Thursday, November 17, 2011

Leaving Las Vegas

True story: on my 21st birthday, I was living with my parents in Las Vegas. I'd just graduated from college, and came out to Vegas for what was supposed to be a 2-week vacation (I stayed until I was 25).

So I'm turning 21 in Sin City. Mid-afternoon, my dad comes home and says "get your shoes on, we're going downtown." We drive to a casino, and he hands me a roll of quarters and points towards the slot machines.

I lost the whole roll in ten minutes.

When I finished, he said "You get the point?"

"Yes sir."

"Alright, let's go home. Your mom's got cake."


I've been in town for an emergency management trade show, and it's been shocking how little I've emotionally connected with visiting a place I love. Other than a fantastic dinner with my aunt and uncle, I might have been anywhere. A big part of it is that we're staying at one of the seedier casinos (the Rio, best known for hosting the Chippendales), and I've had no transportation or time to visit my old haunts. Some of it is my Vegas-local disdain for mingling with the tourists. And a lot of it is that at this point I'd much rather be home with my family.

But as we drove to the airport this morning at 3:30am, I started getting nostalgic for the first time. I've not flown out of this airport on a return trip before... This was always the launching point for new travel. I flew out of this airport to propose to Judi, and again to marry her. I flew out for friends' weddings, for family reunions, and to visit Cincinnati to interview for grad school.

Arriving at McCarren is "coming home," but leaving is "starting a new adventure."

I'm ready for the next adventure.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Finding Proper and Appropriate Labels

I'm a resident of Wilmore, Kentucky. What does that make me?


Liked that joke, but had to cut it from something else I was writing. So I put it here. Hope you don't mind.

Why I Don't Work at a Church, Part Two

Take a moment and catch up on the backstory here.

When we left Cincinnati and moved to Lexington/Wilmore, I didn't have a job. It terrified me. I'd put my resume in with all of the local temp agencies, hoping to find some technical writing work (falling back on the Las Vegas skillset). Two days after we got here, I got a call saying there was a local business needing a short-term receptionist who could also do some technical writing. No chance of long-term placement, no benefits, lousy pay, just an interview on Friday if I wanted it.

Receptionist? Really? This is what you have for me, God?

So I went to the interview and got it. I worked hard there for a month. And at the end of the month, when the real receptionist (office manager, actually) came back, I was offered a permanent role with the company. The people were good, I liked the work, and I had no other offers. Not a hard choice: I took the job.

But taking the job meant I was doing something I figured I'd never do again: working outside the local church. That was harder than I expected, for a couple of reasons. The first is what I explained in Part One: two men I respect had judged me unfit to work in paid, vocational, full-time ministry with their particular local body. That was a kick in the teeth.

The second, though, was something I'd never really admitted to myself, or even fully realized. I drew a tremendous amount of value from my work as a pastor. Not the paid gig I'd enjoyed for five years, necessarily, but the actual pastoral role I've had for the past decade and a half. "I'm a valuable person because I do useful things for God!"

If you'd asked me flat-out, I'd have denied it and believed I was telling the truth. I know my value comes from my identity as God's child, not from what I can produce! I'm not a utilitarian! I read Search for Significance when I was sixteen!

I might get it intellectually, but in my gut it's so easy to believe that my worth as a person comes from my accomplishments, my relationships, my successes. It's a lie from the pit of Hell, and I do not exaggerate.

Let's sidebar from my therapy session for a moment, and let me get preachy.


You have intrinsic value, and it has nothing to do with your accomplishments. Or, for that matter, your failures.

Your virtues do not make you more valuable. Your vices do not make you less so.

Getting a better job, making more money, finding "the one," losing your job, going broke, losing "the one"... these things are irrelevant to your worth.

You are valuable because you are God's child. Doing well at life may make your Father proud, but it will not make him love you more or value you more. And the value he places on you is the only one that matters. Whose appraisal do you trust more than his?


Somehow, in my time "working for God," I'd forgotten how to live this way. And I'm convinced that this lesson is the primary one God has in mind for me to learn before he invites me back in the game. I'm not working at a church just because I blew two interviews, but also for my own protection. Until I get my worth from the right place, doing good will be bad for my soul.

So it's something I'm working hard to learn. Not that I've already attained this, but it's a start. We'll be here two more years at a minimum, and only in the past few weeks have I really started accepting that this might be the plan for the whole time. However long it takes to learn the lesson, I guess.

Only way to find out is to walk it out.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Public Service Announcement: Forty What?

Wow. Fascinating what a simple link from Rachel will do to your Analytics numbers.

'Monkey wide eyes new version brown' photo (c) 2009, Jemima Gibbons - license:

For those that asked, here's the reason for the blog title:

You can also get there by clicking "Shakespeare It Ain't" in the blog title.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Ignoring the Troll

It pains me to watch so many respectable Christians rushing to refute Pat Robertson's latest idiocy.

For those unaware, Pat rebuked a guy who's been dating while his wife is in a nursing home with Alzheimer's, saying that the guy should divorce her instead.


'Trolls' photo (c) 2011, Cali4beach - license:

So Christian leaders and thinkers, in a rush to show that Pat doesn't speak for Christians, have been writing serious rebuttals of Pat's comments. It's enough to make a (young) grown man weep.

Robertson's been saying ridiculous things for decades. It's all he does. There's a word we use on the internet for people who say ridiculously hurtful things just to get a rise out of other people... we call that person a troll.

The thing about a troll is this: it doesn't matter how good your rebuttal is, the troll won't hear it. They're just excited your talking to/about them. And the fact that you're even having a dialogue with them elevates their status in the eyes of an outside observer. A thorough and well-thought out response doesn't diminish their credibility, it implies that their ramblings are worthy of a thorough and well-thought out response.

The act of dialogue is, at its heart, an affirmation. Trolls don't need to be affirmed, they need to be starved of attention until they learn to behave like a grown-up.

I was raised in a pretty conservative Christian environment, and I've never met anyone who thought Pat was even close to representative of Christianity. So why are we so concerned to point out that "Pat Robertson Doesn't Speak For Me?" Why can he still push our buttons? The guy will meet his Maker soon enough, and he probably won't get straightened out until he does. What do you think your blog post, Facebook status, letter to the editor, or twitter comment is going to accomplish, other than keeping his name in circulation?

If you're a Christian and someone asks you about Pat, just shake your head and say "I'm sorry you had to hear that." And then have a conversation about something that matters or go do something worthwhile. Naming He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named just gives him power. Ignore him and he'll go away.

Or he'll just be ignored, which is just as good.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Importance of Being "Evangelical"

Tolerably early in life I discovered that one of the unpardonable sins, in the eyes of most people, is for a man to go about unlabeled. The world regards such a person as the police do an unmuzzled dog.
-- Thomas Henry Huxley

I grew up a part of the cleverly-named East 91st Street Christian Church. It was, as you might have guessed, located on East 91st Street in Indianapolis, Indiana. And it was called "Christian Church" because that was the only label that those in its spiritual tradition would accept.

I remember many occasions where I was asked "What kind of Christian are you?" My stock answer was "I try to be a good one." "But are you Baptist? Methodist? Presbyterian? Catholic?"

Nope. Simply "Christian."

It was fascinating to realize at a young age how much labels mattered to the people around me. I didn't learn until I got to college that I was an "Armenian." It wasn't long after that before I learned I was an "Egalitarian." (Side note: in the spirit of calling things what they are, can't we change "complementarian to "patriarchal" and "egalitarian" to "complementarian?" There's a benefit of naming your side first.)

As time went on, I learned more labels for myself, mostly from people who disagreed with me. But it wasn't until grad school, while taking a church history class, that I discovered I was an Evangelical. I kid you not, I went through three years of Bryan College and came out without realizing that "Evangelical" could be a spiritual heritage in addition to a voting record. People would say "We Evangelicals believe" and I'd zone out since it didn't pertain to me.

So Rachel, one of my favorite current writers, wrote a fantastic piece today called "Journeys of a Religious Misfit." If you're not reading Rachel, start now.

I've been reading her blog since Day 1, and one of her ongoing frustrations has been one I see many of my friends wrestling with: the label "Evangelical." Does it help us or hurt us? Should we further split the "Evangelical" label into smaller, more accurate ones? The whole discussion makes me nauseous. I wrote about it several months ago but failed to save my work.

The one label I'll allow myself these days, if somebody's really trying hard to pin me down, is this: "Well, I currently attend a Vineyard church, but I'm really a crypto-Campbellite." A what the what? "Campbellite," after Thomas Campbell, who wrote one of the most important religious documents in American history: The Declaration and Address.

He strongly encouraged his readers to abstain from all other names besides "Christian," because, as he said:

division among the Christians is a horrid evil, fraught with many evils. It is antichristian, as it destroys the visible unity of the body of Christ; as if he were divided against himself, excluding and excommunicating a part of himself. It is antiscriptural, as being strictly prohibited by his sovereign authority; a direct violation of his express command. It is antinatural, as it excites Christians to contemn, to hate, and oppose one another, who are bound by the highest and most endearing obligations to love each other as brethren, even as Christ has loved them. In a word, it is productive of confusion and of every evil work.

Here's the thing. I'm a Christian. So's John Piper (with whom I don't always agree). So's Rob Bell (see above). So's the Pope (again). So's Tim LaHaye, or the CBMW, or the Sojourners, or anybody else with whom I frequently disagree. It doesn't matter. These people are still Christians just like me. Or, perhaps more accurately, each one is "a wretch like me."

Today Rachel wrote:
At lunch I confessed to one of the monks, Brother Brenden, “I know it doesn’t work this way, but I wish I could take the pieces I love from each tradition—Catholic, Orthodox, Mennonite, Methodist, Evangelical, Anglican—and cobble them together into a home church.” He smiled sympathetically, but in a way that said, “Yeah,it doesn’t work that way.”

Why not? What's stopping us? I respect Brother Brendan's position and find it almost everywhere, but I beg to differ. There's a word for someone who's a Catholic Orthodox Mennonnite Methodist Evangelical Anglican:


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jenna made a picnic table

We've been using our backyard a lot this summer, and the lack of a good table has been pretty obvious. I'd planned to buy a kit and assemble it myself, but when Jenna and I drove out to buy one, everything in the area was already assembled. Hard to fit that on a CR-V. So we bought the boards and built it ourselves... mostly by eye. I based it loosely on this, but did a lot less measuring.

- Six 2x6x12, cut in half at the store by a helpful employee.
- One 2x6x10, cut in half.
- One 2x4x8, left well enough alone (it fits in the CR-V, just barely).
- Box of screws
- Twelve 5/16" carriage bolts (with washer and nut for each)

Step one: stain the boards. That's Jenna and her friend Hays, not Liam.

Step two: Cut the pieces.

Because the 2x6s are cut in half, we have 12 6' boards and 2 5' boards. Save the 2x8 for later.
- Two of the 2x6s become each seat. Cut 2" corners at a 45-degree angle.
- Five of the 2x6s become the table top. On the outer boards, cut corners.
- Two of the 2x6s get cut up for legs. 32" lengths at a 65-degree angle.
- One 2x6 gets ripped lengthwise, then becomes internal bracing.
- Cut 3 26" lengths from the internal bracing, and start assembling the table top.

Remember, whenever working with power tools, it's important to remember your PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment).

Assembling the table was pretty straightforward once I figured out my approach... I mean once Jenna did. Use the internal bracing to strap the tabletop together, then attach the legs to the outer straps. Attach the 5' crossbars to the legs, then cut up the 2x4 to use as diagonal cross-bracing. Flip the table over and screw on the seats.

It sounds pretty straightforward, but it took the better part of the weekend (due in part to my nonstop help). I'm pretty proud of the final product, though:

Building things is good. Raising kids that build things is better.

I'm really looking forward to eating on this table. Now, if I could just find time to cut the grass...

Monday, August 15, 2011


“To whom can you compare me?
Whom do I resemble?” says the Holy One.

Look up at the sky!
Who created all these heavenly lights?
He is the one who leads out their ranks;
he calls them all by name.
Because of his absolute power and awesome strength,
not one of them is missing.

'The Eagle Nebula (M16): Peering Into the Pillars of Creation (A nearby star-forming region about 7,000 light years from Earth.)' photo (c) 2008, Smithsonian Institution - license:

Why do you say, Jacob,
Why do you say, Israel,
“The Lord is not aware of what is happening to me,
My God is not concerned with my vindication”?

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is an eternal God,
the creator of the whole earth.
He does not get tired or weary;
there is no limit to his wisdom.

He gives strength to those who are tired;
to the ones who lack power, he gives renewed energy.

Even youths get tired and weary;
even strong young men clumsily stumble.

But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength;
they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings,
they run without growing weary,
they walk without getting tired.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Paint vs No Paint

So the guys at 37signals pointed this out a while ago, and I've been pondering it for months.

A stool at O'Hare Airport in Chicago:

A similar stool at an Atlanta airport:

The stool on top is made from a cheap iron that was covered with a generous coat of good-looking paint. Looks great when it goes in, but as time goes on it really doesn't wear well. See the edges fraying? See all of the lumps getting exposed?

The stool on the bottom uses a slightly more expensive metal, but with no paint. Scuff the brass base of the stool and you'll just see more brass. Take a rasp to the corner, bang into it with your suitcase, let your dog chew on it. There's nothing there except more of the same.

Why do I spend so much time trying to put a good face on things, when I should be concentrating more on what's underneath the paint? A good friend recently asked me after a hard day's work how I was doing. I said I was doing pretty well.

"Ok, thank you, I get it," he said. "But outside of Micah Odor Positivity, how are you doing really?"

Really? That was a pretty hard day. But over the past two or three years, this has been the focus of my gazelle-like intensity: actually being the guy who can honestly say that life is good, no matter what. I still spend more time than I'd like wondering about the paint, but if you keep picking at it and scuffing it enough, you can get most of that off.

The unpainted stool looks better than the partially painted one, even if the metal underneath isn't fancy.

We become what we do.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Why I Don't Work at a Church, Part One

Back in 2005, I quit my job at an engineering firm and moved to Cincinnati to start my M.Div. A couple months later I was in a great role at a fantastic church. I'd thought since I was 15 that I'd spend my life like that, and I figured once I started I'd never stop.

When it became clear that we were moving to Wilmore, I started looking for churches in the area where I'd like to work. I found two with openings that were a good fit for me, and I went hard after both of them. I really psyched myself up for both interviews... putting my best foot as far forward as I could, emphasizing what I'd bring to the role, etc. This week a year ago, I was sure I had landed one. Neither materialized.

That hurt. I realized later that I've never in my life not gotten a job I've applied for (less because I'm so awesome than because I never apply until I'm sure I have the job). Both jobs were a great fit for me, so what exactly was the problem? Bill Hybels talks about the Three Cs of hiring: Character, Competence, and Chemistry. Where did I go wrong? I called both hiring managers and asked if they'd meet with me and help me learn what kinds of things hurt me.

Talk about a lesson in humility... or make that humiliation. I met with both for an hour each, and they gently walked me through my strengths and weaknesses in the application process. I'd been trying so hard to prove Competence, but they both said the same thing: the problem was either on Chemistry or, more frightening, Character. They both used the same sentence, almost word-for-word: "I'm not sure the right word to use. It's not 'arrogant,' but it's one step under that."

My initial instinct (the first time) was to argue: "What's one step below 'arrogant?' 'Confident?' If I'm not actually arrogant then what's the problem?" But I bit that down and tried to listen. And when the second guy said the same thing, I knew there was something there I needed to deal with. But it was hard to take.

I'd be a liar if I said I never struggled with pride (cue C.S. Lewis). But I've spent so much time and energy in the past ten years trying to root that out; for it to show itself so thoroughly to total strangers? When I got home, I talked to some folks around me, trying to figure it out. I was surprised with where I ended up.

The people closest to me said "Pride? Absolutely not. They got it wrong." The people who knew me less said "Pride? Maybe. I don't think so, but I could see where they're coming from." The people furthest from me said "Pride? Absolutely I see that in you." So what the heck is that? What kind of character flaw is hidden from myself and those closest to me but easily apparent to those further away? It took me a while to figure it out.

The ugliness that both churches saw in me wasn't pride. It was insecurity (cleverly masked as pride). It never showed up around those closest to me, because I'm rarely insecure around them. The less secure I feel, the more likely I am to act overconfident.

It's a coping mechanism that's worked well for me for a long time, and in certain circumstances still does. It's certainly been good in my present job. But when you're looking for spiritual maturity, someone who comes across as prideful isn't the one you'd pick.

So, as much as it pains me to say it, the reason I'm not working for a church right now is a lack of spiritual maturity on my part. I wasn't ready. In part two, I'll talk about the ways I think God is changing me through this.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

This is my superpower

So I saw this mind-blowing video on kottke, who correctly notes that it gets insane at 3:00 and even moreso at 5:00 (when the pieces turn invisible and the dude keeps playing). Try to imagine being that good at anything. I can't.

This year's been really good for me, especially in the realm of self-awareness. I've been asking "What am I really good at? What kind of role will I do best in? Basically, what am I made to do?"

What I've realized over the past year is that I'm not the best at anything. I'm not bad, though... I'm solid in lots of areas. But for every single thing I'm good at, I know half a dozen people who are better at it than me.

There's really only one place where I'm phenomenal, and it's this:

I am always all in.

I'm not the best engineer, writer, project manager, teacher, mentor, planner, recruiter, or student. But in the past 3 years I've done well in every one of those roles because I've gone forward as hard as I can at whatever's in front of me.

It wasn't always this way. I spent my first two decades never trying hard at anything, so that I had a built-in excuse for not succeeding. "Well, I maybe I didn't (win the game/get the grade/learn the instrument/get the job) but that's just because I was only playing around. If I really tried hard I could have done it."

And then I realized that was lame. And I didn't want to be that guy. So over the past eleven years, I've tried hard to learn how to be totally invested in whatever I'm doing. And it's really been worthwhile. I haven't always had more success, but I've had a lot more fun.

My goal for the next ten years? While there might always be somebody better than me at whatever I'm doing, I'll never be outworked again.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Here is a trustworthy saying...

... that deserves full acceptance.

Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Character is Destiny

On yesterday's plane ride I wrote something I was proud of, only to lose it when my battery ran out. So instead, you're getting something brilliant from my friend Jim Zartman.

- I can lose my life to the violent.
- I can lose my freedom to the powerful.
- I can lose my calm in danger.
- I can lose my image when lied about.
- I can lose my resources if stolen.
- I can lose my clarity under extreme circumstances.
- I can lose my health from disease.
- I can lose my strength with age.
- I can and will lose almost everything obtained in this life.

The only thing no one can take from me is my character. If I form my character it can never be taken; it has to be surrendered by my own free will.

Character is destiny.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

For People Like Me

A couple of weeks ago I started to post this, but unfortunately hit my upload cap on Vimeo. It's all here now, though, so I present it in all its glory.

If you're like me, though, you've got more media waiting to be watched today than you could get through in a week. So you'll click the following video, watch for a minute, decide Andy's boring, and skip the rest. That would be a mistake.

If you're only going to watch one part, I'd recommend Part 2 of 3, followed by 3 of 3, followed by 1 of 3 (starting at minute 7). Of course, you'll get more out of it if you watch it straight through. I bet I've watched this a dozen times in the past 5 years.

So here's part one. The main point Andy makes is that while we may say the "postmodern generation" as a distinct group of people based on their age, this couldn't be more different than the way the word and concept "generation" is used in the Bible.

Here's part two. Andy uses this time to deconstruct the modern marketing machine, especially as it pertains to the church. His main point is that advertising/marketing/branding is driven by the concept "FPLM" (for people like me) which ultimately encourages people to see themselves as part of an ever-more-finely-defined group of people that's distinct from all other groups.

And here, at long last, is part three. Andy takes what's been covered in parts 1 and 2 to show that while the church has bought fully into this FPLM concept, it's absolutely foreign to the radical breaking down of walls that was at the heart of Jesus' mission. It's actually not just foreign, but antithetical... the division of people from each other is actually Satan's gameplan, not God's.

Enjoy. My thoughts on the matter will be published soon.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Internet + Lasers + Trebuchets = AWESOME.

These guys make desktop trebuchets with lasers. Click through for the video.

Kickstarter is awesome.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

God of Suffering

Not much to say that's not better said by John, except "Wow am I glad John has started writing again."

Joel Osteen's Transportation

Monday, April 11, 2011

Us and Them

I think that Segmentation is, at its root, a lie. It is the lie that I carry some privilege for belonging to a particular group. And the flip side of For People Like Me is that there are other people who are not People Like Me. I believe that's wrong. As much as there are obviously transitions and changes in culture, I believe every human being IS a person like me. Specifically, a "wretch like me."
- Andy Crouch

One of the greatest gifts I've been given in my ministry experience was the chance, my first year of seminary, to be an assistant to Dr. David Roadcup at the Center for Church Advancement at Cincinnati Christian University. Dave gave me lots of interesting things to do, one of which was to reorganize the Center's resource library.

Under a stack of books and sermon tapes, I found these video cassettes from a 2001 conference on "Building Worship Services for Postmodern Generations." Because I'd recently begun such a worship service, I watched the tapes to pick up some pointers. I didn't get many pointers, but the final talk of the conference has forever changed my life, my view of the church, and my understanding of Jesus' mission.

I present them here without further comment, except to say that it's a prelude to my thoughts on "The Coming Evangelical Split," which has been blowing up my Facebook and Google Reader feeds for the past week. After seeing several friends post the link on Facebook today, and having others talk about how much they liked it, I wrote "I hate this at a level I can't articulate." And I really can't. But I need to be able to.

So this is where I begin to process.

FPLM, by Andy Crouch (Part 1 of 3) from micah1835 on Vimeo.

FPLM, by Andy Crouch (2 of 3) from micah1835 on Vimeo.

I'll upload Part Three next week, once my upload cap resets.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Do The Hustle

It's not hard to hit the two extremes. I waffle back and forth between them.

But rocking them both at the same time?

That's work.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Odors Have Landed

An Update on the Life of the Odor Family, Part I.

I've realized over the past month that I've done a really crappy job of keeping my friends updated on what exactly is going on in our lives. This is an attempt to be a better friend by communicating more. Now I just need my friends to read it...


Last August, after five amazing years in Cincinnati, our family (Judi, Jenna, Liam and I) moved to Wilmore, Kentucky. Judi had completed her Master of Divinity degree from Cincinnati Christian University (mine is still in progress) and applied to two Ph.D. programs. Asbury was our first choice, and when she received a generous financial aid package (to a program where only eight people a year get accepted), it seemed like God was pushing us out of Cincinnati, over the Big Water and into Kentucky.

This terrified me.

I had a great job at the Cincinnati Vineyard... fantastic people, fantastic church. I loved our house, I hadn't finished school, our kids were thriving, and my parents had just moved to the area. Why leave?

The answer, of course, was that I married a True Scholar and that we're in it together. So I started applying for jobs in the Wilmore/Lexington area. Over a 6-month period from February to August, I applied for everything that looked remotely plausible, and got no hits. Two good opportunities where I lost the job in the interview (more on that another time), quite a few "don't call us, we'll call you," and lots and lots and lots of nothing at all.

But we were sure this is where God was calling us. So on August 20th, 2010, I locked my office for the last time, turned in the key, and left my dream job. We spent the following week packing up, then rented the truck and drove back in time 50 years to small-town Kentucky. We moved into a little duplex that felt more like a dorm than a house. I put my resume in at all of the local temp agencies. And I prayed like crazy that we hadn't made a stupid mistake.

It's embarrassing how little I trust God (more on this another time).

Three-quarters of a year later, I can honestly say we've never had it so good. Judi is thriving at school; soaking up Biblical languages and doing more between the kids' bedtime and her own than some of her classmates do all day. Our kids are fantastic; seminary towns are filled with fertile young couples with similarly-aged kids (and Christian-college towns are full of amazing babysitters). The duplex has been perfect; I can imagine more but I don't need it. And my temporary gig has turned into something pretty amazing... I'm an Advanced Technical Specialist for a small engineering firm specializing in Mass Emergency Notification (more on this another time). But the best stuff is the fam. Daddyhood continues to be amazing, and Judi and my alliance has hit a whole new level. I feel like I've hit a new level with God, as well. There's a trust there now that I don't think I had a year ago. Thriving, baby. If this isn't what it feels like, it's close.

Short version? Life is beautiful. We miss our friends in Cincinnati (and elsewhere) and there is a part of me that wonders what life would look like if we were still there. But when I was in town last weekend for the CCU Small Groups Conference (more on that another time), I realized I couldn't imagine going back a year and NOT making this change. I have no idea what the future holds for us (seriously, I have absolutely no idea) but for now, we're safe and we've landed.

It's enough.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Don Miller's the Man

I'm kind of a fan.

I actually didn't start out as one (I was the only guy in the world who didn't love Blue Like Jazz) but I thought Searching For God Knows What is the most fantastic book that nobody's read.

And since then, I've been loving his blog. It's like you can see him growing in realtime. I'll be really curious to see what he's like at 50 instead of 40. In the meantime, Don's got this book you may have heard of... Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Check it out:

What story are you telling? from Rhetorik Creative on Vimeo.

The paperback releases today. Get your copy here, if you're into crass commercialism and owning physical copies of books (and hey, who isn't?):

Buy it on Amazon.

Don, if you're reading this, you might like this: Clicky.


I haven't had much reading time in the past month, but have used almost every private moment this weekend to catch up on my overweight Google Reader feed. This is kinda fun, I thought:

You could make the case (and I have to myself) that I'm spending far too much time taking in and not enough time creating. Breaking Rule Number Nine, and all that. My only (poor) excuse is that my special project at work right now is really taking it out of me, but it will be over soon and I can go home to Tara. I mean, over soon and I have lots of things to write about.

I actually bought, but haven't yet had the willpower to do anything exciting with it. For now, I feel good just catching up in Reader.

If you'd like to see the best stuff I've read recently, feel free to check my shared items:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Odor Theater

Sounds appealing, huh?

I lack the time to write right now, but I've made a goal to post every week at least. So instead of my witty reparte, you're getting some high-quality video from around the web.

Best non-OkGo music video I've seen this year:

Seems like it would be hard to train the people to walk up the walls like that. Impressive.


Why We Can't Walk Straight:

A Mystery: Why Can't We Walk Straight? from NPR on Vimeo.

Reminds me of Winnie the Pooh, where they try to lose Tigger in the forest. Yeah, I'm a dad.


Two Men Running:

Two Men from Dominic Allen on Vimeo.

Dooce said: "This short film could quite possibly be one of the most profound three minutes and fifty-four seconds you've ever spent watching video on the Internet."


And finally, last but not least, Growing Is Forever.

Growing is Forever from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

It's interesting that everything interesting is on Vimeo, not YouTube.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

There is a land...

There is a land shining with goodness where each man protects his brother's dignity as his own, where war and want have ceased and all races live under the same law of love and honor.

It is a land bright with truth, where a man's word is his pledge, where children sleep safe in their mother's arms and never know fear or pain. It is a land where kings extend their hands in justice rather than reach for the sword; where mercy, kindness, and compassion flow like deep water over the land, and men revere virtue, revere truth, revere beauty, above comfort, pleasure, or selfless gain. A land where peace reigns in the hearts of men, where faith blazes like a beacon from every hill, and love like a fire from every hearth, where the True God is worshiped and his ways acclaimed by all...

There is a golden realm of light, my son. And it is called the Kingdom of Summer.

For better or for worse, Stephen Lawhead's Pendragon trilogy has probably shaped my theology more than any book outside of the Bible. Lewis and Tolkien are giants, without a doubt. But Lawhead taught me to dream.

Friday, January 7, 2011


It's the character trait I most admire in others and desire for myself. I'm flaky by nature and it's entirely too easy for me to start new things and not finish them (probably due to this). Which is why these words by one of my favorite authors have kept me up nights over the past two weeks:

I’ve been thinking about what I can resolve to do differently. There’s plenty I could name, but it’s the resolve that gets you, isn’t it? There’s a scene, towards the end of The Untouchables, when Jim Malone (Sean Connery), his body riddled with bullets, wheezes at Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) through blood bubbling up from his mouth: “What are you prepared to do?”

Malone doesn’t ask Ness what he feels like doing, or what he thinks he might do. He doesn’t care about emotions, or reasoned probabilities. He’s seeking resolve. What are you prepared to do?

It’s worth asking ourselves, each of us alone, in the lonely night’s dark when bluster and delusion have left us, when the hard truths of our lives press in close as shadows. What are you prepared to do?

Climbing Journal Mount Rinjani package | 29th May 2010photo © 2010 Bohari Adventures | more info (via: Wylio)

I have a lot of new resolutions this year, but per Mr. Miller I'm not going to share them. Instead, I'm going to share two new additions to my wall at work. They're the only thing hanging on my walls besides a picture of my smoking hot wife.

The first is the somewhat tongue-in-cheek-but-not-really Manifesto of the Cult of Done.

1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.
2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
3. There is no editing stage.
4. Pretending you know what you're doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you're doing even if you don't and do it.
5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
7. Once you're done you can throw it away.
8. Laugh at perfection. It's boring and keeps you from being done.
9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.
10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
11. Destruction is a variant of done.
12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
13. Done is the engine of more.

The other is a quote from Calvin Coolidge, 30th President.

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

The character trait I resolve to build this year?


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Things I Don't Ask God For

I don't ever pray that I'll meet the woman of my dreams. I never ask God to someday give us two amazing children, or to help me find a job to feed and clothe them, or for a roof to put them under.

Prayer is the languagephoto © 2009 Leland Francisco | more info (via: Wylio)

I don't ask for these things because I already have them.

This isn't meant as a boast, and it's not a statement against prayer by any means. It's just a simple observation: we don't ask for things we already have. It's not limited to God, really. You don't ask your boss for $10 an hour when you're already making $12. You don't ask your prof for another chance to take a test you aced. It just makes sense... you only ask for what you don't have.

So why did Jesus tell us to ask that God's will be done?

I have heard Christians say many times "Well, this terrible thing happened, but that must be God's will." And I always want to jump in and ask "How do you know?"

"Well, it must be God's will because it happened."

If whatever happened was automatically God's will, then what exactly is it we're supposed to be asking for?

I know from firsthand experience that God's will isn't always done. I know it because sometimes God's will is for me to be a better husband/father/friend/citizen, and I'm not. Forget tsunamis and cancer for a moment (but not for too long, we'll come back to that) and just think about yourself. Have you ever acted in a way that was contrary to God's will? If so, then isn't God's will not being done?

If they really sit down and think about it, what most people mean by "God's will is always done" is "No matter how bad something is, God can find a way to turn it for good." Absolutely true. God is the ultimate salvager who can take our nastiness and use it for something beautiful. But that's not because he enjoys nastiness.

The right response to the frequent utter brutality of our world isn't "Oh, this horrible thing must be God's will and design for your life, so start looking for the good in it or else get used to the fact that you really suck at being spiritual."

The right response is to acknowledge that awful things are awful, and to recognize how much the pain of our world hurts God himself. The right response is to recognize that there are things, good things, that can happen in the midst of horrendous pain. And the right response is for us to ask God to make things right, and for us to be available to be the ones he works through.

NOTE: The photo was found by putting the word "prayer" into You should check it out... it's a very cool website built by the best college roommate I ever had.