Posted: October 26, 2010 in faith, God, my thoughts

some questions I’ve been working through, pondering, dealing with recently…

How is it that I’ve forgotten so much of Eli’s childhood already? We’ve never had a video camera, and for his first two years, we didn’t have a digital camera either, so his baby years aren’t extremely well documented.  But even now as I try to think back to his first crawl, walk, words, etc…it’s all so fuzzy.

How can I love God so much, yet at times be such a wretched person? And knowing that David, Jacob, Solomon, and the like did bad things doesn’t help.  There are times when I can’t believe the mean, selfish, thoughtless things I do, and question my true love for God.

Do people REALLY get sent to hell? I worked for a couple of years with a guy (he was 50 yrs old at the time) who was a man of faith, and truly believed that all mankind would be in heaven, that God was a God of such deep, fierce, unimaginable love, that He would bring all peoples, past, present and future, to live for eternity with Him.  He didn’t share this thought much, because other people would break into arguments with him.  But when he and I talked about it a couple of times, I have to say he made a convincing argument.

At what point will scientific breakthroughs and discoveries cease? Is it possible, that at some point, we will have discovered and invented and researched all there is in the world of science?

God, can you please help me fathom the reaches and intricacies and awe of the universe?

Is God actually still active in the lives of humans today…..or does life just happen as it happens, and we sometimes attribute things to the hand of God?

What will my son be like when’s he’s 20 years old? Will he still believe, and have his own faith?  Will he be a good person or a bad person, and how much of that will have to do with my fathering?

Why is my left foot about 1/3 of a size larger than my right foot? It’s not cool, because it makes finding a good fitting pair of shoes more difficult.

Is it possible to do anything in life without some type of selfish motivation involved?

I’d really, really love to know if it was 7 literal days, 7 geological eras, 7 “God” days, or maybe even a big bang.

How old would Michael Jordan have to be before I could beat him in a game of 21?

What were some of Jesus’ favorites? Favorite food?  Color?  Time of day?  Season of the year?  Old Testament story?

Will my questions really be answered in heaven, or will I really not give a crap once I’m there?

an evil trick

Posted: October 19, 2010 in faith, sin

My small group is reading / discussing the Donald Miller book Blue Like Jazz on Monday nights.  I realize that this is by no means the new must-read in the world of Christian faith….it’s been out for several years, and I’m not sure if there’s  a pastor on earth who hasn’t read it.

But only 2 of us in small group had ever read it, and for me it was nearly 3 or so years ago, so I’ve forgotten most of it.  And whether you like the content or not, it makes for great discussion.

In chapter 2 – which we discussed last night – Miller writes…

“I believe the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil but rather have us wasting time. This is why the devil tries so hard to get Christians to be religious. If he can sink a man’s mind into habit, he will prevent his heart from engaging God.”

Reading this again impacted me profoundly.

By my estimation, I am awake approximately 120 hours each week, give or take an hour.  I spend about 9 of those hours driving to and from places, including work.  I spend most of those hours listening to sport talk radio.  I spend 45 – 50 of those hours actually at work.  About 6 of those hours are spent cooking, cleaning, doing chores around the house.  Typically about 9 – 10 hours each week are spent at Crossings and/or at small group.

At this point, there are at least 45 hours leftover.  Let’s safely assume that at least 10 of those hours are spent watching television….some weeks as many as 18 hours.  A couple of hours each week to travel to Walmart and do grocery shopping, and we’re still left with 20-25 hours remaining.

Now let’s ask the tough questions. How many hours each week do I spend engaging God – including time at church and small group?  (Answer – maybe 3 hours?)

How many hours do I spend truly engaging my son, reading books with him, playing with toys, taking him to ride his bike?  (Answer – probably another 3 hours?)

How many hours do I spend engaging my wife, talking, turning off the tv, and just being attentive to her as a husband and friend?  (Answer – another 2 – 3 hours?)

This sh*t has to stop.  The truth is, each week I probably spend more time driving in my car, listening to sports talk, than I spend in authentic relationship with God, my wife, and my son COMBINED.  I spend 5 times more time watching television than I do reading a book.  I’ve spent nearly as much time drafting this blog post as I have in one-on-one prayer with the Father in the last few days.

The devil has had an evil trick up his sleeve, and he’s caught me hook, line and sinker.

God help me.

Brett Favre is Calling Your Mom

Posted: October 11, 2010 in my thoughts

Not really, I just was reading about the Brett Favre scandel earlier, and that headline (not real, my own made up one) was stuck in my head.

I went for 2 months with no caffeine or soda of any kind.  Then I went on an 8 day work trip to Wisconsin and Indiana at the very end of July.  On that trip, I drank some authentic Wisconsin brewed Root Beer (Sprecher’s) that was amazing.  That ended my streak.  Then, for some odd reason, I started drinking an occasional cappuccino from the Pilot gas stations.  So, over the last 6 weeks or so, I’ve had several cappuccinos, and I’ve consumed a few Coke’s and sweet teas.  However, I can tell I’ve already gained back about 4 pounds, and the caffeine is noticeable in ways I do not care for, so I’m trying hard to rid myself again before it get worse.

Went camping two weekends ago with some guys from my small group.  It was our 2nd annual guys small group camping weekend.  Weather was amazing.  Ryan and Chris brought enough firewood for 2 weekends.  And I only consumed 5 hot dogs this year….as opposed to the 8 or 9 that I ate last year at the camp out.  For some reason, all I want to eat when I go camping is hot dogs.  And then all I want to do for the 2 days after camping is wish that I didn’t eat all those hot dogs.

Eli lost his first tooth (pictured).  I remember pulling loose teeth as a kid.  Don’t really remember my first, but I remember a few.  And I remember always wanting them just to dry up and fall out on their own.  I was scared to death to actually pull them out.  Eli was no different.  His little tooth was so loose I was afraid he would choke on it in his sleep.  Luckily, it fell out at home one evening while he was eating some crackers.  Fell right into his hand.  Awesome.  (I remember eating tater tots at school one year, and one of my teeth crunching in my mouth as it fell out while I was eating the tater tots)

Crossings went to three services a month ago.  9:00, 10:30, and noon.  My mind and spirit are very happy about this.  My body is not.  Spending 6 – 7 hours at church on Sundays (roughly 6:45am to 1:30pm) is more taxing than I was anticipating, especially since it’s only about 1 hour longer than I used to be there each week.  It’s sort of like eating that 9th hot dog on a camping trip, after having downed 8 already.  1 more never “sounds” that bad, right?

I’m not on Facebook.  But Threds is on Facebook.  And I’m responsible for keeping up with it.  So if you want to follow me (sort of) on Facebook…go HERE and become a fan.

I absolutely love all the hay ride / corn maze places you can go to in October!  We’ve already spent time at the Oakes Farm, Maple Lane Farms, and the Mayfield Farm….major fun!

(FYI – the picture to the right is basically an inverted bounce house at the Oakes Farm – it’s called a Bounce Pillow.  Awesome fun, and can definitely get more air-time than you can in a standard bounce house!)


Posted: September 30, 2010 in weird

Every person – you included – faces many dilemmas over the course of their lives.  What type of person do I want to be?  Who do I marry?  Do I take the job offer that requires me to move to a new city?  My parents are aging…what is my responsibility in helping them?  A long time friendship is failing, what do I do to rekindle it?  When do we start having children, and how many do we have?  How do I begin saving for retirement?

Our dilemmas are shared, but unique.

I’ve been facing one of my greatest dilemmas for the last 16 years.

Hair?  Or no hair?

It began innocently enough my 2nd semester, freshman year of college.  The universal “guy down the hall who knows how to cut hair” agrees to cut my hair.  One bad turn leads to another.  Soon enough, the only logical solution is to shave it down to 1/8″ length.

I’m a little perturbed.  But it’s college, and you do dumb things, and they are funny.  Soon enough, I become used to the shaved look.  I realize how easy it is to wake up 5 minutes before class, throw on some deodorant and clothes and go….no worries about the hair.  I discover that a pair of clippers only costs about $20.00 and will last for a year.  My roommate faithfully buzzes my hair for me every Thursday night, so it always looks freshly cut.

Then I graduate and get a job at a church, and decide it might be more professional to have hair, so I begin to grow it back out.  Then I realize what a hassle it is to have hair, so I shave it again.

Then, a couple of years later, when I begin selling cars….again, I think that most car buying adults would be more comfortable speaking to a person with hair.  So I grow it back out.  Then…I shave it again.

Then I grow it back out again.  Then I meet Erin.  Then we get married.  And I keep the hair going for about 4 years.  She has only known me WITH hair, not without it.  Then in 2007, I suddenly decide to shave it again.  She hates it.  I grow it back out.

August 2009.  Shave it again.  Welcome it back with open arms.

April 2010.  Shave it freshly before heading to Arizona on a work trip.  Proceed to grow it back out upon my return, and have been letting it grow ever since, with only a couple of trims to make sure it grows out nicely.

I’m 34 years old, people.  I need to make a decision here.  It’s one thing to have a short hair cut versus a medium length hair cut….the one where most people say, “Oh, you cut your hair a little shorter this time.”  It’s another thing to have hair.  Then shave it.  Then grow it.  Then shave it.  Then grow it.

The picture on top is from September 2009.  The picture on the bottom is from 15 minutes ago.

Tell me what to do.  (I already know my wife’s vote, which carries significant weight)

PS – the look on my face in the bottom picture has no bearing on my feelings toward hair-vs-no hair.  I took a couple of pictures with a smile, and they looked really fake.  So I did my impression of “The Rock” instead.

Small Group, Back Again

Posted: September 17, 2010 in crossings, small group

3 years ago this week, I went to the first meeting of the first Crossings guys small group.  There were four of us….me, Scott, Chris and Aaron.  That first meeting was Aaron’s last meeting.  So, for the next four months, there were just the three of us (pictured here).

3 years later, there are now 3 guys small groups, encompassing about 20 – 22 guys total between the 3 groups.  I’ve admitted in front of Crossings, as well as to other small group leaders, that our first small group “reproduction” last year was a difficult one for me.  Our original small group had been together, and grown together for 2 years.  Some of my greatest current friendships were forged in that group.

But growth is good, right?  So last year we reproduced, and I gladly assumed the leadership of the 2nd group.  This year, my group remains mostly in tact, as it’s the other group that has reproduced into 2, making the total of 3.  And it continues to grow, as 2 more guys have joined the newest group, just within the last week or so.

If you don’t know this already, small group has been life changing for me.  I’ve prayed and contemplated much over the last few years about how God might use me to serve and minister both now and in the future.  My history will certainly leave many doors shut.  But at least for now it’s clear that small group is the way in which God has called me to serve.

And not just by way of serving and loving the guys in my group….but also to help lead the groups as a whole in service to others.  I’m so proud to say that in the last 2 1/2 years, the guys group has been involved in at least 23 different “3rd leg” service opportunities.  20 of those have been helping people in our community (and guys in our group) move to a new place.  And a few of those moves have been so clearly a God-given ministry that it has brought me to tears at times.

Now, can we continue at that pace?  I don’t know.  We’re trying to be more selective in these opportunities, to make sure that we’re assisting in moves that truly need our help, that don’t have other friends or resources to call upon first.  Regardless, these opportunities have been a blessing to me, to our group, and to those we’ve helped.

Even more importantly (to me at least) is that small group has given me a reason to enjoy living in Knoxville again.  My wife and I have developed deep and wonderful friendships through small group that we know will last for a long long time.  We’ve watched friends get married, have new babies, go back to school, move to new homes, get new jobs.

This is something that you just can’t get on Sunday mornings at church.  Sundays are fabulous for connecting with God…but rarely for connecting with others.  At Crossings, that happens through small group.  And I thank God for mine.

Dolly…The Mistress of Chucky

Posted: September 2, 2010 in weird, work

Here at Threds, we are slowly on our way to becoming an online merchandiser for Dollywood apparel and merchandise.  Never in Dollywood’s 25 years have they offered any type of merchandise for online sales.

Of the many odd and hillbilly items to be offered, one of them is a 3 or 4 foot tall doll, apparently crafted to resemble Dolly Parton herself.  In my book, the doll is not quite top-heavy or collagen-ed enough to pass the test, but whatever.

We only have 1 doll in our facility at this moment.  And everyone is scared to look at it, touch it, or even be in the same room with it.  We all think that being near the doll may inspire Chucky himself to come storming (waddling) out of the bathroom with a bloody knife in his hand.  And considering that another Dollywood product is a knife crafted from railroad ties, he wouldn’t have a hard time finding one.

(PS – in honor of the start of football season in Tennessee, I’ve selected a shade of orange for my blog that is not even close to Tennessee orange, but would easily blend in with all the other non-shades of Tennessee orange that can be seen around Knoxville on game days.  People in these parts really love their Tennessee orange….they just don’t seem to agree on what the hell shade Tennessee orange really is.)

Email Redo

Posted: August 23, 2010 in work

I just read today that Google’s gmail offers an opportunity for an email re-do.  You know, when you send that email that you wish you could take back…..either because it was too angry, dirty, or just didn’t quite say what you wanted it to say?

It’s a limited window.  Each email you send through gmail basically stays in limbo for 30 seconds before sending off.  So, if in that 30 seconds, your heart drops, and you realize your mistake, you can delete the email before it goes out into the virtual world.

I don’t use gmail at work…we have our own company account set up through Outlook.

But that feature would have been nice back in February when I sent an angry email to my boss, where I briefly bitched about a customer of ours (a marketing manager with one of the large website accounts that I oversee), and accidentally copied the said marketing manager on the email.

Humility, fear, and deep grovelling apologies ensued.

Yes, a redo would have been very nice.