Rick and Monique

Friday, August 31, 2007


My topic of the day...phone etiquette. My sister Gina handed me this topic on a silver platter yesterday. I'm somewhat embarrassed to report that I can't remember her exact phone peeve but I will do my best to help you all have a good telephone conversation:

1. When someone calls you at work, stop what you're doing and talk to them. What happens if you don't? Here's an example conversation of what happens on the caller's end: "Hey!" "(typing noises...breathing...typing..) one second, two second, three, second, four second, five second, six second, seven second, eight second...."hey." "What's up?" 1...2...3....4...5...6...7...8...9...10..."Workin...you?" "Oh I was just calling to see if you wanted to meet me at the game tonight or pick me up?" (type type type...seconds pass by..) 1...2...3...4...6 etc. "Umm...say that again?" ...

You know this happens when you're watching T.V. too. Instead of asking whether or not you can call back in 1/2 hour or an hour, you turn the TV up and then I KNOW I'm competing with 24 or "Heroes." Or you mute the TV and the above conversation happens all over again. Oh, sometimes your responses to my questions become more irritable...why? Because you've put the show on mute and you're trying to read lips and you want to turn the sound back on so you don't miss anything and you want me off the phone but all you can do is say "Ummm...say that again?" Whew.


2. Don't waste words. If I can put my phone down to talk to my wife for a minute and pick the phone back up and still have been able to follow the conversation perfectly...you're talkin too much. Try to help both of you out and use fewer words to say the exact same thing. The bad part about society is that our concentration levels are sliding and if you're voice has this drone that sounds like the fan you turn on just before going to bed...let's just say you might just be able to figure out if the person on the other end snores or not.

3. Lists: Why is it that grocery lists or honey-do's over the phone inspire many to talk faster? I don't mind lists over the phone...really! However, If you've seen my handwriting then you know as well as I do that it's better to send my list to me by computer. What happens is that you tel me to buy letter envelopes and I come back with a ladder or a better entertainment system. The point really is if you're going to give a list over the phone slow down. "I want dlsj;j butta fuca s;ljkdfjkkl;eoi. "Huh?" Then make me repeat. Girls, you talk fast anyway. Then you get pissed because everything didn't get bought or done. Well...you should know that we're probably in the middle of doing one thing or other and we have to kick-start both sides of our brain one at a time. First the right, then the left. Our brain engines ride in tandem, not side by side. SLOW DOWN!

4. I love call waiting. It shows how important you really are. You hear the beep and the person says "Hold on a sec." Now, you hold....hold..."ok, I'm back, told 'em I'd call them back." Well...first of all, they probably figured you'd seen their number flash to the screen and would call them back anyway. Second...listen to your freakin message! Did they really need you to leave me to tell them you'd call them back? Huh? The second thing you look for in this situation is how long you hold...if you hold for 10 seconds, they simply said "Hi, can I call you back?" If it's any more than that, they decided to talk a minute and then do exactly what you yourself have done before...the thing that makes all of us feel like your most important friend or family member...the thing that really boosts our self esteem...what are you saying on the other side? "Hey, hang on just a second while I get rid of this other call!" Boom! The ultimate slam. We know you're saying it. Don't deny it now! Sometimes we're telling a funny story, or telling a sad story, or giving an important list over the phone....but that's not a strong enough magnet to hold you onto our conversation eh? You switch over...Then you come back and say "It's long distance...I gotta take this, or "I've expected this call, I gotta take this." First of all IT'S A PHONE! SHORT DISTANCE AND LONG DISTANCE HAPPEN AT THE SAME SPEED AND NOW WITH CELL PHONES AT THE SAME COST! Second IT DOESN'T COST YOU ANY MORE MONEY TO HAVE THEM CALL YOU BACK IN 10 MINUTES! And If you were expecting a call, all you have to do BEFORE SWITCHING OVER is say "I expected this call, they're hard to get ahold of, can I call you back?" If I say "no, I have to leave, it'll be one minute, then switch over and tell them, "I'll be one minute ok?"

5. This one is short..."pop, click, click, pop pop POP, click..."Are you chewing gum?"
nuff said.

Now, I didn't give you all the scenarios I could think of...that's your job. Have any more lessons we can all learn about Phone etiquette?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Shooting our Wounded

A Miss Teen USA contestant was asked during the recent contest why she felt only 1/5 of today's students knew where anything was on a map (I'm summarizing a little bit I think...). "Well, I think we need to be in and out of Iraq and Africa and that...umm God and Sin?" (I'm summarizing a little on the answer too) A host of mockers and flame-throwers and gawkers erupted out of the woodwork to torment this young, beautiful lady. Now, she may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer...I sort of want to ask her if she knows where Africa is and where Iraq is...but that's not my point. We've all opened ourselves up on the grand stage of life and pulled a big foobar in front of God, Family and Freaky Frinelli.

Pastor Jim once said that the Christian Church is one of the places that is willing to shoot its wounded. In fact, we don't stand out in that category at all. The church doesn't often set an example for the world in that category. For example, We take a benevolent offering but then God forbid we know how it's used...as long as we know someone is giving somewhere. How many of us (including myself) have seen a bum on the side of a road looking for money and said "No way, he'll just use it for booze anyway"? When Jesus asked us to give generously, to heal, to dress, to enable, was Jesus excluding the bum on the side of the road?

But, now the girl. She deserves a little ribbing...crimeny, I lick up ketchup off the Campbell Supply floor and live to tell about it and that torment will haunt me for the rest of my days! However, a Christian friend called her an idiot, a stupid blond and a doorknob and bashed the entire pageant process. I'm not a pageant fan either, but I don't think this girl is a stupid idiot. In fact, try to hit the stage where there are many millions of eyes there dancing all over you and see how you perform.

We don't always know what we should do or how we should do it. For instance, maybe I write some impersonal things on this blog so that I don't have to talk about my personal life? Maybe I should talk about my personal life? Maybe I write my blogs in such an interesting way that no one cares about my personal life? I'm only using me as an example, but the point is that we don't have it all together. My hands sometimes grab onto an glass only to let it drop and shatter over the floor...it happens sometimes. But the rest of my body pitches in to help. My eyes view the mess, my brain helps me decide what to do, my hands work to retrieve tools and pick up the mess, my back helps me bend, my legs keep me steady (well, in my case only sort of), and my neck swivels so that I can find the garbage can. Do you see what I'm saying? The body is an amazing thing, and when it stops working, you die. It is the same with the body of Christ. Are we going to shoot the wounded or help them pick up their mess? My wife has helped me pick up some messes. My Church has helped me pick up some messes. I can see that a lot of Christ's body work together just as my brain and my legs and my back and my arms work together...and yet...this girl really screwed up.

I'll say it again (for effect of course), this girl really screwed up. The answer was fricken funny and sounded fricken dumb and a lot of people, including my Christian friend, used a bit of their day to ridicule her and say things they didn't know to be true. But now, I'm going to decide to help her clean up her mess. I'm not close in proximity to her nor do I know her, but one thing I can do is write a blog in support of the wounded, in support of her. That's not a big part of the process, but I can help her clean up the mess.

I can help you too if you need me. Is the body of Christ willing to say this day in and day out?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

7 to 1

Alright...revolutionary...revelatory...hmmm.... Maybe I'm not revolutionary or revelatory...but reactionary...INDEED!

One year ago our church decided that it would move Sunday school to 9 a.m. and church would begin at 10 a.m. This gives 50 minutes for Sunday School, 5 minutes for talking, and ample time after church for fellowship, potlucks and the like. A church that makes this kind of decision shows that it's thinking harder about it's Sunday School Ministry and about discipling it's members and attendees. A church that makes that kind of decision shows that it's willing to do what it needs to despite "how it's always been done." Well...last week they decided to change it back to the old way, the way that gives adults 40 minutes or less (depending on how long Pastor Jim goes). But it's more than that--if you really watched the process you'dve noticed that Sunday School was better attended before the service. You would have noticed that we had a full hour to do the Sunday School. You would have noticed that special time was given to the education of adults instead of the arbitrary timing of life after church (should I go to Sunday School, wait for Potluck, go home, go out for coffee...?), and you would have noticed that a potluck or special event after church was a lot easier to manage, and better attended when Sunday School did not interfere.

The council did a survey asking the congregants which schedule they liked the best. 7 to 1 answered that they preferred Sunday School after the service. A full 6 to 1 of those people did not attend Sunday School before...what do they care? And how can you get an accurate survey result when you haven't first dedicated research to attendance percentages, the Sunday School Schedule, the classes offered, and the tools available to teach adult Sunday School?

I shows me that our council acts out of fear and timidity, not from strength and power. It tells me that, though they are mere men and sinners, that they have not put as much thought into their office and the importance of it as they should. The officers of the church must be dedicated to the Spiritual, Mental, Physical, and Fiscal health of a congregation. Let's take the Spiritual Category for now...in the new-old scenario, we have less time, more family obligations, a greater sense of freedom to leave the building, more noise, less room, more hunger (for food, not scripture), more thirst (for Coffee not Christ), and less desire (tired of sitting). Does this sound like a decision that has benefited the Spiritual Health of the Church? I could go into the other categories, but I won't. The bottom line is, a congregation has to be led into Ministry, not have it taken away from them.

But lastly, is the Spiritual nature of a congregation a democratic process? We voted 7 to 1 to make it worse than it was and we voted that way because 1, we never attend Sunday School, 2 we don't really care either way, 3) we've never had the other way and didn't have enough time to observe the new way, 4), we didn't have much of an Adult Program anyway before or after church, and 5) The benefits of the new way were not spelled out for us before the new change occurred last year and the congregation gets a little shellshocked with change unless it's thoroughly explained to them. Does this sound like a Council who is thinking through their actions? Does it sound like they are fervently praying about their charge? Does it look like they gave the issue plenty of discussion and time? So, because they didn't want to have to figure it all out, they asked us...and 7 to 1 of us wanted it the way it always has been...because we don't know any better. I love this Philosophy really. I can't wait to hear their answer as to whether or not they would be affected if 7 to 1 of us wanted to change to Adult Baptism only. We barely know our own theology anymore. I can't wait to hear their answer as to whether or not they would change if 7 to 1 of us prefer not to sing Praise Songs anymore, or 7 to 1 prefer to get rid of Cadets, or 7 to 1 of us prefer to only allow soup and salad on Potluck day. I'm being ridiculous, but there's something wrong with the method used in this instance in my congregation.

Let me note that if my church provides ample and interesting options (several of them) to be educated and taught in Adult Sunday School after church, life would be better for us. I don't want to make the mistake of saying that Sunday School after church has put is in complete and total disarray. However, I'm quite disappointed, and do believe we haven't made it better.

What's in a name?

I was just thinking...I read a paper yesterday and found out that parents have stooped to a new low...they named their beautiful 6 pound 8 oz daughter "wing." It's a dreamy whimsical name most likely intended to instill a feeling of light and happy. But...I'd advise a little more strategery here.

"Wing" How much fun can you have with that? Her room isn't a baby room...it's a wingwam. Depending on which way she's facing you can't say she's a 2 faced liar you could diplomaticaly say that east Wing is much different than West wing. Kids are going to go nuts with this one...she gets her first earwing...or when she gets her first keywing to go with her first Caw Caw Caw!!! In fact I'd buy her a classic black firebird and call it the blackbird (caw caw caw!). I suppose at her college graduation they won't release doves, they'll shoot her out of a canon. For a bird's eye view, just stand behind her. How about this one...give me a wingnut you nutty Wing! Ok...that was just mean. But, her mom will be the first mother ever to truly and completely suffer "empty nest" syndrome. She lives in America...left wing or right wing? hmmm.... Lucky she's not from the south...she gets asthma someone will tell her to get her inhaler on and it will sound eerily like "aileron". Instead of "let's get a move on" I'd be more inclined to say "let's fly!" She doesn't fart...she catches wind.

I think I'm going to name my first kid....Effin...what do you think?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Global Warming

One family member learns of a new opportunity to adopt a child...then promptly quits her job. Another breaks the law and almost her husband's leg getting to church of all places. Another gets my dream job at an airport and gets to fly free...anywhere in the U.S!!! Another learns she has a little bit of a talent for barbering at the age of 3...and well...
This global warming thing must be legit. It's got the entire universe goin crazy!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Because I love my Wife

This is the second poem I wrote. Last year was one of those years and sometimes I did well and sometimes I did...not do well. But let me be said that in this house my wife should feel safe. She should be allowed to read in the bathroom and work in her craft room. She should feel as if she can say things in her home. She should be able to know that sometimes she doesn't have to cuddle with me because she doesn't feel well, and that I won't critcize her for it. She should feel my hand as we pray. She should see me tending her lawn and washing her windows. She should be able to tell me she loves me in front of a thousand people. She should feel me behind her as we wave guests goodbye, to know that I'm not the one who's leaving. And when she is down to her last breath, she should feel me breath for her...Yes...she should. Therefore, this is me to my bride:


I will walk through the waves
Where the sea is made of glass and gladness
Where the water is cool
And the sun is warm.

I will wear her coral colored satin skin
I will lay her back and glide her
across the waters
I will hold love by the waist
and Angels by their wings

I will
So that she can close her eyes
And dream again.
I will.

I will laugh to her soul
And write peace and faithfulness to it.
I will pause in her weary breath
and as my heart ever beats, breathe with her.

I will look upon the jeweled sea
Where angels blink their eyes
Where they give and smile.
I will bear each smile to her lips

And they will pause to behold her.


Every Once In Awhile I don't sleep well, or I've eaten an inspired bowl of icecream or I stood on my head (blood rushes to the brain, thereby helping me think), or I've sung in the shower...wherever it comes from, I write poems from time to time. So I want you to think about something...instead of a revolutionary reaction to some kind of revelation I'll share what is quite honestly a foolish notion. The sky, vast and awful and yet benign and uncaring. Lives fall and wane and yet clouds and air simply walk by. Sometimes I wish the sky would break apart at my pain or fall on those who would wage evil against another. It's beautiful, but saavy, never getting to close to the action. Really, the sky seems benign to me...sometimes.

Poetry is like that too. But sometimes they allow people to think thoughts they wouldn't have before...so in essence they get to create their own revolutionary revelatory revealing reaction. Maybe I will share 2 of them today...I guess it's because the sun is out...reasons hamper reason...just read:


I do not feign my soul to keep
To hide in the wiles of deep.
I do not take my life so vein
Resplendent in the prospect wane

The urushiol green its poison passed
A peaceful breath and natures last
My eyes have seen the earthen mast
And driven forth in dreams and asp

I yearn to reach the thinning skies
Where oft the eyes of effort lies
To be more blessed by sanguine breeze
Above the billows, and swarthy trees

And yet supine and undisturbed
The skies unbroken and not a word
Acknowledge me this very night
And break in veins to know my plight

Each day I wake my hand is filled
Each day alive and love is willed
To till the earth and reach the skies
To greet the young, consult the wise.

If I should die before I wake
I pray your grace before them make.
I pray my soul be laid with thee
I pray my heart be saved for these

I believe in blossomed joy
Of Heaven’s poignant mirth.
And I believe, bereft of she
A blackened hole of frightening girth.

But God dost know my spirit’s whim
Designed by time, willed by Him.
And I believe before I die
He walks beside the fire and I.

On the wall a portrait be
Pride of heaven joined by thee
The bride and groom and sunlight’s glee
A sign you’re never leaving me.

Before I wake, Christ holds our soul
Our fallow breath, our whisper low
The morning dew the cock does crow
And life again within us sown.

And so each morn I wake and write
Lest we forget love’s even sight
A story binds my nest to home
I shall not die alone.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


I wanted to get into part of a subject that came up as I did my preparations for writing a sermon. I shared some of these thoughts with my church and now I will share them with you. I focused on Acts 2:38-47 and leaned hard on the aspect of how their activity spurred the increase of the church. I'm not eluding to constant proselytizing either. There was that of course, but there was simply the consistent, daily gathering to which God added daily those who were being saved.

How many of us have witnessed a conversion or have actively sought the conversion of the lost? Was God’s act on Pentecost in the early church a random act of Glory? Did he only actively add to their number as a one time deal? You know what I love? I love that they were actively seeking eachother as God was actively adding to them.

Christians must practice and you have to get up in the mornings and say “Boy am I excited” because here we are on a blip of a planet that just happens to be the blip that God sought to display the entirety of his Glory…where everything in the galaxy, the shape, the placement, the distance from each planet and the moon, the size of our planet itself insures that life can be sustained on this earth indefinitely!!! The fact that life has only been found here is a mathematical nightmare. Chances are trillions to one that life can be sustained anywhere in the universe and conversely a mathematical nightmare that we would be the only place where life exists! Add that to the fact that If you sold each cell in your body, each organ, each bone, you would be worth trillions of dollars...each! My immediate family alone is worth 6 trillion dollars. Add spouses and children and we are now worth more than 13 trillion dollars! (A scientist bore that out at a chapel one day long ago)…

I have said this before but I spent every minute of my schooling in Christian School and Monique has spent her entire schooling outside of Christian School and because of her experience in a deeply different world than the one I grew up in, challenged by non-christians and opposing views every day, then re-taught at home, then strongly and courageously back into life once more. I can promise you she is more mission oriented in one day than I have been in a lifetime. Through all she has seen and done, surrounds her life without timidity…and I have learned much from this lowly public school girl. I thank God every day for my education. I did learn that the laws of Physics reveals God himself and I learned this because I was part of Christian education. But, if Monique is the way she is from her educational perspective, then what reasons does the Christian Reformed Church, a denomination that fills itself with the idea to surround all of our lives with everything Christian from Home, to Church to School, have for not exploding at the seams!!!??? Our churches should be gathering and learning and revealing and reveling and meeting because our basic tenet says that God is in all things, that nothing false outside His realm and that all things relate to God in every way. The CRC should be the most excited Christian group anywhere!

It's time for us to stand and show eachother what that is all about...Acts 2:38-47. Read on...run the race...gather as you run.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Do you remember your first wide-eyed experience at the candy store? Do you remember the first time you looked at a Giant Ice Cream Cone or tackled a large pizza all by yourself? I do. I remember. Whirlygigs of giddy swarm through each electric brain wave and replace thought with saliva and good sense with extra-sensative taste buds. The first day we imagined, the first day we went to school, the first day we sat on a teeter-totter...good good days.

We served Marieke a root-beer float Monday night. She's a wonderfully sensible blond dutch girl with a girlish shyness and a great sense of humor. She takes care of her man, Monique's nephew Pascal and she's helpful around the house. Monique and I are delighted by her. But...a rootbeer float, the quintessential initiation into American Folklore, the bastion of American Pride, the joyful, tantalizing burst of melting icecream and rootbeer fizz lapping at your tongue like a begging ocean, the salivating tastebud enhancing savior of the fancy-free, dessert loving citizen of the good ol' U.S of A....the big fat-n-happy yummy...gave Marieke's sensible nature a dose of Red Bull, a dose of Merry-Go-Round and Roller Coaster, a dose of hippity-hoppity...it was Marieke's first one.

We said "would you like a root-beer float?" She said "What? What is that?" Monique innocently replied "Root-beer with a scoop of ice-cream inside!" In my mind, it sounds pretty good...in her mind, she's mixing icecream with some kind of beer that Americans put roots in! She's thinking "Heineken and Icecream...hmmm...these Americans are dumber than I thought!" Well, after a good laugh, Pascal explained that it is a type of soda and that he had one before and really liked it. Anticipation grew, excitement and confusion abounded in that blond haired, blue eyed dutch lady with an eager anticipation to experience all things American! We tell stories about root beer floats, we talk about dessert, we're building to an ice-cream mountain Frenzy...! She says "ok, I'll try it," in that subdued, conservative, Dutch manner that I find so familiar, but her face belies the statement, giving me all the information I need...she can't wait. Humidity hovers and storms are imminent...but all that is behind a thick wall of imagination...a force impenetrable.

It comes...a bubbly, creamy, foamy, fizzy concoction of beauty. Her lips tentatively test the straw, the tiniest of sips climbs to her mouth...she looks around, mouth still on straw and smiles...it's almost there...she sips more, then, following Monique's lead, takes a spoon, digs into the cup and reaches for rootbeer ladened icecream...almost there...I stop and watch...almost there! Spoon to mouth, the spoon slips through her teeth and onto her tongue and, there it is! The nostalgic rush of candystick face...the joy of girl-hood all wrapped up in rootbeer and icecream and all I can say is that she loved it. Never had rootbeer touched her lips, never had she been so glad that she reached out for something American. A rootbeer float. I know her eyeballs will once again turn to rootbeer and icecream. It tastes great and isn't less filling and it feels good to say it.

The day should live on in legend I'd say. Each sip and dip of a rootbeer float is a History lesson in Americanism, pioneering and discovery. It hails back to the good ol' days which still find us in the good new days. It doesn't need a lot of explanation...just a moment of candystick face and a sweet little..."ahhh...that's good."

Next on the American list...goober burgers.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

God Matters

One doesn't always mix weather with politics but I'm about to give't-a-whirl. We've had quite few lightening storms in Des Moines of late and they've been fierce and awesome. The strike and rumble pass through me like a...like a...thunder bolt of lightening!...umm...wait...it's a thunderstorm of course it's like a thunder bolt...so...it passed through me like a fleet of NEXTEL CUP race cars entered my heart, passed through the atrium, out the ventricle and then blown out the ribs. That's just cool. But I'm reminded that God matters. I saw a 10,000 square foot house this afternoon before the storm hit. We oo'd and aah'd at man's marvels and then BAM, SMACK, CRASH...God shows up. God matters.

It seems to me that the political environment has changed...campaigns have changed their pitch. We've changed. All the way back to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Dan Quayle, Clinton in the earlier years and Bush Jr. in his first term, have espoused their religion and the nature of what they believe. However, sometimes the line between Christian and politician widens significantly from day to day. We have to juxtapose what they say they believe with what they do. It's curious that When we see slick advertising in the media, or listen to a husband convince his wife that work will come later, football comes now, our wives utter the same words--"Sound like a Politician, you do."

Thus, we as a people have changed. We've heard politico's cry the Christian Wolf far too often, and Christians and Non-Christians alike are moving on. Clinton's Southern Baptist religion must not include adultery or the part about killing/murder in their 10 commandments and countless Senators go to churches where "Thou Shalt Not Steal" has been stricken from the tenants of Christianity. Therefore we the people do not want to hear about the religious politician anymore. In fact, the politician has facilitated an environment where we're quite used to sin and we're established in tolerance. We have figured out how to love the sinner hate the sin...accept that hating the sin can now be a crime in some instances. Democrats seem to be religious but when it matters are afraid of religion even if they're religious. Republicans in the latest Presidential campaign stare at the faces of Christians, a Mormon, a non-believer, a Philandering half-catholic-half whatever who just happened to save New York on 9-11 and a couple others who might be Christian but we don't know because they're not talking about it, running for the highest office in the U.S. Business is Business and religion is religion right?

Dan Quayle made prayer sound weird and President Bush make's Christianity sound a little to Hick for some people. Even President Bush made a big deal about God his first term as President and hardly mutters a word of it in his second term. Global Warming on Earth (And on Mars consequently...oil people have a lot of influence I guess), Global Health Care, Government Services, Women's Rights and taxes are the hot button issues, the new religion. We prove we "care" not be preaching the name of Jesus Christ, but by allowing Homosexuals to become married. Furthermore, Many Christians know why Abortion is wrong but many Christians have asked "what's so wrong with it?" Many Christian Republicans believe that Global Healthcare is a bad idea but don't know how to relate it to what they believe...therefore we take a step back and consult our thoughts about an issue based on rational and Party platforms...

Now, we're not running away from Church and we're still singing hymns and talking about God. But, Isn't it something that we're losing touch with our bibles? A good friend of mine actually is afraid of knowing too much scripture because he doesn't want to be like his parents were...legalistic and controlling. Several Elders I served with didn't know their bibles and I was part of a study of religion (not a bible study) that discussed issues facing Christians today, but rarely brought scripture into the program. I left that group. It is why Mormons, Half-Catholics, Athiests, Humanists and closet Christians can run for President at the same time and we barely bat an eye. We're all learning to have Gay Pride and we're all learning that a President's "personal" business should not affect how he runs the Country. Christians beware...certain books of your bible may be stricken because they espouse hate crimes. That's maybe far off, but think about it...God matters in politics.

I sound down in the mouth and I felt a little bit of it earlier today when I watched an interview. But then I heard the thunder roll...and it became well with my soul...God is.

Monday, August 13, 2007


We've had a busy couple months. From exercise to writing sermons to planning a family vacation, to building a business, to most recently a trip to Chicago with my cousins from Holland.

But, a true highlight of the summer was a ride called RAGBRAI--Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. A couple of weeks ago, Monique and I learned that we can strap on a recipe of will, effort, and crazy and do 500 miles on a bicycle...make a boy's butt hurt worse than getting an enema. . . but it was awesome!!! There's a little sump'n for everyone, but you learn to strive and have fun at the same time.

But, enough of that for now. . .one wears bike shorts because they have padding in them and when you spend 8 hours a day on a bicycle you're pretty glad you're wearing pants with diapers. 500 miles of wind strewn weather beaten heaven. It was a magnificent trip. The road often rose up to meet me (HILLS) and the wind was not always at my back, but every town the nearly 20,000 riders came into was unique and the celebration and food and entertainment was always good. At night, there was nothing like a good conversation with the team, a brat and a beer didn't hurt either.

I saw the white sunrise turn gold with hours, felt the cool wind in my face and witnessed magnificent things. There was one guy who did the ride in a big banana suit. . . why? Ummm--I was laughing too hard to care. How 'bout the guy who rode with 10 inch speakers and an IPOD full of Irish Pub Songs? That's just cool.

I lost a little weight and I'm stronger than I was a week previous. I can see a few ripples in my abs and I've got a nice tan going...sweet. But that's a side effect. I learned what teamwork is about, what it means to bend over backwards for someone in need, how to be safe, friendly, and joyful in all things. I'm different than I was 500 miles ago--more confident.

It's a great thing to get up and do something you didn't think you had in you. For 7 days, lock into your pedals, turn them for hours each day, enjoy my diaper pants, some good food and the guy in the banana suit and come on home. . .you'll realize you can do anything.

However, I began to wonder about something during RAGBRAI and rekindled the thought during our recent trip to Chicago. Life is what you make of it and I realized the survival of a species does not depend on cell phones, computers, the best equipment, cars, airplanes and access to the newest thing. Character decides your way of life. Dad used to say "do not do anything to disparage my good name..." and I can do that without high technology. I can do that with my Bride, with the wind, with the mist and with my hands, feet, mouth, with my actions and my words.

We went to the Museum of Science and Technology and there, we came to an exhibit about time, achievement, invention and life in yesteryear. The exhibit included a full street of what Chicago looked like in 1906. It included everything from dim lampposts, a stone road, clothing, little clothing shops, a barber who advertised his mixture of shaving cream, an advertisement for a sewing kit and more. There were no computers, the sewing machines were basic, advertisements were drawn instead of photographed, bicycles were made of iron, gum was not sold in paper packages but in tins...there was more of course. I imagined a stroll through the streets lit by lamps with an old world wisdom written into them. I imagined a Fedora on my head and a walking suit on my body and I wondered...Invention has given us much. Invention has made life a wonderment and taken us into discovery of materials, cures for diseases, and speed on the road. Invention has allowed us to reach the heavens in ways we weren't even dreaming about in 1906. But I wondered something...I couldn't stay where I was last year. It was a difficult year. I had to move into a new place and a new way from last year. I'm different than I was the first time I sat on my new bicycle than I was the day I finished a 477 mile bike ride. And we had to ride a path of effort in life and on a bicycle. Society has done that for centuries. My family wasn't the first to accomplish something. Invention and technology has given us much...but, how much have we lost by being dissastisfied with where we were? How many good names have we disparaged along the way?

By the way...if you want to listen to the sermon I gave a week ago you can do so by going to this link... feed://feeds.feedburner.com/Crossroadscrc and click on "INTEREST PASSION EFFORT TEAM August 5 am service. You'll be able to listen right there.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Deceptive Depletion

It is a curious thing that we should decide to reveal and revelate amongst you all in such a medium that is supposed to open ourselves to a big wide world, but which instead takes so much time away from it....and yet here I am and so be it! I welcome me to you!