August 30, 2003, 3:22 pm
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Things I admire most in others (in no particular order):






Simplicity in pleasure



I am fairly decent in about 3 or 4 of these areas. I won’t say which.


August 28, 2003, 3:30 pm
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God’s grace make me glad to be alive. That’s all I need to say today.

August 27, 2003, 4:23 pm
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O.k., I’m a-political these days, and thus, I have not taken a personal stand on what’s going on in the California (or, as the would be new Republican governor would say, “Colleeforneeya”) recall election. However, I heard that a certain fast food chain is doing a promotion aimed at “buying votes.” Click here to see who’s winning. I just think it’s funny to see how they have characterized Governor Gray Davis.

August 23, 2003, 4:29 pm
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In the CD player: Over The Rhine, Ohio

By the way . . . the Amazon.com price on this is really good – it’s a double album

August 23, 2003, 4:27 pm
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Our Wednesday night BBQ gathering in the park was interesting this week. We had a very uncharacteristic weather system come in and sprinkle us with a little rain – just enough to get the grass wet and make it feel really muggy with the August heat. It felt more like Mississippi or Houston than San Diego. Thankfully, the park we meet in has a big gazebo thing, so we just hung out under there for the evening. We had a good discussion that ended up touching on the concept of the Christian ghetto. We unpacked what that looks like and why it can be so problematic. I’ll be eager to see how the next few weeks unfold with our little group – some of our folks are headed out this weekend to go back to college in other parts of SoCal, so we’ll be smaller. But I’m excited about the ones that are staying around – we’ll all be local, and I’m hoping more open to making commitments to one another to do life together.

August 19, 2003, 4:26 pm
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As I’ve moved around the blog world over the past year-plus, I’ve noticed that at times some of my favorite writers will say something to the effect of “I’m going to go into quiet mode for a spell. I’ll post less regularly here for a while.” I’ve been noticing that that’s pretty much what I’ve done over the past month or so . . . except that in my case, it has been an intentional or purposeful cutting back from blogging. In part, it’s a result of my new work situation – it’s been tough for me to develop any kind of rhythm with a work schedule that is different from day to day, week to week. I’ve also been a lot less oriented toward just spilling my thoughts here lately. No good reason for this, but it is what it is. I’m sure it means something – I just haven’t taken the time to think it through.

In general, I’m going through a couple of phases simultaneously. In one sense, I’ve been encouraged by our weekly gathering, and it’s feeling more and more like we might actually have a core group to work with. One of the things that’s come out of our group organically in the past couple of weeks is a desire to serve others. Some of our folks still have a bit too much of an institutional mindset in this regard, and they want to see us put together a more or less formal “program” for service. For now, we’ve been able to keep things simple, though. I am getting the feeling that at least a few of our folks are beginning to think of this gathering as a primary experience of the body of Christ. More and more community. We have some concerns, and some things we’re not content with yet, but there’s a good bit to be encouraged about.

The other phase I think I’m sensing is isolation. Due mostly to being busy and tired a lot lately, I haven’t put my own effort into calling, e-mailing, and meeting with people who I know I can talk openly with. I’ve gotten one or two e-mails from others, but it’s been quiet on the receiving end. This isn’t intentional (like my lack of blogging), but I’ve begun to feel the effects. It’s not a severe depression or anything, but I do feel a bit distant from people who I’d like to feel close to as a lifestyle. I have to face the ugly reality that I’m looking for what these relationships can give to me. But at the same time, I know that I get a lot out of the relationships, even when we’re not talking about “my stuff.” I am in an important place of decision, that I need to really be aware of: I can choose to put the effort into connecting with others, because it is a priority for me, or I can choose to take about four more steps toward isolation and cut myself off from what my community of relationships can pour into my life.

I hope all of this isn’t too melancholy. I’m not navel-gazing or self-absorbed – just kind of doing a reality check “out loud.”

“As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.” ~Proverbs 27:17

August 13, 2003, 11:35 am
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More on Oklahoma . . .

I think I once heard a country song about wide open spaces. To my city-boy eyes, it was a stark contrast . . . and I live in some of the widest openest spaces in San Diego. As the airplane descended just before my arrival at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, I saw something that triggered memories of childhood vacations to this place – the red clay earth. I remember riding in the backseat of the family car with my sister (it’s a looooong road trip for a kid from California to Oklahoma), and it seemed as though right at the spot where you cross the border from the Texas panhandle into Oklahoma, the ground turns red. I remember going to my cousin Christopher’s little league game and seeing the red dirt clinging to the uniforms. I have no idea why that’s such a big deal in my brain, but it sticks, and so I write about it.

As promised, here’s the story my dad told at Uncle Carl’s funeral. I write this in his honor, knowing that laughter was a major part of his life. I have many witnesses to the truth of it.

The Leopard Hunt

In 1950 or 1951, my dad and Uncle Carl were kids of about 5 and 7, living on their grandparent’s chicken farm outside of Oklahoma City. They had been to the local zoo and seen all the animals before. So when the radio news came out about a leopard or cougar or some big cat having escaped, it was a big deal. A few days went by, and the cat hadn’t been found yet. The area farmers became nervous about the cat coming onto their land and killing some of their livestock, so a group of them grabbed their shotguns one day to go hunting – my dad’s grandfather included. The boys would have gone, too, except they were too young.

But boys will be boys, and they decided that they’d make up their own leopard hunt. Of course, they didn’t have a real leopard, so they had to use the next best thing . . . the family dog . . . nobody seems to remember the dog’s name. After enjoying the hunt, the boys had the success of capturing their “leopard”, fortunately without killing it, so they had the task of taking it back to the “zoo” and putting it back safely into its enclosure. From having seen the zoo themselves, they knew that the enclosures were just large pits, with fences around them. Again, the boys lacked the real thing, so they had to use the next best “pit” they could find, and the poor dog was placed down the family outhouse pit. Unfortunately, it was a lot easier putting the dog into the pit than getting the dog out of the pit. They weren’t able to do it. They didn’t bother telling anyone about it.

After dark, and an unsuccessful hunting expedition, grandad returned home. They had dinner together, and grandad went to the outhouse to take care of business. As he sat down, the dog raised up and touched grandad’s rear end with his moist nose, causing gradad to think he had found the leopard in a most unfortunate way!

My dad and Uncle Carl’s cousin Lloyd was tasked with the chore of getting the dog out and cleaning him off with a broom and a bucket of water. Nobody seems to remember the dog’s real name, but thereafter, he was known as “Stinky.”