Friday, June 30, 2006

I’m reflecting on the memorial service yesterday afternoon for Kenneth Williams. I’m not sure how people like Kenneth manage to be both ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. Perhaps ordinary is the only kind of people and its just that some do extraordinary things or have an extraordinary influence on the lives of others through their consistency, dedication, conviction, attitude, and love.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I was pleased when my backyard neighbor mentioned Warren Buffet as we were talking last evening. He and I both think Buffet did the right thing to give the bulk of his wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In my mind Bill Gates and Warren Buffet show us that it is possible to be aggressive and competitive without being overcome by greed.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Is the river getting wider or deeper? Cel phones, e-mail, My Space, and blogs are creating more flow on the interpersonal communication river. So I’m wondering if substance has increased with volume. While it is obvious that technology is used for drivel and for evil, I would say these innovations deliver a net gain.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. Today my oldest son is in Mississippi on a work project with a group from his church. Here at Hometown Friends Church we are singing “Soon and Very Soon” the way white people sing it—bland, unemotional, inhibited. It’s the best we can do. Black Gospel is not our native tongue and no amount of clapping will help us look any less like posers. We will never do well with songs like this, but I guess there’s no harm in trying.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Lord, It’s going to be a busy weekend—more coming and going than average. I’d like our home to be a place where strength is gained, not drained. I want to be an available channel for your blessing on those who visit and those who call this home. Amen.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

You can never have too many friends and acquaintances. Last night my wife was standing in front of the deodorant shelves at the store trying to figure out which Red Zone deodorant. Ethan’s instruction was to just more Red Zone deodorant, but there are several options. Fortunately, someone she knows came by shopping for deodorant for her son. She brought with her the label from the type of Red Zone that doesn’t create the nasty red rash in the arm pits.

Sometimes it’s who you know that makes a difference.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Oregon State vs. Rice is on the TV in the next room. The College World Series is down to three teams. I don’t watch much baseball, but playoff games always have extra excitement. And it’s Oregon State with two pitchers from our county! It’s 3-0 right now with Oregon State on top and I’m going back to the couch.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Lord, I’m at the start of a beautiful summer day. I'd be glad for any help you can give me on not screwing it up. Amen.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A couple of significant things happened in Newberg this weekend. On Friday the Providence Newberg Hospital became the Providence Newberg Medical Center as they moved into impressive new facilities.

Lord, I’m grateful for the vision, time, and energy of those who overcame inertia in order to get an adequate medical center for this community. Enable those who make the facility a center for healing and wholeness. Amen.

The other big deal this weekend was Newberg’s Relay for Life. Money raised for the American Cancer Society's fight against cancer blew past the $66,000 goal by more than $20,000.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. The pastor at Hometown Friends Church is doing a series on book of Micah. Seek justice, love kindness, walk humbly, and carry a small purse.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

I think the lady at the coffee and hot chocolate table at 3:00 a.m. this morning saw a long-haired punk when my son got hot chocolate. He was told a donation was expected. I doubt that a smartly dressed middle-aged woman would have been given the same instructions. Hearing about this reminded me I need to give more care to how I categorize people. I want to treat all with respect without allowing preconceptions to taint what I think or how I respond.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Relay for Life in Newberg will be underway in 48 hours. The goal is to raise $66,000 for the American Cancer Society. In addition, the event is fun. A unique cross section of the community is brought together in a common cause. Cancer survivors are honored during the first lap and then those who have lost the fight are also remembered as luminaria are lit just after dusk. It’s a 20-hour event that creates involvement, interaction, and ultimately delivers real hope in out fight against cancer.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. Hometown Friends Church has three services. I go to the middle one that runs simultaneous with the children’s Sunday school classes. Today grade-school aged children are coming into the sanctuary and standing in front during a prayer. It’s a good way to recognize and bless this significant part of the church.

Lord, These lumps of clay have not been on the wheel very long. They are starting to be formed, but there is a lot of work yet to be done. Protect this clay. Shape it. Prepare it for the fire of the kiln so they will become useful vessels. Amen.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” (Psalm 16:6)

I tend to not give much attention to the things that are good and right. It’s the things that should be changed or improved that need time and energy. Taken too far it creates a negative “cup half empty” mentality that doesn’t adequately recognize the “pleasant places.”

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Right now life seems like a roller coaster and I don’t see where and when the highs and lows will be. It gets a little wild sometimes with all the twists and turns. But it’s sure a lot more interesting than the merry-go-round.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Outside I can see some birds eating something out of my lawn. I like to imagine they are eating bugs that could be harmful to the grass. I hope it’s not the worms that valiantly try to aerate that clay soil.

One of the outdoor ethics of Scouts comes to mind—“leave no trace.” We’ve left more than just a trace on the natural order. But God’s creation was so perfect it survives and gives us life and beauty despite our poor stewardship.

Now our cat is up on the window sill looking out at the birds. Before he goes back outside I’ll make sure he has plenty of that man-made cat food we buy in a bag.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I wasn’t sure what to think when I saw the red, white, and blue “American Café” sign in Lafayette. It’s a new sign and a new name for a café that’s been there a long time. It made me a little uncomfortable because this is a community with a significant Latino presence. I don’t know who owns and operates the restaurant and I don’t have any reason to believe the name is an attempt to distinguish itself from a Mexican restaurant. It’s just my cynical nature to wonder. My thoughts really say nothing about the American Café, but they say a lot about my character given my willingness to question motives in the absence of knowledge.

Monday, June 05, 2006

A man named Sandy Tolan has written a book about a Palestinian, an Israeli, and the house that connects them (The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew and the Heart of the Middle East). Bahsir al-Khairi was a boy in 1948 when his family was forced to leave the home his father built. Dalia Eshkenazi was a young girl when her family moved into that house.

In an NPR report Dalia says, “I love my country and you [addressing Bahsir] love your country. And I love your country, too. And it is the same country. And I have nowhere else to go and you have nowhere else to go. So we are here and no one will dream the other away. And our enemy is the only partner we have.”

Sunday, June 04, 2006

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. The faithful have been meeting at Hometown Friends Church for 128 years. One of the things we are doing this morning is admitting we haven’t always gotten it right. I’m thinking we have committed at least four of the seven deadly sins in our relationship with the community—pride, envy, greed, and sloth. Then we read together Acts 2:42-47 and I saw how individualism has tripped us up.

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The foxes have concluded their investigation into the chicken house incidents. Reports of chicken house break-ins and the willful slaughter of chickens has created tension that has spread beyond the barnyard. Since it was the foxes who were the obvious perpetrators, they took the lead in investigating whether any wrongdoing took place. Their complete and impartial investigation of the events cleared themselves of wrongdoing and declared that the chickens died as the result of collateral damage. The investigation also found that the foxes, “operated in accordance with the rules of engagement.”

Friday, June 02, 2006

An e-mail I received yesterday included the following: “As you may know, a juggler can only balance 12 balls in the air. If the 13th ball is thrown in, all of the balls will fall. This is a fact of physics that may apply to our endeavors.” It was the writer’s gracious response to the fact that I am behind schedule on his project.

I haven’t learned how to count the number of balls in my life or how to keep from adding balls to the mix. Or it could be that juggling just doesn’t work for a klutz like me.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I was talking with a friend yesterday about mental health—other people’s, not mine. Our conversation about the lack of funding for mental health services reminded me of the old motor oil commercial where the mechanic says, “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.” Getting an oil change is a lot cheaper than an engine overhaul and the care and treatment of mental disorders is more cost effective and more humane than leaving counterproductive and violent behavior untreated with the resulting devastation to the families involved and to innocent bystanders who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.