Saturday, June 04, 2011


Man on Fire

So, about a year ago, my grandfather passed away. Since I have only written one other entry on this blog since then, you don't have to look far to see that entry.

I live my life with few regrets. Mainly, I think looking back is a waste of time. There are important instances where looking back is vital (each week in church when I take the sacrament, I am looking back, and that is necessary), but most looking back is pointless to me. But there is one thing I wish my grandfather had known, and that is my nickname at work.

Some years ago, I stood outside my parents house in the pouring rain mixing concrete with my grandfather. I had been aiding my dad and grandfather on an addition at my parent's house, and we were attempting to put the finishing touches on the plaster on the outside of the house. I had finished a day at school, and it was raining pretty hard, so I figured we would not be working on the addition that day. I was wrong. I mixed concrete and served it up to my grandfather in the rain, and I was furious. He even made reference to it some years later, as he knew that I was less then thrilled with the situation.

My grandfather grew up in the depression, and I have even heard my grandmother say that my generation could use a depression to teach us something. To a certain degree, she may be right. But I always thought, especially when I was younger, that he thought me lazy, or at least not a hard enough worker.

Over the last couple of years, some of my coworkers began calling me "Man on Fire" when I run the floor. To those of you not familiar with the vernacular, "running the floor" at Trader Joe's means you are driving the crew and attempting to manage the processing of a load and the process of getting the products on the shelf. I became known as "man on fire" when I ran the floor, because I apparently have a look and an intensity about me when I run the floor that I don't otherwise have.

Recently, I was putting up some wine in the wine shop, and one of my crew members (he was training a new crew member) said to his trainee, "This is when we call Joel 'man on fire'." I realized then and there that I wish that Papa could have heard that nickname, and that he would know that while I never lived through the Great Depression, I was able to learn the value of hard work, and that I partly learned it from him.

From now on, every time I hear the nickname, I will think of him.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


The Latest

If you ever stop by here anymore, thank you. Most of my attention lately has been on writing about movies. Stephanie has done a great job updating some pictures...I link her blog on the side. Otherwise, for some reason, I would rather talk about something I really like than talk more about myself (though there's plenty of room for that on the movie blog as well, I guess). I'll write more as stuff comes up...

Here's the link:

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you can have some fun with the movies. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Remembering Harry

At some point early in my life, I decided to call my grandfather Harry, "papa". I called him that for 34 years. He died suddenly two weeks ago, and his death has led to a lot of thinking. The thing most disquieting about death is its unpredictability. Since we never know who it will strike or when, the very ground beneath our feet feels unstable. I am glad that papa's life was built on a rock, but that doesn't seem to ease my grandmother's pain right now. The loss of a presence that she had for 62 years cannot be easy. My love and prayers are with her constantly.

As I made my way back to my home in Southern California last week, I did it with reservations. How would this all feel? Would I sob the whole time? Would I be able to enjoy the presence of family, some of whom I had not seen in decades? The answer? I did not sob the whole time. I felt rushes of nostalgia and heartache, and I did enjoy seeing the family. It was a four day affair, which made for lots of storytelling, great laughter, old and new photographs, and food. The thing that impressed me so much was the direct impact that he had on so many, while his impact on me was more one of influence. He raised a family on the Rock, and his son in turn raised me on the Rock. This is the greatest gift he could have given. Grandparents are often thought of as mindless gift fountains, dispensing candy, money and toys to greedy grandchildren. Papa knew that the greatest gift he could give us was an understanding of who Jesus Christ is.

Last weekend, I heard the same old stories, I saw many of the same old photos, and I sang the same old hymns. I also contemplated some of the arguments I had with my grandfather, and some of the ways I just didn't connect with him. But it occurs to me that the photos, the hymns and the stories (which all serve a meaningful purpose) are actually quite trite compared with the one thing that mattered most to him. This one thing we shared, and it eclipses anything else. Our sins were washed in the blood of the great Passover Lamb, and we have given Him our hearts. I will be conformed to Christ's image for as many days as I have left on this earth. That is the best way I can remember him.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


I'm Glad I Don't Aim High

Because the blog has been not so much of a priority for me of late.

Work has been going well. Becoming a Mate at TJ's has had its challenges. I wouldn't call any of them unexpected, but they have been difficult at times. The increased responsibility is both exhilarating and intimidating. Right now, the big challenge that I am facing is getting our spoils (perishable product that we throw away) under control. It is a fine line to walk between being in stock but not having too much.

The kiddos get more fun each day. I have begun rounds of kickball in the backyard, and Corrie and Jack love it. One odd thing...Jack finds the phrase "foul ball" to be utterly hilarious. Wesley is at that stage where every phrase uttered is adorable. He also seems to be more dramatic than the other two...resorting to violent rages of temper, and lamentable weeps that should be saved for wakes, but usually have something to do with a missing toy.

Speaking of kickball, we have had a very warm spring. I cannot remember a time when the buds on the trees popped out so early. The kids were able to hunt for Easter eggs outside, which is always a crap shoot here in Minnesota.

Folks, we moved to Minnesota 4 years ago. That occasion started this here blog. I cannot believe how much has happened...

One last anecdote...I was eating lunch with two coworkers, both of whom have moved to Minnesota within the past year. I was talking to them about a local restaurant that we love (Sea Salt, a seafood restaurant near Minnehaha Falls). Both of these men live in the west Suburbs, a good 20-30 minutes from the falls. I was telling them how great the restaurant was, but told them that it might be quite a drive for them coming from the West 'Burbs. They both looked at me and said, "You've been living here too long...30 minutes is nothing." I should know better. It's true. 30 minutes in the car has become a long drive to me, when I used to spend almost 4 times that amount of time in the car daily when I lived in LA and commuted to TJ's in Pasadena. I have acclimated...and I am told I can do a dead on Minnesota accent.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


An Exchange in the Car Today

Jack: Wesley's middle name is tov!

Me: What does that mean?

Jack: Goodness. Corrie's middle name is Hesed!

Me: What does that mean?

Jack: Lovingkindness. My middle name is Emet!

Me: What does that mean?

Jack: Truth.

Me: Good...Do you know who you are named after Jack?

Jack: No.

Me: You are named after CS Lewis.

Jack: (nothing)

Me: He wrote the Narnia books that your sister listens to.

Jack: Daddy, I have no idea what you're talking about....

Thursday, November 19, 2009


The End?

For reasons that I will not expand upon, the end times have been foremost on my mind lately. This subject never grows old. What occurs to me however is how little it matters to me how it all plays out (or when, for that matter). My guess is that there are many times in the world's history when people thought that the apocalypse was eminent. Someday, those folks will be right, but probably not on purpose.

These days, the return of Christ excites me for one simple reason. My hope is that upon seeing him, I will finally put the things of this world in their proper perspective. Right now, the cares of such things as enough celery for the produce shelves and enough money to make change for our customers seem to be occupying my mind to an unhealthy degree. They just seem to be in the forefront of my mind. I long for the rest that will one day come when he puts my mind right, and I no longer am forced to consider things of such small importance.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Friday, October 16, 2009



It is fun to see such well matched teams vying for their leagues. A few months back, I wrote on my blog about how the Dodgers/Phillies rivalry could turn into something special. Now, with the NLCS tied at one game a piece, it seems we may have a great series on our hands. Right now, the Angels are struggling against Sabathia, but let's hope they can fight. It would be great to see two epic series capped off by an epic world series.

It was sad to see the Twins disposed of so quickly, but the Yankees are so much better. The Twins just didn't have the weapons to fight...

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