Sometimes I’m exasperated with Graham because he‘ll fixate on his work and forget about bodily needs then have a meltdown when he becomes aware of himself again. Which is something I do on a weekly basis.
You get it from me Graham, you get it from me… #parenting
I’ve not had this degree of doubt about my capacity to keep to any habit for some time. But I’m convinced it’s crucial to find a way.
Nearing the end of January, #memorization is holding. Almost through Hebrews 3. #Exercise is spotty, but progress is still evident with only four tries (and I was sick for a bit). Unexpectedly, I may also add something from #Qigong/#Taiji. I’m having more success in part, I believe, because I’m working on #habits with at least one other.
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr., Amie and I watched Descendant last night.
One of the unanswered questions about the horror of Clotilda’s theft of one-hundred and ten people from Africa to slavery in Mobile, Alabama in 1859 is the question of justice. How does one make right such a grevious wrong? There was no satisfactory answer.
Somehow the transfer of assets from the Meaher estate to his captives feels insufficient. I wonder if the insufficiency of financial restitution lies in the absence of purification? It may be true that restoration demands both justice and purification.
Had a lovely conversation with Chris Boette today about digital gardens, note-gathering and note-taking, and parenting. I am freshly grateful for tools like Calendly that hold space in my calendar for unexpected conversation with total strangers.
We’ve both been impressed by Matt Webb and also too intimidated to schedule a call with him!
Sometimes I have a vague sense of danger and unease about my life. Parenthood, work and friendship are all good, but their gravity pulls all my attention into their orbit. Be a better parent, make my next career move, form new friendships… it never stops.
But how often am I among the desperate? When do I rub shoulders with the outcast, or befriend the poor? My social and physical location seems a hundred miles from where I’d expect to find Jesus, and thus where I must be.
Yesterday was one of the most consistently fun days in recent memory.
It started with a miracle; the boys slept until 8:15! We had an easy breakfast, then headed to the premier sledding hill around 11:00.
We left for lunch well before any meltdown could happen (we were also well stocked on snacks) and went to Sheels to purchase Graham a pair of new gloves. Amie and I picked up Noodles & Co. and I enjoyed a brief chat with Tommy.
We drove around for a half-hour to let Royal take a nap, but he never fell asleep. And to my surprise, the boys were willing to go back to the sledding hill. So that’s exactly what we did.
Royal was really upset when some boys accidentally decapitated a snowman he’d helped build, so we built our own in the front yard.
We opened our Christmas packages from Memaw-campfire poles-and I built a fire to keep us warm and to grill hot dogs.
All of that would have made it a wonderful day, but then we also played a game of Terraforming Mars! 🥳
For the second time in six months a buyer for our condo with a pre-approval letter for 50k more than our asking price was suddenly denied a mortgage at the last stage. I thought maybe the lender was sketchy in the first denial, but the second is a multi-billion-dollar bank.
Our condo is under rental contract, so there is almost zero financial risk for nearly a year, and it’s prime Evanston real estate. The whole thing stinks of power abuse.
Thanks Jaynne’s help with setup while we were celebrating with Amie’s dad and to the help of Tom and Julie during the event, the largest party we’ve ever hosted was a roaring success!
We started boiling the potatoes just 30 minutes before we were scheduled to eat. Though it ended up taking 45 minutes, that’s not too shabby for a Christmas meal for 20 guests. Amie led everyone through pulling their English Christmas poppers while they waited.
Jaynne brought over a HUGE pot to boil all of this, plus our own pot. It was so full that I had to pull out lemons, corn and water early to make room for the shrimp. My southern ancestors would be proud.
Eating without utensils was a new experience for some, but folks warmed up fast. Some even ate salad and dressing with their hands!
One of our primary goals with this Christmas party was making sure the kids were given special attention. I installed our indoor swing in the basement, and Amie put together Christmas-themed sensory bins. Jaynne created stockings for each of the kids.
After the stockings we opened the White Elephant gifts. Each person was assigned a number, then each picked out a gift or stole a gift from someone else.
I started a fire outside that served as a pit stop on the way to people’s cars. Royal and I played a final game of Monster outside with Maddie and Cora.
Every week I attempt to synthesize my writing. I find the activity enjoyable and sometimes discover new insights in the process. Eventually there’s enough to warrant its own major category, what I call a “garden”.
Here’s some of what I’ve written about trust. Comments, references and quotes welcome.
I’ve tried three different approaches to fit a board into this doorway, but I can’t lay it at the right angle to slip into the existing flooring. It requires a positive 10° incline to set, but there’s no room under the door jam for that amount of lift. I’ve ruined a couple boards in the attempt.
I’ve landed on a final idea: break off the joint and use wood glue to connect the door jam piece to the existing flooring.
We began to add ornaments to our tree today. The flood of happy memories are definitely the best part of decorating a Christmas tree. I stumbled on last year’s ornament memorial; I wonder what new memories I could add?
I’ve been waiting all year, and now it’s here! Renée is an exceptional leader, preacher, storyteller and coach, and the cohorts she’s forming have enormous potential for the development and encouragement of female leadership in the global Church.
If you’re a #preacher or #church leader, sign up for a January or April 2023 cohort quickly!
And if you know a female leader in your church, this is the best Christmas gift.
So thankful for my manager (Mike Hartmann) and the rest of the IT leadership at Performance Trust. A friend of Amie’s mom is a contractor and we learned last-minute that he could come by with his table saw tomorrow afternoon to help me lay flooring in our bedroom.
Needed to take a half-day, approved to take a half-day. 🙏🏻
I’d first met Jamie on a #pray4sd call a couple weeks ago. Amie and I had the pleasure of hosting he and his wife Alicia for coffee just now! They’re the first folks I’ve met who are moving towards principles of disciple-making movements (#dmm) with zero formal training. It’s like the Holy Spirit is up to something… 🤔🥰
Enjoyed a conversation with Aaron Myers today. Most of the hour I shared about Amie and my journey with Jesus, but I did get to hear a little about the digital relationships Aaron and team are bridging between Christians and Muslims.
It’s so encouraging to discover others called by Jesus to international work who live in tiny towns of South Dakota.
The boys have turned a major corner in the last couple weeks. Previously, they would rarely play together without supervision for more than fifteen minutes. Suddenly they’re playing well with one another for hours. Who are these little people?! It’s been a welcome and much-needed reprieve.
I’ve been happily amazed at the science and beauty of the Artemis space expedition and the images from the Webb telescope and meditative about ”what ifs”.
What if humans had not abdicated our role as regents of Yahweh and had, in fact, lived forever? As recipients of the Divine blessing to “be fruitful and multiply,” we would certainly have overfilled the earth within a few centuries. Would we not have become space-travelers by necessity? Might I have awoken to life in another galaxy? Oh the worlds humanity might have explored alongside the Spirit who crafted them!
I’ve begun planning one of my most anticipated activities next year; #hiking the #CentennialTrail. It’s 124 miles from the south to the north of the Black Hills.
At a pace of 12 miles per day, it will take 10 days. Or five weekends.
That’s mileage evenly split, but I’m considering a collection of one, two, and three-day hikes. The trip itself is exciting, but I’m equally excited to invite friends, and some may not want to hike 24 miles…
What drives us and many of our friends to fill every day in December with activity? Are we anxious to squeeze the last from the year, rushing to complete what we’d hoped to accomplish? Do we feel obligated to spend the remains of the year among people?
I’m exhausted and pessimistic, yet I still sense pressure to invite and visit. More than half the stuff on our calendar I scheduled in the last two weeks.
I wonder what it’s like to spend Advent, I don’t know, waiting quietly?
Made good progress on interesting software problems at work, tore carpet and staples out of our master bedroom, and managed a heating emergency for our Evanston tenants. Feels like it’s been a long week!
We had a great time with the Cossi’s. Sadly, their kiddos stayed home sick and didn’t get to enjoy Betrayal at House on the Hill with us. And the pizza oven is so, so awesome. I ate two whole (small) pizzas by myself!
Awhile back, Amie suggested I only write log updates for stuff that family cares about (life updates, pictures of the kiddos). But my posts to Mastodon integrate my technology, business and faith interests. If I merge them all together in this timeline, then what?
I’m fairly certain most family don’t actually visit the website, they just read my monthly newsletter (except for you Mom, and you Papaw; many hugs to ya both). So it’s probably not a big deal. I may, however, need to implement a filter on this page so that one can see only the logs which interest them.
If I haven’t lost you already, one improvement that posting to Mastodon will offer is that, for the first time in ages, you can respond to my logs in public!
I’ve been posting more over on Mastodon. You can find me under the handle @email@example.com. I plan to syndicate logs from this site to Mastodon in future, but for now this feed and my Mastodon feed will be somewhat separate.
Folks with similar interests, like Ben, made me aware that Mastodon is growing fast. I’d tried it a couple years back, but now that I have an established habit of writing online, I’m thinking of giving it another shot. If they’ll have me on the server, you can find me at @firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m full of gratitude for the joyful opportunity to demonstrate Discovery Bible Study (DBS) with folks at Westminster. Invitations like these to partner with others makes the suffering feel light compared to the reward. Am I starting to understand Hebrews 12:1-6 a little? Worth further investigation.
Father, thank you for inviting me to participate in your Son’s kingdom. It’s seemed like participation would always be a war of attrition, and I’m grateful for these breakthroughs which have arrived outside my power. Yet “it is for discipline that you have to endure,” and I ask for mercy to endure like Jesus did, neither succumbing to the Enemy’s hostility nor the inward deception of Sin.
Form disciples in our neighborhood who, in humility and love, will become servants of all. Make us examples of endurance, love and obedience. Let our holiness be obvious to all but ourselves. Match our desire for your words with a passion for extraordinary prayer. For Jesus' rule!
Through the challenges of moving to Rapid City, one of the best experiences has been finding ministry partners and friends.
Joel & Lori have been praying for us almost since we’ve arrived. We’ve been adopted into their family before we’d even shown commitment to the church. They’ve come by for a campfire, and I expect to start prayer walks with Joel in November and host a Discovery Bible Study (DBS) with him soon.
Skyler & Amanda have been easy to hang with and aspire for kingdom impact. They’ve also been crippled by their COVID experiences and came to South Dakota for recovery. Skyler has advocated for DBS at his church and hopes to read Miraculous Movements and Contagious Disciple-Making after he finishes next Sunday’s sermon.
Dominic & Kati are our neighbors across the street. We’ve enjoyed a campfire with them too, and are excited to have our first DBS with them on the 10th of November.
Will you pray with us?
Father, the kingdom of your Son is our joy, hope and mission. Pour your reviving Spirit over our neighborhood, washing the streets of fear and broken relationships and restoring us to right relationships with God and neighbor. Unify your community to listen to your voice and serve with the strength you supply. Let the needy find welcome and support, the lonely find family, and the struggling find camaraderie. May your Son, his words, his works, his wounds and his ways, be our treasure and obedience. For Jesus and his kingdom, forever!
Draw Westgate and Westminster church and their neighbor churches into extraordinary prayer that sparks revival. Bind Dominic, Kati and ourselves together in love and friendship with Jesus at our center, and create opportunities to expand into more homes. Heal Skyler, Amanda, his friends, Amie and I of the wounds inflicted during the first years of the pandemic. Protect us from our Enemy and guide us into the dark unknown with faith.
We were host to a neighborhood Fall event last Sunday. Of the thirty invitations Graham and I had delivered, nearly ten households dropped by at some point during our two hour event - a great turnout! It was remarked multiple times how good it was to see neighbors, some of whom hadn’t talked for years, and to reminisce about times when there were more public gatherings in the neighborhood. Some who I’d only waved at in passing came by to introduce themselves. Many generously brought food so that our small table was covered in snacks.
On another note, we’ve been appalled recently by the level of unseen resistance to actions of love that seem insignificant from our vantage. Our simple gathering, with no purpose than to meet our neighbors and foster community, was viciously attacked. The night before, all four of us came down with flu-like symptoms. The morning of the event we were all on edge, having slept poorly and awaked in pain. I particularly was both detached and intensely irritable such that I snapped at Graham and Amie multiple times. I stumbled groggily from a nap minutes before the event started, waiting for the ibuprofen to lessen the aches while I tended to our campfire in a cold, blustery wind.
It’s disappointing that books about Disciple-Making Movements are often tarnished with critiques in the first few chapters. Whether the critiques are valid or not isn’t particularly important if it puts the reader who’d most benefit, the leader of a local church, on the defensive from page 1. Illustrations of a better way are far more persuasive than critiques of the existing model, but pastors are unlikely to get to the latter illustrations when the former critiques are so scathing. Can’t we put the critiques in an Appendix?
There’s not been a day like yesterday in some time.
In the morning, Amie, Graham, Royal and I joined a team from Westminster Presbyterian on a hiking trail repair project at Camp Rimrock.
The best part for me was getting to know Skyler a little better. He and his wife moved to Rapid City from Oregon about a year ago. We share some similarities, not least of which is the long-term tension between what’s best for the stability and growth of our children (though he’s got a few more than we), and our own aspirations as individuals and couples. I can’t wait to catch coffee with him soon. May the Spirit of grace sustain his little family and their brand-new-born child.
We dropped in to Grandma Jaynne’s home after a short break. She had some wood to stack. I was thinking about why I enjoy it so much. It’s like natural therapy. Nothing about it feels like work; it’s all enjoyment.
In the evening we had a campfire on our front lawn. Our neighbors came over: Dominic, Kati, Brianna and Jonathan. They’ve been “just a little” busy - last weekend Dominic and Kati were married! I’m so happy they were able to make it, and that they’re doing well. We share a love of board games and a mutual interest in reading the Bible. May we have more opportunities not only to hang out, but also to discover all the riches of God in Christ Jesus together.
I thought that’d be the end of the evening, but while Amie and I were enjoying the fire after Dominic and gang went home, a man walked up and joined us at the fire. His name is Robert. He has an inoperable brain injury that’s slowly paralyzing him. He’s lost hope and has decided to liquidate all his assets and fly to Ukraine to fight in the Ukrainian Army. I guess he’d rather die fighting. I laid hands on him and prayed that Jesus would heal his brain injury. Nothing happened, except that his headache subsided. Would you pray for Robert, that Jesus would finish the work of healing in his body and hijack his self-destructive plans? I cannot help but think there’s purpose in the most random person I could imagine walking up to join our campfire, but also please pray that any schemes of the Enemy would be foiled. Robert isn’t in a healthy mental state, and now he knows where we live.
It’s a full week. I had a lovely call with Brad Wathen on Monday and Amie had MOPS Tuesday. Tomorrow Royal has his first day at his new “school,” then a show-and-tell at Graham’s school in the evening. On Friday Amie and I are helping to watch the kids in Graham’s classroom so their parents can have a kid-free evening, then on Saturday we’re helping to repair a trail near Camp Rimrock. How do we end up with weeks like this? We just keep saying yes to good things. Maybe we need some great things so it’s easier to decline the rest…
Thanks to the tireless labor of Amie’s parents and my grandparents, we completely renovated Graham and Royal’s bedroom! Every surface was coated with Kilz primer, then at least one coat of paint. Even the downstairs bedroom got a primer coat. We began to replace all the outlets, switches, and box light fixtures, added track lighting in the kitchen, and moved the refrigerator. Thank you Tom, Debbie, Jaynne, Skip, and Carol!!!
I asked for help on a work project and I am grateful to have received it. Even more grateful for Amie since she instigated the idea. But the help turned into more of the helper doing it all and me watching sometimes. Not the most fun approach to getting help. It is the fastest though, so good for the business I guess?
Not long after we arrived in Rapid City (so I’m a little behind), Graham and Royal participated in Strider Fest. It’s a race hosted by the company that makes their Strider bikes. Rapid City is their home base as it turns out.
Graham, Royal and I went on our longest hike ever - a big chunk of the Flume Trail! I didn’t think it would be too much longer after the tunnel, but it turned out to be about a 2.5 mile hike. I only had to carry them a little bit of the way towards the end to give their legs a break. So proud of them for sticking it out!
The trail crosses the stream running from Sheridan Lake and climbs up the southern hillside. Then it cuts west, through a long tunnel built back when panhandlers were searching for gold. It runs along the hillside (sometimes perilously close to the edge; those parts gave my papa heart a fit), then down into a ravine. After that, back up a ridge to Sheridan Lake, then down into another ravine headed east, across four bridges, back to the trailhead.
Have you ever skim coated a wall to replace the texture? Except for applying a layer of Kilz primer (do we have to do this before the skim coat?), we’re ready to give it a shot on the walls of our basement bedroom. What’s the worst that could happen?
Our condo was under contract with a buyer with a $150k pre-approval through Xpert for three months. First, they wanted “just one more paycheck” from our buyer, so we delayed closing for three weeks. Then they were unresponsive and our lawyer nearly exploded with frustration. After weeks of back-and-forth, our lawyer called the president of the company because she’d never seen such abysmal service. Instead of rectifying the situation, our buyer instead received a loan denial letter claiming that they weren’t able to supply $1500. Who even knows where this magic number came from, but both sides, seller and buyer, offered to make up the difference.
This business is not trustworthy. They wasted three months of our time and cost us several thousands of dollars while our condo was under contract with a buyer they’d never loan to. They were not forthcoming about what they needed as a lender and behaved childishly when they made mistakes, all the way up to the president of the company. Their pre-approval cannot be trusted.
After a rocky landing, worse than I could have imagined, our lives are getting a little better. There are now homes for a few essentials-I can find a cup for tea or a screwdriver for a project-and we’re starting to find life rhythms again.
After bouts of sickness Amie has been able to visit more family which has helped tremendously to manage full days with the two hooligans. We’re still cleaning and launching projects every other day, but the regular progress has staved off most of the sense that we live in a hopeless shithole. When we’re really tired or overwhelmed it can still be deeply discouraging, but usually one of us has a slightly better outlook.
The next pivot is Graham’s first week of school. Technically it’s next week, but he won’t start in earnest until Labor Day week. I anticipate Amie will enjoy spending most of the week only managing Royal and will be able to imagine new rhythms that don’t require her every waking moment devoted to our boys. Maybe I’ll find space to start some new rhythms of my own, who knows?
One of my favorite has been doing odd projects over lunch. Since I’m sedentary all morning, physical work is surprisingly effective as a mid-day break. My other favorite is taking one or both of the boys out for a bike ride after work. We’ve met so many neighbors on our rides and it’s given me a great excuse to explore the neighborhood.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting more neighbors here in Rapid City than anywhere else. Just tonight a couple, Scott & Andra, came by to introduce themselves tonight. When the boys and I go for rides around the neighborhood we often at least say hi to someone, and sometimes even chat for a bit like Dock & Jane down the street. Now that we have a fire pit (maybe need some chairs…) I’m excited to start having neighbors over to hear their stories.
Only two weeks in Rapid City and I’m already back to Chicago. Flying into O’Hare still feels like coming home.
David Ello graciously picked me up from the airport and we spent all afternoon chatting on their back porch. Such a joy to hang with David, Sharon and Charlotte.
No travel to Downtown Chicago is complete without going out to eat, and I did enjoy returning to the land of food excellence. But it’s not nearly as much fun eating incredible food by myself as when I’m enjoying it together with others. I’d rather eat Papa Murphy’s with friends than eat a multi-course meal at a 5-star restaurant.
We can come out of COVID quarantine today. I should wear a mask in public but, since I’ll be in my office most of the day anyway, this hardly matters. Under these circumstances it’s just as painful here as in Evanston, even worse after I factor in the unpacked boxes and dozens of incomplete projects. Hoping things will improve soon now that we’re out of quarantine.
I’ve written a longer update about our Arrival to Rapid City. It’s funny; when I write it down, it doesn’t sound that bad. But living through it: the bone-tiredness, the sneezing and aching, the numbing disappointment; our arrival was terrible. But I’ll forget most of that. That’s how memory works.