Thursday, June 26, 2008

When Will I Be a Man?

So I’m on vacation for a couple of weeks, and this first week I am local because Angie is working. I decided about 10:30 last night that I was going to wake up wicked early and go fishing today on Hemlock Lake. It required me to do a little work before bed since I didn’t want to have to load the canoe and gear come morning. This was a good call, because when the alarm went off at 5:10am I was looking for excuses to crawl back into bed. Instead of excuses not to go, as I contemplated how comfortable my bed is, two thoughts hit me. The first was if I get back into bed after my alarm going off this early Angie will most likely kill me. The second was that I already strapped the stupid canoe to the top of my car so I might as well take it somewhere.
I stopped near the lake for some gas station coffee and because there was a sign in the window that read, “bait.” While gas station coffee is a serious affront to my coffee snobdom, it just didn’t seem like a real man morning to brew Starbucks before fishing alone. I thought it a good idea to get some live bait since all my other attempts at fishing this year have led to me losing the lures I had on my line. I’ve always found it kind of gross that a place that primarily sells people food also sells fish food, but I guess most of what a gas station sells doesn’t really qualify for people food (I would like to see Morgan Spurlock live off that fare for a month). I felt good about the worm purchase because of the reassuring writing on the container. It told me that they were genuine “Canadian Nightcrawlers.” I’m not so sure why they are better than worms from the states, but if they came all the way from the Great White North it must have been worth the trip. The other thing that I liked about the packaging was the disclaimer, “Not meant for human consumption.” Since I wouldn’t be drinking on my aquatic adventure I didn’t need the warning, but I’m glad it was there.
Hemlock Lake is amazing because there is no development around the lake because it is owned by the City of Rochester for a water supply. For this reason they also only allow hand propelled boats, and very small motorboats. All this leads to the sensation that you’ve stepped back 200 years in time because you hear almost nothing from other humans and rarely see anyone out there. As you can see from the view, not a bad place to spend your morning. It’s kind of hard to have a bad time when you have this lake as the backdrop for your prayer time, even if are technically there to fish and haven’t caught a darn thing.
Which brings me to the question at hand: If real men are supposed to be able to do things like fish, do I officially have to have caught a fish to be a fisherman? I do think that I came as close as I have yet this morning as it’s possible that a fish or two chewed my worm off the hook without getting caught. But seriously, how hard can this be? I just want to catch a fish. Something, anything, I’ll be happy with a goldfish at this point. Well, fishing aside, I kind of took a step further toward manhood last night when I actually crawled under Angie's car and used my drill and those plastic pull ties to connect some shielding that had come loose. So I am making some progress, but keep me in your prayers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Economic Stimulus

Even though we’ve bought and sold a house in the last couple of years I guess there are still some things in life that are blatant reminders that we are definitely, really adults now. Sure we’ve bought furniture before, but a piece here and a piece there, in fact we didn’t even buy our mattress and bed frame at the same time. So when we went out tonight in search of two matching couches, I guess I wasn’t prepared for the sense of responsibility that would come with the decision. Seriously, when you buy two couches that match you are committing long term to large pieces of furniture; furniture that will require me having to remember that the color of our living room for years to come. And if I am ever asked about my opinion on a different color for the walls in the living room in the next 15-20 years, I better have darn well thought out the implications of how that color matches with the couches (not because I really care, but because I am maritally challenged). That’s a lot for a man like myself to get a hold of.
The thing that I can appreciate most about this adult purchase is the way that it expands our ability to comfortably host larger groups of people. That is a real plus, since the small couch and two chairs made it uncomfortable for entertaining even two other couples at the same time. Besides, it would be un-American to not go out and spend our Economic Stimulus Package immediately, right? Come on over some time after delivery and have a sit down on the new couches. They are rather comfortable (and they sure do match the blue walls nicely as well ;-) ).

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Who You Are (No, not you)

“Lord Jesus, thank you for who you are.” If you have even heard me give the children’s message at church you have heard me pray these words with our kids. You may have even wondered if you’ve heard me lead our children to pray like this week after week, “why can’t he think of anything new to start that prayer with?” Since I’m realistic enough to realize that it is unlikely that any child that comes up on a Sunday morning will remember the specific substance of a children’s message into adulthood I am intentional about teaching them to pray in this way. Maybe, just maybe, after starting prayer with their pastor each week in this way (I pray a short phrase and the kids repeat after me), that this will be ingrained in their prayer life for all their days.
So with all the ways that one might attempt to teach children to pray, why “Lord Jesus, thank you for who you are?” Acknowledging who God is and our gratitude for that is to recognize what prayer is really about. Jesus promised as he left his disciples that the Holy Spirit would be with us always. So let us not think that in prayer we are summoning a far off God who comes close at our beckoning, or getting the attention of a God who is distracted by many chores and voices, and needs us to say, “Hey, God listen up, I need your attention right now!” Author Henri Nouwen has reminded us that all prayer is answering prayer. Meaning that God is already active and present in our lives (weather we recognize it or not) and in prayer we are answering what God is already doing. God starts the conversation, and when we slow down enough to pray we are simply joining in that conversation with the One that longs to share time with us.
Starting prayer with thanking God for who God is also reminds us that our relationship with God is not that of an ungrateful child that always has a hand out looking for more from God. When we understand that the God of the universe wants to have relationship with us, that he loves us with more care, tenderness, and intimacy, than even the most perfect human parent ever could, we should not be able to contain our gratitude. Particularly as we realize that this relationship isn’t based on who we are or what we do, our good deeds or our eloquently crafted prayers, but simply on the fact that God loves us and has done everything possible to make sure there are as few barriers between us and him as possible. So to remember with gratitude who God is as we begin to pray is to acknowledge all God has done, will do, and is doing, and how that affects all we have done, will do, and are doing. Prayer is not about having the words exactly right, or saying them with a certain inflection, but the words should reflect the attitude of our hearts as we join in conversation with God. Perhaps if we start our prayer with gratitude for who God is that we will connect with what the deepest part of our souls already knows, that God is completely different from us and yet desires to be with us more than we could desire anything in our hearts. May we be filled with gratitude at such a God and never stop thanking Jesus for simply being who he is.