Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The word cloud for Gregg Koskela’s blog was something new to me. It’s a graphic made with a program that selects primary words from a web site and gives size priorities to the words. I wonder what a word cloud of my life would look like. It would include some words that describe negative characteristics. I hope these would be small and I’d like to get them small enough to be illegible.

Monday, May 29, 2006

A prayer for Quaker Hill summer staff who started their 11-week experience this noon:

They are six people who, for the most part, don’t know each other. Draw them together.
They have not lived long enough and experienced enough to have a lot of maturity. Strengthen their insights.
They will get tired, stressed, and irritated. Teach them about receiving and extending grace.
They will have opportunities to be your agents in other people’s lives. Empower them.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. But instead of sitting in a pew, I’m sitting on a stool at Moxie Java. Outside the window and across the street is Payette Lake. Beyond the water are trees going up a mountain and snow can be seen on the top 15%. On a holiday weekend I expected McCall to be a frenetic party town, but instead it is feeling very peaceful. I find it restful to see people wander in and out of the coffee shop, watch some sitting leisurely with coffee and friends, and soak up the beauty of trees, water, and mountains. I could have traded this for attending an unfamiliar church, but I gave up my perfect attendance pin long ago.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

These are the good old days.

The summer staff director at Quaker Hill Camp gave us a tour of the camp a little while ago. Cindy and I brought Abbie to McCall, Idaho, where she will begin on Monday her experience as part of the summer staff. Abbie’s friend, Allison, came with us. There is a resemblance to the camp I attended more than 40 years ago, but even the old log chapel now has carpet on the floor, glass windows, and chairs instead of the wooden benches. What has happened at the camp since it was established in 1931 is significance, but I’d like to think that these are the good old days.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I believe the carrot is much more effective than the stick. But sometimes I don’t put it into practice. Sticks come in a lot of different shapes and just a few hours ago I recognized my need to use the carrot of approval rather than the stick of disapproval. My 15-year-old will still hear my disapproval of certain attitudes and behavior, but I need to put more effort into affirming his positives—even at those dreadful times when I have to strain to find them.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Give it a rest!

This is my mental—and sometimes verbal—response when someone is too insistent, too strident, too boisterous. Lying awake at 3:00 this morning I was telling my mind, body, and emotions to give it a rest! Maybe I’m taking things too seriously or maybe I just shouldn’t have had that Americano in the middle of the afternoon.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Back when Ken Austin was a student at Newberg High School, nobody saw what a contribution he would end up making to the growth, development, and character of Newberg. This evening Ken and Joan (pronounced Jo-anne) are hosting an information meeting to get input from the community regarding their plans to develop 430 acres they own adjacent to the city on the northeast side near their dental equipment business.

Their commitment to quality and innovation has made A-dec America’s largest dental equipment manufacturer. Joan says, "This is a people company. We focus on the long term and build relationships based on trust—from our community, employees, dealers, and suppliers, to our final customers."

I’m reading The A dec Way and seeing it has application for me as an individual and to my relationship with others: (1) Concern for people, (2) Provide opportunities and assist in self-development, (3) Provide an atmosphere encouraging self-satisfaction and pride, (4) Encourage team effort, (5) Maintain complete fairness, honesty, and integrity, (6) Maintain open consistent and regular communication, (7) Encourage public service, (8) Encourage creativity, (9) Commitment to productivity and quality, (10) Maintain consistency, (11) Dedication to improvement, (12) Keep things simple and basic, (13) Build on the basis of "need,” (14) Attention to detail, (15) Conserve resources.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Last night I watched 60 Minutes featuring the life and work of Mike Wallace—retiring at age 87. So this morning I’m thinking about the importance of asking the right questions.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. The pastor here at Hometown Friends Church is talking about pioneers and settlers. It’s a biblical message even though my thoughts don’t give proper credit to that aspect. He says that as he looks around the room he sees both pioneers and settlers. I’m a settler and a pioneer wannabe.

Earlier in the service we did one of those clapping songs. Choruses like that discriminate against those of us who are rhythmically impaired. People with rhythm just don’t understand us.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

This is the third year Abbie and Ethan distributed fliers about collecting bottles and cans for Relay for Life (American Cancer Society). About a week ago they went to approximately 60 homes on our loop and the adjacent development with the announcement that they would be back today. Cans, bottles, a few checks, greater awareness, and another point of connection are all part of the return on time invested.

Friday, May 19, 2006

I had lunch with a friend in Portland today. His world and mine are quite different, but we both enjoy our visits. This is a man who does not live his life on a superficial level. His unique combination of intellect and intuition stimulates my mind. One of the ways we are different is that the ends (the outcome or goal) is important to me, while as soon as he has conquered the means (the ability to accomplish something) the goal is inconsequential—the ball of gold is clay (Stephen Crane, A Man Saw a Ball of Gold).

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I’m wondering if it would be helpful if my mood were automatically analyzed and recorded on a graph. I think it should be an internet-based system that is password protected. I’d give my family the password so they wouldn’t have to guess about how I was feeling or try to make me honest about my mood. (“Hey, mom, I think dad was in a bad mood when he left for work. Could you go online and check his frustration number?)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Does a cluttered desk indicate a cluttered mind? Yesterday afternoon I had one of those times when it took more than five minutes to find something I knew was here. As I was riffling through papers, I told myself that I have to get control of this. But I have to get this task done first and then deal with all those things that have been in the queue way too long already. Somewhere in all this stuff I think I still have that article about how to tame the paper tiger, but I can’t put my hand on it right now.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

It must be more than 65 years ago that my dad helped drive a farm truck with benches in the back from the Willamette Valley (Oregon) to Quaker Hill Camp near McCall, Idaho. It was an opportunity for young Quakers who normally went to camp at Twin Rocks on the Oregon coast to visit the Idaho counterpart.

When I was the age to start attending boy’s camp, our family was living in Ontario, Oregon, (next to the Idaho border) and Quaker Hill was our camp. For several years, camp was the highlight of the summer and I’ve retained some pleasant images of those experiences.

In less than two weeks, we will be taking our daughter, Abbie, to Quaker Hill Camp where she will serve on the summer staff for eleven weeks. She will grow and develop in new ways as she experiences the challenges and fulfillment that are such a dynamic part of Christian camping.

There is no real significance or benefit from the fact that her dad and grandfather have been there “way back when.” The location and the focus on relationship with Christ are the only common denominators, but I get a warm feeling from a third generation having direct involvement at Quaker Hill.

Monday, May 15, 2006

When Abigail Bartlet asks her husband what he’s thinking about, he answers, “Tomorrow.” Jed Bartlet has just left two terms as President of the United States in the successful television series The West Wing.

It’s the answer I would want to give, but I would be thinking back instead of forward. I’d be replaying high points and low points in fruitless reflection. What could I have done differently? How will I be remembered?

I like the perspective of the writers who put that word in President Bartlet’s mouth.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. At Hometown Friends Church we have a bulletin (or worship folder) that includes the order of the service and words to the songs. Sometimes it takes an insert to include everything. So we finished singing “I Stand in Awe,” and I’m looking forward to the message (listed at the top of the next page). And then we’re being led in a Scripture reading and going into another song. I had gone to the wrong page and we had another page of singing and open worship before the message. Now when we got to open worship, an individual stood right away to share a concern. It’s not long before it starts to feel as though this concern is fueled by passion and rumor. It’s sincere, but feels misguided. And then the pastor moved up to the platform even before the speaker sat back down. Pastor Gregg has been listening to two voices at the same time—the audible voice of the speaker and to God’s voice—and we never did get to the next page in the worship folder.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Tomorrow is Mothers Day and I’m taking a moment to reflect on four mothers. First, my daughter and the mother of my only grandchild. Heidi is a caring, courageous, committed mother. Parenting has never been an easy job, but I think it has gotten increasingly difficult. My wife, Cindy, is the next mother I mention. In addition to becoming my wife twenty years ago, she also became a step-mom of four. She became a birth mother latter in life than most women and has proven herself to have what it takes on every front. My mother and her mother (Grandma Lehman) are the other two. If my mother hadn’t died of cancer when I was in junior high and was still living, I believe she would be more of a loving older friend than a “mother-in-law” to Cindy. I can imagine her smiling with pride at my children. I expect she would be to my children what her mother was to me. Grandma Lehman’s life had been challenging enough to make her strong, but it had not turned her cold and bitter. What I received from her, if pictured as a food, would be bread instead of cake.

I have other “mothers” by blood and by marriage. Then there are the spiritual mothers who have added light to my path. “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about” (Hebrews 11:32) . . . Bonnie, Sarah, Bertha, Ruthanna, Emily, Trudy, Hazel, and more.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Are we in the beginning stages of a holy war—a religious war within our country? Was it the godless liberals or the right-wing evangelicals who fired the first shot? When did dialogue turn into throwing verbal stones? Are issues being addressed with truth and logic or has the circle split into two facing lines ready to exchange an eye for an eye? Where is it all going?

Another new book is coming out next week—Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism. One of the things the Publishers Weekly reviewer said was, “Her [journalist Michelle Goldberg] book is a potent wakeup call to pluralists in the coming showdown with Christian nationalists.”

I love an honest quest for truth and an open exchange of ideas. But it seems to me we have a lot of people lined up on both sides who want to stand back to back, take ten paces (or fewer), then turn and fire intent on laying the other guy on the ground taking his last breath.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Last night I got the word that Audrey Stephenson’s long, heroic battle with cancer ended Sunday. My limited observation is that Audrey never let cancer defeat her.

My wife, Cindy, speaks well in the response she posted to Audrey’s article—When the Doctor Says your Days Are Numbered.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Yesterday Tim Burdick noted how quickly he moved from being the center of attention to being ignored. He has resigned his position with a social service agency and the day before yesterday was the day the official memo went out. It created a flurry of compliments and good wishes, but this was quickly preempted by talk of a replacement and then a swift return to business as usual.

It made me think about ways I’m unintentionally fickle. For example, I say I care about something and then do nothing about it. The worst cases are those where I’m totally oblivious to how my words and actions (or my silences) affect others and I don’t even realize I’m being inconsistent or hypocritical.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Quakers have this notion that Christ speaks to, and through, everyone. This idea is reflected in most worship services. The amount of time given in a Sunday morning worship service for expression from the congregation varies greatly. In an “unprogrammed” meeting, it’s the full deal.

Fear of what others will think is one of the great inhibiters to public sharing. If a person cares a lot about what other people think, open worship can be a dangerous time. This morning I’m thinking blogging is a little like standing up at church during the time for open worship to share a thought, a concern, or even a wart.

Monday, May 08, 2006

I just learned that former secretary of state Madeleine Albright has written a new book that was released last week: The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs.

The publisher’s comments about the book ask: “Does America have a special mission, derived from God, to bring liberty and democracy to the world? How much influence does the Christian right have over U.S. foreign policy? And how should America deal with violent Islamist extremists?” Albright defies conventional wisdom and suggests not only that religion and politics are inseparable, but that their partnership, when properly harnessed, can be a force for justice and peace.

If I were self-discipline enough to read as much as I should, I would plan to read this book.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. Usually I recognize most of the people around me, but not today. This is my oldest son’s church—Calvin Presbyterian in Corvallis. It feels really good to introduce myself to people as Mel McCracken’s dad. My daughter-in-law is an elder here and today she helps serve communion. We came to hear John Perkins, but we also get to worship and fellowship with a portion of the body of Christ that is unfamiliar to us even though it is an important part of Mel and Marta’s lives.

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard John Perkins speak and I would have loved for him to take us through Samaria. But he is having us turn to Zechariah 8. John is a man who knows and understands the condition of an unredeemed world. He goes to the Bible as an instruction manual to find models for action. Then he does it and after that he shares what he’s learned.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

“They ignore me,” is Allison’s answer when Andy asks what her parents do to her.

Abbie was watching The Breakfast Club last night. I really like this movie and watched part of it with her. It was earlier this week that I was shocked when I heard that the national high school drop out rate is 30%. This means, on average, that if my freshman son, Ethan, is sitting in a classroom with 20 students there are six who won’t graduate. What do these kids do? Does anybody care about them or are they just being ignored?

Friday, May 05, 2006

I remember Jack Willcuts coming back from attending the National Black Evangelical Association convention and sharing the story of one of the speakers. I don’t remember when this was, but it must have been more than thirty years ago. It was a glimpse into another world to hear the story of a Black man being beaten in a Mississippi jail and the powerful way he appropriated the power of the Gospel in his life.

A few years later this man, John Perkins, was the speaker at the annual conference for the Friends Church in the Northwest. Unexpected things began to happen as I felt drawn toward involvement with Voice of Calvary Ministries—the wholistic work John founded. Four months later our family was moving to Mississippi and beginning what would become two and half profound years of learning and development in my life.

On Sunday I’ll be seeing John Perkins in Corvallis. I’m really looking forward to it.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I don’t feel good about the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps cross-country tour from Los Angeles to Washington, DC. The most troubling thing to me is that the group's strategy includes courting supporters among African Americans who are concerned about losing jobs to illegal immigrants. It’s a low road that takes whites into an effort to turn one minority group against another.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The first Wednesday of the month means staff lunch this noon. If we were ever all there at the same time, 9 people would be around the table (2 full-timers and 7 part-timers). Since we last met 2 traveled to Ohio, another spent time in Indiana, 2 attended pastor’s conference, and 1 has been in California. Life outside of Barclay Press includes foreign missions, pastoral ministry, discipleship and leadership development, baking, pottery, Christian camping, and (last, but certainly not least) family. Interaction with this motley crew makes me a better person.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

One day in California starts with the discovery that all Latinos have disappeared. A Day without a Mexican is a movie made 2 years ago, but I hadn’t heard of it until this morning.

I’d love to be farsighted enough to focus on the things coming up—looking at prevention instead of treatment.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The prayer yesterday in church for people who are retired was a way to affirm those in the congregation who no longer feel self-worth from the accomplishments of a job. The comment was made that society tends to value people by the work they do. When the word “society” is used in church, I’m not sure if it is referring to all of society or if it is a code word for them as compared to us. In this case I decided it must be referring to us as much as to them since the Protestant work ethic is our thing.