let's give it a shot

What the heck, let's give wordpress a try. If it doesn't work as well as I hope, I can always come back here.

In the meantime, you'll find me here. (yes, click the link, do it, click it, now)


Something a friend commented on another site has got me looking into Wordpress - another blog platform. It's still free. But it's looking like it might be easier to use (especially when images are involved) and offers a wider variety of widgets and such. I'm investigating. As much as I would hate to, since I've posted 122 times on blogspot, I could end up moving to Wordpress, under the same blog name. I dunno. We'll see.

Sports Jesus

I struggle sometimes with making the Gospel relevant to the day in which we live. I realize I am to strive to live like Christ. But Christ lived in a desert. 2000 years ago. And wore robes. And walked everywhere He went. I would love to have a clear idea of how Jesus would live today, in Knoxville, in the year 2008. For instance, would Jesus...

Watch TV at all?

Be interested in sports? And if He was, would He have a

Driver an old beater car, or invest in one that would be more dependable?

Not own a car, just ride a bike?

Have long hair, short hair, or a shaved head?

Be a member of a local church?

Rent or own his place of living?

Live homeless?

Have a beard?

Wear only second hand, used clothing?

Read stuff while at Borders without ever buying or paying for it? (like me)

Own a computer of any kind? Use email?

Have anything to say about animal rights?

Faithfully recycle?

Speak out against denominationalism?

Cast a vote in governmental elections?

I have many more questions, but you probably get my point. It's just so hard for me to wrap my mind around sometimes. Much like understanding why Adam Sandler is still a big box office draw, or why anyone would ever spend $12.00 for a tiny bottle of "salon quality" shampoo. It would be so much easier if God's Word laid things out a little more specifically.....what type of shoes to buy, whether or not Speedo's are ever acceptable to wear, and how many cable or satellite channels it takes to constitute gluttony.

And, last but not least, I wonder if Jesus would have loved school lunch pizza as much as I used to? And would He have washed it down by chugging a small carton of chocolate milk as fast as humanly possible? I'll definitely ask Him that one day.

can you count?

Can you count the piercings?
I'm hearing this may be the new look for "contemporary" worship leaders in the next 7-10 years.

the singer in the family

It has become quite obvious that our son loves to sing...and is actually good at it. I have to tell you something that brings tears to my eyes. For the past 3-4 weeks, when we put Eli to bed, we've been quietly playing Rich Mullins music on the little cd player in his room, to help him fall asleep. It's sort of an alternative to a nightlight, I guess. So far we've been playing "The World as I Remember It", both volumes 1 and 2, and "Liturgy, Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band."

A couple of nights ago, Erin was in Eli's room getting him ready for bed, and called me in to the room with them. "Listen to Eli" she said. Quietly, and accurately, Eli was singing "Oh God, you are my God, and I will ever praise You. Oh God, you are my God, and I will ever praise You. I will seek you in the morning, and I will learn to walk in Your ways. And step by step You lead me, and I will follow You all of my days." He learned this chorus simply by hearing it in his room with the lights off before going to sleep. And it's one of my favorite songs of all time....actually the song we were singing in my high school youth group when I committed my life to Christ. I was definitely tearing up to hear Him singing it so beautfully.

For the record, Eli also loves to sing "You've Stolen My Heart" and "Hey, You're the One" (both by Leeland), "Mush (Bus) Driver" (by Caedmon's Call), "You Never Let Go" (by David Crowder), as well as a few others I can't immediately remember.

Now, considering how well he's absorbed the nightly Rich Mullins music, I'm wondering what else I should start playing for him to sleep by. The languages of the world? Mark Nelson's podcasted messages? The Purpose Driven Life? High school level calculus theories? Anything by John Denver?


So, here's the wreckage from my little sister's wreck. Amazing. Again, she suffered cuts, bruises, a pretty good bump on the head, and a fractured pelvis. She'll be homebound for about 6-8 weeks while the fracture heals. But look at the car, and it's quite obvious it could have been MUCH worse...and we're all extremely thankful to the Big Guy that it wasn't. Wow.

Kaly is (mostly) okay. Considering the car rolled over and was totaled, she came out relatively unscathed. Some scratches and bruises, a nice bump on the head, and general neck and back soreness...but it looks like nothing broken or damaged. Wow, thank you God.

In typical teen fashion, I hear she was pretty worried about how this might affect her attending prom. =) Wasn't it awesome being young? Way long ago? Remember?

I just found out that my youngest sister was in a car accident this morning. My family (in Kentucky) are all on the way to the hospital now. I'm told the car was totaled and my sister was alert and responsive, but no one yet knows the extent of her injuries. I'm nervously awaiting an update. If you're a regular reader, would you mind saying a short prayer for her and my family?

national sibling day

I just discovered that today is officially "National Sibling Day." Who knew? Being the oldest, wisest, and least attractive of 4 children, I should know these things.

In honor of National Sibling Day, allow me to honor my siblings.

Kari Jo (2nd from the left) is 27 years old, is married to Rodney, and has a wonderful 6 month old son, Grayson. She has a master's degree in education and is a middle school teacher in Kentucky. She's a wonderful singer, is very thoughtful and caring, has an infectious cackling laugh if you get her REALLY cracked up, enjoys swimming in their backyard pool, went through a mean-attitude-hellacious-demon stage of life when she was around 8-11 years old that is hard for me to even imagine now, and is really good at picking on our brother, Brandon.

Speaking of Brandon, far left. He's 19 years old and is currently a freshman at the University of Kentucky. He's witty, a little moody, can be quite thoughtful when he wants, and spent much of his childhood playing Ninentdo and Play Station. He's pretty good at all sports, but is currently the most adept at tennis. I don't think he has a major right now, but has expressed interest in the FBI, CIA, CSI sort of field. I have incredible memories of his childhood up until he was age 6, which is when I headed off to college. We shared a room for those 6 years, wrestled a lot, played sports in the yard, and had a lot of fun times.

Kaly, 2nd from right, is our youngest sibling. She's 16 years old. She's very smart, has an amazing voice, is also quite witty, and has a pretty typical teenage female temperment....mean, nice, sort of nice, mean again, not talking, talking all the time, laughing, growling...you get my point. =) She's really funny though, and has her heart set on a career in dermatology. She's destined to invent the next generation of Pro-Active, which will actually make people 2 levels better looking just by applying. Are you a 6? With Kaly's future creame, you'll be an 8.

Unfortunatey, because Brandon was 6 and Kaly only 3 when I left for college, I've missed much of their growing up. That has really bothered me more as time has passed. Now that they are older, I just now feel like I'm getting to know them and be friends with them again, which is cool. Kari and I definitely had some rough years as siblings when we were younger, but for the last 10 years or so we've been much closer, spent weeks at church camp together, developed a better friendship as adults, things like that.

Being the oldest of 4 has definitely meant more to me as an adult than as a child. I think more about my siblings, wonder how they're doing, hope they're succeeding in whatever they are doing, worry about them, and look forward to many years of shared time and fun together. Kari, Brandon, and Kaly....I love you all very much, and am proud to be your big brother.

6 week veggie update

It's been roughly 6 weeks since I last ate meat. But in the last week, for the first time, I've had to fight off some cravings. This past Sunday after church, we drove to Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains. Eli was eating some chicken nuggets from Wendy's while we drove in the car, and I wanted one really badly. Definitely my worst craving so far. That's kind of sad, though. My worst craving for meat in 6 weeks is for 99 cent overcooked nuggets from Wendy's. Pitiful.

What I have eaten is lots of potatos, broccoli, zuccini, squash, peppers, mushrooms, celery, onion, salsa, bean burritos, salads, chips, pizza with cheese and pepper toppings, rice, vegetable soup, ramen noodles, french fries, granola bars, sweets, and cereal. Not a lot of fruit though, which I need to improve upon. And, as expected, the most difficult task is finding something satisfying to eat when we go out and need to grab something quick.

French fries and apple pies just don't cut it after about the 5th time.

Birthday Party - Bounce House Mania IV

Wow. Birthday parties are fun...but exhausting. Thanks so much to everyone who came....I think we ended up with 18 kids and about 25 adults. There was plenty of jumping, sliding, rug burns, a bloody nose, air hockey, basketball shootouts, cake, ice cream, and presents for all! Here are just a few of the pictures from the party:

the many faces of eli

Our son turned 4 years old this week.

He's a great kid. Funny, smart, moody, caring, curious, engaging.

And a total goof ball.

what do you really KNOW?

I had a great conversation with Greg & Daniel the other night at Spicy's. We were there to watch the utter spanking of Tenneseee by Louisville in the Sweet 16. It as an excellent opportunity for engaging coversation, since the entertainment was clearly lacking.

The basic point of the discussion was this: way too many Christians claim to KNOW way too much about God, the Bible, faith, and the appropriate way to flesh out a Christian lifestyle.

This may be the very foundation of Christian division - both personally and denominationally. One person/group says, "I KNOW (this) is true and should be done this way." The other person/group says "No, you're wrong. I KNOW (this) is true and should be done this way." Emotion, bickering, hurt feelings, and anger ensue. They are unable to resolve differences in a peaceful and open minded way. And a split of some kind occurs.

You can simply fill in the blank for (this) .... communion, baptism, faith alone, faith and works, tongues, spiritual gifts, pastoral roles, financial stewardship, worship music, preaching styles, evangelistic methods, salvation, tithing, role of women, the Holy Spirit, physical attire or appearance, care for the earth, treatment of animals, dealing with sin in the church community, medical practices, healing by the Spirit, confession to a priest, vanity, child rearing, home schooling, involvement in political matters, role of the husband or wife, dating, legalism, care for the poor, abortion, age of accountability, liturgy of the service, and on and on and on.

But really ... what do we really, truly, KNOW about all of these matters? For instance, I know that murder is wrong. God specifically and undeniably says it is unacceptable. He also never says anything that might refute that fact. However, He does not clearly and precisely tell me how to dress. I can "infer" from Jesus' teachings and from understanding the character of God that there is a line in which my physical attire could be considered sinful, but I don't KNOW what that line is, do I? Nor does God tell me the exact rules regarding the use of music in church worship. He certainly does not specifically say that it is sinful to either use music or not use music. And He shares no preferences on whether he likes rock, folk, pop, or hymnal styles the best.

There is so little that I know and SO much that I don't. I know God created the heavens, the earth, animals, and people. I know He loves me. I know He sent Jesus to die for me so I could live forever with Him. I know He wants me to love Him more than anything else. And I know He wants me to love my fellow man as much, if not more, than I could ever love myself. I know that Jesus was baptised, so it's both important and meaningful to follow that example. But I don't know if baptism is absolutely 100% necessary for salvation. I know that the disciples and the early church met together to break bread and partake in "communion" to remember Christ. But I don't know exactly how often they did so, whether they ONLY did it on Sundays or Wednesdays, whether they had a "communion prayer" every time before taking it, or whether they took it all at the same time or took it as they felt led. I know that the early church met to worship the Lord, but I don't know how long that lasted, what instruments they did or didn't use, what lyrics their songs consisted of, or whether they were more "pentacostal" or "lutheran" or "methodist" in their emotional and physical reactions to worship. I know that I've sinned and am doomed to eternal death without believing in Christ. But I don't know whether or not someone in the Amazon jungle - who's never been told about Jesus Christ, but who sees the amazing beauty of creation, realizes it has to come from a higher power or supreme being, and cares for the earth and for his fellow man - is saved or not. I can't possibly know.

What I am coming to know the older I get is that God's love and grace is far bigger and wider and greater and more encompassing than you or I could ever imagine. I do know that throughout history He has used people to accomplish His purposes that, if we knew them personally, we probably could not imagine how they could have been chosen by God. I also know that most of the issues listed above (and so many more) have very little to do with our salvation and with God's intense love for His people, and much more so to do with our small mindedness, our inability to put God in a box, our emotional insecurities, our lack of love for others, our desire for power and to be "right".

And, in some backwards way, all of those things are simply another reminder of how sinful we are, how incapable we are of saving ourselves, and just how much we needed Jesus to come to earth, die on a cross, rise from the grave, take away the sins of the world, and be our best friend, our Lord, and our Savior. Is it possible that we could all spend a lot more time focusing on that...and much less time focusing on almost everything else?

the beastie boys felt left out

Somehow or another, I felt it unfair to post a favorite songs list regarding Caedmon's Call without following it up with a similar one for the Beastie Boys. I'm not sure why. It just seemed like something I needed to do.

Considering I've been listening to the Beastie Boys for over 20 years, "License to Ill" was literally the 2nd cassette tape I ever owned in my life, I've had the song Paul Revere memorized since I was 11 years old, and the dudes are now like in their mid-40's and still doing some pretty good stuff, I don't really feel that bad about it.

However, I was unable to dwindle my list to 10. Partly because I didn't want to take as much time agonizing over it. So I've trimmed it to 12 ... and they are not really in an particular order, so I won't trouble with numbering them. So, here goes:

Root Down (Root Down)
Body Movin’ (Anthrology)
Negotiation Limeric File (Hello Nasty)
Paul Revere (License to Ill)
Brass Monkey (License to Ill)
Check It Out (To the Five Burroughs)
Right Right Now Now (To the Five Burroughs)
Shake Your Rump (Paul's Boutique)
Sure Shot (Ill Communication)
Get it Together (Ill Communication)
The Move (Hello Nasty)
Just a Test (Hello Nasty)

Caedmon's Call

A couple of days ago, I was thinking to myself, "you know (Jason), some day down the road, Caedmon's Call is going to call it quits, and no longer continue making new music."

I'm not sure why the thought came. What I do know is that it made me terribly sad to think about it.

I can remember being introduced to their music in July 1997 at a week of church camp. I remember listening to "Long Line of Leavers" for the first time while driving in Michigan in the fall of 2000. I recall seeing them live for the first time around 1999 and marveling at the use of 30 gallon trash cans on stage during the performance of "Thankful." I've been fortunate enough to see them live 3 times. There are times when watching them that I can't take my eyes off the percussion guy, who plays about 20 different things over the course of a concert. They have at least 2 dozen songs that I've listened to over and over and over and over and have never gotten tired of.

So, with GREAT stress, frustration, changing of my mind, changing it again, and again, and finally just going with what I had...I've compiled my Top Ten favorite Caemon's songs. A few things of note ... I have not heard the entire "Share the Well" album yet, so I have nothing to offer from it. There are no songs on my list from the 2nd Company of Angels album, as I find that to be my least favorite by far. I'm not including the Derek Webb solo albums...if I did, a couple of his songs would almost definitely crack the Top Ten. I've always liked best the songs sung by Danielle Young, and/or the songs written by Derek Webb. Finally, I should say that my list started with 26 songs. From there I narrowed it down to 18. And with great pain, I finally whiddled it down to 10. It made my brain hurt.

So, here it goes, in order from 10th place to 1st place....

10. Sacred (from Overdressed)
9. The Emptiest Day (from Back Home)
8. You Created (from Back Home)
7. Climb On (from 40 Acres)
6. God of Wonders (from In the Company of Angels I)
5. What You Want (from Long Line of Leavers)
4. Prepare Ye the Way (from Long Line of Leavers)
3. Not the Land (from Caedmon's Call)
2. Close of Autumn (from Caedmon's Call)
1. Somewhere North (from 40 Acres)

What are your thoughts on Caedmon's? Any memories? Favorite songs? Hottest band member?

ncaa heinz ketchup bracket update

First round: 15 of 32 winners, 15 total points
Second round: 9 of 16 winners, 18 total points

Recap: My first round was going okay, then went sour in a hurry. Still, I successfully picked 9 of the Sweet 16 teams, including Davidson and Villanova.

Current point total is 33 points. Not bad for the flip of a Heinz Ketchup packet

my ncaa heinz ketchup bracket

I did not enter an NCAA bracket pool. I will lose if I do. But here's how I filled out my personal bracket for this year:

I automatically picked each #1 seed to go to the Sweet 16. For all other games, from the 1st round through the championship game, I flipped a Heinz ketchup packet. If it landed ketchup-bottle-picture up, I chose the team at the top of each bracket. If it landed white-side up, I chose the team at the bottom of each bracket.

At this time, I'm currently 11 for 20 on my Heinz ketchup packet picks. My Final Four are Notre Dame, Villanova, Temple (oops), and UCLA. And I have Temple (oops) beating Notre Dame in the final game. Oh, the craziness of March Madness!

thank you, jake

I feel very honored today. A fellow blogger in Las Vegas - a friend/brother of friends we have here in Knoxville - submitted a recent post based on my personal request.

You can see it here. Thanks, Jake.

an arm, a leg, and a tank of gas

Yesterday evening, on my way home, I stopped to fill up my car. When I was done, I had officially paid the most I've ever paid in my entire life for a tank of gas.


For a 2002 Mazda Protege LX with a 13 gallon tank. Wow. I'm curious....what are you spending on a tank of gas right now?

poor easter bunny

Poor Easter bunny. He/she just doesn't get the kinda love that Santa does. No letters from kids. No movies about him. No cookies and milk waiting by the fireplace. No sitting in his lap asking for certain things...why would you, when you already know he's just gonna give you candy.

Of course, who doesn't wanna get em some candy?

what's your voting criteria?

This picture was taken at a Batesville, Mississippi muffler shop:

So, what criteria do you use in determining who you vote for?

making it official

I guess I need to officially declare myself a vegetarian. I haven't actually done that yet. It started out as an interesting thing to know about, then evolved into going a few days without meat and realizing I wasn't morphing into an alien, and now, after 2 weeks, I'm ready to say I'm going to commit to not eating meat.

I need to also say I hope to NOT be constantly be talking and blogging about vegetarianism. But, for the short future, because of the changes in lifestyle and the adjusting, it will certainly be on my mind. I'm not really trying to champion the vegetarian cause, and I don't think someone who eats meat is gross and disguisting and should be forced to butcher a baby calf with their own hands so they can experience the horror of killing an animal.

Also, I will consider myself an "Octo-Lavo" vegetarian....meaning I will still eat dairy products. Cheese, eggs, milk, etc. I also will not be overly concerned with whether or not something I'm eating was made with animal by-products in some way. These are steps taken to become a true vegan. But I find them daunting and frankly too difficult. It's like saying, "yes, I'm concerned about the atmosphere and fuel consumption, so I'm going to buy a 40mpg car" vs saying "yes, I'm concerned about the atmosphere, so I'm going to ride my bike to work from now on." Much bigger commitment, much harder work, and just not for me at this point. My main focus is simply no longer eating meat.

Why am I doing this? (and i should say, at least at this point, my wonderful wife is along for the ride herself, way to go Erin!) Why be a voracious meat eater and hamburger lover for 32 years, and now this? Wouldn't the Atkins diet be more fun? Won't I starve to death?

Well, there are several reasons.
  1. I'm not much of a diet person. I don't want to cut out sweets, and I have a hard time with small portions. Vegetarians can eat to their hearts delight. They actually can eat MORE food than meat-eaters, because the food they're consuming has fewer calories per volume than meat does.
  2. Meat provides only two nutritional products....protein and iron. That's it. But it also provides lots of fat, calories, and cholesterol. And you can get PLENTY of protein and iron by eating grains, nuts, vegetables, tofu, tempeh, and fruit.
  3. An estimated 15 - 20 MILLION farm animals are killed every day in the United States in order to meet the demand for meat in our country. The processes used to raise, feed, fatten, kill, and process these animals are no longer natural (not like your grandfather used to do it on the farm). Frankly, these processes are unhealthy. They're unhealthy to the animals, to the land, to the farming industry in general, and to the food and products derived that we eat. We simply eat and waste way too much meat as a society. As a result, we've turned raising livestock into a type of industrialized factory in order to meet the demand.
  4. It's been estimated that the amount of crops/grain/corn/oats used to feed and fatten livestock in the US alone could effective end world hunger as we know it.
  5. It costs less. Eating out at restaurants costs less. Cooking at home more often costs less than eating out. Making almost all of our meals to take to work for lunch costs less. A pound of tofu costs $2.00, much cheaper than most meats.
  6. I already feel heathier. I don't feel nearly as hungry throughout the day. When I am hungry, it's not so much a "craving" as it is just noticing that I'm hungry. In the last 2 weeks, I've not had one meal where I felt bloated afterwards (you know, like you feel after eating the Wendy's double cheeseburger and fries?). And I've already lost about 4 pounds.
  7. I don't really like to exercise. Never have.
  8. I appreciate what I'm eating more. I think more about where the food I'm eating came from, how it was produced, the work that went into growing and harvesting it, the fact that God provided it directly from his own hand in creation. It has somehow added a spiritual aspect to eating that I never experienced before.

What am I worried about? I'm worried about getting bored of eating the same kinds of vegetables and fruits. About not having time to cook and feeling tempted to grab a pizza from down the street more often than not. About resorting to eating cereal way too often. About friends and family feeling weird about it, not knowing what to cook or where to go out to eat (which really isn't an issue). About giving meat a try again down the road and it making me sick because my body isn't used to it. About how it will affect our son, Eli, since it's almost impossible for a child to be a vegetarian and go to public schools and eat from the cafeteria. We're not really pushing this on him, but we'll simply be more careful about the things we feed him when we're at home. About the "stigma" that people have about vegetarians...that they're all hippies, animal rights activitists, and want to make you feel guilty about eating an innocent animal. None of which describe me.

I'm certainly open to questions or comments of any kind. This has been a pretty big deal for Erin and I, and is not so much a diet as it is a lifestyle change. I'm pretty excited about it, actually, and hope to stay committed. Before you know it, I'll be driving an old VW Bug, wearing tie-dyed shirts, working for Greenpeace, and saying "dude" like a true Lebowski fan. But I'll be lovin' me some zucchini!

some brief updates on life, music, and vegetarianism

My son turns 4 in about 3 weeks. Amazing. That means it's been nearly 5 years since I lived a single day without thinking about our child. Some thoughts are wonderful. Some are maddening. Some are frightening. But for roughly 1700 days now, I've lived life as a father, rather than just as some guy.

I changed the strings on my guitar last night for the first time in roughly 5 years. Actually, back before we were even married, Erin had bought me a package of Elixir guitar strings for my birthday. Right around the time I had stopped playing. I've kept the strings ever since, and finally had occasion to use them last night. It was tough....I never ever have liked changing out guitar strings....but it still felt good.

Because of the example, testimony, and recommendation of our friends Emily & Chase, we bought a rice cooker this weekend. Black and Decker. 14 cups (cooked) capacity with a steamer basket so you can steam veggies while the rice cooks. Non stick removable cooking bowl. Already used it, and I'm very excited. Finally, a kitchen gadget I really feel like I'm going to get real value out of. Unlike the waffle maker, toaster oven, sandwich press, and hard-to-use electric can opener that have graced our kitchen at some point.

12 days with no meat. But plenty of rice, broccoli, zucchini, squash, ramen noodles, pasta, baked potatoes (dan quayle spelling), veggie pizza, a veggie burrito from Salsarita's, the veggie plate at Shono's in the City, homemade whatever-I-can-think-to-put-on-it salads, tofu (marinated in heinz 57 sauce this weekend), peppers, and Mello Yellow....a staple vegetarian drink.

Nine days without meat.

And I'm still alive! =)

crap, darn, shoot, &@%#!!!

Yesterday afternoon in Knoxville produced one of the hardest, heaviest, scariest storms I've seen around here in a while. It only lasted about 15 minutes, but some of my co-workers were really freaking out, thinking we may need to take shelter in a bathroom or something. The rain was coming down sideways. The tin roof of our facility of creaking and sounded like it may rip off. Water was coming in every door of the building, wetting the floors and carpets. Pretty much everyone here was huddled at a window or a door or in the distribution center looking out of the open bay door. It was wild.

And the sunroof on my car was open. $%&#@!!!

MY guitar hero

We went to Kentucky this weekend to visit my family. We're trying to visit every 2-3 months so we can see our nephew/cousin, Grayson, grow up. Here's a picture of Eli and Grayson:

But, there was another highlight to this trip. We do not own a video game system at our home. The last one I owned was an original Playstation that I ended up selling about 6 years ago. I hope to hold off as long as humanly possible before Eli gets a game system for himself.

My sister and brother-in-law, however, own a Nintendo Wii. And while we were there this weekend, Rodney went out and bought Guitar Hero III. We all had fun playing and laughing and making fun of each other's lack of skillzz. But when it was Eli's turn to take it on, holy cow. He watched others play and did a great job of being patient and waiting his turn. When the time came, his aunt Kari Jo took care of the "strumming", while Eli's job was to hit the colored buttons.

After going through a "slow" practice session, we let him go through a practice song at the full speed. I believe the song was "Slow Ride." And my little homeboy hit 25% of the notes! And Kari will probably admit that some of the misses were from her strumming, not his misses, so he may very well have gotten over 30% of the notes at full speed.

But not only that, he was TOTALLY into it. He was screaming out the colors when he changed them, jumping up and down, frantically getting to the next color button in time, grunting. It was freaking hilarious. And he never let down either, even though the songs on that game last forever. It was a blast. I certainly hope he's got some actual music skills as he gets older.

a few more random tidbits...

My Mamaw Edelen was born on leap year day. Today is her birthday. She's turning 20. How cool is that?

My fingers and my wrist are really sore from practicing guitar again over the last couple of weeks. But it feels better than my eyes hurting from doing nothing but watching tv every night.

So, it looks like our choices in November 2008 are going to be an inexperienced Senator whose middle name is Hussein, who never shows up to vote on bills, and whose campaign is based primarily on rockin-the-hizzouse ....vs.... a guy in his 70's who has the cordial personality of an angry donkey, has almost spooky transparent skin, is anxious to exercise even more miliary strength, and who, frankly, wasn't even a good enough candidate to beat out George Bush in 2000. Bummer.

I'm currently infatuated with the Toyota Yaris.

I'm beginning to realize that, as I move forward in this vegetarian venture, that I need to bid a sad farewell to fast food. In general, here's what is offered at fast food places that I will actually be able to eat: baked potatos, french fries, apple pies, yogurt, bean burritos, ice cream, plain biscuits, and not much else. This is going to be tough. But I'll be better off for it.

Has anyone noticed that the NBA is back in full force? Remember 6 years ago when you sort of forgot it existed, and any mention of it made you cringe?

During the UT - Vanderbilt game, Bruce Pearl was so angry at one point he actually turned green. No kidding. Me and a few friends were watching the game at Spicy's and thought he might actually tear his clothes off and morph into the Incredible Hulk.

It's lunch time, so I gotta go. Today's menu - Ramen noodles. Hmmm, good.

experimenting with tofu

Just recently, I wrote this post about my interest in the vegetarian lifestyle. Although I have a hard time seeing myself becoming a "full fledged" vegetarian, there are many aspects about the lifestyle, the diet, and the motivation behind it that I find hard to ignore.

One thing that has peaked my interest is tofu. Never before had I eaten it. And...even though I had not eaten it...I possessed a mindset that said, "tofu is diguisting." Why would I think that without having tried it? Well, for the same reason you might believe that Jesus was a white man, that Ford builds better trucks that Chevy, or that Nike basketball shoes are actually worth spending $100.00 on ... ignorance, someone told you so you just believed it, preconceived notions, advertising, etc.

Sunday was a new day for me. After church, Erin, Eli and I went to lunch at Taste of Thai with friends from church. I ordered the "Rainbow Chicken" meal - but substituted with tofu, and ordered it at the number 3 spicy level (on a scale of 1-5). On Sunday evening, I marinated some tofu at home in soy sauce & honey, chopped up fresh peppers, zucchini, and carrots, and made a tofu stir-fry along with some white rice.

Here, now, after much reading, research, and actually EATING it, is what I can informatively say about tofu.

It's inexpensive. I bought a 16oz package for $2.00. It's full of protein and very low in calories, carbs, and fat. It is practically a "flavor sponge". It has almost no flavor on its own, but totally soaks up whatever flavors you marinate or cook it in. It has a little bit of a spongy texture, but that can be firmed up by freezing the tofu for a day or two, then thawing it before cooking. This is what I'm going to do next week. It's supposed to firm up the texture even more, to where it feels more like a meat substitute. It's incredibly easy to stir-fry it. It's already fully cooked when you buy it, so you only have to cook it for 3-5 minutes, just to heat it through and allow the flavor to really cook in well. You can marinate it in practically anything. It doesn't really taste good or bad. It's sort of like eating mushrooms on a pizza. You notice them in your mouth when you're chewing them, but they don't really add or take away any flavor from the pizza itself.

Say what you will. Call me a hippy. I can handle it. But the truth is, we all have notions about things that have no foundation in anything real whatsoever. I've finally overcome that notion with tofu. Now it's on to asparagus. I've never eaten asparagus, but I still think it's gross. Although it does make an awfully cute Veggie Tales character.

the distinction of a man

You may or may not have seen this recently popular You Tube video with the Baptist church preacher talking about "what makes a man...not a male." If you haven't seen it, it's definitely worth the next 5 minutes of your life.

In the Old Testament - only in the King James Version - the Bible signifies that which designates the "true men" from all others. Here it is:

1 Kings 16:11 (KJV)
11And it came to pass, when he (David) began to reign, as soon as he sat on his throne, that he slew all the house of Baasha: he left him not one that pisseth against a wall, neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends.

Well, think what you will. Maybe it's vulgar. Maybe it's euphamistic translation. But it only appears in the KJV and only on 6 occasions.

Regardless, you'll be glad to know that my small group from church has talked it over and we now proudly proclaim our stance....and we shall be known as true men.

you tube addiction

Have you given thought to what we would do....we, the blogging, internet dependent nation of clones...if You Tube had never come along?

What would we laugh about? Would our senses of humor have ceased to evolve? How many posts could we possibly come up with on our own? How would we watch things - like the slam dunk contest or a series of Tiger Wood's Top 10 shots - that we either don't have access to or are not able/willing to pay for? What would we do when we get bored at work? Have we forgotten that there was once a time when people truly worked at least 8 hours each day?

I love reading things like, "I was doing some research the other day, and I came across this video on You Tube." Isn't that at least a little like saying, "I needed some insight on America's unhealthly love of sports, so I spent the day playing basketball on my X-Box."

Don't get me wrong. I'm guilty too. But it almost feels like I took a nap and woke up and suddenly You Tube ruled the world. And we're all willing servants in its widespread rule.

a meat eating vegetarian?

Trevor - a friend from church, we're in a small group together - is a vegetarian. Has been for about a year or so. Which is pretty difficult when you're a Bible college student and the cafeteria serves mainly crap. I think he eats a lot of cereal.

A couple of weeks ago during small group, he explained to me his decision (along with his girlfriend) to become a vegetarian, why they did it, how it's changed him, what rules he follows, etc. Overall, he's definitely very "green" conscious, recycles, and has true concern for the health of the environment. I have to admit I was about as knowledgable as the next over-indulging meat-eater when it comes to the vegetarian lifestyle. Which is to say I knew almost nothing.

But I'm glad to admit that Trevor really opened my eyes in some positive ways. Although I don't yet have a desire to become a "true" vegetarian, I have decided to make a concerted effort to drastically reduce my meat consumption. Since I'm not much on seafood anyway, this would mainly apply to chicken and beef. This weekend, I bought tofu at the grocery store for the first time in my life. I've researched cooking and preservation methods for tofu and am anxious to start giving it a real effort.

To be honest, Super Size Me and Fast Food Nation had both served to peaked my interest over the last couple of years, I just never followed up on it. I've always eaten WAY too much fast food, have considered meat to be the main course of any good hearty meal, and quite frequently eaten myself into a slow and painful stomach ache. All of which is stupid and contrary to a healthy lifestyle.

Anyway. I'm gonna give this an honest effort. More vegetables and grains. Way less meat. Absolutely minimal fast food. It's healthier for me. It's healthier for the environment. And, as much as anything, I think it will simply make me feel better about myself.

if you could do anything ...

The other night I was talking to my friend Daniel. He and his wife run The Restoration House, a ministry that provides temporary housing and support for single mothers. I asked him how, exactly, they came to start this ministry.

Basically (not in his exact words), they were in a small group meeting, and a person in the small group asked everyone, "if you could do anything in life...with no concerns about money, time, difficulty, etc...what would you do?" Daniel's wife, Mandy, answered, "I would buy a big piece of property and provide housing for single mothers."

Within a few weeks, guess what happened? A big piece of property, with more than one living space, very near to where they currently were living, went up for sale. They bought it. They did a bunch of renovations and put together a ministry plan. And now Mandy's dream is being fleshed out in reality.

That's totally amazing. And as I think about it, I'm trying to answer that question for myself. If I could do anything in life, with no worries regarding money, time, difficulty, etc...what would I do? My answer? I'm not really sure. I have ideas. But no true sense of "calling" in a specific area. It's something I'm praying about. And once that answer becomes clear, I hope I'll have what it takes to pursue it. Give it some thought. What would you do?


Remember this? It's still hilarious 6 years later.

some blogging thoughts

Just a few things on my mind this morning....

At this moment, I've received 2,999 visits on this blog since starting it back in July. Not a totally impressive number in comparison to many, but definitely more than I would have imagined. That means about 14-15 people are checking this thing out each day on average. I hope it's been fun for those of you reading. Thank you.

In the last 3 days, I've received over 20 visits to the site as a result of this particular referral. The referral is from some type of "city-data" site for Knoxville, and one of the members on there - an individual from Kingsport - was inquiring about bounce houses. Another member - I do not know who this person is - referred them to this blog, and more specifically to a post I'd done a few months back about bounce houses. This is one of the things I find fascinating about blogging. Somehow, over time, you are connected to people you never knew existed.

And for those of you who may be reading this because you thought you were being linked to a well written and informative "bounce house mania" website, I welcome you and hope you'll enjoy your visit.

And finally....Crossings turned 1 year old yesterday. It was an excellent morning. It featured lots of excitement, cheesecake, great worship, a live broadcast video, living room stories, the kids city group providing music and scripture, a compelling message, and nearly 300 people there to be a part of it. The entire team, in all areas, did an awesome job making so many things happen yesterday, and it made for a truly incredibly anniversary.

jonah ... seriously?

Have you ever read the book of Jonah? Here it is in The Message version. It's 4 chapters in total. I totally recommend it.

It had been a while since I'd read it. We read it last night during the guys small group I'm in. Holy crap! What a weird, trippy, fascinating story. It's very difficult to distinguish whether it's literally true, or more of a parable. And though you may know that Jonah was sent to speak to Ninevah, you may not realize he only spoke ONE SENTENCE to them, and the entire city - 120,000 strong - turned to God.

And you may know that Jonah spent three days inside a whale. But did you know that Jonah very well may not have realized he was in a whale? At least not until he was vomited out. Well, there are too many amazing occurences to point out here. Check it out for yourself.

God's Word never ceases to amaze.

investigating my jesus poll

The last poll I loaded onto this blog - which, at this time, is still listed on the left hand side of the page - asked: "If Jesus were alive and ministering today - as opposed to 2000 years ago - is it possible that we wouldn't even know he was here?"

This is not meant to be a controversial questions, just one that caused me to think about our culture today. Imagine if Jesus were born 31 years ago. That for the last 2000 years, God's people were still anticipating the birth of the Messiah.

Now, let's think about a few things. There are over 6 billion people on the earth today. Billions more than were alive in Jesus' day. Could Jesus just get lost in the shuffle? Church as we know it now would not be what it is had Jesus not been born 2000 years ago. What would it be? We don't know.

Assuming Jesus were still born in Bethlehem, even if He performed miracles and did all the same things we know He did, would we recognize Him for who He is? Or would He just be dismissed as another religious figure, a "so called miracle worker", a "television evangelist", or a person who heals people who "obviously aren't really sick or in need of healing." Would we see Him as a fanatical middle eastern Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, or Jimmy Swaggart? Would we, as a people, be so sick of waiting for the Messiah that we just didn't believe He would come....or would we be so excited for Him to finally come that anyone who did anything deemed as "miraculous" suddenly received our praise as "the one".

I don't know. It's totally hypothetical, really, but really tweaked my interest once I thought about it.

What do you think?

guitar separation blues

My guitar is pictured to the right. I bought it in the fall of 1999. It's a limited edition, Takamine Santa Fe model. Each year, Takamine makes a Santa Fe style that is exclusive to that year. Mine is a 1999 exclusive. If I remember right, it cost me about $1100.00. I got about $400.00 out of a Yamaha (my first guitar) that I sold to a friend of a friend, so my net expenditure was really only $700.00. Still. A lot of money.

This guitar is sweet. The design is beautiful, it's got a fully digital pick-up with a built in tuner, reverb, and pre-settable EQ levels. And it sounds awesome. All Takamine's do.

The problem is, over the last 5 years, I've BARELY touched my guitar. Seriously. I think I've played it about 4 times in 5 years. I used to play all the time when I was involved in the worship ministries at previous churches. That basically ended in 2002. And I've never enjoyed playing just for the sake of playing. The whole reason I taught myself to play back in the mid-90's was to play for youth groups, church camp, and in worship services within the church. Once that opportunity ended, so did my motivation to play music.

I toyed with selling it. This picture, taken back in May 2007, was one of several I took to put a flyer together to try and sell the guitar, case, cords, stand, and pedals as a package deal. I didn't really try that hard to advertise it, and it did not sell.

So now I'm struggling with whether or not to pick it back up again. I'll be extremely rusty. Any callouses my fingers ever developed are long gone. I wonder if I'll even have the time to devote to practicing again. Yet, somewhere deep down, I know I want to. I want to play all the great worship songs that have impacted me over the last few years. I want to play during my quiet times, even singing spontaneous songs of worship to God. I want to spike my hair, put on some cool glasses, and play while standing on my bed, imagining that I'm David Crowder, leading worship under disco strobe lights with some funky record scratching going on in the background. I'd like to think that if I devote myself again, that in a couple of years I could play better than I ever had before. We shall see. I just don't know. But I'll make sure and update you if I do.

bad mamma jamma punk a** pimpin for real

and these are phrases that I would like to use more often in every day life...except that I'm either too white, too dorky, too conversative, too thoughtful, too scared, or too lazy to do so...

  • "dude, you's a bad mamma jamma!"
  • "i kill the fool dat took my mountain dew"
  • "come on wicha bad self"
  • "homey don't play dat"
  • "ooooohhhhh, yeaaahhh" (think Macho Man Randy Savage)
  • "whacha gonna do, when jaybo-mania rains down, on youuu!!!" (think Hulk Hogan)
  • "when the dogs are away, the cats will play"
  • "you be illin"
  • "i said a Big Mac with NO cheese, punk...should I repeat myself again?"
  • "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you."
  • "Hamburgers. The cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast."
  • anything else from Pulp Fiction that you can think of
  • "stop looking at my butt"
  • "you want some drama? believe me, you don't want no drama."
  • "sike!"

things i'd like to see happen before i die...

I'm 31 years old. I'll be 32 in 3 months. I'd like to estimate that I've got about 45-50 years left on this earth, God willing. This is a non-comprehensive list of things I'd like to see become reality before I take my last breath.

I'd like to see...

  • automobiles that are affordable and do not run on fuel.
  • a unified church that truly begins focusing the bulk of its time and resources outward rather than inward, effectively eliminating hunger and untreated disease throughout the world.
  • up close, vivid, detailed pictures of Saturn. Eli absolutely loves Saturn. I think it's his favorite planet.
  • at least 3 more completely new and unique "fashion trends" - none of the recycling of old fashion trends and making them new again.
  • universal shoe sizing. Why is it that, depending on the shoe brand, I sometimes have to try on a 10M, 10W, 10.5M, 10.5W, or an 11M just to find one that fits right. If my foot is a 10W, then I should buy a 10W, regardless of the brand. But it never works that way. That's ridiculous.
  • an overall reduction in average home sizes. How many families of 2-4 across our nation live in 3000 sq ft or larger homes? How much space is really necessary to live comfortably?
  • reruns of The Cosby Show still airing when I'm 50 years old. I have a feeling that show will be even funnier to me then. Which would be difficult, consider how funny it still is to me now.
  • a revolutionary trend of churches "combining" as opposed to "splitting". How cool would that be?
  • cell phones that are nothing but small ear pieces. That's it. It would be completely voice activated, and you would never need to touch it, except to take it off.
  • free or truly affordable health care coverage for ALL. I don't care how. But in the 21st century, if a person is sick or injured, they should be able to get treatment without worrying about bankruptcy, a court date, or bill collectors.
  • Michael W. Smith release his 28th studio album in 2032, entitled, "1982 - 2032, The First Half Century".
  • Steven Curtis Chapman steal MWS's limelight by releasing his 29th studio album a week later, entitled, "The Last Adventure".
  • at least one grandchild that I can totally spoil.
  • Eli grow up and do whatever the heck God wants him to do with his life...regardless of the location or money. There's nothing more fulfilling than doing the work of Christ.
  • an honest, serious, practical review and revision of the US Constitution. It's an incredible document, don't get me wrong. But how long are we going to ignore that the right to bear arms was based on the fact that the country had been through years of war, there was practically no law enforcement, and that enemy soldiers might walk onto your land, kill you and your family, and take your stuff at will. Or that freedom of speech was revolutionary because you could be hung for saying something derogatory about the royal family of England. Not wholesale changes...just making sure that this dynamic document adapts to cover the realities of our changing culture.
  • anything without wearing contacts or glasses. I've been of poor sight since the 3rd grade, and it would be nice to be rid of that at some point. But I'm scared of Lasic...and it's expensive.
  • my waistline when I'm standing up.

So, what am I missing here?