Monday, December 13, 2010


I have been asked if I like Kentucky or not a lot lately.  People here are nervous that I don't.  Some people back home are hoping that we don't.  A few others are hoping that we do really like it here and aren't coming back (you know who you are!)  Today I have decided that I do like it for one specific reason: Louisvillites (or whatever we are called down here) make me feel manly.

School is closed today because there is ice on the road covered by about two inches of snow.  I actually read yesterday about the "drifts" that will happen because of the snow.  Meanwhile, back home people have actually lost their car under the snow that has fallen.  The snow at the end of the driveways in Eau Claire are probably taller than me and they still managed to go to school today.

I remember growing up and hearing my dad had walked up hill both ways to school and left early to bring the cows back into the pasture.  I never believed him, yet everyone currently living in the blistery Eau Claire can tell of these stories and I will be their evidence.  You survived it and it made you stronger.  Meanwhile, we are preparing for the end of the world, talking existentially, and kissing our loved ones.

I have to be honest.  I always complained about the cold, but I found people worse than me.  Though this would be a dangerous spiritual pattern, I'm going to feel awesome about it today.  In a few hours I will go run errands with my family while we rock our boy's hip hop music in our man van.  As I do this, I will feel like the most manly being in Louisville.  Sure, it takes me an afternoon to change the headlight, but I can handle the cold.  I didn't even grow a beard to do it!

Louisville, you and me are all good.  You make me feel manly!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

December's Business- Infinitea Teahouse

When I lived in Eau Claire I met the guys who started Infinitea Teahouse.  They are great guys who are very entertaining to talk with.  They worked with Valleybrook to host a charity event this coming Sunday.  If you go to Infinitea between 12-5 this Sunday, 20% of your purchases will go to Eyes That See.  This is an awesome opportunity to enjoy great tea, support a great local business, and support Eyes that See at the same time.  To the guys at Infinitea-thanks so much.  You'll have to pick me out a tea to try when I come to visit this month.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Newsflash: Friends make snow fun

I dislike snow.  I would rather have 365 100 degree days with mosquitoes biting me than have snow and cold.  I think snow should be banned outside of the Winter Olympics.  A friend in Louisville mentioned how Adam and Eve didn't have clothes so snow must not have been a part of God's plan.  I'm sure that, like shirt biting goats, snow is a result of the fall. Imagine Eden without snow or goats.  Beautiful!

This weekend my good friend Andy came and visited.  He called Thursday and said he would be here Friday.  He and Alazar spent the weekend driving around with us and going wherever we needed to go. The funny thing is I played in the snow more this weekend than I have in probably three years.  Typically I shovel, scrape my car and grunt a lot.  This weekend I actually had a snowball fight, threw our kids in the snow and even got whitewashed a little.  I was cold, but it was fun.

All this to say that in the battle for emotions between snow and friends, the joy of a friend defeats the slight depression of least last weekend.  We'll see when I go back up to Eau Claire and Minnesota.  I'm wearing twelve shirts everyday plus a nose warmer.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My morning

This morning I sent an email to my wife, my sister, my brother-in-law and my best friend that Jeter got traded to the Twins for Joe Mauer.  It wasn't my idea, I saw it on Yahoo.
After I sent the email it started snowing...I'm sorry Jesus.  I was trying to be funny...Can I have my weather back now?

Update on Ana

Many of you have been so faithful in praying for and asking about little Ana.  As you know, she is a pretty amazing little girl who has been through a lot already in her life.  When we were getting ready to move, we were a little nervous about what the move would mean for her.  Stress isn't good for her seizures and change isn't her favorite.  Sometimes this isn't an easy family for her!

When we moved we didn't have insurance for her.  We didn't have doctors or even a school.  Now, only a few months out, we have blessed with all of these things.  Ana was picked up by insurance just about a week before her meds ran out.  She has not only one neurologist, but two!  One is in Cincinnati and one in downtown Louisville. She also has the most amazing school for her.  It is on the other side of town, but we gladly bring her so that she can reach her full potential.  She has even napped by herself at school.  This is life changing!

Ana being in school and doing so well has allowed Nikk to be working on Eyes That See at normal people hours instead of 3am.  This has been a gift as there has been so much to do.  We are dreaming of what Ana's potential might be and thanking God for what he has done in the last few years.  She even said "plate" the other day!  Pretty awesome.

Thanks for all the prayers for her and our family.  We are very blessed and thankful as we prepare for Christmas.  God is good!

Ana is ready for school!

Should have seen it coming.

The Longhorns are missing a bowl game for the first time since I was a freshman in college.  This is a sad day, but I should have seen the fall coming.  No McCoy, no Shipley, no bowl game.  I should have learned from watching the Yankees fall from their lofty perch.  For you anti-sports people, don't check out. This made me think of other tragic falls I should have seen coming.

  • Hootie and the Blowfish-The first album moved me.  Actually, I just really liked it.  The simplicity of four chords and a voice lower than Barry White's. Now that is awesome!  I wanted to hold his hand after listening a few times! I knew that you had to let her cry, I knew everything, except that their would be no Beatles-like run by Hootie.  Sure, he went country.  But he went country.  I should have seen it coming.
  • Rome-I wasn't there, but I should have seen the fall coming.  Gibbon clearly did with his 5,000,000 pages.
  • The Economy- I don't know a thing about the economy except that my house won't sell and a lot of people are grumpy.  Still, a few years ago everyone was happy and everything sold.  I should have seen it coming.
  • My awesomeness-  I have five kids who think I am awesome to different degrees.  Ana, who is young, can't talk, and always gets the last sip of my coffee thinks I'm the greatest.  Carter and Ezra who are getting older, becoming more athletic than me, and cannot learn from my dance moves anymore are less convinced.  When I began to have more kids than guitars I should have seen the fall from my self proclaimed awesomeness coming.  

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Owning the Sun

Spanish woman claims ownership of the Sun, says she's going to start charging for use

I have known that people feel entitled to things that haven't earned and don't deserve.  This is nothing new.  Today I'm still blown away by us.  We are an odd little reflection of someone Greater.  Sometimes we are just odd.  Case in point: Angeles Duran.

Angeles Duran lives in Galicia, Spain.  She was going through a normal autumn I am guessing until one day it hit her, "I should claim ownership of the sun!"  This makes sense.  She is Angeles Duran of Galicia.  She made her way down to the notary public and staked her claim. It was easy, anyone could have done it.  Now, we are all to be charged for using the sun, like a tax for using her energy.

The tax won't happen.  I'll forget her next week when someone else follows her quote and begins "just being entrepreneurial."  It still struck me pretty well. I had just been reading some verses that made this stand out pretty clearly.

"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it." Psalm 24:1

"The world is mine, and all that is in it."  Psalm 50:12

God even goes as far as talking about the land that we walk on.

"The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants." Leviticus 25:23

I don't see a way around it.  This world isn't mine.  Even though these verses were about this earth and everything on it, I'm sure God's deed stretches to the sky as well.  We are all His tenants.

I am renting a home for the first time in a long time.  It is different renting.  You watch where you hang a picture, how you rake the leaves, and where you put the Christmas tree.  It's not your home.  You are just given the privilege of living there.  That is a whole lot more like life than we care to admit.  If it is true, there are some practical implications.

Last thing.  We aren't to match the world. We are to be of another Kingdom.  At least one person in the world feels entitled to the sun.  Many in this world feel they are owed tax from everyone else.  We are to match Him.  He gave up all He deserved.  He surrendered for the better of everyone.  We are led to one extreme or the other.  Which way are you leaning?

to read the article go to

November's Best Photo

My van is pretty awesome, but this car is slightly more awesome.

A woman watches British Perry Watkins sitting ...

That's a real car that requires a real driver's license.  (That is a real person inside too, for real.)

Check out the slideshow.

Monday, November 29, 2010

More than trendy

I'm not a real big fan of doing what is trendy.  I know nobody is, but sometimes I want to do the opposite of trendy.  I want to role my pants like the late 90's because nobody does.  But then, that is trendy.  Nothing is more trendy than doing the opposite of everyone else so you stand out.  Well, nothing but Africa.

There is an odd little deal going on right now.  Nikki and I work in Ethoipia. If you just came to this planet on a spaceship you would either confuse Ethiopia with the worst place in the world or the most glamorous place ever.  Seriously, there is nothing trendier than Africa.  Well, that is only partly true.  I guess we are even cooler to certain people because we work with orphans.  Even better than that, we work with former prostitutes.  Here's where I think we are getting confused.

The people that God has given us the honor of serving through Eyes That See are anything but trendy.  They are real.  They cry when life hurts and they smile more beautifully than you could imagine.  Serving them is addicting, but it isn't cool.  It is exhausting.  You want to radically change the way you live, spend, talk and dream.  You order the small so you can give away the 59 cents that makes it large.  You pray differently, think differently, and surely you praise God differently.

I once thought Africa was cool.  I liked the trendy picture that I had.  God called me out of that to truly see who was there.  He called me to love the people that He loves.  He invited me to believe that His Kingdom trumps their current reality.  He is beginning to bless my eyes to see.

Some of us get to see in "trendy" places like Ethiopia.  Some of us see "trendy" people like orphans and ex prostitutes.  No matter who we are, we are invited to see His Kingdom right in front of us.  We get to love people in real life, not just in theory.  For me this has cost everything.  For my friends in Ethiopia it has cost more.  I believe this is our honor.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I am becoming more aware of what I have been given.  My kids are healthy.  My wife is awesome.  I had a job that is satisfying and keeps me dependent on Him.  Besides these things, there are so many other things that I just expect, and I now see they are the simplest ways that He shows His faithfulness.  Food, shelter, safety and hope.  As we spend our time working in Ethiopia and seeing people in great need, I have a huge desire to keep my family aware of the reality of lives in that great country.  I don't want us to distance ourselves.  I don't ever want my house to forget our ability to tangibly change lives.

I have decided that on Thanksgiving as we are thankful for all that God is doing in our lives, my family is going to take some time and give gifts of our thanks to God.  I'm going to invite each of my kids, Nikki, and myself to give to God of what we have.  I don't know yet what the kids will give.  Maybe it's a toy we will sell or ship over to Ethiopia.  Maybe it is their hard earned quarters again.  For Nikki and I, it will be looking at what we can sacrificially give through Eyes That See to our friends abroad.

I want to invite you to do this as well.  It is very simple, doesn't take much time, and doesn't take much energy.  I want to encourage you to show your thanks through giving this year.  As you gather for this holiday, talk with the people that you eat with and see how it is that you collectively can show your gratitude.  Maybe you want to take up an offering right there. Maybe you find a way to give of your time together.  Maybe you want to spend $50 less on Friday and give it to Eyes That See or another organization.  However you do it, I want to encourage you to give sacrificially during this season.  The joy and peace that follows is greater than any other gift you could receive.

If you plan on doing something like this over Thanksgiving, please comment and encourage others to do the same.  If you want to share a story, please email it over and we will post it on this blog.  Happy Thanksgiving.

November's Organization- Safe Families

A few years ago I was in Dallas and had the opportunity to hear about an organization called Safe Families.  The organization came out of a heart to serve families in the Chicago area.  Shortly after hearing the director speak, we met some awesome friends who live north of Chicago who are volunteers for Safe families.  It is always encouraging to hear that the insides of an organization are as legit as the website's make them look.  This is what we found with Safe Families. I had the opportunity to go and meet people from this organization last month and I was impressed with their hearts, their desire to see God impact their cities, and their desire to see the people that they serve.  Here is how they describe their history right off of the website.
"Safe families for Children provides a loving sanctuary where parents can safely and voluntarily place their children in times of need. Founded in 2002 by LYDIA Home Association, a Chicago based Christian social service agency, Safe Families for Children has partnered with the local church to grow to a network of over 1000 volunteer families serving as many as 1000 children and families lat year alone. 

Successfully established in more than 13 states, Safe Families partners with host agencies, local churches, ministries, as well as community and government agencies to intervene in the lives of children and families that would otherwise be forgotten."
Safe Families does inspiring work and for any of you who feel led and live in a city where Safe Families operated please consider being a part.  Their website is

Monday, November 22, 2010

November's Media

I often go to BBC Africa's website to see what is happening over there.  I really like their news reporting on most of the world and they do a good job with Africa.  (They actually even have a great magazine that comes out quarterly for anyone interested.)  Anyways, I saw a series of photos that my sons will love!
My boys have never really watched wrestling, but they know names like John Cena from t shirts and stuff at school.  We have a room in our house that is called "the pink room" because it is painted this salmon color that makes you feel like less of a man.  We use that room for two very important things.
1.  homework.  There is a lot of homework done in our house.  Each kid gets like fifteen hours of homework a night and then goes on field trips during the day.  I'm very confused.
2.  wrestling.  Currently Nikki and I are the tag team champions.  Durant is tough, but he can't beat us yet!

Anyways, check out these photos!
I particularly like the flying shoulder drop by the baby elephant.  (Tell me that you have written a cooler sentence than that, I dare you.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Finally telling the truth

Here's the truth I have been hiding.  I don't really enjoy U2.  I don't have a problem with it, but they just aren't my favorite.  I like Bono.  I like that he likes Africa.  I like Edge and his glasses.  I like that everyone thinks that they are cool and they do the best concert this side of heaven.  At the same time, I've never been to their concert, so I don't really get it.  Maybe I'm too young.  Maybe I'm a caveman.  Either way, I have to say it:  U2 is not my favorite band.  I seriously feel better saying that.

The funny thing about that is that there are a lot of things in my life that I thought I liked, but it was just that the people around me did.  I don't really like soda, but I drink it socially.  I am not a huge fan if staying up late at night, but all the cool kids do it.  I would rather not do picnics.  I have issues with ants in my food, and usually shared food is kind of gross unless I'm in Africa.  I don't like coffee.  (Okay, that was just to see if you are paying attention.  I think during the heavenly concert we will have coffee served to us in awesome mugs.)

It is a bit scary that I am 31 years old and it took moving 600 miles for me to begin looking at what it is that I like and what it is that I don't.  I don't think I am the only one who has needed to do some soul examining.  What is it that you like because you think you should?  More importantly, what do you believe because you feel you should?  What would it look like if you really believed?

ps-I still have some U2 songs on iTunes.  I'm not that brave yet.  How else could I feel like a sort-of-trendy-Christian if I didn't have any U2 songs?

Think your day is rough?

I was home between meetings yesterday when Durant got home from school.  He had his brown hoodie on with his hood up.  He also had on some red shorts that would have made a gym teacher from 1989 jealous because of their length.  His legs were all ashy underneath and Nikki was laughing as she walked next to him.  She told me to ask him what happened at school, so I did.  He replied with words I never thought I would hear.  Durant replied saying "Carsen peed my pants."  Seriously, how does that happen?  How does someone else pee your pants unless you were dressed as the urinal for Halloween.  So, if you fail on a project at work, screwed up at home, just feel like nothing is going your way, just be glad that Carsen didn't pee your pants.  That has to be about the worst!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Today's Most Interesting Table

I just got to a coffee shop and one table away is a group of four probably near to retirement business men.  They are all reading the paper and discussing the cities with the highest red necks per capita.  Seriously, who did the research, who would check that box on a survey, and who talks about this?  I think they are fascinating.  Seriously, who talks about this?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

If not now

I was just sitting with a friend at Starbucks.  We were talking about music, football and what it is like to obey God in everything.  I told him that I was reading a book about William Muller again and how that guy's life challenges me.  Muller (I don't know how to make the German "u") was completely dependent on God is ways that I cannot even fathom.  As we were talking about this, the truth came out.  My friend said, "I don't know that I want that."  How many of us live here?

We want our God to be the One True God.  We want Him to save us and clean us up, but the whole "I'll-live-as-you-command" thank you.  It has been funny for me the past few months as I have told people our journey so far.  A few people have been encouraged by the faith we have acted on, but follow it with "you are so young."  We were at a mission's conference where the speaker did a great job telling of the meaning of serving Christ with you life.  Again, he talked about waiting until later in life to do this.  I know that I am naive plenty of times, but why wait?  Why should we spend time drifting when we could have focus?  Why should we half trust God today and then fully when we are older?  Who guaranteed we would get older?

I have a lot of questions of myself.  I want to be rid of all theoretical belief and practice everything I sing of on a Sunday.  I want to rest in Him, but I also want to run hard towards what He has.  For whatever reason the thought of waiting until next year since we are almost finished with this year is so alluring.  The truth is if I don't live completely dependent on Him now, why do I think I might later?  If I don't push all my chips in by faith today, how would it be easier tomorrow?  If not now, then when?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Worth if for the fruit

 I know I have said it before, but we are an odd breed.  I know that we are created in God’s image, but I’m also certain that our insecurities are not grounded in Him.  We are complex in all the awkward ways and want simplicity where God’s ways are higher than ours.  Let me explain to you what I’m talking about. 
            I have had several conversations lately with people who want to step out in faith, but they have hit a brick wall.  The wall isn’t insecurity.  They have dealt with that.  It isn’t doubt in God’s goodness either.  He has proved that.  It isn’t even because of a lack of knowing Scripture, because that has been the root of their deepening passion.  The issue is pretty simple: they don’t want to be misunderstood.
            In my life, this has been one of the most painful things I have encountered.  I can’t think of anything as crippling as having someone see what you intend to be an act of dependence on God and think that you are making everything about yourself.  This can take you out at the knees.  It’s discouraging and disheartening.  Sure, sometimes we are acting arrogantly.  Sometimes we are being selfish.  Other times we are just finally deciding to put our faith in action and believe what God says about us.
            When we look at our lives, I think all of us want to leave a lasting legacy.  We want our lives to count.  We all want the fruit of our lives to be good.  Some days we won’t settle for anything less. 

Luke 6:43-44
"For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit.

            Let me get straight to the point.  Good fruit doesn’t come from bad trees.  It only comes from good trees.  You can’t have a nasty, infested apple tree produce anything that is worthwhile.  For good fruit to emerge, the tree must be good.  Now, we know that nothing but God is good.  This must mean that you are made “good” through Him.  When we believe this reality, then it is true.  Once you see the fruit you can’t deny the work that God has done. 
            Is it arrogant to say you’ve become a “good tree?”  Absolutely not!  It’s one of the most humbling statements you could make.  On your own you would have awful little globs of worthlessness as your fruit.  The beauty is you are not left on your own.  You have been given a Savior.  God made the choice that faith would be the way of being restored in His image, and when He made mankind He called it good.  You believe in Christ as your Savior, and you are new.  He doesn’t make you new and nasty, but new and good.  Then the fruit of your life will be good as well. 
            Sometimes I don’t like to tell people of what God is doing because I don’t want them staring at me, the tree.  I don’t want them to be distracted by me, so I just don’t talk.  At that moment I waste the fruit.  The reality is no one cares to see the tree.  They admire the fruit.  And if every once and a while someone mistakenly thinks I’m trying to get everyone to look at the tree, well, I guess it’s worth it for the fruit.   

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November's Person

Yesterday I heard some news that caused me to quickly call Nikki.  I knew that she was in a meeting, but I almost did our "I called twice because it's an emergency" deal.  The things is this.  We love the Yankees.  They are an outstanding team.  I know everyone is discouraged that we like them, they think we are sellouts and cannot believe we can love Jesus and Jeter.  It is possible.  Paul says "everything is permissible."  This includes a love for the pinstripes.  (After all, most of you like bad teams and that just isn't fun.  The season is just too long to like a team that has no chance.)

Back on point, the Yankees are getting old.  Most of them feel like they played with Mantle or celebrated their first championship while riding in a Model T.  They've been a part of the team forever.  Every year we have a bit of sadness.  At some point, the guys are going to retire.  I hope it never happens, but it could.  That's when the news broke.  No one retired, just relax.  Still, the news was close enough.  Jorge Posada is moving from catcher to DH.  This is huge news for my house.  This like saying that Glee is moving to Saturday mornings just after Planet Sheen.  (If you don't watch Planet Sheen start now!)

I love Jorge Posada.  If I had fifteen sons I would probably name the next one Jorge.  Moving to DH is like flirting with retirement.  Flirting with retirement is like playing with my emotions.  I don't like when people play with my emotions.  Still, I love Jorge.  I'm going to ask Nikki to paint a 20 on my back that I will wear for the rest of the week.  If you have never watched him play, watch an old game.  He was amazing.  He's still awesome, but apparently he needs to just focus on hitting.

In his personal life he has an awesome foundation that he started that benefits people with craniosynostosis.  If you need an idea for a Christmas gift for anyone, I recommend the "Hip Hop Jorge" t shirt available here.  Seriously great player.  Apparently great guy.  Jorge Posada is my person of the month.


            We, as God’s children, are a strange little breed.  I would call us cute if we were infants, but since so many of us are older now I’ll just say we are strange.  The reason that I feel this way is because we say things that completely contradict each other.  It is as if we say that 2+2=4 and 2+2=17 at the same time.  When you challenge this or bring the contradiction to light, we begin to act really strange.
            I will never forget the first time I got a letter berating a teaching that I gave.  Before the mail that day I thought that God had used me powerfully.  I was so excited coming off a teaching where I talked about life as God’s children and how we are to carry ourselves.  In my mind it was clear and passionate.  I was certain that God had completely transformed the entire world because of my words.  At least one person disagreed with me.  The feeling was that I was thinking too highly of us.  There was sin, and grace, and we are not to act like we are victorious over sin through Christ.  Only He is.  To me this still doesn’t make any sense, although I have run across the opinion many times.  Christ death on the cross was victory over sin, and because He made it clear, His victory is on our behalf.  Therefore, we have victory over sin because of His grace.  I don’t think it cheapens grace to say that we are no longer owned by sin.  I think it actually helps us see grace for what it really is, God’s favor on us when we don’t deserve it.
            In my life and in the ministry God has given me, I have been amazed by how deep sin goes.  Our sinful nature is a nasty old bugger.  He has owned us for far too long.  He is our past, knows us well, and we have worn him like a broken in pair of blue jeans.  Yet if we are to fully embrace Christ’s sacrifice and His grace then we are to throw off this old bugger.  Those jeans shouldn’t fit anymore.  None of this is new.  Paul teaches it all over his letters, and yet we are not comfortable with it.
            The place where I have seen us most uncomfortable is with the idea of being new creations.  I remember talking to a friend in high school who said that all people are worms and that Christians are just saved worms.  I understand the statement, but if it is true I want to hide in a cave and cry.  About the same time I began reading C.S. Lewis and was so encouraged by Mere Christianity where Lewis writes about Christians being winged horses learning to fly instead of just doing the steeple chase.  This is how I saw it. 
            Somehow declaring that we are new is seen as arrogant, as arriving, and as not needing Christ.  I have never been more aware of my dependence on God than since I have declared that I am new in Him.  If He doesn’t agree, it isn’t true.  At the same time, I don’t believe that the old bugger that is my sinful nature, as great and distracting as it is, is greater than the Messiah of the world.  If He says I’m new, I’m new. 
            In Scripture people agree, in practice we are still weirded out by this.  So for this moment, let’s at least agree that He makes us "Newish"- not fully arrived, but becoming more and more like Him.  The question can finally come up: In everything that you do, how do you live "Newish"?  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

November's Random Interest- Favorite Colors

I have five kids okay.  This stuff matters!  I was watching the award winning Meet The Parents a few weeks ago and I heard DeNiro say that geniuses choose the color green.  (That is not a direct quote.)  I remember instantly having green jump from just below "licorice green/black" to the top with that statement.

A few nights later I was trying to fall asleep and I was wondering what my favorite color really is.  I have always said blue because that seemed like the safe answer, like "C" in a multiple choice question.  I don't think it is really true that I like blue.  I know my eyes "show up" if I'm wearing blue, but I don't think that means that they disappear if I wear another color.  I started to notice that nearly every shirt I own is either brown or has "Texas Longhorns" written on it.  I said this to my beautiful-yet-sometimes-insensitive wife who said that she always knew that if I was a color I would be brown.  This made me a little upset because poop and other gross things are brown.  If you think of it, so is chocolate, coffee, and the Cleveland Browns.  They have Colt McCoy, which makes them awesome.  They are kind of orange, but they have the name "brown" anyways.

Today I went on the always accurate and found that brown represents being solid and reliable.  It also means sad, which is sad.    All in all, I wish I liked green, but I probably like brown.  Next time a five year old asks me I'll try out my new answer and hope he doesn't make fun of me.  He probably knows the answer is supposed to be blue!

By the way, can anyone actually answer white as their favorite color? I think that is cheating.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Misreading what's right in front of me.

Have you ever misread something tremendously?  I have seen this with my kids lately on their homework.  Somehow they read whatever would be more convenient and do that instead of the assigned homework. It's like misreading the math teacher's "evens only" assignment and instead thinking that they said "don't do the evens because you can check your work on the odds in the back of the book."  It's a beautiful way to delude yourself, and apparently it starts young.

I have done that with Scripture lately.  I spent some time rereading the Beatitudes lately.  It's funny that as I read them this time, I found myself wanting to be in mourning, get beat up for beliefs and quietly mope through life to secure a blessing.  I was wanting to make a hero of the worn out, sad faced Christians.  For a minute I wanted to be them.  I wanted to secure God's blessing , so I would do anything for it.  For some reason I jumped to the thought that it would take me be more sad, beaten down, and in pain to see the Kingdom of God.

That's a real backwards way to read the Beatitudes.  Somehow I was twisting Jesus' words to be about me.  Aren't they better understood as "blessed are you 'guy who has no hope and nothing to look forward to'  because you are the very kind of guy God blesses."  It's not because hopeless is awesome, but because God blesses anyone who looks to him, even the hopeless.  God blesses those who want His blessing.  He doesn't disqualify.

This is great news for those who seek righteousness, even when they get legalistic in their pursuit.  This is The Good News for those who are mourning their way through difficult situations, even those who are being persecuted.  When you find yourself in the very place where man would turn away from you, you are blessed because God won't.

It's funny to me how real and practical God's goodness is.  We are never outside of it.  We don't need to escape into mourning when we feel joy to find His blessing.  His blessing can reach us in joy.  At the same time, when we are disqualified by all who are around us, even in that place you are blessed.  Not because you find yourself there, but because you can find a God who is so good that you are never out of His reach.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

From this week...

I had this moment yesterday that felt familiar.  In fact, I have had several moments like it this past week.  I had finished most of my tasks for the day and I was driving to get a cup of coffee to finish up my last emails for the day.  When I got to the coffee shop I was hit with a fairly new emotion.  It shouldn't be so new, but in practical everyday life I think it is.  I sat at the coffee shop and opened up my emails.  There were several emails from people who look radically different than they did a few years ago.  There are people devoting their lives to others within the US and abroad.  There was a father loving his family.  There were a few friends that always make me laugh when I need it.  I started thinking of my wife and how much I missed her when she was gone last week (the reason for no posts!)  I started praying for my kids because I wanted to, not because I committed to it.  I wasn't praying God would change them.  I was just thanking Him.  I think I'm new to gratefulness.
It isn't that my parents didn't teach me.  They did.  I just learned the polite version.  A friend at work was talking about how entitled we are as US Americans.  I see that in me.  God brings good in my life, I stamp my name on it and assume it is some reward for something.  I know I miss most of what He brings.
I didn't see this coming, but I'm so glad that God is putting gratefulness within me. I have so much to be thankful for.  Last night I talked to a great friend on the phone during Carter's basketball.  After talking I was left feeling incredibly cared for by my Father.  Not everything is resolved, but I'm safe and my family is safe.  We are surrounded from a far with people who love us and we are blessed beyond what we could even dream.  We get to do what we love and never lack adventure.
I know that if you read this you probably know my family.  Many of you are praying for us often, excited to hear about new adventures, and caring for us in different ways.  I just want to take a moment and sincerely thank you.  I don't know what God has today, but this week I have been struck by how our Father is a good Father.  Enjoy today.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Three jobs I would love until I had them.

In high school I had the most amazing job in the world. I worked at Toys R Us.  It was awesome.  I was a seasonal employee, so I was done working just weeks before it would begin feeling like work.  My time at Toys R Us was spent in the security area with remote control cars and video games.  Not a bad gig.  
They just put a Toys R Us near my house and it made me think of that awesome job.  I started thinking about other jobs that would be awesome until you actually did them.  Here are my three “"Dream Jobs that I don't ever want to do because that would take the Dream part away.”"
  • Radio Host-Yesterday Ezra pointed out that on the radio station we listen to they talk about whatever they want.  They talk about Pringles, then surfing, then God all in the matter of five minutes.  Also, they are only on air about four hours a day and then apparently eat Pringles and surf.  I don't want to surf or eat Pringles, but Cheetos and golf would be awesome.  In real life a radio host works more, but in my dream world this is the best job.
  • Coffee Shop Owner- I still want to do this one some day.  Think about it, what is better than coffee in the morning?  Nothing.  I imagine the joy there would be in owning a coffee shop where you are providing joy and sanity to people as they start their day.  For some, you are the only moment that they take for themselves in their busy schedule.  For others, the coffee shop is like Cheers (the place where you can hang out, drink your chosen vice, but not feel bad about it.)  It would be an awesome job, except for the fact that you have to wake up before the coffee is made.  Some even bake their own treats which is great, but I would have to do this during my favorite cycle of sleep.  Maybe I'll let this stay a dream job for a while longer.
  • Baseball Announcer-We watch a lot of baseball in my house.  Nikki always says that the announcers copy me.  I make the comments first.  It is really an easy job once you get the pronunciations down.  It's not like football or basketball where the action is fast.  Each pitch has like an hour between them, and I'm sure that is there so people can tell long winded stories about their grandfather's favorite player.  I'd be great at this.  Except for the travel, the obligation to be impartial (not possible for me) and the fact that I don't like my voice enough to listen to me 162 times a year.  Can you imagine how often I would tell the same story?  I already do this more than the average retiree.  This will stay a dream job too.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Strep in Adulthood

I was sick plenty when I was a kid.  I feel pretty cool at the doctor when they shine that light in my ears because they can see my battle scars from all the ear infections.  It's like if you look at me I don't look that tough at all, but if you see my ears I'm like William Wallace.  There has never been a doctor who told me how tough my throat looks, but I'm sure if I got a moment away from their professional oaths that is what they are dying to tell me.
Anyways, last week I had a good friend tell me that he was sensing Nikki and I were needing to slow down.  I took this as good counsel as I talked with him on the phone, walked the walking track, was trying to learn how to change the headlight in my van (the awesomely red one) and raise more funds for Eyes That See.  I even told Nikki we needed to slow down.  Then, the next day I woke up earlier, worked later, and took his words as theory.  Wednesday night was my reward.
Have you ever had one of those nights where you are sure someone has put a hot pad within you and a bucket of ice.  I felt like I swallowed Maine and my throat couldn't fit air next to all the lobsters.  I was miserable.  Thursday morning I woke earlier for a new Bible study.  I went to the study, went to my coffee shop and was planning on an ordinary Thursday until the coffee shop started to spin.  I've never seen a room bounce like that.  With all the intelligence I could muster I went home. I emerged from my blanket yesterday.  It was four days under a blanket and stealing the main living room.  Ana laid beside me like a puppy would as the other kids tried to avoid me.  I think they were certain that my groaning was me communicating chores I wanted to dish out.  Nikki spent the weekend caring for me, Ana, and Carter who were all feeling it pretty less than awesome.  I didn't know strep was so bad.  It's a nasty deal.
All that to say I wish I would listen.  I used to be good at rhythm.  I would know to slow down, to rest, to breathe.  I used to teach people to do this.  Now I need to learn again.  Now that we have moved there is a whole new set of circumstances to navigate.
I feel like a little kid in need of a really good dad.  I wish I didn't have to go through this last weekend to come back to where I'm invited to live.  Hopefully I stay here longer this time.

ps-wash your hands and drink lots of fluids.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

October's Dream

Two years ago I received the chance of a lifetime.  I was invited to go to Wolayta, Ethiopia and speak at a church conference.  I've spoken at churches before, but nothing was as humbling as this conference.  There were thousands upon thousands of people sitting on the ground after walking for at least a day to come celebrate the Lord together.  It was so powerful to hear them worshiping.  I don't know the language (they were singing in Wolaytan and I only know English) but you could feel the power in that place.

After speaking at the conference I was given the opportunity to go and meet all of the pastors from this denomination.  some of them had been imprisoned during the Communist rule in Ethiopia.  Others walked for four hours between the two churches they serve.  All of them are lacking salary and resources but are overwhelmed with faith.  I will never forget hearing their stories and praying with them.  

When I was in Ethiopia this month I got the chance to see Pastor Zekarias again.  He is the pastor in charge of the whole denomination.  He has given his entire life to proclaiming the Good News to all who will hear.  When I met with him he asked about what we were working on in Ethiopia, and I told him all about Eyes That See.  He was excited to hear about it, but sadness came over his face.  He began to explain what he was seeing in Ethiopia.  

Zekarias told me that there were so many development projects that were operating in Ethiopia.  In his opinion they are needed, but there is something lacking.  His eyes filled with tears as he talked about the pastors that I had met.  He told me they have the heart, but no training, no resources, and too often no salary. They spend their days encouraging others with a hope that doesn't die, yet they are running on fumes.  He asked me to be praying with him for his dream to be fulfilled.  His dream is quite simple:  He dreams of seeing  the church be resourced with funding and education like other areas within Ethiopia.  Zekarias dreams of his pastors receiving education and resources to truly help the people that they love so dearly.  As he spoke with such conviction and emotion I couldn't help but dream of the same thing.  

I told my friend that I would continue to pray for him.  Along with prayers, I told him I would tell his dream to those who will hear it.  Maybe God wants to encourage this church through you.  If you want more information, please email me at and I will put you in contact with Pastor Zekarias.  I cannot wait to see this dream come true.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October's Quote

I recently finished a book called Nonviolence: The History of a Dangerous Idea.  It was a very interesting book where I was introduced to a lot of historical figures I knew little about.  In the book there was one quote that stood out to me.  The quote was by Ralph DiGia, a famous nonviolent protester within the US.  He said these words after protesting the war. 

"I never expected to stop the war, but you have to stand up for what you believe in or nothing ever changes."

I don't know anyone who disagrees with this.  I think we all learned very young from our parents or teachers that we are to be bold and stand up for what we believe in.  Whether that be our faith, a cause, or an individual, we seem to know on a deep level that we are to stand up for what we believe in no matter the result.  

Still, I stopped after reading this quote.  It led me to ask questions of myself and of the people around me.  How often is this just theory in my life?  How often does my life reflect my belief?  I think part of the reason that our culture is skeptical of each other is because we "believe" one thing in theory and model something else with actions.  Mr. DiGia devoted his life to nonviolent protest of wars and rights violations.  Anyone who met him or heard of him knew that this was true.  He gave everything for this cause.  

What would it look like to devote our lives to what we are passionate about?  What would need to change?  Where would we need courage?

I hope that this quote impacts me and isn't forgotten as simple words that I have read and enjoyed.  I hope the impact goes beyond my life.  I truly hope that this world is filled with passionate people living with focus.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thoughts from the weekend.

All weekend Nikki and I were talking about this.  I posted it on the "Eyes That See" blog ( but thought I would put it here too.  Sorry if you read it twice.

"The Least of These"

When you think of it, this is a difficult concept.  Any definition of who this describes becomes slippery.  It’s a label no one wants to wear, yet Jesus clearly speaks about this reality. 

We just moved to Jefferson CountyKentucky.  You may have read about our school busing in the USA Today lately.  It is a case study in the “least of these.”  People from West Louisville are being bused to go to school with everyone else. People are upset, and stereotypes abound. 

We live in a nice area, next to nice people.  We often hear about “lower income families” and people with state assistance or health care.  Because of our daughter’s health situation, we have to stay at a salary right now to receive that state health care.  We are the unwanted neighbors that everyone is talking about, they just don’t know it. 

Some wonderful people are doing work in Ethiopia right now.  They are in one of the parts of Addis that is so difficult to walk into, yet even harder to walk away from.  I haven’t been to this place yet, but I’ve seen others.  Places where people are living in pieces of tin leaning on one another.  People drinking from the same river they use for a toilet.  These people would welcome death as an end to their pain.  When you are there it is so clear that they are “the least of these.”

I just returned from Addis to a city that is learning to love the poor in Africa.  The radio is raising sponsorship for children in Ethiopia.  Organizations are rising up to help everywhere.  People are changing the way that they live, but I cannot help wonder, are we missing “the least of these?”

For me, I want to devote my life to help those who are in need in other countries.  I want to work with those in West Louisville to see God’s Kingdom come alive in their midst.  At the same time, I have a hard time with passive Christians.  I pass them by.  Sadly, I’ve been known to judge them in my heart, seeing them as less than anyone else.  Isn’t that statement in my heart the very definition of “the least of these?”  Doesn’t my problem with the passive show the brokenness in my heart and where I need healing? 

For some of us “the least of these” are in Africa, and yet for others I know that is the trendy, easy scapegoat to use.  If “the least of these” are in Africa we don’t have to worry about our neighbor.  We just give our money, our time, our conversation and go on living unchanged.  I don’t think that is the gospel. 

Maybe for you, “the least of these" are the successful.  You would never say it out loud, but you can’t stand them.  Maybe they are the single parents, the delinquents, or the people on the west side.  Maybe it is those, like myself, who have their insurance through the state. 

I don’t know who “the least of these” are, but I’m pretty certain that there is not a definition to be placed on one people group.  “The least of these” is a matter of the heart.  Nikki and I have been talking about this all weekend and we are praying that some of you take time with your Father about this question.  Who are "the least of these" that He is inviting you to love?

Matthew 25:40
And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'

Sunday, October 10, 2010

October's Person

Last month I wrote about my dad.  Truly, nobody tops him. With that said, I do have someone to tell you about, someone who's legend is greater than even Chuck Norris'.

First of all, let me tell you about hyenas.  They are freaky little buggers.  I don't know if you know this, but they are not awesome animals.  Mr. Wiki, who I believe founded wikipedia, says that the hyena is from the same family as a meerkat.  He clearly has never seen a hyena.  I believe they are in the same family as bats, snakes, and white gloves.  This family is called "makis me very scardiesus."  Apparently at the time of the saber-toothed tigers there was a hyena that weighed 440 pounds and could crush elephant bones.  I think his grandson lives between Addis and Nazaret in Ethiopia.

All that said, the hyena is freaky and big and did I say freaky?  Last year while watching Bizzare Foods my family was awestruck by a guy simply known as "The Hyena Man."  He feeds hyenas on purpose, from a stick that is in his mouth.  I don't know what would make him want to do this, but I got nervous just watching. The man lives in Harar.  All of this came back to me like a nightmare when my friend mentioned doing development work in Harar.  I could eat a camel, ride the rodes for eight hours, do whatever is required.  I'll do anything, but when it comes to feeding hyenas, in the words of Meatloaf "I won't do that."

Check out the hyena man in action!

That is some freaky eye shine!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

October's Nonprofit

I love jazz music.  There are very few things better than a winter day, a warm cup of coffee, a great book and a familiar jazz cd.  In fact, for a few years I would write my messages at Valleybrook while listening to Herbie Hancock or Miles Davis.  I was able to hear great jazz music one time in Chicago, but have always wanted to go to New Orleans and enjoy the musicians.

Recently I heard of one of the coolest organizations to be around since 1998.  The New Orleans Musicians' Clinic is a health clinic that was established to "keep music alive by sustaining New Orleans musicians and tradition bearers in body, mind and spirit."  

I've looked around on their website and I love the work that they have been doing for the past 12 years.  They have major musicians and others contribute to the health of their project. Not only does the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic help when musicians are ill, but they work hard at early detection and other needs.  
Check this organization out at:

They have a cd that you can purchase as a part of their fundraiser to help them raise funds as well.

Listen and feel good about knowing you are helping to keep great music alive!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

October's Book

Several times over the past few years people have asked me how I would define a leader.  I think this is one of the most difficult questions.  In fact, I even studied this in college and have come up more confused after studying opinions.
I do feel solid about one thing in regards to leadership.  I feel most confident behind a leader who is forced into action out of discontent.  Some people want to lead and find a cause.  Other people just can't stand the present moment and are driven to change it all.  
One of the people who stands out in this way to me is Paul Rusesabagina.  Many of you have seen the movie Hotel Rwanda.  If you were at all touched by that movie I want to urge you check out his autobiography.  It is a powerful book that shows a culture much different than ours and a man with just enough courage to change the landscape of his community.  An Ordinary Man is a fantastic book that I hope you check out.  It is a few years old, but I've found myself reading it several times and leaving with lessons each time.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October's Random Interest

I just returned from Ethiopia.  I spent eleven days with my friend Phil working on a project where ten kids receive the full benefit of a sponsorship program as well after school tutoring, a meal and a safe place to play soccer while their uniform is being cleaned.  It was a great trip, but exhausting.  I was so ready to come home and at the airport I was given a unique gift.  I was given the gift of a 28 hour delay on my return home.  It was never said that I would receive 28 extra hours spent between the airport and a hotel room without my bags, I was just given the opportunity to endure.

We got to the hotel room about 3:30 in the morning and the cleaning lady was standing in my room by 8 (frightening moment) so you understand how much sleep I was running on.  After burning my foot on the first really hot water I had been around in two weeks I was feeling slightly delusional.  After breakfast I went out by the pool and read.  As I read I imagined being interviewed about the delay and what I was going to give credit to for my amazing ability to endure without threatening anyone with violence.  My ability was not just genetic, it wasn't even learned at the great UWEC.  My ability to remain calm in the presence of an exhausting 28 hour delay was not because of my trained mind or calm spirit.  When it comes down to it, I believe that I could endure because of Yellow Fanta.  Technically it is "Pineapple Fanta"  but you run the risk of having apple brought to you.

In general I think that soda is overrated.  It is a social beverage that I will drink to fit in.  You can tell because I'll drink Coke with you if you like Coke, Pepsi if you like Pepsi, and I'll have water and leave quickly if you enjoy Diet Rite.  The one exception to this is Yellow Fanta.  It has a unique combination of fruity wonder, sparkling joy and a hint of heaven all in a semi clean Ethiopian glass bottle.  I'm amazed more people don't love it.  Anyways, I had drank a bottle of this just before I got to the airport and in it had just enough joy to endure a 28 hour delay, plenty of sickness and a caffeine headache. If you have some money to spend right now, buy stock in Yellow Fanta.  It is a can't miss!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

September's Magazine

I'm amazed how many interesting magazines there are out there.  I'm also amazed how they can stay in print, but that is a totally different deal.  A magazine that I had read about and then read the last issue is called Good.  

On their website, Good describes itself by saying "GOOD Magazine is about moving things forward, and we're here to celebrate progress wherever we see it come to life. This is the emerging sensibility in our world and that gets us fired up."

Their last issue was about New Orleans.  They wrote about art, cleanup projects, building, green movements, and other things that they would label "good."  It is dangerous to begin labeling things "good" or "bad" in our own minds, and yet this magazine is a great attempt to look at the good things that are happening and not just focus on what is bad.  You can look at the magazine at Barnes and Noble and they have a lot of articles online as well.  Check it out.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

September's Wish

Just yesterday I heard about the TED Prize.  It is a prize given each year and the three winners tell their "One Wish to Change the World."  The winners get $100,000 and a community of people who help to see this through.  Throughout the year their wish is monitored as people track how close the wish is to reality.  (

The TED Prize is a great idea, but I was struck by a wish that won in 2009. Jill Tarter won and this was her wish.  “I wish that you would empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company."   You can watch her speech on the site, but I got a little nervous by the first minute alone.  She's a wonderful astronomer, but I can't help but hope there isn't life outside this planet.  I'm not afraid of aliens, but I feel like we have trouble caring for each other already, then there are all the animals with rights and if aliens join that too what would happen?  SETI is located in California, which makes me think Arizona would have serious law problems if people from other planets started visiting.

All of this personal opinion aside, the TED Prize got me thinking.  Jill is probably a wonderful person and has been very successful in her fields, but this got me thinking that I could probably have a wish that would change the world too.  I decided each month in honor of the TED prize I'm going to post a wish someone shares.  What would be your one wish to change the world?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

September's Person

Each month I want to highlight a different person I've met or heard about.  There are some amazing people in my life that I would love to write about later, and some incredible individuals in the news like the guy who gave his coat to a robber and the man who swam the channel without limbs, but this month I've been thinking a lot about my dad.

Most of you who know me know that my dad was a huge influence on my life.  He died so many years ago now, but I still think of him all the time.  This month was his birthday and the start of the NFL season.  I can barely sit down for a game and not think about when he would fly home for Sundays or the weekends and watch the Vikings with my grandpa and I.  I remember getting fried rice every week and eating out of the carton during the game.  When I got older we would talk on the phone at halftime of Viking games if I was in Eau Claire.  When we would watch together he would give the same speeches about how the game is fixed as Moss went for a touchdown, or how Culpepper wasn't as good as I thought he was.  I have a lot of good memories there.

The thing that stands out about my dad is that he truly has left a legacy.  There are a lot of areas where I want to live as he lived and honor what he has passed down.  Here are just a few.

1.  Integrity:  My dad stood his ground, even when it cost him.  Sometimes it cost him a friend, or a deal, but he wouldn't go back on his word or compromise his morals.

2.  Humility:  I have several distinct memories of my dad coming to me and asking for forgiveness and understanding as he wanted me to know that he didn't live perfectly.  He made it easy to seek forgiveness and showed mercy.

3.  Love:  My dad genuinely loved the people in his life.  I will never forget watching him spend all of his energy showing how much he loved his friends and family in his last week.  I pray that I will do the same.

My dad will never be forgotten, and that the legacy of my life will be similar with my kids.  I know I am spoiled to have a dad like I did and that many of you did not have that opportunity.  Truly, I am sorry about that, but I pray that God will bring someone into your life even now who will play a similar role for you going forward.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September's Quote

This past few weeks I've been reading in Joshua, and the end of Joshua is one of my favorite parts of Scripture.  Joshua recaps all of the things that God has done in the people's midst and then challenge them going forward.

Joshua says these following words to the people of Israel. "Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.  And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."  (Joshua 24.-14-15)

For me, these are powerful words.  I need to often stop and reflect on what all God has done.  All the ways He has shown Himself faithful, that He has provided, that He has healed.  At the same time, I need intentionally choose to serve Him and not just assume I will on my own.  I need to make that decision and act out of that decision in order to truly honor Him.

It is sad how distracted we get. I know it breaks His heart how often we drift into choosing other gods.  In this season of life my family and I are together making our choice.  We will serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joshua.

Monday, September 20, 2010

September's Resource

My favorite invention probably go in this order:
1.  baseball (obvious)
2.  Super Mario Bros. on Ninetendo (How did they get Mario out of that little cartridge)
3.  airplane (reallly amazing if you think about it)
4.  toilet (seriously, just think about it)
5.  the white board.

If Eyes That See ever has its own office there will be a room, preferably my office, that is completely white boards.  Maybe if they had "tan boards" people would be okay with a room decorated that way.

My friend CJ tells me of programs that are like a white board all the time.  I used to use OneNote, but I love my hard drive so many times that my license was filled.  I found Evernote and really like it. It is a free program that is nothing like a white board, but still allows for me to have random thoughts and tape up photos, websites, etc.  It is worth checking out if you think of ten things at a time, need checklists, and like free downloads.  What programs do you guys use?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

September's Entertainment

I have very few friends in The Ville, but have been super busy starting Eyes That See.  All of that equals up to me searching the web for the first time ever.  (I know, nine year olds are smarter than me.)  Last week I found this video that is a project worked on by Arcade Fire and Google.  It is pretty awesome.  Type in your childhood address and enjoy.  Since I don't understand computers I say it is all magic!

September's Random Interest

This month the random interest that I have is college football.  This isn't even one I'm just telling you about, but instead I'm going to try to sell you on it.  It is the best and here are my reasons why.

1.  If you are really good, one loss puts you in jeopardy, two ruins your season.  I've got five kids.  There's not enough time to watch a million games, keep it in my head and everything.  This way if the Longhorns win they are in it, if they lose they are in danger.  If they lose twice I grow a beard and mourn until next year.

2.  Uniforms and stadiums are crazy.  With the pros I feel odd commenting on uniforms.  It's just not manly.  In college football you can make your preference by simply choosing the "coolest" color.  My family chose their allegiance between Louisville and Kentucky mostly by debating whether red and black or blue uniforms are cooler.

3. Mascot brackets.  If you know nothing about football you can always invent a bracket out of the top 16 and simply decide which mascot would beat the other in a fight.  For instance, a Hurricane would always beat a Deacon.  The Deacon can pray, but seriously, how do you hurt a Hurricane.  (Miami would go undefeated simply by it's mascot choice except they choose to be an odd team.)  This is the reason there is an East Coast Bias.  Simply, who cares whether a Duck or Beaver is tougher.  They can have Oregon.
ps-Where this is tough is with shared mascots.  In cases like the Tigers (Auburn, LSU, Clemson) it all comes down to colors and logos.  Nikki picks Clemson because it looks like her high school logo.

4.  Fat guys make you look faster.  Speed is awesome in college because not everyone has it.  Have you ever played sports against someone like me?  It just makes you look awesome.  Well, a little of this happens in college football.  There is no way to get 150 teams stocked with world class athletes who are within 4 years of age and able to keep up grades and athletics without a paycheck.  This makes some people who just love to play, (and they make the teams worth watching) have vital roles on the team. They also make fast guys look even faster.

Now go watch football and enjoy!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

September's Book

My good friend Ernie makes fun of my book choices because I love books like Salt, which is not a clever title.  It's actually the opposite of clever, it's a book completely about salt.  It's awesome though!  As you can tell, I'm done apologizing.  Welcome to my world filled with books that to me are interesting.  (And yes, I do read them and I do have five kids, a wife, and a job.)
One of my favorite books is called Ghost Map.  It is about the spread of cholera in 1854 throughout London.  I could not put it down as I read this book.  The thing that keeps coming back to me is that there were all of these assumptions that were made about the spread of cholera.  None of them were checked out, they were just assumed.  This dangerous act took the lives of so many people and really makes 1854 London look like one of the least intelligent and hygienic groups of people of all time.
I have spent a lot of time reflecting on this book and how in my own life I make crazy assumptions without investigation and how that can lead to horrible results.  I've made assumption about what is good, who can be trusted, and about how smart I am.  This book helped me give second thoughts to items that deserve at least three.  It is an awesome book.  Don't even get it at the library.  Buy it.  (I don't even know if anyone is reading, but I'm being firm!)

September's Nonprofit

A few years ago I met the great people from Gobena coffee.  Of course, I loved them because they love coffee. Even better than that, they sell coffee with profits going to awesome projects within Ethiopia.  They are partnered with Lifesong, a fantastic agency, in doing some work that is changing a community called Ziway.  Check them out and buy some coffee if you get a chance.  It tastes really good, you can subscribe to get automatic refills, and it's for a great cause.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Point of it all...

I'm not interesting.  It's just true.  I've decided I'm going to write about the only things that I really think about and maybe give a resource to someone who didn't know something was out there. I'm hoping to each month highlight a different book, magazine, nonprofit, etc that has caught my attention.  Maybe some of this will interest you.  If that is you, subscribe and follow along.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I'm a fan.  Seriously.  Coffee is probably the only bean in the world that I would call both beautiful and a bit seductive.  I've only lived in three places and often visit Ethiopia, so here are my favorite coffees in each place.

Minneapolis:  The Caribou Coffee on 85th in Brooklyn Park.  I like this one because it's by my mom's house and I used to go there after visiting my dad when he was sick.  I cried and felt happy there.  Once I used the awkward bathroom between them and Dairy Queen, but it still wins for me.  (I know there are great local places, but I haven't lived there forever and dad memories always win.)

Eau Claire: Hands down.  Coffee Grounds on 93.  No competition.  I loved it, sat there for years of my life.  Drink the Bolivian coffee and just escape for a moment.  It is like entering a world without troubles.

Louisville:  Java Brewing Company on 22 and 42.  Great staff, great coffee served in cups that are nearly as big as my head.  (If you know me, you know that this is quite a statement.)

Ethiopia:  Any little ceremony you can take part in.  Watch the amount of sugar though, it's crazy.  The coffee is good and strong on it's own so you don't need fifty scoops like they'll offer unless you want both a caffeine and sugar rush.

If I get to go to other places, I'll try to find my favorite there too.


Yesterday I was supposed to do a talk called Pecha Kucha.  This is when you have 20 slides to talk about something and only 20 seconds per slide. The slides are automatically turning after 20 seconds and you have to pretty much catch up.  I spent about two weeks trying to think about what I was going to talk about.  Last Thursday my friend at Java said "you just talk about what you like."  This seemed revolutionary.  I know everyone talks about what they like and that people have been blogging this for years, but I never realized people would be interested in what I like.  So this is my attempt at self-disclosure.  This blog is about what I like.  Mom, I hope you subscribe because then I have one follower!
So the Pecha Kucha talk was postponed and I stayed home yesterday.  When I was supposed to be at Java talking I was instead just hanging out with the family.  It was about bed time and I told everyone I was going to the deck to read.  Ezra was sure I would play video games because he would and made fun of me for liking reading more than video games.  This made me think of what I like to read.  Here are my favorites authors for anyone interested.

1.  C.S. Lewis-The Great Divorce is awesome.  Mere Christianity is worthwhile for anyone.  Til We Have Faces is a book I have read several times and like more every time.

2.  David Halberstam- I would read any of his books that are less than 30 lbs.  Some of them are more I'm certain.  October 1964 and Summer of '49 are the best baseball books in my opinion.  His book The Best and the Brightest was good too, though it is nearing the 30 lb rule.  Does it make a Kindle heavier?

3.  Francis Chan- Our lives and churches would look radically different if we actually lived this way instead of liking the idea and challenge of living this way.  What actually keeps us from this?  Read Crazy Love if you want to change.  If you want to just be cool, please don't read it and ruin a great book though.

4.  Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Lewis.  I know both have been made fun of, pretty much for people liking them and making them trendy.  I still like both authors a lot.  They make me interested in things because they are.  That's talent.

I like a lot of other people, but that is who first came to mind.