Archive for July, 2009

Mikayla “Mike Tyson” Kickert

July 30th, 2009 No comments

We think Mikayla is about to begin teething (which would be early if this really is the case.)  She has been extra drooly and is constantly chewing on everything: her hands, her clothes, toys, the dog (okay… maybe not the dog… but we aren’t through the stage yet).

Well, the other day I had Mikayla up on my shoulders and she pulled a Mike Tyson on me.  Here is a picture I thought you might enjoy:

Mikayla gnawing on my ear.

Mikayla gnawing on my ear.

Categories: Family Tags: , , ,

10 Ideas

July 30th, 2009 No comments

First… an apology to all my readers (all 8 of you… 6 if you don’t count Beth and my mom).   On July 14th Beth and I started a series of ten top 10 lists.  We tried to post daily, but unfortunately I have gotten a bit behind.  That has partly been because of craziness in life, but also because I have been a lot of thought in this final list.  So far we have explored the things that we enjoy, the things we want to do, and a few things about us.  If you have followed along closely, you might have learned a bit about what type of person I am.  I believe that underneath these lists are core ideas that define me as a person.

In reflecting on life these last two weeks, I have examined the concepts that drive me as a person.  In my mind, they all are synergistic and guide my day-to-day living as well as the larger direction of my life.  Here are the 10 ideas that define me as person.

  1. Trajectory of Redemptive History – I first picked up this phrase in Dr. Sandy Richter’s Intro to Old Testament my first semester at Asbury Seminary.  Since then, it has been the primary way that I understand the work of God, God’s people, and the narrative of scripture.  The idea is simple: Since the beginning of history, God has been working in and through his people to bring all of creation to redemption and restoration.  I do not believe the world is constantly descending into more and more evil and pain, but rather, it is consistently moving to place where all wrongs are set right and life is as it should be.  Martin Luther King Jr. expressed this concept when he said, ” The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”  In regards to this central idea to my life, I must highly recommend Dr. Richter’s book The Epic of Eden.
  2. Kingdom of God – During the summer of 2006 Beth and I hosted a Bible Study for college students in our home.  We looked through book of Matthew at all of Jesus’ references to the Kingdom of Heaven (Kingdom of God in other gospels).  Simply put, it completely changed the way I viewed the message of Jesus.  In the 6 months that followed, my entire approach to Christianity began to morph.  This was one of the most formative and painful times in my life.  The concept of the KofG is complex and simple at the same time.  It is in essence the world where God gets his way — it is a world redeemed and restored.  I am convinced Christians are a part of the KofG and called to bring it about.  There is a constant tension between the “already” and the “not yet” of this idea.  A good intro to this concept is N.T. Wright’s The Challenge of Jesus.
  3. Nature of Truth – During my time of theological and philosophical transition (which, while coinciding with my entry into Seminary, was probably more of a push back to what I was learning than the result of it) one of the primary things I gave thought to was the nature of truth and how we know what we know.  I have written an extensive piece on my conclusions (this blog is actually titled after this paper).  To summarize, I believe there is truth, but it can only be understood through our flawed human existence.  Our worldview will always skew our perception.  This has led me to be more humble in how I understand knowledge and open to others conclusions.
  4. Interpretive Communities – If truth is dynamic (or at least flexible in our understanding of it) how do we reach conclusions on what is?  Stanley Fish has given me the framework for answering this question.  Truth is shaped by the communities we are a part of.  I have discussed the practicalities of this in this post.
  5. You must be the change you wish to see in the world – This quote is from Ghandi and is pretty self explanatory.  I tend to be fairly cerebral and will process thoughts on societal change in my mind quite frequently.  I constantly ask ‘What does it look like to have the Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”  Sometimes I think I have the answer, other times I am overwhelmed.  But consistently, I must be reminded that knowing change is needed is useless if nothing is being done to bring it about.  I have spent way too much time trying to convince others to change, when in reality, I must first embody the change I wish to see.
  6. Pacifism – I have increasingly found as I explore the implications of Kingdom theology that if I want to truely follow Jesus, it requires radical pacifism.  This is one area where I feel my Mennonite brothers and sisters have a lot to teach mainstream evangelicals.  This is a topic I wish to explore further in the coming weeks.  Look for a full length post (or 3), but until then, I urge you to ponder the implications of this quote from MLK:

    Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.

  7. Knowledge is power – This sounds odd to me when I list it out, but the essence of this idea play out regularly in my life.  This does not mean the more degrees you get the more influence you have, or that the most powerful people are the most learned.  Instead, it refers to ability.  If I have knowledge of how to fix a lawn mower, I can help my neighbor out in a pinch.  If I can speak another language, I can learn more about a person and their situation.  If I understand a person’s situation, I can empathize and appreciate them more.  Unfortunately, the withholding of knowledge can be used to oppress and subjugate.  That is why I find great power in open and non traditional learning.
  8. Stewardship of Creation – Because of the way I view the world and the Kingdom of God, I hold firm to the belief that all people are called to participate in the protection and redemption of the world.  While this included environmental responsibility, it also points to the belief that all people are part of a larger world and the needs of all must be considered.
  9. Umbuntu – This is an African concept that can loosely be translated “I am because we are.”  It focuses on the interconnectedness of all people and the need for mutual respect.  It also captures the way community identity shapes personal identity.  It is the antithesis of individualism.  In the past few decades, many of the leaders I most respect have used this idea to being about peaceful reconcilliation.  Here is a clip of Desmond Tutu discussing the concept of Ubuntu:
  10. Prophetic Imagination – In his book The Prophetic Imagination, Walter Brueggemann discusses the role of the prophet in brining about a better world.  He claims a prophet must be able to project a world as is it can be so we can see past the world as it is.  In doing this, he identifies two modes: criticizing and energizing.  Basically he says at times a prophet must speak out against injustices, and at other times a prophet must speak about things that can happen.  However, at the end of the day, the prophet must embody this alternate reality.  This tension between criticizing and energizing is put plainly by Ben Harper when he asks, “what good is a critic with no better plan.”  In fact, his whole song “Better Way” exemplifies this concept.

Closing note:

As I upload this final post in the my series of ten Top 10 lists, I just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed writing them and have been encouraged by the response I have received.  I am very thankful Beth decided to join me in writing out her lists.  It was a great experiance to work through this process of self-reflection together.  If you have not read her posts and are interested in them, you can view them here on her blog: A Sugar-Mamma’s Thoughts

10 Websites

July 25th, 2009 1 comment

This is the ninth in a series of ten Top 10 posts that Beth and I are completing.  Today we will look at our 10 favorite websites and tomorrow (or the next day) we will conclude with the 10 ideas that define us as people.  In listing these sites, I am trying to be very honest and go with sites I regularly use rather than sites with philosophical importance.  Enjoy.

  1. Google – There is no question this (and offshoots of it) is my favorite online destination.  In fact, I started to write this post earlier, but after 1,000 words I wasn’t past #1 and ended up branching it off as a separate post (which you can find here.)
  2. Facebook – I was later than most of my friends signing up for Facebook, but I have jumped in with both feet.  In fact, I did not have it while in college, but not use it to keep up with friends all over the country and the world.  We have so many friends we do not see on a regular basis, it really is a resource for maintaining connections.
  3. Zamzar – Probably a site most people are not familiar with, but for me, it is a lifesaver.  I often work with files that are in the wrong format.  Rather than always downloading a file conversion software, Zamzar will do it for you online and then send you the results.  Great for audio, video, documents, etc.
  4. Straightbourbon – Most of you know I work in the spirits industry.  While Corsair produces many unaged spirits, we are moving towards being a major whiskey producer.  Most of what I have learned about bourbon (technical, historical, practical) I have picked up from the guys (and few gals) who frequent this site.
  5. – This site serves as a financial account aggregator which provides a single place to view all your finances.  It also helps you construct a budget and alerts you of irregular spending.
  6. Wikipedia – I know this is not a scholarly source, but it excellent for getting a general feel of a subject, or for learning about topics you never before would have been introduced to.  I have to be careful when I get on Wikipedia because it is so easy for me to spend a significant time following endless linked stories.
  7. Kiva – In 2006 Muhammad Yunus won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work with micro lending, which provides small short term loads to entrepreneurs in developing countries.  Kiva allows you to get in on the action by choosing who you want to loan your own money to.  The best part is that as your loans are repaid, you can roll them over to other people.  Since we joined a few years ago we have made over 100 loans in 26 countries.  You can view our profile here.
  8. Addicting Games – I have not been on here much since Mikayla was born, but sometimes I just need a break and a few minutes of mindless entertainment sometimes does the trick.  I am pretty dang good at Max Dirt Bike.
  9. Twitter – First, let me admit, I really do not understand twitter, but I like it.  I don’t use it to its fullest capacity, but I love being able to keep up with people in 140 character sound bites.  Perhaps it is the next great thing in networked communication, or perhaps it will be the downfall of our ADHD society.
  10. MSNBC – While I don’t think their coverage is the best, I have consistently found MSNBC gets stories faster than any other source.  If there is a plane wreck, or a shooting, MSNBC seems to have the most information consistently.  I use it to supplement the other news sources I regularly look to (CNN, BBC, BG Daily News, Courier Journal, All Africa).

My Addiction to Google

July 25th, 2009 2 comments

If you have been following along, Beth and I have been walking through 10 top 10 lists.  Today’s list is supposed to be top 10 websites.  I began writing early this morning and after 45 minutes and almost 1000 words, I had not gotten past #1.  So I have decided to break it off as a separate post.

You see, I kinda have an addiction.  I am addicted to Google.  Not just the search engine, but all the products they offer.  One of the Mentoring Artists at Kaleidoscope even calls me “Google Man.”  But what can I say, the things they create are instrumental in making my life easier.  I would say well over half of the activities I do include google in some way.  So, I have made a list of the google products I regularly use (at least on a weekly basis.)  As for the other post — Top 10 Websites, it will have to come later today.


  • Google Search – This one should be obvious.  There is a reason Google has the lion’s share of the search market – it does a great job.  But where Google’s strength really lies is in its more focused searches.  These include:
    • Shopping – Find the best prices online and read retailer reviews.
    • Book – Like the card catalog, except you get to view the book right there.  I even use it to find things in books I already own.  More than once I have cited a book for a research paper using only this.
    • Scholar – Not as roboust as some academic databases I have used before, but I have been able to find journal articles on Google Scholar that I have not been able to get elsewhere.
    • Images – I use Google Image search almost daily.  It has become so ubiquitous I need not say more.
    • Videos – A cross between youtube and google image search.  I am not thrilled with the interface – I like youtube better – but it includes videos on other hosting sites as well as longer videos.  Great for watching documentaries online.
    • Blog search – This has been excellent in trying to find out information on niche subjects (like Swaziland orphanages).
  • Google Home Page – Every time I open a browser I am met with Google’s homepage.  Here are the widgets I current have up: Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Reader, BBC, CNN, Courier Journal, BG Daily News, C-Net news, All Africa News, Times of Swaziland, Swazi Observer.
  • Gmail – I have every email from the last 5 years archived in my gmail account.  I got an account back when it was by invitation only.  I also have all my other emails (k-scope,, broadway, WKU, etc.) integrated into it as well.  It makes searching for past correspondences super easy.  Beth and I even use Gmail to video chat with mom and dad via webcam.
  • Google Calendar – Beth and I both keep multiple calendars that we can share and turn on and off.  I have a corsair calendar, a K-scope calendar, an academic calendar (not used anymore), Beth and I share family events and birthdays with a personal calendar.  I can also pull up Beth’s regular calendar to see if she has anything going on to schedule an event.
  • Google Docs – I have been so impressed with the versatility and functionality of this service that I have had it integrated into the daily operation of K-scope and Corsair.  It is so easy to share files such as databases, or budget reports.  It keeps an archive of past revisions in case a file gets screwed up, and it doesn’t require multiple versions of a file to be floating around during editing.  Plus, it is great because you can access important information no matter where you are.  We use Google Apps to integrate this into existing domains.
  • Google Alerts – Whenever something is posted about a topic important to you, you can have an email sent to your inbox.  For instance, any time there is a blog post or article or website about Corsair Artisan, Kaleidoscope or Ben Kickert I get an update.  Very Useful!
  • Google Voice – I am one of the lucky few that currently have access to this service.  It was originally called Grand Central, but google bought it out and has it in a closed beta testing phase right now.  We use it for K-scope.  Google Voice is basically an online phone service.  We have a Google Voice phone number.  When someone calls it, it can ring any number of phones (i.e. your cell phone, your home phone, your spouce’s cell phone).  At K-scope it rings the two administrators.  Once you answer it, you can then transfer the call to other phones if you want.  If you don’t answer, it will go to voicemail which google voice will record and you can check online.  It even transcribes the message for you and you can have it sent SMS to your phone.  At k-scope it has allowed us to have a permanent phone number without having to pay for any service where we can use our cell phones without giving out personal numbers.  If we ever need to switch the contact person, we only need to change the settings.  I also have this set up with a West Virginia number so Mom and Dad can call me on my cell in KY with  local number.
  • Google Maps – This, along with the more robust Google Earth, has been a life saver (and a time waster). I love taking a peak around the world and utilizing the various tools and map overlays that can be added.  Of course I use it for directions, but I also use it for research.
  • Feedburner – I run my blog feed through Google’s feedburner so I can track subscriptions and get a feel for what types of post people are most interested in.
  • Google Reader – This is a feed aggregator that allows you to read multiple blogs/ RSS feeds in one location.  You could argue it saves time because you aren’t having to go to various sites, but at the same time it probably is a time thief because you are more likely to read more entries.
  • Goog411 – If you ever need a business phone number dial 1-800-GOOG-411.  With its voice recognition system you can get the phone number and address of any business.  Heck, it will even connect you so you don’t have to write the number down.
  • Google Analytics – I have this integrated into my website so I can track visitors.  So far my blog has had visitors from 26 states and 16 countries. Overwhelming the most popular posts are those with pictures of Mikaya… go figure.
  • Adsense – With this I can integrate ads into my blog.  So far I have made a whopping $0.03 from visitors like you.
  • Software – In addition to the web based services, Google has several software packages that I use.  Here are a few.
    • Google Earth – Explore the world with this geographic program.
    • Google SketchUp – design buildings and other structures without any training.  I used this to sketch the Greenwood Campus and later was able to make measurements from my office.
    • Google Chrome – a blazing fast web browser.  I am just waiting for it to be released on Mac.

That is just my list of common uses.  I did not even get into Blogger, Picasa, Groups, Notebook, or Finance which many people use regularly.  There are also several things in the works that I am excited about, but have not been widely released such as Google Wave (next generation of communication protocal) and Google Andoid (operating system).

If Google really is trying to take over the world, I will be their first minion.

10 Activities

July 23rd, 2009 No comments

So far Beth and I have discussed what we like, what we want to accomplish, and a bit about who we are.  Today our list of 10 will look at what we like to do.  Here are my top 10 favorite activities:

  1. Disc Golfing – I was introduced to disc golfing while I was in college.  I love it because it offers an easy escape outdoors, even if only for an hour or two.  You can play by yourself or in groups.  Best yet… is relatively cheap.  You could play ’til your heart was content for $2 if you buy a used disc.  For $20-30 you would be well on your way.  Compared to my other outdoor activities, this one is by far the cheapest.

    Discgolfing with some of Beth's students.

    Discgolfing with some of Beth's students.

  2. Gardening – Beth and I are on our third year of gardening, and the first in our own backyard.  I just got in from harvesting okra, tomatoes, corn and peppers.  Here is link to post I wrote earlier, and some pictures of the garden from today.
    2009-07-22 Pouty Face 039

    Asparagus, corn, zucchini, okra, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, onions.

    Tomatoes, basil, okra, corn.

    Tomatoes, basil, okra, corn.

  3. Rock Climbing – My first experience climbing was in high school at an indoor gym.  I ended up buying my own equipment and then getting involved in an outdoors group my Freshman year in college where I got into real rock climbing.  In the four years fighting fire in Idaho I expanded my experience.  Now I only climb a couple times a year, but I treasure each one.  It is not just the activity, but the comradery found sitting around at the bottom of the rocks too.

    Climbing in the Bitterroots, circa 2001

    Climbing in the Bitterroots, circa 2001

  4. Backpacking – I was backpacking before I even knew what it was.  I was lucky enough to have parents that valued the outdoors and introduced them to me early.  In fact, my first camping trip was before I was a month old (at least that is what Dad says… but his memory is not what it used to be.)  I try to have one big trip every couple years, but is has been a few years since I have been out.  Just this week I went back through my pictures from a trip to Colorado.  Backpacking is one of those things that is fun to prepare for, to do, and to talk about later.

    Purifying water while backpacking in Colorado.  (The day before we found an outfitter's stash of beer).

    Purifying water while backpacking in Colorado. (The day before we found an outfitter's stash of beer).

  5. Traveling – I have been very fortunate to be able to travel quite a bit in my life.  I visited over 30 states in 18 months when I was in college and currently have visited all of the lower 48.  I have been to Mexico (kinda), Canada, Costa Rica, Germany, Austria and Italy.  I enjoy traveling not only for the experiance, but also because it often forces me to reassess my own understandings of the world.
  6. Conversing with friends over beverages – I enjoy good conversations in relaxed settings.  Like the activity above, this includes lots of things.  I enjoy talking theology, philosophy, politics, and anything in between.  I enjoy good drinks and people who enjoy good drinks.
  7. Being with my family – One of my favorite activities is simply being with my family.  Not doing anything in particular… just being.  I love a lazy Sunday in a cozy bed, or a evening of talking with my extended family.  I feel very natural with my family and am comfortable just hanging out.


    Family picture at Kentucky Lake.

  8. Working with my hands – Most of my work is cerebral, whether it is grant writing, or studying, or planning.  After 20 years of schooling, and 5 years of jobs mostly made up of life behind a computer, I find great relief in working with my hands.  If I get stressed out, I will work in the garage; if I have spent too much time writing grants, I get respite from mowing the lawn.  I love my current job at Corsair Artisan Distillery because it includes science, craft, mundane tasks and grunt labor.  My time fighting fire was probably my most fulfilling job at the end of the day (but not in terms of long range impact).

    Practice Rappells at Moyer in Idaho, circa 2003.

    Practice Rappells at Moyer in Idaho, circa 2003.

  9. Driving long distances in the car alone – Everyone needs a way to relax and collect their thoughts.  Some people golf, some people go for walks, some people journal.  For me, the most calming time is driving alone in the car.  Often I do this with the windows down and the radio off.  When I was in Seminary, I would often leave at 4:30 in the morning and drive 2.5 hours.  I would have loved my sleep, but seeing the sun come up while I processed my thoughts was the most therapeutic thing I could do.
  10. Researching – In all honesty, this is probably my favorite activity because it includes so much.  I enjoy spending time in the Library combing through old journals and abstracts to find a hidden gem of information for a paper.  I love pouring over a map trying to find the best route.  I love browsing wikipedia to learn about random things like historic natural disasters, or the standard model of particle physics.  I often get into a topic and try to read everything I can about it.  I spend hours trying to understand things like PHP so I can edit a blog.  And, if I am honest, much of the time I waste tinkering around on the internet is linked to this activity.

2 month hunt is over (Mikayla’s “Pouty Face”)

July 22nd, 2009 3 comments

For two months Beth and I have been on a hunt.  We are not trying to track down wild game, or looking on ebay for a rare collector’s edition of barbie… no, we have been trying to capture Mikayla’s “pouty face.”  For all intents and purposes Mikayla is a very content baby, but when she does cry she usually gives a warning first… her pouty face.  Even though it is obvious she is about to get upset, it is too precious to not laugh at.  Unfortunately, every time we have tried to capture it on film, she has either cheered up, or progressed into a full cry.  However, tonight was the night… after many attempts we finally captured it in all its glory.  Here are the fruits of our labors:


The face is right, but we forgot the flash -- too dark and grainy.

Again, we are close, but unfortunately I cropped her head.

Again, we are close, but unfortunately I cropped her head.

The lips are right, but the eyes show more terror than poutiness.  (Perhaps that is because I had just almost dropped the camera on her).

The lips are right, but the eyes show more terror than poutiness. (Perhaps that is because I had just almost dropped the camera on her).

Oh so close

Oh so close, but no eye contact.

Ahh... there it is.... captured for posterity.  (of course after this point she had gotten so worked up it took 10 minutes to get her to stop crying.)

Ahh... there it is.... captured for posterity. (of course after this point she had gotten so worked up it took 10 minutes to get her to stop crying.)

Categories: Family Tags: , , ,

10 (random) Facts

July 22nd, 2009 1 comment

Here are 10 things you may or may not know about me.  This is list #7 of 10 lists Beth and I are completing.  I have tried to include facts from all stages of my life.

  1. I was born in Joseph, Oregon.  This city has recently become noteworthy because it is the setting of the New York Times bestseller The Shack.  I have also lived in Idaho (4 summers), Wisconsin, and Somerset KY.
  2. I took 2 years of square dance lessons (I even dropped out of boy scouts to do so).  I know Basic and Mainstream moves, as well as a few Plus calls.  What many people do not know is that Square Dancing is competitive.  We would have banners that could be won and defended based on the number of “squares” you could take to another club’s events.  There is even a video of me dancing with my lunch lady — as I am sure you can understand, that is in the vault.
  3. I was a Senior in High School before I got more television stations other than PBS.  I only had cable the 4.5 years I was in college.
  4. Beth and I attend two of WKU’s greatest sports achievements of the last decade.  Their basketball upset of UK at Rupp Arena, and their Div I-AA football national championship.  I even have a piece of the field goal posts from that game.


    I am directly above Big Red on the far post facing the camera.

  5. I took the ACT three times in High School and my score dropped each time.
  6. When I was in fourth grade I won a scholarship to go to handbell camp.  (Yes… I really said handbell camp).  The problem was that I had such bad rythm the only thing they could do was put me on the biggest bell (the one that was only rung 1-2 times per song) and then they would point to me when it was my big moment.

    Random Picture - the author is not pictured (but did look just as nerdy 17 years ago)

    Random Picture - the author is not pictured (but did look just as nerdy 17 years ago)

  7. I have never seen the movie Titanic.
  8. My longest relationship before Beth was 3 weeks (Beth and I dated 5.5 years before we got married).  I almost broke up with her the first month because I thought she was too good for me and I figured she was about to dump me.
  9. I once drove 28 straight hours on my way home from Idaho.  I came in early and wanted to surprise Beth, so I shaved with a straight edge while driving through South Dakota.
  10. I have no problem cleaning the toilets, or changing diapers, but I refuse to put away the Tupperware.

10 Books

July 21st, 2009 No comments

Beth and I have taken a short break from our 10 top 10 lists in order to spend some time with family.  Today we are on list #6, which looks at the most influential books for us.  Many of the concepts raised in these books will be revisited with our final blog post, which will examine the 10 ideas that define us as people.  I have listed them in a way that illustrates how each builds on the others.

  1. Is there a text in this class?, Stanley Fish – This book examines the nature of truth as it relates to the authority of texts.  As you will see, many of the books that follow rely on an interpretation of scripture to direct a community to action.  Fish provides a framework for understanding how interpretive communities shape truth.
  2. Nature of Doctrine, George Lindbeck – Whereas Fish looks as the authority of texts, Lindbeck looks at the nature of religion to determine how they practically function.  It is his conclusion that religion is like language and culture in that it explains the world around us, but it also helps us experience it.
  3. Life in Biblical Israel, Philip King and Lawrence Stager – Once we have discussed the role of community, religions and texts, it is essentially we understand the communities of Scripture if we are going to allow it to shape our lives.  This book is approachable and practical as it outlines the world from which the Old Testament was born.  Concepts such as kinsman redeemer and house of the father unlock amazing depth in the Hebrew Scriptures.
  4. New Testament and the People of God, N.T. Wright – No other theologian / historian has shaped my understanding of Scripture more than N.T. Wright.  He does an excellent job of allowing the historical setting to inform a reader’s understanding of Scripture.  He is a prolific writer, but this book in particular has been instrumental in shaping my understanding of the world of the New Testament.
  5. Prophetic Imagination, Walter Brueggemann – Once the world of scripture is established, we must understand how that affects the modern people of God.  Brueggemann (my favorite OT scholar) outlines the role of the prophet in projecting a world in line with God’s will.  Sometimes it requires critisizing an existing establishment, and at other times it requires energizing a new possibility.  I always try to keep both of these sides in tension in my own life.
  6. Challenge of Jesus, N.T. Wright – Whereas Brueggemann outlines the implications of the OT prophet, in this book Wright outlines the implications of the person of Jesus.  By showing Jesus in his historical context he allows the reader to grasp the importance of the Messiah beyond simply “personal salvation.”
  7. Resident Aliens, Stanley Hauerwas – After understanding the role community plays in shaping an understanding of truth, and then exploring the implications of the communities of scripture, Hauerwas explores what it means for Christians today to live as a community wherein we are in the world but not a part of it — living in a colony of hope.
  8. The Politics of Jesus, John Howard Yoder – I have already confessed that deep down I am a Mennonite.  I have the utmost respect for people who are consistent in their views of the world, and practical in their faith.  This book captures Yoder’s approach to understanding Christianity by outlining a way of life that the modern people of God can follow that is consistent with the person of Jesus.
  9. Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis – Moving away abstract and into the practical aspect of being a Christian, I most often turn to the tested words of Thomas à Kempis.  This is one of the most read texts of all time.  Since we are talking about books today, I will include this quote from him: “At the Day of Judgment, we shall not be asked what we have read, but what we have done.”
  10. Walden, Henry David Thoreau – I end with the timeless work of Henry David Thoreau.  While his existentialist thought may seem out of line in light of the previous 9 pieces, for me it is the culmination of the list because in the pages of this book I have always found the honesty and connectedness to the world that is necessary to live daily.  It was Thoreau who said “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” and it is he who provides the most poignant commentary on my life as I flip through the pages of his works.

10 Places

July 18th, 2009 1 comment

With the publishing of this post, Beth and I are half way through our 10 lists of 10.  Today we are listing our 10 favorite places.  I intended this to be more specific, but I realized there were specific types of places where I felt most comfortable at and ease and I have mostly listed those.

  1. Around a campfire – For most families, the TV is the thing which people gather around.  That was not the case for me — we gathered around the fire.  In fact, there was only 1 seat facing the TV at my childhood home, and 4 facing the wood stove.  There is something mesmerizing about flickering flames.  They hold the power to sustain life and the power to take it.  It doesn’t matter if it is a small warming fire on a wilderness hike, or the fire ring in our back yard where we watch movies on the side of the house, I feel at peace with the crackling wood and the dimly illuminated faces of close friends.
  2. 127 Yellowstone Ct – My current address.  I like being at home.  I like curling up on my ratty couch with my dog and surfing the internet.  I love laying in bed with my wife on a lazy morning.  I love walking into the backyard to get something out of the garden.  I love our neighbors, especially the kids who always greet us when we get home.  Our home is not elaborate or large.  We have all used furniture and the house is never all the way picked up, but that doesn’t matter.  I like being here.
  3. Coffee Shop with friends – There is something about sitting around a table with a hot cup of coffee and friends you love.  Some of my most meaningful conversations have happened in these settings.  Right now the place I frequent the most is Spencer’s (especially since it is a half block from the distillery where I work).  Great people, great coffee, and a kick-ass chicken salad sandwich.  I also enjoy Greener Grounds (formerly Bread n Bagel).
  4. University Libraries – I know people who never set foot inside the library while in college.  That was not me.  Not only did I frequent the library, but I had places I considered my own and would get pissed is someone was sitting there.  There is something about being surrounded by such a wealth of knowledge.  Books are calming to me.  When I visit another campus, I always go into the library and browse the stacks.  I find comfort in book stores for the same reason.
  5. Missoula, MT – I haven’t been there in a while, but this is my favorite city in America.  It has a great atmosphere and vibe.  It is a university town nestled in the foothills of the Bitterroot mountains.  Great micro-breweries, great gear shops and a great cultural scene.  It is also the city I most closely associate with my time fighting fire.  My first two years we had to drive an hour into Missoula to get our groceries.
  6. Mountain Lakes -This is more of a western phenomina than an eastern one.  I love sitting in a wilderness area staring off across a crystal clear lake with vast mountains around me.  I have experienced this in Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Oregon (Austria as well) and each time I find the setting to epitomize the beauty of creation.  (Give me a campfire and some coffee and things could be perfect).


    Mountain Lake in the Weminuche Wilderness Area

  7. On the road – Some people hate being in the car, but that is not me.  For 4 years I traveled out to Idaho by myself.  It was about 32 hours each way, and believe it or not I looked forward to that time.  Even when I was commuting to Asbury, I loved the time in the car (even when it meant leaving at 4:30 in the morning).  For me, it is a time to think and process ideas and let my mind wander.  I often drive in silence and enjoy taking in the passing scenery.  I also love listening to some NPR while driving.
  8. In the air – Growing up I had several opportunities to fly in single engine planes.  In college I worked on helicopters.  And while it has been a while since I have been off terra-firma, I love the experience of soaring over the world.  I think it is because of the way it alters your perception.  You see the world in a new way from hundreds of feet above it (I also love looking at satellite imagery on google earth, and Microsoft’s new “Birds Eye” view for the same reason).
  9. Gear shops – I don’t consider myself materialist, but if I am ever going to be drawn in to the “things of this world” it will be in a good gear shop.  I love the small local shops where the employees know all the best routes and trips, but at the same time I enjoy purusing all the high end gear at a place like REI.  If I have a weakness… it is gear.  I have piles of climbing gear, backpacking gear, mountain biking gear….
  10. In the garden – This is a (relatively) recent addition to my list of favorite places.  This is our third year of gardening and our first year to do it at our home (see this post about it).  I love growing our own food and being able to eat it fresh.  I love the way gardening forces you to slow down and spend time outdoors.  I love the mix of hard labor (tilling) and monotonous tasks (weeding).

10 Things (to do before I die)

July 17th, 2009 3 comments

Today Beth and I look to the future with our list of 10 things we want to do before we die.  Some items on this list represent things we already have in the works.  Other items represent things we simply need to make happen.  Finally, a few things on this list are so far out there, I have no idea how to make them happen, but by listing them, hopefully I will move that direction.

  1. Live overseas – Beth and I are very serious about spending a significant amount time in a place where our worldview is forced to expand, and where life is redefined.  Furthermore, we want to make sure Mikayla is a part of this experience.  You can read more about our plans to move to Swaziland in the next few years here, here and here.
  2. Know everything about something and something about everything – This is taken from a quote by Thomas H. Huxley, but does a great job at summing up my educational goals.  I do foresee a time when I pursue a Ph.D., but even if I don’t, I want to be intentional about knowing enough about one subject that I can be a resource to others.  Likewise, I want to know a little about everything so that my perspective of the world is more rounded, and so I can share in the appreciation others have for their passions.  (I love talking with people about what they do for a living — especially if they are really excited about their job).
  3. Adopt a child – Beth and I have been committed to adopting a child since our first conversations about our future plans.  It just makes sense — with so many children without families, why wouldn’t we bring on of them into our home.  Plus, Mikayla is so perfect (healthy, content, good looking), I think we could only go downhill.  I am even ready to get fixed.  Chances are we will adopt while overseas.
  4. Get my pilot’s license – This has been a goal of mine for quite a while.  There is a good chance I will begin training in the next 6 months.  While it is expensive, when you compare it to other educational costs, it is no more than a semester of graduate classes.
  5. Live off the grid – There are two reason behind this.  1.) I want to be a better steward of creation.  2.) I want to live more simply.  There is a good chance this will occur while we are in Swaziland, but if it doesn’t, I want to make sure it happens when we get back.
  6. Speak at least one other language fluently – So far I have ancient Greek and Hebrew under my belt from my days at Asbury.  But being able to ready 2,000 year old texts doesn’t do you much good when you want to communicate with someone today.  Right now Beth and I are beginning to work on our siSwati so we can speak the second national language of Swaziland.  It might not be the most practical language (only 1M in the world speak it), but it will certainly help us with our time overseas.  Once we are back, I may work on my Spanish.
  7. Watch a space shuttle launch – Not as profound as some of the other items on my list, but ever since my 5th grade class did a whole unit on space and learned about the whole launch process, I have been fascinated.  I think it would be awesome to see a launch live — especially a night launch.
  8. Visit all 7 continents – I have 2 down and will get a 3rd shortly.  Antarctica will be tough, but if I get the other 6, I am pretty sure I could make it happen.  I actually have several friends who work there during the southern summer.
  9. Complete an epic backpacking trip – I doubt I will ever complete the AT, the CDT, or the PCT, but I want to do something major.  Maybe it won’t even be stateside.  I want to experience the thrill of completion along with the time to reexamine life that comes with such a trip.

    Grave Peak sunset.  July 4, 2001

    Grave Peak sunset. July 4, 2001

  10. Celebrate my 50th anniversary, walk my daughter down the aisle, die content – How is that for a final goal?  I list these last and together because these require a lifetime of dedication.  I want to be happy with my life when it is through and be able to say I have been a good husband a good father.

Honorable Mention: Camp overnight in an interstate mediumHere is the place I have my eye on… easy access, wide area, cover of trees.  Anyone up for it?