Archive for January, 2008

Slaking my “Live Music” Thirst

January 8, 2008

      For years, I’ve had a list of things to do before I die. 

        One of the simple pleasures in life for me is listening to live music. (After that is getting to dance @ a wedding reception.)

           Getting back to life music….I will get what I call a “raw idea” and start playing with it in my mind.  In 2002 I had one  (a raw idea).  We live on an acreage,  where I planted a small orchard.  I had this  picture of lots of people listening to live music in our  apple orchard.

       This past  September we hosted our   8th “Apple Jam”.   After writing about it on my other blog.  I got a note from Fran who hosts a website called “Concerts In Your Home.  which put us in touch with a whole bunch of new musicians.   To make a long story short, we have 2 events in the works I wanted to tell you about.  On March 28th, we are hosting  Lou Brown

  at a local coffee house.  She is from the UK.  Then September 8th  2008  is our next Apple Jam. Wendy Jans


 will round out that  evening. 

    What’s an “Apple Jam?”  Lots of great music.  There is an open mike the first portion of the afternoon  (last Fall there were probably 8-10 musicians for that part),  and one or two other musicians we pay :-) to round out the night.  It’s all free…there is a donation pot to help defray’s not about the $…rather, it’s a chance to have some great entertainment in  a 100 yr old barn, where the acoustics rock….if you’re not doing anything either one of those weekends , and you  enjoy live music, and you’re reading this on my blog..consider this as your personal invitation.   It’s all word of mouth…and if you are musically inclined (or have some other talent you’d be willing to take the stage with,  that would be even more fun.  We’re located in the Midwest about 3 1/2 hrs West of Chicago.  Drop me a note and I can give you more specfic directions.   What do you do for fun?

When Your “Christian” Child Strays…What To Do In The Meantime

January 6, 2008

     Some kids grow up in a Christian home and transition into adulthood w/o much trouble.    That has not been our experience.  

     I woke up one morning to find our 14 yr old had run away.  She was gone for 2 days before I “reeled” her in.

     As a  dad, I have had to accompany a  daughter to the emergency room after a sexual assault,  watched as one of my children pulled up to my job-site with the news she thought she  might be pregnant,  watched as another  daughter moved in with a 270 brute who I felt was emotionally abusing her.

       This Fall  things came to a head in my life as a parent.  I found myself vexed about another gut-wrenching situation.   I’d been a parent for 27 years at this point. 

       My tendency has been to emotionally shut down.  If you are going to thumb your nose at me (and in the ultimate sense)  God, then there is nothing I can do about it.  I  found myself   vacalating between anger and worry.   Those are two draining emotions, so I found a third option….become indifferent.   I would consciously put that child and their choices on some shelf in my heart and then shut the door.  I felt nothing…honest…just numb.  The problem with numb is, it’s a package deal…in my relationship with that child…I felt nothing.    As a person I am  very relational.  I don’t “do” shallow very well…

      It was at this point that an article I can’t lay my hands on at this moment came along…the author challenged me to try for just one week not to worry about your child….just for one week..and instead of worrying,  to be thankful for the things in their lives you could identify….(they were still calling us regularly and letting us know what was going on in their life….they  had a job,  they got  along with their siblings, those kind of things).   Honestly it felt wierd to say I promised not to worry, (because there were definitely things going on that would cause any normal parent who loved their kid to worry about)..well, at the end of that week…I had to say, it felt great not having worried, and not feeling emotionally detached.  I decided to try it a second week….and a third…. and wonder of wonder, the situation I was  then concerned about began to change w/o a word.

       I had a very profound experience last week as a parent.   I don’t “hear” from God directly as some of  my more Charismatic brethren do…Once in  a while I might get a sense of something God might be up to, but honestly, even then, I always take it with a grain of salt.  Well, I had one of those moments last week…I had this thought:

It was like God said to me…”Each of your children have gone and are continue to go through this sifting phase…when they come out the other side, they will be as beautiful and vibrant of Christians as Swans are compared to little ducks”... 
    Woa, remember the story of the ugly ducking?…there was a time when he didn’t look very good as a duck…he looked like a complete looser….but looks can be deceiving…and when the dust all settled,  God had accomplished something beautiful in his life…he wasn’t a duck..he was a swan…..

       If  we  come  to mind after reading this…take that as a nudge to pray.  We’re still not out of the woods by a long shot.   Thank you.  Your thoughts? 

Addicted… There Hope

January 4, 2008


      “When you’re addicted to crack, you can’t even  save enough money to buy a  pair of socks”  Tyrone

      I’d tagged along with Charlie R. to help out with  music.  Charlie was a tile installer by day, smoked like a chimney, and  loved Jesus!    We drove past the Projects, down into the heart of  Paterson to the  Good Shepherd Mission. We parked our van in an abandoned lot next door.  This looks like a great place to get mugged I thought to myself.    I remember standing in front of 30 black  men trying to lead Amazing Grace .  Three of us were white…myself, Charlie and one homeless man  with this far away look in his eyes.

           After the service,  Charlie introduced me to  Tyrone.   He was built like a tank, wore a doo rag  and flashed this great big  smile.   A month later,  our church offered to take him  under it’s wing, giving him a room,  and a job w/my employer framing houses.   Tyrone and I worked side by side for  3 years.

     At one point, Tyrone  and I took a road trip back to Paterson.  He wanted his “white brother” (me) to experience soul food at Huffin’s.  Later we drove around-  he pointed out an alley where he had once been chased by a gang of   12 yrs olds.  “They’re the most dangerous,” he said, “They want to prove that they’re tough.”

      Tyrone and I developed a  close friendship.  A quote from Proverbs comes to mind when I think about my relationship with Tyrone …

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  

I remember  one conversation in particular.  I was broke.   We were trying to raise 4 kids on one  income in Northern New Jersey in the mid 80′s.  Tyrone  listened to me vent,  then in an intentional drawl  said.  “Douuuug…you sound  like you’re grumbling..just like those old Israelites. ”  “He said it with a smile.  I can’t remember if I hit him or not.  I knew he was right.   He knew  what it was like to trust God in the midst of nothing.

        In 1990 we moved back to the Midwest.  In 2001 I got a call.  Tyrone  wondered  if I would be the best man in his wedding.    (see photo above).  Our friendship was as deep as any you’ll ever experience.  This post has two themes….friendship  and addictions. Any comments about either one?

How We Keep The “Like” In Our Relationship

January 2, 2008
       You know how it is in the morning, your mind flits from one thing to the next.    It’s New Years Day, there is no body home but the wife and I. 
     Four children later, here we are.  There has been so much water over the dam since we first said “I do“.   I commented to her over coffee this morning , “I’m so thankful we still like each other after all these years  :-)
     Life has a way of  erroding  a relationship.  Like grit  in your engine, it affects the performance.    Last week I was reading a post by  Lori .   She was talking about motherhood (which by the way I think is probably the hardest job on the planet).  She got some feedback from somebody who questioned her heart as a mom.  This post springs indirectly from that one. 
      I want to talk about marriage, parenting, and keeping our marriage  fresh.   Before we were  parents  we were a couple.  After the kids are gone, same thing.
        Being married   feels like white water rafting.  You’re  drifting   along, water’s  pretty calm, you turn a corner, and wonder what happened.  I still remember early on in our marriage going into a ballistic fit of jealousy.  Took me by surprise.  Ended up, wife and I made an appointment w/ a counselor from another town…No way am I going to let anybody know we might have a less than perfect marriage. :-)
       I specifically request the counselor’s wife be part of the counseling session.   I didn’t want some textbook solution.   I wanted to hear from a real couple.   Did  they ever experienced jealousy in their relationship,.  This was the first, but not last session where we addressed the green eyed monster directly.
       Money.   Know any couples that have financial pressure and conflict :-)..yep, us too.  Sat down w/ counselor who suggested meeting w/ one of the deacons in our church who was also an accountant to see if he could give us some direction.  Opening up your personal financial information to a third party can be humbling.  Looking specifically at how much you make and what you do with it,  how much you spend on entertainment, giving, savings?.  “What’s that?”  I asked.  Savings.  When you’re just one step ahead of the wolf, there is no savings.
     Sex.  Know any couples who have conflict about this issue?   Hummm…us too.  It took a while to work up the courage to address that issue head on.   If you thought addressing jealousy was hard, this issue was even more humbling.   There was an older couple in our church at the time.  They were late 50′s- early 60′s.  Married 40 yrs.  I would watch them,  they still touched each other affectionately in public.  You  could tell they had a healthy marriage.  She was an I knew she would be hard  to embarrass (figured she’d seen and heard enough stuff as a nurse)   I was right.  After another conflict over sex I called them up and asked if the 4 of us could have a candid discussion.   Ended up, husband bowed out of the discussion, but this lady, my wife and I had the most candid, funny, wholesome discussion on sexuality that has ever taken place.  Talk about grace flowing into an area of your life that has got you stumped.
     Parenting.  Young children have their own set of challenges,  the teen years  same thing,  when they enter their 20′s…you got it.
    I would have to say, , it’s been other couples who have provided the most insight for our family in  parenting. When they are little, one of the biggest challenges is for  mom and dad to be on the same page,  regardless of the issue.  If one of you is permissive and the other is not, that is not going to work.     I could go on, but I’ve mentioned 4 of the most  common issues that can sink your boat.    Your thoughts?  


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