April 28, 2008

Random Thoughts & Observations

These random thoughts and observations are a result of a volleyball tournament in Louisville, KY where I coached my 14yr old team and my day off today. These are in no particular order other than what came to my mind first...

  • I don't mind and might even enjoy driving longer distances by myself because I get to listen to my music or the radio as loud as I like. My wife is not a big fan of a) my music and b) my music or the radio being loud while we travel together.
  • It is a HUGE bummer to have to pay almost $4/gallon for gas but I am fortunate enough to be able to afford it but still, not fun. I like to drive w/all of my windows down even when I'm driving on the interstate but I've heard some people say doing that creates a lot of drag and lowers your average miles per gallon which leaves me with 2 options: 1. I can drive w/my A/C on or 2. sweat...neither one I'm excited about.
  • Don't you hate it when you walk into a non-smoking hotel room and it smells like someone just put their cigarette out or when the comforter on the bed has burn marks on it?
  • Though my team didn't win very many matches (technically we only won 1 match the whole weekend) it was cool to see my girls keep trying and not give up, despite some games when even I toyed with the idea. I guess it goes to show that winning really isn't everything.
  • Tai (my wife) & I went grocery shopping this morning and again I was made aware of the weird work schedule we both have. She is a professor with a majority of night classes and I work for a church so my days off are Saturdays and Mondays. We joke about what other people must be thinking when they see us both out shopping or walking our dog in the middle of the day...on a Monday when most normal people are working.
  • It's interesting how surrounding yourself with good people can make dealing with things that would otherwise be a burden end up being not so bad.
These are what I've come up with so far but I'll be sure to share more if any come to mind.

April 21, 2008

Tired of Me

Have you ever been so insensitive to someone that it makes you sick to your stomach but you don't realize it until it's too late? This leads to that awkward feeling of knowing that you should say 'sorry' knowing full well the other person knows it too but then the apology seems so forced and insincere that you might not say it at all.

It says a lot about us as humans that we have to teach small children to share, that being selfless is not something that comes naturally. It is hard not to be selfish and yet in those rare occasions when I find myself being sensitive to someone else's needs rather than my own, I find more joy than if I were to have gotten what I thought I wanted.

And yet my lack of sensitivity is exhausting.

April 20, 2008

Organizing God

Call me a nerd or a news junkie (and maybe they are the same thing) but I listen to NPR a lot, especially while driving in my car. Well this past week, the Pope paid a visit to the U.S. and so NPR decided to do a little segment on their noon program called Day To Day where they interviewed two high school students that were both Catholic. I just caught the end of the interview with these two students who, from what I could gather, were sharing their take on the Pope's visit and their faith. One of them made a comment along the lines of saying that "organized religion" was "not really their thing" and the other quickly added that "you don't have to go to church to be religious" pointing out that she spends time with God while praying on her bed alone in her room.

I have to admit that the whole "I'm not down with organized religion" thing is getting played out. Surely there is something better to come up with? One of the reasons I struggle with this is because I'm not exactly sure I know what it means when someone says this. Are they suggesting they would prefer religion that is chaotic, unorganized and undefined? I think there is some confusion between organized religion and traditional religion because you can be organized but not necessarily traditional. Besides, it seems a little vain to think that we could really organize or un-organize God anyways.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think you have to go to church to be a Christian but I do think that part of being a Christian is being a part of a community that strengthens and challenges your faith, which is often found through attending church. A religion that allows someone to completely internalize and individualize one's beliefs without any sort of impact on one's surroundings seems almost pointless to me...I hope I'm not being pointless.

April 14, 2008

Stuck In Our Bubbles

I'm out running some errands the other day and the first one is to an auto parts store to get a bulb for my taillight that was out. I got the bulb and figured I might as well change it right there in the parking lot because it's a beautiful afternoon and in case I got the wrong size or something before I continue with my other errands. As I'm working on changing my light I notice a lady that has just walked out of the store, got into her suburban that was parked directly next to me and start crying.

So at this point, I've got the new bulb in and am ready to leave while pretending as if I didn't notice this lady sitting in her car crying to avoid making her feel any more uncomfortable that she might already have felt. There I am, sitting in my driver's seat, engine running with more errands to run and I found myself pausing..."should I say something to her?...should I ask her if she's OK or needs any help?...but I don't want to freak her out or seem creepy"...pause...pause...I slowly put my foot on the brake, placed the car in drive and drove away.

I have struggled with this situation ever since. I know it's not fair to play the "what-if" game but I can't help but think about what the right thing to do would have been. It seems obvious to me that Jesus wouldn't have hesitated to see if the crying lady needed anything and yet I drove away because I was afraid of making her feel uncomfortable, scared, embarrassed or making me seem creepy.

Sometimes I think it's unfortunate that in the U.S. we have created such an individualized culture with impermeable personal bubbles that we find ourselves getting stuck inside our own bubble. We don't know what to do when someone is asking, hoping and maybe even begging for someone to pop the bubble...and not in some creepy way but in the compassionate, loving way that Jesus did and does. And maybe that someone that is asking, hoping or even begging for someone to burst the bubble is you or me. I've been trying to think about it that way, if it were me, would I want someone to take notice or just drive away...

April 9, 2008

Thanks for the Memories

Have you ever had that song or taste or scent that brought back a very specific memory? It was hard not to enjoy walking outside in the sunshine today and as I was doing that I was struck with a very specific memory...my many days of playing baseball growing up. The sunshine combined with a cool breeze and the smell of spring grass instantly brought me back to spitting sunflower seeds while taking infield. It seemed to just make sense to me that the Major League Baseball season is now in full swing...and being a Detroit Tigers fan, it could be a loonnngggg season.

April 6, 2008


In a culture where you can find iPods, iTV, iPhones and all sorts of other "i" stuff and virtually all of which is customizable to fit one's personality, needs or wants I started wondering if we have become "iChristians" following an "iJesus".

Is it possible that in this culture of custimization and convenience that we have customized the message and person of Jesus? Keeping the things that we like or that seem to work for us at the time while conveniently glossing over the rest. Yeah I'll take some forgiveness, mercy, love and hope but I think I'm good on accountability and the whole serving-others thing.

In the 6th chapter of John we see this interesting exchange between Jesus and some of his disciples. They have been listening to Jesus' teachings for some time now and are overheard saying, "This stuff is hard." BINGO! It is not easy to be like Jesus, especially in a culture that is dominated by "I" but heaven forbid we turn Jesus into a bobble-head doll that nods his head up and down when it's convenient for us...

*Bobble-head doll pictured above is currently sitting on my desk

April 2, 2008

Could've Fooled Me

Oh, it did! Way to go Google for making me feel like an April Fool.

On another note, have you ever been driving somewhere and either passed someone or pulled up to a stoplight next to someone to see them sitting soooo close to the steering wheel? It seems virtually impossible that they could even fit their hands in between the wheel and their body to steer the vehicle let alone make a sharp turn. Maybe this is just where I live but I see this scenario more often than not involving a smaller woman and a much larger SUV. Made quite obvious by the figure below, sitting too close is not a good thing.

April 1, 2008

"Custom Time"

Leave it to our friends at Google for giving us the chance to even "customize" time...I'm not sure how many of you use Gmail but there is a new feature that gives users one more area of customization.

(*below is taken from Google's Gmail site as I went to check my email)

New! Gmail Custom TimeTM

Ever wish you could go back in time and send that crucial email that could have changed everything -- if only it hadn't slipped your mind? Gmail can now help you with those missed deadlines, missed birthdays and missed opportunities.

Pre-date your messages
You tell us what time you would have wanted your email sent, and we'll take care of the rest. Need an email to arrive 6 hours ago? No problem.

Mark as read or unread
Take sending emails to the past one step further. We let you make emails look like they've been read all along.

Make them count
Use your custom time stamped messages wisely -- each Gmail user gets ten per year.

Worry less

Forget your finance reports. Forget your anniversary. We'll make it look like you remembered.

(*below is taken from my wandering thoughts)

There is something about this that seems kind of dishonest or shady but maybe that's just me. I would like to think that either: a) I am mindful and/or responsible enough to remember important dates and deadlines or b) I am humble enough to own up when I miss one. But maybe I just feel that way now or 1 hour ago or 6 hours ago or last night or whenever I wrote this......