Saturday, September 30, 2006


A Difficult Day

Some years ago, only days after I proposed to my wife, I attended a talent show/benefit for a short term missions trip that my then fiancee would be taking that summer. My wife performed in the talent show quite well. I watched the rest of the talent show, and then proceeded over to greet Steph's family, who also were in attendance. I will admit to being self conscious, given the fact that I would be seeing her grandfather, Danny Thompson, for the first time after proposing. As I greeted Steph's grandfather, he informed me in his gruff, rascally tone that I did not deserve her.

Since those early years of my wife and my relationship, we shared much with him, sublime and ridiculous. He saw Steph and I marry. Steph and I saw him welcome two great grandchildren into the world. I saw his eyes light up at the talk of the travel adventures he was taking with his lovely wife, Mary. We all saw Sammy Sosa break a corked bat at Wrigley Field. And I saw him continue to enjoy his life even when things were becoming increasingly difficult for him. I could always talk baseball with him, and he always seemed interested in anything I had to say, and that's saying something, since I'm only interesting 25% of the time.

For us, this day is a sad one. It is the end of an era for me, but much more so for my wife and her family. The word that comes to mind is surreal. And it reminds me that death is not how things should be. It is never easy to say good bye to the people for whom we care so much. We will miss him very much.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Little Things

Our parents have been very generous to us over the years. Right now, we as a family are heavy of heart, as Steph's grandfather has taken ill. We receive daily updates from Steph's parents as to his condition, which seems to be steadily improving. We pray for him and his wife often, and we are reminded of the fragility of human life and our dependance upon God for all things.

Having said that, I did something today which made me feel grateful for my in laws. Today, I took part in the autumnal ritual of cleaning out my gutters of fallen leaves. I went into my garage, grabbed my ladder and my pair of gloves, and went to work. As I performed this task, enjoying the crisp autumn air, I realized that both the ladder and the gloves were given to me by my in-laws. There are so many ways in which they have been generous to us, and two little things showed themselves in a brand new way today.

We miss our family in CA, and times like this make the distance all too real. But I am grateful for the life we have here, and the many ways we are reminded of our parents' generosity to us in our daily lives.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Twins and Dodgers

The Twins have offically rebounded. When I began my blog in April, they stunk. Now, they have clinched a playoff spot, and are still contending for their division. What a story they have been. So many teams could learn from them. Ironically, they share something with the Dodgers. Both teams have made it to where they are through a lot of old fashioned teamwork. The Twins are the better, more consistent team, but the Dodgers are not exactly a line up of superstars. The Dodgers are a patchwork group, with rookies and veterans, everyday players and bench warmers who contribute greatly.

The Twins play exciting baseball. Torii Hunter is one of the most underappreciated players in baseball. This would not be the case if he played in a bigger market. Justin Morneau is quite the slugger, beceoming the first Twin in 19 years to have 30 homer season (which Hunter has also now accomplished). Also, Joe Mauer is on the verge of being the first catcher in dozens of year to win a batting title. Add to that the fact that they have the best pitcher in the AL in Johann Santana, and you've got yourself a team. I remember being surprised and frustrated by their slow start. I'm glad they made up for it-they are quite a group. But more than anything, they are consistent.

The Dodgers are not consistent. While the Twins have won games efficiently, the Dodgers have had to win them dramatically. This will not carry them far in the postseason (if they make it-they finish the season in-where else?-San Francisco). But let's hope for one more Dodger Blue celebration this weekend. After all, there is no better place to see the Dodgers celebrate than in the City by the Bay.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Like Clockwork

It is my sad duty to report that the kiddos (our peanuts as my wife like to call them), are sick. Yes, another small upheaval in our world, and it always coincides with the return (or the first visit to) the nursery. My wife attended Bible Study here for the first time last week, and there is a remarkable correlation between that event and said sickness of my son, who in turn has graciously given it to my daughter.

It is amazing how such things change the picture at home. My boy, normally a happy little monkey, tonight was fit to be tied, not truly being happy until he could nestle in my wife's loving arms. My daughter is getting more mature, and while she prefers mom putting her to sleep, she graciously let me perform the task tonight, as she was certainly ready for sleep after battling through the day with a cold.

And with that struggle, this is where life makes the most sense. At work, I oversee dozens of people, telling them what to do, advising them on what might work best. I try to be a proactive worker, controlling situations rather than letting situations control me.

It is a different situation at home. Here, it is much more realistic to roll with the punches then to try to control everything. My little monkeys are not themselves, and I do my best to be a comfort to them, even if that means the best thing I can do is set them in their mothers' arms.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


The New York State of Mind

New York is an interesting place. The very fact that I am writing an entry about it is ironic. I detest its arrogance, but at the same time, New York speaks so loudly in our culture, it can be impossible to ignore. I have two vignettes on this:

-I have never been disappointed in a Woody Allen film. Some are much better than others, but all of them are at least interesting. Annie Hall is a fine film. One of the quintessential lines in the film speaks to the New York state of mind. The quote speaks of Los Angeles: "I could never live in a city where the only cultural advantage is the ability to make a right turn at a red light." My own critique of the LA life being put aside, the presence of this mindset is bothersome. Since I grew up on the west coast, and have spent a lot of time in the Midwest, the NY attitude is like an annoying insect which cannot be easily terminated. Steph and I just watched Melinda and Melinda, one of Woody Allen's latest films. In it, the story of a woman named Melinda is told two different ways, once as a tragedy, and once as a comedy. In the tragedy, the fact that the Melinda character had left New York, married a man and moved to (get ready for this) St. Louis was part of the depth of the tragedy. (To be fair, in the comedy portion of the film the Midwest is seen with more levity, as one of the principal characters had attended Northwestern). The disdain with which New Yorkers see the rest of the country, however cultured and enriched it might be, is puzzling, and ironically, completely closed minded.

-Alex Rodriguez should never have gone to New York. Only in the pompous caldron of the five boroughs could such a man be seen as a failure. I'm sure his paycheck is a big part of it, but the Yankee mindset is obsessive. Here in Minneapolis, folks are speaking of anything after entrance into the playoffs as icing on the cake. This is called contentment, something foreign to New Yorkers. If New Yorkers were content, 26 titles would be enough. Nothing ever is. Right now, A-Rod's ability is being called into question yet again. He should depart while he still can. Nothing can be said to satisfy New Yorkers. Nothing can penetrate the forcefield along the Hudson. Anything West of the Hudson is seen as insignificant.

New York is a special place. My hope is to go there once again, this time with my wife. My four trips there have been memorable to say the least. But I so love the middle of this country. A vast region untouched by oceans, welcoming in nature, and almost free of the New York State of Mind.

Monday, September 18, 2006


October Awaits

It is September 18th, a mere 13 days from the most glorious month of the year. True, Thanksgiving and Christmas are single days of greater meaning to me, given their focus on the character of God and His interaction with us. But October holds great meaning for me in the realm of God's grand conversation with His people through nature.

Only in October can we see the trees form a wandering tapestry along vast rivers and over hill and dale. Now the sweaters and coats come out. Fresh apple cider has just made its appearance at Trader Joe's, and the crispness in the air speaks volumes. The birthday of my wife is woven into the month, and the sweaters and jackets she receives for her birthday can be put to immediate use. Here also is the final calm before the storm of the retail holiday season, where I can enjoy some final days of quiet before the business. But October is not only great in the spiritual realm...

October baseball is matchless. The pictures in my mind from October baseball range from the sorrowful to the joyful. Some of the excitement was impersonal: Big Papi's heroics, Kirby Puckett's celebrations, Bill Buckner's error, the mystique of Jim Leyritz, the cool confidence of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and the awesome, mythic accomplishments of Curt Schilling. And finally, watching the greatest World Series in my lifetime, as an Arizona team rose from the dead to beat not only the Yankees, but defeat a legendary relief pitcher in Rivera.

Some moments were more personal: watching the hated Giants give away the World Series to the Angels. Sleeping against the brick facade at Fenway Park hoping for playoff tickets, and (upon securing them) witnessing first hand the wealth and sickness of Red Sox nation. Standing on Waveland Avenue in Chicago with a pennant starved city only minutes before a young man named Steve Bartman would become yet another misplaced source of Cub fan neurosis. Seeing, in person, the single greatest moment in LA Dodgers history, as the injured Kirk Gibson brought an often overly laid back crowd to the point of hysteria with one amazing swing of the bat. And seeing a young Mexican bring a World Series back to Los Angeles at the expense of the NY Yankees. These are the moments I witnessed.

These things make October my favorite month. The changing trees here in Minnesota remind me of what is in store...the great transitional month before the long, lustrous winter.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Centrality of the Gospel

I am thankful for our new church. Here, I feel that there is proper perspective on what causes church growth. What causes church growth is the Spirit of God. I will admit that I do not rely enough on His Spirit. The possibilities that can await if I open myself up in prayer to His Spirit are endless. For the first time in a long while, I feel that I am in a church where I am interacting with God in a real way. This is how we come into closer relationship with Him, through direct contact with His truth.

I am grateful to God for His Son Jesus today.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Today in Baseball

Today, baseball was a big part of things in our household. This manifested itself in two major ways.

First, I awoke this morning to the news that the Dodgers had lost to the Cubs last night, 9-8 in 11 innings. Though I am pulling for my old hometown's team, I took surprising pleasure in how this loss was inflicted. First, Derek Lowe blew a 7-0 lead. He was a product of the old GM's regime, and almost anything that reminds me of that upsets me. Second, I was disheartened by the Dodgers' shortsightedness in trading Cesar Izturis to the Cubs for Greg Maddux. Lo and behold, who should get the walk off hit for the Cubs in the 11th but this same Izturis. Sometimes, karma does seem to be the flavor of the day. I took delight in this misstep of the Dodgers', all the while hoping for better things today.

Second, though the Twins fell in a tough one to the A's today, I had the pleasure of watching the game in person with my daughter. It was one of those great, living in the city moments. I found out this morning that the Twins were playing a day game, so I took Corrie. I was surprised with how enthralled she was. She didn't understand anything, but she was excited. It was fun and relaxing, and the beginning (I hope) of many fun times. The only downside was that we had to go indoors, when the weather outside today has been perfect (75 degrees, clear skies). Here's a photo of Corrie and I taking in the game:

Monday, September 11, 2006



This image means something to those of us old enough to remember.

For those of you who know me, you know that I am not terribly patriotic. I see this country as a temporary home, one with things I like and things I dislike. For instance, I like the fact that I could move to Minnesota and buy a house with no problem. I also enjoy the fact that I have never been in favor of the Iraq war, and so far no one has come to my door and offered me a trip to prison. I don't enjoy this country's arrogance. We are a self centered, materialistic people. We lack any sense of context in this world. This is seen in so many different ways it is pointless to attempt a list.

Having said that, three things happened today that make me think about perception and how much certain things mean things to people. At Trader Joe's this morning, someone asked me the date. When I replied that it was the eleventh of September, I was greeted by silence. For those of us of a certain age, this day will never again be just another day. Perception is everything.

Later on today, it occurred to me that though December 7th does mean something to me, it will never mean what it does to my grandparents, because the violent acts of that day occurred 34 years before I was born. As an American, I know about it, but I never think about it at the mere mention of December 7th.

Finally, my wife informed me of another interesting perception of my daughter's today. They shopped at the Mall of America today, and apparently, there was an enormous flag draped in front of the elevator, some three stories high (after all, we are a people with a knack for the subtle). Corrie's reaction was: "Look at the enormous pretty flag." While others looked thoughtfully upon the flag, my daughter only saw the pretty banner.

This day will never mean the same thing to her, because she didn't watch the towers fall, and see, for the first time, a press corps and a nation completely taken off guard by something. The violence of that day does not stand out to me. People have been killing for theological reasons since day 1 (Cain killed Abel over religion if you think about it). What does stand out to me is that in a nation so proud and so confident, for one day we were shocked. And that is worth remembering. We do not control our own destiny nearly as much as we would like to think. The violence of others did not shock me, but the sadness of the loss of life affected me like it did every other American.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


The Mall o' America

In stark contrast to the nature of the Minnehaha Falls of which I wrote yesterday, today I write about another wonder of the Twin Cities. The Mall of America only seems bigger every time I go there. And even though it is almost everything that I do not like about American consumerism, there is a certain down homeness to it. It avoids the opulence which I saw at South Coast Plaza in Orange County, but make no mistake, it rakes in the cash.

Here, mom and dad can shop to their heart's content, and let the kids loose in the indoor amusement park found in the center of the mall. Corrie loves the kids' roller coaster and merry go round. I hope to try out the roller coaster one day.

This is a world wide tourist destination, and oddly enough, it's "our mall", as it is located only 5 minutes away. If we want to go to the mall, it is the most logical place to go. Steph and I have both witnessed several friends and family members of the female persuasion have their interest piqued at the mention that we live near this mall. Well now, thanks to our move, it's practically in our back yard. Any time we have people visting us for the first time, it is certainly worth a look.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006



Today has felt for the first time as though I really am at home. Today, the kiddos and I went to TJ's to actually shop for groceries, something that has been somewhat foreign to me for the past few months. Also, while Stephanie was cleaning, the three of us had the chance to go on a walk. As you will see here in the photos, Corrie did a great job of pulling her brother along in the Radio Flyer wagon:

On a different note, there is a reason for the title of my entry today. My day began with a wonderful jog to Minnehaha Falls, which is a mile to a mile and a half from our house. It took me 15 minutes or so to jog there, and I ran along the creek, with the gentle sound of the rushing water next to me, and the overgrown trees just above my head.

There are those rare moments in life when literature does indeed come alive. For me, I felt that way when I first went to London about Dickens. The world of CS Lewis became real to me as I visited Oxford. Going to Israel made the Bible come to life. And now, though I have never been a Longfellow buff, the words of the Song of Hiawatha become more and more meaningful, as the wondrous places, sights and sounds in this poetry are now my backyard. Here are his words, and a photo of this lovely piece of nature tucked into the city of Minneapolis:

Only once his pace he slackened,
Only once he paused or halted,
Paused to purchase heads of arrows
Of the ancient Arrow-maker,
In the land of the Dacotahs,
Where the Falls of Minnehaha
Flash and gleam among the oak-trees,
Laugh and leap into the valley.

There the ancient Arrow-maker
Made his arrow-heads of sandstone,
Arrow-heads of chalcedony,
Arrow-heads of flint and jasper,
Smoothed and sharpened at the edges,
Hard and polished, keen and costly.

With him dwelt his dark-eyed daughter,
Wayward as the Minnehaha,
With her moods of shade and sunshine,
Eyes that smiled and frowned alternate,
Feet as rapid as the river,
Tresses flowing like the water,
And as musical a laughter:
And he named her from the river,
From the water-fall he named her,
Minnehaha, Laughing Water.

Was it then for heads of arrows,
Arrow-heads of chalcedony,
Arrow-heads of flint and jasper,
That my Hiawatha halted
In the land of the Dacotahs?

Was it not to see the maiden,
See the face of Laughing Water
Peeping from behind the curtain,
Hear the rustling of her garments
From behind the waving curtain,
As one sees the Minnehaha
Gleaming, glancing through the branches,
As one hears the Laughing Water
From behind its screen of branches?

Our day closed with a trip to this sight as well, as my daughter has become terribly enchanted with a beautiful statue of Hiawatha and Minnehaha. This statue is placed at the top of the waterfall, just before the creek (which wanders through south Minneapolis) cascades down on its final trip to the Mississippi river. We love this sight already, and I have a hunch that these trips are only the first of many, as we are drawn to these beautiful outdoor sights in this ever so quiet city.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


The Dust Settles

We have bid adieu to Steph's parents, and it now feels as though the dust is settling here in our new home. We enjoyed our trip to the Minnesota State Fair last week, and our kiddos had a great time as well.

I am settling more and more into the notion of home ownership. I have had many bumps in the road, since I don't like the notion of working 45-50 hours a weeks, and then coming home to work some more. But, if I do things little by little, it shouldn't be overwhelming, though I know I will have internal struggles at times.

We are feeling very happy here. Our bed is finally set up (we had to get a special box spring because ours didn't fit up the stairwell), and the basement guest room is equipped with a bed, complete with new mattress.

Here are a few choice picks from the Minnesota State Fair:

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