Imaginary Faith

April.3.2008

I never realized we had a lion and a monkey named “Crumbley” living in our house. Well, I never realized it until our 2 year-old daughter told us so.

It started out innocent enough. As we took a walk to the mailbox (a daily walk that takes anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes depending on how distracted our daughter is) I watched as our daughter looked behind us and motioned forward saying “come on. Come on buddy.”

Now this would be standard fair if we had a dog. Heck, I’d even settle for a pet chipmunk. But we don’t. We don’t even have a pet turtle anymore. So I’m not really sure where she got this instinct to encourage something to follow. And more importantly, there was no one (human, animal, or otherwise) for her to talk to.

And then it dawned on me. Leah has an imaginary friend.

“Who are you talking to?”

“Monkey.”

“What’s your monkey’s name?”

“Crumbley.”

Crumbley the monkey shows up at the house from time to time now. I’ll pick him up and carry him along to brush our teeth. I set him down carefully on the top of the toilet tank where Leah knowingly looks at him and smiles.

As crazy as this would sound if she wasn’t a creative 2 year-old, it made me think about my relationship with God. I wondered if my knowing and faith that God would take care of me and my family just looks like a make-believe monkey named “Crumbley” to those around me.

Odds are, it does at times. Without explanation, faith in anything looks crazy. When I walked away from a great career to do ministry at a camp, my coworkers thought I was an idiot. Heck, when I lose my faith, I think I was an idiot.

At the end of the day though, my faith is also my happiness. When I get to see kids and adults come to this place and discover something greater than themselves who loves and cares for them, that is the purpose of my life. That is the moment when I look at the little monkey sitting on top of the toilet tank and smile at something so many other people miss.

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Too…much…snow.

January.22.2008

Thanks to a recent purchase of a thumbdrive usb camera (only $12 on amazon), I suddenly feel inspired to blog again. I never liked blogging when my photos were just something I found on the internet or worse, no photo at all. I’m hopeful with a camera always in my pocket I can capture the many interesting and in some cases bizarre moments on my daily life.

With that said, in the last few weeks we have just been buried in snow. It seems like every weekend I am out shoveling, snow blowing and plowing. At this point, it is getting hard to even find a place to put the snow. The photo below is while I was riding the snowplow down towards the office and dining hall, eating the blowing snow the whole time.

It’s certainly a bittersweet gift of snow though. I am always happy to see kids enjoying sledding thanks to the snow. I just wish there was a better way to remove it from the places we don’t want the snow.

At least I had a cute little girl to cheer me up when I went inside to warm up. I swear she just keeps getting cuter every day.

Alone

August.28.2007


It’s funny how appealing some alone time looks until you have it. I love my family immensely, but the extra time to do leisure activities (aka endless videogame marathon) is incredibly empty and unrewarding.

Jamie and Leah are in Appleton visiting Jamie’s mom and I am stuck here at camp since there are people here all week. Even with a slew of new games to distract me, the simple joy of conversation with my wife or wrestling and snuggling with my daughter can never really be substituted.

It’s amazing how quickly the struggle to stay busy becomes almost a chore. Without Leah running up to me and grabbing my hand to go do something or simply attacking me with hugs and kisses. Instead, here doing my best to get Mario to jump where I want him to. Not exactly the same personal connection.

I never thought I would say this on a day off, but I’m actually excited to go back to work tomorrow.

Welcome Back Cotter

August.26.2007

Anytime I get work in a Welcome Back Cotter reference, I know it is going to be a good post. Especially when it is the title AND the picture.

After another summer here at camp, life is finally slowing down. I am still only getting one day off a week, but at least the stress levels are down. We had a great summer with extremely high numbers in July. So the work life is good.

The family life is pretty good too. Jamie is continuing to show the signs of pregnancy and the child is growing nicely. It has been great to here the heartbeat and see the ultrasound images. In a level of needed prayer, the ultrasound did show the baby had kidneys that are developing too quickly which may result in emergency surgery at the time of birth. Hopefully the rest of the baby’s body catches up to those kidneys.

We also continue to work through the process of Jamie’s mom’s failing health. It is amazing to me how a strong belief in God can change the outlook of so many in regards to this stage of life. The trust in the hereafter is worth so much right now. Knowing that we will all be rejoined one day gives my heart some comfort. I am eager for a big family dinner in heaven.

In less heavy news, I have found a new favorite internet service. Goozex is a videogame trading site that matches used videogame owners to make trades for only $1 per trade and postal fees. A pretty good deal. I’ve traded literally about 15 games at this point. Saving me a ton of money. If you want to sign up, use me as a referral and we both get some free points/trades! (Click here if you are interested.)

Other than that, not much going on. Hopefully this is the start of more consistently blogging from me again!

Wind…it blows.

May.24.2007

When I was a kid, I used to love the wind. One of the happiest moments I have from growing up is flying kites with my dad. It was one of those things we did to bond. These weren’t the typical single-string Smurf kites though. They were the two string variety that allowed you to guide the kite through the air.

Now, 15 years later, I still like the wind. However I do not always like the effects of the wind. When you live at a camp, you are typically surrounded by trees, as I am here. You quickly learn that in an environment like this, with wind comes work. The stronger the wind, the more trees and debris liter the ground. As much as I love using a chainsaw, it does get old after a while.

As I was cutting up a large tree today, I was grumbling and thinking through the annoyance of increased wind velocities and the relative flimsy-ness of the trees at this camp. Then, for no apparent reason, I remembered the scripture of John 3:8 which I have always liked.

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

That kind of put things in perspective for me. I wonder how often in my life the Holy Spirit goes through and blows down the dead trees and branches cluttering my life, and my response is not thankful, rather it is a childish reaction of annoyance. I enjoy the dead things that surround me even though they are not very pretty or even nice to have around.

One thing I have also learned about dead trees is that they tend to fall in the worst places. In theory, a tree has 360 degrees of falling radius, yet it always seems to fall across a road, into a cabin or just in a difficult are to reach.

In my own life, this is manifest by the dead wood falling into the areas of my life that I enjoy such as my family, friendships or just free time. And again, rather than clean up the mess, I grumble and slowly remove as little as I can get away with.

I guess I just need to listen for guidance and start cutting before the Holy Spirit moves so I can do my best to thin out the forest. If all I have left are healthy, strong trees in my life, the wind can blow through with force and all that happens is a beautiful sound of rustling leaves.

That is the sound I want for my life.

Snakes in an Office

April.30.2007

The unthinkable has happened. I have a giant snake loose in the office with me. Yikes.

I suppose this was always possible since we do have a nature area in the same building. I actually have had this recurring thought that someday it will be like that scene in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure when he sees the pet store on fire and starts rescuing animals. He runs back and forth saving everything (including goldfish in little bags) before finally running out with handfuls of snakes and passing out on the sidewalk outside.

In my case, it was much different. This morning I walked past one of the office and saw out of the corner of my eye a snake. Of course I kind of walk-ran the rest of the way down the hall. Then I slowly walked back to the door to look at it.

I know the snake isn’t deadly, heck it probably doesn’t even bite. But I’m pretty sure “snake-handling” was not in my job description. Especially when the thing is like 3 feet long. Gross.

I have a co-worker coming in to pick it up. If you do see a post from me soon, I’m probably in this thing’s belly.

The Day My Music Died

April.29.2007

Considering I work in an office by myself everyday, it should come as no surprise that I am quite connected to my iPod. I take it with me literally everywhere around camp as I work so I can listen to mostly podcasts and the occasional music.

It has held up surprisingly well considering the daily use. Well, that is until today. Today, my dear friend, the iPod, died.

I was a little panicky when it first happened until I was clear that it was a done deal. I diagnosed the problem using some message board posts and it is clearly a dead hard drive; a fairly common problem I guess.

So a fine mess this is. I looked into a replacement hard drive and if I do the repair myself, it will still cost about $90 for the hard drive and tools. Ugh. No thanks.

In the interim, my dear wife has offered to let me use her 2 GB iPod nano she got for Christmas. While I was skeptical at first, it looks like it will be a perfect fit. I was able to fit all of my podcasts and the only playlist I actually use (Last 100 Added Songs) with about 1 GB left.

So here is my new question. Why fix my old iPod for $90 when I can get one just like my wife’s for about $110? In addition to that, the iPod nano does not use a hard drive that can be corrupted. It uses solid state flash memory which can handle my active routine a little better.

With that said, I think it is clear what my next iPod purchase will be when the time is right.

It’s hard being human. To have my desires constantly changing like the wind to be happier, better and/or more successful is a frustrating place to be. As normal as it is, why can’t my desires fall more in line with what God wants for me?

Clearly it’s a lack of obedience on my part. With the realization that I have now committed my life (and my family’s life by proxy) to ministry, I am eager to know where I will go to serve Christ. Granted, I am already doing His work in this great place, but for some reason the grass is always greener…

So what spurred all these thoughts/emotions? Well, I had another church call me about being a youth pastor a few days ago. I have had several now which is very flattering and if circumstances were different, I would entertain the thoughts more seriously. I have a desire to serve youth and encourage and enrich their lives with the truth of Christ, but in what capacity that will take is so unclear.

I know I am only 26. I know my life is in the hands of the same Creator who put amazing ministry in the lives of ordinary people (see the entire Old Testament and the 12 disciples). I know that I have a great wife and family who will trust in God and my discernment to determine where the next stop in ministry will be.

I just can’t handle the waiting.

I have so much I can do in my current ministry and I always hear positive feedback about how this place is changing and improving since I arrived less than a year ago. But I still feel like God has something more in the way of direct ministry than this. Maybe someday that door will open and I will actually hear God calling to encourage me it is time to take that next step.

Never Plan for an Easy Day

February.8.2007

It seems like all the blogs I read (including my own) got all serious yesterday, so I wanted to make sure I come up for air in my post today.

It’s funny how you can plan to have an easy day and it winds up being just the opposite. This weekend at the camp we are not expecting a big crowd by any stretch of the imagination. Probably a total of 10 people in a few cabins who are all doing their own meals.

I am certainly thankful for this break and today when I went to the office I was eager to hit the ground running and get a lot done.

As I walked in the door of the office I was greeted by 6 large boxes of new mugs for the camp store. Okay, I can put these away. It’s always fun opening boxes. No problem, right?

So then I hear someone calling for me from down in the office. A semi showed up with our new dining hall tables. Great! We need those tables! Well, it turns out it was a full length semi. For those who have never been to this camp (or probably almost any camp) full length semis are bad news. Typically our roads are so narrow and turn so sharply with trees on the edges that semis struggle to get where they need to go.

After an half-hour of back and forth, the driver realized we couldn’t get to where we need to go. Okay, we will just unload and cart them in from a distance. No problem, right?

Well, it wouldn’t be normally. As we opened the back of the trailer, the driver looked at me, swore, and then, “This truck doesn’t have a power lift. And that load is 1,200 lbs. so we can’t use the ramp.”

Okay. Problem solving. I guess we just lift each piece down, right? Well, that “we” turned out to be me and the maintenace guy here at camp. The driver “supervised” despite being “way behind schedule.”

And that brought us to noon. Then I had to get some butter and a muffin pan for a guest staying in one of the cabins. No problem, but again, just losing grip of the “easy day.”

When it was all said and done, this day was really no help in my great battle against the office work waiting for me. It’s funny how that works. I will never again plan to get a lot done in a day. Just let it happen.

-8 degrees F

February.3.2007

You read that headline correctly. It is currently -8 degrees F here. That is without windchill. I actually read with the windchill we were down to -22 this afternoon. On a weekend when we have about 80 people here at camp, it made things interesting. At the end of today, we had to call the tow company for 3 separate cars that were dead in their tracks. So far we haven’t had any cabin freeze-ups (knock on wood) but we aren’t out of the woods yet. Lots more cold through Wednesday. Fun.

You may also notice yet another addition to the sidebar on the right (the Nick’s shared items widget). While it might look like just generic stories are being posted over there, it is actually controlled by what I think is worth a look. Now that I use Google Reader for my RSS feeds, I can choose what I think warrants the attention of others or that I find interesting and have them show up in that column. Kind of a neat addition I think.