels somewhat scary, but at the same time exciting and hopeful. This change could all be very good.

My thinking began to get started after reading this, followed by this, and then this. Seems, if we believe only half of what Michael is writing about, there is some serious change on the horizon. And then, if you want to be further depressed by the future, take a look at this one.

Seems a bleak outlook. I am hopeful. This might drive us Jesus Believers to a much better place, in the long run. Here is something to think about:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Here Comes the Sun

James Taylor and Yo Yo Ma. Does it get any better?

Monday, February 02, 2009

Feeling Alone Part 2

Recently, I began some thoughts about our the alone-ness of our culture, and how we in the church seem to do only marginally less poorly than the rest of society at forming meaningful relationships.

This is all quite bothering to me. Really.

My observation, after more than 25 years in the Christian culture (Southern California - which may be more liberal than other parts of the country), is that once a person comes to a saving knowledge of Christ, they tend to unintentionally cloister themselves from the rest of society. They also isolate themselves somewhat from relationships, both with the greater non-believing world around them, and even within the church, to some extent. Being with unbelieving people is seen as somehow, well, slightly sinful; and sharing too much of yourself with those inside the church, can be, well, embarrassing.

This is why I would not at all be surprised to find the the statistics of the GSS to be even more skewed toward isolation, if a separate measurement were taken within the church. (If you know of any such studies, will you please let me know?!). I hope I am wrong, but I doubt it.

The Need Unmet
It seems to me there is a vast, gaping, unmet need in the world around us. Quite simple, it is the need for friends. Friends. Who will sit with us when we hurt, listen when we have deep questions, laugh with us when we are joyous, weep with us when we mourn, and wait for us when we are distant and difficult.

Will those in the church do this? I wonder.

The Visualization
Recent, I came upon a stunning choral arrangement of Samuel Barber's "Agnus Dei". I am not sure why I am sharing it here, other than to offer that this piece offers both a glimpse of the suffering and need for redemption of us all, and also the beauty that can emerge from many offering their gifts as one - one choir.

Church people, do we have this in us? The gift of friendship; of working together to create something truly Beautiful?

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccáta mundi, miserére nobis.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccáta mundi, miserére nobis.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccáta mundi, dona nobis pacem.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: grant us peace.

Megan Handley - Advent Homily

The lovely lady on the right of this photo with our President is Megan Handley, a Fuller Seminary student, and great friend of ours. She knew Obama before he was famous. We did not.

During Advent, Megan delivered a wonderful homily at our Wednesday night Advent Service at our church.

You can listen to her homily by clicking on the post headline above, or here. This will take you to the file location.

One warning - due to some kind of technological sound recording boo-boo-thingie, the homily does not begin until 2:24 seconds into the sound track. If you like, you can enjoy those moments as silent reflection. Enjoy!

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