Saturday, August 16, 2008

-195 miles

Today I found a fruit stand selling "Red Haven Peaches" five miles from my apartment. I refused to purchase any.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Should have settled for a banana

All we wanted was some peaches. Freshly picked "Red Haven Peaches." 'Tis the season. So this morning Debbie asked somebody she volunteers with at "Meals on Wheels" for advice. The kindly woman wrote up directions to her favorite fruit stand and "nearby" "Lake Erie Fresh Perch And Walleye Restaurant." Peaches and Perch. (Peaches and Perches?) Sounded good to me. But It looked like a rather long trek. And the directions were ... less than stellar. But we decide to scrap our previously agreed upon plans and "go for it." So we dropped the top on "Emma the Mustang" and headed west. We followed the directions meticulously.

We gave up when we got to Toledo. That's near Michigan.

No, I am not kidding. We drove 200 miles (round trip) for peaches and Perch(es). But we would not be defeated. On the way home we actually found the restaurant AND the fruit stand. They were both in the GPS data base. Who would have thunk it?

We purchased 19 peaches. I crunched the numbers. With gas we paid roughly $1.83 per peach. Neither of us have eaten one yet. I think we feel a certain reverence toward them.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Just Wondering

So today I was sitting on the beach gazing out over lovely Lake Erie. I was sitting with my wife, which is a very fine choice of people to sit with. A boat went by. Quickly. And I asked myself ...

"Self? Why don't fish die in propellers?"

If I understand the purpose and function of a propeller (and it is entirely possible that I do not) the propeller spins it's little curved blades. In so doing it pulls water IN from behind the propeller and forces it out the front of the propeller. Right? Seems right to me.

Well, fish live in the water. This part I am certain of. So if fish live in the water and the water is FORCED through the blades of a propeller ... why do you never see hacked up fish floating up all bloody behind a boat?

Anybody? Class? Anybody?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In Good Hands

My "Leadership Summit" experience last week went in a direction that I did not expect. I know Willow Creek and I was certain that the Summit would be first rate. I was not disappointed. But what really impressed me, what was really off the charts, came out of left field.

I spent the nights in the Chicago suburbs with Scott and Amanda. If you don't know my family, Scott is my son and Amanda is his amazing wife. They own a killer condo and I camped out in their spare bedroom. (I was nearly licked to death by their new dog, Wrigley. He's a great pooch and, yes, he's named after what you think he is named after.) And so each day I rode the half hour from their home to the church with Scott and his friends. His ... youth pastor ... friends.

I spent 33 years doing youth ministry. That's a long time. If I were a Marine I could retire by now. And I probably would be less tired than I am. I know youth ministry. I know it quite well. I don't mean that in a "Yea, me!" kind of way. But when you do something for over three decades you either figure it out or you don't make it. I made it. So I must, in some meaningful way, understand it.

So there I was, spending the entire days with this group of twenty-somethings. Guys half my age. Guys that work with kids because it's God's calling on their lives. Let me tell you something about these guys.

They are insane. They are hilarious. They are brilliant. They are passionate. They know God. They love God. They love kids. They know how to connect the two (God and kids.) They are dedicated to the point of driving themselves to exhaustion at times. They kept me silently shaking my head and thinking, "I can't believe these men and women." I do believe that watching them and interacting with them had a greater impact on me than what I viewed and heard from the stage. And I came away saying, "If this is the norm among youth ministers today, the young people of the church are in very, very good hands." Please understand, these guys are the cream of the crop or this church would not have hired them. But I don't believe that they are anything but fully representative of the young men and women that serve God in youth ministry throughout our land every day.

I left youth ministry because it was time. And somewhere deep inside of myself I wondered if the roof would cave in on the whole thing when I walked out the door for the last time. It did not. It will not. I am proud of these guys. I felt like a grandpa (which I most assuredly am) when I was with them and it did not bother me at all. Because I realized that it was the men and women that I worked with over the years in youth ministry that blazed a trail so that these "young en's" could be who they are and do what they do.

Excuse me just a second while I say something that I need to say. Something to men and women who probably do not know that this blog exists. But it needs to be in print somewhere. So I'm saying it here...

Jim. Mike. Roger. Ron. Carly. Ronn. Ed. Clint. Kling. Ed. Jeff. Vicky. Randy. Gary. It was a great ride. And we won THOUSANDS. We left it in good hands. Hands that are at least as capable as ours and hands that have far more tools than we ever dreamed of. Come to think of it ... seems to me that was how it was left to us.

Huh. Full circle. Just like it should be.


My son, Scott




Scott & Scott

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Descending from the Summit

Sometimes all you can say is "wow." That pretty much describes the Leadership Summit. I'm so glad that I went. I'm so glad that it is over with. There were just so many moments that stand-out. I can't even begin to explain. So settle for this ... a couple of pictures of how things work at this particular church. You see, they have this ... uh ... video system ...

And they have this little worship center ...

But tonight it's back to home and reality. Debbie is still in St. Louis and won't fly back until tomorrow night. This place is way too quiet when she's away. So I opened the balcony door and the roar of a wind blown Great Lake fills the rooms. Both of them. The smell is fresh with the Canadian air dropping in from the north. It sounds poetic or even romantic. But I would trade the rhythm of the waves and the smell of the water for the happiness of her smile.

Yeah. I'm still in love with her.

It's still strange to me but after speaking twice today and leading a church "business meeting" I find myself tired. How can you get tired speaking about the God that you love? I suppose it's just the pouring out of the passion that causes it. Whatever it is, it is real. I'm not sleepy. I'm just tired. And I really hated missing the family events this weekend. I know, guys don't go to showers. (I'm forever grateful for that fact.) But I love the "hang-out time" and, while I'm totally glad it occurs, it makes eating a Whopper with extra ketchup over an Olympics broadcast pale in comparison. We have this really amazing family and there are a handful of us that don't live nearby. Scott and Amanda in Chicago. Kristi in Dallas. Debbie and I in Cleveland. That's what you call "scattered." But we all went in these directions at the call of God. And that, my friend, makes all the difference in the world.