Archive for April, 2007

Something like three years ago or so, my laptop literally exploded.  There were sparks and smoke and a coworker nearly got hurt.  So I bought a new one and it served me faithfully for roughly three years and then a few months ago, it too petered out.  So I bought another one.  Fortunately, no data was lost during either of these computers’ demise.

But today at approximately 2:45, my 35 day-old hard drive bit the dust.  I lost everything.  The most frustrating loses though, were the papers I had either completed or gotten nearly finished with for many course finals.  There was a 12+ page paper due today for church history that I only needed to print out and hand in.  There was 3/4 of a paper for a missions course, along all the notes I had taken for the paper.   This paper built on two other papers which were also lost.  They were probably going to be the foundation for my senior capstone work.  I lost all of the notes and the first half of my sermon on the letter to Smyrna in Revelation.  All of the notes and the start of my Greek exegetical paper were lost, along with the translation of 1 Peter 2 from Greek into English that took me several hours to perfect.  I had to write a personal ‘rule of prayer’ for my spiritual formation course.  I lost that too and am wishing I had printed it out yesterday when I thought about it. And finally, I lost every note I’ve taken in every class all semester.  Everything’s due in a matter of days and I purposely worked ahead so that I wouldn’t be swamped and overly stressed at the end.  Good joke.

I also lost all of the music I had stored on my computer.  A lot of it I have on CD, but a good chunk of it was burned off of friends’ music or downloaded from iTunes.  Does anyone know if you can download purchases again from iTunes without having to pay again?

And pictures.  I lost a ton of them too.  I think half of my pictures from Bosnia are gone.  My vacation in Vienna with one of my best friends is gone.  Writing samples.  Resumes.  Taxes. So much stuff.  Gone. Gone. Gone.

It’s so ridiculous that this matters so much.  I keep thinking, “I can’t believe this is happening to me.”  Like I have cancer or something.  Fortunately I’ve developed better coping mechanisms and handle stress in a much more laid back manner than I did the first time I lost a computer.

Pray for me, think of me or do whatever you do on Saturday as I will attempt to create a whole lot of something out of virtually nothing.

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Bad, bad choices

I was able to fly home for a few days last week and through the weekend.  It was a good trip overall.  As always though, I managed to do some pretty ridiculous things.  Bad choice number one was parking my car in the express parking lot and not the long-term one at the airport.  I was already on the little shuttle bus before I realized what I did, so I had to bite the big one and pay up when I got home.

****Totally unrelated interruption, but it smells like something is on fire in my bedroom and I can’t figure out what it is.  I keep hoping the foreign neighbors are cooking something funky, but I don’t know.

Anyway…back to the story.  On my way to meetings on Thursday, I stopped at Target to by some essentials that should have cost less than $5.  There was a lot of cute stuff in that Target and in the 15 minutes I was in there, I managed to spend over $50.  Yeah.  Bad choice.

During that super quick spending spree, I purchased a pack of gum.  How could that be a bad choice, you ask?  The gum I bought had as much caffeine per piece as a cup of coffee.  I wasn’t even paying attention.  It had dinosaur thing on the front so I though it looked cool.  Well, the gum tasted like crap and it really did have caffeine in it.  If you know me at all, you know I don’t need the chemical help in being a little bonkers.  It was hard for me to behave during my meetings because I didn’t realize this caffeine deal until after I’d already drank a bottle of Mt. Dew.  After I decided the gum tasted so bad, I finally looked at the package to see what I was chewing on.  It was too late.  The dinosaur caffeine monster thing had already gotten me.  So I got to spend the entire afternoon talking about baptism and sexual harassment and other junk churches have to worry about  (random combination, I know).  The point was to prove that I am competent in such areas.  I guess if anything, I came off as real eager to talk about whether or not pedophiles should be able to take communion.  (In case you’re wondering, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there” became a standard part of my answers.  That and “Ummm…I think it’s important to pray first.” I was truly being as serious and professional and holy as I could; it all just sounded hilarious in my head.)

Okay…caffeine gum…what else?  Oh yes, sushi. Airport sushi.  How on earth could airport sushi be a good idea?  I have no idea what I was thinking but I bought myself some sushi and went to my gate to eat it.  As I sat down, the entire Michigan State baseball team surrounded me.  It was a very strange feeling.  I felt like a dork in the midst of all these handsome young men.  The fact that I was eating airport sushi in front of them made me feel like an even bigger dork.

As if sushi wasn’t a dumb enough idea, the soy sauce took the cake.  As these baseballers stared at me, I ever so casually shot a whole package of soy sauce down the leg of my khaki pants.  I just sat there and laughed and at that point, I think those poor boys thought I was crazy.  The funniest/saddest part of the whole soy sauce deal is that I smelled like soy sauce the entire plane ride home.  Which actually was something of an odd perk because those baseball players kept farting, so my soy sauce leg kept my corner of the world…not really fresher…more exotic maybe?

So…I hope you’ve learned something from my bad choices.  I still don’t know what the burning smell is.  I need to figure that out before I go to work in the next 20 minutes.

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Forgive us our trespasses,

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

I don’t say debts and I don’t say sins. No matter how Protestant of a group I’m in, I say trespasses and I probably will keep on saying trespasses when I am an ordained Protestant minister.

Why does it matter? To trespass is something so much more powerful than to sin or to be in debt. If you have sinned, you’ve done something wrong. If have a debt, you owe someone something. If you have trespassed, you have been wandering around in places you do not belong. You’re traipsing, searching, stomping. Whatever you’re doing, you weren’t invited. You are where you do not belong.

You’re lounging underneath the forbidden tree waiting ignorantly for another piece of forbidden fruit. Your gaze is fixed on the wrong .com. Or your heart is fixed on absolutely nothing but yourself. You live on the couch or under your covers or in the closet or in the bar.

You’re backseat driving someone else’s life. You help them blur the sacred and profane. You violate their spaces, their senses and their self-esteem.

You have gone where you do not belong. You have trespassed. Against God. Against others. Against yourself.

Turning around and climbing back over the barbed wire fence or quietly sneaking out the back door will not help. When you go where you do not belong, damage is done even if you don’t see it yet. Property gets destroyed and trust gets violated. You can’t just say I’m sorry or try to pay it back.

See? I can apologize and I can pay back anything I owe. But when I have trespassed, it’s just too complex. There’s no way I’m getting out of it and no way everything can be made whole and right outside the help of Christ.

Forgive me my trespasses.

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I’ve been doing a lot of house/dog sitting lately.  I really enjoy it because I get to spend several days by myself in homes much larger and more comfortable than my own.  Hanging out with the dogs is a perk as well.

House sitting is also like a mini sociology project.  Without snooping or anything, you can learn so much about people just by living in their spaces for a few days.  For instance, there is great variance in the places people put things in their kitchen. I have been amazed to see things like plates in drawers and silverware off in a corner by itself.  I’m not really sure what that means besides they aren’t organizing things my way.  Although, I do find my organizational skills to be efficient and practical.

One difference between households is the size/number of TV’s in comparison to the visible presence of books. Deep down I like a big TV when there’s basketball and football on, but I’d really prefer to call a wall covered in books shelves ‘decor’.  It’s not that books make me feel smart.  They make me feel cozy, surrounded by ideas and memories and common words.  I particularly like the books in the house I’m currently staying in as they are proving quite fruitful for a project I’m working on.

The best book they have though is the guest book near the front door.  I wrote a little message in it several months ago and was just browsing through it to see if there were any familiar names.  By familiar, I was thinking of the people that both the couple and myself knew from back in Iowa.  I found some of those names, but I also found a few other familiar names.

Jerry Sittser, Lauren Winner, Eugene Peterson

I am not kidding.  You might have to be Reformed to know who Jerry Sittser is, but I totally recommend his books.  Lauren Winner and Eugene Peterson should be self-explanatory.  If you don’t know them, talk to Google.

They all wrote a whole paragraph.  You’ve got to be pretty special to have Eugene Peterson sleeping in your guest room and for him to write an entire paragraph of blessing and thanks in your guest book.  Lauren and Griff invited the couple to their home Durham.

I think a few years ago I probably would have been in total awe.  Now that I’m older and wiser, the gap between the “important and influential” people and normal folks like me is shrinking.  I figure we’re all just one person removed from the dog sitter or the influential guy, so when you average it all out, we’re all just normal.

It’s so interesting to meander through other people’s lives for a few days.

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