Wednesday, January 31, 2007

God appreciates a good try

Sometimes I whine about how long it takes for me to drive to my church (35 minutes). But this can be a good time for reflection and preparation for worship. Unless I'm listening to the "ask the doctor" radio show, which makes it a good time to be grateful not to suffer from the weird ailments they talk about.

On last Sunday's trip I had a bit of a breakthrough in my thinking about some of the strongholds in my life. Well, not really a breakthrough, but a clear reminder of something I believe in (and preach to others) but often have trouble practicing myself:

"Progress, not perfection."

Or, as my friend Father Mark would put it...

"God appreciates a good try."

There are problems in my life that I have been struggling with since I was a child. No matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to break through. Back in my teens and twenties I never imagined I would still be struggling all these years later.

But I've come to realize, through prayer and study, that perfectionism and impatience cloud my judgment about how far I've come. Just because I'm not "there" yet doesn't mean I have wasted my time trying. I have to remember that with each try I'm making progress...sometimes even if it is just learning one more thing that doesn't work.

Besides, when I do finally get "there", there will be a new "there" to work towards anyway!

What got me thinking about this on my Sunday trip to church was listening to the song "Try" from the "God is With Me" CD by Norman Lee (you can buy Norman's music on his website or iTunes).

Here's the chorus:

'Cause she tries, in a world gone crazy
She cries, hoping some day maybe
The storms of life will let that sun finally shine.

Every day she walks on faith
And she prays love will conquer hate
And her whole life won't be wasted time.
So she tries.

So I continue to walk in faith. I pray. And I try, remembering that God is using me for some good purpose even when (or maybe especially when) I fail.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Vacation Pictures

Be where you are? Do I have to?

"Be where you are" is a saying that to me means to live in the moment, because if you are always living in the past or the future, you can never enjoy today.

But, but here's where I am:

Chicago, Illinois (

Quite frankly, I would rather be back here:

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (last week)

I've been cold ever since I stepped off the plane at O'Hare Airport nine days ago after a week in warm. I love my life, Lord, I do. But did you really mean for your people to live in this climate? Seriously. Could you speed up the global warming a bit? Or consider sending me a job offer I can't refuse because it's in sunny Florida?

I'll be waiting for your answer.

PS: It's very hard to type with mittens on.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Back home

I'm off to work in a few minutes after my vacation. Frankly, I'm a little depressed. It's cold here, and Florida and the Bahamas are nice and warm.

The trip was fabulous! I'm told the seas were quite rocky, but being my first cruise I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm happy to say that I had not a smidgen of seasickness!

In some ways, this was a life-changing experience...not the cruise itself, but the fellowship, the new friends I met, the things I saw, and some conversations that may make me rethink some of my beliefs. Not my core beliefs, of course, but the way I practice them. More on the trip later.

For now, let me just thank God for our safe and wonderful journey.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Well, I'm off to parts warm and breezy. I'll be on a cruise ship by this time tomorrow. God willing, I won't get too seasick or too homesick.

It's my first cruise, and I'm really looking forward to it. It is my intention to stay completely away from computers and the Internet. I don't even plan on reading the news, other than what they provide on board. I will be totally unplugged. Well, not totally.

My only real concession to modern communication will be my iPod, which I loaded up with lots of music and a few radio talk show podcasts.

Back sometime next week to tell you all about it!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It's her money

Sorry for the lack of posting. I'm just getting back to "normal" after some hectic work projects, travel and a cold that took a record time going away.

One of the few news stories that piqued my interest since the start of the new year is the opening of Oprah Winfrey's new school in Africa. Normally I don't pay much attention to Oprah. Not that I don't think she's's just that long ago she got so "big" that she started believing her own hype. I've rarely watched her TV show, primarily because I work outside the home.

Anyway, the part of the story about the school that got me thinking is the criticism Oprah is receiving for not building such a school in her home country. It just goes to show you that no matter what you do, you will never please everyone.

Excuse me, critics, but it is her money! Who the heck are you to tell her how to spend it? Oh, wait. I forgot. We live in America, where a great percentage of the people think that if you have a lot of money, then it's your fault that other people don't.

LaShawn Barber has the best column I've read on this subject. Apparently, Oprah has tried to help inner-city schools, but even she, the eternal optimist, got discouraged. All my life I have been hearing the political mantra "more money for schools". But no amount of money thrown at a bad system is ever going to make it better.

Oprah is enormously successful because she has talent, was in the right place at the right time, made more good decisions than bad ones, and worked hard. She happens to live in time and place where her particular brand of media appeal translated into mega-dollars. But she's not God (although some people treat her that way) nor is she even close to perfect.

But she has earned her money, and it is her prerogative how to spend it.