Wednesday, December 13, 2006


It has been said: Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Man’s best friend is a dog. Nice. I want to get a dog and name her Diamond.

It was Christmas Eve, 1991 when I asked Julianna to marry me. I had spent all the money I had, emptying my savings account to buy her a Diamond Ring. I can’t even begin to describe my feelings of elation as I went on my hunt for the best ring I could afford.

I found a simple, yet elegant, beautiful, nearly flawless ½ karat diamond set in white gold. Perfect. Not to mention, a 75% off sale affording me 4 times the ring my budget would permit. I was only 18 at the time. I didn’t have a giant vault filled with gold coins to swim in like Scrooge MacDuck. What a find!

It was that year that I truly learned the joy of giving. My heart was jocund and sublime the whole holiday season, anxious to give her my gift and make my proposal. I still occasionally look at her left hand, the exhibit of my love and commitment to her, and get that same blissful feeling inside. Even as I write this it takes me back to that euphoric evening, giving me an endorphin rush.

I was living in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the time. She flew down from North Tonawanda, NY for a week or so. That night we were at some Christmas party in the city, friends of my parents I suppose. Mom & Dad knew my intentions for later that evening but they didn’t let on. I like to tell myself Juli was unaware of my plan.

Around 10pm we left the party. It was a cold, clear, starry skied night. I drove her to this small church perched atop a hill overlooking much of the town below. We sat there awhile as I worked up my nerve to bespeak my request. She was saying something as I’m sure I mechanically nodded and made affirming sounds.

I felt my heart thumping in my chest and my body weaken as I pulled out this tiny piece of Kryptonite and proposed. We kissed. My anxiety melded into jubilation. She said yes!

What a great night. It had gone perfectly. I didn’t ride in on a white stallion or post the question on the side of the Good Year Blimp, but still, the moment was perf…KNOCK, KNOCK!

What was that?

To our surprise it was a police officer tapping his flashlight on Juli’s window. “Everything all right in there?” he inquired. Now what on earth did he think was going on? Two young people, parked in a car at “Inspiration point” around 11pm. Well I guess that was his job, you know, being a church parking lot and all.

But it didn’t matter. We moved along. It was still a perfect night.

She wears my diamond.

Monday, November 27, 2006


Well, I’ve told many of you about it. My German family’s traditional Thanksgiving dish. That pile of cabbage in the tan liquid with the occasional brown spot…SCHMORKEL!

Over all the past Thanksgivings I have always been able to escape eating the gruel until this year. We had my Grandfather, Great Aunt and Aunt share Thanksgiving with us. This stuff is my Great Aunt’s specialty. Of all the specialties out there, she had to pick…anyways…

As a kid it was easy to dodge the grotesque looking dish but this time at 33 years old I could not turn it down without exhibiting a lack of etiquette. So I took the plunge, knowing my salvation was secure. I’ve never prayed for dinner with such fervency…

Load the Fork. Lift to Schmorkel hole. Down the hatch.

Wait a second…what’s this? Hey! Not bad my German friends of the Fatherland.

By the way, the brown spots are raisins and the liquid is sugar and vinegar. (We can exchange recipes later).

I thought I’d share the picture of my great German heritage.

Eat Schmorkel! Save the Gallus Domesticus! (chicken)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Alabama Bus Crash

On Monday I was driving out to Kenmore Mercy Hospital to deliver equipment for my job. I turned on the radio to hear reports of a school bus carrying more than 40 high school students in Huntsville, Alabama careening off the highway falling about 30 feet, head first. So far 4 students have died with more still in the hospital.

What a tragedy.

My parents and 4 younger siblings live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It’s a college town where the University of Alabama is the center of attention. My sister is a student there. Roll Tide!

We get there just about every year for Christmas, graduations or weddings. The South is a lot different than the North up here in Yankeeville. They talk different, move slower, have more ice in their drinks, and have learned to breathe in 100 degree, 100% humidity weather without SCUBA technology. They’re happy to show you their Southern Hospitality. They love their college football, Bar-B-Q, fried okra and many believe “the South will rise again.” We Yankees know better though.

When it comes to Christian Spirituality in the South, it’s not a question of “do you go to church?” It’s more like, “where do you go to church?”

So this bus crash got me to thinkin’. Of the 40+ students on the bus, likely many were from Christian families. God's own children. The God of Love. My brothers and sisters in Christ.

Then I thought a little more. Those Christians may have a similar view of God as I do. Views like: God is good. God loves me and my family. God knows even when a sparrow falls from a tree. He promises to protect us as David wrote in Psalm 91.

What must these parents be going through? What does an event like this do to their faith? Do they feel encouraged that God knows best and is still in control? Are they looking for someone to blame? Will they blame God?

What if that was my Daughter who died? How would I react? How would I explain this? I think it would be suffocating.

I used to have all sorts of reasons and Biblical “answers” to explain these situations. None of them really comforting. I’ve come to learn as a married man, you don’t always have to give all the answers. Sometimes just listening and being there ministers so much more than trying to logically explain what happened.

Consider Jesus’ reaction to Lazarus dying, one of His closest friends. I’ve heard some teach that He wept because of everyone’s doubt and lack of faith. I don’t see it that way. He would typically rebuke His followers for having a lack of faith not break down crying.

But His reaction was one of tenderness, true compassion and grief. I believe this was to show us God’s heart for us when we suffer loss. He is not a coldhearted, matter of fact, that’s just the way it is, kind of God. He feels. His heart can be broken.

“Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.”

Unable to explain it all, I must resign myself to this attitude: I do not put my faith in God as a bargain to see what I can get but rather as a commitment to follow Him all the days of my life.

I am comforted by the words of David in Psalm 34:19 where he writes, “though we suffer many afflictions, God delivers us from them all.”

The When and How are His to determine.

Mine is to trust.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Death to Self

This post comes from my journal, 7/17/03

I once heard of a sermon entitled "God wants to kill you!" Quite provocative. Could a God of Love be capable of such a desire for us?

Galatians 2:20 BBE - I have been put to death on the cross with Christ; still I am living; no longer I, but Christ is living in me; and that life which I now am living in the flesh I am living by faith, the faith of the Son of God, who in love for me, gave himself up for me.

I've come to see the need for 3 disciplines in my life. I call them the 3 Walks of Life; Faith, Humility & Love.

I'm working on my Faith-Walk so that I would learn complete dependency on God and the understanding that of myself I can do nothing. He and He alone is my source for ALL I need, (physically, mentally/emotionally and spiritually). Not my job, not my sweet skills or talents, not my education, not the family I come from…etc. Walking by Faith's attitude is, “I don’t have all the answers or resources. I need God!”

Death to Self

Hebrews 11:6 MESSAGE - It's impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.
I'm developing my Humility-Walk so I would learn my ambitions, my desires, and my wants and needs come secondary to the obedience of God. I cannot manipulate or promote myself and expect God’s favor and blessing to be upon me. I must be willing to give up my dreams to allow God’s to come true.

Death to Self

James 4:6b GNB - As the scripture says, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

I Peter 5:5b BBE - Let all of you put away pride and make yourselves ready to be servants: for God is a hater of pride, but he gives grace to those who make themselves low.

I'm cultivating my Love-Walk so that I would learn self-denial of my desires, allowing Christ to work through me, putting others first. The result I'm discovering is I hear God more clearly as I'm becoming more Spirit-lead rather than self-lead. I'm looking for a stronger manifestation of His power in my life as love becomes my motivator. All the Faith in the world will be worthless if I am void of love.

Death to Self

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Mysterious God

I wrote this song a while back that I was singing while playing my guitar last night. The lyrics talk about how I see God in His creation from the strength of a mountain to the gentle winds that blows through the trees. It is supposed to be my expression of reverential awe for God and his mystifying greatness as seen in His Creation. My only appropriate reaction is to worship Him.

More and more I come to see how the closer I get to God, the more I realize how great He is and how much more I need to learn about Him, His ways and the depth of His love for me. He is so much bigger that our finite minds can understand.

I remember as a youth going to a big youth conference in Syracuse, NY. The guest speaker was a Vietnam Vet named
Dave Roever. He spoke about how Christians like to put God in a box. We often carry the attitude we’ve got Him figured out until something happens outside of our understanding and our doctrinal “apple-cart” gets knocked over leaving us feeling disillusioned or betrayed. I can remember Dave sarcastically saying with a Circus Ringmaster’s voice, “God in a Box, God in a Box, get your very own God in a Box,” as if we could actually sell or buy such a thing.

Today I taught on the mystery of the Trinity. How we’ve come to use words like “trinity” and “triune” to express our limited understanding of one of the facets of who God is. Funny thing, the words are not even in the Bible. However I do use this doctrine as one way of putting into words an attribute of a Mysterious God, Yahweh. Though with each analogy of explaining the concept of the trinity such as; the 3 leaves of a clover making one clover, the three phases of H2O (ice, water and steam) all being H2O, or one a friend shared with me, the Sun being the Father, it’s light being the Son and it’s heat being the Holy Spirit, none of these really do the concept justice. Just slivers of truth perhaps.

God created the entire universe, parted the Red Sea, stopped the sun in the sky for Joshua, healed the sick, opened blind eyes, sent fire from heaven, and in some cases even bent the rules on , raising some back to life. I’ve found it’s not always about being able to explain all the answers for life’s questions but rather accepting the fact the God is bigger than us and He knows what He’s doing.

God loves me.

I have lots of questions. Even though I will continue to ask them and pursue Him, I don’t need all the answers today.

I have faith.