Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Op-Ed from Governor Deval Patrick

This link - http://www.wbjournal.com/news45295.html# - should take you to a hopeful op-ed piece by Governor Deval Patrick in the Worcester Business Journal.  It’s got an optimistic tone.  I was particularly encouraged to read about the educational achievements – that MA students are third in the world on international math and science tests.  I still want to know where that data comes from and who takes those tests!

And I hope he’s right, and that recovery comes not only to MA, but the whole region.  It would be nice to have some good predictions come true.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Some thoughts on Emergent Church from Todd Thomas

Emergent gives faith a fighting chance against certainty.

I enjoyed this post about the "Emergent Church" and wanted to share it. I think it sums up some of the thoughts I have had, wondering about believing vs. behaving, and "churchianity" vs. Christianity. Thanks to Todd Thomas (@Swirlyfoot) for the original post.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Usually you're dead...

Usually, you’re dead before anyone gives you a glimpse into the difference you make.  And at that point, let’s face it, can you really care?  But tonight, the arts family showed its “familyness” by showing up in force on short notice to support our arts program, and me.

I am so humbled by this kindness, and by the way these marvelous people spoke about me and about the program I am so passionate about.  For them to stand up – on an evening they could have been home watching Glee – to give their time and their voices in an effort to convince the powers that be to hold on to the music program, is a gift I can never repay.  I could not be at the meeting myself, but have heard of their eloquence.  Maybe I’ll have a chance to watch the rebroadcast.

I can never thank them enough.  I can only say thank you for speaking the words, for sharing what the program has meant.

Our arts program might have an effect on them, and make their lives better.  But these precious people can never fully know what a difference they make for me every day, and how grateful I am to have them in my life.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

First snow!

Here's a picture of the moon peeking through the trees at my house this morning. There's something really beautiful about the first snow. And the fact that it didn't come until now, when we're full on into the holiday season, is an extra special bonus. As I pulled into my driveway last night, Harry Connick, Jr. was singing "Let it Snow!"

I love the freshness, and, as always, the "whiter than snow" metaphor comes to mind, and I am given one more reason to be grateful.

I hope you are, too.

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Are high school teachers' priorities misplaced? | high, school, students - News - The Orange County Register

And this article highlights the confusion we all have about what school is for, and why some people think we need more resources and some people don't. If we could get together on what the main purpose is, we'd have a way better chance at not fighting about it so much and being able to focus on what we want to accomplish.

Oh, and we should add college admissions people into the discussion, because they have another whole set of expectations.

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Young writers in Westwood unleash their ‘best words’ with Web tool - The Boston Globe

OK -

This story is about an example of the kind of stuff we could do with kids if we had the tech resources we needed.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Inconvenient Service

When did we ever get it into our heads that serving others would always be convenient, fitting tidily into our schedules, and requiring nothing in the way of sacrifice?  Sometimes it isn’t convenient at all.  Sometimes we have to go out of our way, drive an extra mile or two, go to the mall when we would not otherwise, carry a few extra pounds of food to the car, or meet someone at a time when we’d rather not. 

One of the side effects of living as we do, where we do too much, say yes to too many, and take on that “one more thing,” is that we have less breathability in our calendars, less money in the bank, and less ability to reach out.

Or maybe it’s just me feeling the need to cut down someplace.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving insanity

I am so grateful to have a job that I like, and where I have attained certain level of leadership.

I am, however, also often overwhelmed at the enormity of it, and at how many moving parts there are to running my department, especially in a year when our performing groups are taking a trip.  The other day, I had kids turning in trip application forms, insurance purchase forms, poinsettia fundraising forms, and trip payments all at the same time.  All this has to be tracked and entered into the appropriate file, and the money deposited. 

At the same time, to add stuff to my plate because that’s just me and I need to, I am selling shrimp to the faculty – I have relatives in the biz and it’s the best shrimp ever.  Seriously, I won’t eat any other shrimp.

But I digress.

Today, my former assistant, whom I lost to budget cuts last year, came in just to volunteer to help out.

And that’s what brought me to this post.  I found thankfulness in the midst of this insanity, and I was so glad.  She is a huge blessing to me and to our department, and I am grateful for her partnership and friendship.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My year of living without money | Environment | The Guardian

This is extreme, but could it be there's something in between how I, and most of my friends, live, and how this guy lives? (Found via @lisarex)

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Monday, November 09, 2009

20 Years Later

I was 23 when the Wall fell.  I had no friends or relatives that I knew living in Berlin, but I had always had a bit of fascination with Germany since part of my family background is there.  I remember growing up thinking how awful it must be to live in a city divided like that – families separated to either side, neither group allowed to travel freely through their own city.

And I remember Ronald Reagan’s electrifying “Tear Down This Wall!” speech, daring Gorbachev to do something dramatic, instead of just talking detante.

And then the people decided they’d had enough, and down it came.  Even thousands of miles away, it was an emotional and awesome time in history.

In the end, truth, love, freedom – they WIN.

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Fearless Life

I wonder how often we are motivated by fear of one kind or another and don’t even realize it.  We don’t speak up because we fear rejection of our idea.  Last week on the Amazing Race, one team got knocked out because of a member’s fear of heights. 

We have no trouble believing in God’s power and faithfulness for someone else, but we fear going out on the limb ourselves because what if it breaks.  Of course, proven over and over again, it’s out on the limb that we find out just how powerful and faithful God is.  If Peter had never said “get up and walk” out loud, they never would have seen that miracle.

So why aren’t we more faithfully fearless?

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A Fearless Life

I wonder how often we are motivated by fear of one kind or another and don’t even realize it.  We don’t speak up because we fear rejection of our idea.  Last week on the Amazing Race, one team got knocked out because of a member’s fear of heights. 

We have no trouble believing in God’s power and faithfulness for someone else, but we fear going out on the limb ourselves because what if it breaks.  Of course, proven over and over again, it’s out on the limb that we find out just how powerful and faithful God is.  If Peter had never said “get up and walk” out loud, they never would have seen that miracle.

So why aren’t we more faithfully fearless?

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Powerful Remembrance

Many of my NH church family gathered together with one of my dearest friends to memorialize his dad today.  I have seldom been to such a powerful and moving funeral.

Don Boardman, who I called “Dad Boardman,” was one of the finest Christian people I’ve ever met.  Now, I didn’t know him as well as others, but I knew he was kind, loving, compassionate, and the kind of guy who’d give you the shirt off his back.

I know this partially because I have had many occasions to see and talk with him.  But I also know it because I have gotten to know his son, Glen, over the last 20 years.  Anyone as gracious and compassionate as Glen, who has such obvious love for his own family, had to have been raised in a place where that was modeled consistently.

I think the coolest part today was when the attendees of the service created the “Don Boardman Memorial Choir” to help Glen perform the song he had written in honor of his dad.  Awesome moments, and a testimony to the character of the man we were there to remember and honor.

May God continue to bless the Boardman family in their grieving.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Reading culture into things

I met a dear friend for a bite to eat and some good conversation yesterday.  She had told me previously about her dad being laid off, and that she and her husband were considering moving in with her parents in order to help get them through until her dad could find another job.  She had spoken to a few friends about this, including me, to seek out counsel on whether they should go through with it.  At the time, I told her that it would be great for them to honor her parents in this way, and besides, our parents take care of us our whole lives, so it made sense to turn it around and help them out for a change.  I figured this is how families live all over the world, and have for centuries.

Yesterday she mentioned to me that I was the only one who said that.  She said that most people were telling her it was not “natural,” that it wasn’t what we did in our culture.  Some even used scripture to say that parents are supposed to “store up an inheritance” for their children, not the other way around.

Of course, that does not take into consideration what the culture was like when that scripture was written.  Families generally lived together – or at least very close to one another - at that time, and so everyone sort of contributed to the household in general.  People weren’t out pursuing the American dream, and planning to spend their inheritance, because that culture was not our current culture.  Not to mention the much more communal nature of the economy of that time.

Which is why we must use caution when we read the Bible and try to determine answers to questions and what advice to give people.  Because we read our culture into it so naturally and so automatically that we don’t even realize we are doing it.

At any rate, the rest of the story is that my friend and her husband decided to go through with moving in with her parents, and put their home on the market.  And then, as they were taking steps of faithfulness to honor their parents, circumstances miraculously worked together for her dad, and the need for the whole thing was removed.

Very cool.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I sat in two meetings today with my fellow education professionals.  These are some really great people, who care about seeing to the success of every single student they teach.  They never want anyone to fall through the cracks, and have great ideas about making sure nobody does. 

Here we are, barely a month into the school year, and we are in a budget freeze.  And people are walking on eggshells because they don’t know what’s coming from the state regarding how much they will renege on what they promised the towns in aid. 

And I find myself wondering.  What if we really had enough resources to carry out our ideas to fruition?  People always assume schools are wasting money, or that the people who work in them don’t really care.  It just isn’t true.  Give these people the resources they need – in supplies, in texts, in technology, in personnel – and you would see wondrous things happen.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

The Be-attitudes

I listened to a sermon by Rob Bell today on my commute about one of the Beatitudes – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

Now, all my Christian life, every time I ever heard anyone preach on this, it was about making sure our lives were all about going after Jesus, becoming more Christ-like, etc – all about working toward being more holy or sinless or whatever. 

Rob’s contention, and I agree, was that this was not a prescription for your life’s work, but an announcement about something that already IS.  And, we have to watch how we define righteousness.

This is about righteousness in the sense of putting the world back to rights, seeing justice done, seeing mercy win, and seeing everything in its right place again.  And the ones who are disturbed by the fact that it isn’t, who are hungering and thirsting to see God’s shalom brought about on the earth, are the ones with whom God hangs out - right there in the middle of the longing.

In other words, the blessing isn’t for the ones who have it all together – it’s for those of us who haven’t worked it all out, who are looking toward the day when everything is once again made whole – including us.

Good news, huh?

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

In which God blessed the work...

So we opened our church's new campus today. And people actually showed up, and the service and all the setting up and stuff went really well.

It is so great to join in what God is doing, and just go with His flow.

And wow that all sounded more "jargony" than I meant it to. Suffice it to say, we of Grace Community Church - One Church, Two Locations - are pretty pumped.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Three months later...

Three months since this blog has been updated. Maybe because Twitter offers more interaction more quickly. Or maybe because I cannot imagine what I've needed to say.

I am preaching tomorrow morning, and have been working on a sermon entitled "The Testimony of God." It's on 1 John 5:6-12, and it has been quite enjoyable.

Looking back at the last three times I have preached, there's a definite theme going on. Like through my having opportunities to preach, God has been speaking to me. Hmm.. Funny how that works.

At any rate, I kicked off the 1 John series with 1:1-4, Jesus the Word of Life. Then I have the first 6 verses of chapter 4, about testing the Spirits, and knowing who comes from God. And now here I am dealing with the testimony of God - and He testifies to Christ, and we must receive or reject the truth of that testimony.

Pretty cool series within a series.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life

Rough life we have today. This is the view of Hampe's camp as seen on the approach in the party barge.

I am loving this time at the lake with friends. It's very renewing to be in such a setting!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Retreat time!

I took this out the top of my convertibe today as I headed out for dinner with friends before the official beginning of this year's women's retreat from my church.

What a gorgeous day!

I am expecting some good things to happen this weekend with our women, not the least of which is a chance to get out of the normal routine for a while. A normal routine is great, but a break in it once in a while gives us a chance to rest and reflect. I, for one, could use it, and I know I'm not alone.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

I'm being followed...

First trip of the season in the convertible took me to Conway and across to Portland via route 302.

My friend and I stopped at Blacksmith's Winery in time for the Saturday wine tasting. It was a successful stop. For the winery.

At any rate, we made our way to 202 to head home and these six bikers were behind us for quite a while until the opportunity arose to let them pass. It was less noisy when they were behind us, but they disappeared soon enough.

Now we are at Martins awaiting our clams and scallops. It's been a great day!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A painter by any other name

My home group and my friend's home group joined forces to clean this lady's yard. Two groups, two hours and 100 bags later, she showed us her beautiful paintings. They're marvelous!

She lives on the small amount of money she makes selling afew of her paintings, and is actually in need of more paint.

It was good to be able to flex from normal meeting and serve someone who needed help.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


I already miss Battlestar Galactica. I liked the original, and was nervous about this new one when it started a few years ago. But it was great television, and a series of which I would consider the purchase of a boxed set. It was well written, well acted, and had enough twists and turns to keep me guessing all the way through.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

On the Bus

This is where I spend several hours of my life each school year - in the front seat of a school bus with my gang hanging out "behind me all the way."

It is not always pleasant to ride on a school bus. They are meant for shorter trips - significantly less than the 45 minutes we rode today. But being with these fine people, and seeing them perform and excel is always worth the sore back and swollen knees in the end.

Today's jaunt was to a jazz festival, and as usual the Triton Jazz Band outplayed itself. Those pesky jazz people always torture me with bad playing, forgotten music and clothing, and a general "hanging on by the skin of our teeth" attitude for at least a week before each gig. I don't know why, because it just means I push them harder in rehearsal, and they leave my class often with those "pouty faces" that so irritate the observer.

At any rate, today was a good day. Now we rush back to the school to rehearse for the musical.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

"Remember, O man, that from dust you came, and to dust you shall return."

God created our bodies from dirt - from the stuff of earth. Then He breathed into us the breath of life - the spirit of life. We are all made of the same stuff, and are equal in His sight.

Lent asks of us a recommitment to living as His child. Our pastor identified three themes - almsgiving, prayer, and fasting - through which we can express that recommitment. At home group, a friend pointed out that the gospel says "WHEN you pray...", "WHEN you fast...", and "WHEN you give..." None of these is an if.

Several of us are joining our pastor in his journey of recommitment. Perhaps you, dear reader, might as well.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Just like us?

This is the CEO of Sprint in a commercial implying that the web is for anyone, and we can all use it. That he, like us, can have a wireless "way of living."

At this point in the ad, he calls in that he would be working from the road because he is stuck in traffic.

Funny. When I am stuck in traffic, I'm usually driving my own car.

Policing thought and opinion?

I have now seen two brief news items today that disturb me. Fred Phelps (and a trvel companion whose identity I no longer remember) is being barred from entering a country. And another country is attempting to kick out a holocaust denying Catholic bishop.

Ok, now look. I do not agree with either of these men. I don't hold their opinions. Indeed, I don't even like their opinions. And I think the behavior of Phelps and his ilk is totally despicable. And I know the holocaust happened, and to deny it is foolish, blind, and even hateful.


And this is a pretty big but...

Is it really right to decide what opinions one must hold in order to reside in or visit a country? Doesn't my freedom to hold my opinion, and even express it, dictate the freedom of everyone else to hold and express theirs?

Don't get me wrong. I hate the vitriol spewed by Fred Phelps. And I saw the pictures of the atrocities perpetrated on the Jews, and lots of other people, by Hitler.

But we CANNOT start using someone's opinions to decide where they can live or visit or work or shop or eat or anything else. That goes against the most basic of democratic principles, and diminishes us in the process.

And for those of you who think I am wrong, well, wait until "they" decide that your opinion on something is wrong and decide to take your house away. That is the slippery slope we are on.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

You Make Everything Glorious

This week, I have chosen a David Crowder tune called "You Make Everything Glorious" as one of the songs we will use for worship on Sunday morning. God can take anything and make it glorious.

Need an example? How about the snow that is now falling here in southeastern NH? Every time I see it, I remember that God has said to me that though my sins be as scarlet, I shall be washed whiter than snow. Glorious!

Look for the glorious in the things you encounter around you each day. God makes everything glorious.

What does that make you?!

Monday, February 16, 2009

At Rehearsal

My friend Nancy was correct of course. I was not sure I wanted to work all day today, but it has been a great rehearsal, and the show is pretty funny. Lots of laughs to be had, and the cast is singing well.

On another note, I hope the folks going to NOLA will set up for mobile blogging so we who could not go along can be part of the experience.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Got Grace?

In considering the idea of what it is to live by the Spirit, I have been thinking about grace. It is by grace that the Spirit is available to us, and that we can access His power to live in a way that pleases God.

I wonder if we just make it all more complicated than it should be. Paul says in Galatians, "Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." Like it's a done deal. Like it isn't really possible to mess it up.

I find that the conversation about living by the Spirit often turns to a discussion of getting rid of sin. And no wonder that's the case, with teaching like the aforementioned Galatians passage all over the place in the Bible for us to beat ourselves with. But that very passage seems like the whole grace thing is supposed to be simple. Just don't gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

I find that when I do gratify whatever the desire/temptation of the day is, I find the need to punish myself. I can't imagine that God would actually forgive me that freely and quickly. And so, I find it difficult to accept the forgiveness He gives.

But when I don't just accept that forgiveness, I am saying to God that His grace isn't actually good enough, or strong enough, or big enough. So, aren't I really engaging in unbelief when I don't simply accept His forgiveness and move on like it never happened?

Some people say that's "cheap grace." But I don't think so. Cheap grace is when you are confronted by temptation - by your own desires, and instead of calling on the Holy Spirit to help you resist, you figure you'll just go ahead and sin and get forgiveness later.

That's cheap. That is treading mud all over the gift of God.

Real grace is believing that God actually has forgiven you, and just going on. It's not rehashing the issue, and beating yourself up enough, or anything like that.

Real grace forgives, and gives freedom as a result. Because if I am all tied up in trying to punish myself for my sins, I am saying that the punishment Jesus took on the cross wasn't enough, and I am putting myself into a debtors prison from which I could never earn my way out.

I think I'll take the real thing.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The intellectual side of faith

A realization I came to recently is that I have quite an intellectual faith. Not that I have “head knowledge” without “heart knowledge,” but that the way I am most often amazed by God is when I make an intellectual or academic connection between two things I once thought too diverse, or find out something new about a passage I thought I knew, or get a deeper understanding of the implications of a theological concept. Does that make sense?

So I love the gospel, the good news that it is, and that it is being taught through preaching and music all over the place in so many ways. And I love the more basic worship tunes, and think it is incredibly important to continue doing those songs, and preaching that basic message.

But sometimes I just want something to blow away my brain. The seminar I went to in November with NT Wright at the seminary reminded me of the amazing scope of God and the intellectual side to my faith. I felt like my brain got switched back on. In fact, one of the things I would love to do is to quit working and go back to school – preferably seminary. (So much of the learning I have to do is stupid hoop-jumping so I can keep my teaching license. I'd love to study what really fascinates me instead - currently that would mean theology.)

Sometimes I feel like there are those who would hold the opinion that this is somehow a lesser kind of faith. I don't know if that is just an impression I get from how people talk about faith in general. But it is an impression I have.

Anyway, that's just what I was thinking today.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I am in an interesting conversation over here about church, and whether it is necessary.

I post this link trusting that people will read carefully before making any assumptions about the post and the comments, and that people will know I am not advocating quitting church.

It was just an interesting topic, and I inserted myself into the conversation. That's all.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

All About Love

The topic of love has come up several times in reading and conversation of late.

Yesterday, I had a great conversation with a dear friend about love, and how often we mistake it for an emotion. That is to say, the movies teach us that love is when you meet someone and there are fireworks, or your stomach flips over, or something electric like that. But that isn't love - that's infatuation and sentiment. And a silly thing on which to base a life with someone.

Then today I checked out another friend's new blog, where he was talking about much the same thing.

And then today's sermon was about how God is love, and that His love is real and complete and unconditional and he showed it by taking residence in human flesh and dying for us. And that the sentence stops there - God loves us. No "but..." at the end of that.

Love is an action. Or maybe it's better said that it's a series of actions and choices. When I am angry with a friend, I choose to love anyhow. I don't break off the friendship. When a person is angry with his or her spouse, he or she chooses to love that person - through forgiveness, through discussion, or even just by staying.

Sometimes I wonder about how we make things rocket science that aren't. You choose love or you don't. Seems simple, right?

But it isn't. Because sometimes it costs us something - some time, some money, the right to be right, our pride. For Jesus it cost his life. That's the example we are supposed to follow.

I hope people see in me that kind of love.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Hello, 2009

I started 2009 with good friends in a comfy place, watching Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, playing a game, with great food and lots of laughs. The kind of laughs it is very difficult to explain, because whether a thing is funny or not can have a lot to do with circumstances. In short, it was location humor.

At any rate, we're off to a resounding start.

I can't remember a time when Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve was not on TV. I was born in '66, so it is actually possible that within my lifetime there was never a New Year's Eve without it.

Today I shall attend a movie with friends. I don't think I have seen a movie in a theater since last New Year's Day.

As far as 2009, I think we are all in for some challenges. Economically, we are in trouble - more trouble than we have had since World War 2, which, oddly, helped get us out of the Depression. And I don't always know that we can trust those who are high up in business and government to always tell us everything, and I have noticed that those people will take care of themselves first. If that were not the case, we would not see them getting their exorbitant bonuses.

And, according to my aunt, the oil companies, who have been posting record profits through this whole thing, should be the ones bailing out the car companies, who helped them post those profits by purposely building inefficient vehicles when the technology has existed for YEARS to give us 50 or more miles to the gallon.

The oil company/car company marriage is one that should take care of itself.

Yet, I cannot help but feel some optimism that we will come out the other side of this better than what we are now. Our president-elect has called on us to be our brothers' and sisters' keeper. Shouldn't the followers of Jesus lead the way in that?