Stormy Days in Ann Arbor

Twenty five later, and I can still go back on rainy days

A grey canopy of sky, a consistent sprinkle, squeaky windshield wipers

I’m driving in Kalamazoo but my mind is on State Street and University Avenue

It’s 1994

Hundreds of Wolverines cross the street at the stop sign with the blinking light

Impervious to the rain, some in yellow (maize) ponchos, but most just wet

Their backpacks emblazoned with block m’s, their walk consistent in the rain

From one class to another, Basia playing on the tape deck in the Ford Tempo

We crawled through the intersection as the wipers did another cycle

And Dad did his best not to brush anyone’s kneecaps with the wet bumper


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Just One Verse — Luke 11:1

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place.  When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teaches us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”   – Luke 11:1

Everything Jesus does is on purpose.  Throughout the gospels we see Jesus regularly and intentionally praying.  One day his disciples finally asked what they had already been asking amongst themselves: how do you do that, Lord?

Jesus is a teacher, so he naturally takes the opportunity to teach them what we now call the Lord’s prayer.  Most followers of Jesus have the Lord’s prayer memorized, and rightly so, because it gives helpful structure for our conversation with God.  These words have played a central role in the faith of billions around the world and over the centuries.  Jesus basically taught us prayer in a nutshell.  What a gift this is!

The prayer gets a ton of attention (as it should) but did you notice the setup for this moment between Jesus and his disciples?

  • The disciples see that Jesus has something they don’t: a completely different kind of prayer life with God.  They want what He’s got.
  • The disciples have seen Jesus do this enough times that they finally asked, and it was only when they asked that he taught them.  Jesus is always ready to teach, but he often waits until we’re ready to learn.
  • The disciples want to pattern their lives after Christ, not just their location.  “We don’t want to just walk behind you, Jesus — we want to interact with the world and the Father the way that you do.”  Discipleship changes our path and our practices.  They say, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”  They saw what other discipleship scenarios brought about, and they wanted the same with Jesus.   Today we live in a culture of discipleship, which happens whenever we pattern ourselves around something we perceive as bigger than us, thus giving it a god-like authority in our lives.  We become disciples of a certain celebrity, pattern our lives after wildly successful people, even at the expense of faithfulness in our own context.  Though we don’t call it such, people inherently understand discipleship because they see it modeled everywhere and passionately practiced.  We need to make sure we’re on the right path, following Jesus in our steps and our practices.

One of the biggest unspoken lessons here on prayer is this: we’ve got to be intentional.  Jesus showed them a revolutionary way to pray, not by doing a seminar but by simply being faithful enough that a pattern became apparent.  The disciples just had to ask.

What do you see Jesus doing in the scripture (or in the world) that inspires you to make it part of your ritual?  After all, that’s what discipleship truly is.  When Jesus shows you, ask Him the question: “how do you do that, Lord?”

Posted in Uncategorized

USPS Email, Printed Newspapers, CodgerTalk™

Did you know that the United States Postal Service (USPS) can email you images of what pieces of mail you’ll get later in the day?  Every morning, ’round 8 or so, I get a message from my friendly Postmaster that has a bunch of Xerox coper-era jpg’s of my mail.  I said to Emily even this morning, “there’s a bill coming from [redacted] in the mail today.”  It’s pretty neat, you know, to be able to spy on yourself like that.

It makes me wonder how long until they just open the mail, and send me images of what’s inside, foregoing the whole walk to the mailbox.

Then I think to myself “well, if they can send me an image of the correspondence itself, why not just write something back to the sender, scan it, and email it back to them?” which is a great example of both overthinking and reinventing the wheel.  We call that “email.”  The “e” stands for electronic.  Kids don’t use it.

Listen, I still get an analog copy of the newspaper every morning.  The ceremony of finding it in the driveway/lawn/snow is something I look forward to.  Reading actual print on paper is a delight.  Screens are so… everywhere.  Having a whole paper to read makes me want to at least skim the whole thing, if not read many articles from top to bottom.  No invasive ads, no notifications, no rabbit trails.  I even do the crossword.  What am I?  Old?


What about you?  Do you read a print paper?  Do you get the email from the post office?  By the way, it’s called “Informed Delivery” which sounds like a James Bond movie or a pamphlet at a Lamaze class.  If you want, here’s the link (to the mail thing, not the other stuff I said:

Or, you can google it. You can google everything I’ve mentioned.

Posted in Hot Topics

Follow Her Lead

History has been made in the Free Methodist Church as we have finally elected our first female bishop ever.  A whole new board of three bishops (also counted as a roster of bishops, a basket of bishops, and a battery of bishops) now take the lead for the coming four years.

I’ll tell you this: from what I’ve gathered, Bishop is a difficult job.  Your role?  Oversight of, you know, everything.  Thankfully Jesus is Lord of the church.  Yet He lets us get involved with leadership, and for real.  Jesus is a confident leader who has every reason to take total control, yet He wants us to join Him in this work.  Mysterious.  As far as organizations go, the church is an odd duck, which is, by the way,  the origin of the phrase “flock of bishops”.

Here’s to gifted women and men leading the church.  Lead on Bishop Keith Cowart, Bishop Linda Adams, and Bishop Matt Whitehead.  I’m praying for all three newbies this evening.  What an impossible task.  May their strength be made perfect in weakness.



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Bounce House!

Our first turns 15 today.  When she turned 13, I was shocked to suddenly become the parent of a teenager.  Several years later and I’m all in as the dad of a teen.  Lexi is, of course, a different kind of teen.  With the dual diagnosis of Down Syndrome and Autism, she won’t ever drive, she won’t date, she won’t live by herself.  When it comes to our daughter, my wife Emily and I celebrate different milestones than most parents.

Though Lexi’s birthday is officially today, we celebrated with family and a few friends this past Saturday, complete with fancy helium filled balloons, cupcakes galore, and an inflatable bounce house.  The bounce house was not filled with helium.

It may sound strange, but Lexi wasn’t around very much for her party on Saturday.  Lexi knows what she likes and what she wants.  She likes music and she likes food.  She likes people, especially when they sing and give her food.  But crowds are not her thing.  Lexi is more of an introvert, though she has her people moments.  If they can sing her songs or share her food, Lexi sticks around for a bit until one or both runs out.  One thing she wasn’t all that interested in on Saturday was bouncing in the bounce house.  Too many people, too much noise, too hot.  All this is fine and good, though we did do this a few years ago and felt bummed because she wasn’t into the bounce.  We realized it’s a celebration for Lexi and, as long as others are having a good time, it’s all good.

Meanwhile, Lexi is in her room, not unlike the Godfather on the day of his daughter’s wedding — granting favors and such to her stuffed animals.

After the party ended and the sun gave up its piercing direct glare, Lexi jumped in for a few minutes.  And she was happy.

Happy Birthday, Lexi.  Daddy loves you.









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Outside Outlet

Today has been consumed by the quick job of installing an electric outlet.  New work, outside.  20A.  120VAC.

A job like this will usually take about an hour, maybe two if you hit a snag.

If you hit several snags, that’s gonna work out to anywhere between 14 hours and 6 years.  I won’t bore you with the harrowing details, littering the web with phrases like “a spade bit shouldn’t dull so quickly on brick” and “I could’ve swore the drill was level when I did this.”  I won’t trouble you with pointless chatter like “they were serious about this PVC cement setting quickly” and “can you even sharpen a wire stripper?”  But I will say that it’s almost done because Mac and I had to stop and eat dinner.

Mac is a brilliant helper.  Sure, he wants to do something else most of the time, but a bit of fatherly arm twisting (“listen, I’m your dad, and you need to learn this stuff, so I’m teaching you, so put your phone away) usually does the trick.  He’s fun to have around and has a sharp sense of humor.  I like him.  Plus, he’s now certified in unlicensed electrical work, just like his dad.

The best part of any home improvement project?  Going to Home Depot again and again.  Here’s a few tricks I’ve learned along the way, especially when it comes to that big orange box of a store:

  • Yes, you can park in “Pro” parking because you’ll end up making several trips to Home Depot in a day, and your accrued experience will classify you as professional.
  • They serve coffee at the contractor entrance.  No one has ever stopped me to ask for my contractor ID, but I do get second glances for drinking coffee on 85 degree days.  What can I say?  It’s how I was raised.
  • No one at Home Depot can help you except for the lady who works at the kitchen design center.  My hunch is that she ends up answering a lot of questions because she’s there, sitting down, and can’t run from customers as fast as the orange aproned on foot.  (Sidenote: I once asked her where the propane cylinders were, and she answered in perfect Hank Hill vocal font.  Delightful.)

I’ll keep you updated on project outside outlet.  Projects at home are like long hikes: you appreciate the trail once you’re done with it.  The journey is about maintaining your sanctification.  In other words, if you’re looking for an opportunity for spiritual formation, consider installing an outlet on the back wall of your house.


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The Role Radio Now Plays

I’ve been listening to a local college FM radio station for a few months now: WIDR 89.1 out of Western Michigan University.

WIDR is a student-run grab bag of miscellaneous alternative, jazz rock, progressive, post-progressive music.  Haven’t heard a bad cut yet (seriously).   I’ve Shazzamed 20 songs to go back to later.  On the ride home tonight I heard something froman album called Paradise by the band Mattson 2.  LA Jazz/psyjazz.  Excellent. Heard of ’em?  Me neither.


The role radio now plays?  It helps me sift through the noise and connects me with people (not skynet, not Amazon music, not YouTube guessing at what I should listen to).  Clearly, WIDR’s Programming Director and I are pals (by osmosis).   Every car ride is a little sonic Christmas for the ears.  I don’t normally recommend radio stations, but… you do what you want.  I dig it.

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