Monday, April 28, 2008

The By/For Project

For a long time I have been fairly disillusioned with the Contemporary Christian Music world. It seems (GENERALIZATION ALERT) that the industry is filled with people who do not look too different from the world. Many of them simply seem to be using the name of Jesus to make a living. There are a number of artists who have bucked this trend. I have often written about Michael Card and Rich Mullins as two examples.

In another effort of Michael Card and some of his friends to continue to put out great music for the church, they have started a website entitled The By/For Project church. What a great. It is all about music and visual art "by and for the church." It is a place for Christian artists to post their art and for the church to get it and use it. It is all under creative commons licensing, so a person from your church could get the music, add to it, change it and use it however they want. They have to give credit to the original artist though. Another idea behind it is that churches would patronize artists. They would pay them to make music for the global idea! Currently there is one album there. It is A Sweet Sacrifice, worship music for Lent. There are a number of different artists on the album including Michael Card. I downloaded it this morning and am enjoying now.

If you are interested in music for your church, or if you are an artist interested in supplying music for the church, then check this out.

Michael Card in concert

On Saturday night I dragged Amanda, Brad and Sarah to a Michael Card show. I had known that he was coming to the Twin Cities for a while, but I wasn't sure if I was going to go. I really didn't want to go by myself. I was thankful for the company. It was such a great concert. It was at a little church quite near Shirley's house. His music is so strictly crafted around God's word and his encouragement all night was to read through the Bible. So he started with Genesis and in song, walked through the story of God as revealed in the Bible. He said that God's deepest longing is to simply be with us and that what God really offered us was Himself.

Michael (or Mike as the people on his radio show call him) played the piano, banjo and guitar. (Brad was very interested in this because Mike is left handed and plays a right handed guitar upside down. He doesn't string it differently, he simply flips it over.) Jeff Taylor, who often plays with him on the radio, was also there. He played the accordion, penny whistle, and piano. They played all of my favorite MC songs. After the intermission we sang a few hymns all together as well. Mike has recently released a collection of hymns. I bought it there and have already listened to it a few times. It is a good collection of ones that I know well and other hymns that are new to me. You can purchase it here. Mike did a lot of speaking which is typical, but there was also a lot of music. It was three hours well spent. I left feeling encouraged and closer to God. I hope that he also left feeling the same. Whenever I go and see artists who are not "making it big," I am always aware and hopeful that I am a participant in their life. One of the main reasons that I went was to let him know that I appreciate him and the work that he is doing.

Check out a previous post about Michael Card here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Promise by Chaim Potok

I finished the book just before midnight last night. Amanda and the kids were at her mom's for the evening. I am normally not a fast reader, but a "raced" through this book. I loved it. This is the sequel to Potok's "The Chosen", which I wrote about here.

It follows the two main characters Reuven and Danny through their continued education and development. Potok also introduces some great new characters. In the story Reuven meets a new young friend, Michael, who he later finds out is mentally ill. In a twist, Danny Saunders begins to work with Michael in treatment. The story of Michael's illness is very difficult and sad. I found myself once again empathizing and hurting so much for the parents in the novel. The struggle of Michael's parents is also felt by all of the adults in the book. Michael and Reuven had similar experiences as both of their fathers were criticized for their scholarship by more orthodox Jews. The climax was as Michael's mental health began to turn when he was able to tell his parents that he hated them for the criticism that he had to endure from their work. Reuven's recount of this to his father was for me the best part of the novel.

"For a long time my father sat at his desk, staring at me in disbelief. Then he tried to say something but the words would not come out and he cleared his throat and coughed.

'I would not have hated you that way, abba,' I said. 'We would have talked about it.'

'You are sure, Reuven?'

I nodded.

'You would have told me how you felt about me if the things that were most precious to me had ruined your life?'


'Haven't you hated me during these past months?' he asked softly.

I hesitated. 'I wasn't really--'

'Why didn't you tell me, Reuven?'

I looked at him and din not say anything.

'What a chance we take when we raise children,' my father murmured. 'What a terrible chance.'

As I read this last line, I cried. I wept for the chance that we have taken. I wept with fear for my children. I wept with the tension of the novel. I wept and prayed to the Master of the Universe (a term from Potok's work). I prayed that whatever came into the lives of my children, that God would bring them unto Himself. I know that each of them will experience terrible things in their lives. I pray for them though that through it all that the Master of the Universe will hold them to Himself. "What a terrible chance." It was a good time to be alone.

If you have not caught my love for the work of Chaim Potok yet, please contact your local library and get a hold of his novels. I have read "The Chosen", "In the Beginning" (another beautiful work) and now "The Promise." Amanda is currently reading "I am Asher Lev" and I can't wait to get my hands on that one. I am sure that I will write more when I do.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spice it up!

When Bill and I went to the Ban Thai restaurant a few weeks ago, they were selling some of their ingredients. I noticed a red bottle with a chicken on the front. It was Huy Fong Sriracha chili sauce. I figured this was at least part of the really good spiciness that I love from my meal there. I thought I should pick some up and give it a try. I got some at the Cub and last night tried it in a beef stir fry. It was great. The boys like spicy food too. I didn't make it quite as spicy as I would have liked, but it was definitely good. If you're looking for some good heat in your next Asian meal, pick up some of this and enjoy!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The potty dance

This morning Amanda took Ben, Caleb and Molly to Costco so that Matthew and I could get down to the business of going on the "big boy potty." It took a while and quite a bit of Coke, Cheetos, and goldfish crackers, a cupcake and some Sourpatch Kids to get him to go on the potty. We went through about six pairs of underwear. But by Noon when the folks all got back, Matthew had peed on the potty three times and even dropped a deuce. (Sorry about all of the potty talk, but these are the things that get parents of a two-year-old excited.)He was very excited as you can see from his potty dance pictured above. This of course is only the beginning. We will have many months of wet pants from time to time, but it sure beats changing diapers all the time. Celebrate Matthew with us today! He's entered the world of the big boys.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Adios amigo!

Bill Roehl orginally uploaded by Aaron Landry

Tomorrow, after almost exactly two years of a very interesting and great working relationship, my friend Bill Roehl will hang up his Century College hat and move on to a job at Capella University. When Bill was hired I thought that he might at least be someone that I could talk to at work. He has become a great friend and colleague. It is rare when you meet someone who you can have deep talks about issues that are important to both you. It is even more rare when you are able to have these types of conversations with someone whose views, at first glance, are diametrically opposed to your's. Bill and I often discuss topics as diverse as religion, sustainable agriculture, music, books, food, restaurants, work , family, future, politics, economics, technology, family, past and career. Bill has been over to our house a number of times for lunch. He has gotten to know Amanda and our kids. We have gotten to know his wife Kim too. I know that I am a better person for the time that I have spent with Bill. He has spurred me on to work harder and to think deeper. I will miss these talks and his presence in our office and in our home.

Almost all of the successes that I have had at work have been due to the partnership that I formed with Bill early on. We have been a great team. I have come up with the ideas and Bill has put in the hard work to get them implemented. I will miss him in that way too.

Bill, our whole family wishes you all the best in the transition to your new job. We know that you can do it and know that you will WOW them.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday night PARTY!

Tonight I left work a little early, headed across town to a new hotel that opened near Shube's house for a Friday night PARTY! The hotel has an indoor water park and we spent some time after a pizza dinner there. Amanda, Molly, Shube, Sarah and James all left around 6:30. Then we played a few video games, had some brownies, pop corn and watched some Sponge Bob. Now we are watching the Wild hockey game and we'll be heading to bed soon. A great Friday night with just the guys.

Where am I living?, Part 2

This is what we woke up to this morning. Uggh!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What Oprah believes

I have written about my beef with Oprah before. Another one of my beefs with her is the way that she talks about "spirituality". The times that I have watched her talk about her faith, I have always been a bit suspicious. It is always a very, "I'm okay. You're okay." My mom sent me this YouTube video the other day. If you get past the crazy evangelicalism you can get to what she says about Christianity. It is especially sad at about three minutes into the video when Kelly asks Oprah a question about how she has reconciled these "spiritual teachings" with her "Christian beliefs". Oprah, in all of her pomposity, answers, "I reconciled it because I was able to open my mind . . ."

If only we could all be as enlightened as Oprah. Once you watch this video, let me know what you think. If you won't stop watching Oprah because of WHO she is, at least stop watching her because of WHAT she says.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Fighter verses

Each week our church memorizes a passage of the Bible. Our church calls them "Fighter Verses." We work on this as a family. We usually work on it at our Sunday family meeting and then after dinner. Some weeks we nail it and some weeks we don't get it at all. This week we did Matthew 22:37b-39. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. The second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself." Check out Ben saying this week's verse.

Where am I living?

This is what we woke up to this morning.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Twinkle, twinkle little star

Brad and Sarah got the boys guitars for Christmas two years ago. Ben is really getting into "practicing" his. Here is his first song that he can play. I wonder if Springsteen is looking for someone to sit in on his next album.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Crazy Caleb

We're all sitting at the dinner table last night when Caleb starts crossing his eyes. Amanda starts laughing hysterically. I run for the camera and this is what I got.
This afternoon at lunch I asked him to do it again so I could video him. He wasn't as excited about this. Caleb is so much fun. He has inherited some of his father's mania. He is either way up or way down. This makes for a lot of excitement. We love you Caley.