Friday, December 15, 2006

5 Reasons To Glue Your Ipod Headphones Into Your Ears

(The surgeon general is not here but I will take it upon myself to warn you that I feel crabby tonight. The following blog, specifically item #3, is not to be taken personally by anybody ... except one of you ... and you know who you are. Oh, and that last part was a joke too. Maybe.)

1 - Daytime television. Watch it and you will want to give yourself a lobotomy.
2 - Radio. Can ANYBODY play anything different for cryin out loud? And shouldn't "talk radio" really be named "Everything You Never Wanted To Talk About" radio?
3 - Cellphoneitis. Are there really 30 people a day who need to call me? If they SAW me they probably wouldn't say "hello" but give them a cell phone and I find myself on their "must call" list. It isn't like they have anything to say. They just want to talk. Aren't their medications for this?
4 - If you do not have a Beagle go and buy one immediately. I promise your ipod will become your best friend. Nothing barks like a beagle. If I were my neighbors I would have shot her (Bailey the Killer Beagle) by now.
5 - Weather and traffic reports. They both want to convince you that the end of civilization is near. Not only is the weather eventually going to kill you if you stay put but you can't run because somebody got depressed in "the depressed section" and committed "semi-icide" (aka: death by tractor trailer.)
6 - (A BONUS REASON) If you have ipod headphones in your ears you do not even have to have your ipod turned on. Heck, you do not even have to own an ipod. Just run the end of the headphones cord into your pocket and everyone will think you are tuned to tunes and they just might (emphasis on "might") leave you alone. If they do talk to you just go about your business as though you didn't hear a thing. I do this pretty much everyday. Actually, I am doing it right now. Sorry honey ... can't hear a thing ....

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Day In The Life Of An Unemployed Guy

8:30am - Wake up. Spend time wondering why you are awake. Remember that you stayed up until nearly 2am last night and you should sleep until 10am in order to get 8 hours. Get up anyway. Drink grape juice and use it to wash down the pills that the doctor insists that you take because you are older than you used to be and your body is kind of burned out. Manage to shower, brush your teeth, etc.

9:15am - Get dressed. Debate about whether to wear the seriously faded jeans, the semi-faded jeans or the regular blue jeans. Since you don't have a 3 sided coin to toss you just choose. Put on the seriously faded jeans. Add a black t-shirt that says "Job's are Over-rater." Cover it with a "Up North" sweat shirt purchased in the wilds of upper Wisconsin. Slide into the New Balance sneakers, grab the usual stuff that goes into the pockets and head out the door.

10:30am - Begin driving to west county where you have a haircut appointment at "The Hair Saloon For Men." First stop at "Hit 'n Run" for the obligatory morning pepsi laced with vanilla. Throw in a small bag of baked lays potato chips. Pay the lady and point the Mustang west. Debate about putting the top down and nix the idea in favor of a blaring stereo and an occasional phone call.

11:15 - Realizing that you are a "non-practicing pastor" debate the merits of swearing at the traffic jam you have gotten yourself into. You are going nowhere but making great time doing it. Find a louder cd and slip it in. Decide against swearing. Or at least decide against admitting it in your blog later today.

11:30 - Traffic is moving again. Look out the drivers side window just as a black saturn pulls up next to you. The driver, a Teenage Idiot, gooses his engine twice and points down the road. He wants to race a gray haired man driving a Mustang. In a freaken 4 cylinder Saturn for cryin out loud! The gray haired man gives the Teenage Idiot the nod and puts pressure on his own accelerator indicating that the race is ON. The Idiot Teenager flashes the thumbs up sign and floors his mighty Saturn just as you turn right and take the exit leading to your appointed haircut. You catch yourself praying that there will be a Missouri Highway Patrolman waiting for The Teenage Idiot about 1/4 mile down the road.

12:08 - After 78 minutes you arrive at your appointment. The drive should have taken 45 minutes. Traffic is cruel.

12:15 - The nice lady behind the counter tells you not to worry because everybody is late. She hands you a complimentary bottle of Aquafina and assigns you to a lady named Emily. Emily takes you into her cubicle and works her magic on your gray hair. She cuts it shorter than ever before but you like it. Then she leans you back, washes your hair, hands you a hot towel (I love this place) and a mint on a tray and says to take your time. she'll meet you out front. You wipe down your face and neck for all of those loose renegade hairs that are hacked off at being seperated from the mother ship. Then you go to the counter, thank Emily, pay her and leave her a decent tip. You ask for her card so that you can request her next time. She didn't screw up your head and didn't insist on trivial conversation while she did her job. That makes her my #1 hair jockey.

1:00pm - Meet an old friend at a local "Lions Choice" for lunch and a heart check. He's an old youth minister who cashed it in about a decade ago when his wife left him for another man. He works for Orkin now. He kills bugs for a living. And he has a nice new wife who is a nurse. He's not happy but he's not sad either. He's just ... there. You love on him and pray for him. You manage to avoid talking about your own recent history and immediate future. You are glad he doesn't ask because you don't really want to go through it again.

1:55 - You arrive home. The loud stereo is once again put to good use.

2:15 - After letting the dog out, getting the mail and just generally putzing around you settle down in front of the boob tube. You tune in the history channel and watch a very cool documentary about how the US built the Hell Cat fighter plane that neutralized the Japanese Zero thus helping to win the war in the pacific in the 1940's. You contemplate getting mad at Japan again and boycotting all Japanese food. Then you realize that you have never eaten Japanese food. You declare the boycott to have begun at birth and to have lasted 51 years so far. You raise your fist into the air and shout, "REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR!" Bailey The Killer Beagle" gets scared and runs into her cage. You make a mental note to check and see if Beagle's are of Japanese descent.

3:35 - The little Mrs. arrives home. It is now time to resume real life. You ask how her day was and she tells you. You issue her a coveted "Poor Sweet Baby." She ignores you and focuses on Dr. Phil. She has earned it and so you leave her alone.

And so the free part of the day is now gone. 10 minutes ago you were nobody. You could swear (not that I would) tease a Saturn into a bogus road race, cry with a friend, watch history. Heck, you could do anything you want! But now the best part of the day comes and you are no longer a nobody. You are a husband. Soon your youngest son will come home and as you watch him make a speedy exit to his room and his coved X-Box you also become an active dad.

And so as the clock presses toward midnight you review the day. You did not hurt anyone. You did not wreck anything. You cared about and loved the people you were with. You avoided getting angry about things that deserve your anger. You avoid telling people about things that have made you angry. You took the high road.

All in all ... not a bad day. And tomorrow ... I'm going to Office Max. Alone. Let the good times roll ....

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Da Bears

So I'm sitting around on Monday afteroon and wind up logging on to ebay. My beloved Chicago Bears were in town to take on the Rams in the dome. It was about 6 hours until kick off. Tickets were running about $500 for a pair of truly lousy seats. I decided to go spend my money on It made more sense. Besides, television often affords the best seats in town.

And then he called. My friend Mike left me voice mail. I called him back. He happened to have scored two tickets on about the 40 yard line. Mike is only one person. That left a free ticket. Knowing that I'm a Chicago sports fanatic he wanted to know if I would like to meet him at the dome.

Would I? WOULD I! You bet your sweet super bowl ring I would! So at 6:30 I met up with Mike at Dooley's. This is a little dive about 3 blocks from the Edward Jones Dome. When there was a TWA their employees voted Dooley's as having the best cheeseburger on the planet. I figure TWA employees would know. I've eaten there more than once and am inclined to agree.

After stuffing our faces we walked to the dome where I stripped off my rain proof jacket (it was pouring outside) to reveal my fearsome Bears sweat shirt. To my shock nearly 50% of the people in the dome were dressed as I was. I swear the cheering for "da bears" was MUCH louder than the cheering for the Rams. But then, there was much more for Bears fans to cheer about. What a game! The Bears went crazy, ripping the Rams apart in every part of the contest. I spent most of the 3.5 hours on my feet screaming. I think Mike, (a Ram's fan) was sitting down reading the electronic bill boards or something.

Anyway, this is a "thank you blog" to Mike. You made my week. I've got a lot of free time on my hands lately and this is the most fun I've had since ... uh ... since the last time I was unemployed. I was 14 and my "fun" was using gorilla warfare against my older and bigger brother.

Final score? Bears 42, Rams 27. And it was not as close as it sounds ... not that it sounds close. Da Bears reminded me of why I love Chicago sports. It's not just a hobby ... it's an addiction. Once you have it you can never rid yourself of it.

And for the record. Let me be the first to predict a Cubs birth in the world series in 2007. It's our year! But first we have to lock up the super bowl. Ahhhh ... I love unemployment. It totally affects the brain ...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

FBC .... M?

I did something today that I have not done in nearly 24 years. I joined a church. It is a very good church. It is a fairly large church. The pastor is a friend of mine and he has an excellent staff. Their building is beautiful. The praise team and choir were top notch. The drama was great. The message timely and scriptural.

And then they gave an "invitation" and my wife, my son and I joined. This is what our new church looks like.

I was just looking over that picture and I realized that I do not know what is behind any of those windows. I do not know how many floors my church has. Do we have an elevator? How about those all important fire exits? How many pastor's do I have? If I call the church phone number who will answer? What time does the offfice close? What time does the office open? Where IS the office? Do we have a fellowship hall? Is it in the basement? Do we even have a basement? How many acres do we have? What is our budget? Is there a Sunday School class my wife and I will feel comfortable in?

I do not have an answer to any of those questions. I joined "FBC ... M" because "MCC" didn't seem to meet our needs. "BBC" was a little too far. "FBC ... M" kind of became the default church.

And you know what? I'm good with that.

I do not know how long I will be there. I do not know that I will attend every Sunday. Now is my chance to visit around. I may go on some Wednesday nights ... maybe not. There are a lot of things I do not know about my church.

But there is something that I do know.

I have always said that if God gives me a chance to be a member of a church that I am not on staff at I am going to do everything I can to show people how to love the pastor and the staff. I am going to go the extra mile to show them how to bless and not harm. NEVER harm. Harm within the church is not right. Ever. Attacking your pastor is not right. Ever. And now I have the chance to live out what I have told God I will live out. I am not sure exactly how I will do that but I plan on putting together a strategy. I may leave "FBC ... M" in 3 months. Maybe 6. I hope it will not be a year but I serve at the pleasure of King Jesus and He holds my calendar in His nail scarred hand. And so, for as long as I am there, one pastor and his staff are going to get loved. And blessed. And cared for.

You see, it does not matter to me if we have an elevator or a basement. Those things are ... things. But now I have a pastor to love. Watch closely. I want to teach you something. He'll never know what hit him.

My calling from God right now ... love. Serve. Encourage. I am tired of bleeding. Tired of the battle. Tired of relentless ugliness and cruel attacks. Tired .... sick and tired of mean. Now I am simply a guy in a pew. And I am going to do what a guy in a pew is suppose to do. I may not be there long ... but I will make sure my shepherds are sorry to see me leave.

Let the fun begin ...