Thursday, August 30, 2007

Summer resolution results

With the start of school and football season, I think it's safe to say summer has come to an end. For those of us who are no longer in school and don't play football, maybe we can stretch summer out a little longer, but fall is nearly upon us.

With that, I'm going to revisit a post from June 1. It was a list of the things I wanted to accomplish during the summer of 2007. I'd like to evaluate how successful I was, so here it goes:
1. Spend as much time outside as possible (preferably with my wife and kids)
I believe I accomplished this one. We spent countless hours in or near the lake, playing outside, visiting neighbors (thanks for a great summer, Yoders!). I spent many hours on the tractor mowing grass. I got up early and went fishing probably 85% of the summer workdays.

2. Date my wife at least 10 times
Unfortunately, I don't think I met this goal. I did date my wife numerous times, but I don't think it was 10. We may have gone out 6-8 times and each one was great. I did plan a special date that we've never done before: dinner and a movie on the lake.

3. Take my wife on a weekend getaway
We haven't done it yet, but in mid-September we're going to Nashville for 3 days. It's for a conference, but it's still just the two of us going away for a few days.

4. Visit with friends and family
It seems like we saw a lot less of family than usual, but a lot more of friends.

We even made some new friends this summer. Our summer neighbors, the Yoders, became more than just neighbors - they're now some of our favorite friends. Craig Helfrich played on the same softball team as us and a friendship has started there. The Lantz family has become an important part of our lives - good friends.

We got to see some old friends, too. Dan Erickson came to town twice and I got to play disc golf with him each time. Despite being badly beaten both times, it was a great time. We saw Mark & Stephanie Troyer and their two boys for the first time in several years. We just recently made a trek up to Niles to visit the Becraft family, and got a bonus when we stopped by our old church. There was a Fun Fair going on there that day and we caught up with a bunch of old friends.

I'd say this one was a success.

5. Get my money's worth ($17) out of a fishing license
As I mentioned in #1, I went out nearly every morning before work. I also got to spend some longer stretches of time on the lake with friends. Definitely accomplished this goal. Just this morning, I caught the biggest fish of the summer - a 24-inch walleye. This is a sampling of what I (and others) caught.

6. Play more than 2 rounds of golf
I have yet to play any golf. Although, I'm supposed to play in an outing with Jeff Becraft on Sept. 8! So, I failed, but I don't feel too bad about it. Golf takes a lot of time and money, both of which can be better spent elsewhere.

7. Cook out more than cook in
A lot of my outdoor time was spent cooking on the grill. We came up with some new recipes and had a great time using open flames!

8. Eat more corn on the cob
Oh man! We discovered Sweet Corn Charlie this year and if we ever move far away it's going to be hard to eat corn from anywhere else. So, yes, I ate more corn on the cob!

9. Read 2-3 books that challenge me (currently reading "God's Secret Agent" by Sammy Tippit)
God's Secret Agent was a good one for me. You can read my thoughts on it here.

I also read The Five Love Languages of Children and you can read what I thought here.

Overall, I'd say one of the two challenged me, but I learned from both!

10. Serve others in new ways
I guess this fits here - I spent five days with my kids while my wife was gone at camp. It called for me to serve those kids in ways I could never have imagined. I loved it. We had a great time. You can read a little about it here, here and here.

Now, as summer ends I've started serving in the Junior High Wednesday Night Youth gatherings at church. I'm running sound and tech. It's definitely a learning experience and I'm beginning to love those Jr. Highers!

11. Play disc golf with friends
As mentioned in #4, I played twice with Dan Erickson. It's a hobby (not really a sport) that I'd love to pick back up. Maybe when my kids are old enough to play with me I'll get back into it. But at least I can check this one off the list.

12. Do a parrot head pose for a picture
Nope. Sad. I need to get with Derry and pose one before August ends. Will that still count?

13. Take my family to a beach
Took them to the Warren Dunes in Michigan. What a great day. You can read about it here.

14. Swim
Living on a lake, it's inevitable. Lots of time in the lake - lots of lake water in the stomach. Yum.

15. Camp
Had a great camping trip with my dad, who I plan to post more about soon. You can read about the camping trip here.

16. Run, and finish, a 10K race

Not even close! That's why this was #16 on the list!

17. Drink iced tea
We made so much iced tea this summer I'm pretty much a walking antioxidant.

18. Learn to play my guitar
I took one lesson - does that count?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


After the overwhelming response (ouch) to my plea for advice on the next book to read I've decided to take a different approach.

I've chosen a work of fiction to tackle next.

Since I don't currently own any of the books I listed as possibilities, I'm going to have to wait until I get some cash to buy anything. Plus, I'm going to MinistryCOM Sept. 12-14 and I'm thinking that will be a good place to get advice on which books to soak in.

I figured in the meantime, I'd find a book to just enjoy.

My wife has been recommending Ted Dekker books for the past few years, but I've always found a reason not to read any of them. I know he's a pretty popular Christian fiction writer, so I found my wife's copy of Showdown and read through one chapter. Well, it was so bizarre that I kept going and now I'm 5 chapters in and eagerly anticipating what's next.

So, for all of you who took the time (thanks, Dan) to offer some advice, I'll revisit it in mid-September!

Friday, August 17, 2007

One more ...

One more book I thought of:

Through Painted Deserts: Light, God and Beauty on the Open Road

Let me know.

What to read next?

I've got a list of seven books I'd like to read, but can obviously only choose one to start next.
Here's my list:

Made to Stick
Mavericks at Work
In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day
Now, Discover Your Strengths
The Blogging Church
Design Matters: Creating Powerful Imagery for Worship
Good to Great

If anyone reading this has read any of these books, please let me know what you thought. I'm a slow reader, so whichever book I choose I'm making a pretty big time investment. I want to choose the best one. Thanks for your input!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fantasy feelings

I'm feeling pretty good about the way my Fantasy Football draft turned out, despite not being able to participate live.
I'm in a keeper league. We keep up to 3 players, but all must be different positions. So, my keepers were LaDainian Tomlinson (RB), Drew Brees (QB) and Marvin Harrison (WR).
Here's a list of the other players I ended up with, by position:

QB: J.P. Losman
WR: Santana Moss, Braylon Edwards, Joey Galloway, Ronald Curry, Bobby Wade
RB: Cadillac Williams, Chester Taylor, Vernand Morency
TE: Todd Heap, L.J. Smith
K: Shayne Graham
Def: New England, San Francisco

I think I got a pretty good lineup. There's some throw-away players in there, which is good because it makes it easier to pick up new players. For example, I've already chosen to drop Morency to pick up Jeff Garcia.
For anybody reading this who doesn't care for sports or fantasy sports, I'm sorry to have wasted your time.
For the people who love sports and fantasy sports as much as I do, you probably have plenty of advice for me, and I welcome it. Man, I'm excited for football season!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What I'm done reading

I'm not sure how to describe my feelings about this book. It's the only of the "Love Languages" books I've read to completion. It was not my first choice for a book to read at the time I started it, but I ended up reading it because I was following my wife's advice and hoping to gain some insight into my children's emotions.
I would definitely say I gained the desired insight, although I'm not sure it applies to my children yet - which is a good thing. I learned that children don't start showing clear signs of a preferred love language before they are 5 years old. My oldest child just turned 5 so I read this book at a perfect time. My youngest is soon to turn 3 and it should help me watch for signs from him of leaning toward a particular love language.
While I'm not entirely convinced that Chapman has nailed down the only 5 love languages known to man, I do buy into the theory that each person receives love in different ways. Some people are more sensitive to certain expressions of love than others. That's easy to see when I look at myself, my wife and my kids (although they haven't chosen their top language yet!).
With that in mind, I feel this book has helped me evaluate people differently - especially people I care for. I now look for signs of love language preference. As my children mature, I think I will be more aware of the ways they sense and accept expressions of love.
I know this has been a vague book review, but the big picture stuff is about all I can recall clearly. Having a few other books in mind, there were times when it was tough for me to push through to the end of this book. Although, I do think it was a valuable read.
If anybody reading this wants to read this book (despite the glowing review I've just given) don't buy it - borrow it. I'll lend you my copy.

Fantasy technology

I don't use the computer all that much at home. In fact, I think this is only the second time I've posted from home. The reason is that we have an old laptop with a dial-up connection. Things don't move very quickly, you know?
Anyway, the old laptop really disappointed me tonight. I tried to get into my fantasy football league's live draft, but couldn't. I had even tested the system a few days ago and it said everything should work.
This was going to be the first time I've actually taken part in a live draft. Always before I've just let my pre-draft player rankings decide who my next pick would be. And, I've got to admit that it's worked out pretty well for me that way.
So, what am I complaining about? I probably would have just screwed things up if I had actually gotten into the live draft.
I'll report back with my roster once the draft is over.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Doing what's right

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
- Luke 23:55-56

As I read this passage this morning, it really struck me. It took me a few minutes to understand why, but I figured it out.
The women who were closest to Jesus while He was on earth had just witnessed his death - possibly the greatest tragedy in any of their lives. They followed Joseph and watched him bury Jesus. He was not in a casket, dressed nicely in suit and tie. I don't know if His body had been cleaned or not, but they were watching His dead body be laid in a tomb.
Then they did the next logical thing in their minds - they prepared the spices and perfumes they would put on His body.
Then, almost as if they hadn't thought about it up to this point, they are forced to rest because of the Sabbath.
This is the significant part for me. Despite going through a great tragedy and being totally focused on what they needed to do next, these women obeyed the commandment to rest.
They could have easily used the circumstances as an excuse to skip the Sabbath, just this once. After all, Jesus' body needed to be dressed with the spices and perfumes they were preparing.
I know in my life, it doesn't even take a tragedy for me to excuse myself from doing what I know is right. I can rationalize disobedience a number of ways - just give me a second to think of one.
Is this an issue of disobedience or is it an issue of belief? Do I really believe what I say I believe? Are my convictions real? Do I just claim then because it's what I'm supposed to do?
I need to figure out if I really, truly believe my convictions. Then, if I do, I need to stick to them - no matter what the circumstances.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Fishing update

It's not going to break any records, but it's a keeper!

Friday, August 3, 2007

He Makes Others Great

I love to watch Steve Nash play basketball. He's a squirrely, wiry, sneaky little guy.
And the thing he does best is pass to his teammates.
Steve Nash "serves" up assists. In this video, he had 21 assists in one game. That's a lot!
Nash is not the biggest, fastest, most athletic basketball player you'll ever see. In fact, he's among the NBA's "little guys" and probably one of the league's least athletic players.
However, he has been the MVP of the league three years in a row.
I'm telling you all of this because there's a lot of times when I wish I had more ability. I sometimes wonder why God has put me in a behind-the-scenes roll. Why did He gift me in areas that don't garner much attention?
Well, if you were to run into Steve Nash on the street you wouldn't think, "He must be an NBA player." In fact, you probably wouldn't notice him at all because he looks like an average Joe.
But Steve Nash has taken his gifts and used them to make his teammates better - that's why he's the MVP. There's no other player in the league who is more "valuable" to his team than Steve Nash.'
If I can take the gifts I have and use them to make everyone else around me better, could I be the MVP? And, even if I'm not the MVP could I help my "team" win?
I want to take those things that God has created in me and leverage them for His glory. I want to use what I have to make others shine.
I'm not the most creative. I'm not a good public speaker.
I didn't do well with Biblical languages in college.
But, none of that disqualifies me from being an effective minister. All I need to do is focus my talents and energies on helping the "star" players (in my case, pastors and other front-line ministers) be better at what they do.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

My New Love

I love fishing!

I grew up fishing every summer, but then took quite a few years off before picking it back up again when we moved to the lake in September of 2005. This summer I've really gotten into it. I get up almost every morning an hour early and spend an hour out on the pier fishing. I've had a few good days, but mostly I catch small stuff. But I still love it.

The other night I stopped by the Yoders' to ask Neal a question. He was in the midst of re-stringing some fishing reels and we talked for a few minutes. He got one reel finished and asked me to test it out for him. He said, "Here, cast this out and catch a bass." I haven't had too much luck with bass and so I didn't think I could do it. Well, he and I proceeded to catch 7-9 bass in the next 30 minutes. None of them were keepers, but man was it fun.

He told me the secret was the time of day (just after sunset), the bait (Stutzie Bass Killer - see picture above) and the location (just off his property). Now I find myself thinking about fishing almost all the time. I'm slightly obsessed.

I had a dream last night and this is what I saw:
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

What's the lesson?

I need your help to sort this one out.

Monday afternoon a phrase came out of my mouth that has been in my head since.

Sunday afternoon I rode a wave runner that maxed out at about 51 mph. Monday I rode one that didn't have a speedometer, but I'm guessing it maxed out at about 35-40 mph.

After riding the slower, I said, "I always thought if I was going to buy a wave runner it would have to be a fast one to be fun. But after riding this one (the slower) I think I was wrong. I had a lot of fun out there."

So, as I keep thinking about that phrase, I think there's got to be a lesson in it. There are probably some easy, obvious ones that come to mind quickly. But I think there are some lessons there that aren't so easy.

I'm asking anybody reading this to think about that phrase and help me sort out the lessons of that phrase. I know it was just a random statement about wave runners, but could it serve as an analogy for something bigger?


I don't know if the title of this post accurately describes me over the last few days, but I hope so.
The previous post outlined several learning (to serve) opportunities I was going to have this past weekend, and today I'm going to recount how I handled each.

First, the camping trip with my dad was great. The campground was perfect (nothing fancy, but everything we needed) and the fishing was good too. We caught about a dozen fish (maybe more) and kept five. They're still sitting in my fridge, waiting to be cleaned. My wife's not happy about that.
Dad and I agreed that a trip like that would be a great yearly tradition. We'll include my son when he's old enough. So, that alone makes the trip a success in my mind.

As far as learning from my dad, it was another success. He's wise. He's compassionate. He's a servant. I want to follow in his footsteps.

Second, spending time with Derry and Janelle was awesome. We went over for a cookout Sunday after church and then did rode the wave runner. Derry shared something he learned that taught me a lesson, too. He said, "I think if you live on the lake your attitude has to be, 'Yeah, you can use our stuff whenever you want.'" I think you could take the first 8 words out of that sentence and it's a great lesson.
Third, the date with my wife was very enjoyable. I kept it a surprise for her and that made it fun for me. She doesn't do all that well with not knowing what we're doing, but she enjoyed herself. We had dinner and a movie out on the Yoders' pontoon boat. I owe several people for helping make it happen: The Yoders (pontoon), Derry and Janelle (babysitting), Marty and Mindy (portable DVD player). Good friends helped me give my wife a special night - that's a lesson to remember.

Fourth, Derry and I went fishing Monday morning on the Yoders' pontoon (I'm going to fill up their gas tank tonight!). And just like I planned, he talked about "work." It was great. We didn't talk about it a great deal, but just enough for me to see his heart. He also shared some lessons he's learning about prayer (see Derry's post here). Later that day we rode wave runners again, this time loaned to them by Jack and Shelly Lengacher - more generous people.

All in all, a great four days. I had plenty of lessons come my way and now I hope to apply them!