July 26, 2005

Putting Money into my Mouth

So I've been doing a little thinking. I was in Crosswinds Downtown today, and got seriously pissed off. Ok, time for a little background.

Crosswinds Downtown is a pregnancy resource center and food pantry run by our church. People can come in to get food once a month, peer counseling, free pregnancy tests (walk-in or by appointment), take classes with a counselor to earn fake money to "buy" stuff from a large selection of baby clothes, diapers, formula, etc, OR any combination of the above. It's been growing a lot, at least in the number of clients that come in. It's open during the week for three hours each day, M,Tues,Thurs from 11-2 and Wed from 1-4.

That being the case, we were talking (after it closed for the day) about the volunteer situation. Or lack thereof. There's a ton of people going on vacation, which I understand, but the bad part is that there is nobody to take their place. We have a church of 1500 regular weekend attenders, and there aren't enough volunteers to take the places of 5 people for a month. As it is, they don't have any volunteers on mondays, and the people that do work there are burning out, bigtime.

Including the director and office manager, one of whom is my wife.

I couldn't help but notice that none of the staff of our church serve down there. I think two, maybe three of them served once each. But not regularly. This from a church that is a self-proclaimed "evangelistic" church. So I spent a lot of time getting really angry about it, ranting and raving with the director and office manager (and a volunteer who happend to be there, someone I'm pretty close to).

I got upset that the staff doesn't care enough about it to make regular visits (except our senior pastor, who goes down to meet with the director once a week) because they're always in meetings - lots and lots of meetings. I got upset that there aren't more volunteers. I got upset that there's so little funding being put into the place that they have to scrounge for money to buy groceries to even keep the food pantry running each day.

And then something happened which really upset me. God barged in on my little tirade and decided to put in His two cents. And ya know, it was one of those reality-checks for me (coming from God, it usually is). I suddenly realized that I must not care enough, because I don't really do a thing about it. I tell myself "you sacrifice your wife working there, isn't that a lot?" when really, I don't do anything about it at all.

So I'm going to start putting my money where my mouth is. I've decided to volunteer there once or twice a month (maybe more if I can manage it). But for those of you who read my blog and live in the area (whatever you do for church or religion or whatever), I urge you - please please PLEASE consider volunteering at Downtown. These people come to us because they need our help, and I ask you - do you care enough to spend even ONE day a month helping out?

I hate to say it, but I didn't. It's a bit embarrassing to say, but what matters is that I do now. Mondays and Tuesdays are the hardest days and are the days with the least amount of volunteers. You don't have to do too much, just come, there will be at least one other person there to teach you the ins and outs. Email Liz at downtown@crosswindsonline.org if you think you can help.

See you there.

July 21, 2005

A Picture of Beauty

So here it is ... the computer I'm waiting for. It's shiny. Shiny and beautiful. And shiny. And beautiful. Here are the specs, because I'm a nerd:
-2GHz Intel:Pentium M Centrino Processor [on a side note, I did a lot of research on this processor, and apparently this thing is amazing - it rivals the Pentium 4 3.2GHz processor, and works with lots less power to conserve battery without compromising performance. boo-yah, I can't wait to get this thing ...]
-1GHz 533MHz Ram [aka really fast]
-DVD/CD Burner/Player
-Firewire and USB-2.0
-15.4 inch widescreen [note: freakin' amazing]
-Windows XP: Media Center Edition, complete with remote control for the DVD player and media player
-Adobe Elements: Photoshop and Premiere (amazing picture and video editing software)

I can't wait. I get to do video editing, networking, watch movies, play games, and in general, enjoy myself way too much. Be jealous of me - very jealous (especially you poor apple users who have to suffice with the Mac OS and its wimpy one-button mouse). Ok, I'm really done now.

Summer Reading

I'm not used to reading a book and then highly recommending it to people, but I just finished one that really inspired me. So I thought, hey, I could make a nice little list of the books I really liked recently ... and so here I go:

Stephen Lawhead: Patrick
Amazing book, and the book I just finished this morning. Lawhead, once again (go find his Arthur series), takes history and tells it in his polished and thoughtful prose; this is the story of Saint Patrick. I've only heard it once before on a Veggie Tales video, but somehow this felt a little deeper. It's compelling, it's enriching, it's lots of other "-ings," and so you should go buy it. Now.

Donald Miller: Blue Like Jazz
The book that made me actually start to like my senior thesis. Before I read this, my thesis was just another project. Afterwards, my thesis became a piece of self-expressive art (maybe not good or comprehesible art, but art nevertheless). If you're having trouble understanding the postmodern shift, or if you're just up for a good read, find this and buy it. Miller takes us through his own transition from just another guy to a loyal disciple of Christ in his creative (if somewhat random) writing with story after story.

C.S. Lewis: Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold
Lewis is a master of storytelling, and this book was no different. I've always been a fan of Greek and Roman myth, but Lewis drew me into the story in a way I didn't know myth could. It was believable (it might have happened, the way he tells it), it was creative, and the metaphor fell into place as pieces of a puzzle reveal an intricate painting.

Stanley Grenz: A Primer on Postmodernism
The reason my thesis makes sense. Really. Miller made me buy into it and eventually consider myself a postmodern thinker, Grenz is the one who made me able to understand what in the world the secular postmoderns are saying. If you're really curious about the postmodern shift and want to read a concise explanation with all the theory (and don't feel like reading through Miller's occasional rambling), this is the book for you.

So there you have it, my four favorite books of the spring/summer so far. Next project:

Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch: The Shaping of Things to Come
It's by a pair of Australians who decided to write about the postmodern shift in their home country. Seeing as how I'm going to Australia to help start a postmodern church, and seeing as how Ruth (the pastor we're working with) highly recommended it, I'm going to tackle what looks like a long book. But I read fast, so ask me again in a month, and I'll tell you if I liked it.

July 13, 2005

On Patience

It's been far too long. I think I'm suffering from lack of writing time - sometimes I find myself considering all the things I could give up (food, sleep to get another job, my only phone, etc.) to get internet service back. Then I remember that I get it free if I just drive five minutes to church, I repent, and try to remember that this is really for the best.

And then I start the cycle again.

It's a funny thing, saving money. To fill you in, I've been trying to save up money to buy a new computer. The problem with my current computer is that it's just not cool enough anymore - my eye caught a new, shinier model on the Dell website and I can't resist. And, as it turns out, I want to learn video editing, which my current computer can't handle. So I made an excuse - I'm going to help plant a church to a tv-inspired generation and have to learn how to edit - and am trying to save money.

It's slow going. I mean, technically, I could just buy the stupid thing now (I'm sorry lappy, I don't mean to call you stupid! forgive me!) and be content with it. But that's if the money we have was only mine. It's not. I'm married, and that means I don't make decisions in a vacuum. Well, nobody does. But at least in my world, I can't even pretend it's a vacuum, because she'd get mad at me for telling her she sucks or something. In any case, the mandate is that we'll try to get it, but it'll have to be later when we've saved the money.

The good news is, we have some of it already. The bad news is, we don't have all of it, so I have to wait. Patience is not something I'm too keen on. I mean, if you're not born with the gift of patience, trying to learn it is like trying to carve a path wide enough for my santa fe through dense rainforest with only my swiss army knife.

I love my knife, but it's just not up to that one.

If anyone knows how to get some patience fast, it's information I'm willing to ... um ... ok, I really just want you to tell me. And quick, I don't know how much patience I've got.