Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Countdown to Molly

As you can see from the new countdown clock on the right, it is only 15 days until Molly arrives. Please continue to pray for Amanda and Molly that things will go healthily. Pray that God is with us all in an especially real way during the next month. We will all need Him immeasurably.

Wendell Berry reading

This Friday I will be attending a reading by one of Amanda's and my favorite authors, Wendell Berry. Mr. Berry has made his way into many of my blog posts. I have always love Berry's fiction. He writes mostly about the fictional town of Port William, Kentucky. He follows the town and its "membership" through generations. I have just recently begun to read his nonfiction. He writes mostly about Agrarianism. "To Berry, agrarianism is about applying the principles of respectful utilisation of resources to all walks of life." [Prism Magazine] It is a difficult topic. What I have gleaned from my readings of both his fiction and his prose is that we have become a country of disconnected technologs. The next innovation and the lowest price is more important than respect for ourselves or our neighbors. I am hoping to get a little bit more at the solution this weekend. I am digging deeper into his writings and the writings about him. If you're interested, check out Orion Magazine. My friend Jared Friesen turned me on to this. Authors like Rick Bass and David James Duncan also write for Orion.

Interestingly enough, Gregg (Amanda's brother) and I began some conversations about similar topics while we were on vacation. We have been continuing those conversations via e-mail this week. I am learning much from his dissection of the points that I raise. I will write more about the reading next week. This is the next step in my journey.

Monday, June 25, 2007

AAbcm get's a shout out from Desiring God

Check out the AAbcm shout out from the Desiring God blog. They were asking for blog posts about the $5 book sale. Having blogged about that last week, I shot them a quick link. The Desiring God blog is great: lots of good stuff from Bethlehem Baptist and John Piper.


There are moments when the boys do certain things that I think, "I've got to get that on video." I have been working harder to try and catch some of these so that I can share them with you and so that I can have them for posterity. I missed one last night though. Caleb was lying in bed, Ben was asleep. I walked past their door and Caleb was singing, "There she was just a walkin' down the street, singing doo wa ditty, ditty dum ditty doo." Shube has taught them this song and it was hilarious to hear him belting it out.

One that I didn't miss was Matty at dinner on Saturday. On the way home from Papa Murphy's with lunch, Amanda heard Matty from his seat say "Pee-za". We got him to say it at lunch. Enjoy. There are a few other attempts on our Youtube channel.

Friday, June 22, 2007


When I take a little time to think about what God is working on my heart about, I don't really like it. It seems that lately God has been pushing me to a radicalism that I am neither comfortable with nor understand very well. At times I feel God is pushing me to abandon the things that I have accumulated, the culture that I enjoy, the securities that protect me, the freedoms that I treasure and the reputation that I have established and put it all on the line for the sake of His kingdom. His kingdom? The poor, the creation, the lost.

How do I feel like God is saying these things to me? It seems as if God is speaking to me (and has been for about the last three to four years) through the authors that I have been reading, through the people that I have loved, and through the church to which He has led me.

Some high lights.
  • I have been reading Wendell Berry for a while. I started with his fiction. His stories of how families and communities have crumbled over the years first moved my heart. I recently have begun to read a little of his non-fiction. Here he gets even more blatant about these deteriorations. If you're interested read this article.
  • John Piper's sermons and writings about not wasting your life have been very influential. His thesis is "If God has been so merciful to you, to spare you from the destruction that you deserve, what are you going to offer him, save your entire life." Is that not the only viable response to the Gospel?
  • It seems like every sermon where my heart has been truly moved has been about my response to the "least of these." I have cried over the Compassion International children, I have cried over the presentation of adopted babies at church, I have been frustrated with myself when the missions team comes back from Africa.
  • Conversations with friends like Ben Arendt, Jared and Meghan Friesen and many of my friends that I made at Calvin College have been the ones that still work on my heart. The conversations have been around topics like creation care, the poor, politics, vocation and every part of life.
These have been the ways that God has been working on me. I'll list some scriptures that I feel anchor, guide and push me.

Matthew 22:34-40
34Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Matthew 25: 31-46

31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Michah 6:7-8

7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

8 He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Mark 8:34-38
34Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life[c] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

If you've gotten this far in the post thanks so much for reading. I don't know what exactly to do with any of this stuff. I don't know if God is calling me to go to South America and serve him. (If he is I am totally ready for that.) I don't know if God is just calling me to get involved in the Latino ministry at our church or if God is calling me to sell our house and move to West St. Paul. Maybe God is calling me to sell our house and move out to the country. I would love to hear any of your thoughts on these topics.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Get a John Piper book for $5

Have you ever read Desiring God? Have you ever read anything by John Piper? If not then here is your chance. Next week, June 27-28, the Desiring God web store will be offering all of their books for $5 each! This is not just John Piper books. They have a lot of other good reads. My mom just recently read Piper's new book Don't Waste Your Life. She really enjoyed it. Amanda and I have been watching his Don't Waste Your Life podcast and I have been listening to some of his sermons on the topic. It is really good stuff--difficult, but good.

So make your list and then get on line next week and buy a bunch.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A father's pride

I don't remember a lot of times growing up when my dad would look me in the eyes and tell me that he was proud of me. I know he was proud of me, but I just don't remember him saying it that often. This is a longing that every boy has of his father. "Dad, are you proud of me?" I am not sure where this comes from. I don't know too many boys or men who are not still looking for the affirmation of their fathers. Some have this longing more than others, but it seems to be somewhat universal.

Little Ben definitely longs for this from me. We got a little bike last Christmas from the Arendt family (read the post). He could do it great right from the start. Initially though, he was a little scared of it. I told him that falling was a part of learning to ride. He wasn't convinced.

Then when we got back from vacation he was super hyped about getting back on the bike. We were at the Arendt's house again and the only thing that I can think of is that he saw Addison riding his bike and wanted to do it too. Grandpa Dave was over for a few minutes the other night and really got him going well.

I told him a number of times last night that I was very proud of him. I really am too. It is super fun to watch him be so excited about something. Check out the videos below. The first one is just of Ben on his bike. The second one shows Caleb on his Trek bike and then Ben crashes. I love it though when he get right back up, with a smile on his face and give it another go. You can also see a couple more on our youtube channel.

la la update

Do you ever wish that you could play the music that you have on your home computer on your computer at work? Well, now you can. Remember lala the CD trading website that I have posted about so many times? Well lala has taken a huge leap forward into the web music universe. Now by uploading the music on your computer you can listen to it anywhere you can log-on to the lala site.

Not only that, but you can also make play lists of any of the music that they have on their site and listen to those play lists as well. No longer do you have to limit yourself to the 30 second samples that Amazon and iTunes have. You can make a play list of albums that you might be interested in having and then listen to it on random. (The randomness and some other things are how they get around copyright laws.)

You can also still use lala for the traditional CD trading that I love. I am currently on vacation. The budget just won't take the $1.75 for each CD that I get. Whether you're into getting a bunch of new CD's for $1.75 a piece, listening to your music from anywhere on the web or whether you are just into listening to cool music for free, lala is the place for you.

One of the new artists that I have found on lala is Feist. She is very good and anyone into Indie folk should definitely check her out.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Nagel Family Vacation

We are now home after a week of great vacation. You can get a little glimpse of it from last week's post. It was a great time of being with our immediate family as well as getting to know and spend time with Amanda's extended family. Here are some bullets of some of my highlights.
  • Seeing Amanda's Grandma Betty enjoy having her family together. Everyone was there at some time except for one of Amanda's cousins from California.
  • Hanging out around the fire with the whole family
  • Going to Captain Sundae's and laughing with Amanda's cousins
  • Riding the go-carts with the boys
  • Seeing the boys sleep together in the double bed (This brought many memories of Joey and I sharing a bed growing up.)
  • Water skiing at Grandpa Pres' cottage (I haven't done this in years and I think I am still a little soar.)
  • Spending all day every day with my three little boys and my beautiful wife
If you are interested you can check out our pictures here. Here's a little teaser of what you'll find there. Thanks Dave and Joni for a great week.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


A week in Michigan for vacation could mean sitting outside by the water soaking up the sun or it could mean a week of sitting inside cuddled up with a blanket watching the storm clouds blow through. We have had nothing but the first. It has been a great week of beautiful weather. We have enjoyed being with family and have realy enjoyed just spending time with the boys. The idea for this vacation was Amanda's. We decided that this year's Nagel Family Vacation would be a reunion of all of Dave's family. People have flown in from California, Oregon, Colorado, driven from Tennesse, Indiana, and Minnesota. It is the first time that his family has all been together in seven years, since Amanda and I were married. I have really enjoyed seeing Dave's mom enjoy seeing and being with all of her family. I have thought many times that if I were almost 80 years old, what would I want more than anything else? I would want to be with my family and to watch them be with each other. That was our main goal this week and I think it has been accomplished well. I'll quickly post a picture of Matthew at the farm that we went to. More pictures will follow early next week when I get back to the world of the world wide web.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Alpena, Michigan

Where are you from? Where is the place that when you think of home, it comes up in your imagination? Where is the place that when you get near it your heart begins to beat a little faster: a little faster because of the experiences you had there, because of the mistakes you made there, because of the people you loved there, because of the things you miss there?

I am from Alpena, Michigan. It is a small town in northeastern Michigan. It is a town where I remember riding my bike to the Dairy Queen with friends. It is a town where I remember going to church every time the doors were open and loving the people there. It is a town where I loved people and was loved by people. It is a town where I hurt people and was hurt by people. It is the town where we buried my father and where my mother still lives. It is the town where I was married. It is a place where I long to be and where when I am there I feel right. It is a town where when I am there I am nervous that I will see someone from that life. I am different from the boy who lived in that town, but that boy is still with me. This is the difficulty of having a place that once was and that will never be again.

All of this came up this week as I decided to try and get in touch with my best friend from high school, Jon Carr. I wanted to see how his life was different. I think I also wanted him to see how my life was different. I think I wanted a little more of an anchor. I have no one in my life with whom I can say, "Do you remember how stupid I was in jr. high?" What is place? What is history? Do these things matter? Are we a culmination of the places, people and experiences that touch our life? Interesting.