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Category Archives: Honest Thoughts

coinsOver the weekend I attended a conference at a local Vineyard church featuring Phil Strout, the National Director of Vineyard USA. On Friday night Phil talked about expectation—and how we should expect God to do big things. Every day.

As Phil talked, I remembered a time from my childhood when I was at King’s Island (an amusement park in southwestern Ohio). I was probably six years old, so I should have been thrilled to be at the park. But instead of enjoying the rides, games, cotton candy, prizes, or any of the other fixtures kids typically love, I became fixated on something else: money! I realized that there were coins to be found all over the park. Beneath concession windows, in line for rides, under trash cans, and certainly in all the fountains (except my mom wouldn’t let me retrieve those). Soon enough I had a singular purpose for the rest of my day: to find as many coins as I could!

And I was successful! I don’t know exactly how much money I found, but it was close to 30 coins. Mostly pennies, but still. An impressive haul.

In the 25 years since that day, I have never again found so many coins on any given day. Sure, I still pick up coins occasionally. I found two $1 bills in a parking lot recently. And one time I found a $20 bill—my most productive discovery to date. But I have never retrieved as many coins as I did that day. You know why?

Because I’ve never again been so devoted to searching.

Now, finding loose change is no longer as high of a priority for me. I’m not above stopping to pick up a coin when I see one, mind you, but I don’t go out of my way to spot them. If I did, I know that I would find more coins than I do.  But that’s not the point here. The point is that our expectations make a difference. When we expect to find something, we will look for it. And by looking for it, we’re going to find more of “it” than we would have if we weren’t looking. Obvious, right?

And that’s why Phil’s talk resonated with me. I don’t know why I made this connection (I’ll give God credit for it), but I realized that I should expect to see the things God is doing just like I expected to find those coins at the amusement park. And I should be excited about it. I should be eager to see what else God is doing. If I want to experience more of what God is doing, I just need to open my eyes. And keep looking.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll find another $20 bill while I’m at it…

 

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(Crickets chirping)

Wow, if I thought this blog mattered to someone, I would feel incredibly guilty about my inactivity. Thank goodness it doesn’t matter.

A lot has changed since that last post two years ago. I still do freelance writing and I’m still trying to finish my book (wow, I can’t believe I haven’t finished that by now..), but I’m also doing full-time campus ministry at Ohio Wesleyan University—working for the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO). And I absolutely love it (and the students I’ve gotten to know in the past year).

What else? Barbie and I bought a house in Delaware (Delaware, Ohio) and have lived here for almost two years. So that’s the biggest purchase I’ve ever made. (Yep. Hello, debt.) 

I’ve gotten to travel a lot in the last year or so: Peru (and Machu Picchu), Vegas (and the Grand Canyon), Philly, Atlantic City, Maine, Denver, and various other places. And I’ve been doing more writing for Relevant Magazine, which has been fun too.

These are all details. And they’re not that interesting, either (but I figure that’s okay since I sincerely doubt, after two years, whether anyone is checking in on this blog with any regularity). But more than the details, God has been doing some things in my heart. Among other things, I’ve been learning a lot about prayer and just how powerful it is. I’ve also become a lot more open to the work of the Holy Spirit—something I would have said I believed in, but without ever really considering it much. And because of these things, my faith feels more alive, more real, than it did before. Which is pretty sweet.

Meanwhile, the Olympics are on right now, and even though I hadn’t written a post in two years, the Olympics won’t be back again for another four years, so I’m going to give them my undivided attention now. Peace.

I’m reading two books right now, both interesting in very different ways. One is The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne, and, among other things, it challenges Americans to realize just how affluent we are (which requires acknowledging that most of the world is not so fortunate). There’s a lot more to this book. But as far as brief summaries go, I feel like mine is fair.

The other book I’m currently reading is written by Eric Weiner, and it’s called The Geography of Bliss. In this book, Weiner, an NPR correspondent, travels to what he considers to be some of the happiest places in the world in an effort to determine whether people there truly are happy and why. As far as brief summaries go, this is pretty much dead on.

Claiborne’s book is grounded in his Christian faith, fueled by his conviction that we are called to do more. Ultimately, Claiborne advocates sacrificing personal pleasures for the sake of others (and for the sake of Christ).

Weiner’s book is grounded in his self-professed “grumpiness,” fueled by his belief that some people are better at the whole “pursuit of happiness” thing than others. Ultimately, Weiner seems to advocate a self-centered “what can I do to find happiness?” mentality.

These two authors have different backgrounds, different beliefs, and very different objectives. But at various points, they both draw conclusions that are almost eerily similar:

Both men conclude that wealth leads to increased isolation (Weiner refers to the progression from college dorms to apartments to a house…eventually, for the really wealthy, to an estate, and each step makes us increasingly insulated from others). And both conclude that those with less, those who can’t afford to isolate themselves from others, are happier because of it.

I can definitely relate to what these authors are saying…well, except for the wealth part.

In the last four years since I graduated college, I’ve found community is harder and harder to find. Especially now, since I work alone and I’m not really part of a church right now (since we’re helping with a church plant that won’t plant for another few months at the earliest). As for friends (yes, I do have some) and family, I don’t encounter them on a regular basis. I see them occasionally, when weekend plans are successfully arranged. Unless you count Facebook and Twitter and text messaging (I don’t), my wife is the only person who’s really part of my daily community right now.

And no offense to my beautiful wife whom I love very much, but that’s not good enough.

I realize this might sound like a pity party, but it’s not. It’s just that I’m starting to realize that I need to do my part to actively create community. Whether it’s getting to know the neighbors, getting more involved in local events, joining some sort of weekly thing-a-ma-jig, or perhaps even organizing something myself, I’ve realized that I need to make more of an effort to be part of a community.

And as Weiner and Claiborne suggest, I think my life will be happier because of it.

The community is out there. I just need to figure out the best way to stick my ugly mug right in the middle of it.

On one hand, I feel like an obligatory “I’m sorry I haven’t posted for three months” introduction is in order. On the other hand, I know no one has been checking in on a regular basis, routinely dismayed by the lack of a new post (nor should they have been).

So if not an apology, this post is going to be something of a transition—from the 3 months of zero posts to what I hope will be a more regular posting schedule.

LOST is over (and so is my mourning period), so I am no longer compelled to maintain that blog. Instead I plan to start posting here at least once a week (we shall see).

Posting about what? you may wonder. Good question.

Well, I’ve recently adopted a new goal for the completion of the first draft of my book, so I will be working toward that. This blog will provide a reprieve from the tedious and draining process of trying to pull all of that together. I’ve also found myself longing for a place to share some thoughts (the 140-character tweets just ain’t cutting it), and I started journaling (yes, with pen and paper) a few weeks ago, but it just felt too nineteenth-century for me. Honestly, it had more to do with the fact that I write slower than I type, and then, when I’m done, I can hardly read what I’ve written. So it was an ill-fated endeavor from the start.

Also, I’ve continued to do freelance projects on a regular basis, and I’ve been remiss about linking to those articles (or sharing things I’ve learned from those projects). I also plan to start doing that again here.

Meanwhile, I continue to manage a Snap Fitness in Delaware, Ohio. And the reason we moved here in the first place (to help with a church plant) is starting to come to fruition. You can find more about that here: http://delawarechurchplant.org

So I might have some thoughts on that (I expect I will). And I know I’ll be sharing some thoughts about what I’ve been reading.

So if any of that interests you, check back in. I’ll be posting again soon. I promise.

Jon-Gosselin-20091008210437Never have my editorial skills seemed more valuable.

Seriously.

Until today, I had no idea that one’s fathering skills could be dependent upon one’s abilities to proofread.

But apparently, such is the case for Jon Gosselin.

I admit that I’m not a fan of the TLC show, although I do know that it has been recently renamed Kate Plus 8, as Jon’s name has been stricken from the title. And speaking of names…

Today I saw a news report (on one of those oh-so distinguished entertainment programs) that claimed Jon nearly ruined his daughters’ birthday.

Apparently the twin Gosselin girls just turned nine, and when daddy showed up with the cake, it wished a happy birthday to “Maddy.” Which, as every good father should know, is not how Mady spells her name!

But this entertainment program didn’t stop there. They went and interviewed the owner of the cake shop—where cameras caught Jon picking up the cake. And this cake shop owner, in a voice that seemed to mock the stupidity of the terrible father, said that Jon held the cake for almost four minutes and he never noticed that the name was misspelled.

She didn’t say anything about her workers misspelling the name in the first place. But then again, maybe it wasn’t their fault. Maybe Jon, being such a terrible father and all, misspelled Mady’s name when he placed the order. But wait, the cake shop owner said that the order was actually placed by “Entertainment Something.” (Presumably, Entertainment Tonight, although apparently an ET rep claimed it wasn’t them—but really, who knows and who cares?)

Duh, any father worth his salt should know how to spell his daughter’s name. And when he goes to pick up her cake, while being hounded by paparazzi and paying for a cake that he didn’t order, of course the first thing he should notice is the offending “d” scripted in icing and encircled by an elaborate wreath of decorative flowers.

Give me a break. After nine years, I have a feeling he knows how to spell Mady’s name. A proofreader would have caught the mistake…probably. Should he have noticed? Eh, who cares?

You know who probably doesn’t care? Mady. (Or Maddy.) I was nine years old once, and if Daddy showed up carrying a cake on my birthday, I would have been happy. I can’t imagine interrupting the singing to cry about my name being misspelled. Even if it bothered me, I’m pretty sure I’d get over it after one bite.

Maybe Jon Gosselin is a terrible father. I don’t know and don’t care. But, even if he is a bad father (have I mentioned that I really don’t care?), this misspelled cake “fiasco” doesn’t prove it.

But Jon, if you want to make it up to your kids by hiring a proofreader so you can be a better father from now on, my services are available. (I wouldn’t mind getting a piece of that $200k that Kate is claiming you took from your shared account…which, for the record, I also don’t care about.)

And if you misspell my name on the checks, I’ll make sure “Entertainment Something” never finds out about it—as long as the bank still cashes them.