Friday, June 29, 2007

Crooks n' Nannies

I was talking to my wife in the shower this morning (hey, we're in a water conservation rule here in Florida, We're only trying to protect your children's future) and had the following conversation.

Tom: Did you know that if you change up nooks and crannies you get crooks and nannies?

Erin: What in the world got you to think about that?

Tom: I don't know.  I was thinking about nooks and crannies for some reason and realized you could change he words...  I wonder if that's where the English muffin people came up with the name.

Erin: Ha, why in the world would the Thomas' English Muffin people start with crooks and nannies?

Tom: It makes sense with those marketing people.  I'd bet they were all crooks and had nannies watch their children.  It's only a natural progression I guess.  I mean, who knows what those marketing people think.  They don't exactly have their heads screwed on right.

Erin: I don't think it's the marketing people who don't have their heads screwed on tight.

Man I love my life.  Being married rocks.

Peace,
+Tom

Thursday, June 28, 2007

What If...

I really like Michael's 30 year idea.  Here's the key point.

What if, at the end of 30 years, our bylaws called for everything to be sold, divided up, and given to 5 new church plants.  Growth by explosion.

Michael is an incredible leader who has revived life in a small town through church at the movies.  some day I'm hoping to buy the ticket to Georgia and check them out in person.

In any case, the idea of giving a church (not the church, but a single church) a life-span is a fascinating one.  While Michael gives the example of whether or not to build a church building, I think it will also directly impact everything in the church.

Roles and needs will be much clearer because you have a vision with a set end.  You even have a vision for the people after that "death date" happens.

When someone asks for a volunteer to help with Sunday school, people are going to be more willing to volunteer since they know they can't wait...  The end is near!

I just wanted to share that vision, since I am so in love with creating visions for teams, ministries, work, teams and, especially, myself.

Peace,
+Tom

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Healing

I've begun reading through Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur.  One of the things he mentions is that after the apostles fully understand and accept Jesus does he give them the miraculous power of healing.

It's certainly true, all over the New Testament are the apostles going around healing people all willy nilly.

Healing is incredibly powerful.  Look at us today, we live pretty much forever.  With the current state of medical science and availability of drugs there are very few illnesses which will result in death.  Way back when this certainly wasn't the case.

People died of the common cold.  Lepers were just running rampant.  Having any sort of malady meant you couldn't work and people hated being near you.  Today we have those cute masks to strap around our heads.

Having the power to physically heal someone meant their lives were completely changed.  Opportunities came up which couldn't even be dreamt of before, like being employed, finding a wife, having a family.  By understanding the gift being offered these people were able to do more in the world than anyone, even themselves, thought possible.

Today we don't have the power to heal people on sight.  It'd be great to walk up to someone and say, arise and walk to some of our wounded soldiers and see how they go forth and change our world. 

Instead we're given the ability to heal broken hearts, broken lives, broken relationships and broken minds.  Every one of us are given this gift, not simply the twelve apostles.

Our healing ability dwells in the emotional and mental far more than the physical.  We perform this healing through sharing the love Christ feels for us with everyone.  We love those that abuse, we accept those that hurt and we support those in need.

While we offer lots and lots of physical support for individuals, I really see that every one of us are hurting emotionally far more than any physical ailments we may have.  This is true now just as it was in Christ's time.

What do you think?

Peace,
+Tom

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Question of the Day - For Parents

Colin at Portrait Innovations For those of you with kids, especially infants in an infant car seat...

Do you ever want to just spin them around in a high arcing circle?

Yes, yes, they should take away my parenting license.

Peace,
+Tom

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Mess of Love

I was having lunch with a good friend yesterday and we got on the topic of Christ's vision for our lives.  I entirely believe that Christ's sacrifice and hope for each of us is that we will love each other.  That we'll love others so completely that we become a tiny example of the unconditional love He has for each of us.  In every thing we do we need to be asking ourselves whether this action is done in love for another person.

As I was driving around today I got to thinking some more about that.  I was wondering if everything we do in love is good.  I realized that as individuals we can really make a mess of love.

The first thought that came to my mind was being sexually abused while growing up.  Here was a guy who, I have come to see, believed that he loved me.  He connected with me as a friend and let that love grow, and get perverted, as I grew up.

The key then isn't in simply loving people as we see fit.  It's in loving people as Christ loves us.

This isn't the love that regards the physical at all.  It isn't the love that even regards the mental at all.  It means nothing whether you are smart or stupid, attractive or ugly.  It's a platonic love that focuses entirely on loving the individual as a fellow human being.

So what if someone is homosexual, Muslim or a jackass to everyone.  Heck, Jesus even comes to save the murderers and evildoers, so long as they accept His love.

We can certainly do a bunch of messed up stuff and believe we are doing it in love.  We could even ridicule people, thinking that we are helping them grow by encouraging change.  Yeah, I've sure made a mess of love in the past.  I continue to do it with people I have a hard time getting along with.

When it comes to purpose though, I love that it is completely clear.  I am here to love you and every other person on this planet.

Now that we have our purpose, what changes are needed so that your purpose becomes your reality?

Peace,
+Tom

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Random 8

I've been tagged by my friend David so here are the rules:
   a)   I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
   b)   Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
   c)   People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
   d)   At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
   e)   Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they are tagged and to visit your blog.

So, here you go:

8. While it's well known that I love 80's music, it's less well known that I don't like too many of the mainstream artists.  My favorites are Erasure, Men Without Hats, The Art of Noise, Tommy Paige, White Lion and Bon Jovi.  Heck, I love Bon Jovi.  Their newest album, Lost Highway, makes me even more convinced that they will be one of the timeless bands people always love to listen to.

7. I adore Science Fiction.  I love almost every Sci-Fi book I've ever read, every TV show (I've recently fallen for Andromeda) and every Sci-Fi movie I've ever seen (even the crappy ones people hate).  I even like New Age music because of the Sci-Fi sound.

6. I'm convinced that I forget at least 10 ideas each day which could actually make a lasting difference in my life or the life of someone else.  For example, corporate America is severely broken with our focus on money and the lives of individuals would be better if all profit was given away.  Oh, guess I didn't forget that one.

5. I love to make up stories for others to experience, especially Rachel.  I love even more when I hear Rachel making up her own stories, which she does very, very often.  Yesterday I couldn't stop smiling when I came across Rachel flipping pages in a book and "reading" a story to Colin based loosely on the pictures on each page.

4. I sometimes feel incredibly and totally lost.  I get back on course through spending time with other people that believe in me, praying to god, imagining Christ holding my hand and listening to clean (or semi-clean)stand-up comedians.

3. I'll try just about anything so that I can have the experience.  If I can't actually have the experience I can imagine it with such clarity that I feel emotionally moved after the mental trip is over.  A trait I apparently share with my friend Kate (as I just found out last week).

2. I spent Kindergarten through 8th grade on a farm at Burgundy Farm Country Day School.  We had (still have) goats, chickens, sheep and some other random photos.  We also had a pig, snakes, rats, mice (to breed and feed the snakes), rabbits and a squirrel named Scrabble in our 5th grade class, best class ever... well, until high school and college.

1. speaking of school, I have a little piece of pencil lead stuck in the palm of my right hand.  I got it at the end of Spanish class in 7th grade when I was bored and shoving what I thought was the eraser into my palm... until it hurt.  Amazingly enough Mark Steele, comedian and author of Flashbang, did something similar and has pencil lead in his left palm.  I guess we are destined to meet someday.

8 Other people huh?  Ok, I'll tag Jess, Melissa, Cindy (or, more accurately, Alex), Kate, Christine, Mason, Michael and Kat.

Peace,
+Tom

Saving the World

What is the single most important thing to changing the world?

Maybe it's the Individuals who love other individuals they meet so completely that they'll literally do anything to show that love.

What do you think?

Peace,

+Tom

Friday, June 15, 2007

Our Visit to the Zoo

Note: The following story is based on actual events. Meaning we actually did go to the zoo today and see all the animals mentioned.

Remember when we went to the zoo the other day? We saw pandas and elephants, a hippopotamus and gorillas. We saw lions, tigers and flamingos. We saw all kinds of animals.

I remember when we got to the lions and you asked "daddy, can I pet the lions?"

I said "No, they may hurt you and we want to keep you safe."

Just then one of the lions turned to us and said "Don't worry, I won't hurt you. I love when people come and pet my coat. It's great to sit and talk with people."

You turned to me and asked again, "daddy, the lion says it's ok. Can't I go pet them?"

"Well, if the lion says it's ok, then it's probably safe" I responded.

You jumped right into the lion pit and landed right into the water.

The lion jumped right in after you. She grabbed the back of your shirt and swam you out of the water and onto the ground. You went right over and began petting the lion.

She lay down beside you and you cuddled up in her fur, just petting her. Soon she began telling you about the zoo.

The lion told you about all of her friends at the zoo. She told you all of the animals in the zoo got to play and be friends together.

She also told you that she was a mommy lion. She had two children. One of them was in the pen with them. He was even bigger than you are.

The lioness also told you about the zoo after the sun goes down at night. She told you that at night the zoo is opened up for the animals and they can go anywhere.

The lions jump over to be with the tigers. They all sing, talk, growl and ROAR together.

They even run around racing each other. Sometimes the cheetahs will run down from the other side of the zoo and race with the lions and tigers. They are really, really fast.

The Orangutans get to climb up on all of the trees. They go way up and swing on the really high branches of trees.

Sometimes they even let the flamingo's grab onto their backs with their legs and funny knees. Then they swing from the trees and the beams way up high in the air.

The bird will also fly all over the zoo, zipping from one side to another.

The whole zoo has a great big party. Every night they have a lot of fun and enjoy playing all night long.

When the lioness had finished her story you got up and swam back out into the water. You climbed up the wall and gave me a great big hug.

Remember when you asked me if you could stay around and see the animals at night?

I told you that we couldn't, we needed to get home for dinner and head off to bed.

It was a really fun day at the zoo, wasn't it?

Peace,

+Tom

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Pursuing Purpose

I read Tony Morgan's post on The Vending Machine. It's a great list of the balance we need to make in our lives regarding work.

Maybe it comes from working with teens and college students; maybe it comes from looking at successful leaders. I often hear about just how important it is to live our dream, take the chance and give up everything to make a difference in the world.

This sounds incredibly easy to say and live, when you are in school or recently graduated. Life is open with very, very few responsibilities. It's possible to pick up life and go anywhere in the World that will make a difference. This is so true and I'm so impressed and happy when I see teens around me actually picking up and leaving behind the known and safe so that they can make an impact.

Having a family restricts that significantly. It's still fun and we can still make a difference, but picking up life and moving on now involves more than just one person. Tony throws out some of the focuses we should have when it comes to work.

  • How are you investing your life?
  • Is it what you were designed to do?
  • Are you fulfilled?
  • Do you enjoy that people around you? Do they help bring the best out of you? Do you bring the best out of them?
  • Do you have enough financial resources to contribute to God's work and support your family?
  • What lasting impact are you making?

Life is short. Just wanted to make sure you realized that sometimes you have to make the move. Sometimes God doesn't fully reveal his will until you take the first step (Joshua 3:14-17).

These are incredibly important questions which I continually try to answer. Answering simply one of these questions doesn't give the whole picture.

I need to take all of them into account. Deciding that I am not fulfilled, so I should change jobs, isn't enough. If I'm not making an impact in my job, but I am making an impact in God's work in other ways, maybe that's enough.

Each of us will obviously answer these questions differently. Still, having concrete answers helps me decide whether it is time to consider making a change.

I hope it helps you all as well.

Peace,

+Tom

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lamb

I just finished reading Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. This is one great book, just freaking hilarious while also being pretty useful to me.

See, I tend to have a hard time with context. If you come to me and say

It was so sad, Jerry died in the elevator this morning.

I have a hard time really caring about that. I mean, I don't even know who Jerry is. If he's your brother, then I feel pretty bad for your loss, but it's hard for me to really miss Jerry.

Without context you could mean Jerry the mouse, from Tom and Jerry. Now, while that may be sad, he'll be back the next day, so it's not that big a deal.

At the same time, what if I'm watching a TV series that's been on for 3 years and one of the main characters is Jerry. I've watched this life and felt a connection with him. I see where my life is similar to his, where I wish mine were more like his, and where I see that I'm doing better than Jerry. He's become a part of how I define myself. Then I watch him die in the horrid elevator accident so that he could save his fiancé. Now I'm in tears that Jerry died this morning, and the elevator only reminds me how selfless he is.

Lamb gives me context where I hadn't completely understood before.

Christopher tells the story of Christ from birth. While he talks about his life after he comes out and begins preaching openly, he focus much more on Christ's formative years, everything from an interest in sin to learning the ways of the Buddha.

This is, of course, a complete work of fiction. Everything is made of from the author's mind. While he stuck to historical documents to keep some of it accurate, he certainly stretched a lot to make the story fun and fill in gaps which no one knew about.

I can't really explain the book in one post, though I'm always happy to talk about it. Needless to say, I got to live alongside Jesus as he grew up and was shaped by the world around him. I really gained a deeper understanding of the place of Jews within Roman rule as well as what the heck the difference between a Pharisee and a Sadducee was.

The best quotes I got from the first reading of the book were.

Joshua's ministry was three years of preaching, sometimes three times a day, and although there were some high and low points, I could never remember the sermons word for word, but here's the gist of almost every sermon I heard Joshua give.



You should be nice to people, even creeps.

And if you:


a) believed that Joshua was the Don of God (and)

b) he had come to save you from sin (and)

c) acknowledged the Holy Spirit within you (became as a little child, he would say) (and)

d) didn't blaspheme the Holy Ghost (see c),

then you would:

e) live forever

f) someplace nice

g) probably heaven.

However, if you:

h) sinned (and/or)

i) were a hypocrite (and/or)

j) valued things over people (and)

k) didn't do a, b, c, and d,

then you were:

l) f**ked

Awesome summation of Jesus' teachings. Oh yeah, did I mention there was some swearing?

Then there was this conversation between Biff and Maggie (Mary Magdalene)

"When we were in India, we saw a festival in the city of their goddess Kali. She's a goddess of destruction, Maggie. It was the bloodiest thing I've ever seen, thousands of animals slaughtered, hundreds of men beheaded. The whole world seemed slick with blood. Joshua and I saved some children from being flayed alive, but when it was over, Joshua kept saying, no more sacrifices. No more."



Maggie looked at me as if she expected more. "So? It was horrible, what did you expect him to say?"



"He wasn't talking to me, Maggie. He was talking to God. And I don't think he was making a request."



"Are you saying that he thinks his father wants to kill him for trying to change things, so he can't avoid it because it's the will of God?"



"No, I'm saying that he's going to allow himself to be killed to show his father that things need to be changed. He's not going to try to avoid it at all."

Another great conversation which helped me better see Jesus' relationship with His father.

Definitely pick this book up. It'll definitely ruffle some feathers with the stuff he made up, like Jesus learning the ways of the Buddha and such. It's a work of fiction, get over it.

If you want a copy and you're poor, let me know, I'll get one to you.

Peace,

+Tom

Melissa Shout Out

The first person I met in college was my friend Melissa. We were sitting together during our first orientation and had to introduce ourselves to the person beside us. We immediately hit it off and she's since become one of my most dear friends.

She's quick to laugh, loves to tell stories, great to party with (oh man, did we party at the clubs and it's in a bar she met her husband) and LOVES the 80's. She seriously more an 80's fan than I am or even my hair stylist Jodie (and Jodie knows everything about the 80's).

She stuck by me all through college, from day one through my relationships and being the "5th floor whore", ditching her for girlfriends and whatever else. I will never forget leaving my girlfriend Chris' house in Connecticut in wracking sobs and driving straight to her house in New Jersey for some simple care and support. Even when I made the mistake of dating her friend Jen (it would have been better if I dated her better friend Amy, Jen's older sister) Melissa was there.

So, now that you've heard a couple of my ridiculous mistakes in life and how awesome Meliss has been through it all, I'm sure you'll want to hear her thoughts of life.

Yeah, turns out she just started a blog! While she threw away every single one of my suggestions for a title, I guess I can stick by her for a little bit longer. I fully expect this will be about her experiences as a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM, a title SAHM's all around the world should change since it reads SHAM), but she is also an incredibly accomplished interior designer and architect. If nothing else her stories about the world should be pretty interesting.

Definitely check her out.

Peace,

+Tom

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Pony

My friend Melissa was perusing our Flickr photos (you know she's a good friend if she peruses your photos without prompting) and came across this photo.


2007-06-03 Rachel Riding Horse 012


She sent me this question.

Why did you have a horse in your back yard??!!!??? Are you that far out in the country that he stumbled upon your property? LOL!

So I thought I'd let the world know. Here was my response.

Turns out, a few weeks after moving into our house there was a pony in our back yard. It was kind of weird, so we posted signs for a missing pony. No one called and we eventually decided that it must have been something they gave to all the new homeowners in the community (we were one of the first houses completed on our street).

After a few months went by, the pony was great. He was eating the weeds in the back yard and Erin and I got to enjoy periodic pony rides.

At this point it was obvious none of our other neighbors were getting ponies of their own. We first thought "suckers"! We then decided that we couldn't give our beautiful white pony up, and named her Tinkerbell. She was just too dear to our hearts.

We decided that the winters were a bit harsh here in VA, and after the first winter of dragging the pony up and down the steps to keep her warm in the basement she needed another home. So we put up the shed in our back yard.

She's become so much a part of our family we barely mention her, like we don't talk about our poodle Rika much. Rachel loves to take a ride every now and again.

Well, it's either that or that our awesome next door neighbors had a traveling petting zoo come to their place for their kids' birthday party, and with the group were ponies. So they invited us over and Rachel loved the rides.

Take your pick, I prefer the first, slightly embellished, version.

Peace,

+Tom

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Secrets

This morning Rachel was sitting on our bed and Erin heads over and whispers quietly in her ear. It's very clear that mommy and Rachel have a secret that either Colin or I aren't allowed to hear. I'm leaning toward it being a secret from me, since Colin isn't so good at the understanding of the words trick quite yet.

So Rachel let a little bit out of the bag, it has something to do with pictures. I have no idea why my wife thought a 3 year old could be relied on to keep a secret. To her credit though, apparently they have had this secret for a few days, and this is the first I'd heard of it.

I expect something interesting to come along in the next few days.

Seriously, secrets can be great sometimes.

I can't wait.

Peace,

+Tom

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Mean Reds

Anyone know what that title refers to? One of the first "old time" movies I fell in love with, and still one I wish were in my DVD collection. Seriously, if I were, oh, a gagillion years younger, she'd be my wife right now.

I mentioned that I've been away from blogging for about a week, but never said why. I actually had surgery a bit over a week ago to have skin grafted from my skull onto my ear drum. Yeah, it was kind of cool; half of my ear drum was missing so, to make sure my hearing didn't get worse, they peeled back my ear, added skin, and sewed me back up. Erin wished she could watch, I so wish I had pictures. But I digress.

With both outpatient surgeries, it's taken me quite a while to get back on my feet. Maybe I'm just a wuss for pain, but over a week later I'm still in pain from my stitches and I'm completely exhausted. It's all I can do to stay awake and work a little bit.

The other problem though that seems to come up with significant amounts of drugs and being cooped up at home is that I seem to get introspective and brooding. Thankfully this hasn't led to the mean reds, but it sure has brought on the blues. It gets me incredibly open to allowing any sort of life change and wondering whether this life I lead is all that it really can be.

I've decided to keep myself off the Net during my drugged up stupor because my writing barely makes sense, but also because I don't want to subject everyone to my moody blues.

So, I'm feeling much better. Time with some church folks and serious talks with my wife always make me feel better. No idea how I've gotten so blessed, but it sure is great.

On the selfish note, prayers for Erin and me are always welcome.

Peace,

+Tom