Thursday, November 30, 2006

Soundtrack of My Life

(1) Opening credits: Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copland
(2) First day at school: Blue Skies sung by Willie Nelson
(3) Fight song: Don't Touch My Hat sung by Lyle Lovett
(4) Life’s okay: Red Red Wine sung by UB40
(5) Mental breakdown: The Beast in Me sung by Johnny Cash
(6) Driving: Midnight Rider sung by Allman Brothers
(7) Flashback: Dreams sung by Fleetwood Mac
(8) Wedding: Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered sung by Sinead O’Connor
(9) Happiness: Your Nature sung by Hothouse Flowers
(10) Final battle: C'est La Vie sung by Emerson, Lake and Palmer
(11) Death scene: Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen and sung by K D Lang
(12) Funeral song: Let the Train Blow the Whistle sung by Johnny Cash
(13) End credits: Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber

Perhaps this will turn someone on to some new tunes...

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Thanksgiving Adventure

On Wednesday afternoon we drove the 3 hours to Marietta to see the relatives. On Thanksgiving Day I assisted in the kitchen with the bird and the trimmings. Great food, good fellowship and then we headed back to Cleveland.

On the way back – the music is cranked and we are singing out loud.

Just above New Philadelphia the car hesitates a bit… what’s the matter? I look down at the dash. What’s that light next to the empty fuel gauge? How long has that been on?

Whoa… car is really slowing down now…over to the side of the highway.

We sat in the dark with the flashers going and talked about the day and how pretty the stars were in rural Ohio.

Thanks to the county sheriff who laid a flare behind us and the guy from AAA who put a couple of gallons in our tank on Thanksgiving night.

It is a relatively new car and with the music going we apparently did not hear the warning bell.

Life is always an adventure.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Favorite places to enjoy a meal…

In Cleveland –

Momocho in Ohio City is modern Mexican cuisine. There is nothing else quite like it. We are committed regulars. Get there after 10:30 PM on Friday and Saturday nights for their “Brunch Menu” and try the Huevos Benedictos - Two poached eggs on hominy-cauliflower cakes with spinach and chile poblano hollandaise. Oh my!

In Vermont –

Lunch on the porch of Highland Lodge. Eating their great lobster roll and enjoying a cup of coffee and the “Forgotten Dessert” while looking at Caspian Lake in the distance. It does not get any better.

Breakfast at River Run. I go there for the fried catfish and eggs with homefries and a side of bacon. The bacon slices are thick, smoky and tender. The catfish is delicious and not greasy at all. The home fries are the best and the coffee is served in huge cups.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope your holiday is filled with the warm

fellowship of family or friends.

And don’t forget to give thanks!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Woman Who Made All The Difference in My Life

After leaving behind a less than idyllic childhood of her own she raised her two children as best she could. She loved them with all her heart and sacrificed for them whenever it was required.

She divorced her husband to protect her children from his drunken rage.

She worked long hours and took all the extra overtime she could get in order to provide a home, food and comfort for her family.

She taught her children to tell the truth.

She raised her children to have tender hearts and callused hands and not the other way around.

She taught them that work and responsibility were important.

She taught them that taking care of family comes before your own personal desires.

She never remarried or even dated much in order to preserve the stable life that she had provided for her children.

She encouraged her son to be the first family member to go to college. And while she did not have a lot of extra money to send to him while he was in college – she did bake him pies.

Warm, fragrant apple pies.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Spelling Bees

It was in the fourth grade. I was the spelling bee winner for my class and had to represent Mrs. Ring's class in an all fourth grade spelling bee.

It was a terrible experience. I dreaded it for days. Oh, I was cramming and practicing and trying to get all the rules down in my mind.

You know the ones I'm talking about: i before e except after c, and so on and so on.

I didn't sleep well the night before the big event. Then came sweaty palms, butterflies, and the cottonmouth. Spelling bees are unmerciful. There are no second chances.

No matter how many words you've spelled correctly to that point, you only have to miss the next one to be disqualified.

Surviving the first or third or seventh round doesn't mean a thing, unless you can step up and get the next word letter-perfect too.

That's the way some people think life works: one mistake and you're a done. Not so... life is full of second chances. Most of us already know that because we have experienced them.

Every now and again though we need to be reminded that life is not about getting things letter perfect... it is about learning from mistakes.

Life is all about second chances.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Wild Blue Phlox

Botanical name: phloxdiva
Commonly called: Wild Sweet William

Men Who Have Made a Difference In My Life

Bob Woodroof – Woodroof and I were a pair. Our personalities clicked from the moment we met. He was the entire Public Relations, publications and advertising department of OVC when I attended there. We learned how to remodel his house together. We spent the better part of one summer building a backyard brick barbecue. We spent many late nights drinking McHappy’s coffee in the basement of Heather Hall forging our friendship.

He taught me to think “outside the box” before that was such a cliché. He was one of the original “outside the box” thinkers. He could see the possibilities in houses, in cars, and in people. “Yeah, but think of what it would look like if…”

He was a brother and a friend who always knew when to call me. Gone too soon, I miss him every day.

Decker Clark – Decker is the father figure that I wanted as a child. Godly and ready to listen, he has ministered in the same spot for over 40 years.

His wisdom and friendship has been a stabilizing influence in my life for the last 20 years. He has ministered to me time and time again. When I picture the father of the prodigal son from Luke 15 I always picture Decker. He is always welcoming and ready to celebrate the living.

James Walters – I know what I know about the Bible and Bible study because of James. By allowing himself to be used by God - he helped take the edges off a raw, young man. His preaching shaped my own study and delivery. He is a mentor in every sense of the word and does it in a self-depreciating fashion.

He taught me to ask the tough questions. He helped me to be a better minister to others. And the stories we have of our adventures together in New England! There is no better teacher and Boston University is the better for having him.

Jesse Perry - We met our freshman year. Jesse was a sophomore. He was soft spoken and kind with a wicked sense of humor. Because of our friendship and love of music we would later be roommates. He would open up the world of Christian music to me, Amy Grant, Michael W Smith, The Imperials, John Michael Talbot, Phil Driscoll and Don Francisco. And with that he opened my eyes to a larger Christian community.

His missional life inspired me to go to New England. Jesse and his wife are the kinds of folks who just let God lead them.

Roddy Chestnut – Where do I start? He truly is closer than a brother. Our lives have paralleled each other. We have counseled each other, encouraged each other and always expected the best from one another. His steadfast friendship and undying support have ministered to me again and again.

Roddy faces life with the courage of his convictions and has always inspired me to do the same.

Mike Coffey - Since 1986 Mike has taught me stuff. I knew how to cook. He taught me to cook well. Our mutual admiration for Julia Child has led us on many a culinary field trip.

He has helped me with all kinds of projects at the cabin. The engineer in him means that very few projects intimidate him, even if it includes electrocuting a friend.

But the greatest lesson he taught me was when he and Susan opened their home to me when I needed a place to land. Their graciousness through the years has served as an example and a reminder of who I want to be.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

He Keeps Us Alive

Have you ever noticed that in the first three verses of the 23rd Psalm, David speaks of God in the third person?

It is as if he were explaining God to someone else. I can almost picture him telling one of his kids about God.

You can tell that it is really personal for him – he speaks in terms of "me" and "my" – but everything spoken of God is in the third person.

Just read the verses and emphasize the words "he" and "his" as you do so.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

He is the one who keeps me alive.

Indeed, He is the only necessary thing in my life.

The purpose of this passage is not to communicate a sense of peace and tranquility. It is communicating the sustaining nature of God.

For a sheep, to "lie down in green pastures" means to have food.
To be led "beside still waters" means to have drink.
To be led in "right paths" means to avoid harm and distress.

God "restores my soul," or better translated, God "keeps me alive."

Just as sheep owe their lives to the shepherd, the psalmist confirms that he owes his life to God.

We tend to remember that God means everything to us only when we have lost everything.

I can tell you from my own personal experience that God has come alongside me when my world was crashing down. He sustained me.

David could not survive without God. It was God who kept him alive tending sheep when predators were all about. It was God who gave him victory over Goliath. It was the Lord who comforted him when he lost his son with Bathsheba. It was the Lord who preserved him when his enemies, including his son, pursued him.

He keeps us alive!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

While On The Sea

While on the sea hear the terrible roaring;
See how the boat of my life rolls with me;
In fear of death and in deepest of anguish.
Lord, hear my prayer; watch my soul on the sea.

Save me, O merciful Father, forgive me;
How as my life with its ending I see.
My youthful strength has been spent in the battle.
Lord, now I beg You, have mercy on me.

I have no strength left to aid on my journey;
Help me to reach that fair land past the sea;
Help me to travel to my native country.
Lord now I beg You, have mercy on me.

– Translated by Stephen Bilak

Monday, November 13, 2006

Customized M&M’s!

You’re limited as to how many letters you can get on an M – but you can put just about any message on any flavor M&M.

Check out the website in the link above - Click on Customized M&M's!

I spent the weekend working the Cleveland Fabulous Food Show for my friend Dion Tsevdos. Dion owns Urban Herbs a great herb and spice company here in Cleveland. Paula Dean and Tyler Florence were the big draws at the Food Show. There were easily 25000 people there over the three days.

I sold a few (40+) Kuhn Rikon Vase Grinders. These grinders are more than salt & pepper mills. They also grind herbs & spices. Ask me anything you want about them. If you want to send a really attractive and functional gift - check out the website:

Use the Coupon Code UH350 for free shipping if you order before December 7th, 2006. There are a number of gifts sets that would make great gifts for your friends with a culinary flair.

Dion is a great guy with great products and worthy of your business. Obviously I think a lot of him and his company to spend an entire weekend selling pepper mills.

For me real, abiding friendships are like that though - for me - friends are more than just people you go to the movies with or out to dinner with. Friends are people that I do things for even when it's inconvenient for me and visa versa.

They are people who share their lives with me warts and all and we encourage each other through good and bad times that life throws at us.

There are tremendous amounts of personal strength to be found in abiding friendships.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Of Elections And Our Own Lives

Life has a way of reprioritizing things for us.

Let some thing or things get out of focus/control and life will spin you around in a hurry. And if you ignore the early warning signs…well, life has a way of bringing everything to an abrupt stop.

We have all been there, right?

We are cruising along thinking things are all good and we wake up one morning to a surprise.


And so we reshuffle our deck (Read: priorities) and take another shot at life.

I think we all need and get those reminders from time to time.

I remember Job.

“The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

And so we do the best we can. Work like it all depends on us and pray like it all depends on God and muddle our way through.

Never forgetting that we are strangers and pilgrims.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Changing Colors

“The most important political office is that of the private citizen.” ~ Louis Brandeis

Watch carefully – Before your very eyes Ohio will turn from Red to Blue.

The lines were very long at the polls this morning. We normally have six machines at our polling place. Today we had only three voting machines. What’s up with that, Ken Blackwell?

In talking with folks in San Francisco they had a good laugh about the commercials running in Ohio that say, “Ohio doesn’t have San Francisco values.” Mores the pity!

Things have been out of control this year. God bless the two Vermont opponents running for Congress who promised each other early on the neither would go negative. They agreed to stick to the issues and let the chips fall where they may.

They're on a first-name basis after 11 public debates. "She's a really good speaker," Welch says of Rainville, who retired last spring after nine years as adjutant general of the state's National Guard — the first woman in the nation to serve in that capacity.

Rainville is sticking by her pledge not to run attack ads even though a recent poll showed Welch, a veteran state legislator, opening up a lead after a summer in which the race was a dead heat.

"If I lose because I didn't go negative, so be it," she says. ~ USATODAY 11/02/06

Way to go Vermont!

“Every two years the American politics industry fills the airwaves with the most virulent, scurrilous, wall-to-wall character assassination of nearly every political practitioner in the country - and then declares itself puzzled that America has lost trust in its politicians.” ~Charles Krauthammer