Changes and Fish Tanks

I made a few changes to the blog and wanted to introduce them.

First is the expanded categories and pages at the top. Second, is the addition of the “Fish Tank” category. I plan on using this space to journal my 125 gallon reef tank that I got for Christmas. If I set this up right, then those posts will appear only there, not cluttering up the topics most of you come here to read–the theology and “pastor’s life” stuff I usually post…when I feel like posting.

If you’re interested in the ups and downs, the technical data, discussions on reef-keeping and aquatic husbandry, then by all means read the new page. Otherwise, here’s to 2013!

A Masquerade for a Post

I’m trying to get a bit of writing done today and failing miserably. After all kinds of administrative and organizational things this morning, I sat down and pounded out a newsletter article for January, which is lousy and I will need to re-write. Then there is the corresponding article on worship for the newsletter: not written. Then the blog post, which this is masquerading as.

I’ve got Sandy Hook on the brain, and everyone has something to say about it. Not me. No words. God have mercy. That’s about all I can say. Pray for the lost and living, your own kids and schools every day and may God frustrate the wicked plans of evil men.

Now, on to more things I need to be doing…

Crazy Week(s)

It’s been far too long since I posted here. We’ve had crazy weeks at Grace and home.

Our “Ministry Summit” took place, with the Rev. William Weedon as our facilitator. He was inspiring for us all.

Our house in Enid is under contract! Thanks be to God. Pray for a good inspection and no problems till closing!

The kids are fully integrated with school. Read this as: they are driving us crazy with extracurricular activities. Idle hands and all that.

What else? It’s time to close the pool, yardwork, a minor kitchen renovation, diving into the full fall church schedule, Wednesday night programs, New Member class, plans for further adult instruction, a funeral for Ed Flaxbart–a pillar in the congregation–and more. Plus my Church secretary, administrative wonder and heart of Grace Lutheran has been gone for three weeks. We had a lovely volunteer to answer phones, but we need our Alexis back! She’ll be in on Monday.

Maybe it will all get smoother then.


Hearing Books or Reading Books

I’ve listened to two audio books in my life. One by Stephen King and the other by Chuck Palahniuk. Both were much more brutal than I imagined they possible could be. At times I wanted to tear out my ear balls, turn off the radio. I squirmed while hurtling down the interstate at 75mph.

Granted, both were brutal stories. Palahniuk is not for the faint of heart, at least in places. You know what King is like. I know what King is like. I’ve read his novels and short stories extensively. And I’d read Plahniuk before, though not as much.

But the two I read–heard–in the car, their words assaulting my ear drums. It was an auditory hell. Wincing, brutal. It was a particularly bad physical performed by Al Queda torturers. Seriously, seriously disturbing and creepy. It was so bad I had to wonder: was that King novella that much horrific than all of his others I’d read? Had a lucked out in reading Palahniuk’s most accessible and mainstream works before this one?

No. The difference was purely in matter of form. When you read, you can skip over the bad bits, skim over the lines about bones breaking and blood. You can hold your breath in your brain and move on. But not when you’re listening. No, with an audio book the words come unhindered, unstoppable, and the reader/actor lets each one drip and emote. The words and their timbre and connotations are free to pinwheel through your consciousness, aided by the superb diction of the faceless voice coming from your speakers. There’s no avoiding it, no closing your eyes like in a film.

And the imagination is free to roam when listening in a way different than reading. When reading, your attention is always on the page, the little black lines intersecting and curving toward each other, the spaces in between. Reading is visual, and when the images the words are drawing forth are too intense–well, you really are only looking at lines on a page. You are always seeing the page, and the imagination must work to distance what your eyes are seeing and what your brain is telling you.

Not with an audio book, not with a story told dramatically. There is only sound then, the sounds of dripping blood and flesh, the sounds of terror and anxiety, the sound of the breath drawing in, waiting for the next horror.

For the Next Post:

Why an Audio Book Holds your Attention but My Sermons Do Not.

My Ultimate Dad Moment

Jack and His Monster Truck Obstacle Course

It was Father Heaven for me yesterday. I came back to Enid after a wonderful Feast of Pentecost Eucharist at Grace and was in the backyard getting the grill ready for some kabobs. Jack came out, grabbed a tennis ball, and said, “Hey Dad! Want to play catch with me?”

Excellent. We threw the ball back and forth for a while. Jack was throwing and catching really well, but every once in a while threw a wild one. We were having fun, and then it got better.

“Dad, we should talk about stuff.”

I smiled. “What do you want to talk about? Girls?”

“Girls? Really?”

“Yep. Really.” He caught the ball with two hands and tossed it back to me. “You like girls, don’t you?”

I think he blushed a little and missed the ball. He ran to pick it up and tossed it back over my head. “Sure. I like girls. You know. I like Mommy. And Erin.” Jack smiled again. Erin is his friend from Church. Her brother is our godsend. He is going to marry Erin someday, he had told us. He’d told that to Erin too, and she agreed.

“That’s good,” I said. I tossed the ball back and he caught it again.

“Maybe we can talk about stuff like we did that one day. About cars and motors and stuff.”

“You want to talk about motors? Transmissions?”

“Yeah. About cars and how they work. Like how they turn, Dad.”

He had started asking questions about cars one day on the way to school, and I described how the internal combustion engine worked, how the pistons moved, turning the shaft and all that. It had been weeks ago, but he remembered. So did I.

We didn’t get much of a chance to talk about power trains and transfer cases. Nor head gaskets or cams. Not long after that our friends arrived and the grill was ready, and the car-talk had to wait.

But I have a boy who played catch with his dad, who wanted to talk guy talk, and it was heaven. Simply heaven

Brown Shoes and No Connections

For so much going wrong today, it went quite well.

First, when getting ready this morning I realized I didn’t have my black belt. Left it in Enid. No worries, I thought. I have my suit coat and I didn’t need a belt. But then I realized I’d left my dress shoes in Enid too. And my other pair of black dress shoes. That is not good. So I had to offend the sensibilities of Dr. James Brauer and wear brown pants and brown, unpolished shoes. Sigh. At least it was my second Sunday and not my first.

But wait! It gets better!

I wanted to do my, medicore powerpoint presentation at Bible Study. Grace has nice screen that drops out of the ceiling like Moses coming down from the mou

I don’t have a VGA output on my laptop. ntain (it’s in Knippa Hall, the fellowship hall—I don’t think I’ll ever have a fellowship hall named after me: just listen to it). It came down on cue, and I brought the VGA connection over from the sound center.

And the slides I asked my secretary to photocopy were the wrong ones. My fault, not hers. She did exactly what I told her to do.

But Christ is above all, and we managed. And no one deducted a grade for my brown pants and shoes. And we celebrated the Eucharist with devotion and joy. That is enough for one day.


Trying New Stuff on the Blog

It’s time for a bit of a makeover ’round these parts. Time to update the header image, some of the pages. Time to fix the dumb publish to Facebook plugin which didn’t work quite right. Maybe even change the name.

This post is debuting the new Facebook plugin. Hopefully it will work more consistently than the old one. It will also take your comments from FB and put them here, and those here and put them there.

Be looking for more tweaks and adjustments later on.

Quick Update

So I’m now the Senior Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church. I was installed on Sunday, May 6 and was blessed by having a full pews and 20 pastors from the district participating. Grace really knows how to through a reception, too.

Then I hit the ground running, and it has been exciting and fulfilling. It was a whirlwind of a week, added to being away from the family. I can’t wait for their school to get out and the house sold so they can move up there with me.

Next week I hope to carve out some time to do some writing here, and start some other projects that have been stewing for some time…and even as I write this I realize how ambitious and impractical that will be. I should be happy with a few blog posts.

Here’s a photo or two of the new place: