Thursday, November 30, 2006


Cold season is here. I'm home with a sore throat, runny nose and feeling yucky all over. Bleh.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Random Mumblings

Today my brain's full of random thoughts and not necessarily one thought strong or cohesive enough for a whole post.

1. What's with Christmas coming? I'm seriously not ready for it. It's not so much the presents (pretty close to done) or the cards (got them started). Mostly I'm just not emotionally ready for Christmas. Who do I talk to about getting another week in November?

2. Three weeks until I jet off to Canada. Whoo hoo! Hoping this year it will be less frantic before I go. I know. I'm naive.

3. I started a new book this week called Let Prayer Change Your Life by Becky Tirabassi. So far it's really interesting and inspiring. I do somewhat suspect (given her reliance on her own experience as a stay at home mom) that you need to be a stay at home mom to let prayer change your life. Anyhow, it's been good to be challenged by her writing about answers to prayer and how often we ignore them. Last night my small group had what could have been a really conflict-ridden night. Instead it was a really good discussion. I came home and thought "Wow - I guess I didn't need to be concerned and pray so much about it." BZZZZ WRONG. Maybe it went well BECAUSE we all prayed so much about it. I can be pretty dense. Maybe this book will beat some of that out of me.

4. This morning one of my non-bosses sends me something for review and comment. I read it, hate it, shred it, send it back to her. Oops. Evidently by "review and comment" she meant "skim and tell me I'm brilliant". You'd think people that work with me would know me well enough to know that when you ask for honest feedback you're going to get it.

5. McDonalds has applied for a patent on the making of sandwiches. That's a little freaky to me. In other news, I'm told Google wants to run my life. They can duke it out with God.

6. Conflict. What's with all the conflict in my life? And what's with these things coming in clumps? Everything seems fine and then one day everyone seems to be at everyone else's throats. Is it something in the water? Was there a memo I didn't see?

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Monday, November 27, 2006


About a week ago my brother mentioned to me that my Mother read my blog. Evidently he gave her his blog address and Mom managed to find her way here.

This presents me with a quandry. The first law of blogging is to not let your mother read your blog. Law two is that if she does, start a new blog.

After a couple of cracks that made it obvious she was regularly reading my blog, I finally sent an email yesterday asking her not to read my blog anymore. Pretty straightforward - two adults, right?

Evidently not everyone plays along with the first law of blogging (for example, my brother) and they let their parents read their blogs. To all of you, I say


Mom says everyone else lets their mother's read their blogs. I might point out that this is the opposite of all the logic she used on me as a kid. NOW I'm supposed to give in to peer pressure??

My blog is not a happy slappy letter home with bright and shiny news about life. I have no intention of turning my blog into something light and fluffy. To me the whole idea of a blog is to work out ideas and thoughts as they happen. Sometimes I get things wrong. Sometimes I get things right. Usually it's a bit of both.

So, I guess I don't really have a quandry. I really don't want my Mom reading my blog. Actually, I don't want to write my blog for my Mother. And, if I know she's reading, I probably will because I'm lame like that.

So, yeah, I guess no quandry. Thanks for listening.

Not you Mom. You're not supposed to be reading!!


Fair Shopping

In honor of the "beginning" of the shopping season, here's a list of online fair trade shopping spots (thanks to a Radiant Magazine article on the topic) :

Aid to Artisans
Handmade gifts from around the world

Mad Imports
Handmade handbags and accessories from Madagascar and Kenya

World of Good
Handmade gifts from around the world

Ten Thousand Villages
Handmade gifts from around the world

Organic Bouquet
An organic flower company that donates portions of sales to aid organizations

Global Exchange
Handmade gifts, chocolate, coffee, jewelry & home décor

Heifer International
Gifts of farm animals and equipment to help families feed themselves

Cool Not Cruel
Fashionable fair trade clothing for men and women

Beautiful rugs handmade (not by children!)

Global Girlfriend
Beautiful handmade soaps, jewelry, clothing and stationery

Uncommon Goods
Handmade gifts

A Greater Gift—SERRV International
Beautiful handmade gifts and accessories from around the world

Gifts of Service—SEVA Foundation
Affordable gifts of education, medical care, environmental conservation, food, clean water, that are presented as a certificate in the name of the gift recipient

Alternative Gifts International
A faith-based organization that offers gifts of education, medicine, environmental conservation, clean water, food, etc. in the US and beyond.


I would also add The Hunger Site's fair trade store, which is not only fair trade, but also makes a food bank donation with every purchase.


Saturday, November 25, 2006


I've recently been listening to a great series by Louie Giglio called "Boy Meets Girl". During one of the talks he made a statement that made me stop and think and has had me thinking ever since. He said that the sin of my generation is a lack of commitment. We want to keep all of our options open forever. Often this means keeping all of our options open so long that our options actually disappear and decisions are made for us because of our waiting for the perfect option to appear.

The more I thought, the more I realized that I've seen this in many areas lately. In several groups I've noticed that people are happy to be there as long as they retain the option to not be there. No one wants to take responsibility. No one wants to commit to the group - they want the option to back out if things start to go south or if something better comes along.

This evening I was re-reading an article in Relevant that is an interview with Dallas Willard. I've mentioned this article before, last spring when I was sick and feeling that that I wasn't connecting with my life. In the article Willard addresses this same issue with the current generation and how while they desperately want community, they aren't willing to commit to it.

But most of them don't know what community means because community means assuming responsibility for other people and that means paying attention and not following your own will but submitting your will and giving up the world of intimacy and power you have in the little consumer world that you have created. They are lonely and they hurt. They don't know why that they think community might solve that, but when they look community in the face and realize that it means raw, skin to skin contact with other people for whom you have become responsible...that's when they back away.
Wow. That just describes so much of what I've been seeing around me and feeling for myself. Lonely and hurting and wanting a community to turn to. However, community isn't something you order out of a catalogue. It's full of real people who have the same amount of hurt and brokenness as I do. Community won't solve my problems. Community is going to bring different problems. When is the right time to commit to a community? What's the right level to commit?

It's kind of odd to identify an issue like this. The obvious response is to quickly jump into something for the sake of committing. But that level of commitment requires lots of thought and prayer.

There's got to be a balance. Maybe someone from another generation can shed some light on this. I'm not sure any Gen Xers can see beyond our own issues to solve this. How do I reach beyond the "consumer world I've created"? How do I make responsible commitments? How do you shape community in a generation that can't commit?

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Thanksgiving pics

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Lots to be Thankful For

US Thanksgiving is always a fun time for me. No need to travel. No need to stress.

Yesterday may have been the best US Thanksgiving yet. A bunch of friends gathered at B squared's house. I was behind in my prep for my part of the dinner, so everyone pitched in. Dinner was yummy and very family feeling. In the afternoon we played Apples to Apples (including the Bible edition), hung out, watched the resident toddler, and talked. Later in the evening we had more food, danced to Bon Jovi, played Dutch Blitz (finally), played Nintendo and then some jenga-like game. What's not to love.

Looking forward to the rest of a long weekend.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Plan

I always seem to have list of books on my "I should really read that" list. I'm currently working through a couple of great books and I feel like I need a plan for what comes next so that I don't keep picking up the latest and greatest books.

Not in a particular order:

Punk Monk: New Monasticism & the Ancient Art of Breathing - Pete Greig & Andy Freeman
God on Mute - Pete Greig
The Great Omission - Dallas Willard
Ethics - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
24/7 Prayer Manual - Pete Greig
Waking the Dead - John Eldredge
Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis
Soul Cravings - Erwin McManus
An Unstoppable Force - Erwin McManus
Intercessory Prayer - Dutch Sheetz
Believing God - Beth Moore
Colossians Remixed - Brian Walsh
The Air I Breathe - Louie Giglio
Desiring God - John Piper

That should be enough reading for 2007, don't you think? Any big ones I'm missing? I feel like there should be more Bonhoeffer.


Ack - and mild panic

So, I'm just jumping through my usual links this morning catching up on things. I get to the 268 Blog (Louie Giglio's blog and an information center for the Passion movement events). In the new entry he mentions the "big news" that was announced in last week's podcast (which I haven't listened to yet).

There's no Passion conference next year.

Evidently there's some new direction, but there won't be the mega-conference after Christmas next year.

Now, backing up a little, it had been my plan to next year volunteer at Passion, either with prayer (which is a huge part of the conference) or communications (hopefully doing photography). This would mean flying to Atlanta after Christmas, staying in a hotel and getting submerged in the whole event. Exciting right? Given that I did the England trip this year, it wasn't really feasible to spend around $1000 to do the Passion thing as well.

However, now next year doesn't exist as an option.

I really want to have a chance to support this organization and be part of the ministry. However, financially it doesn't make any sense to do right now. Plus, taking that much time off when I've recently (two months ago) taken off three weeks would be pushing my boss's patience.

What to do. What to do. Atlanta for New Year's?

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I know we're not supposed to be seeking after worldly fame, but it still makes me smile that Chris Tomlin made this week's Time magazine for the dramatic rise of his music in American churches. It was also interesting to see the acknowledge that the fame they are reporting isn't the kind he's looking for.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Good News

The lost has been found. I got a call from the Boston Park Plaza Hotel saying they have found my Bible. Perhaps they quickly learned that lying about not finding Bibles is a bad thing.

However, I was pretty sure this would happen when I went out and bought a shiny new Bible this weekend. I guess you can never have too many though.

I never thought a Bible could be cute, but this new one definitely is.

So, good news here tonight. Hopefully this will be the start of some good things happening.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

At What Price Community?

Over the last year I've been thinking and talking a lot about community. While I was in England I had the chance to see two radical and intentional communities in action. In the US I've been talking to people who are trying out community here and I've been a part of a couple communities at various stages.

All this is great and I think exploring what God's plan for His Kingdom here on earth definitely includes some ideas of community that don't fall within our current society's values.

Recently I've been in conflict with someone in several of my communities. Plus, I've been going through a really hard time personally. This has given me a new perspective on communities.

It's swell to talk about radical community, sacrifice and being counter-cultural when everything is good and you're all friends. What happens when someone in the community really hurts someone else? What happens when there's a conflict? What happens when someone disappears, either literally or figurately (there in physical presence, but withdrawing in every other way)? What happens when community hurts?

It seems to me that we're not very good at dealing with conflict. It's easier to let people go than to deal with the issue. It's better not to interfere and just sweep things under the rug. People will come back "when they're ready". It's also easy (and I'm definitely including myself here) to simply run away and start again with new people. Conflict resolution means taking a good hard look at the two sides that created the conflict and what's underlying. Often this is a painful and ugly process.

If God created us to live in community, did He really think we'd smile all the time? Did He really think we'd always be good to each other? Not likely. But, that's how we seem to live. We get involved in communities like it's some kind of a self-help group or a team of people to support us. We don't actually make any commitment. When the going gets tough, we head off to the next group/church/therapy group.

It seems to me that there's not a lot of point to community if it's only for the good times. It also seems to me that it's doomed to failure if we're not prepared for conflict and willing to hold each other's hands through the pain of resolution.

I'm not sure what the price of community is. Sometimes I think it's too high. I know the price of vulnerability to a community is extremely high. I know how much I have wanted to run away from communities. I've also seen how empty some of my communities are and how low the threshold of giving up is.

So, here's my thing - if your idea of community is hanging out on Sunday afternoons at Panera, please don't include me. Seriously! I'm not a perfect person and clearly I'll mess up your perfect little world. I don't see the point in this. If we're really going to be a community we have to figure out how to stick it out when things get hard and how to hold on when someone tries to bolt for the door. We have to learn how to love each other is a radical way that goes beyond just a group of friends. In my present spot I can't see settling for anything less - it's too hypocritical to bear.

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Operation Christmas Child

'Tis that time of year again. We did the shopping on Friday night and last night I loaded the box. It's always fun to try to find cool and useful things for the box. Also fun to think (and pray) about the child opening the box.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Streets of Boston

I had a big conference yesterday in Boston, so I went in on Wednesday night and stayed at a "posh" hotel so that I could be there bright and early on Thursday morning.

Somehow these things are never quite as glamorous as I imagine. The room was small and there was a wired internet connection (how old-fashioned and quaint!). I did a lot of running around with last minute stuff. Wednesday night I hardly slept at all and had to drag myself through Thursday.

All this aside, what really got to me was the driving. Now, I lived in Boston for many years and was used to the crazy. Evidently I'm now a full fledged country mouse.

I started to pull out of the parking garage, but stopped quickly because a young kid darted out in front of me on a tricycle (side note - what is a kid doing in a parking garage on a tricycle?). I stop. The guy behind me honks. And then just holds down his horn. Then the child starts to get out of the way, but I wait until it's safe to pass. The guy continues to honk. When it's safe to go, I do and get to the area to get out of the garage. The guy pulls around me, nearly hitting me and another person. Fabulous.

Then I'm driving through the streets to get to the highway and I get to a set of lights. It's a red light and I'm going straight, so I just sit there. Soon the guy behind me (different idiot) is honking at me. As soon as the opportunity arises, he pulls around me and heads through the red light at high speed.

I've only been out of the city for a few years. Are there new traffic rules? Do you go on red now? Did I miss a memo somewhere?

I was very grateful to safely make it to the highway and head out of town.

The saddest part about all of this is that I realized last night I left my Bible in the hotel room. I had an awful time getting to sleep on Wednesday, so I broke out Old Testament geneologies. The hotel claims that the cleaning staff didn't find it. A hard sell, since I left it IN THE BED. So, I'm sad because I will likely never see that Bible again and it was my favorite. Sigh.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Holding on to Promises

Over the last month so much has been happening and I feel like I'm on a roller coaster without a seatbelt. I've been calling on many promises of the Bible to pull me through.

Isaiah 40 has really been speaking to me. There's so much in there. So many challenges and promises. My favorite has been the last piece of the chapter:

26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
"My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God"?

28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

I may grow tired and I certainly will make mistakes. God doesn't get tired and He never makes mistakes. And He promises to renew my strength. I'm definitely waiting for that! My hope is in the Lord. I'm looking forward to soaring on wings like eagles.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bad Start to the Day

I'm speaking at a conference today. I don't feel totally prepared, but it's a subject I feel passionately about and I've talked about it plenty before. I knew coming in that I wasn't totally prepared (not to mention that I've never met my co-presenter), but I figured the key was a good night's sleep.

Easy, right?

At 5 am this morning they were collecting garbage. And backing up the trucks. And the warning sound the trucks have when they back up sounds just like my morning alarm. And it was going off every 30 seconds or so.

Panic. So much for the good night's sleep.

I'm now running on bad conference tea and prayer. Hopefully things will just fall into place. The 5 am alarm wasn't a good omen for the day.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

C.S. Lewis

One very observant reader points out that there are no C.S. Lewis books on my list of Top Twenty Books. This is not a slam on C.S. Lewis. This is a slam on my reading. I have not yet finished any one Lewis book, though I have read individual chapters from them and enjoyed them a lot. One of the many books I'm currently working on is Mere Christianity.

While in Oxford, however, I did do the C.S. Lewis tour. Walked the trails he walked, saw where is apartment was, went by his favorite pub.

As I said, making the list just made me realize how much I have left to read.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Top Twenty Books

A blog I regularly read had a top list of their favorite Christian books. It got me thinking. I don't have the brainpower to completely rank them, but here's a list:

1. Red Moon Rising - Pete Greig
2. The Vision/The Vow - Pete Greig
3. The Divine Conspiracy - Dallas Willard
4. The Cost of Discipleship - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
5. Velvet Elvis - Rob Bell
6. The Barbarian Way - Erwin McManus
7. Captivating - John and Stasi Eldredge
8. Kingdoms in Conflict - Charles Colson
9. Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas
10. Life Together - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
11. The Way I Was Made - Chris Tomlin
12. I Am Not but I Know I AM - Louis Giglio
13. Too Busy Not to Pray - Bill Hybels
14. Wild at Heart - John Eldredge
15. Making Life Work - Bill Hybels
16-20. clearly I need to be doing more reading.....

Please note that this list is severely limited because it only contains books that I've read (and would put on a top list of Christian books). I think the next task is the books I still need to read both those staring at me from my bookshelf and those I don't have yet! Making the list definitely made me realize how little I've read and how much I've read that I couldn't recommend.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

In Flander's Fields

With all the stuff happening lately, I kind of blanked on Remembrance Day. I found one of my favorite poem's on a blog I read, so I thought I'd bring it over. Even though the US has Veteran's Day, there's something about Remembrance Day that makes me feel very Canadian. Maybe it's the Peace Tower in Ottawa. Maybe the book Vimy by Pierre Berton. Maybe it's Rilla of Ingleside.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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As most of you know or can guess from my entries for the past few weeks, I'm going through a difficult time right now. Two weeks ago I put up an entry indicating that I was stopping blogging and then I took it down a few hours later. At the time I thought the most painful of the many crazy situations in my life was resolved. It's not and things have been very weird for me.

All this is to say, if you're looking for a bright and funny blog, come back in a few month and check in. Right now I'm going through a tough time and I'll be blogging through it. For months I've been on a soapbox about people pretending that everything is fine when they are really hurting inside. So, I think it's hypocritical of me to write totally superficial stuff or to stop blogging at all.

If you don't want to know what's going on or this makes you uncomfortable, please stop reading my blog. I'm really uncomfortable right now and I don't think it's my job to tie things up in pretty boxes for anyone else. Some day I'll have perspective on things - I don't have that right now.

If you're okay with the messiness of life, buckle your seatbelts, we're in for a ride.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Great Thoughts from McManus

Relevant has an interesting interview with Erwin McManus up. Here's a quote that I thought was very thought provoking:

I think Christianity is the same as Buddhism and Hinduism—whenever a religion begins to say that these are the things you have to do to be loved by God, you have a religion. The defining difference is not that you have to do these things to be loved by God, it’s that God loves you, and if you would just turn around, you’d run right into His love. The Scriptures tell us that we are unconditionally loved, and we cannot lose that love. That’s a huge risk because now God can’t motivate us through fear, or judgment, or wrath—I mean He has actually leveraged everything where He believes in the power of love to change us. That’s a huge risk.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Learning From the Past

I came upon this article in Newsweek this week. It looks at the current crisis of evangelicals in the US.

It lays out the historical development of the Evangelical movement in the US and looks at the current tensions. I found it a pretty insightful analysis of what's going on right now between the "Christian right" and new movements that incorporate more social justice traditions. I think they correctly point out that we're at another key moment of change, so I think it's a good time to look at the issues and figure out where we stand, especially in light of my small group's current study of the Sermon on the Mount.

Unfortunately, it seems like we don't learn from our mistakes and continue pursuing political power and the expense of the truth.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain cam down, the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

~ Matthew 7:24-25

My small group has been studying the Sermon on the Mount for the last couple of months. Last night we got to the "Wise and the Foolish Builder" section. It's something that I've heard over and over since I was a kid, but had never studied in the context of the whole Sermon on the Mount.

There were a bunch of things that stood out to me.

I had always heard it as "if you're a Christian, you're building your house on the rock, if you're not, you're building your house on the sand". I don't think it's that simple. Why? The passage doesn't say "everyone who hears these words of mine and believes them....", it say "everyone who heard these words of mine and puts them into practice". Is it possible to be a Christian and not put the Sermon on the Mount into practice? I think this comes down to Dallas Willard's discussion of becoming a disciple of Christ. This putting in to practice is an active thing - a learning from the teacher and then living it out. Myth #1 destroyed.

Maybe it's myth #2 or maybe it's just the logical conclusion to myth #1, but I now believe that it's entirely possible to be a Christian and building your house on the sand. Throughout the Sermon on the Mount Jesus isn't addressing the perils of a hedonistic pagan lifestyle, He's addressing the perils of a life built on religion. Building a house on sand can be as easily building a life on religion as it is on the partying lifestyle I learned growing up. (clarification - I learned that the partying lifestyle was building my house on the sand, not that I learned the partying lifestyle growing up - stop hyperventilating Mom)

The second new perspective I had on this passage was that this time I'm reading it from the middle of a storm. Looking at how your foundation is built is one thing during the clear days, but in the middle of the storm you have to rely on what you've already built and hang on for dear life.

My storm started a couple of weeks ago. Every time I think things are easing up I get hit again with something new. From the middle of this storm all I can see is the storm raging around me. I simply can't check the foundation, let alone continuing to build.

From where I'm standing now, it's feeling a lot like things are ready to crash down at any moment. I don't know if this is a product of a shaky foundation, or if this is how it's always going to feel during any storm and it's hindsight that shows how strong the foundation is. At this point do I just have faith in my foundation and weather the storm?

It's an interesting new way to look at this passage. Is it a challenge? Is it a promise? Can it be both?

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Northumbria Community

During my time visiting the Northumbria Community in Northeast England I had the chance to take some pictures in their gardens and in the area. I don't consider myself a landscape photographer, so it really stretched me and made me think.


I finished clearing out my work voicemail. That #%$# red light is no longer blinking at me.

Of course, that doesn't mean the rest of my life isn't falling apart, but at least there's one less red light blinking to remind me how far behind I am and how close things are to falling apart.

Small victories.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Trying to get the pictures posted before I give up. My heart isn't in recalling stories right now, but I'm just trying to get the last of the pictures done.

Liverpool Cathedral

Sometimes You're the Windshield.....

Sometimes you're the bug.

Right now I'm definitely the bug. It's one of those days in one of those weeks in one of those months. Luckily work is stepping in in a big way to keep me overwhelmed and distracted. Who knew work could be so helpful??

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I :heart: Mark Hall

Casting Crowns

Casting Crowns



Rock the Sound was interesting. Was pleasantly surprised by tobyMac.

But the highlight was, of course, Casting Crowns. I've seen them three times this year and each time Mark Hall (th elead singer) manages to say something the hits me right where I'm at. Last night was no different. As much as I love their music, Mark is an amazing preacher.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Breaks in the Chaos

At times like these it seems like the whole world is swirling around me. I get on edge and lose things (keys, tickets, my temper) and feel barely held together.

Last night was the night of prayer at my church and it was such a relief to be able to just go and pray for hours at a time. It was even in my calendar. A little reminder went off. Nothing else could be scheduled. I came out refreshed and renewed.

Today I'm back in the chaos of stuffing a little work into the weekend along with the usual errands and household duties (by household duties I mean ignoring the dishes, ignoring the dust bunnies, trying to make the clutter look like sculpture). Tonight I'm going to a Casting Crowns concert and I'm really looking forward to another oasis in the desert. I love seeing them live. Somehow, Mark Hall always seems to say something that breaks through to me.

Don't know if there will be pictures. I'm taking the camera, but we bought tickets for concert enjoyment, not for photography angles.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Really Bad Sign

Okay, I still haven't finished going through my phone messages. They just keep piling up and I can't keep up. I was assigned to something new today. I'm falling behind on everything and it's only a matter of time until things fall apart.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Stories & The Pictures: Edinburgh

I had really high hopes for Scotland. I have always wanted to go and I anticipated it would be the high point of the touristing on the trip. In addition, given where I come from, I figured I would just feel like I was home when I crossed the border.

With train delays, we pulled into Edinburgh around 5:30. The station was very nice, but we were anxious to make up for lost time checking out the city. We should have stayed in the station.

It turns out everything in Edinburgh closes at 5. There was hardly any food to be found. Finally we found a place still serving food. I use the term food loosely, because I think it would qualify as the second worst meal on the trip. I had what turned out to be brie, rolled in nuts and deep fried. I know, it sounds good, but deep fried brie is good for one bite, not for dinner. Stork's dinner was deep fried apricot, almond, oat balls. We quickly realized that everything in Scotland is deep fried. Kind of reminded me of the North Carolina State Fair. To add insult to injury, they were playing Paul Anka's version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit", which made me want to cry.

Emerging, we set out to find some little shops and get some souvenirs. Another mistake. Pretty much everything was closed. Except the truly tacky souvenir shops that were blaring bagpipe music. Now, I love bagpipe music. At a reasonable level, and preferably in the great outdoors. Not Scotland the Brave on high volume on repeat. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that pretty much everyone we met that night was miserable and kind of nasty.

When we finally gave up, we went off in search of our b & b. By this point in the trip my arm was shot and each step dragging my luggage was agony. It took us substantial amounts of time walking around to find the right bus. This was the only time on the trip when I broke down and said "I want to go home".

Getting to the b & b was actually a breeze after that and when we arrived the people were very nice. They even had an internet connection that we could use, which was much needed.

The next morning was blissfully uneventful. Downtown was much better in the daylight when stores are open. We explored the "Royal Mile", saw St. Giles Cathedral, stocked up on souvenirs in their store, saw Edinburgh Castle and wandered back to the train station. Desperate for good and reliable food, we ate at the Marks & Spencer's food shop. Yummy sandwiches and great snacks.

So, Scotland was a letdown for me. If I go back, it will definitely be to the countryside, not to the city. To me it was a very bleak city - too much limestone that just looks gray in all the fog.

Here are some pictures from the day spent there.