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You Say You Like The Country

I’m a city boy, the country freaks me out in large doses, but I have plenty of friends that need to escape the city for a while to be refreshed. I’m beginning to understand that more, but I think this poem of New York is very fitting for my love of the city over time in the rugged outdoors.

Claudia Menza – You Say You Like The Country

“You say you like the country,
how the pond snuggles up to your house
and birds hold forth at the picture window
You say the sky is
full of stars, constellations
to light your way…

I prefer a twilight street in rain,
the long, slow swish of cars,
a slick of rainbows in their wake,
voices refracted through silvery sheets
like parents in another room,
eerie yet comforting,
protection as night comes on.

I prefer my apartment at 6:00 a.m.,
a single Mourning Dove cooing in
the primitive arms of the Ailanthus.
Clock radios burst into song,
the giant rolls out of bed,
joggers pace the street,
leopards in spandex,
then the dogs come sniffing,
pulling sleepy companions to
secrets in concrete.

I like an outdoor cafe,
the symmetry of umbrella
drawing sun to their crowns,
The intimacy of lunch
in their generous shade.

I live for a cab driver with
a snappy line,
a walk through Chinatown,
each telephone booth a pagoda for one,
restaurants defended by dragons
(you don’t get dragons in the country anymore),
fish so fresh they’re
jumping in their baskets.
And if I liked mimes (Annoying creatures.
Everybody hates them but nobody wants to say so.)
then a mime in Central Park.

It’s no Currier and Ives but
how many ponds with skaters
can you look at? I’d rather
the Christmas windows at Lord & Taylor,
watching children with
mittens of chestnuts
press to a scene from
Currier and Ives,
faces bright with cold, with curiosity.

You want me to trade this in for
a babbling brook?
Brooks are nice, but brooks are easy to celebrate,
the proverbial good without evil,
no attempts at your core,
nothing that scrapes the bone
like the collective frenzy of
a lunatics’ ball,
a kaleidoscope gone mad…

And if it’s the miracle of nature you want,
which is more the miracle:
that field of daisies behind your house
or that one crocus pushing up through
the sidewalk on Bank Street?

Peace of mind is what I mean,
this quilt of roofs
our lively patchwork,
this urban potpourri,
this hybrid vigor,
no constraint of
white picket fence,
not how much space you have but
how much space you are.”

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Fall Review, Part 2

Here’s a continuation of our Fall Review, Part 1 is here.


This October, we visited the pumpkin patch in Elgin and Terrytown to make sure we got the best pictures and the best pumpkin for carving for Halloween. At the beginning of October Eli wanted to be a tiger and wanted Calvin to be a leopard, special thanks to Kung Fu Panda. We found great costumes for both of them that they wore most of the month, Calvin’s was really a dalmation but is looked close enough to a white leopard for Eli.

Then the week before Halloween, Eli wanted to be a skunk because they are stinky. Obviously. So my gracious wife went and bought black sweats and a black hoodie and sowed white fur on them making him a skunk.

We joined a Wild Thing and a Max from Where the Wild Things Are, our SWAT team neighbors, and a 6’6″ Oompa Loompa with a 18-month old mini-me Oompa Loompa and Dora the Explorer as we celebrated Halloween over at the Lopez’s. It was awesome and pictures are sure to follow…

November is for house work…apparently

November we took care of some much needed work around the house that I avoided in October for my PE Exam. Eli was able to pretend our back yard was a jungle thanks to the 2.5′ high grass. So we took care of the backyard, I replaced a garbage disposal (special thanks to Michael Swanson), we painted the trim on the house and the front door.

Needless to say, I feel infinitely more manly.

Turkey Day!

We had the blessing of hosting Thanksgiving at our house again and welcomed my Aunt Gladys and our good friend D to join both of our families at our house as we celebrated the last year together. It was incredibly delicious.

That night, Amber and I went to the A&M-Texas game in College Station. It was one of the most exciting games to see in person despite the disappointing result.

The only good thing to result from the Aggie defeat was that Colt McCoy’s dominance of what was formerly know as the Aggie Defense basically guaranteed my win in our College Fantasy Football League and the trophy now resides proudly in my house where it belongs.

Eli Started School!

This past fall, Eli started attending a local preschool. He’s doing great at school and talks about his friends and even a little crush he has. He’s talking marriage and rings, so he’s definitely girl crazy which is half-hilarious and half-scary for what the future will bring…

We’ve also stumbled upon a great kid’s leaning website, Starfall, that has great interactive learning games online. It was recommended by our teacher friends and it’s been awesome.

Finally Alive

Amber also concluded the class she assisted in teaching at our church called Finally Alive. The class is based on the book by John Piper that you can download from their website. Amber described it as one of the best and most refreshing books she’s ever read. It has helped explain how people are saved by faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ alone and clearly articulates God’s work in our salvation.

It’s a great read for those who may be interested.

Headed toward Christmas

It’s Christmas time and we’ve been enjoying various holiday activities from getting and decorating a Christmas Tree (live and from Home Depot), walking around the neighborhood looking at lights, ice skating, even taking in a hockey game (I’ll admit, I’m now a fan) and listening to an overdose of Christmas music.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed catching up on a lot of our life. The plan is to post pictures sometime soon.


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Stockholm Syndrome update

Quick update regarding stockholm syndrome. The .wav files that are found at paradise is a parking lot are titled with words from a wikipedia article about Patty Hearst, who is a famous case of Stockholm Syndrome…

If you put them in order, even though some of the words are missing, you can tell they flow together as a song.  Pretty cool.

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Derek Webb Stockholm Syndrome


Derek Webb got his start as a part of Caedmon’s Call before going solo a few years ago. He is passionate about Jesus and his lyrics often sting as you listen to them because he is a bit of a prophet to the American Christian church. He often reveals our sinful tendency to abuse Christianity for our own benefit instead of exalting Christ and His gospel of redemption and restoration.

His latest CD is Stockholm Syndrome and it’s been controversial. Apparently his lyrics are too strong to be labeled Christian, or so we are to be led to believe. He’s made the release a treasure hunt, using his website to display coded emails that give you the song Spirit vs. Kick-drum, which is awesome if you’ve listened to it. He has placed “artifacts” in various cities that look like the image above that point to the next city, check paradise is a parking lot for your secret clues. It’s an awesome way to build buzz over a CD release and DW fans are quite anxious for it’s release.

I’ll post again soon to track the progress of Derek’s album and show you how to decipher the code to find the next city.

Below are the lyrics to the other song that has been released, titled Heaven.

I was killed in a shopping cart.

Turned upside down and left for dead

I saw a clown try to speak to me

As I floated over him.


I found my way to a familiar place

I swear I’ve been some time before

I would have thought it was the marketplace

But I could not find the door


Oh I have been to heaven

And I have walked the streets

Cause I couldn’t find the hand to hold

To keep me on my feet


So paradise is a parking lot

A spot up front is your reward

All the rest walk down streets of gold

To the house they could afford


I got lost in swelling crowd

And I could not afford to eat

You only have what you came in with

So I’m living on the street


Oh I have been to heaven

And I found no relief

Cause I couldn’t find the hand to hold

To keep me on my feet


I heard Jesus Christ was there

He had a car that’s bulletproof

That way everyone is safe

From the man who tells the truth


Oh I have been to heaven

And I have walked the streets

But I couldn’t find a hand to hold

To keep me on my feet


I couldn’t find a hand to hold

To keep me on my feet

That’s Heaven off of Derek Webb’s Stockholm Syndrome. What do you think it means for you? For the church in America?

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Indoor Soccer Gentrified

This is the best way to play indoor soccer.


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Lessons in Evangelism: Why? Part 2 of 2

Yesterday I started what I hope will be a series about evangelism titled Lessons in Evangelism, because I feel like the last 6 months God has been teaching me various lessons in Evangelism which have changed the way I view evangelism and changed the way I evangelize. I’m starting with the motivation behind why we should evangelize as Christians because they directly correlate to our actions whether we do or do not evangelize. My motivations had been simply out duty and a sense of obligation, but the 3 changes in motivation I gave yesterday are these:


1)   I love God and His gospel.

2)   I’ve started to actually love and care about the people around me.

3)     It causes worship in me and exalts His name.


I covered the first one yesterday, so here are my explanations of the final 2 reasons.


I’ve started to actually love and care about the people around me.


Have you ever noticed you are much more interested in the people’s lives that you are closest to? This is obvious I know, but it’s changed how I view the people around me who I know don’t believe as I do. It sounds like a jerky thing to say that I “started” to care about the people around me, but the reality is that I’m often caught up in all the things in my life and that needed to change to care about people well. I can’t make myself care, but I can ask God to grow my care and love for my co-workers, my neighbors, and the random person I get in the elevator with.


As He has grown my love and concern for these people, I want them to know the things I enjoy. The counter of that is that I don’t want them to continue to live with broken lives, because the end result of that is everlasting death, instead of eternal life. Where do you want the people you love to end up, a lot of death or infinite joy and life? It’s a no-brainer.


In Romans 10, Paul says “Salvation comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” As I’ve grown in my care and concern for the people I am around, I want them to know the greatest news in the world and they can never believe simply by me showing I care about them, I have to talk about Jesus and what He has done and then let God save. You don’t talk to people you don’t care about, so those people will never hear the gospel unless your heart towards them changes. God is good at changing hearts.

If you don’t care or have genuine concern for the person you are trying to evangelize to, please stop. You’re making it harder for the rest of us.


It exalts Christ as supremely worthy and causes worship in me.


Evangelism by nature says that Christ is greater than anything any individual can choose to enjoy, worship, depend on, etc. If Christ is who He says He was, that means He is the greatest thing that has walked this earth. Evangelism asserts that to the world, it puts Him in His rightful place. As I’ve seen Christ as supreme, I feel there is no other option but to place Him above everything else when I talk to others. This eliminates any shame or fear in me and it will in you as well.


The last reason that has changed for me in regards to evangelism is that nothing causes me to seek the Lord, thank Him for salvation and desire to know Him more than evangelism. If you’ve ever evangelized, even if the person doesn’t respond and say “I believe”, you walk away with joy because you got to participate in God’s plan for salvation. You also realize how much you need God to work in people’s lives for them to change and when they do, there is so much joy in seeing someone experience for themselves salvation in Jesus Christ.


I am thankful my motivations have changed because it has caused me to love Jesus and love others more than I ever have. I pray this helps you do the same.


Ask the Lord to reveal your views on Evangelism. Ask Him to show you why you do or don’t do it? That’s where I started. Then get ready to be educated. It’s sometimes embarrassing, but really great at the same time.


Next: Lessons in Evangelism: What?

As in… what do I say? What is the gospel? Then I’ll get more practical in the methods that I’ve learned don’t work and others I’ve seen work quite well.

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Brothas from the same motha

Stripy PJ's Are Awesome!

Stripy PJ’s are awesome!

Rock On!

Don’t Mess with me!


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