Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ted Dekker: GREEN

I can't remember which one of Dekker's books I read first, but once I'd read one, I was quickly on my way to becoming a fan. A few months ago I took the "Circle Trilogy" on a long trip and read all three in the span of about 10 days. It's hard to explain the experience, really.

I'm not one to think that any fiction work is for everyone -- but if suspense/fantasy/sci-fi is interesting to you at all and you've not read any of Dekker's work, you should at least give it a try.

A month or so ago I became aware that the next book in this series -- GREEN -- will be released soon. Then, not long after hearing that, I was invited by a marketing deal to which I subscribe to promote the book with friends.
Essentially I can invite people to go to the website and sign up to receive info about the book when it's published (including a discount coupon for the book) and by doing go I become eligible for fabulous prizes (you know, autographed books and some amazing trip). Truth is, I'm not all that fired up for the prizes (though a trip is always cool). I just want to pass on the op for a coupon to you if you are wanting to purchase the book anyhow.

So, go to the website and sign up if you want to. When you do, you can give them my code number and that will get me "credit" toward whatever it is I get credit for. (I really did read it when I signed up. I just didn't care that much.)

That code is 6970.

Now, I'm not at all sure why the graphic above lost a layer of it's color. Bummer.

And, here is some info about the book. There is way, way more on the website.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wycliffe "at" URBANA'09

One of the things I will potentially (and probably) blog about over these next months is URBANA. It's a great conference hosted by InterVarsity every three years that I've attended twice in my lifetime (1987 and 2000) and which I'll attend again this year.
I've already posted some comments about it on Facebook and have Tweeted about it. Blogging is sure to follow.
As we build the on-site team and develop our strategies for the event, one of my priorities is to provide tools to that team that will enable them to effectively engage a prayer-team to support the work we'll be doing. The graphic above is one of those tools -- an represents a small collection of digital graphics that we'll be able to email to people or put on blogs.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Next week I'm flying to the Windy City to meet up with a few friends. We're going to attend Willow Creek's Leadership Summit together and then will spend the weekend doing a bunch of whatever.

Chicago is a great city for that. Parks, museums, neighborhoods, zoos, shoreline and skyscrapers. Oh, and millions and millions of people.

I've been exploring our options -- making lists of things we could do if we choose to. It's one of these deals where we want to squeeze all we can out of the time, but the highest value is being together. The place is, well, frosting. Bonus (and a great bonus, no denying).

The last time we were all together was the first time we were all together -- and that was a year ago Spring in Thailand. There we (in various combinations) rode elephants and enjoyed a number of eating adventures, we sat in meetings and visited the pink-shirt ladies for foot massage.

We've each traveled thousands of miles (literally and figurative) over this past year plus. It's been a joy to do that together (figuratively, but really). I'm looking forward to some literal together time, though.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The World Calls it Football

Cootie enjoys She likes the thrill of it. The competition. The companionship. The grass stains and sweat and especially the snacks after the game.

She was thrilled to hear about the good fortune of the US team this week.

CHICAGO (July 23, 2009) -- The U.S. earned a trip to their third straight CONCACAF Gold Cup Final, following Thursday's 2-0 victory against Honduras at Soldier Field in Chicago. Clarence Goodson scored the game-winner in first-half stoppage time, and Kenny Cooper added an insurance goal as the game reached 90 minutes. With the victory, the U.S. will face Mexico on Sunday at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Kickoff on Sunday is set for 3 p.m. ET on Fox Soccer Channel, Univision and the Futbol de Primera Radio Network.

It's Friday evening and The Brownmeister thought the best thing to do (since I didn't give her the option of a chewy treat, another bowl of food, or a ride it the jeep) was to kick it around a bit.

She's done that and now she is resting. With her blanket.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wedding Celebration

Thanks for sharing this, Angela! I'll post without further commentary.

Kindle Kindling

If you know me at all, you can't be surprised that I think these are very cool tools! The Kindle (first and second generation) not only works, it it beautiful to look at and quite nice to hold.

The more I travel, the more I think that being able to load a whole pile of books onto a small but easily viewable device like this is a good thing. Add the ability to also load dozens of magazine/newspaper publications and it's nearly irresistible. The fact that this loading is done over a G3 network at no fee beyond the purchase of the publication is brilliant.

I found out a few months ago that you can also upload PDF files to this device (for now, through a website -- but soon they will be directly loadable if I understand correctly) makes the deal is so sweet I need a cup of coffee with it.

This thing even has a long battery life -- actually makes it through a 36 hour door to door trip to the other side of the globe without a recharge. And the size - it leaves loads of room in the backpack for other travel essentials,

So, when the 2.0 version was introduced by and the price began to do as prices of technology are supposed to do, what kept me from clicking on the Add to Shopping Cart button and calling it mine?

When I travel and take a new book or two with me (usually fiction), I sometimes bring those books home in my suitcase -- but I often pass them on to someone else who either also travels or who lives where English books are not so readily available as they are where I live. You can't share books purchased on the Kindle unless you also share the device.

I know that may seem incidental -- and ultimately it might be less of a reason than it has been for me so far. But, sharing books is one of the things I love about books. Libraries are built on the value of sharing books and now also include sharing other things. I love that.

Then yesterday Eric Twittered about this article on in which Farhad Manjoo suggests that the technology which lets delete an from the Kindle owned by anyone "on network" whenever they want to paves the way for book-banning like we've never experienced. This article is fascinating if you are at all willing to consider any sort of conspiracy theory.

I have friends who have these and love them -- friends who are not as easily lured into the latest gadgetry as I am. Will I take the Kindle plunge one of these days? Perhaps. The jury is still out, I guess.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cootie Trades "Camp" for "Spa"

You may remember that Cootie Brown is a regular guest at Hubbard's Cupboard and an occasional blog contributer as well. A couple of years back when I had just started to blog with any regularity, Cootie stayed with me for a spell and we enjoyed a week or so of "CAMP" with all sorts of activities appropriate for that theme.

Well, she's back.

Arriving this morning after breakfast -- on her 8th BIRTHDAY, no less -- she has decided that she'd rather go for a SPA theme for this summer stay-cation.

Today she spent a good bit of time out by the fountain on the patio dreaming of younger days when she'd rather hunt geckos than have her nails done. She says that the sound of water's babble makes her think of the brooks and creeks and raging rivers where he loves to ramble and hunt with her friends. I'm pretty sure that all of that romping is also in her dreams.

She'll eventually grow weary of the spa treatments and we'll be on to other ventures, but for now, it is rather placid around here and I don't mind at all.

If you are new to the blog and would like to catch up on Cootie's exploits, simply click on the "tag" above for "Cootie Brown" and all of the blogs which have been similarly tagged will magically assemble themselves in one long string. Oh, the joys of technology.

Meet me in St. Louis

I made a comment on the other day on Facebook about URBANA'09 on which Janet Balasiri commented something like "I'll see you in St. Louis!" Janet, who is on staff with InterVarsiy (the event sponsors) has leadership responsibility for a portion of the event - a significant portion, if I might say so. (Having been a sponsor on a short term mission trip that Janet took with Faith Church to Barcelona and now having the privilege of seeing the ways that God is using her makes me proud in a way.) Anyhow, that comment made me think of this song:

It also made me think about how Faith Church is having an interesting impact on URBANA'09 this year (again) - probably one that is much deeper than I'm aware of, but still. There is Janet's leadership of the Poverty tracks. Then there is a little thing like Jim Tebbe's leadership of ALL OF URBANA. There are others who have been sent from Faith who are on staff with IV (including Don Fields, Larry and Debbie Lee, Mark and Dawn Slaughter). I'm suspecting that there are other Faith missionaries who will be representing their respective missions agencies at the event. Like me.

One of the things that is requiring a good bit of my attention during these hot days of summer is planning Wycliffe USA's strategy for URBANA'09. I'm not alone in this venture by any means and that is reason for gobs of gratitude.

On the URBANA09 website they have FAQs. For the first question (What is Urbana?" they offerr this answer:
Urbana is the missions conference for North American student hosted by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA and Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Canada. Urbana 09 will be our 22nd conference. The first "Urbana" was held in Toronto in 1946. From 1948 to 2003, the conference was held at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Since 2006, Urbana has been held at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri. Generations of college students have come to Urbana to hear about cutting edge issues missions and respond to the call to participate in God's global mission. During the five days of Urbana participants will experience multicultural worship and drama, dynamic speakers, in-depth Bible study and prayer. They will also be encouraged to explore short-term and vocational opportunities as they interact with representatives from more than 300 mission agencies and educational institutions. Attendance at Urbana is usually around 20,000.
If I keep on this topic I may find myself singing It's A Small World next.

Before I do that, let me encourage you to consider praying for this event. It is not too soon to start doing that. I'm sure you could find inspiration for your praying on the URBANA'09 website -- or ask to be on Janet's or Tebbe's or my prayer update distributions (which ever of us you may know) as I suspect there will be specifics shared in those publications. Find out if any students you know are going and pray for them. There are loads of ways you could be directly and deeply involved through prayer.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cathedrals and Laboratories

Cathedrals and Laboratories from Northland Media Design on Vimeo.


Earlier this week I shared a quote that had been shared at the beginning of Northland's worship last weekend. That quote came in this media piece. As one who has long believed and celebrated the fact that all truth is God's truth and that God can be seen in all He has created, I found this topic to be exhilarating and affirming in many ways.

I grow weary of the part of the conversation that keeps trying to limit God to religious discussions as if we can somehow put a fence about Him and expect that He will behave Himself like a well-trained pet. And while I fully admit that the conversations that push out the sides of the box walls in which we carry around our definitions of God (for I think our finite minds make boxes even when we are trying hard not to do so) can be painful and difficult, they are one of the best ways we can spend ourselves.

In addressing the dance between science and faith, Joel reminded us that science answers the WHAT and HOW questions while faith answers the WHY and WHO questions. And to think that God is only interested in the WHY is to strip God of Himself.

Joel Hunter is one of the people in my life who is helping me to push out the sides of the boxes that I don't really want to have but am stuck with because of my own limitations. Ted Dekker is another -- he uses fiction. John Rutter does it with choral music. Who else?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Yes, I've seen the new Harry Potter movie...

I've seen it and I like it. As with each of the movies, the book was better. Most of the time books are better because they have more time to tell the story that is within them.

What do I like about these stories? I like that nothing good is accomplished outside of interdependent relationship. I like that the characters are called to look beyond themselves to a long view as they make decisions. I like that the value of people is not measured by a single set of criteria.

I'm aware of the complex controversial nature of these works of fiction. I've read the suggestions (declarations is a better word) that this is part of a deep and dark plot to brainwash a generation to be willing to take on the mark of the beast and to pursue witchcraft themselves. I also remember hearing people say that these books would single handedly transform an increasingly post-literate generation into readers.

I fully support the decisions of parents to monitor what their kids read and these are stories that shouldn't be read by some kids -- or at some ages. I'm not going to draw a line -- mostly those lines don't work all that well. I will say that I think that these stories bring up all sorts of topics that could generate great conversations and if you're letting your kids read these or see the movies, you'd best reading and viewing too. Don't miss the opportunity.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Painting the House

They* say that a house like mine should be painted every four or five years. They* also say that when houses like mine are built, they often do not get the best paint job and should be painted over within three years.

Well, the crazy hurricane season of 2004 prompted me to seal cracks and paint in 2005 before the next season could push more water through the concrete block walls and into the house. The thing is, I wasn't prepared to make the investment in hiring someone to paint my house at that point and so I came up with a plan. I purchased paint that was the same color as what I had on the house and only painted three sides (avoiding the front which would require tall ladders) and even then did not do the part under the screened area. I did all roller work (that means no cutting in around windows). It was something I could do myself. I invested a couple hundred bucks and a couple parts of weekends and got it done.

If you look closely, you can see that it was not the best paint job -- and that reality has become more apparent as the sun has faded the two paints differently over time. We have a lot of sun here in Florida.

Now, five years after the not-so-great paint job and seven years after moving in, it is time to paint the house.

I've done some research into what it would cost to hire this work done knowing that I do not have the experise or the capacity to do this work on my own. I was talking with my friend Russ about this about a month ago and he let me know of a guy in Wycliffe who lives/works here in Orlando who has had a painting business. By this time I was prepared to hire the work done and pay what that would cost -- but the idea of paying someone I know made that seem a lot less painful. I contacted Mike.

Here's the short version: Mike is out of the business, but is going to be my consultant to tell me all the things I need to do to prep the house (a process I'll start in Septmenber) and then will bring all of his equipment on a day in (likely) October and we'll work for 12 hours and get it done. And by "we" I mean myself and Mike and a pile of friends who don't even know yet that they will be bribed into helping.

This is a HUGE load off my mind (just having a plan) and the fact that it will be less costly than the original one is a bonus blessing.

Any of you who might be considering a trip to Disney World in September and who would like to add a day-long "mission trip" to do some pressure washing or other prep work, I could arrange that. And those of you who are in the area...start thinking now about what kind of bribe will best entice you to join us on paint day.

Now, where did that form for the HOA go so I can get committee permission to paint my own house?
*They? You know...people here and there. Unofficial but somehow authoritative sources, confirmed by some Google searches and reading labels of products. Like that.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Gearing Up for the Leadership Summit

In a few weeks I'm planning to be at Willow Creek's Leadership Summit once again. I'm starting to gear up for that training event. One way I prepare is be reviewing what I've learned there in the past. Here is a clip from a personal favorite session by Efrem Smith. Good stuff here...really good stuff.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Videos on Facebook

I know, I'm a little obsessed with Facebook. You might be surprised to find out that while I go there often and do a number of things there, I don't spend all that much time there. Or maybe I'd be surprised at how deluded I am about how much time I spend there. Again. topic for another day.

This month I've found myself needing to spend a significant amount of time focused on some of the things that are my responsibility but which require skills and thought processes that are less natural or developed in me that what I do most of the time. Among these things are certain aspects of budgeting. I've found that when I'm needing to focus so much of my time and energy on a thing that is outside of my comfort zone or expertise arena, it is good for me to take breaks to do things that I find relaxing and amusing -- and those things are generally creative.

The list of things that fit in that category for me are design projects, video projects, cooking (not so much baking), and some aspects of yard and house projects (yes, generally the ones that make things look pretty or that clean out clutter).

Last week, on a whim, I made a short video of myself eating the peach that was in my lunch. I edited it lightly and posted it on Facebook. It drew a good bit of attention and seemed to amuse at least a couple of people almost as much as it had amused me.

A couple of days later (Was it more than the next day? I think so.) I created a second in what has become a series of lunch/break time videos. Today...the third was produced and distributed. For those of you who wander to my blog but are not Facebookers (and I'm not judging you at all for that), I thought I'd put HYDRATION EXERCISES here for your viewing amusement.

It's summer time and there's nothing on television anyhow -- other than the NCIS marathon on USA and really, how many times can you watch Kate get shot in the head and how many times is Abby's farting stuffed hippo really amusing?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Sam was in my New Testament class as a freshman the last year I taught (1996-1997). I'd had his brothers in various classes before him and found Sam to be equally engaging and delightful to have in class while also being uniquely himself.

I know that teachers (and parents and youth pastors) are not supposed to have favorites (and you know that statement has to be followed by a...wait for it...) but, Sam was one of mine. I'm not sure he knew that at the time. Had I stuck around Heritage for three more years and seen him through to graduation, he would have eventually found out.

Like most teachers and parents and youth pastors who are honest enough to own the fact that there are some "kids" they connect with more easily or enjoy more consistently, I worked hard to not let those facts bias my evaluation of academic preformance or judgement of classroom behaviour. But, how that worked and whether that worked is a topic for another day and another blog.

Sam (and his wife Alyssa, who I'd also had in class along with her sibling) is another person I've "found" on Facebook. Imagine my delight to see that they'd ended up together!

The other delight is seeing the way Sam interacts with his boys. The image to the right is from this past Fall and was one of the first I saw of them. The image above is from their first camping trip as a family. There are other images of the boys crossing the stream, ankle deep in the water and having a delicous time of it. But this one...I can almost hear the giggling and I'm not sure if it is them or me who is having the most fun.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

Joel Hunter is taking us through a mini-series (focused on challenges to Christianity) in the middle of this year's focus (Christian Apologetics) which is part of a 10-year teaching plan at Northland. Sunday's focus was on the relationship between SCIENCE and FAITH. I may write more about that later. For now, I wanted to share this "postcard" I created which was inspired by one of the many statement we heard or saw during the worship this weekend -- a statement by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I'm using this as my wallpaper as a reminder of the presence of God in all truth.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

...and then I taught high school for 11 years.

I loved teaching. No, not every minute of it or every aspect of it, but in general, I did love it. More than that, I loved the opportunity to invest in the lives of students. Looking back I can see that I missed plenty of opportunities, but I can also say that I made the most of some others. When it's all said and done, I am thankful to God for the privilege.

In some places where people tend to grow up and raise their own kids and die in the same town in which they were born, teachers get to see the long view. They get to see the punk kid grow up into a good man. They get to see the awkward girl develop into a dynamic force of life and goodness. In our more transient society, this has been a bit of a challenge. A near impossibility, really.

And then there was Facebook. No, it's not the same as if we all lived in small town America. But it is real. Because of the connections possible through this technology, I rejoice as i watch Peter serving as a youth pastor in Pueblo, Colorado and marvel at the fact that he still has so much energy and passion and love that he still finds great joy in life!

Were it not for Facebook, I would not know that Aimee is a great mom. She's not the only one, either. I know a bit about her mothering because she posts photos and comments about her kids and admittedly jump to conclusions. The photo of the girls to the right is from her FB page. Her daughter's birthday celebration.

Apparently part of the fun included a sleep-over. You may be wondering how that went with a pack of little girls this young. Well, someone else asked about that and Aimee replied: "Best thing ever was to get those glow bracelets. They each got 3 and i told them the first time they were noisey or out of bed i'd take 1 from each of them. If it happened 3 times they'd be left with nothing. We repeated the rules and reviewed and they all went to sleep! I had even told them they were allowed to talk quietly, but they didn't for very long! It was great!"

Facebook also lets me see the creative and absolutely stunning work that Angela is doing as a wedding florist in Indianapolis. I'm rather a fan of flowers anyhow, but Angela finds truly lovely ways use them for maximum impact.

Of course I can't keep up with everyone all the time with whom I'm connected on FB, but occasionally I "run into" someone in some way and over and over I find myself thanking God for the joy of those encounters.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Joel Hodgson on SNL (1983)

Joel Hodgson was an RA (resident assistant) in Edgren Dorm when I was a freshman resident in Bodien Dorm next door. He did his stand-up routine at our freshman Welcome Week, so we all knew he was funny before the real fun began.

At Bethel, there was a tradition called roommate roulette. The dorm floor would plan an activity and then everyone would get a date for his or her roommate. These were a great way to meet people and have a whole lot of fun. I'm not sure I ever turned down a roommate roulette invitation unless I actually had other plans -- but I do know that my favorite ones were the ones hosted by Joel's floor.

Anyhow, as a sophomore I had a class with Joel over our January interim and got to know him a little more. Basically, the guy was dead pan dry all the time and I found it very amusing. I was not the only one - obviously.

He made this appearance on SNL when I was a junior. I was an RA in Edgren that year and can bear witness to the fact that it was standing room only in the TV lounge that Saturday night. We were proud.

Joel went on to create Mystery Science Theater.

Anyhow, when I ran across this on YouTube I just had to share it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Is "marriage" a big deal?

Speaking sociologically, the answer is a resounding YES. In this week's issue of Time magazine, Caitlin Flanagan shares some rather under-reported realities in her essay titled Is There Hope for the American Marriage? Too long used to mass media glorifying the rights of (especially) women to have it all (at least all of it she wants) without any obligation to or need for a man, we often miss the bigger picture.

God created marriage and, as with all things that he created, it would do us well to consider long and hard before undoing something God has done. (I did not say that we should never undo a thing - don't take that to an unintended and ridiculous extreme.)

Anyhow, I've been recommending the article all day via Facebook and Twitter links. I'll warn you that there are things Flanagan shared in the article that are unnecessary (content from the emails between South Carolina Governor Sanford and his mistress, for example) -- but the primary content of the article is worth the time to read it.

Here is one paragraph to give you a sense of why I just keep referring back to this today:

"...on every single significant outcome related to short-term well-being and long-term success, children from intact, two-parent families outperform those from single-parent households. Longevity, drug abuse, school performance and dropout rates, teen pregnancy, criminal behavior and incarceration — if you can measure it, a sociologist has; and in all cases, the kids living with both parents drastically outperform the others."

My excitement about this article should not be interpreted as a slam on the single parents out there who are busting their butts to raise their great kids. On the contrary, it is a kick in the pants for the rest of us in their lives to be willing to engage with them in this venture because the odds are not in their favor. I believe that we can beat the odds, however.

I also hope that you are not worried that I'm feeling in any way incomplete because I am single. My enthusiastic support of marriage (both in theory and in practical terms) does not require me to believe that everyone is created to marry or to feel somehow bad about not being married.

Well, this blog went in a few directions all at once. We'll see if any of those circle back around for another blog another day.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I like you a latte

I am a social drinker and the beverage I'm talking about is coffee. While I occasionally pursue a coffee beverage when I'm on my own, that's usually motivated by the desire for the caffeine kick. Mostly, though, coffee is an emotional and relational experience for me and I think that's why Starbuck's (and other coffee shops which have emulated that brand) work for so many people. They knew that it was not just about the coffee. Truly people won't spend that kind of money on just coffee for long.

Earlier this Spring when I was at The Cove for a set of meetings, a friend and I ended up in the little town of Black Mountain after discovering that the Blue Ridge Highway was closed only 17 miles from Asheville. We got there a bit before the stores opened -- you know, the stores filled with mountain-made arts and crafts which I needed very much to see and hold and imagine in my house but which I had no intention of actually purchasing. We could (a) sit in the rental car and wait patiently or (b) try out the The Dripolator Coffeehouse. We wisely chose (b). The above photo is of my latte that morning.

The latte itself was lovely to look at, the cup felt good in my hands, the aroma was divine, and the taste was "latte." But it was all of that plus the atmosphere of this place with its mismatched but comfortable seating, large artwork locally painted on the walls, rough wooden flooring, door opening and closing in a sort of rhythm as people come and go that made the coffee beverage "good." A huge part of the atmosphere for me was not only the chance to get to know Nicole a bit better, but the group of people assembled there who we never spoke with but who played real roles in the experience.

From the time I left staff at Faith Missionary Church in Indy until today, I've had a few friends who keep me in Starbuck's gift cards. I love that. I love it because of their thoughtfulness and generosity. I love it because now that the cards work at airport outlets, it means I can often enhance my travel with one of my favorite beverages (I do like some of these coffee beverages just because they are yummy). I also love it because it empowers me to extend their generosity to others. It has been fun be able to say "hey, I think my friend ________ wants to buy us some 'bucks." If you are listening as you read you might be hearing that this all is still more about the relationship than the beverage.

Starbucks and all of the others like them are about relationship. It is the non-alcohol-serving version of the Cheers' Bar. When I say, with many others, that the local church should be more like a Starbucks, I'm not really talking about the coffee. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that many churches are serving better coffee than the stuff from the bottom shelf at the warehouse store -- but if it's not really about the relationship, we will have missed another boat of opportunity.

If you are Facebook friends with Charlene Canada, you can go there and look at recently posted photos from their trip to Siberia via Moscow. Look at that conversation sparked by the photo of a Moscow Starbucks.

Starbucks' Mission statement is not to make a great cup of coffee that is so good they can sell it for more than the market has ever endured before. Here is their mission statement: To inspire and nurture the human spirit -- one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.

Conflict and Diversity

What people often mean by getting rid of conflict
is getting rid of diversity,
and it is of the utmost importance
that these should not be considered the same.
-M.P. Follett

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

LOL cats... Still amusing.

A couple of years ago I posted a short blog on the LOLCATS phenom and referenced this story on Time's website. I think that the popularity has decreased significantly in time as happens with these kinds of things.

Anyhow, over the weekend as I was sorting through digital files (if you follow me on FB or Twitter you may have heard updates about that from time to time over the past few days), I ran into an email that my cousin sent to me quite a while back. It was a forwarded funny deal -- you know those -- and I admit that I likely looked at it quickly to confirm that is didn't contain any "real" message before moving on and then didn't get back to it. It was a collection of the LOLCATS images.

On Sunday afternoon when I viewed through the images, I found myself laughing. Out loud. Not "lol" fake -- but really laughing out loud. So, I'll share them here in case you are in need of a chuckle or snicker and in case this does it for you.

I think that I might have found these amusing anyhow, but having had a cat for a pet (or having been had by a cat as an owner) I enjoy them even more.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Thy Mercy, My God

Some songs hit like a great gust of wind and others like a simple breeze. This is a breeze of Halleluah.

"Thy Mercy, My God" from Northland Media Design on Vimeo.

From June 28th, 2009.

Jenny and the Northland worship team shared this song a couple of weeks ago. I liked it then and still like it now that I can view it over and over again (though I'm not quite that much of a stalker).

Lencioni on Diversity

Patrick Lencioni's company has a website (The Table Group) on which he publishes an occasional column called Point of View. In June his column focused on the topic of organizational diversity. My friend and colleague, Paul Edwards, shared this excerpt from that column in an email.

Wow. This caught my attention and has me asking a whole lot of questions in relation to Wycliffe USA's journey toward building a multi-ethnic workforce and becoming a biblically inclusive community. What do we have to learn about conflict? (I am quite sure that the answer is "a whole lot.")

"The power of diversity, and the reason why it remains so misunderstood and under-exploited in most organizations: it requires conflict.

The practical advantage of diversity boils down to this: a group of people with different perspectives usually makes better decisions and finds more creative solutions than those who have largely similar views, backgrounds and skill sets. This is true for all teams, whether they're running a corporation, a church, a school or a movie studio. However, when a team cannot productively engage in conflict, not only does that diversity remain untapped, it becomes a competitive disadvantage.

That's because when team members with divergent points of view cannot openly and passionately advocate their positions, the team will not be able to properly understand and incorporate those ideas into a final decision. Instead, they will frustratingly agree to compromise, walking away dissatisfied with the outcome and resentful of their team members who they still don't understand.

This is the norm in virtually every organization where I've worked or consulted. And that's because when we talk about diversity, the emphasis is usually on acceptance and tolerance and "getting along." All of which, of course, are good things. The problem surfaces when those qualities prevent people from challenging one another's points of view out of fear of being labeled close-minded or intolerant.

And so the key to making diversity work is to teach people first how to appreciate one another's differences, and then how to challenge them in the context of pursuing the best possible outcome. When a company can do that, it will transform diversity from a slogan to a real competitive advantage."

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Excuse me...You have a frog on your head.

Sometimes I crack myself up.

I own that.

I'm not even all that embarrassed about it.

So, when I'm checking out the odd features of some free photo software for the webcam and find a thing that is intended to let you do a portrait with two of the same halves of your face...I can't help myself. Or more correctly, I choose to not stop myself. And then -- and this is the part that surprises people who don't know me very well at all -- I choose to share with "the whole world."

Be amused by me or don't be. Your choice. But don't judge me. (If you hear that with a tone of voice that implies that I'm suddenly getting all serious...rewind and try again.)

So, what's next?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

New Art by Michael Harrar

Michael and his wife have served in the Bible translation movement for many years and in a variety of roles. Through it all, Michael has used his skills as an artist/illustrator to bring glory to God and honor to many peoples whom God loves.

For the past almost two years Michael has served as Wycliffe USA's Artist-in-Residence. This slightly ambiguous role has allowed Michael to produce art, to teach art, to promote art, and to develop curriculum to serve strategies owned by a number of Wycliffe's primary and secondary partners in the States and around the world. 

This is the first in a series of three works that I commissioned for our second floor elevator lobby. Each one will feature one of three areas of the world where there is great need for language development and Bible translation. 

When Michael brought this by my office a few days ago, couldn't take my eyes off of it. It is way more beautiful in person than in this photo. I look forward to having it hanging in the office very soon.

Friday, July 03, 2009

FAME: I'm going to live forever...

So, here we go with another remake of a piece of my generation's coming-of-age collection. I remember the summer that Fame hit the theaters. I was working for a custom silk-screen business, occasionally doing design, occasionally printing shirts, but mostly pulling printed shirts off the dryer and folding them in dozens for shipment to the stores. I'd just graduated from Zionsville Community High School with 156 classmates (give or take) and was headed to Bethel College (now University) in late August. 

Steve called me (my memory has him calling me at work, but I could be wrong) to say that he'd just won two tickets to see this new movie and to ask if I wanted to go with him to see it. We were both a bit unsure of it -- neither of us were in the habit of going to R rated films. I suspect that we were just getting to a place where our parents were increasingly letting us make decisions like that for ourselves. Seems about right.  We decided to go.

The movie was powerful -- not too surprising for a film about teen angst and longing for significance and the drive of passion. That becomes especially potent when it is mixed with the arts (at least it does for me) and this movie had powerful music and dance at every turn.  It's the first movie I remember seeing Debbie Allen who I knew more as Phylicia Rashad's sister. Allen played one of the dance instructors and her role was relatively small but it grew into a major role when this movie was spun off into a television series.

I bought the cassette of the sound track and wore it out.

When I read about that original movie now, I'm almost shocked by some of the content of the movie. Content I'm sure I saw, but it wasn't the part that made the impression. I think I was most moved by the overwhelming and universal desire for recognition and acceptance and significance. At the age of 18, I was really just starting to understand that I wasn't so unique after all. 

So, when I saw this trailer for the NEW Fame movie this morning it did exactly what the produces hoped -- it tossed me down memory lane and stirred some good feelings and made me wonder if I could get more of that back for an hour or so if I plunk down my $10 and another $5 for popcorn and see this thing for myself in theaters some September.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Today's date is a simple math sum. Cool. Not as cool as the date that was also "pi" making it "Pi Day" which just screamed for PIE snacks for one and all...but still cool.

Web Site Story

Amy (aka @kenyainside) Twittered this yesterday and I missed it because I've not been using my TweetDeck consistently since before vacation. (In case you are wondering, I Twitter as @rdhubbard.) Thankfully her dad (aka @abudigan) did see it and, after watching it himself, wandered into my office to tip me off. Old school communication, but effective.

You may remember me blogging about my realization that I was trying to figure out which of the too-many social media tools I was going to give priority and which might be cut out. Yeah, I'm still trying to figure that out. You may also have noticed that I am back to blogging with a bit more consistency. Maybe you didn't notice. Hmmm. You do have my blog in your RSS feed, don't you? And there are notices on my Facebook profile...

(I'm pausing here to imagine how this does not make any sense to some people.)

But, really, this this is back story -- and that is a bit ironic since the inspiration of this video is social media. If you are a social media user (or even an observer) and especially if you have any appreciation at all for the "great American musical" then I think you'll get a kick out of this bit. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Like Father, Like Son

Sons (and daughters) are often reflections of their fathers. When they share DNA, there are biological reasons for the resemblance. But the similarities often go much deeper -- especially when the father and the son spend time together.

God created us to learn by observation and by mimicking those around us. It is how we learn to talk and walk and what to put on our ice cream.

There are few things that are more inspirational and encouraging than seeing a good dad investing himself intentionally in the life of his son (or daughter). It's not about fatherhood perfection -- perfection is overrated in every state.

It is about paying attention. It is about including and engaging. It is about living life in relationship, knowing that there isn't anything with a greater power to influence than that.

I snagged this photo off of Facebook. The dad in the picture is Ryan (one of my former students) with his son and a diverse collection of critters. And a blanket, don't miss that.

When I saw it, I was immediately reminded of how thankful I am for not only my own dad, but good dads everywhere, including those who extend their influence to kids who are not technically their own but who need the impact of a healthy relationship with a healthy man.

Priorities Reflected in Media Consumption

I'm quite confident that anyone reading this blog is aware that Michael Jackson died last week. Chances are you know more details about his life and death than you want to know -- it's hard to avoid the media coverage. And while part of me blames news outlets for choosing to give such overblown coverage to this event (my opinion, I know), I also understand that they have to pay their bills and this story is drawing enough attention to help them do that. New is, after all, also a business.

Some of you have been saying that you feel a little sorry for Farrah Fawcett, who also died on Thursday, because she has been upstaged by Jackson. When you put it into print, that sounds kind of funny really. But I do get it. Farrah may not have been on my top 20 people to look up to as a role model list, but there was something more admirable in her battle with cancer than what we are speculating about Jackson's slow suicide (even if that was never his intent) that included long-term over-medication. (But I digress. My intent is not to speculate about how Jackson died or even how he lived. I'm really more interested in how interested we are in his life and death.)

What most of you don't know is that on Thursday, in the northern African nation of Mauritania, Christopher Leggett, 39, was killed. Shot multiple times as he walked down a public street. Al Qaeda is claiming responsibility, saying that this aid worker who taught computer skills in a poor neighborhood of that nation's capital was working to convert Muslims to Christianity. I found the story on line today because I went looking for it. I imagine that Leggett's wife and four children are not paying much attention to the Jackson story.

While it would feel good for about 10 minutes to rant and rave about the horrible state our country is in morally and point fingers at the liberal media who have pushed us down that pathway to destruction, I don't think that's the real issue here. While it may irritate me that the media seems to be in a predictable lather over the story that is personified in Michael Jackson and while I do hold News outlets responsible for their work, I do understand that in a society that is ruled by money, the consumer is king.

My behavior -- my choice to turn on and then continue to watch certain news coverage that drones on and on -- I am responsible for that. I understand why outlets barely told Leggett's story and aren't even close to finished with telling Jackson's story -- maybe I'm irritated that I spent as much time as I have listening to the Jackson story (I've never been a fan) and didn't know Leggett's until five days later. I think I'm most irritated at me.

We do, however, as consumers, have a collective responsibility for the direction that media runs. As long as we, the people, purchase more copies of People and watch more episodes of Entertainment Weekly and Big Brother than we do of more substantial work, we can't blame Time and ABC News and The Wall Street Journal for filling its pages with less news and more fluff.

Americans seem to love fluff.

It all started with Twinkies and that blasted filling. Yes, let's blame Hostess. Let's point the finger there so we can sleep better knowing that someone else is at fault for all of this.