Showing posts from September, 2015

Simpler Sundays

As I mentioned in a previous post  in February, my family is actively involved on the launch team of a new church called Collective MKE. The journey has been an interesting one in many ways. We're still in the throes of launch and while things are starting to take shape, there's still much work to be done.

We have been gathering as a launch team three out of four Sundays a month in the house of a friend on the team. The fourth Sunday we gather as a larger body in a building in Waukesha that we rent for that worship service. At the home gatherings we talk a little about where things are going as a church, but lately we've been having a full service-like session. It features a couple of readings, lots of stimulating theological discussion and a simple communion. It is very much a house church that we are trying to grow into a bigger entity, eventually. How that manifests itself remains to be seen.

At the moment, we are working on finding a meeting place so that we can have t…

The Discipline of Self

It seems my wife and a friend were talking about me the in the car the other day on their way to yoga. My wife asked me if my ears were burning because they were discussing how disciplined I was. They weren't saying it in an admirable light, but rather a jealous or disdainful way. It made me wonder why some people use "discipline" to develop habits (which occasionally morph into what I like to call a rut,) and some people don't.

I think it comes from a mix of DNA and upbringing.
I feel that part of my discipline background can be linked to coming from a big family. While there's lots of chaos in a big family, maybe my way of dealing with it was to build routines via discipline that restored a sense of order for me. For example, if the rest of the house couldn't be clean and organized, at least my room could be. (Though it had it's moments, to be sure.) It was my space, they were my things and it was my sanctuary (read: sanity).
I can't help but feel th…

Lifetime Friendships

I'm not one who likes to label someone a "best friend." It has always seemed like an exclusionary term to me and could be taken wrongly by other good friends. (Can't we all just be friends?) That's not to say that we can't have friends we feel closer to or that we get along better with, because of course we all have those.

Having said that, a close childhood friend of mine turns 54 tomorrow. If I had to pigeonhole someone as a best friend growing up, it would be Pat. He was one of a core of 5 of us high school buddies that hung out a lot. Pat and I have so many good stories, most of which took place during our college years. If you've read Dirty Shirt, he's a main character in the first section on friends.

I think  I got to know Pat best when we were both bench warmers for the 8th grade football team at St. Luke's. There's something unifying about not playing much. Well, when we went to high school, we hung out together with all the other &quo…

Ruler Of The Roost

We had our pictures taken as a family a few weeks ago. We wanted to get a shoot in before Sarah went back to the University of Minnesota, so we managed to squeeze in an hour and a half shoot after the rain and before the sunset.

The pictures were taken by a friend of ours, Brandon Brown of Roost Photography. We met Brandon about nine years ago and through a weird chain of events have become good friends with him and his family. He used to be the pastor at a local mega church and was almost exclusively responsible for shaping our kids' faith during those early years. His connection with not just our kids, but kids of all ages, was remarkable. One of the other gifts he had while at this church was photography. He did it in part for the ministry and partly just for the love of the craft.

Along the way, he left that church and along with starting a new church, Collective MKE, he started his own photography business. His intent all along was to become bi-vocational, in part to release …

Friends For A Day

I had another book signing yesterday, this time at the West Bend Community Memorial Library. It was another lightly attended affair, but I managed to sell enough books to make it worth my while. As much as these library presentations take a fair amount of work, I've grown to really enjoy doing them. I get a little more comfortable with each one I do. 
Over time, I've learned what works, what doesn't work, and with the helpful feedback of my wife, I've changed the format to be even better than it once was. In the old format, I did all my readings, then photos, and then the video trailer. She thought it might be better if I worked the photos across the whole presentation, which gives people a way to relate to the story.
She also gets jolted every time I mention in my talk to the group that my father was murdered in 1967. "Just say he was killed," she says. I see her point, but part of the whole thing is to shock people a little bit. Not to mention that murder i…

Reading What Others Have Written

Both my wife and I are big bedtime readers. We both have a stack of books and magazines on our nightstands at any given time. Sometimes they get so tall they fall over - a good sign that we should purge the pile and relegate the good ones to the "keeper" bookcase, and the average or bad ones to the basement Tupperware tote for later donation to goodwill or Literacy Services of Wisconsin.

At the moment I have four books going in varying stages of completeness. On top of that, I have a Sun Magazine going at work. I read that magazine cover to cover every month. Its stories are fantastic and there are zero ads. All memoir - most of it moving.

The four books include the genres of fiction, young adult fiction, Christian, and self-help. Here's a rundown of what's in them and where I'm at.

Jesus Cow, by Michael Perry

Arguably my favorite contemporary author, this is his second recent stab at fiction and I'm liking it a lot. The story is about a Wisconsin farmer that …

Laborious Pleasure

Just settling in after a long, busy, fun filled weekend in Minnesota. It was a million mile whirlwind tour, but between seeing family and getting Sarah moved into college, it was a great close out to summer. Here's a few highlights.

Sister in-law's new house We spent the weekend with our sister in-law and her daughter. Jane just moved into a new home in June, and it is beautiful. We always enjoy our time with her and her girls and their dog, Chai. They make us feel completely welcome and comfortable, and we are so blessed to be part of their lives. We stayed up late on Friday laughing and catching up with Jane. Quality time with beautiful people.

Move In Day Saturday was spent getting Sarah moved in to the University dorm at the U of M. It was eventful from the start when I got pulled over by a U of M cop for driving in a bus-only zone. She was nice enough to let me off with a warning ticket. Of course, I explained to her that when I was a student we were allowed to drive the en…

Road Warriors

I had my reading/signing at the Oshkosh Public Library last night. Donna was kind enough to come along and keep me company for the trip and to help me schlep books. She's been a real trooper when it's come to these events and I appreciate her for it. She's my rock.

The event itself was kind of a bust. There were only about five people in the audience and I only ended up selling a couple of books. This comes on the heels of my past couple library events that were equally poorly attended. I was pretty down about it and the inner critic was starting to rear his ugly head again until I talked to a few people, and here's what I've learned.

1. My wife reminded me that every event is different and that you do what you can do, and there is no controlling who shows up. She also mentioned the good connections I made with the librarian and the writing group and that it was good practice for the future. I do love her for her support.

2. The librarian reminded me that Michael P…