Monday, August 31, 2009


There is a very good reason that these critters have their own "reality" television show -- they are adorable and, unlike most zoo animals that seem to be bored beyond words with the humans who trail past every day, these guys seem quite engaged. They may not be. That's not the issue. They give every appearance to be totally enthralled with whatever you might be saying or doing.

I'd only seen them on the commercials for the Meerkat Manor show -- but after having seen them at the Lincoln Park Zoo recently, I may become a fan. Not of the show -- of the animal.

I say that knowing full well that this is why I am more of a dog person than a cat person. I respond better to the "you're here! oh, I've waited all day for you to return!! you smell great and i love you and can we just hang out're here!!" of a canine companion than I do to the "you're back? hmmmm. I'd not noticed that you left. Well, it's about time. I'm hungry. You do know how to open those cans, don't you? OR should I call someone else?" of a feline.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Warehouse 13

Warehouse 13 is a new series on the SyFy network -- and it is, well, cool. I like it. I like it on a few levels, actually.

First, I like the concept. The series follows United States Secret Service agents Myka Bering and Peter Lattimer as they are reassigned to the government's secret Warehouse 13, which houses supernatural objects. They are tasked to retrieve missing objects and investigate reports of new ones. The promos for this show call Warehouse 13 "America's Attic."

Second, I like the ensemble cast. As the characters develop, they are growin growing on me. (Here is a list of the characters that I grabbed from Wikipedia. I've added some of my comments to the list.)

  • Peter Lattimer (Eddie McClintock), a "rule-bender" Secret Service agent. Agent Lattimer is smart, handsome, athletic and has a knack for quick thinking. He's a recovering alcoholic and can sometimes be prone to petulance. He has a deaf sister who taught him lip reading. He has a sixth sense in regards to immediate dangers and a weakness for cookies. Peter reminds me of a cross between Tony on NCIS and they guy on Bones.
  • Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly), Lattimer's "by-the-book" partner. She has more book smarts and an eye for details. She takes her job very seriously and has many clashes with Lattimer.
  • Arthur "Artie" Nielsen (Saul Rubinek), the Secret Service agent in charge of Warehouse 13. Although incredibly smart, he is uncouth and lacks certain social skills. He has a fondness for baking cookies, which is good for Peter. (Arite is in the photo above.) He brings a good bit of comic relief to the story -- and add the important connection to the history of this multi-century operation at the Warehouse.
  • Leena (Genelle Williams), the proprietor of the bed-and-breakfast where Lattimer and Bering stay. She can see auras and also knows about Warehouse 13. She has been aware of Warehouse 13 for quite a while and has known many of the Warehouse agents that have died -- making it seem as if she is much older than she appears to be. We'll see.
  • Daniel Dickinson (Simon Reynolds), Lattimer and Bering's former boss at the Secret Service.
  • Mrs. Frederick (C. C. H. Pounder), the director of a secret government organization, who IS older than she appears. She is a shadowy figure and is usually accompanied by her bodyguard. She is apparently Artie's superior. This woman is truly a trip.
  • Claudia Donovan (Allison Scagliotti), a "young, hip, brilliant techno-wiz" whose brother was believed to be dead. She hacked into the warehouse computer systems and kidnapped Artie so that he would help her bring back her brother and now works in the warehouse with Artie. She's the Abby from NCIS character -- but not exactly.

Finally, the gadgets are delicious. Not the artifacts, the gadgets. The ways they communicate and record or search for info, get around in the warehouse. That stuff. I imagine that the design team who creates these things is having a great time with this job. Set design and props. (What do that call it in television?)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Prayer Cards

I'm designing a set of mini prayer cards which I'm hoping will help people who've committed to pray for me and my ministry with Wycliffe to do just that. On Friday I posted a few of my initial draft designs on Facebook and recieved GREAT input from all sorts of people. I use that input to design a few more and gathered more input.

Honestly, I was both surprised and honored by all the people who gave their opinions and shared their preferences and observations. How cool that people would take the time to invest themselves in this process.

Today (while I watched a movie I picked up at the library -- love free dvd "rental"), I worked on what I think will be the final 10 designs. They are also posted on Facebook. Click this link and you should be able to see all of them (one of them is the image above) whether or not you are a registered user of Facebook.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Gifts Can be...Tricky

My friend, Charlene, is celebrating her birthday today. (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!). I've blogged about her before -- told about the adventure that she's on with her husband, Mark, serving with SEND International in Ukraine. So, one of the things I was thinking about lately was what to give to her for her birthday. I wanted to do something different than I'd done in the past. This was complicated by the fact that she is living in Kiev, Ukraine -- so postage can be both expensive and unreliable AND there aren't places there that sell gift cards that can be purchased online and delivered.

I decided to do something that people often do for missionaries -- I sent money to be deposited in her account (not as a ministry gift which is assessed, but as a personal gift -- I actually sent it directly to the person who manages their personal bank account here in the States). But I wanted to make it fun for Charlene so I created a "fake" gift certificate that I sent to her electronically.

Because I'd been to Kiev this summer, I knew of this store (found a photo of it online so I could fake the logo) and wanted to give the gift from here. I saved the certificate as a .jpg file and had it ready for delivery. Oh, I also used an online currency converter to get the amount right in local currenty.

I fired up Skype and watched for Charlene to come online and delivered the gift via Skype while we chatted a bit. It was kind of like stopping by to drop off the gift.

Why am I blogging about this? I figure that most of you who read this support missionaries here and there or have friends/family living overseas. You may find yourself choosing to give cash gifts, but would like a way to make it feel more like a gift that has some thought behind it and less like a financial transaction. So, if this sparks any ideas for you -- then I've accomplished what I'd hoped.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

SOUR '日々の音色 (Hibi no neiro)'

The EP of Japanese group SOUR titled Water Flavor (or is the song title SOUR WATER FLAVOR by a group named Torrent? or visa versa?) was released in June of this year. This video (okay, there really are only bits and pieces about this group or this release that I can find on the internet -- in English -- so I'm reading between the lines a little) was created for that release. Anyhow, that's not really the point. The point is, this is brilliant. Eddie (friend/colleague with Wycliffe UK) posted this to FB today and I'm quite smitten with it.

I'd like to know what the song is about -- but I will continue to enjoy this whether I know or not.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Day in the Life: Illustrated and Incomplete

I remember when I was in college and we were just beginning to have electric typewriters that offered more than one font type AND size. That meant that if I had a paper to write and the prof had given page number parameters, I could cram in more words with a smaller font.

As a designer I've also known for a long time that if you don't have much to say (or nothing at all to say) you can do that more engagingly by illustrating it.

If I have not yet convinced you to click to the next blog or return to Facebook or even go back outside for one last romp through the sprinklers, then I will simply say that you are reading (and viewing) at your own risk.

My day began (well, after I left the house, anyhow) with a visit to Dr. Gabor's office for a blood draw. The first tech "missed" and the second one had to go for my other arm before striking a productive vein. Still, I was out of there quickly and on my way to the office.

I am honestly fascinated by all that they can tell from testing the blood. As one who has a family history that includes all sorts of things (including diabetes) that are often diagnoses by blood tests, doctors seem to be happy to test mine annually and I am happy for them to do so.

My day at the office was relatively routine. I'm not complaining about that at all and that should not be taken to mean that I didn't do anything interesting or important. I did spend a good bit of time interacting with people through email. I'm starting to forget how we functioned before we had it.

My INBOX has been a little out of control for the past week or two. I was pleased to get it down to a manageable level between yesterday and today's focused attention on doing just that. And no, I didn't just DELETE things randomly, though I admit to having threatened that on occasion.

On project I'm working on this week involved the production of a draft document (using WORD) which then needed to be shared with a colleague who works in Dallas with Wycliffe's primary strategic partner organization, SIL for his input and additions before we jointly share it more broadly. For various reasons that are even more irrelevant to this story than what I've already included, email was the chosen method of sharing. Problem is, somewhere between my OUTBOX and his INBOX, the file was converted into something that was useless (and huge). After a couple attempts, we resorted to other technology -- and I transfered the document to him through SKYPE. Click, zoom, done.

Just before 5 pm, I gathered up my belongings and headed down to the computer training lab where I met with some of my colleagues with whom I am playing Fantasy Football this year for our player DRAFT. The process of ten teams/owners selecting fifteen players each took around two hours. It was fun -- at least I know I had fun.

Sometime later in the season I'll share my team logo and my drafted team. I will potentially blog about that again before the season is over -- but doubt it will be even as frequently as weekly. But then again, who knows.


Finally, I thought I'd give you a glimpse into my tomorrow-but-actually-Friday: the shuttle has been rescheduled to go just after midnight tomorrow night (making it technically Friday morning) and I plan to join a few other colleagues for the trip out to the coast to watch it up close. Not from the Cape itself -- we aren't fortunate enough to have tickets for that. But from the river. I've not seen a night launch from up close and fear there won't be many more opportunities. You will hear about that from me sometime before the weekend passes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Clean Teeth, et al

Something clicked this morning and I started making phone calls for the purpose of making appointments.

Doctor (fasting blood draw and basic).

Opthamologist (eye check and new Rx for new contacts).

Dentist (cleaning, X-rays and exam).

I figured that between my this and that, I would likely get all of this accomplished before the holidays kick into full swing.

I am only about a month late on the doctor appointment. No worries there. It has been nearly two years on the eyes and that means it's time. The has been a very long time.

The dentist had a last-minute cancellation and so I went this afternoon. I go back in three weeks to spend a few hours dealing aggressively with the two issues that showed on the X-rays/exam.

I'll have the blood draw in the morning tomorrow and then go back for the rest in on week.

I'm still waiting to hear from the opthamologist. I didn't call there, I requested the appointment via their website. Hey, I had to try to see if that worked. Theoretically it should be easy. Like I said, we'll see.

So, whatever clicked in my head, I'm glad it did.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Immersion or Sprinkling?

If you've been to Millennium Park in Chicago, you might recognize this fountain/art. This is one of two box buildings from which water gushes and which emit images of faces. (Inadequate description. Sorry.)

When I was there this month with Tammy, Julie and Sandy (who took the photo -- thanks for sharing), I had an urge to stand under the falling water. It was, I suspect, somewhat motivated by the temperatures -- but not entirely.

I had excuses both times we were near this installation -- spending the day in soaking wet clothes as the first and not wanting to get our borrowed car wet was the second. So, instead of taking the plunge, as it were, I stood close by the falling water and imagined what it might be light to take that last step back.

Maybe it was the responsible thing to do. Still, I wonder what it would be like to stand, drenched to the skin.

I'm not sure if I'm regretting having missed the experience or regretting having not overcome the excuses more. Now, don't get me wrong, I do know that I have (as John Ortberg would say it) stepped out of the boat on occasion -- but I also know that my natural tendency is to do the safe thing. To stay dry. To keep my arms and legs inside the vehicle and my seatbelt fastened.

Maybe next time I visit the Windy City I will get a chance to submit myself to this baptism and will not hesitate.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I am not a ketchup fanatic, but I am sure I've consumed a fair quantity of this stuff in my lifetime. And yes, I'm pretty sure that this is my favorite brand.

Heinz has been making and selling ketchup since 1869. One hundred and forty years. Crazy.

Here is the interesting thing (for me, anyhow) -- if you go to you'll find that they are on message in every category to near perfection. I enjoy seeing companies who know what their BRAND identity is all about and are intentional and dogmatic about maintaining that identity in all they do.

One of my early memories of the HEINZ brand via television is of a commercial, but only recently did I realize that Matt Le Blanc was the actor who co-starred with the ketchup.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Zinger Pull Chain Switch

I'm just stubborn enough that I will use a good bit of time in pursuit of fixing a thing that "should be" easy enough to fix.

More than a week ago Dad pulled the chain that controls the speed of the ceiling fan's rotation and it broke off. He's been living with "fan ON and stuck at medium" for all this time. Yesterday he carried the ladder in to see if he could attach the new chain he picked up at Wal-Mart only to discover that there was nothing to attach that chain to.

When I got up this morning, I thought I'd take a look myself and came to the same conclusion -- this was going to take more than just a climb up the ladder to remedy.

I took apart what needed to be taken apart to get a better look at (what I now know is) the Zinger Pull Chain Switch. [The image is NOT the same is only a single switch and not a 4-wire, 3-way switch like I've bonded with on my Saturday.] It didn't take too long to determine that we needed to find a replacement switch.

And it certainly did not take any arm twisting to add Lowe's to Saturday's produce market and library list of errands. I had a few things I wanted to get "next time I'm at a Lowe's or Home Depot" so the agenda for our hot and humid August morning was quickly set.

The very (very, very) helpful staff at Lowe's quickly found the replacement part of us and we were on our way. [I'm wondering if they're putting customer service on steroids there -- we were warmly and happily approached by no less than 5 staff in our time there, all wanting to be so helpful and encouraging -- wondering if we're working on any projects that we'd like help on. I should have invited one of them home immediately.]

Once home, I read the instructions (try not to pass out) and headed back up the ladder with confidence.

An hour later, I'm admitting that this not going to be one of those project about which I wonder "why did I put that off for so long" because it turns out to be much easier than I'd thought.

I "think" that the switch I purchased is faulty -- but really how would I know that. I'll pick up another on the way home from church tomorrow. I'm not driving 25 miles round trip to potentially fail again. [You can see how my attitude has shifted from "DIY QUEEN of the UNIVERSE" to "Where is Andrew or any of the other (very handsome) handyman types from HGTV or DIY or any other network for that matter??"]

For now, I think I'll plant a plant in a pot and then take a nap. I'm very good at both of those activities.

Friday, August 21, 2009

10 conclusions from this day

1. i must see my opthamologist soon for new contact lenses - my current ones have been a major contributor to far too many headaches these past two weeks
2. thunderstorms are brilliant!
3. i want to go to improv camp -- do that have that for middle-aged women?
4. the gator nation is a powerful force
5. a hand full of tootsie rolls in a little brown bag can be a fantastic treat
6. there's an ap for that
7. there is a reason they call it the rainy season
8. i'd best get to making a plan for the fantasy football draft -- like, what will I wear?
9. i am not insane
10. laughter oils the gearbox in my brain

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Open Sourcing the Gospel

Last night as I was pondering this idea of outsourcing sermons I let my mind wander. Before I knew it, I was asking what it looks like to open source the Gospel.

(By this I don't mean outsource in the sense that we just hire other people to do the work or "open source" in a sense that everyone takes the parts they like and then uses those to create their own paths to redemption and reconciliation -- I still hold that Christ was not kidding when he said that "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by me.")

I'm thinking more in lines of making the platform of the Gospel available to everyone to apply to their own contexts. That's what I understand open source to be relative to software development anyhow (in my limited understanding). I'm pretty sure that a critical part of making that possible is that the Word of God -- the Word who created the earth and everything/everyone in it and the Word who became human and moved into the neighborhood, filled with grace and truth and the Word which has been translated into words and whose flesh has become the Church -- that Word must be translated to include everyone. That would suggest that the words must be translated into the languages of every people and that what will follow will be the incarnation of Christ as the Church is established among every people.

I say "every" for two reasons -- the nature of Christ demands inclusion and the Word itself refers to people from every nation, tribe, tongue and people worshipping around the throne in heaven. "Every" is God's idea, not some political or social agenda.

With this understanding of the Gospel, there are two interdependent movements that are essential: Bible translation and church planting.

PHOTO: Reading Gapapaiwa New Testament. "People enjoying reading New Testaments in their own language for the first time." Photo by Jonathan Federwitz.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Call to Destructive Behavior

As Hamel continued, I must have realized that I was not going to be able to keep up with him because my notes start getting less and less complete.

So, after he said that we must (in order to catch up with the pace of change in the world which is our context for ministry) (1) overcome the temptation to take refuge in denial and (2) generate more strategic options, he said that (3) what we're doing now has to be destructed before the new can be built.

How in the world does one accomplish that and, well, isn't that dangerous?

Clarification came to me with this next directive: CHALLENGE YOUR OWN ORTHODOXY. His instruction is to consider what has not changed for 3-5 years (and in that he implies "or longer") and ask WHY? Those long-lasting things are "orthodoxy."

As he started to toss out ideas of ways that the church could do this, my head started to swim (the good kind of head-swimming) with questions and wonders. He asked evocative questions. Why don't we outsource sermons -- put the topic out there a week or two ahead of time and let people contribute to it -- participate in it's development. Why don't we bring lap tops to church for note taking and online interaction?

"The further down in the trenches you are, the easier it is to mistake the edge of the rut with the horizon."

Yeah, just about everyone who took notes (whether it was like me in the mole skin or like many by Tweeting) got that one recorded.

So, when you're looking at all of those things that have become "orthodoxy" for you -- and arguing with yourself about why it's okay that you're holding on to tightly to strategies that don't work any more and to programs that are ineffective, ask yourself this question: Am I more committed to redemption, renewal and restoration or to policies, processes and procedures?

Birds in Bushes

...Gary Hamel, continued

So, the temptation to take refuge in denial must be overcome and Hamel gave some great ways to ensure that it happens. I had no idea when I blogged those notes yesterday morning that I'd have a chance to see them lived out during the day. The executive leadership from Wycliffe USA and from SIL International met together all day (something we are making a habit) and a simplified version of what we did together was that we engaged in battle against denial.

Hamel's next point is that leaders who want to lead organizations and movements that are engaged and relevant in a culture that is changing at the speed of light is this:

2. Generate More Strategic Options

He instructed us to not hold so tightly to the bird in the hand -- suggesting that one of the two or three in the bush might be a better option.

One of the illustrations he used to express this need for generating more strategic options comes from nature -- oak trees and acorn. He said that most acorns are fully capable of producing an oak tree. The key is finding the right conditions for that to happen -- the right soil, light, water, season combination. "Acorns are a search strategy."

Then, among the examples he offered of how this is working today - in the age of social media and everyone having a voice - was Dell's IDEASTORM.

As he gave other examples that I didn't write down, Threadless came to mind -- a t-shirt company that (among other things) makes and sells t-shirts that contain text from Twitter messages. People come to the site and vote on the ones that they'd wear and not wear each week and the winners are created and offered to the public for sale.

I started asking myself what I can do to open up the conversation to more people -- in Wycliffe, for example. What would that look like? How could we make that work better than it does now?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Umption in my Gumption

Gary Hamel presented session #2 at the Leadership Summit. I was tuned in to listen right away because of the intro John Ortberg gave him -- and I was not disappointed.

"The world is becoming more turbulent faster than most organizations are becoming resilient." He said that our problem is inertia -- living and doing ministry at a time when the pace of change is in hyperdrive.

He made some recommendations for those organizations and individuals who want to continue to be relevant and effective in this new world -- a new world that Bill Hybels had already warned is here to stay in session 1. I'm going to share the first one tonight.

1. Overcome the temptation to take refuge in denial.

He suggested that the good news about this one is that denial follows a know pattern and can be identified -- and if you can identify it, you can combat it more easily. That pattern looks something like this: DISMISS; RATIONALIZE; MITIGATE; CONFRONT. "Every organization is successful until it is not."

One of the powerhouse statements that he made about this tendency for organizations to choose denial over reality is rather...well, rather convicting. "When an organization misses the future, it's not because the future was unknowable. It's because the future was unpalatable."

Hamel then gave these three things leaders can do to avoid denial:
(a) Cultivate a culture on unflinching honesty
(b) Question your beliefs (not your creeds or practices)
(c) Listen to renegades

So, here I am chewing this over again -- at a pace a bit slower than I could last week -- Hamel is a fast talking (literally, not figuratively).

Where, in Wycliffe's cultures, do we cultivate a culture of unflinching honesty? And where don't we? Where do we, in actual fact, cultivate a culture of nodding heads and pasted on grins? Now, for all sorts of reasons I'm not going to fill this blog with names and departments and scenarios ("honesty" should sometimes be delivered privately). But I'm asking God to help me see that specifically where I am called to wield influence. Where I have responsibility.

And then I'm asking--beyond Wycliffe USA's "Results to Achieve" (some organizations call them Ends or Goals) and our "Core Values"--what needs to be poked at more vigorously and called into question? Where have we ignored the signs of ineffectiveness (that is, where are we in denial about programs that are well loved or that are long-standing and therefore have been deemed "the way we do it") and where are we telling ourselves that certain things are not our responsibility when they in fact could be changed?

And then, well, I'm asking myself who the renegades are to whom I need to be listening. And what distinguishes a renegade from a complainer or someone who just likes the sound of her own voice (or his...that is a trait that plagues both genders)?

Makes my head hurt. But the cause of Bible translation and the ultimate building of the Kingdom is too important to be crippled by leaders who are unwilling to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work of change in order to avoid the aspirin bottle.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I'm a Loaner

Jessica was interviewed at the Leadership Summit last week. I'd heard about Kiva before that hour, but I'd not paid all that much attention to the story or the strategy. Last week I listened. I was taken in by three aspects of this venture and found myself compelled to at least try it for myself.

First, my mind was captured by the idea itself -- the simplicity and the goodness of it. Invite people to make small loans directly to people who need those loans. Use systems already in place for part of that process and build systems for others parts (but only when a system is necessary). Charge a low interest on those loans so that repayment is possible. Make these loans to those who can't secure regular bank loans -- the hard-working poor.

Besides the goodness of the idea, my hear was captured by the stories of people who have been and continue to be impacted by this simple idea. Here is Lourdes Arambulo's story:

Lourdes Arambuloo, who lives in the island village in the town of Binangonan, Rizal Province in the Philippines, is a woman of courage who maintains hope in her ability to rise above poverty. Happily married to Felix, a 37-year-old fisherman and her business partner, she is a mother to three boys and a girl.

Lourdes joined ASHI (Ahon Sa Hirap, Inc.), an MFI and KIVA partner in the Philippines, in 1999, and during her ten years as a member of ASHI, she has been noted for her exemplary performance in meeting her obligations in the organization. Her previous loans were carefully used as rolling capital for her fishing business. Because fishing allows her to earn just enough income for her family needs, she recently ventured into raising pigs, an enterprise that will bring her enough profit to save for the future of her children. Fishing will now become her secondary business.

She is now requesting her ninth loan, 45,000 pesos to pay for 10 piglets, 26 sacks of assorted feeds, vitamins and transportation expenses. Lourdes is hopeful that the trust and opportunity given by ASHI and KIVA, coupled with hard work, will allow her to reach her dreams of expanding her business, sending her children to school, and building a new and more spacious house.

Really, who doesn't want to be a part of that kind of healthy development?

And then there is the Spirit of God speaking to me and saying "this is one way." I've often asked what it looks like in our context and our world for a person like me to live out the clear commands from Scripture like those in Isaiah 58. "Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness..."

I've blogged before and will again about how Bible translation (the work/ministry in which I'm investing myself deeply through my vocation) fulfills this mandate. So you see, it's not that I've never had an answer or a way to do this before. I've had myriad opportunities (and have even taken a few of those) to be a part of removing yokes of oppression and of helping those in trouble. Kiva provides one more way -- a way that I'm exploring through participation right now.

Join me if you'd like.

Friday, August 14, 2009

You can ignore it, but it won't go away...

Most of us (individually if we're over 40 years old and organizationally) are already running to catch up with this new thing. The learning curve is steep because it's not so much about the technology (we've survived new technology before) as it is about a new world view. If you've been thinking that you can ignore Social Media for a few months and it, too, will die in popularity like salad shooters and mood rings, then you're going to wake up in a few years more confused than ever.

Sometimes I'm already confused.

If you're needing to get a sense of just how powerful and how widespread this revolution has already spread, then the video below is a good place for that conversation to start. (Thanks to Lynn who posted this on Facebook from YouTube where I saw it and grabbed it to post on my blog. Next step? I'll Tweet it. Crazy.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Millennium Park - Chicago

The plan was simple: meet in Chicago and attend Willow Creek's Leadership Summit together and then stay a couple days extra to play in the Windy City. Julie, Sandy, Tammy and I did just that.

On Saturday morning we woke up to rain (it had been raining all of Friday), but the forecast promised the rain would move on and the sun would shine. While we did linger a bit longer than planned over the coffee at the hotel, we did not really alter our plans.

As the driver, I chose a route from Schaumburg to the Loop that had us cross the north side of the city on Irving Park -- I enjoy those neighborhoods -- and then drop south on Lake Shore Drive. We parked in the Millennium Parking Garage under the park/art institute. With Lalapalooza in town all weekend (3 days of concerts at Grant Park) all the garages were charging "event" prices, so picking one place and leaving the car there was the plan.

We spent a couple of hours playing in the park. The two places that engaged us the most were the bean and the fountain. Okay, I probably enjoyed the fountain the most of any of us -- or maybe I'm just assuming that because I'm the one who had to take off my shoes and roll up my pant legs so I could splash around with all of the kids.

At noon we found seats in the shade near the stage and enjoyed a FREE jazz quintet (soprano sax with strings) concert before heading to lunch.

(I've got photos on my laptop which I'll load on to another blog entry later -- maybe even later today. This photo is from my phone and is already loaded on the home computer.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Leadership Summit (aka #TLS)

Because I did not blog during or immediately following the Leadership Summit this year (like I did last year), I am not sure I'll go back and do it. It's possible that I will use future blog space to think through the notes I took. You know, a little cud chewing.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Playing on YouTube

So, we should be sleeping soon...but started playing oldies from our youth now found on YouTube. Like this one. Oh my. If we would have had the right technology (aka cables), we could have played these on the big screen and had kareokee night.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Breathe Deep

I first heard this song on a recording by Lost Dogs quite a few years ago. It was Track 18 on their 1992 release Scenic Routes. When I read the playlist on that recording I find myself able to hum all of them and recall the lyrics for most (at least for parts of the songs).

Vernon and the team offered this version in worship recently and I was, as I often am, amazed by the power of the right song as part of a whole -- with other music and Scripture reading and a sermon and the lights and graphics. All of it.

I was also reminded of why I love this song which so clearly reminds us that ALL are loved by God and ALL are invited to breathe deep of his very breath. He does not ask us to straighten out our act or get our stuff together or make things right or figure them out BEFORE we are loved, invited, included. He promises to walk with us through all of that mess and do the straightening and cleaning and restoring for us. He knows we can't do it ourselves.

I am also reminded that many of the things that we think divide us (status, titles, roles and such) actually don't. Or only do because we let them, but by letting them we are listening to the one who deceives and divides rather than the One who is Truth, the One in whom everything is brought together in unity.

The lyrics are in the video above, but I'll put them here too.

Breathe Deep (The Breath of God)
(Music and lyrics by Terry Taylor)

Politicians, morticians, Philistines, homophobes
Skinheads, Dead heads, tax evaders, street kids
Alcoholics, workaholics, wise guys, dim wits
Blue collars, white collars, war mongers, peace nicks

Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God
Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God

Suicidals, rock idols, shut-ins, drop outs
Friendless, homeless, penniless and depressed
Presidents, residents, foreigners and aliens
Dissidents, feminists, xenophobes and chauvinists

Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God
Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God

Evolutionists, creationists, perverts, slum lords
Dead-beats, athletes, Protestants and Catholics
Housewives, neophytes, pro-choice, pro-life
Misogynists, monogamists, philanthropists, blacks and whites

Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God
Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God

Police, obese, lawyers, and government
Sex offenders, tax collectors, war vets, rejects
Atheists, Scientists, racists, sadists
Biographers, photographers, artists, pornographers

Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God
Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God

Gays and lesbians, demagogues and thesbians
The disabled, preachers, doctors and teachers
Meat eaters, wife beaters, judges and jurys
Long hair, no hair, everybody everywhere!

Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God
Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God