Monday, March 30, 2009

Mr. Mom Chronicles 11

Well, many of you who read this blog know that Kathy made it safely home from New Mexico and that Eric and I survived yet another "Mr. Mom" period of bachelorhood. Thankfully as well we have a little longer stint with Kathy at home, she won't be heading out of town again until the second weekend in May; at that time she will be joining the women of her family for a crafting weekend retreat.

After several days away we all really made the most of the weekend. We spent all Friday afternoon together as Kathy unpacked and Eric and I settled in to the idea that we weren't totally responsible for ourselves any longer and that Kathy would provide a moderating role. On Saturday we spent the morning lounging around the house and then in the afternoon joined Rick and Rene Horner and Becky Bratt for 18 Holes of Disc Golf at the College of Southern Idaho. It was a very nice day to be outside with warm temperatures and plenty of sun. Unfortunately the weather did not stay nice, but that just drove us toward another day together with church in the morning where we actually got to sit together as a family (as I took a Sunday from preaching before Holy Week) and then an afternoon lounging on the sofa with Eric watching TV, Kathy playing games on her laptop and me drifting in and out of a nap or two.

Today we are back to regular routines. Eric is off to school. Kathy is working in her home office. And I guess for me it's not so regular. I usually drink coffee and enjoy a few hours of quiet reading time, but in about an hour I'm headed off to Burley, Idaho for a day-long meeting. This time, though it is not as tense as my Investigating Committee work for Kendall Presbytery. Instead I am acting as the advocate for four churches in the presbytery that have submitted grant proposals to our Presbytery's Board of Trustees. So my role is to provide that group of people with compelling reasons for granting the funds to three small rural churches and our one New Church Development in the Teton Valley of Eastern Idaho.

Thankfully, though, I don't have to worry about Eric, so I'll drink a little coffee and maybe read a very little bit before heading east on I-84 for a day in the Eastern Magic Valley secure in the knowledge that when I come home both Eric and Kathy will be home.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mr. Mom Chronicles 10

Day Three of Kathy's latest trip has turned out to be a breeze, especially after yesterday's shoe-finding, Ketchum driving, late night getting to bed, Tuesday.

Somehow I managed to get out of bed at a responsible time and got the trash and recycling out. Eric's shower went smoothly. And even when Eric asked to do something different from our regular routine; namely, he wanted to make sure that Zlatko--the custodian at the school he attends and also the custodian for our church--passed the citizenship test and Eric wanted to draw a picture for Zlatko. Of course, Eric came up with that idea within forty-five minutes of needing to head to the bus along with needing breakfast, teeth brushing, and shoe-finding. Thankfully Eric had a week or so before drawn an American Flag so all we had to do was write the words "Congratulation" and "Zlatko" at the bottom in order to make the morning chores and gift complete.

The rest of the day involved going to the "Fellowship Lunch Club", a group of women from church who get together monthly at Idaho Joe's where Eric was the perfect little gentleman. Then we came home and he let me read while he rested in front of the television and we did homework, Wii, Dinner, a little TV and bed. So, all in all, it really was a good day to be Mr. Mom. Granted, we are both looking forward to Kathy's return on Friday afternoon, but hopefully we will get through Thursday as smoothly as Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mr. Mom Chronicles 9

Wow! What a day! It started by, admittedly, sleeping in too late. Part of the blame goes to me because I just LOVE flannel sheets and I sometimes can't pull myself away from them even when the "snooze" feature on my alarm clock is smoking! Of course part of it had to do with Monday beginning at 5 a.m. But eventually Eric and I each managed to get our showers; yes, at 6 he is learning to shower each morning, though the whole shampooing of the head thing seems to be a very mysterious and difficult thing for him to figure out.

So we made our way to breakfast and thankfully Eric decided on toast. Yes, toast, how easy is that?!? But then things went downhill for a bit as I tried to pump out a blog on "The Unforgiving Minute" and simply asked Eric to find his shoes and put them on. Lo and behold, though, he had no idea where his shoes were. And so we nearly stripped the house clean trying to find his shoes, with my blood pressure rising and Eric trying to help by asking to wear everything from sandals to snow boots (there was no chance of snow at all in Twin Falls today and there hasn't been for several weeks). And guess where the shoes were? They were ... right ... behind ... the ... chair ... I ... was ... sitting ... in. Lesson learned, dads need to chill out and take in their surroundings before jumping to conclusions.

The rest of the day after we just barely made the school bus was blessedly better. I made my way through a chapter of another book and Eric headed off to a good day at school. Then I got Eric to a sitter before I made my way to Ketchum for a three-and-a-half hour meeting that was draining but necessary. And thankfully, Eric had a fantastic day at the sitter--a friend of Kathy's and mine who gave up about eight hours with our darling child.

So here I sit after a full day and Eric is sleeping upstairs after I had read to him of Robin Hood and we will both get a night's rest before another day of adventure. Thank you for your prayers and interest.

"The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education" by Craig Mullaney Final Assessment

Several days ago, before I got too sick to do much of anything, I finished Mullaney's top rate memoir. In fact, I skipped an evening of television--a big deal for me--because I couldn't pull myself away from seeing how Mullaney's tour in Afghanistan ended and the rest of his story unfolded.

His chapters on his combat time in-country were very interesting. In his one tour his platoon experienced a wide range of things. From the intensity of close contact with Taliban fighters along the Pakistani border to uncertainty coupled with well-deserved pride of providing security during a humanitarian mission to the boredom of service at Khandahar Air Base Mullaney received a very full picture of our military's endeavor's on the front line of the "Global War on Terror."

In the end and all throughout this book the reader is presented with a very patriotic and thoughtful approach to what it means to serve these United States in uniform. Sadly, I feel the need to put the words patriotic and thoughtful together, because all too often over the last eight years being thoughtful and patriotic have not always been respected. And perhaps as a pastor whose only uniforms have ever been a preaching robe and a high school band uniform perhaps I don't have the right to be thoughtful about my patriotism. But no one should question the right of Craig Mullaney to question our nation's endeavors overseas, especially as a West Point graduate who has seen action in the very lion's den of our nation's foreign policy.

Again, if you haven't already, go out and buy this book or borrow it from me or you local library!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mr. Mom Chronicles 8

Eric and I got Kathy off to the airport this morning by 5:28 a.m. And needless to say we both are feeling as though it is much later at night than this sun-still-hanging-over-our-heads leads us to believe. Then again, after a full day of being up we both should have a good night's sleep.

Thankfully Eric got his shower and I did too and we got off to the bus stop just in time. Thankfully as well Kathy made her way out of Twin Falls, through Salt Lake and on her way to Albuquerque without a hitch. Actually, Kathy's layover in Salt Lake lasted an hour or so longer than she had planned thanks to wind and snow, but by midday she let me know that she got to New Mexico without incident.

This afternoon at home went o.k. Though, I just can't get past the homework with Eric. I'm sure that doing his work fast is important, but it seems to me that some reasoning would help beyond just memorizing the formulas of addition, even in Kindergarten. Thankfully, we got through his homework and made our way to the Wii, when "wee" enjoyed "Boom Blox", "Celebrity Sports Showdown" and "Mario Kart" before a dinner of lasagna and some special TV dinner for a little boy.

All in all, this new adventure in Mr. Mommism is starting off on a good foot. I look forward to seeing what tomorrow has to bring with Eric going to a friend's home after school and me going to Ketchum for Presbytery business! Your prayers are MOST WELCOME!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Kings", NBC & the Bible

Just when you might have thought that religion was dead or dying in America NBC has chosen to make one of its biggest shows since "West Wing" based not on contemporary American politics, but on the story of Saul and David beginning in the Bible at 1 Samuel. Granted, in NBC's new Drama "Kings" they have changed Saul's name to "Silas", but David's remains the same. And the show does not take place in the pre-history of Israel but in what looks like Manhattan and North America, minus any branding that would make a direct connection to our culture.

Be forewarned, however, this is not a Hallmark Family Special. It is presented as grittily as the times in which David and Saul lived with all the political intrigue, sex, lust, and power presented if not explicitly in the Bible then certainly implied in Holy Writ. So I don't know if this is a recommendation or merely a WOW that a major network has taken a story from the Old Testament as the subtext for a major investment of time and money. It should be interesting over the next twelve weeks of this Season One of "Kings" to see how closely and how far apart the story on the small screen parallels and diverges wildly from what is laid out in the Bible.

But for all those who wonder where religion in America is going, you have to be a little curious that such a foundational story of the Bible is being presented with so much thought and energy by one of the Big Three TV Networks.

Monday, March 16, 2009

"The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education" by Craig M. Mullaney--250 pages in

One of the things I find difficult about this whole blogging exercise is whether or not people are reading what I bother writing about. Not to make any of you feel guilty, its just when i see "0" comments it makes me wonder.

And so again I want to appeal to anyone out there who might read this post. Please read this book!!! It is not only a page turner, but also a great work of literature. It is a coming of age story, but also so much more. From West Point and the peculiar culture that is one of our nation's military academies to the peculiarities of Oxford University in England and then on to the confusion and frustration that is Afghanistan; this memoir is compelling reading for anyone interested in our role overseas as a nation and as a people.

Not only does Mullaney give an insiders' view of the American Armed Forces, but also he gives us a look at what it means to be engaged in Nation Building in a place that can just barely be considered a "nation". Equally compelling are his passages regarding his lead up to deployment. Receiving information about the flora and fauna of Afghanistan, while interesting, was not much help when faced with the indifference of people he was being sent to help.

Mullaney's book is a must-read for anyone curious about our continued role in Afghanistan--whether you are a died-in-the-wool supporter of the "Global War on Terror" or you wonder about how Obama will make new strides as Commander-in-Chief, this book is well worth your time and effort.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

"The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education" by Craig M. Mullaney

As I turn on the TV after reading Eric's bedtime stories from a Children's Bible and a condensed version of "Robin Hood" what catches my attention is "Saving Private Ryan." This reminded me that I am reading a new memoir by a new author, Craig M. Mullaney who has crafted quite the page-turner in "The Unforgiving Minute".

Mullaney describes his upbringing in a blue-collar family and then attending and graduating from West Point. I am at the point in the book where he has graduated and is attending Ranger School between West Point and going to Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. The book then moves onto Oxford and Afghanistan where Mullaney sees combat in the War on Terror and finally moves into a third faze where he is a veteran whose brother is going into the armed forces in his brother's footsteps.

I guess what has intrigued me so much about this book is that it has so far received a five star rating by through 41 reviews. Also Mullaney's book has received critical acclaim from General Petraeus on the one hand and General Wesley Clark on the other hand. Now that's saying something; from George W. Bush's man in Iraq to a former Democratic Presidential Candidate says to me that this book speaks a truth that transcends the bickering and bitterness that has consumed too much of our country. And now that I am 100 pages into the book it is not only a balm for the ills of our nation but also a fantastic and compelling story of one young man's commitment to this nation and her values.

If you have the time, please, please consider reading Craig M. Mullaney's masterful memoir of duty and sacrifice. It may just restore your sense of what it means to love this country and more importantly to serve something larger than your own self interest.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

LOGOS Week 20

Wow! Can you believe it? Tonight is the Twentieth Week of LOGOS and we are ready to celebrate, but it is still hard to think what will happen next week and the week after until things start back up again in October of 2009. I know at least one six year old who will have trouble adjusting, as well as one thirty-eight year old who will appreciate a few weeks rest but will sorely miss the kids and adults. Granted I will see just about everyone, but it isn't quite the same on Sunday morning with brief encounters before, during and after worship.

When I think about this past year I will recall the time spent with our elementary and preschoolers teaching them about what the different parts of worship are. From learning about the Call to Worship by having the kids take off their shoes and socks and walking through sand, dirt, and stone replicating Moses' walk on Holy Ground to teaching the kids "Go Tell it on the Mountain" while discussing music as Proclamation to having the kids develop a communion table cover that the congregation is using throughout Lent the time I have spent with the dozen or so younger kids during Worship Skills has been priceless.

I will also fondly remember the evenings of being the Dinner Dean during Family Time. Being granted the privilege to be the first one to raise my hand and watching everyone raise their hands and gradually quiet down to prepare to pray for our food through word and song and movement is a joy like no other. And then to bring others along in the activity of thanking the cooks and then to listen to the laughter and sheer fun that young and old alike have during family game time is awesome.

And then there has been the time spent with the two oldest kids in LOGOS, Austin and Zakk who have encounter the Bible through J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Ring" triology has been fun and hopefully stimulating in their grasp of the Bible and concepts of faith. Of course I have missed spending time with the Junior Highs this year, but having that small group time with two young men and talking about how the Bible interacts with their lives has been informative and formative.

Like I said, I will certainly appreciate a few weeks of having six to eight hours each week when I am not preparing and engaged in LOGOS, but I suspect that I will soon feel a great hole in my week. So I pray and ask all of you to pray for the relationships that have been built and have grown throughout these past twenty weeks that they may continue in the time between March 2009 and October 2009. May all who have been touched by the wonder of treating one another as Children of God continue even as LOGOS at FPC, Twin Falls takes a hiatus. And may we all work at building relationships with one another, whatever our age, through God in Christ who has called us all into sacred community.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"Fool" by Christopher Moore; a Right Raucous Read

WARNING: If you are offended by adult situations, questionable language or a pastor who reads something other than the Bible and Nonfiction, then you may not appreciate this post.

This past week, in spite of a pretty heavy load I was released of some of that burden by the wonders of author Christopher Moore in his latest novel, "Fool". If you have read anything by Moore you know that he is not for the faint of heart, but for those willing to delve into his sick mind the laughter he dishes out is well worth the occasional (o.k. it is more than occasional) bit of offensive language.

"Fool" follows the story of King Lear's court jester through intrigue, jesting and a fair bit of promiscuous behavior. The novel is based very, and I mean VERY loosely on Shakespeare's play "King Lear". Actually, about the only thing that the novel has in common with Shakespeare is that some of the characters share the same names and titles as those that appear in the play as well as the setting being England sometime in the distant past. From there the novel takes off.

The lead character, the Black Fool a.k.a. Pocket, is a fantastic character. Throughout the novel the reader is endeared, repulsed, amazed, drawn to and shocked by what comes from his mind and heart or at least what Moore creates through him. If you are looking from an escape from the economic woes of today or of whether or not Obama can actually save anything, then I encourage you to pick up "Fool" or borrow it from me. But be forewarned, if you don't like foul language or reading about consenting adults doing what consenting adults will do from time to time then your best off being dragged down by one depressing news cycle after another. Cheery, isn't it?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

"Rendition", a Thoughtful Flick

Last night I watched a movie that provoked a lot of thought on my part. The movie was "Rendition" which tells the story of an innocent man caught up in America's nearly fifteen year old policy of sending persons of interest overseas to be "strenuously interrogated" by countries of less strenuous rule of law. Although it is a fictional account, it still will cause anyone with a heart for the Bill of Rights to wonder at what we have become as a nation. "Rendition" is sort of the anti "24" the Fox TV hit drama about terrorism and national policy post September Eleventh.

I guess for me one of the things that gets me going is that as a supposedly "Christian" nation it always shocks me to think that torture is o.k.'d by so much of our populous. After all, crucifixion was the state sponsored form of capital punishment, so for our so-called "Christian" nation to so readily accept the idea that any form of torture is o.k. is somewhat suspect to me. Granted, I understand the power of fear; it's just I wonder at people of faith saying that fear is more important than faith.

So if you want to wonder at what it means to be an American in the post-9/11 era this film "Rendition" is one that will make you think and wonder at what our founders are doing in their graves. Are they rolling in horror or are they proud at our innovation of their founding ideals?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Snow in March

Just when I thought Spring was coming to Southern Idaho we are getting a fair amount of snow this morning. I'm sure it is quite possible in this part of the country to get snow this late, but just a few days ago several of our flowers were starting to come out showing off yellows, purple and pink. And now today it's all WHITE! Ugh!

Even though March started off like a lamb, the lion has come back in the form of a snow tiger. Hopefully here in a few weeks this wet snow will be a memory as we watch trees, flowers and bushes blossom and temperatures rise.

I guess I'm just bummed that after an "interesting" week that Friday is so glum. Oh well, after some sermon preparation and other Sunday morning responsibilities I'll head home for some Wii with Eric and then settle in with my boy and watch "Star Wars the Clone Wars" on Cartoon Network; all in good time.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Neophyte, but a good day to be Presbyterian

While I am still trying to figure this whole blogging thing out, I haven't quite figured out how to respond to comments posted on my own blog! I'm sure I'll figure it out some day, but in the meantime I wanted to respond to "John" (honestly sometimes the anonymity of this 'networking' is frustrating).

I blogged about prayer yesterday because calling upon the Holy Spirit is important and I believe the Holy Spirit ultimately triumphed yesterday by affirming Adam's preferred course of action after a day long conversation.

That conversation began the night before when Adam came over to my house where my wife and I opened our home to Adam and we shared cake, ice cream and conversation. In the midst of that conversation I recognized and apologized for my part in this whole sorry episode in the life and ministry of Kendall Presbytery. Likewise Adam and I had face to face conversation before and after his meeting with the committee. It seems to me that gossip is more about making an accusation without knowing the facts, as "John" does in his comment that I haven't quite figured out how to respond to.

Well, I pray that "John" reads this post and if not comes to understand that gossip is an easy label to throw out at others without examining your own motives to begin with.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Prayers Needed

I covet your prayers for a young man who is in our church today in a very difficult meeting. His name is Adam Walker Cleveland and he has been, for the past few years, a candidate for ministry in Kendall Presbytery. Adam was due to have been examined by Kendall in December, but his exam and subsequent ordination were put on hold through a series of unfortunate events.

I am partly to blame as a member of what would have been Adam's Ordination Commission I was curious about an unfamiliar person preaching at the planned service. And so I googled that person's name and found out some things about him that were a concern for the church in which he was to preach for Adam and so I called several people in the presbytery. My hope in those phone calls is that the muckity mucks at presbytery would encourage Adam to find someone else to preach or search for a different venue for the ordination. Instead two pastors in our presbytery have stalled Adam's ordination. One, I believe because he is in his late fifties and cannot relate to a twenty something candidate for ministry and the second minister who disagrees with Adam's theology.

Don't get me wrong, both pastors are entitled to their opinions, but I wish they had acted more like pastors and looked for a way through things instead of erecting barriers to a fine young man's future of serving God and the church. Granted, I have my biases, but please pray that the Holy Spirit has the final word in the meeting between Adam and members of our Presbytery and not some political/theological ax.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Stations of the Cross & the Labyrinth

It has been a while since I've posted anything, mostly because there have been several pastoral matters that needed my attention over the last week or so. And then there have been several Presbytery of Kendall shenanigans going on that have grieved my heart and stretched my conscience. So, today, after about a week of non-stop concerns I was feeling pretty drained when I came in and so after grinding and making my coffee I decided to head down the hall to our prayer labyrinth.

Thanks to Dorothy Geist we now have numbers one through fourteen taped to the floor at turns in our prayer labyrinth and a handout that includes scripture and prayer for each of the fourteen turns. The reason for those numbers is that they are one way of praying the Stations of the cross, an ancient Christian prayer practice. I have to confess, while I have been curious about the stations for over fifteen years, I have never walked them. Until today and it was a powerful centering for me after so many concerns and needs that have stretched me thin.

So if you have the time and the desire to go deeper in your faith and you are in the Twin Falls area and have twenty or thirty minutes to read scripture and spend time in silent reflective prayer, then I encourage you to stop by the Presbyterian church and walk the Stations of the Cross through our Prayer Labyrinth.