Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thanks to Carrie, to CTS, and to the Grandparents

Posted by Picasa Pictured here are the breakfast sandwiches that I made this morning for my wife, Carrie, and myself.  Lightly-toasted "everything" bagel for Carrie and a little more toasted for me, lightly buttered, two eggs, cheese, and a couple slices of Canadian bacon. These breakfast bagels have have been a fairly regular feature of our marriage for the past two-and-a-half years. At that time, to help pay for the seemingly overwhelming adoption costs, Carrie went back to work part-time as the coordinator of Continuing Education and Retreats at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  I'm the morning person in the family, so one of the ways I help on these grumbly mornings when she has to go in is by making some fresh ground coffee and a good breakfast.

Tomorrow (Friday, 27 March, A.D. 2009) is her last day in this position, and I want to publicly thank her, CTS, and the grandparents for the journey.

Carrie is an extraordinarily talented person. Back in our days working as legislative staffers in the Michigan House of Representatives she was easily one of the best in the business, trusted in ways that many senior staffers never would be. She has a nose for detail and yet brings an intellectual curiosity and wealth of creativity to whatever task she is given. She is perfectly happy being behind the scenes making sure things get done, and done well. She is the ideal staffer, and I suspect that she will be greatly missed at the sem.

That being said, I want to thank President Wenthe, Dean Rast, VP Wingfield, and all the folks at CTS for giving Carrie the opportunity. The seminary has been extraordinarily flexible with our homeschooling family schedule (Yes, in addition to working part-time, this talented woman also taught three children full-time!). Her wages over the last two-plus years have helped to pay for a considerable portion of the adoption costs. For that alone we are profoundly grateful, but the benefits go well beyond that. Carrie has relished the opportunity to put her skills to work and to have her work affirmed by the talented people working around her. Little kids, even great kids like ours, are more often needy than thankful. The folks at CTS have been thankful for Carrie's work, and that has meant a great deal to her, and to me. 

Of course, as a homeschooling family headed by an often very busy pastor, Carrie's opportunity to work part-time would not have been possible without the time and considerable effort put forth by the grandparents. The grandmas stepped in to teach, often coming down for days at a time (like the last two weeks), so that Carrie could furiously get in her hours. There is simply no way that little Brenainn would be home with us if not for them. 

Losing the wages will make things a bit tighter for us, especially in the present economy, but with the addition of the fourth child the schedule just got too crazy. So, Carrie is taking some things off her plate, and for that I am glad.

I have attempted in writing the above to pay tribute to a woman of almost surpassing grace and talent. Her kids know that she is a good mommy, and CTS knows that she is a good employee, but I see in ways that most people cannot how God has blessed this woman. I know that God will continue to use her in amazing ways, and my prayer is that he will help me to never take that for granted.

Thank you, Lord, for Carrie. Help us, who have benefited from her talents and service, to continually give thanks for the good gifts that you give.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Great Site! The Grain Chain

While searching for information for a sermon this weekend on the feeding of the 5,000 I came across this U.K. site called The Grain Chain (  It's a great site for teaching the basics of food production for teachers or parents; moreover, its facile layout is a fine example for web developers. The site has a lot of content, but the interface is simple and fun. Since I'm in the beginning stages of creating a web site for my congregation (with the help of Icthus Technologies, LLC I thought I'd pass this along.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Officially Independent

Below is Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's response to President Obama's 2009 State of the Union message. I have been pondering this for a week now, and I would like to say more but I walked away a week ago believing that the Jindal response was as unwise as President Bush's speech to congress after September 11, 2001. 

I haven't paid a lot of attention to the response, but I understand that there was a general eruption of response much like mine. I am a life-long conservative, with a preference for market and local solutions over central government takeovers, but I am NOT anti-government. I'm very pro-government, as a matter of fact, and as a conservative Christian theologian recognize the necessity thereof.

I found Jindal's response too simplistic, almost anti-government in tone. We are in the midst of a great financial crisis that is the result of the fact that many who could have and should have been looking (Democrats and Republicans) looked the other way.

Government refs the game. Ever watch a game where the refs "let 'em play" too much? People get hurt. Ever watch a game where the refs were overinvolved? Creativity and innovation is stiffled. 

Government is not an outside entity. It's us. We elect these people to help set the game's rules and enforce them. To say we just "want you to be free" leads to the kind of myopia that let AIG, Bear Stearns, et alii do their thing. WE--and I mean all U.S. citizens--WE need to be wiser, better. The solution to the financial crisis is not to let people figure it out for themselves but to be wiser, to expect their government to be wiser. 

Perhaps I'll write more later, but I promised a friend I'd post my thoughts. 

Fatherhood and Managed Risk

Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of those times when mom or dad guided me through new or dangerous territory. My late father delighted in this and my mother made a career out of it (she helped administer adult high school and college degree completion programs until her recent retirement). 

This evening I had the opportunity to help my eight-year-old son with one of these new adventures. Mr. Aidan is a cub scout and we finally got around to working on his pinewood derby car. My intention had been to do this yesterday, but I couldn't find our safety glasses, so we went out early this evening to Ace Hardware (the local Ace is truly helpful!) and picked up size-appropriate safety goggles and ear plugs.

Below is a clip of my son using our orbital sander to smooth out his derby car design. What a delight to see him grow in confidence as he learns a new skill and so willingly participate thereby in the safety and clean-up parts of the whole process.

We should've done this a long time ago. What a treat!!!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Take that, Nate Robinson!

In the interest of just having fun...

In the recent NBA dunk contest 5'9" Nate Robinson performed this exquisite dunk over 6'11" Dwight Howard:

If you think that's cool, watch this clip of 2'6" (25lb.) Brenainn O'Donnell go in for an impressive right-hand slam dunk while holding an American black bear in his left hand!