Tagged by:


The rules are:

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about himself or herself.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. Ten years ago I was doing . . .

I was in eighth grade. At this time in the spring I was playing baseball and living like an awkward middle-schooler, just about to come out of those weird years.

2. 5 Things on Today’s To Do List

1. Have lunch with Jenna
2. Have coffee with Nathan
3. Spend an hour in prayer
4. Go to lifegroup
5. Call my momma (that's not a joke)

3. Things I’d do if I were a billionaire.

If I were a billionaire I'm pretty sure I would hire classical musicians to play life background music for me whenever I wanted. That's all.

4. 3 Bad Habits

1. Constantly listening to music, always in the background
2. Reading far too many books at once
3. Running on my heels

5. Five Places I’ve lived

1. Leawood, KS
2. Prairie Village, KS
3. Strathmore, Alberta (Canada)
4. Manhattan, KS
5. Lugano, CH (Switzerland)

6. Five Jobs I’ve had in life

1. Grocery Sacker
2. Hillcrest Summer Staffer
3. Medical Records Attendant
4. Christ Church Summer Staffer
5. Ichthus Staff

7. Tagged Ones

1. Cooper
2. Kelly
3. Sara
4. Graham (yes, again--get on it!)
5. Anyone else...


even birds

i was thinking about the last post, after a read a story about a man who was sitting with a famous botanist in a field. they were looking at a tree just in front of them when the botanist remarked, "i would like to know something about that tree." he of course knew everything to know about that tree inside and out from a systematic and scientific viewpoint. but he did not know that tree. what was its experience? what had it seen? and no, cutting in down and counting the rings isn't going to solve any of those problems.

i feel like i projected this on my last post, from what i know of blue jays (nasty, mean birds) and cardinals (personally sympathetic because they are my mother's favorite birds).

i think i've been found saying that i want to orient my life around truth. the last thing i want to do is be living a lie. that requires tough questions--of that i at least say i'm willing. it also requires docility--posturing yourself to learn from others. that i also will always try to do. but it also requires seeing the world outside of the conceptions that you have of it. taking things simply for what they are, what you see in front of you.

we make assumptions of all kinds, all the time. we have to in order to get through the day. but maybe simplicity answers that there are far more important things than getting through the day. i'm sure that on so many levels i don't even know where i am blinded. it's a good thing i have a God who sees all, and i look to him questioningly with the eyes of a child.


today i've been noticing birds. i stood outside for a moment to clear my head, and there they were.

a blue jay, flying across the branches, from limb to limb, pecking occasionally at the buds. it's head always twisting every which direction. jittery.

a cardinal, hopping along a branch, only rarely moving its head. or maybe just the deep black from the neck up hid its slight movements with the stillness of its bright red body.

they would both fly from branch to branch, and then wind up on some sort of electrical wire.

a robin flew in front of me while i was walking too. not too close, just a few feet away.

i may or may not have talked to each of these birds. if i did, the blue jay didn't seem to pay much attention, but the cardinal was patiently attentive. the robin was in too much of a hurry.

there was also a bunny laying on the gravel in the parking lot behind our house. there's a family of them who have made their home back there. i've seen the baby scamper across the driveway through my headlights late one night. it's a sad place for a home i think.

i don't know what any of this means, or why i wanted to post it. maybe to be more observant. sometimes i'm not very good at that. maybe to stumble upon some sort of artistic point (is that an oxymoron?). anyway, take it for what it is.



This is where you are. This is a great place of emptiness. "Empty space tends to create fear...but filling up every empty corner and occupying every empty time...becomes more oppressive than revealing."

Not long before, the word was "emerging." Emerging into...what? I did not expect this. I thought it would be into something grand and glorious. What is fulfillment? and why do we always think we will find it around the next turn? Fulfillment.

In coming to this place, I almost asked God to fill it. But what sort of prayer is that? Is it not just another way of escape? If we can come to the place where we allow ourselves to see the emptiness and space, would it not be a disservice of God to take that from us? He does not fill it like some "God-shaped hole." No, it is as a voice echoes through a great hall. It is filled with a presence, but it is still quite empty.

Do not fear that word, empty. Every one of us has greater emptiness in us than we allow ourselves to know. See it as an opportunity, a greater space to grow into. Just as a family grows it needs more space, so does your soul. Finding the emptiness is finding the space to grow. If you do not let fear fill that space with any sort of distraction. To be there, to take it in, to accept it and God by your side--not a distant force that swells in the recesses to make you feel better. There you know him. And there you become something new. And the place becomes something grander than anything brand new.


more nouwen

usually i just put up one quote, but in this case it is just all far too good. really, the whole chapter, or the full book--heck, why not just read everything nouwen's ever written? but this will do for starters.

from Reaching Out:

"When we feel lonely we have such a need to be liked and loved that we are hypersensititve to the many signals in our environment and easily become hostile toward anyone whom we perceive as rejecting us. But once we have found the center of our life in our own heart and have accepted our aloneness, not as a fate but as a vocation, we are able to offer freedom to others. Once we have given up our desire to be fully fulfilled, we can offer emptiness to others."

"Poverty of mind as a spiritual attitude is a growing willingness to recognize the incomprehensibility of the mystery of life. the more mature we become the more we will be able to give up our inclination to grasp, catch, and comprehend the fullness of life and the more we will be ready to let life enter into us."

"That is the poverty of the mind. It demands the continuing refusal to identify God with any concept, theory, document or event, thus preventing man or woman from becoming a fanatic sectarian or enthusiast, while allowing for an ongoing growth in gentleness and receptivity."

then about poverty of the heart: "God cannot be identified with a good affectionate feeling toward our neighbor, or with a sweet emotion of the heart, or with ecstasies, movements of the body or handling of snakes. God is not just our good inclinations, our fervor, our generosity or our love. All these experiences of the heart may remind us of God's presence, but their absence does not prove God's absence. God is not only greater than our mind, he is also greater than our heart, and just as we have to avoid the temptation of adapting God to our small concepts we also have to avoid adapting him to our small feelings...But when we are willing to detach ourselves from making our own limited experience the criterion for our approach to others, we may be able to see that life is greater than our life, history is greater than our history, experience greater than our experience and God greater than our God."

"To help, to serve, to care, to guide, to heal, these words were all used to express a reaching out toward our neighbor whereby we perceive life as a gift not to possess but to share."


chocolat croissant

i had a chocolate croissant at the roasterie cafe today. it was delicious. i haven't had one since i was in italy. it's interesting the things that spark memories. every time i went south out of switzerland down into italy, the train would always transfer in milan at the large beautiful station there (which was about the only beautiful thing in milan, besides the duomo (3rd largest in the world) and i suppose da vinci's last supper painting--i'm not kidding, don't waste your time there. oh, i guess i also saw an ac milan futbol match there which was stellar (they won the uefa cup that year too!)). enough parenthesis! back to the story. anyway, during the layovers in the station my buddy bill and i would always go into this little shop and get chocolate croissants. every time, without fail. and i think that was the only place i would really get them. i don't know why i didn't get them other places, i just didn't. so now, probably for the rest of my life, whenever i get a chocolate croissant i will think of the train station in milan.

what crazy or fun memory associations do you have with objects or places?


Flight of the Conchords

how have i not blogged about these guys before? most of you probably already know, but oh man, so good. it was tough picking which song to put on, as there are so many good ones. i highly recommend their show.


by its cover

so, a few weeks ago i gave a friend of mine a ride somewhere. while on the way she carried with her a little baggy of cereal. a snack or a poor substitute for dinner? you tell me. in any event, she offered to share some and i really liked it. i hadn't had it before. now you must understand, cereal is a precious thing for me. i tend to not like very many kinds--and the kinds that i do like i very often get sick of it fairly quickly.* case in point: frosted mini-wheats. i defy you to eat more than 10 bowlfuls and still desire to eat more after that. (of course, not having a garbage disposal at my old house and therefore needing to dump any remains down the toilet did not help).

*exception to the rule--any cereal that has cinnamon in it. cinnamon toast crunch (off brand is actually better, but worse for you health-wise), cinnamon life, etc.

ok, so i didn't know what this new amazing cereal was--but i knew it was a form of cheerios, and that it had oat clusters in it. that wouldn't be too hard to find. perusing the cereal isle at the grocery store proved surprisingly difficult. anyone else think we have way too many options? for everything. also surprisingly, the cheerio products were mostly all on the bottom. i spotted a cinnamon-apple type, but refrained. i was on a specific mission. finally i followed the arc of cheerio products up to the eye-level row and many different newer kinds of spiced up cheerios. i found what i was looking for. my heart sank.
what?!? i mean, really. that's the cover you put on this particular cereal box? you know what you've done--you've just alienated 50% of your market**, you realize that don't you? it's the same reason i've never read that chapman book, the five love languages, even though it sounds very interesting--the cover is all pink and purple with a flowery heart. oh, and a side note--i don't read books with shiny covers either. a good rule to live by.

**actually it's probably more like 48%, because i believe there are more women than men in the US(according to the 2000 census. yeah, that's right, this blog does some in depth research). of course that's also not taking into account that the ratio of shoppers for cereal is perhaps a bit higher among women. not important. the point still is strong!

so the question was, can i, a 24 year old self-respecting man, pick up that box and take it to the check-out and undergo the scrutiny of an elder check-out lady and a pubescent boy bagger, both raising their inner eyebrows as the box is scanned and placed upright in the paper bag (yes i said paper)? can i do it? well, obviously i did, but i am still living with the shame of it. i'll heal some day. until then i'll cope with handfuls of sweet cereal that is good for a woman's heart. that is until i get sick of it.



i've got the jump on you this time demetri martin. i'm way ahead of you.

a few years back, it was popular for a lot of women's shirts to have a little tiny pocket on the sleeve up by the shoulder. i always questioned this little pocket. i mean, what possible use could it have? you could maybe put a cigarette in it--yes just one, or a quarter, or a cookie. of course i never saw any of these potential uses employed. it was too small for a wallet or key chain. no, it had no practical function--it is purely fashionable. though it looked ridiculous and fell out of fashion, perhaps never to return.

my apologies to anyone who still has a shirt with a pocket there.

another trend has risen up, or i should say has risen back up. ripped jeans. yes, it's cool to have those worn out jeans, even if they are worn out the day you buy them. it's more expensive to buy jeans that are falling apart then ones that will last. hey, it's fashion. don't complain.

now we could go into a number of trends that have sprung back up from the 80s. yes, they are returning, and the few of us in my generation who were too young to catch it the first time are old enough to be able to once again laugh at the ridiculousness of all that is over the top. that is, if we're not sucked in by the bright flashiness of it all. deer in the headlights, if you catch my drift.

but no, ripped jeans are not just fashion. now all you "socially conscious" people out there listen up. all you who are more excited now than christmas time because earth day is a mere 15 days away. you can embrace this trend for its shear functionability.

the other day, sitting at a restaurant, i saw a sorority girl using the large rip in her jeans a bit above the knee to hold her cell phone. brilliant! the ingenuity! what resourcefulness. of course, if your jeans aren't quite tight enough to function this way, go ahead and hit up a few all-you-can-eat buffets and fill them out. it's the american way AND now you are doing it for the environment.

so there you have it. you're up to date on the latest trend, and your ready to have your fashion double as saving the earth. no more need for pesky pockets and making poor foreign children go through all those elaborate sewings. think of all the time you're saving them! go ahead, give yourself a pat on the back.

and if you don't have jeans with rips in them, don't despair. just go out and buy a brand new ripped up pair for $99. think of all the good you'll be doing. and if you're a little tight on the cash right now, don't worry, just find yourself a nice big kitchen knife.



i was in a coffee shop today--the beloved java (not bluestem), sitting across the table from a friend, discussing life and politics and jesus. we were sharing a focaccia round with cholula sauce--oh don't get me started on the goodness of cholula sauce. the sun was slanted across our table, the delightful hum of general coffee shop activity glinted behind. you could here the keys tapping from laptops at the tables nearby. occasionally someone would laugh.

then, all of the sudden we here, "I HAVE BLEEDING SHIN SPLINTS." our conversation stops mid-sentence. the table next to us a woman is on her cell phone, "NO, I HAVE BLEEDING SHIN SPLINTS." and yes, i use all caps because i'm sure everyone in the whole shop could here her--and it's a fairly big place.

people are so funny. sometimes you notice because they're shouting. sometimes you just have to pay a little more attention.

i was at the grocery store today. i tried to go late last night, as i usually do, but i was very dissatisfied with the produce, and half the store was sectioned off for waxing the floors. i left in frustration. anyway, so i'm at the other dillons in manhattan today (in hopes they would have better produce--they did. and no, wal-mart is not an option). ok, so i'm standing in line after gathering all my items (a good amount--i stock up on my trips to the store, because i try to only go about once a month. i don't know why, and i invariably run out of the good things--like produce--but it just takes so much time!). yeah i'm really going to tell the story now.

standing in line, i noticed the woman in front of me. call me snoopy, but in a moment i had a glimpse of her life. she was quite older. grayish-white hair in tight curls held close to her head. solid glasses--the type that have probably been worn for 20 years. a large gray wool coat (it was 60 degrees this afternoon) that extended down below her hips. worn brown polyester pants quite faded. i didn't notice her shoes.

her groceries:
-2 cans of hormel spiced chili
-3 packages of fudge cookies
-1 potato (no bag)
-3 24 packs of milwaukee light beer (cans)
-8 healthy choice italian dinners (manacotti, ravioli, etc)
-1 carton of cigarettes

it's interesting how we can paint a picture of what we assume. for all i know she has many wonderful grandchildren that visit her all the time. or perhaps she has a husband of 40 years she shares all that beer with--i didn't happen to look for a wedding ring. but that one potato. one potato. and her eyes.

i'm not sure, but i think when you have lived that much life you will be off the fence in some ways. i feel like you will either feel like you have figured out something about life and why it's worth living, or you won't have and are either in despair that you have not, or more likely you have created some way to ignore or dilute the lack of satisfaction with life. now, that might be completely off since i'm only 24--but i think to some extent that has to be true. as in a lot of ways its true of anyone any age, it's just perhaps easier to ignore the younger you are. perhaps.

still, the point of it all is that i look at strangers. hell, i look at a lot of people who aren't strangers and i want to ask them the question, "what are you living your life for?" have they thought about it? i mean really thought about it, and does the way they live reflect that? i have to ask myself that question. in some ways i feel like i should ask it every day. does being so intentional take the joy out of life as it is sometimes assumed? no, not at all. fun can be just as much a distraction to joy as somber dedication (though that's not what intentionality truly is). at this point i'm nearly plagiarizing:

"One of the roots of the desire for pleasure is the feeling of emptiness and the pain of boredom following from it. Emptiness is the lack of relatedness to things and persons and meanings; it is even the lack of being related to oneself. Therefore we try to escape from ourselves and the loneliness of ourselves, but we do not reach the others and their world in a genuine relation. And so we use them for a kind of pleasure which can be called "fun." But it is not the creative kind of fun often connected with play; it is, rather, a shallow, distracting, greedy way of "having fun." And it is not by chance that it is that type of fun which can easily be commercialized, for it is dependent on calculable reactions, without passion, without risk, without love. Of all the dangers that threaten our civilization, this is one of the most dangerous ones: the escape from one’s emptiness through a "fun" which makes joy impossible."

Tillich also says that faith is not as much about belief but about ultimate concern. what are you ultimately concerned with, at the deepest level and at the most basic sum of your actions, and that is what you have faith in. that goes with chesterton saying something to the effect of "the dividing line in life is not between christians and non-christians, but between those who think seriously about life and those who do not."

i am not trying at all to be a proponent of life taken so seriously that it has no joy. if you are worried about that, read the full chapter from tillich here. but truly, what good does it do to go through life without knowing why you are doing 90% of the the things you do? maybe it's wrong of me to assume strangers are living that way. maybe they are full of purpose. but then why don't i see it in their eyes? do they see it in mine?

what if i went up and asked one of them completely out of the blue, "what are you living your life for?"?



yes, the royals are taking the series against who most are saying is "the best team in baseball."

b. bannister: 7ip, 2 hits. solid.

greinke takes the mound tomorrow...sweep anyone?

let's all soak in this hope and winning record while we can...mmm that's nice.


"When we think about the people who have given us hope and have increased the strength of our soul, we might discover that they were not the advice givers, warners or moralists, but the few who were able to articulate in words and actions the human condition in which we participate and who encouraged us to face the realities of life. Preachers who reduce mysteries to problems and offer Band-Aid-type solutions are depressing because they avoid the compassionate solidarity out of which healing comes forth. But Tolstoy's description of the complex emotions of Anna Karenina, driving her to suicide, and Graham Greene's presentation of the burned out case of the Belgian architect Querry, whose search for meaning leads him to his death in the African jungle, can give us a new sense of hope. Not because of any solution they offered but because of the courage to enter so deeply into human suffering and speak from there. Neither Kierkegaard nor Satre nor Camus nor Hammarskjold nor Solzhenitsyn has offered solutions, but many who read their words find new strength to pursue their own personal search. Those who do not run away from our pains but touch them with compassion bring healing and new strength. The paradox indeed is that the beginning of healing is in the solidarity with the pain." (emphasis mine)