Watercooler Wednesday

Brad Margus and the A-T Children’s Project

Meet my friend Brad Margus. Brad was in our wedding (can it really be almost 23 years ago?). CNN did a profile on him last year, detailing his absolutely amazing fight to save two of his four children from a crippling disease. David and I have lost touch with Brad lately, but have continued to pray over his kids and follow his path to find a cure. This is a great video demonstrating what happens when abilities and skills meet passion and drive. Brad inspires us. You can read more about his foundation, the AT Children’s Project here.

This is part of Watercooler Wednesday.

Looking for a lake cottage.

This quote inspires me…it’s truth makes me happy.I’d like to walk through that back door now…This is my inspiration board…a catchall for things that strike me.

This quote was found in an old copy of Real Simple magazine. It inspires me with its simplicity and truth. I’m showing it too you as it is found on my inspiration board in my back hall. The page is torn a smidge, and as you can see it is not hanging straight. But when my eyes land on it I remember what is truly important in life. A perfect day includes space and time for new discoveries inside of a good book, and it ends with an evening spent with the best of friends. How many, many perfect days I have had!

“I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage, with my books, my family, and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occuply the most splendid post, which any human power can give.”

– Thomas Jefferson, letter of February 1788

This is my entry in Watercooler Wednesday. Go see for yourself!

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Coffee Cam… internet icon and tribute to coffee!!!

Is the coffee done?

I read today that one of the first live cams on the internet was a coffe pot in the computer lab at the University of Cambridge. It lived from 1993 to 2001 as an easy way for the office geeks in residence to check the status of the coffee pot! My kind of people…gotta have their coffee and don’t want to waste any steps getting there. The camera became an internet sensation in its day, and when they turned it off the coffee pot was sold on ebay to help fund lab improvements.

While we are on the subject of coffee oddities, I discovered this website devoted to the world’s largest coffee pots. Really? I had no idea that people could be passionate about oversized, nonfunctional coffee pots. But still, eye catching.

What is the purpose?

It’s Watercooler Wednesday!!!!

Elsewhere, Pete Wilson wrote a great post on dealing with the everyday things that irritate us. I so identified with Pete’s post. Sometimes the big things don’t upset me nearly as much as the little obstacles of life. As always, Pete put a great perspective on it.

Searching for an antidote to life

Dictionary:

antidote

(?nt?-d?t) pronunciation

Vision Health
A step-by-step “how-to” instruction.

 

n.

  1. A remedy or other agent used to neutralize or counteract the effects of a poison.
  2. An agent that relieves or counteracts: jogging as an antidote to nervous tension.

I began thinking about antidotes today after noticing a rash of commercials promoting their product as an antidote to this or an antidote to that. When you look at the definition above you realize that being an antidote is a worthwhile kingdom goal for all of us!

So many times the people sitting next to us in Starbucks or in line at the grocery store are mired in problems for which there seems to be no cure. But we know differently. We are the antidote that points them to the cure. Jesus calls us to a radical, kingdom response to the toxins in our society. We aren’t supposed to dabble with the poison, we are supposed to administer the cure.

Knowing this, where do we need to apply the kingdom antidotes to society’s toxic poisons? How about these for a starter?

  • Consumerism and over-spending
  • Hurry and frantic, over-scheduled speed
  • Selfishness in relationships
  • Greed
  • Blindness to social justice
  • Worry

I could go on, but that list is already a lifetime of work administering antidotes. How about you? Do you need an antidote? Are you an antidote?  I’ve convicted myself with my words today, but I’m willing to walk down the road and see what happens. Today — which is all I can control — today I will be an antidote.

This is my entry for Watercooler Wednesday at Randy Elrod’s blog. 

Another Year of Television Reruns?

The year 2008 may go down in history as the year of television reruns. First we had the writer’s strike which forced us all to readjust our viewing habits. As soon as the strike was over it seemed we were into the summer siesta season with a choice between B-grade new shows or reruns of our favorites. And now there are rumors of an actor’s strike putting fear into all of our television-viewing hearts. With all of that, it sometimes seems as if there’s nothing new under the sun. Perhaps King Solomon was prophesying television when he wrote that in Ecclesiastes!

Some reruns stand the test of time: great moments in television history are lodged in our collective brains and pop out at odd times. You know what I mean! If I say “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha” we all picture Jan Brady. Say the words “Lucy and Ethel” and a host of sights and sounds flood our minds, including the lame remake of their show they attempted years later. Whole seasons of Seinfeld have become quotable conversation in everyday life. Current shows have a new life as reruns, too. For instance, let us take a moment to ponder the many classic episodes of The Office available for our quoting and viewing pleasure! I have never looked at a George Foreman Grill the same again.

Although reruns can entertain us, provide us with quotable moments and offer an odd sense of stability in a swiftly changing world, we also long for new territory. We want to meet new characters, hear new dialogues, see a plot line move forward. That’s why cliff hangers work so well at the end of a season. “Please, Jim, take the ring back out of your pocket!!!!” We are wired for the excitement and thrill of a new episode. Erwin McManus, in his new book Wide Awake, recently talked about getting stuck in “reruns” in our lives. We stop dreaming and begin living in the same patterns over and over.

Many of us need reinvented lives. We are living a rerun, and we need fresh stories, maybe some new characters to enter our story. When you get up in the morning, maybe you feel that your life is just a show waiting to be canceled, an endless rerun with worn-out story lines and superficial characters.

If you’re going to engage in a journey with God, if you are going to follow the God who created you, if you’re going to explore mysterious, dangerous, unknown, uncertain places — then you nee to know how to reinvent yourself. You have to learn how to adapt.

Those words caused me to stop and think about the reruns in my life, both literal and metaphorical. Ask yourself a few questions today as you think about your own adventure in the kingdom.

  1. Am I stuck in a comfortable episode with a known outcome? Is this just a short summer break or a lifetime habit?
  2. Is God planting a new storyline in my life? Do I feel a tug to a greater adventure growing inside?
  3. Has God, perhaps, been sending you script after script while you download past seasons off iTunes?
  4. What about your church: churches as individuals and the church as a whole can also get stuck in reruns. Are you relying on what worked in the past, when a new generation is seeking a plotline worthy of their lifetime devotion?
  5. Does the community around you view you as a culture-influencer, or just a guardian of the sacred reruns?
  6. Are you awake?

This post is part of Watercooler Wednesday at Randy Elrod’s place. Enjoy your Wednesday, everyone! David and I are flying back to Boston for a family funeral and — oddly — a friend’s restaurant opening. And maybe a little tie on the lake!


Let’s meet for coffee

Cup of coffee - a great way to meet!

I saw a new blurb on Fox News this morning saying that for the first time ever, Starbucks is planning on closing some of its United States locations in the coming year. While I realize that as far as business models go this might make sense, in my heart of hearts I was saying “Not in my backyard! Don’t touch any of my spots!” Each of the Starbucks in my neighborhood have a different sense of community. Different people are attracted to them, and different converstions happen within them. Now I know, of course, that most of those meetings will merely shift to another location, but I still hope they don’t close any of “our” Starbucks!

All of this got me thinking about the implications of the phrase “Let’s meet for coffee.”

  • Everyone knows the “Let’s meet for coffee.” has nothing to do with coffee. It’s a purely social connection.
  • Third Place coffee shops are neutral territory — privacy in the middle of the public sphere.
  • The degree of commitment implied with meeting for coffee is much less than sharing a meal. Food is a natural bonding agent that creates trust and community. Coffee, however, can be that first step toward real community in a non-threatening way.
  • Coffee is a topic of conversation that — in the last 10 years anyway — can bring together complete strangers, saint and sinner alike.
  • Scientific studies show that people are more receptive to new ideas after a cup of coffee, which explains all the business deals struck in Starbucks over a cup of java! This is also why I am so happy one of our church campuses allows people to bring their cup of coffee into the sanctuary with them. Finish that cup!
  • A coffee cup in their hand makes people feel more at ease.

Even at Starbucks’ prices, that makes meeting for coffee a bargain that is hard to pass up!

If God’s church is to regain its influence in the world, we will have to get much more comfortable doing “our stuff” out there again. So this is what leaving is all about. Simply stated, it’s being “out there.” I’ve learned that if I stay in my office to study, nothing happens. But whenever I intentionally plant myself at a local hangout, I run into people and conversations start, and at the end of the day I know that something Kingdom oriented has happened.

– The Tangible Kingdom, Hugh Halter and Matt Smay 

This post is part of Watercooler Wednesday at Ethos -  cultural watercooler.

Garbage Men Rock My World!

 Garbage Men in action

Hanging out at Randy Elrod’s place for Watercooler Wednesday, I decided to write a quick note about something which I actually feel very deeply. Garbage men rock my world. Before you think I’ve gone off my rocker from too much Iced Doubleshots with Espresso (which I have, by the way), let me explain. Twice a week I wheel the grossest stuff in my life down to the end of my driveway. I have great wheeled trash cans, easy-tie Glad kitchen trash bags…all the necessities. I never have to think about garbage, I just heave it into my trash can under the counter. I collect the smelliest, the broken, the way-past-expiration date. I collect the things my kids have lost track of. I collect the junk mail from everywhere. All these things get thrown into those sweet white bags and wheeled to the end of the street. Along come these men from who-knows-where. I don’t know them, and they really don’t expect a relationship with me of any sort. They don’t whine or complain. They just gracefully do their job of emptying the trash and restoring free space back to my life. They rock my world.

I have a feeling that our calling as Christians is supposed to be somewhat like a garbage man’s. Aren’t we supposed to be working a restoration ministry? If we stopped whining about people’s trash in their lives and just gracefully helped them bag their trash and throw it away, wouldn’t we be more like Christ’s hands and feet? Just pondering.