Tuesday, June 26, 2007

5 big days in July

Well, my wife is going to summer camp!
Yes, she's 28 years old, but she's still going to summer camp. She's going to serve as a leader with NMC's Senior High Camp July 13-17.
This is significant for a few reasons.
First, she's going to have a great opportunity to establish or strengthen relationships with many students from our church and New Life Fellowship.
Second, she gets to spend some quality time with one of her best friends, Janelle Prenkert.
Third, this means she's going to get to go to Cedar Point and I'm not.
Fourth, and most importantly, this will be the first time our kids have been away from either of us for more than one night.
Since both of them spend almost all day every day with her, it's going to be pretty hard for them to not see her for 5 days. I'm going to take a couple vacation days so I'm with them the whole time. That's both exciting and scary for me.
I'd love to make this a time when I can bond with them in a way I never could when their mother is around.
My initial thought is to plan a bunch of really fun stuff to keep them happy and excited, but I don't necessarily just want to distract them. I want them to spend quality time with me in their normal, everyday environment.
I think a balance of those two thoughts will make for an amazing time. So, I need your help to plan some really fun activities. If any of you with small children (5 and younger) have done anything like this with them, please share your stories with me. I need ideas.
I love my kids so much and I want to take advantage of this opportunity to strengthen my relationship with them. Thanks!


I love a good quote. I'd like to start posting quotes. The problem is, I don't usually think to write down the best quotes I hear. I'm going to try to do better at that.
For now, I just found a bunch of good quotes (of the inspiring type) in my Flickr group, the church marketing lab. This group is a bunch of people who do what I do - communication and marketing work at churches.
This is a link to a discussion going on in the group. It was started by a member who is having trouble finding creativity. But, I think it applies to a lot of areas of life. We all get in ruts and feel frustrated at our lack of fresh ideas and thoughts, so I hope these quotes help.
Look for me to post more quotes in the future!

Friday, June 22, 2007

iPod-less listening

Since I broke my iPod a few weeks ago, I've had to use CDs again. I have a 30-minute commute to work, so I have plenty of time to listen to music. Though, the morning drive is usually spent with Mike & Mike.
Today I pulled an oldie out of my CD book. It's one I haven't listened to in a great long while. I actually forgot about how much I liked it when I used to listen to it a lot.
Any Poor Old Lu fans out there will quickly recogize the name Aaron Sprinkle. I only have one of his albums, which I think is his first solo effort. Moontraveler was released in July of 1999, shortly after I graduated from college. I probably paid between $12-15 for it that summer. Now you can get it for as little as $1.09 on Amazon!
This is definitely one of myfavorite oldies. It's kind of a unique sound - sort of melancholy, but not depressing.
I want to thank Jeff Simpson for reminding me how good some of the music from the '90s was. He'd probably like Moontraveler.

Phraseology, or just a bunch of palaver

I don't claim to be all-knowing when it comes to writing, or even the use of words. But, there are 3 mistakes I see so often in written communication that I just had to get it out.

1. "I could care less" - Now, this should be obvious to anyone who simply stops to think about that phrase. The supposed point of this phrase is that your concern for a particular issue is absolutely zero. So, by saying, "I could care less," you're leaving the door open for something to be lower on the list.
The correct phrase is, "I couldn't care less." This clearly states that nothing could be less of a concern than the object you're referring to.

2. Towards - I was once told this is not actually a word. But, I looked it up at dictionary.com and it actually is a word. It is listed as a variant of toward. So, the point is that toward should be used instead. Why would you use a variant of the word you're really meaning?

3. "Over 100 people" - What's over them? Should they get out of the way before it drops? The point is that over is a word of position, not amount. The correct phrase would be, "More than 100 people."

If you made it through my ridiculous ranting, thanks. Let's try to do better with the phrases we use!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The best Father's Day

Sunday was the best Father's Day I've ever had. It was my sixth Father's Day as a dad and by far the best.
What made it so good? Nothing.
I did nothing all day except enjoy spending time with my family.
In case you didn't know this already, I have the most incredible two kids in the world!
I got to play with them and take them out for dinner and ice cream. I had no obligations the whole day but to be with them.
I think every Father's Day should be like that. Dads should get to be with their kids all day and nothing else should get in the way of that.
I thank God for blessing me with children. They have taught me so much already. They have humbled me, encouraged me, charmed me, needed me, wanted me, loved me and I can't get enough of them!
Perry Noble of NewSpring Church is a dad and instead of a sermon he gave his daughter a message. Check it out.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Looking forward to a reunion

In less than a month I'm going to get together with an old friend from college who I haven't seen in at least 5-6 years. We're going to play disc golf together. He's pretty passionate about the sport. Actually, he's pretty passionate about his discs. Read this!
If you're confused, don't worry. That's just Dan's way of saying he misses his favorite disc.
This is going to be a fun day for me!

Big changes, Boats and Banana Pancakes

I've got a few things on my mind today and rather than a bunch of separate posts, I thought it would be much easier to put them all in one. Plus, this should help me keep each brief.

So, if you haven't given up on this post already, here it goes ...


I wrote last week about some big changes coming for my family and me. Well, I'm ready to share them. Depending on who you are, you may or may not know that my wife and I currently live and work at the Bethel College Spiritual Retreat Center on Dewart Lake in Syracuse. We are the caretakers of the center and, as such, receive a salary and housing. So, we've got it pretty good right now.

Our current situation is going to change, however, as Bethel recently listed the property with a realtor. We will have 60 days to move out once the property sells, so we're very much up in the air as to how much longer we have there. Once the time comes to move, we'll be losing free housing and a salary.

Even so, I feel very good about the future. I am not nervous and I know God has a plan for us and a reason why we can't be there anymore. So, I'm excited to see what He's got in store.


This is on my mind because I finally put some photos on a CD and brought it to work with me.

We bought a pontoon boat from Bethel last year, knowing it would need to be rebuilt before we could use it. We considered it a long-term project.

Well, I've got boating fever and am wanting to get it done and in the water! The only problem is coming up with the money and time to get it done.

Here's a picture of the progress I made on the first day of work (May 14).

The plan is to take it completely apart and replace the floorboards and carpet, then reassemble the rails. As it sits today, the carpet is completely removed and the old floorboards just need to be removed to complete the disassembly phase.

I'll try to keep you posted on the progress and then someday I'll invite all of you out for a boat ride!


Since I got Jack Johnson's album "In Between Dreams" I've been telling my wife I'm going to find a recipe for banana pancakes. Well, I finally did it. You can have it too.

In case you don't know, the third song on the album is called Banana Pancakes. Here are the words:

Tony Laf

Here's the video I referenced in my last post. Sorry about that, I just figured out how to post videos from Youtube. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

He's the man!

A quick stop at Youtube today led me to this video.
This guy is a great musician, yes, but the thing that made me watch it two more times was what an incredible example of manhood he is. Seriously, if you were a 26-year-old single student/musician would you be willing to take 3 children under your care?
I hope he continues to do well in this competition because his story is something this world needs to see.
Way to be a man, Tony!

What will my TOMS look like?

Through churchrelevance.com today I landed at Donald Miller's website where he talks about a guy named Blake Mycoskie who started a shoe company called Toms Shoes. The idea is that for every pair of shoes he sells, he gives a pair to a child in another country who doesn't have any.
What a great idea!

Please read Donald Miller's post, watch a video of Blake giving shoes away, visit the Toms Shoes website and, if you feel led, buy a pair of shoes (or a shirt).

This has got me thinking about what I could do to help people in need. I don't know if Blake knows Jesus or not, but I do so I should be constantly looking for ways to serve.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Summer campfires

For the last three nights in a row, I've spent some time around a campfire. It's one of my favorite things to do in the summer, so what a great stretch it's been.
The thing I love about campfires is what they do to the people sitting around them. I don't know what it is, but if you sit around a campfire you just want to share with the people around you.
We had one campfire with family and two with friends. All three yielded some intriguing conversations.
The highlight of the three was Sunday night at the home of Mark & Cindi Lantz. My wife, kids, dog and I were invited over to their house for dinner and fellowship. We cooked hot dogs and ate around the fire while the dogs (we have a 4-month-old Golden Retriever and they have a 3-year-old Golden Retriever from the same family) played in and near the lake.
It was a great time of getting to know this couple who is an awesome example to young parents. They made us feel completely comfortable. They made us feel like it was fun for them to have us there. They made us feel important.
For a couple who has children in high school, college and done with college to take a night they could have had to themselves and spend it with a couple much younger than them, and kids much younger than theirs, is special.
When my kids grow up I want them to be like Mark & Cindi's kids. Their daughter showers our kids with love, not something every high school senior would do.
Setting a good example may just be the most difficult thing to do in life. It's easy to tell people how they should live. It's easy to tell people what you've done right and what they're doing wrong.
The Lantz family is a living example of what I want our family to be like. They served us dinner around a campfire Sunday night. It will be a campfire I'll always be thankful for.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What's so great about September?

I can't tell you how excited I am for September!

I'm not trying to discount the merits of July and August, but there is so much great stuff coming up in September that I'm very anxious for it to get here.

September is always a big month for my family, but this year it's going to be even bigger.

First off, there are three yearly celebrations taking place in September: My parents' anniversary (this year is their 35th - that's worth another post), My mom's birthday and my birthday.

Then, there is actually another event this year on my birthday: My cousin's wedding in Indianapolis. So, we'll be in Indy for the weekend with my family. It should be a great time.

The most anticipated event of this September, for me anyways, is MinistryCOM 2007.

This is an annual Church Communications Conference and this year it's in Nashville from September 12-14. It will be my first year attending this conference. Of course, before this year there would have been no reason for me to attend.

Not only am I thrilled to be attending and getting all kinds of helpful information stuffed into my head during those two days, but it will also be the first time my wife and I will be going away from the kids for more than 1 night. It's our first trip since we've had kids and I am so excited. We're only going to have 2 nights together in Nashville, but it is going to be awesome no matter what we do.

I know it's going to be a fun few days just because I'll be there with my wife, but today I received something that makes me think the conference itself is going to be pretty entertaining, too!

Juggle balls!

Friday, June 8, 2007

My new calendar

I bought a new calendar the other day. It's nothing fancy. Green.

I've been meaning to get one for some time, but procrastinated. Big surprise.

Anyway, the reason I needed a calendar is not because I'm so busy. It's not because I'm important and all kinds of people want to be part of my schedule. It's not because I'm organized.

The reason I bought a calendar is simple: I want to put first things first.

As you can see, at the top of the page are two lines, "2 Dates," and "1 Love letter." Those serve as a checklist for the month. I'm giving myself a quota. I have to take my wife on at least 2 dates and write her at least 1 love letter this month. If I don't do it, there's a problem. She's not going to feel as loved as I want her to, as she wants to. That's a pretty significant price to pay for not checking off the things on my to-do list.

I know this may seem a little wierd. It may seem like I've set myself up to do those things for the wrong reasons, maybe a little fake. But, I think it's better to do them for any reason than not to do them at all.

See, my wife loves to spend quality time with me. (Have you ever seen my wife? How lucky am I?) So, the least I can do is make sure I prioritize my time so that she's included. I may not be important to a lot of people, but I am to her. And she is to me.

Now, there are two lessons I'm learning from my calendar.

First, my wife deserves to be the first person on each month's to-do list. She always will be because I love her and she needs me to give her my time.

Second, I need to make time with God an even higher priority than time with my wife. I should put time with Him above anything else when I'm looking at how I'm going to spend my days.

Maybe next time I put a picture of my calendar on here, you'll see God time scheduled in!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Reflecting at 4 a.m.

The puppy (Gus) woke me up at 4 a.m. this morning. Apparently, he needed to relieve himself.
I went to bed early, so after he finished his business I couldn't get back to sleep. There were too many thoughts to try to push out of my head, so I just resigned myself to the fact that I'd probably be up for an hour or two thinking.
It was a good time. If it hadn't been at 4 a.m., it would have been a great chance for me to get a piece of paper and start listing those thoughts (so I could do something about them during normal waking hours).
Here are some of the things I was thinking about before I was able to drift off again ...
1. I just started reading a book called "God's Secret Agent" by Sammy Tippit and Jerry B. Jenkins. It is the story of Sammy Tippit's life. Sammy is an international evangelist and a friend of our church. I got to hear him speak recently for the first time. Very powerful and easy to listen to.
I'm only a few chapters in, but already I've been challenged by his passion for evangelism. His eagerness to share his love for Jesus with others is amazing.
Evangelism, even sharing Jesus with others on an informal level, is something I've always struggled with. I've been putting off reading this book, just because there were others I've wanted to read more, but I'm glad it's finally Sammy's turn. I NEED to hear his story. I NEED to serve others through evangelism.
2. There are big changes on the way for my family and me (I'll probably share more about this as things unfold). Some of them are scary. Most of them are incredibly exciting. I'm so glad that God has continually given us a certain level of uncertainty, because we've experienced His goodness over and over again through the way He's taken care of us. I don't know what the next few months, or even the next few minutes hold but, man, I feel good about where God is taking me!
3. I've been blogging less than a month, and already it has re-connected me with a couple friends. Dan Erickson and Matt Peterson were two of the best guys I hung around with in college and since then I've fallen out of touch with them. It's good to read about their lives and I'm glad I get to share with them too. Dan's blog is fun to read because he's a great writer and very funny. Matt's site is fun to read because you just never know what his next adventure is going to be!
4. I love my family. We went for a bike ride last night and it was such a great time. We had to keep telling them this wasn't a race because they're so competitive. I don't know where they get that from. They love being outside and being active, something I hope to encourage throughout their lives.
5. God is good. He's given me so much. I never could have imagined I'd be where I am now, and that's incredible because it's a good place to be. I've got it good and I'm thankful.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Summer resolutions

Fall is my favorite season. I love the colors, the weather, the crisp air.

Summer is my most anticipated season. I always think the next summer is going to be one to remember. Unfortunately, it doesn't always play out that way. It seems like summer flies by and all the things you wanted to do never got done because you were too busy.
Well, that will probably happen again this summer. But, I'm going to try to plan ahead this time and, hopefully, accomplish some of those things I never had time to do last summer.
Here's a list of things I want to do/accomplish/experience this summer (June 1-August 31):

Spend as much time outside as possible
(preferably with my wife and kids)
Date my wife at least 10 times
Take my wife on a weekend getaway
Visit with friends and family

Get my money's worth ($17) out of a fishing license

Play more than 2 rounds of golf

Cook out more than cook in

Eat more corn on the cob

Read 2-3 books that challenge me

(currently reading "God's Secret Agent" by Sammy Tippit)

Serve others in new ways
Play disc golf with friends
Do a parrot head pose for a picture

Take my family to a beach
Run, and finish, a 10K race
Drink iced tea

Learn to play my guitar

I give anybody who reads this permission to keep me accountable. I want to do all of these things, not just write about them. (Sorry for all the pictures, unless you enjoyed them)