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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

For the third day in a row, I've taken an afternoon nap. This is a streak for me. I'm not sure what it is about this particular vacation that is affording me this unique and exquisite opportunity to bed down with such effortless regularity, but I like it. I golfed this morning with my childhood best friend, Art. We played 18 holes and I shot something like a 92...nothing to write home about, but worth a mention on a modern blog. The grass was freshly cut, almost intoxicating in its fresh fragrance. The hemlock trees that lined this particular golf course were mammoth in stature, historic almost. As you peered into the woods, they were dark with mystery, home to the lightest green ferns you've every laid your eyes on. There were wild weeping larch trees all over the place as well...gorgeous.

I had a wonderful conversation with my buddy about marriage and the "7 habits to highly effective matrimony". (not really, but we did talk using terms like keys and tips)...words I infrequently use in conversation due to their cheap and reductionist nature. I love to talk about marriage with other married guys, I find that very few have these conversations on a regular basis with anyone. I find that unfortunate...it's only the most important responsibility men have that have tied the knot. I dont' know if men are generally scared to broach the subject due to the confusing nature of women (and they are confusing), or if they know deep in their spirits that they are the source of much of the tension and would rather keep their yapper shut so as to not throw out too much information and eventually hang themselves with thier own words. Whatever it is, it paralyzes most men and turns them into evasive conversationalists avoiding talk of the homefront like the bird flu.

But today, my friend and I talked freely of ebbs and flows, quandries and queries, dangers and desires. It was awesome...I walked away with three basic tips to keeping your wife alive and well:
1. Go on a date night at least every other week (every week if possible).
2. Let your wife have a night away while you watch the kids every other week. (at least)
3. Frequently acknowledge all the silent and unseen duties that your wife performs on a daily basis. (laundry, bills, time with kids, dinners, picking up, transportation, errands, shopping, etc)

I'm sure there are a number of spiritual dynamics that can contribute to the encouragement of your relationship, but these three seem to be vital to the relationship not ending in an emotional divorce or worse yet, a physical divorce. So many things crowd these three things out each week, but when these things are nonnegotiably practiced religiously, love stays in tact.

Well, I have an urgent and pressing thing to attend to...my daughters have gotten out the slip-n-slide...need I say more? This is going to be a blast.

Monday, June 26, 2006

on vacation...

I'm sitting in my childhood home. I just picked a peck of strawberries for a strawberry-rhubarb pie...my mother's pies are to die for. Kami is helping gramma pluck the stems. There's something about this piece of land and the atmosphere of this home that makes me feel like I step back in time, not just 15 years, but 200. It's colonial like, idyllic, agrarian. The garden is delicately tilled, the plants are treated with care. The flower gardens are smiling with every color of the painters palet. The woods are just as inviting as they were when I was a young boy seeking adventure at all costs. It's a Shiloh...a haven, a restful abode.

I slept in today until 9:00am. It felt like the day was half over. If that wasn't lethargic enough, I took a two hour nap this afternoon to put the cherry on top of my lazy day. If feels so good. With a little World Cup viewing and some stories exchanged with my 90 year old grandfather, I'm settling into this thing called vacation...I think my soul needed it.

Tonight we have nothing planned...nothing. We are going to eat pie, talk around the dinner table and play. How often do I give life a chance to set the table, make the call, or make the first move? Almost never...I have it scheduled out efficiently crowding out serenity and spontanaity. Life is used. Today, life is in the drivers seat. I'm following its contours, its texture, its leadership. It feels old-fashioned of all things.

So as I type this bit of data, I'm enjoying the respite from hectic break-neck American culture. I'm lounging, veg-ing, soaking in the beauty of doing nothing. Ahhhhh.

Friday, June 23, 2006

It happened...

tonight was awesome! It has been so long since I've felt free in worship...so long. There's something about a setting with candles in the evening with a group of people who want to go after God's heart that just cracks open a part of me that rarely gets seen or felt.

we gathered as a church for our first worship night. In a church that is not yet three years old filled with new believers, musical worship doesn't necessarily just happen upon conversion. It's a process of growing in your freedom of expression. So many are so shy to cut loose in God's presence. But tonight I saw such amazing leaps of life development in our toodler church. It was amazing to be a part of. There's something about breaking new ground...it's exhilerating. Seeing new believers just lifting their hands and hearts to God, kneeling in worship, taking communion, shedding tears, clapping to the Lord, yelling out in victory...it was so sweet!

Thank you God for meeting with us...sometimes you just surprise me.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My wife's birthday...

I mentioned several posts back that I would catalog the days surround my wife's birthday. Time overlaps and suffocates my memory sometimes...but someone emailed me and reminded me of my P.S. at the end of a blog that mentioned something about a future post about my wife.

Her birthday was a bit different this year. It seems odd to say this, but one of the reasons that it was one of the best yet was because she wasn't actually here. She took off and went down to her sisters in Ohio and I was left home to "Bach" it for a few days. The day of her birthday, my mind was filled with thoughts of her. Almost everything I did reminded me of her. I found myself carried away with her more in her absense than in her presence.

Sometimes I get so accustomed to her, that a forget all that she means to me and the futility of my life without her companionship.

I called her multiple times that day. It was the same feelings I used to have when I was just getting to know her...the butterflies while the phone was ringing wondering if she would pick up or if I would get voice mail. I was actually nervous. My stomach was dancing about like a hit squirrel! I felt myself missing her so much that day...I was constantly wanting to call her to see what she did with the girls and to just hear her voice. She came home the next day...sometimes absence just revs me up in my affection and appreciation for her. I was waiting for her with bated breath. After a couple days, her hair looks different, her voice sounds different, her touch sends chills through my body...it's like it cleanses me of some sort of pollution that clogs my senses. I'm poised, alive again.

Last night, she was out with some girls having fun so I went to bed early (like 10:30pm). I laid their until like 1:30am. I couldn't fall asleep. I heard her come upstairs, go into the bathroom and then into the dark of our bedroom. She climbed quietly into bed and I stirred about a bit. I went to the bathroom and then came back and climbed under the covers. She reached her hand over and touched my chest and said, "Hey, why aren't you asleep?" I didn't have an answer. She said, "Is something weighing heavy on your mind?" I couldn't think of much. Then she snuggled up close to me and I felt my body relax into the mattress. I'm finding it harder and harder to sleep without her. I was asleep the minute we kissed and said goodnight. Her presence calms me like nothing else in this world.

Her birthday means more to me than any other day except my salvation, because it was that day that set into motion the alternate story that would one day weave together with my own. As our lives braid together more intimately each year, I can't imagine existance without her by my side and in my heart.

Heidi, my will to fight for your heart has never seen a better day. I invite you to come under the banner of my love. Thank you for loving me so well.

(The chorus of the song I wrote Heidi for our wedding...)

"I will always love you till the end of time,
till God returns or I breathe my last,
I'll hold your heart close to mine.
So take my hand as I take Christ's
and we'll together be,
a true love for the whole wide world to see."

I love you, babe.

Jason

Monday, June 12, 2006

pooping gas...

I'm not nearly as faithful to this blog as I desire. I'm not sure if I should renew my vows to it, or just take it out for dinner and slide a "Dear John" letter across the table telling it, in not so many words, that I don't have the feelings for it I once did. We've shared almost 135 posts together. I have too much invested in this relationship to bail now, but there are times when familiarity has bred contempt.

Today, I am typing with a "Hello Kitty" band-aide on my finger. I jig-sawed into my ring finger on Saturday making a sign for church. Every time I type with it, it hits three keys and I have to delete the two letters I don't want. Fortunately, I didn't have to play my guitar this weekend because the youth band was leading worship. Of all the weeks for me to saw into my finger, this was the best one. God is so good to allow me to be injured only when it's convenient in my schedule. I'm so glad I follow a God that works around my schedule. (sarcasm)

My youngest daughter said something funny yesterday in the car. We were driving back from someone's house and she said, "Daddy pooped gas." She said it a couple times in a row. Heidi laughed and pointed at me. I need to point out that the smell was a skunk that had been sidelined by an automotive vehicle sometime in the previous week. Although I'm not going to lie...occasionally I have been known to poop gas...but let the record show that this was not one of those times. I know the smell of my own gas like the back of my hand, and this was nowhere near as sweet a smell. My daughter has many years ahead of her to grow in her ability to decipher between the scent of roadkill and intoxicating aroma of her dad letting off some steam. She's learning though.

Well, I've carried on long enough. Come to think of it, I think I will carry on with this blogging relationship. Today's post has given me a fresh reason to see its eternal significance. Where would our world be without profound thoughts the likes of which were recorded today? It's scary to even think about.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

wrong place, wrong time...

is there such a thing? I guess if you believe in God, it's kinda silly to say such things. But from this side of the curtain that seperates heaven and earth, it feels appropriate. At least it did on Sunday afternoon.

Here we are, a family of five poised to enjoy some sunshine on Murray Lake with some friends...boating, sunbathing, and watching the children soak in the wonder of the water's edge. We were three houses from our destination when serendipitously a large truck backed out of a driveway and into the front end of my recently acquired Mazda 626. The hood buckled into the look of a wad of paper and steam ascended into the air filling our car with the smell of burning power steering fluid. The girls started screaming in three part harmony in the back seat...it was sorta funny. Three seconds before I was relishing the beautiful life I've been bestowed. The downright unfairness of how wonderful my life is compared to countless millions on this planet. Now, I'm wedged underneath a Ford Truck with a 21 year old punk combing his fingers through his hair in utter mortification. (I think he turned a shade of white and green when he heard my daughters screaming in the back seat...he watching his whole life flash before him and then pictured himself in a musty jailcell being propositioned by slender men on death row.)

The car...it's totalled. I loved that car...she had been so faithful, so good. I just put a fresh tank of $2.99 gas in her bossom. She was purring like a lap cat. And in a matter of moments, this 21 year old kid turned her into rubbish. I visited her in the hospital yesterday with Bryan Kuieck...I felt sad as I moved toward her bent and broken frame. The body was there, but the spirit was all but gone...she had given up the ghost.

You really never do know what you're going to wake to on any given day. The funny thing is, I feel very little frustration over this ordeal. Maybe it's because I was driving 25 miles an hour and my family emerged from this accident unharmed when it easily could have been 60 miles and hour and the threat of fatalities. I find myself blessed. Blessed to have two cars in the first place. Blessed to have four girls in my life that are safe today. Blessed to have people around us that care for us so deeply (the Ettingers are letting us borrow a car until the smoke clears). Blessed to possess the knowledge that stuff is just stuff and doesn't amount to much in the light of eternity.

I will take this time to curse Michigan. In Ohio, this no-fault insurance business was nowhere to be found. If it was your fault, you forked out the dough. In this case, the 21 year old that was given a ticket would have paid for my car to be fixed in full. Instead, I went from driving a car worth approx. $2,500 to visiting this same car at the body shop worth a measly $50 in scrap metal. That's a pile of dung higher and wider than the eye can see. Michigan rots. Long live Ohio.

The moral of this story is this...if you plan on driving anywhere, it's best to move to Ohio where they have common sense in cases such as this. I guess I could take this guy to court (and then promptly down to China Town), but I sat and talked with he and his family for nearly two hours about Christ, the Kingdom and my role as a pastor to advance the heart of God on this planet. Somehow, a lawsuit seems out of line at the present time. I should have kept my mouth shut, put on a poker face and complained about neck pain. I should have swept up my kids, laid them out on the nearest lawn and faked like I was giving them mouth to mouth. I should have faked a seizures on the pavement...billowing foam and the whole bit. I may have been able to retire this week and moved to Florida to collect shells for the rest of my days. Darn, I'm so stupid.