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I Love Our Friends

Last week we were on vacation and while we were gone our cat got out of the house. She has been missing for at least a week now (we’re not entirely sure of when she got out of the house) and Pam, Noah, Adam, and I have searched and done every trick we can think of to find her. The good news from Pam and my constant search of the internet concerning finding a lost cat is that there is a great deal of hope that we will be able to find our cat even up to a couple of months after the fact. So we continue to search (Pam most of all). This post isn’t about the cat, though if you see in our neighborhood a long hair black cat with a white spot on her chest I would appreciate you letting us know. Nope this post is about our friends.

A few days ago Pam and I were searching through one of our neighbor’s yard when I looked up and saw Mark & Julienna walking through our neighborhood. This didn’t make sense because they don’t live by us. So I shouted out to them and asked what was up. Their response was that it was a pretty day so they thought they would go for a walk and why not look for the cat while walking, so they came to our neighborhood. Cue Pam’s tears.

Then the next day I start getting messages from Kate that I couldn’t read because I am busy at the moment. When I got a chance to read them I quickly notice pictures of spots in our backyard and the woods behind our house. I read the messages and discovered that Kate had taken it upon herself to go into the woods behind our house and search for the cat. Freaked Noah out when he realized there was someone in our backyard until he realized it was Kate. Then he was just confused. Cue more tears from Pam.

While in Marshfield today I got a text message from Natalie saying she was organizing a mass hunt for “Kitty Girl” this Sunday after church. She has already contacted people to get them to show up at our house after church. I’m not sure that Pam knows about this yet, but I am sure that when she does know there will be more tears.

Our friends are responding like this for a cat just because they know that this talkative black mass of shedding hair is important to us … actually she is VERY IMPORTANT TO PAM. I can’t adequately express how much these actions mean to me. You are showing love for my family and that makes me love you guys all the more. Y’all are amazing and I am honored to be your friend. I hope I give as much to you as you do to my family and me.

Cue my tears.

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Don’t Weld in Shorts

So this week I passed the half-way point in allowable funds of my bet concerning Fred the Sentra. As a reminder, I have an ongoing bet with Eric concerning whether or not I can get my 1991 Sentra in good enough shape that Pam will not be embarrassed to ride in it for less than $1,000.  I’ve been VERY slowly working on it.  Since Pam has been gone this week and it is Terrell family No TV Month I have been going out into the garage each night and doing Bondo work on the Sentra, sanding, treating, and patching some of the rust holes that have been a part of Fred since I bought her.  I sent Pam photos of the work that I had done on Fred and to quote her, the Sentra has improved in looks from “utterly humiliating” to “merely embarrassing.” This is a huge step forward. I’m feeling pretty good about my chances of winning the bet.

Of course, I am also on the downhill slid of my $1,000 spending limit. I have to replace the rear struts and their cost has brought my remaining funds down to $489 left to spend within the bet. I think this is still very doable. The struts and a new muffler have been purchased, so those funds have been accounted for and I will install them when we get back from Alabama. This will just leave repairing the rocker panels, a little more Bondo work, and painting this car. This means I will have to learn how to paint a car. If anyone wants to teach me I am available to be your student.

Part of working on Fred has been teaching myself how to do various things, such as, minor welding. My welds aren’t the prettiest but they hold two pieces together, and with a grinder I can get rid all the spare slag that is all over my welds. I thought I had taught myself to be safe when welding but apparently I forgot part of that today. I was welding on part of a door latch and completely forgot that you shouldn’t use a MIG welder (which splatters a lot) when you are wearing shorts. It only took me being hit by TWO molten pieces of slag to remember that I should have changed into pants. So I did and then I went back to welding. It only took TWO more molten pieces of slag for me to remember that you should also wear boots instead of old running shoes when you weld. Thankfully there was not real damage to me or the shoes.

As for now I have talked with a friend about some spare sheet metal for fixing the rocker panels (that means FREE). Of course, I need to find a sand/media blaster to use to remove the rust from the corroded remains of the previous rocker panels. If you have a sand/media blaster that you would loan me I would greatly appreciate it.

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Theology-ception

I’m presently reading “A Public Faith” by Miroslav Volf. One of the things that I love about being married to Pam is that every now and then she will stop from what she is reading and say “I have to tell you this,” and then start quoting from something she is reading that she thought was great. Part of why I like this is because it means I get to do the same thing to her. :)

So two nights ago I was reading from “A Public Faith” and Volf quoted Jurgen Moltmann. Here’s what he said:

Christian faith adds another layer to this everyday usage of “hope.” In Theology of Hope Jurgen Moltmann famously distinguishes between hope and optimism. Both have to do with positive expectation, and yet the two are very different. Optimism has to do with good things in the future that are latent in the past and the present; the future associated with optimism – Moltmann calls it futurum – is an unfolding of what is already there. We survey the past and the present, extrapolate about what is likely to happen in the future, and, if the prospects are good, become optimistic. Hope, on the other hand, has to do with good things in the future that come to us from “outside,” from God; the future associated with hope – Moltmann calls it adventus – is a gift of something new. We hear the word of the divine promise, and because God is love we trust in God’s faithfulness. God the brings about “a new thing” aged Sarah, barren of womb, gives birth to a son (Gen. 21:1-2; Rom. 4:18-21); the crucified Jesus Christ is raised from the dead (Acts 2:22-36); a mighty Babylon falls and a new Jerusalem comes down from heaven (Rev. 18:1-24; 21:1-5); more generally, the good that seemed impossible becomes not just possible but real.

Yes, I know it is a long quote but that’s not the point (and besides it is really good, long quote). The point is that my awesome wife automatically recognized that Volf, a theologian that I love, was quoting from Moltmann, a hugely influential theologian in my life, and immediately responded with “THEOLOGY-CEPTION!”

I love this woman.

SIDE NOTE – as a former youth minister who was heavily involved in the early Contemporary Christian Music scene I am now convinced that DC Talk’s song “Nu Thang” wasn’t just a cheesy, early Christian hip-hop song but also a cheesy, early Christian hip-hop song that was also an exploration of Moltmann’s definition of hope. Who knew DC Talk was so deep. :)

SIDE SIDE NOTE – to use an old church cliche concerning Volf’s description of what Moltmann said, “that’ll preach.” How often do those of us who are followers of Christian act more off of optimism (futurum) rather than hope (adventus). to pray for God to merely help us doing something nice, rather than make the impossible reality?

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Nerd vs Hipster

I was listening to NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour’s episode “Live From San Diego Comic-Con” and heard a great description of the difference between a nerd and a hipster. This is important at Comic-Con because Nerd Culture has gained a coolness to it that makes people who are just more concerned with being hip claim to actually be nerds.  The whole episode is worth a listen but I would like to share their description of the main difference between a nerd and a hipster.

A NERD is passionate about something and sharing what they are passionate about is part of the enjoyment of the subject they love.

A HIPSTER is passionate about something and they define themselves through the exclusivity and hidden nature of what they are passionate about.

In other words, nerds evangelize concerning what they love and hipsters focus on what the exclusivity of what they “love” defining them as better than others. (i.e. why hipsters move on to something even more exclusive once what they were passionate about becomes mainstream).

I could see how this could relate to lots of things in life, including faith. I think I would rather be a nerd than a hipster.

Pricing Gorilla Costumes

Just did the initial registration for the first youth ministry conference that Tapestry will be involved in. I’m pretty excited about the thought of the “holy foolishness” we will get to be involved in (I’m not sure where I first heard the term “holy foolishness” – probably Mike Yaconelli – all I know is that I like the term, because it refers to good, clean oddity in the midst of the challenge of Christ). I just priced gorilla costumes on eBay. Why? Well, because what fun is a youth ministry conference without a gorilla costume? I already have an Elvis costume that I will loan out to one of the youth.

I’m already excited about the thought of complete randomness and life challenging depth.

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Pam Was Right … As Usual

One of the things that Terrell No TV month means is that we take up household projects that we have been trying to avoid. For me that involves work in the backyard. I enjoy cutting grass, but for some reason I don’t enjoy landscaping and other yard work. Our backyard is connected to a local school forest and therefore we thought it was too shady for grass to grow. So all I thought I would have to do in it was build a fence for the basset hounds to be able to roam around within. 4 years ago I built a “temporary” fence out of snow fence and said I would build a nice wooden picket fence to replace it soon. “Temporary” has a wide meaning for me when it comes to some things. For building a fence “temporary” incrementally equaled a gate and a few 8′ panels of pickets three years ago and then the majority of the remaining panels 2 years ago. Unfortunately I stopped with the two hardest sections and let them stay that way. I just left the snow fencing there because no one really saw those sections unless they were looking for it. Or at least that is what I told myself. That changed when Pam came up with the great idea of talking to our county agent and discovered that we can actually grow grass in our backyard.

So last weekend we started the great backyard project. We picked tons of stuff out of our backyard, sprayed the rest with Round Up, tilled the space, fertilized everything, and finally spread seed everywhere (which has visible sprouts as of today). Working that much in the backyard and trying to grow a lawn made me think that it might be nice to have a convenient way to get my lawnmower into the backyard. I realized I should finish the picket fence. It was finished today. Two gates installed and lots of pickets hand installed in place (these sections were too abnormal for 8′ picket panels).

This left me with two things I needed to get take care of to finish the job.

  1. Get rid of the 150ish feet of snow fence that I originally bought last year.
  2. Clean up, which included removing 35ish one foot sections of what I thought was treated (I later discovered they were cedar rather than treated) picket ends.

I thought it would be pretty easy to get rid of the snow fence on Craigslist. Here is the ad for it.

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I bought 150ish feet of snow fence to create a temporary fence for my dogs in our bakyard. “Temporary” is a relative term being as I took my sweet time building the wooden picket pence that now keeps my basset hounds in the back yard barking at deer that run through the forest behind our home. 


The good news is that the snow fence has now finished its “temporary” job and is ready for another use. Perhaps you need some “temporary” fence to hold a creature, such as your husband, who isn’t house trained and you need a way to release him into the backyard to relieve himself without fear that he will see a squirrel and run away forever. I’m not here to judge. I’m here to provide you with 150ish feet of snow fencing for you and your spouse to use as you please. As long you are using it for something legal you are welcome to it. If you want to use it for something illegal … well just don’t tell me about it.

This “temporary” snow fence is yours for free … REALLY IT IS FREE … okay if you want to buy me a cup of coffee that would be fine. I prefer the house blend at Emy J’s in Stevens Point.

I was sure the snow fence would go fast, which it did. I wasn’t as sure what to do with the 35ish one foot sections of what I thought was treated wood. You aren’t supposed to burn treated wood and these pieces were too small for anything that I would do with them. So I piled them up and went to throw them in the trash, walking right past Pam. Which is why she asked “what are you doing?” I told her and see said I shouldn’t throw them away, but instead post them on Craigslist. I was dumbfounded. Nobody would use these things and definitely no one would look for them on Craigslist. So I told her that. She said Pinterest had changed everything and people looked for junk like this on Craigslist now.

I hate Pinterest.

Actually I don’t hate Pinterest, but I do definitely have some strong, and mixed, feelings about the stupid website.  Anyhow I thought I would prove to her that she was wrong and I posted the following Craigslist post.

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I have around 35 one foot long end remnants from treated fence pickets. Since they are treated they aren’t supposed to be burned, yet I feel stupid just throwing them in the trash for them to end up in a landfill. My wife is convinced that Pinterest has changed the world and therefore some creative person might want these things and be able to turn them into something beautiful. Like a plank sided house for injured squirrels or crazed turkeys. I, on the other hand, think they are just scrap. I kind of sound like a grumpy old man right now, but that isn’t usually the case on Saturday evenings (just Monday mornings – HEY! KID GET OFF MY LAWN).

So how about one of you creative types prove my wife right and me wrong and message me about getting these scraps before our trash pick up happens Tuesday. All I ask is that you send me a photo of what you have made with this stuff.

I received my first inquiry about the the stupid pieces of scrap wood 35 minutes after I had posted concerning them. I should never doubt Pam.

I Guess I’ll Start Blogging Again

Actually I never really stopped blogging. I just haven’t blogged in the past month, which is a long time for me to not write something. The problem has been that every thing that I have wanted to blog about was a bigger issue that would require me to think a decent amount and then write a correspondingly decent amount. That’s fine and dandy, but I figure Pam, my parents, and I are the only ones who read this blog, and I don’t think any of us want to read many of my longer thoughts. At least I know I don’t. So I would see or hear something and think “Oh I should blog about that” and then decided that it would take too long and I could find something better to do. The blogging equivalent of my bassets seeing a squirrel.

I’ll give you an example of the subjects I have been thinking about. I have been scouring craigslist looking for a “new to us” car for Adam or Noah (or me if I could find a nice Volvo 240 wagon which I have become fascinated with). Two things have been humorous to me in my searches.

1. The people who list all the money they have spent repairing their car as justification for asking more than market value for the vehicle. They usually say in their post something like, “I just want to get my money back,” Huh? Why should I pay extra for your car so you can get your money back? The market is the market.

2. The people who have extreme misunderstandings of the value of their vehicles. I read one post where a person bought a 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan for $4,000 two months prior and then had a bad head on collision and thought their vehicle was now worth $3,200 because they were pretty sure you could get the parts necessary to fix the vehicle at a junk yard for $500. The person stressed that “low ballers” shouldn’t reply. What a deal.

Any how, both such instances have lead to some fun conversations with Pam concerning how we value our things and ourselves. Basically people tend to be the heroes or our own stories and therefore think better of ourselves and our possessions than we probably ought too. Like I said earlier, too big of a subject for me to want to regularly blog about.

It is once again Terrell No TV month, which doesn’t really mean just no TV as much as it does a lessening of our reliance upon electronics (TV, media, computers, etc.). Therefore, I thought I would focus on blogging more this month – yes blogging involves a computer, but creative endeavors are encouraged during No TV month. So I guess I’ll try to write something, big or small, most of the days of August. We’ll see what happens.

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Big Little Acts

While listening to a “To the Best of Our Knowledge” podcast I heard the segment “Life Inc“, which is an interview with Douglas Rushkoff. In this segment Rushkoff talked about the history of corporatism and made some specific small recommendations for changing some of the negative effects of what he sees happening in our present economic situation – i.e. not paying off debt by creating value but paying off debt by convincing other people to go into debt. He focuses on specifically small acts.

I believe we tend to perceive important things as usually being big. Big acts are impressive. Big acts talk about being movements, and movements look good and make the people in them feel like they are doing something important. Big acts have cool graphics, logos, catch phrases, and good looking leaders. Big acts have their own insider vocabulary. Big acts spawn t-shirts and other merch. Big acts look good on resumes. Big acts lead to their leaders talking at conferences and getting book deals. The church loves big acts and the people who have a “vision” for them.

I’m tired of big acts because I feel like they usually don’t usually last, though they do create a large number of t-shirts and other swag. They last just as long as they are cool and then are quickly forgotten when the next big movement comes along. Don’t get me wrong, I believe there is a place for big acts. That place just doesn’t have the prominence that I believe we tend to give these “movements.”

I like small acts. I think Jesus does too. Many of His miracles were small (personal) acts. A wedding runs out of wine and Jesus provides more wine without anyone but the servants and His mom knowing about it. Many, if not most, of His healings were “small” acts. They weren’t spectacles. They were huge in their impact but small in scale and the fanfare around them. When you really get down to it few of Jesus acts were big.

Actually it might be cool to write a theology of little acts versus big acts. I think it would be come apparent quickly that Jesus was much more about little acts than He was big acts. His big acts seem to flow from lots of small acts. i thin that’s another post.

I realize there is a danger with small acts. Sometimes we can think that small acts mean there is little, if any sacrifice, involved. For those of us who claim to be followers of Christ we can pervert the idea of small acts into just being nice. I believe Jesus wants us to be nice to people, but that isn’t what following Him is all about. Jesus calls us to follow Him, and He sacrificed Himself for others. He did this in some big ways, and lots of small ways. Jesus’ little acts were big in sacrifice. They cost Him a ton. I believe He calls us to act in little acts that are big in sacrifice. Small acts toward our neighbors that are more costly than most people can imagine. Little tasks for those who hurt us, that are huge in their grace and impact. Little acts that leave your worn out at the end of the day because they took every bit of energy that you and I have.

Francis of Assisi had huge impact on the church, but that impact began with what I think was a relatively small act. He believed God was calling him to rebuild His church. Francis took that very literally. Not in some grand scale, but an actual, local run down church building. He gather stones to rebuild it. One stone at a time. One little act after another.

The prayer typically called The Prayer of Saint Francis (though he probably didn’t write it) is full of such little/big acts. Here it is:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Those are little/big acts.

These little/big acts don’t result in t-shirts, books, logos, or movements. They do result in God being glorified. Our culture loves big things. It loves movements. So when the church does them we are actually just doing what the culture already does. Little/big acts are counter-culturally. Little/big acts reflect living in the kingdom of God.

This week I will try to do little things that are big in sacrifice.

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Fear of Death

I wish I could remember where I either heard or read Jürgen Moltmann describe the relationship her perceived between our fear death and our city planning. Unfortunately I can’t remember the source so as to cite it. I will briefly describe what I remember and then add the fascinating info I learned from the wonderful podcast “Backstory” (which you should listen to if you are a history buff).

150 years ago if you were close to a non-accidental death you would probably be at home and die at surrounded by loved ones. Once you died your body would be taken care of, washed and prepared for burial, by those same loved ones. You would would be left in your, or a family member’s, parlor for a wake, and then be buried in the center of the community next to the church, where your loved ones who pass by you regularly. You would be dead and yet still a part of the community.

Now if you are close to a non-accidental death you are most likely in a hospital surrounded by professionals. Actually, if you are really close to death you will most likely be pushed away from the regular hospital population to a special hospice area, almost like we are afraid your death will spread to others who are supposed to get better. When you die your body will then be handed over to other professionals who will clean and prepare your body for burial by pumping you full of chemicals. These chemicals will allow your spread out family members to make it to the funeral home for a your funeral, which will most likely be held in a funeral parlor. You will then be buried on the outskirts of the city in a cemetery that will require your loved ones to make special trips in order to see your grace.

When I read/heard this I was amazed by the point that was being made – a connection between a fear of death and our city planning. Then this week I listened to the “Backstory” podcast “Grave Matters.” This podcast episode is a history of death and mourning in America. One of the segments deals with the amazing amount of influence that the massive death toll of the Civil War has had on American culture. Much of modern ritual around death and burial is shaped by the Civil War and the understanding of the “good death” at that time. The basic understanding of a “good death” was to:

  • to be ready for death
  • to died at home
  • to die surrounded by loved ones
  • to die at peace

The Civil War made much of those four goals impossible for many. Death happened suddenly, away from home, surrounded by enemies and strangers, in fear. Thanks to better development in chemical embalming the funeral industry tried to jump into the breach. Embalming meant that a chemically preserved body could be shipped back to the family. Professionals then encouraged people to no longer hold the wake in the family parlor. Instead, they created funeral parlors for people to use for their wakes. American culture reacted by disassociating the word “parlor” from the home. If parlors were now a part of the funeral homes, then to avoid the idea of death we would change the name of that room in our homes. So we picked a new name that would be the most opposite possible of the parlor room that we used to use for wakes. We picked “living room,” which ironically is still where the least amount of living in most homes takes place.

Anyhow the whole thing fascinated me.

My Thoughts & Ravings As I Try To Follow CHRIST

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