Archive for November, 2007

Free Rice

Posted 30 Nov 2007 — by nick
Category Friends, Fun, Light, Social Justice, Technology

While working intently on his paper, Ben came across this website: Free Rice I thought it a wonderful idea – I play a game (and develop my vocabulary) the outcome of which feeds hungry people around the world.

Now, I don’t need a game to remind me that my vocabulary isn’t much larger than that of a high school senior, but I’ll do my best to feed the poor and needy.

I played for about 10 minutes this evening and donated 300 grains of rice and received a vocab score of 42. Watch out, tomorrow is a Friday and I have a full work day to spend donating rice 🙂

O Tannenbaum

Posted 27 Nov 2007 — by nick
Category Friends, Fun, Winter

O Christmas Tree O, Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us.
They’re green when summer days are bright;
They’re green when winter snow is white.
O, Christmas Tree, O, Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us!

Dawg Haus Christmas decorating 2007 shall live in infamy. Finding a tree proved a simple task this year – maybe due to fewer strongly opinionated Dawgs in this iteration. Even the controversial debate of white VS multicolored lights turned out a simple, civilized discussion. This is where the simplicity stopped though. At the end of the night (about 11:30PM) I had visited local stores on two occasions, once for lights and once for a tree stand. We replaced the old leaky stand after it leaked through the floor and onto Ben‘s Bed in the basement, Josh electrocuted himself with a rogue strand of lights and managed to cut up his fingers pretty good trying to fix said strand of lights.

As I give into sleep, I pray the tree stays standing through the night; part of me expects to awake to a loud crash as the tree topples to the floor.


Posted 26 Nov 2007 — by nick
Category Family, Friends, Fun

Here are some of the friends I got to hang out with when I was home this past Thanksgiving:

Tyson: He’s about 4 years old I think, a Yorkshire Terrier, and my mom’s replacement for all us kids being gone. Tyson lives with my Mom and Stepdad. This guy is who I’m usually talking about when I say “my dog”. Tyson is very loyal and affectionate, you need to either be playing with him or he needs to be laying on/next to you while you pet him. We’re buds.

Wiggles: He’s about 3 years old I think, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and my Dad’s replacement for all us kids being gone. He is incredibly attached to my Dad. He needs to always be by his side, he likes to ride in the truck with my Dad and has been known to knock over drinks (of all sorts) and lap them up. Wiggles likes to give hugs, which actually I find very awkward, but cute.

Rascal: This guy is a new addition to the extended family. He’s still a puppy and getting potty trained. He’s the “child” of my cousin Tara and her fiance. Rascal and I met for the first time at Thanksgiving dinner, he was pretty distracted by all the people and scraps of food, so we didn’t bond as much as one might hope.

Toby: I didn’t get to see Toby this weekend because Chris and Lisa were busy. He’s a Silky Terrier puppy, still under a year I believe.

Leah: No, this is not a stuffed animal, she’s a Bichon Frise/Miniature Poodle hybrid (I didn’t realize dogs could be hybrids, but my sister-in-law says so). Leah and Toby live together so I also missed out on visiting with her this weekend.

I’m sorta getting into this pictures thing. I think I’ll ask for a camera for Christmas, but for now you’ll have to settle for pictures taken from my Treo and ripped off of facebook.

Now playing: Over the Rhine – Goodbye Charles
via FoxyTunes

"German Engineering in da Houz"

Posted 24 Nov 2007 — by nick
Category Friends, Fun, Jesus, Spirituality, Volkswagen

Photo Journalistic-esque:

My Friend Justin

His VW’s

Tonight I got to catch up with one of my bestest friends, Justin Sears (the original JP). Justin has been a long time VW enthusiast – even before I was. The one on the left is his ’83 Turbo-Diesel Jetta purchased when we were in high school, the one on the right is his ’03 Jetta GLI with the VR6 purchased not long after I bought my Rabbit. Justin’s a good friend, he brought me around to his church when we were kids and a major reason I’m following Jesus today. It was good to see him and get a chance to geek out about our irrational love for things VW and talk about important things too.

(Images stolen from JP’s website, and the book of faces)

Now playing: Scattertones – There There
via FoxyTunes

Heading ‘Somewhere North’

Posted 21 Nov 2007 — by nick
Category Family, music, Volkswagen

I don’t miss the driving
Seems like forever
And I’m always driving in my mind
And wearing out the road that gets me there

And I’m driving till my eyes just can’t see straight
But I suppose that it’s getting late

I may never find the sleep
I’ve lost all feeling in my hands and
Feet may touch the ground but
My mind’s somewhere north of here
~ Caedmon’s Call “Somewhere North”

In about 5 minutes I’ll be making the familiar drive up Interstate 57 to the Chicago Suburbs and then out to my Mom’s place – all in the comfort of my beautiful VW. The drive is familiar, the house familiar, the people familiar – yet I always find it so hard to get out the door and head home. Maybe it’s wanting to avoid the stress and tension of family brokenness, maybe it’s just not wanting to leave what feels like home now, maybe it’s being scared of feeling lonely with people who are supposed to know me well. Maybe I’m just over dramatic. I really do love my family and I’ve missed them a lot, I’m just trying to capture some of the inner tension right now.

Either way, here I go.

Is Evangelism Weak or Just Spiritual Formation?

Posted 20 Nov 2007 — by nick
Category Jesus, Ministry, Spirituality

Tonight I was together with some folks from my church, Illini Life. Our objective for the night consisted of discussing where we find ourselves as a ministry, listing our strengths and weaknesses and such.

It didn’t come as a surprise to most of us when we admitted that we are weak in evangelism and this potentially could be a major threat to the longevity of this group. As leaders and thinkers tend to do, I (and I suspect others) jumped to thinking about how we can fix this. How do we address this weakness?

Over the course of my Christian life I’ve heard a lot of teachings on evangelism and why I should be doing it more – the thing about these teachings though, I usually walk away feeling motivated by guilt. “I’m not a good enough Christian”, “I must not love God enough”, “Do I really have an ‘eternal perspective’?” These sorts of things haunt me as I walk through life and so I might share about Jesus with a friend, but probably more motivated by guilt then because I truly believe they need to the truth of The Gospel.

Continuing in that group conversation though: We stopped and listened to an interview with some respected Christian leaders and Church researchers. What struck me out of this interview – these guys addressed weakness in evangelism in another manner. Essentially they claimed churches who have a strong emphasis on spiritual formation and true discipleship – building Jesus Followers with a kingdom mindset – are seeing evangelism happening. The natural outward flow of someone Following Jesus is to bring others into that lifestyle. While this isn’t ground breaking, it caused me to think and question how we approach this weakness.

This raises questions for me, How much do I believe this idea? Do I trust this conclusion? And inversely, if our evangelism is weak, does that really mean our discipleship is weak? I welcome your thoughts and experiences – I’m processing so input is helpful.

Now playing: Clemson Impulse – Insomniac Mix 1
via FoxyTunes

Getting Cold Again or What I like about Winter

Posted 15 Nov 2007 — by nick
Category coffee, Fun, music, Winter

As I type my weather widget tells me the outside air has reached an almost tropical 41° today. A couple weeks ago I pulled out my jackets and sweaters from storage – I saw this coming, I’m still not ready for it.

I decided to make a list of a couple of things I am excited about now that it’s cold in an effort to better ready myself for the long winter. An exhaustive list this is not – it serves the point though.

Things I like about the Cold:

  1. Wool socks – Preferred Smartwool of course, although others will do.
  2. Warm drinks – Ok so this one is year round with coffee, but now I look less like a junkie. This includes coffee, tea, hot chocolate, chai and occasionally cider.
  3. Jazz music – Something about Jazz and the cold winter – the overcast skies, the barren trees, the way the night grows longer stealing away our days – just feels right.
  4. Cold Cheeks and Nose – The fresh cold air on your face feels good, as long as the rest of you stays warm (Amy pointed this out today).
  5. Snow – Beautiful, fun, white, essential for snowboarding

Now playing: Thelonious Monk – Straight, No Chaser
via FoxyTunes


Posted 14 Nov 2007 — by nick
Category Jesus, Light, Ministry, Scripture, Spirituality

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of identity in the past weeks – how I define who I am. The question of identity digs deep at my core, dragging up past hurts, wounds and ways I am not quite whole. Resting in who I am, not what I do or have to offer can be quite a challenge. Etched deep into my soul is the idea that I am the hat I wear. I am a Home Fellowship Leader, I am an engineer, I am a missionary.

This is how we talk isn’t it? The backward thing about this: those are things I do, not who I am. They are not my identity and when I’ve made them my identity my world crumbles at the slightest failure or missed opportunity.

We are so much more than what we do or have to offer. As sons and daughters of the Most High King we are beautifully and wonderfully made in His image, we are heirs, and this is not because we are super-spiritual Jesus followers with impressive resumes.

I need to be reminded of my sonship often, if not daily. For far to often I forget and rest on what I do and have to offer as my identity.

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
John 1:10-13

God caught me this morning as I rushed through my morning routine – caught me and slowed me, reminding me that I am His son, to choose that hat today. I needed that.


Posted 09 Nov 2007 — by nick
Category Friends, Fun, music, Poetry

My roommate Matt is a stud. Last weekend some friends and I drove over to Illinois State University to hear him play at a Coffee House. He played quite a few songs, mostly his original stuff though he did include a fun cover of Counting Crows – Amy hit the atmosphere. One song I loved he is considering titling “Starstruck”. I’ve posted the lyrics below:

You move like a melody
Your skin is pure as a dove
Your eyes melt like summer rain
Your smile is sweet and disarming
This could be love

But no, that’s not how this works
I guess that’s the trouble with falling first
Open your eyes
Come take a chance on me

If life was a movie then you’d be the star
How clever, how gentle, how lovely you are
Would you make me an extra in back of the scene
Or could I be your leading man
A king for the queen

Every time the telephone rings
I dream that it’s you
Calling just to hear my voice
And tell me how you miss me too

But no, that’s not how this works
I guess that’s the trouble with falling first
Open your eyes
Come take a chance on me

If life was a movie then you’d be the star
How clever, how gentle, how lovely you are
Would you make me an extra in back of the scene
Or could I be your leading man
A king for the queen

You came to me quickly
And it’s no surprise
You’ve stolen my heart
With one glance of your eyes
The heart’s made for loving
So give it a try
Cause this could be everything
This could be everything

If life was a movie then you’d be the star
How clever, how gentle, how lovely you are
Would you make me an extra in back of the scene
Or could I be your leading man
A king for the queen
“Starstruck” ~ Matt Wondra

Matt’s done a wonderful job capturing the early feelings of romance and attraction we experience as men, and maybe also for you women as well. I liken this to poetic genius – a gift evident in Matt and littered throughout his songs. I eagerly await the album he is recording, in his room, right above me. In the meantime check out his MySpace page for some samples.

Now playing: Josh Garrels – Break Bread
via FoxyTunes

Fall Retreat Reflections: Part 2 Spiritual Insecurity

Posted 07 Nov 2007 — by nick
Category Jesus, Light, Ministry, Spirituality

Awhile back I posted saying I’d like to do a series of posts on the Illini Life Fall Retreat. It took sometime for the audio to make it up online and when it did I found myself to be to busy to write much. Not that I’m less busy now – just feel guilty that I failed to do what I said I would. So here goes…

Wayne Wager kicked off the retreat with a teaching about “Spiritual Insecurity”. I thought it powerful hearing one of our pastors share about how he can feel spiritually insecure. Wayne related stories of early years in ministry and early years as a follower of Jesus – telling of how he didn’t feel as if he lived up to the spiritual norm of the folks in this church and how some didn’t expect he’d stay long. By God’s grace and blessing they were wrong – Wayne now co-pastors this campus church and I’m thankful for his wisdom and care.

The curveball for me in this teaching, what caught me off guard – Wayne talked about how we can feel insecure about being spiritual around non-believers. To confess, this is often the case for me and I had yet to think of it in terms of spiritual insecurity. The feeling looks a bit like this:

You are out at Murphy’s for lunch with your co-workers on a Wednesday. The conversation strays from work, to sports, to video games, to cars and then finally to the taboo topics: politics and religion. You have much to contribute on the matter of religion, but don’t contribute much for fear you might be perceived as a fanatic. “Don’t stand-out, blend in and be normal” One guy speaks up about how he believes Christianity is the only true path to God, you summon enough courage to agree, but that’s all you say.

That was today, I was spiritually insecure today.

You can listen to Wayne’s teaching here.

Now playing: Madeleine Peyroux – You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
via FoxyTunes