30 August 2009

Kayaking Sugar Creek one last time

Some of the 20x guys who are into shooting...pictures...recommended we take a camping trip/photo shoot/and I added kayaking this summer. So last weekend we headed out. With a forecast of sun and warm temps, what could go wrong? Cold, rain and overcast...which doesn't make for such good pics.

this was the "vacation house" I was trying to talk my wife into buying

But, we had a great time. Here's some pictures from the trip along Sugar Creek and at Turkey Run; we camped at Shades. There should be more to follow. Enjoy.

a bit more respectable

When the summer was at its height and the children going to and fro in the house and on the sidewalk below my bedroom "office" I began to think that it wouldn't be long before the little urchins would be heading back to school and I might restore some credibility to my "office".

So, with it feeling like fall pretty much all summer long, my mind began to wander and dream of a real office....one to which I could even bring clients to. Taking clients to your bedroom to sit on the edge of the bed isn't such a great idea. I found a desk. I found a chair. And I found a room. It is essentially our unused foyer to the back of our house....which I will explain in a later post.

The furniture came in sooner than I expected, but with deadlines and everything else going on, the desk sat empty downstairs until today when I set up shop....in a bit more respectable place. I have a window I can see directly out of...which means I'll probably need to dress in more than gym shorts. And the dog has already found a place at his master's feet too.

If you're in river city, feel free to stop by.....I'll have a pot of coffee on.

27 August 2009

more than my share of good byes

This has been an interesting summer. For some reason, and partly due to the economy I know, we've had to say good bye to an awful lot of friends in the last few months. The mission field has claimed a few, and Florida a few more.

Today was the last in a series of good byes, I hope. Our tenants, who became good friends, accepted a job in Florida so we packed them up Tuesday night and watched them drive off a short time ago. My buddy Dave & I met every Tuesday morning at the coffee shop to discuss faith and politics....and their interface in our lives.

Just a few weeks ago I helped pack up some other friends who left for Bloomington. The up side is that that's not such a long way away....and as my son pointed out, near both McCormick's Creek and Brown County State Parks.

And a few weeks before that we said our good byes to friends who had been studying with Wycliffe Bible Translators, being sent to the Solomon Islands.....for like three years! They are planning on living in leaf huts with no electicity and plubming. He described a bag that was in their emergency supplies given to them that was in case they fell out of their boat between islands...they were to zip themselves up in it and it made you look like a log and not shark bait.

And just days before they left, I had to say good bye to another buddy who left Michigan to find work in Florida. The crappy thing is that we had just reconnected after 15 years! They're in Sarasota, where my seahorse raising cousin is also located-which may demand a return trip to Florida so that we can visit all of these transplanted Midwesterners.

And we've said good bye to two of our 20x guys....one left for Kansas City to be part of the International House of Prayer (he likes to call it IHOP), and the other left to spend 2 years in Ghana with the Peace Corps. That's so cool I can say I know someone in the Peace Corps.

As I was explaining to our new tenants, who are also friends, who is who around the neighborhood I realized that for only having lived here just over 10 years.....we're some of the longest-standing members of our corner of the world. Are we really that mobile these days that it's easy to be uprooted? Do we ever even put roots down anymore?

After all the moving, and from previous moving experiences, I am committed even more now that ever to stay put. If we ever physically move-everything in the house stays. Of course, if it's just a little cabin in the woods....most of our stuff won't fit anyway.

One bit of good news is that regardless of the emigrating Hoosiers we know....at least one Hoosier is returning. An old friend is moving back from the west coast to pastor a Lutheran church in Camden (I think). And I'm looking forward to getting back in touch.
Hey, we're going to miss you guys!

26 August 2009

Batting a hundred

The kids in bat fighting stance from the 2008 outbreak, notice the spray foam

Things have been crazy around our house for the past few weeks. Our kitchen and dining room are in a state of remodel....which actually began in April of 2008. My office downstairs is complete and awaiting my relocation and the rear porch (which is kind of our front porch) is almost finished after 6 years of waiting.

The kids started back to school last week and my wife and I went opposite directions this weekend as she went on a retreat and I went kayaking on Sugar Creek-again. Projects have taken me to Syracuse, Porter and Indianapolis over the last week and a half which has affected my blogging. But, even with a schedule that is filling up through the fall, it seemed we began to see the light at the end of the tunnel and a certain calm began to set in.

Except for one problem. A few weeks ago I noticed what appeared to be bat "leavings" in our basement stairwell. Great. We've had bats before when we reconstructed the attic to add my son's bedroom. They "hung" around for a few days until I believed they escaped through the window or were sealed up in his wall. That was our first bat episode in almost four years of living in this old house....it was also our last until the winter flood of 2008. After 6 years of bat-free living, one rather large flying rodent dive-bombed my head as I went to check on the rising waters in our basement.

Then last summer we had a bat that wrecked havoc upon us for three nights in a row. We tore the house apart looking for it and sealing up every little crook and cranny with 2 tubes of caulk and three cans of expandable foam inside and out. We felt reasonably assured nothing could penetrate our bat-proofing. Then the "leavings" showed up almost a year to the date of our last encounter.

Last week, after a strong storm and loss of power, we sent the kids back upstairs to their bedrooms once the lights came back on and we soon followed them. But our dog, who has a keen sense for these furry flying fiends, started going crazy sniffing around one of our supply duct grilles. Oh you've got to be kidding...it's in our ducts? So we closed all the grilles and went to be a little uneasy. At about 2:30 a.m. the dog and I heard something banging around in the ducts like a tennis ball being thrown through them.

Bat eradication, 2009

A friend of mine came over the next night to install a phone line for the office; as we headed downstairs I warned him about our bat problem and as we turned the corner, there the little bugger was roosting in the stairwell....a good 12 feet overhead. So we shut the basement's bottom door, opened up the outside door and turned on the light assuming it would leave. It didn't, so I began to throw rocks at it from outside the house, only to scare it....not to kill it, because they're endangered or something. It finally flew out and I again used up another can of spray foam sealing up what I thought could be the last possible entry points.

Gone! Right?

Last night at 1:30 my son called from his room and said there was a bat flying around. We didn't believe him until I got up and saw it darting between his room and the stairway. Crap. I turn on lights to disorient it...the dog starts going crazy barking and jumping at it....and I grab the tennis racquet from the cedar closet at the top of the stairs. Back and forth it flew with an altitude in line with my head, the kids screaming....and wife screaming, dog barking and me in my "pajamas" or lack thereof. It turned the corner to head downstairs, which is where I had positioned myself, and with a prayer of forgiveness to St. Francis I put every ounce into one big whack.

It hit the floor. Whack! Whack! Whack! The dog was ecstatic. As I held the rodent down, trapped between the racquet and the floor, I yelled for my wife to get something to put it in and a towel to pick it up. It now rests in an ice cream container on our back step. Tonight I set up a "bat watch" as recommended by the internet "batman" to determine if and where they are going in and out of our house. Do I feel bad? Maybe, just a little bit. But the sure fire way for these guys to stay endangered is to make their way into my house. Had it not been for the two cases of rabies nearby, I probably would be more tolerable.

21 August 2009

Health(Life)Care 103: final thoughts

The most concerning part of a transition to a government health insurance plan is the potential for ethical dilemmas forced upon me, as a Christian paying taxes, and doctors. Particularly in terms of treatment for an aging population and for the unborn.

I am extremely fortunate to have several close friends who are also doctors....and according to the newest ad campaign by the hospital....are real people too! That's quite a relief, buddies. I have had a chance to talk about the health insurance debate with most of them. One said, "I don't know what the big deal is, 50% of our patients are already on a government provided plan". And another followed that up with that fact that it is generally inefficient. But, based on my experience with private health insurance, it can be just as maddening.

As a Christian, I do not, under any circumstance, want the dollars I am paying into the government to go toward prematurely ending life-either the unborn or elderly. And withholding care, in terms of the elderly or unborn, can also be ethically troubling. I have a couple of thoughts here: 1) the exorbitant premiums I am paying to Blue Cross, I assume, may already be paying for ending lives; 2) give to Cesar what is Cesar's (i.e. financially support the Roman soldiers who are killing and raping your neighbors), and 3) until such laws making it legal to end life are overturned, the government is forced into interpreting abortions as medical procedures.

That last line probably really ticked some people off. Here's the thing, since Roe vs. Wade was passed in 1973 there have been Democrats in the White House 13 1/2 of the 36 years. If Republicans really wanted to overturn Roe vs. Wade.......it would have already happened. Christians need to wake up to this. Furthermore, if Christians really wanted to end abortions in this country........I am convinced that it already would have happened, and not through the ballot box, but by making an impact with young men and women. Christians are responsible for the moral decline in this country. Until we understand that.....and stop pointing fingers at people outside of the church......things will continue to slide.

The caveat is this: no one should be forced to take a life. My understanding is that, whether it is part of the current plan, or is attempting to be added, physicians who are trained to perform surgeries will be required to perform abortions. What I did not know is that this is already the law in several states; however, enforcement is non-existent. This particular part of the plan, without regard for conscientious objectors, should not stand. There is nothing gray to me about this.....pretty black and white.

20 August 2009

Healthcare 102

I have coffee every Thursday morning with one of my closest friends here in river city; generally we manage to solve at least one major world problem every week. Today we solved the health insurance problem. My buddy is really quite smart, which makes up for me.

The solution? Ban business from providing health insurance to its employees. What would happen? Everyone would be responsible for providing their own insurance and consequently be completely outraged at their premiums, if they could afford health insurance, and (herein lies the beauty) they would demand reform from their elected officials. Hey, at least it gets us moving in a direction!

Shortly after I posted HC 101 I got a phone call from the "Presidential Coalition" represented by Newt Gingrich's "associate". He wanted me to listen to Newt's speech. I agreed. Newt went on and on about Obama's socialist agenda and how we need to get back to conservative values of the Reagan administration......hidden between the lines was Newt's testing the waters for a presidential run in 2012. When his associate got back on the line I let him have it.

This is the problem people! For the Republicans health reform is all about political positioning. Did George W. Bush offer ANY health care reform in his 8 years? Do you realize we've been talking about the problem for 16 years under both parties and have gotten nowhere? Part of the problem is that the American people generally don't know that there even is a problem. Unfortunately the GOP response is to do nothing but protest.

Here's the deal: people need health care and cannot afford it......some of you guys out there want to say that it's not a "right". OK, from the world's perspective, you are correct. From my understanding of Christ's teachings, it may not be a right.....but it is right. If you disagree with that conclusion then we are going to have to agree to disagree. If you call yourself a Christian and disagree that we should take care of people.....something is a little twisted in your theology.

So you say, but that doesn't mean that the government should provide health care. OK, I'll give you that. A hundred years ago churches provided health care. So, I attend a church of about 300 with approximately 100 family units. Multiply that by roughly $5000 for premiums and we would have a half million dollar expense in providing health insurance to just take care of our parishioners. Now, Christ didn't call us to just take care of ourselves.....so, we have to provide coverage for the indigent, poor, homeless.....you know, the people we are called to.....and maybe we're cheap and we only take care of another 10 families, or another $50k (standard 10%). So, I think we clearly see that the church cannot provide health coverage. So, as a Christian, what's the next logical step?

Capitalism, right? Let the free market system work! I got into an exchange on facebook over a poll denouncing the Obama plan as socialism. I was most amazed at the final comment made by, I'm sure, a well meaning person. She insisted that "capitalism works!!!!" Oh yeah, right. IT IS NOT WORKING, THAT'S WHY WE HAVE THE MESS WE DO! Are people that stupid? Again, I believe it is because people get all jacked up and have no clue as to the problem that's really out there.

I don't disagree that we need tort reform. The problem? Lobbyists. We also need health insurance reform....the problem is the same. My buddy told me this morning that the ratio of lobbyists working for the health insurance interests outnumber senators and congressmen 300 to 1. Did you get that? 3-0-0 to 1! So, who do you think is going to be heard? Not you and me.

As a so-called Christian and civilized nation we (collectively) need to be certain health care is provided for every individual. I'm not saying it should be a government plan. But I AM saying WE have a responsibility to provide care. So, given that statement, we need to either 1) provide health insurance to all people or 2) provide the actual care. At least insurance would provide incoming capital to cover costs.

Seriously, going back to the solution born out of coffee this morning. If businesses eliminated the cost of health insurance...it would stimulate economic growth....taking into consideration that at least some adjustment should be made to wages. This would do two things: 1) make insurance "portable" and 2) would eliminate small "pools" and instead create giant pools in each insurance company. Common sense would dictate that premiums, because of the increase pool size, should go down.....and insurance companies would also have to become more competitive. Isn't that capitalism at work? Understanding that insurance companies are the devil, and that capitalism without moral consciousness is detrimental to a society, I think there would have to be some regulatory oversight at least initially.

Now, what to do with the people who cannot afford insurance or would not purchase insurance if their place of work dropped them? One of two solutions currently being bandied around Capitol Hill. Either 1) create a government plan that one can opt in or out of or 2) a similar non-profit solution. This would create a GIANT pool that Americans may find more competitive than for-profits....which may also reduce general costs. Here you have to be careful, because tax dollars are no doubt going to have to partially subsidize this. And with this, I go back to our moral obligation for people to receive health care.

The particulars? That's why we elect people to office. It's time they start serving the public and not special interests. As far as tort reform? The answer is simple....liability caps. No, really, it IS that simple. Regarding taxpayer funded abortions and requirements of physicians to perform these.....Healthcare 103....sorry, but this has gotten way too long.

19 August 2009

ok, here we go: HEALTHCARE 101

First, before we get into this, understand where I'm coming from.

I'm a 40 year old guy, possibly in the best shape of my life, was rejected by Blue Cross/Blue Shield because I had muscle therapy (massage) on my neck. I am paying extortionate fees for catastrophic coverage for my family plan that could soon surmount to as much as $32k out of pocket for an incident extending over a narrow period covering two insurance years.

I'm essentially a small businessman whose monthly health insurance premiums are more than any other expenses combined. I also come from a long line of independent small business owners. I am a conservative.....which doesn't necessarily mean being a Republican any longer. I AM PATRIOTIC TO THE CORE; I love my country and state probably more deeply than most white collars who are more in love with Capitalism than a nation of ideals, potential and freedom.

But, most importantly, I am a follower of Christ. American, Hoosier, Conservative...whatever label is placed on me holds less merit than the core beliefs I have because I take the teachings of God's Word as directives in my life. This is important to note because it compels me to act and vote from those convictions.

I believe all life is precious. In the womb, or out. In advanced stages of disease or age. And I believe this stretches across all social and economic boundaries. I believe that caring for the sick, elderly, unborn, poor and hungry is one of the most fundamental teachings of the Bible. Not only is it the DUTY of a Christian, it is also a moral imperative of any civilized people.

I believe health insurance costs are extortionate and are undermining the entrepreneurial spirit of our nation. I also believe that they have become a severe detriment to our economy. Along with this are the equally devastating high liability costs endured by physicians.

So, my question is how does a civilized and "christian" nation address health care for its people, also understanding its impact on our economy? That's for Healthcare 102.

17 August 2009

Birthdays and Baptisms

We had an eventful last weekend before school is back in session. The weekend marked the end of the summer birthday season. The boy's birthday is at the beginning of July, followed by the dog's, last weekend, and my little girl's this past weekend. The boy wanted a basketball court cake with the Big 10 schools represented. I'm not even sure if I can list all the Big 10.

Tradition in our family is that you get to pick where you would like to have dinner out for your birthday. The dog always gets DQ. This year he also was treated to a new bed. He does not care for his bed....because using it means that the rest of the family is not home.

My daughter started talking about a month ago where she'd like to go for her birthday dinner. She said the place with all the fish on the walls. Fish on the walls? After a few minutes and missed guesses, I asked, do you mean the Bass Pro Shop (in Portage)? Yep, that was the place....it does a father's heart good! So Saturday we spent a good part of the evening at the Bass Pro Shop, then stopped by the dunes to watch the sun set.

After a small birthday party Sunday, and some emergency tree cutting, our church's annual baptismal service was scheduled at a parishioner's pond in the afternoon. Both our kids asked to be baptized this year. We're not an infant baptizing church, nor a sprinkling church....we're the dunk 'em good kinda church. If we were the sprinkling kind of church....it would have been an "all-church" baptism yesterday as the rain fell pretty hard. 20 were dunked.

And although they smelled pretty strongly like fish the rest of the day, this dad couldn't be more proud of his kids! Washed by the water....and committed to following Christ.

15 August 2009

Sedition Act, Patriot Act & the White House Blog

I try my best not to read the local newspaper. Personally, I don't want to be reminded of the governmental nonsense, inconsistencies, and, well, just blatant disregard for doing what is right in republicania county. But I was at my folks' place the other day and flipped through river city news and found a rather comical op ed from the publisher. His diatribe focused on his imagined evils of the official White House Blog.

The right wing interpretation of the "reality check" White House site is that somehow because it encourages people to let them know through their blog if they believe dialogue they have heard surrounding the health care debate is false, that Obama is somehow creating a police state. Just the latest fear-mongering tactic by right wing talk show hosts. I'm not sure how asking folks if they've heard something that doesn't sound right to let the White House know so that they can address the issue, is wrong really.

But, of course, to turn the debate into madness...it helps to paint a picture of civil liberties being taken away. So, let's consider the erosion of civil liberties under previous administrations and see if the current blog comment comes close.

President John Adams, Federalist: Alien & Sedition Act of 1798.

An Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes against the United States; ch. 74, 1 Stat. 596
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, Penalty on libelling the government, That if any person shall write, print, utter or publish, or shall cause or procure to be written, printed, uttered or published, or shall knowingly and willingly assist or aid in writing, printing, uttering or publishing any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or either house of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the United States, with intent to defame the said government, or either house of the said Congress, or the said President, or to bring them, or either of them, into contempt or disrepute; or to excite against them, or either or any of them, the hatred of the good people of the United States, or to stir up sedition within the United States, or to excite any unlawful combinations therein, for opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the President of the United States, done in pursuance of any such law, or of the powers in him vested by the constitution of the United States, or to resist, oppose, or defeat any such law or act, or to aid, encourage or abet any hostile designs of any foreign nation against the United States, their people or government, then such person, being thereof convicted before any court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars, and by imprisonment not exceeding two years.

The enaction of such law ultimately led to Thomas Jefferson's election to President and abolition of the act. Wow....can you imagine if this was on the books today? But we don't have to go back 200 years to see an attempt at the erosion of civil liberties.

President G. W. Bush, Republican: The Patriot Act of 2001

The acronym stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001. The Act increases the ability of law enforcement agencies to search telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records; eases restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States. Since its passage, several legal challenges have been brought against the act, and Federal courts have ruled that a number of provisions are unconstitutional.

If you ask me, the two above seem far more reaching in undermining our civil liberties than the White House asking to be given the opportunity to correct misleading information. While either one of the Sedition & Patriot Acts may have seemed appropriate given circumstances at the time, I believe we need to think more broadly as to how such laws may be interpreted and acted upon by later administrations and future generations.

I'm not defending the proposed health care plan, but I believe that it is terribly unfortunate that rather than have an honest debate concerning the factual problems with health insurance costs in the country.....which may lead to a well-crafted compromise.....certain factions would rather incite outrage to derail any possible reform. But then, it is to their benefit......and it is their protected right. My thoughts on health care reform on a later post.

In the mean time, should any of you hear of disparaging remarks concerning the author of Hoosier Happenings, Hoosier Reborn, I would greatly appreciate knowing. Could you please respond to this post with any malicious or otherwise outrageous comments you have witnessed against this site or its author, false or factual. I have an angry little weiner dog that will be unleashed to quiet such rhetoric.

13 August 2009


I've heard of some crazy things, but when I was sent a facebook message by my cuz in Florida who had me "tagged" in a picture......I never expected to see a photo of my cousin's foot. Let alone his tattooed, hairy foot. This set off quite a firestorm of responses from family members. I think he once warned me that he was going to have "76" tattooed somewhere on his person....to which I probably thought he was kidding.

He said he did it in honor of our truckstop and my grandparents who started it 50 years ago. They are probably rolling in their graves, but, hey, whatever. So that made me go looking and probably to my cousin's disappointment, we only dealt in Unocal 76 fuel for the last 20 or so years of our history. We first were associated with Cities Service Stations, then Citgo. But, I guess the 76 has more sex-appeal?

There are few pictures in my possession that depict an orange ball with a blue 76 in the center, from the truckstop days. And I don't have a single photo of our sign at the highway that the giant internally lit orange ball. That's disappointing to me. Can you find the 76 in these pics?

I went by the old place yesterday, which if you remember from previous posts, was demolished earlier this year. The debris pile is finally gone. Not much at all remains...but the memories.....and now my cousin's foot. I asked him if he planned to put more pictures of his foot on facebook to please get a pedicure first.

11 August 2009

holding on to hope

A few weeks ago we were at our family reunion and as we formed a line on each side of the food tables I made a comment to my cousin, standing on the other side, that the baked apples looked delicious. She said, hey, those are mom's, dish some up for me. Just over a week later she lost her battle with cancer, an on again-off again battle that she endured for nearly twenty years.

Then my attention was turned to a friend's daughter many of us know here in river city. Twenty-six and two young children at home; her future is uncertain. Holding on, just like her family is holding onto hope.

Seldom have I found myself in the position where all I had to hold onto was hope. Those times were wrenching, numbing, and filled with bouts of anger and feelings of abandonment. I can't imagine though, it being my child that I was holding onto hope for. What do we do? Someone commented "let's hope our prayers will work, our tears don't seem to be".
We were not guaranteed easy lives. We weren't guaranteed a life without trials and tears. We were promised, though, that God would never leave or forsake us, nor give us trials we are unable to bear. The key is to hold on.....but in that understand that God already holds us in the palm of His hand. The tears, I believe, He feels and experienced the loss we pray we never do when God sent His Son to make atonement for us.

My heart breaks for my aunt and cousin's children. Updates from my friend convey exhaustion from the holding......and how could one not be exhausted?

In that time of holding on, to faith and hope, the most reassuring feeling is to sense the presence of our Father....to find peace and rest in Him. This is where we must step in, to offer the words that heal and encourage, to let them know that we are standing with them, when they've lost the strength to hold on.

But, I'm wondering if maybe we miss something in not experiencing complete brokenness and trust in God. Is there something beautiful in experiencing that total reliance, where all we have to fall onto is hope? I pray I never experience such tragedy, but at the same time....I pray for a brokenness daily in my life that brings with it the holy presence in which I can find healing and strength. Who prays for brokenness these days? Man, that the church would pray for such brokenness.
I began reading Job this morning and was faced with this verse we often quote "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (1:21). And as Job's wife encouraged him to curse God and die, just before his three friends showed up, Job said "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" (2:10). Yet Job didn't turn away from God. He continued to hold on, despite being more fully broken than any man I have known. Accept adversity? Adversity by its nature breaks us.....to be made stronger. But, God, I don't want adversity....just give me strength, right?

This amazing song by Lifehouse called "Broken" has some of the most heart-piercing, comforting lyrics I have heard in some time. Listen along carefully....maybe you can relate with these lyrics.

Prayers go out for all those who find themselves barely holding on.

10 August 2009

Crazy Love (in your face)

I recently finished probably one of the best books I've ever gotten ahold of: Crazy Love by Francis Chan. My wife was the first person I knew who read it....and I have to admit I thought it was probably one of the those "soft Christianity" books written to appeal to women. She had told me she was enjoying it, so, when we saw a DVD study series that went along with it....I was pretty easily convinced that it would make a nice summer series for the 20x class at church.

All of a sudden the Crazy Love phenomenon began sweeping our church once a ladies summer reading group got ahold of it.....then the pastor read it and began quoting from it on Sunday mornings.

Crazy Love is anything BUT a soft Christianity read. In fact, I doubt most Christians could stomach reading it........or they would quickly dismiss the very basic directives Chan calls the church to...wait, scratch that, that Chan REMINDS the church that it is ALREADY called to. Jesus did the calling first, I think. The book absolutely gets in your face to make you question your priorities and what you do with the resources God entrusts you with (not your resources, His). Chan bravely throws the question out "have you ever wondered if we (primarily the protestant church) has gotten it all wrong?"

After reading the book, it has become clear to me that it is time to make some changes. My wife and I committed to each other before we married, then incorporated them in our vows, that we would live simple lives. We strive to do that...and honestly, it's pretty easy to "not keep up with the Jones" when you don't live next to the average Jones. But that's still not enough. Chan is asking why can't we live like the first Christians in the early church.....so, why can't we?

I've heard a few comments recently from people in my own church that I think are just disturbing when it comes to attitudes about the poor, the uninsured, the hungry in relation to their own resources. I don't think that it is unique to us though. I think that the attitude is pervasive throughout the church in America, mostly because we have married our politics to our faith......and "true religion" as defined in James, is losing out to amoral Republican thought.

The book is a quick read......but it is one of those books that sticks with you, that demands you evaluate your current state and attitudes about your resources in comparison to the Gospel. I encourage you to pick up a copy and take it to heart, if you've got the guts to do so. If there is a healthy, emerging church, I pray that the mindset of simply following Christ's model and words are its driving force.

or Chan's church that is walking the talk:

07 August 2009

Beverly Shores: Miami Beach, north

A conversation 22 years ago with a girl I was trying to impress:

Me: How you doin'?
Girl: Great!
Me: Now, where are you from?
Girl: Well, we live with my mom in South Bend, but stay summers with my dad in Beverly Shores.
Me: Beverly Shores??? Where's that?
Girl: You've never heard of Beverly Shores (sarcasm setting in)?
Me: Oh, uh, yeah...that Beverly Shores....
Girl: Whatever. (rolling her eyes)

Beverly Shores is a little like Indiana's version of Miami Beach. Nestled on the bluff of Lake Michigan, Beverly Shores reflects an exclusive and rather quiet playground for the upper class. Recently I was driving through on business and had a few strange glances cast my way.

The little community, mostly comprised of upscale beach houses, has an eclectic mix of well-done architectural styles from about the time the community sprang up in the roaring 20's to today....with only a few what I call atrocities of big money gone bad.

The small South Shore Railway Station puts a smile on your face as you turn off Highway 12 onto the main drag.....taking you back in time. The "Cat Crossing" sign also put a smile on my face, but this time it was me rolling my eyes instead of the girl I was trying to impress.

06 August 2009

country roads

I took the slow road home yesterday from a job site.
I eased off the accelerator, rolled down the windows and opened the sun roof.

Then I wondered "what's that smell?"

Has it been that long since I've lived in the country? The corn tassles were out giving off that sweet fragrance of a late summer day. Then I passed that new mown hay, and whoa.....Indiana.

Realizing the small things that we are blessed with....including some close-ups with red-tailed hawks and the largest old snapper I've ever seen.....makes for a better day all around.

04 August 2009

You go before me....

Today marks the one year anniversary since I left my former job and began on my own. I remember walking out of the office door that last time wondering what the heck I was going to do, where I would end up, and what we would do to pay bills. Then I remember waking up that following Monday morning, August 4th, stealing away early in the morning for a run around the block then watching the sun rise over the new day with coffee in hand on the back porch. Still unsure of what awaited but relaxing from the weight of a giant burden lifted from my shoulders. Man, did I need out.

Leaving wasn't necessarily easy, but it was necessary. Two projects that were like my kids, a museum expansion and depot restoration, were just about to start construction. The museum expansion specifically was born out of an idea that originated with me and I followed it through the procurement of a grant and finally to design and construction stage....a four year process. It's difficult to walk away from that. It is more difficult to be in a position God doesn't want you to be in.

Within a few hours of watching the sun rise on the 4th, I began scratching out a business plan. Because that's what you do, right? Maybe you do that before you actually leave your job, but it's still a requirement. Then, as work began to come in without me actually enacting the business plan, I realized that once work slowed down the plan would take center-stage. Then came the offers from folks who wanted to finance me, three in all. That was pretty humbling. The one was ready to set me up with an office and staff to compete for work around the state. Tempting.

But something in the back of my head was saying "just trust me". So, despite what has been rumored in river city, no one has given me a cent. Clients have called because of connections or word of mouth....and they've been the best people to work for. In fact, our family visited with one in Elkhart just the other night as she insisted giving the kids a tour of her gardens. It has been the client relationship I have found most rewarding.....well, that and working in my pajamas some days.

Work is worth waking up for....I love what I do and the folks I work with. And the funny thing is that I think God knew this all along.....and He went before me. He was just waiting for me to catch up. Many have said that it took a great deal of faith to go out on my own.....frankly, I had every excuse not to and it literally came down to the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.....not sure that that is faith.

But now I look back at the past year and see how God has continued to provide and it creates something entirely new in me. It is the realization that God's got my back....that we'll be ok despite what people throw at us. Despite the crookedness of the political and business realms, despite those who want to do harm........God has plans to bless. And since the "impossible" has been granted by God in business, it makes other impossibilities I often cite as excuses seem much more plausible, in politics and in spiritual possibilities in river city. That makes for a dangerous foe, methinks.

I don't know how long God plans for me to be in this position. I fully acknowledge it is by His providence....and if circumstances change I know that He will still be there. It is a strange thing indeed to have the feeling that there is nothing to lose but everything to gain when trusting God. People say this, but few experience it. Life is good.

03 August 2009

Obamish Acres Presidential Retreat

Well, no doubt you have all heard, at least those of us in Northern Indiana, that President Obama is once again heading back to the region to talk about the state of the economy and job creation. Elkhart, the hardest hit in Indiana, has been the subject of Presidential-speak since before the election due to its high unemployment rate from a loss of jobs in the RV industry. Mitch has also visited, but on a much less frequent basis....I wonder why.

Recently it was announced that a new company is opening its doors in Wakarusa, a small town south of Elkhart, who is part of the RV-belt. The company is Electric Motors Corporation, and while I'm not clear if it is exclusive to Ford, they do show an F-150 every time they talk about the company on the news. There is some irony that ELECTRIC motors are going to be built by the Amish, but, hey.....

But what you probably have not heard is that the President has already purchased a 180 acre farm in the Amish capital of Indiana for a presidential retreat. Due to the frequency of the President's visits to this part of the country, he and the First Lady and their children will plan to make this their midwest Bushesque ranch complete with livestock barn, draft horses, clotheslines and whitewashed unelectrified farmhouse. They have dubbed it "Obamish Acres".

My understanding is that the secret service is concerned that the 6'+ African-American may stick out like a Guernsey among Holsteins in this predominantly short, stocky German community, so they have instructed the President to begin growing the typical Amish beard and switch to suspendered britches while on retreat. Amish dress is being fashioned for the first family and intense farming lessons have already been given, including how to drive a team of horses. Their names are Dick (Cheney) and Donnie (Rumsfeld). There is also a jack-ass on the farm.....you can only imagine what the President has named it.

Helicopter One arriving (right)
Presidential motorcade (left)

The First family has been seen at least once driving an armor-plated buggy into Nappannee, being followed by secret service buggies complete with tinted windows. One Jacob Yoder, who lives nearby the presidential farm, commented that it is a strange sight to see indeed and is glad that Elder Barack has already passed the rum springer stage.

"there goes the neighborhood, Jonas"

Well, I say welcome back Mr. President....or is that Barack Obamiller?