Friday, August 21, 2009

A few years ago, I was dragged into playing fantasy football. Turns out it’s gobs of fun. The league I am in is called Church of the Endzone. For some reason, that league name cracks me up. At some point that first year I decided to write a fake church newsletter from a fake church called…Church of the Endzone. I recently ran across that newsletter and thought it had some funny parts, so now I share it with you. One quick note, if you are thin-skinned or easily offended just don't read this. It's meant to be funny to sports fans who grew up in church.

If there was a REAL Church of the Endzone…

At Church of the Endzone, we celebrate each new decision for Christ with your choice of the Lambeau Leap, the T.O. Touchdown Nap, or the Mile High Salute. For those with more traditional preferences, we also believe in the chicken dance or even a flying chest bump in our Endzone Altar. Although we believe in freedom through grace, we discourage any bible-spiking or head-butting, the latter regulation added in response to a recent court order.

Our worship marching band is second to none, playing time-tested fight songs of the faith. We also sing more contemporary songs such as Meet With Me at the Uprights, Your Love is Like a Hail Mary Completion, God is Undefeated, Baptists are BCS Busters, and the youth group’s favorite: Satan Slam Dance (we no longer allow burning Satan in effigy).

We believe in full-emersion Gatorade-Jug baptism. New believers may choose to be baptized with ice-free Gatorade in the winter months. While we do allow you to schedule the day of your own baptism, our tradition is to surprise you with the exact time.

Don’t be alarmed if you hear some of the Rowdies in the Jesus-Freak section cheering in tongues. We insist on an immediate interpretation of all cheers in accordance with scripture. We do recognize that some may be distracted, so we are considering moving that section away from the area behind the pulpit.

Church of the Endzone also offers outreach programs designed to connect with the un-churched. Anyone is welcome to participate in one of our popular Fantasy Minister Leagues. Last year Brother Henderson’s fantasy team won the salvation season outright, with Reverend Milton scoring 45 conversions and Pastor Jones adding an unprecedented 93 baptisms on the season. The 37 Milton-to-Jones hookups set a new church record! Next season is already looks to be very exciting, as three rookie youth group graduates join the Welcome Team.

Remember next year’s Fantasy League rule changes include the loss of one point for wrong notes by worship team players, and LDS conversions are now worth 5 points each. That should add some value in the lay-minister position. We are also eliminating our defensive player positions following some questionable recruiting this year at ACLU headquarters. Technically, all players should be church members and technically, there really shouldn’t be a gospel defense here.

For those not interested in fantasy play, our Cheer Squad meets on Wednesday nights and is looking for new members. They will be practicing new cheers such as “We got saved, how ‘bout you?” and “Rah-Rah-Repent!”

If you have recently been a first-time attendee at Church of the Endzone, we hope you were not offended by our insistence that you sit in the designated visitor section. We do believe the bible is clear regarding who may sit in the home team section.

We look forward to seeing our numbers grow over the next year! ESPN-C (the church channel) picked up three sermons this year, and there are rumors that they may schedule more Sundays with us thanks to our overwhelming fan support. To further entice the national broadcasters, we have added air-conditioned press box seating in the balcony. Any services not picked up by ESPN-C will be broadcast on local radio by our own Jimmy Jamison, now in his twenty-fifth year calling sermons.

One final note, the new “Jesus is #1” foam fingers have not been as popular as we hoped. They are now on sale at half-price in the Worship Concessions booth.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Alright, let’s try this one more time. It’s been about ten months since I’ve written anything in this blog. Turns out I’m not very good at this kind of thing. I think at least I’ll record some stuff, might be interesting in tem years… Here’s an update of what’s happened over the last few months:

The House:
We bought one. In November. Came without a yard. We built a wall upstairs to create a home office for me (soundproof…mostly). We also built about 250 feet of fence, buried 1200 feet of sprinkler pipe connected to 46 sprinklers fed by 12 valves, and then laid 5800 sq. ft. of sod. Right now we are finishing up a 10’x12’ planter thingy in the front yard. It was a busy spring.

Upcoming projects include pouring a concrete pad on the garage side of the house behind the fence, building a playhouse/swing set for the kids, adding a deck in the back yard, planting at least three trees (as required by our CC&R’s), and removing the large walk-in closet from my theater room (to make it a 13’x21’ open space). The list of long-term projects is a mile long and even less interesting than those detailed above.

The Training:
I feel better running, but I’m not really running better. A bit faster maybe, but I’m still only averaging three miles per run. Mile pace is closer to the low 8-minute mark, down from an embarrassing 10+. The problem is, predictably, inconsistency. I have zero discipline.

A new workout option has recently popped up. I was really wanting to do this 350-mile bike ride this August with my friends at KTSY radio. It’s a charity ride for kids affected by AIDS in Africa. Problem was, I only had a mountain bike and I was told that riding that bike for such distance would land me in the hospital. So I saved up for several months to buy a proper road bike. They start at just under a grand. Ouch. Once I saved up enough I decided that this was a very bad time to spend money on such things. Better to have some cash on hand for emergencies.

I was extremely bummed out until about a week ago, when my boy Eddie GAVE me a road bike! He was fixing a clutch for a guy who couldn’t pay, and the guy gave him the bike, which he gave to me! It’s a Gary Fisher “hybrid” bike. Basically like a casual road bike. It has the proper gearing and tires and will pass safety inspection for the charity ride…so maybe it’s time to start training for that! It’s a bit late to start training, but I am going to be working out with another guy who is doing the ride, so if I can keep up with him I think I’ll do it. All I have to do now is find a sponsor who will donate $1k (it is a charity ride, after all).

The Family:
Crazy times. Allie is really growing up. It’s getting hard to “adult talk” around her without her catching on. She’s starting to try her hand at tree climbing, much to my delight. Emily is reading. She’s a fast learner. Very logical. If Allie is the artistic, thoughtful, caring type, Emmie is the thinker. I like that, because they will excel in very different areas. Ryan is our little human battering ram. The things that kid does, things that would make the girls cry for hours, don’t seem to even phase him. We’ve been working a lot on his speech. He is getting better. Therapist says he has sensory issues. When he gets overwhelmed and out of control, it can help to squeeze his arms or legs a bit. The pressure has a calming effect on him, helps him focus and relax. They say it’s also the reason he doesn’t get hurt very much. He just doesn’t feel it. Lately all he wants us to do is tickle him. Not like a little tickle, he wants the kind of tickling that big brothers usually do to torture their younger siblings. And when you stop he says “more…more”.

Kimberly has simplified her life a bit. She is now strictly a homemaker. We are still planning to home school this fall, but pretty much all other commitments and jobs have been trimmed, at least for the summer. She is a ridiculously good wife. What a great example of being the kind of wife God intended. She takes care of her family so well, and without that “empowered woman” attitude that insecure women have. I can always count on her for council and advice, but she trusts me to make good decisions and she never forces an opinion on me. That has to be hard, since most of the time she probably has a better plan than me. When I screw up, there’s no holding it over my head. She’s just supportive. Our marriage rocks.

We have officially decided to try adding to our family the old fashioned way. We thought about adoption but ultimately settled on having one more of our own. If we can conceive in the next few months, we can keep our precious two-year spacing. That means a lot to me, especially since we will be honoring Isaac’s place in the family. Maybe it’s just the way I think, but I love that our children were all extremely intentional. Every two years till we’re done! The perfect family for the OCD parent. We try not to think about a pregnancy ahead, because the truth is we might be terrified out of even trying. Bottom line: Whatever happens, God is in control and we trust Him.

The Music:
What a busy summer. Next week is the God & Country Festival, where we will be opening for Brandon Heath to a crowd somewhere north of 12,000. I was asked to play for this combined worship leader group, six worship pastors from some of the largest churches in our area. I offered to help organize the band, and we ended up using all musicians from our church. Next up is a thing with Gordon Knapp, then later this summer we open for Brenton Brown twice, once with Jesse Shuster and once with…either Gordon or Scott Riggan, I can’t remember.

My regular duties at the church have increased slightly too. We are down to two bands from three, resulting from several musicians randomly leaving to go back to school or move out of town. So I’m on every other week for three services. Kimberly is thrilled.

The Job:
The grass really is greener here. Triamp is different in every way from my previous employer. They may be less organized at times, but what they lack in experience they more than make up for in community. Not once since I started have I been made to feel like a worthless pile of pig slop. Amazing. Even with a painfully slow economy, projects are in the queue for this fall. We should slightly exceed our first year goals, something that I would have seriously doubted given the fact that nobody is spending money on AV right now. There is a lot to be said for being highly valued by your employer. It doesn’t take much, just a few kind words here and there backed up with actions. I am getting my confidence back.

And that’s about it. For now. Maybe now that I’ve gotten that out of the way I can follow this up with an entry that won’t be quite so…boring. Cheers!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Run for your life...

Running is hard. Why didn’t someone remind me of that when I made this ridiculous commitment to train for a marathon? It’s been over a decade since I’ve been in really good running shape. Let me tell you how things change in ten years:

Weight. It’s higher now. In high school, I could tip the scales north of 130 only after a large meal. Shortly after high school I had skyrocketed all the way to a buck fifty-five. Yahoo. No longer afraid to go outside in a stiff wind, I left distance running in favor of street hockey. My weight stayed pretty consistent until a few years ago, when I left the active retail floor for a job in a cubicle. In eight short months, I had found an extra thirty pounds. Then another ten or so snuck up on me and planted themselves on my midsection. So now, as I go thud-thudding down the road in what we used to call a “piddle jog”, my significant weight pounds my skeleton with every step. Places hurt. Places I was not previously aware of. I think my spine may eventually give up and leave me in an invertebrate puddle on the side of the road.

Speed. I no longer have any. At all. Mile pace? Try ten minutes. Last time I kept track of such things, it was closer to six minutes. I was never a speed demon, but good enough for mid-pack finishes in high school. 5K races in the 18’s were the norm. I would be thrilled to bust out a sub 20-minute 5K at some point before I die. At this point that looks unlikely.

Pace. Here’s a problem. You know how riding a bike is like…well, riding a bike? Your body remembers how to pedal, balance, lean into turns, etc. Well, a runner’s body remembers its pace. It’s that magical rhythm you fall into. It’s comfortable, safe. You can speed it up or slow it down some, but I’m convinced there’s a fundamental pace your body wants to follow. My brain would really like to settle into that pace. My body says “sure” but only for twenty seconds. You have any idea how embarrassing it is to be heavy-breathing after half a block?

Endurance. Again, I no longer have any. It is building slowly. Very, very slowly. I can make it about two miles now. Once I even pulled off a 1.5 miler with an 8.5 minute mile pace. Wow, we’re blazing now! Strangely I haven’t even been able to repeat that performance. A marathon is 26 miles folks. Do the math. At this rate I’ll be ready to go in roughly 254 years. I wonder if Noah was a runner.

Kimberly has started running now too. So the pressure is on. I have to stay in better condition than my non-runner wife. Although it would be extremely cool to run together. A friend of mine and his wife recently did the half-ironman in Boise. She kicked his butt. I don’t mind admitting, that would really freak me out. Kimberly is an artist. Her beating me in a race would be like me beating her in…painting. Can you beat someone in painting?

We’re taking turns running tomorrow morning (someone has to stay with the kids). If she goes farther or faster, I promise to lie about it in my blog.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I recently ran across a picture of a friend-of-a-friend on Facebook. The picture showed husband and wife in a hospital holding a newborn. Wow, they looked a lot like Kimberly and I. The guy even had a red-ish beard and glasses. Then I noticed that they didn’t look happy. The child they were holding was lifeless. I had chills, seeing another family having gone through the same tragedy we just went through. Turns out it was a lot like our situation. Their child had also suffered a cord failure, theirs at 35 weeks, and ours at 36. Both boys. Both just over 6 pounds. They are a strong Christian family. Their loss was their first child, ours our fourth.

I contacted them via email, as did Kimberly. Not how you want to make new friends. Still, it is encouraging in a strange way to know that another very similar couple within 20 miles is feeling a lot of the same things we are.

They asked how we were healing. Good question. Sometimes it feels like we’ve healed as much as we can heal. Our boy is gone, we don’t have lingering questions or anger, nothing really unresolved. So what else can heal? Other than time dulling the pain. I can make it through the days and most nights. Not sure I want to heal any more than that. I’m sure this is some kind of rookie griever mistake, but I want to feel some of the pain, if only to remind me how important Isaac is to us. I’ve heard people say that they grieve the loss of a child as long as they live. Stories of octogenarians found crying over stillborn children from 50-plus years earlier.

And I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing. It doesn’t mean we’ll be sad all the time, or that we have no joy, or that we don’t trust God. But in those times when his memory is strong and we are alone with our thoughts, I imagine there will always be room for a few tears. What kind of parents would we be if remembering our son never brought sorrow? I think anything else would be denial.

That said, we are grateful for the gift of Isaac. God blessed us with a beautiful boy, if just for a day. We are thankful for the memories we have of Isaac, for the spiritual growth this experience has afforded us, for the blessings of friends and family, the chance to see God’s hands and feet in action, for the promise of eternal life through Christ Jesus and the opportunity to see Isaac again, and for the things that God has yet to do through this experience.

The House...

For about 300 years now, we’ve been trying to build a house. At least it feels that long. We have the floor plan picked out, all the options, etc. We had submitted our info to the mortgage lender just before Isaac was born. “Everything looks great”, our lender said. I was changing jobs soon, would that be a problem? “Nope, you’ll be doing the same line of work for more money, right? Even with partial commission you’ll be fine”, our lender said. Our lender, we should note, is NOT an underwriter. He has NOT been scrutinized and slapped around of late for all the screwy deals he made over the last few years. As it turns out, actual underwriters are very skittish these days. My estimated income is well within range needed, however since about 40% of that income is coming from commission on contracts, they are treating us like lepers. “Don’t touch the icky commission guy, he might infect you! What’s that? WE’RE on commission too??? Oh. Well, we already have houses, what do we care?”

Bottom line, they will only count my base salary. Nevermind the last four years doing exactly the same work and proving myself capable. Or the ten years before that doing almost the same work. Or the fact that nobody leaves a good job to take a lower-paying job doing the same thing –duh! They want proof I can do it with my new employer. Imagine this in any other line of work. “Sure, Mr. Clown, you can dress up like a freak and make balloons for Ringling Brothers, but we need to see you in action with Barnum and Bailey for at least a year before we believe you can really do it.” (I don’t even know who I’m quoting anymore…it’s late and I feel goofy, gimmie a break)

It’s not like we’re trying to build some over-the-top fancy show-off house. It’s a stinking Hubble Home for crying out loud! Functional, decidedly NOT pretty, but exactly what we want. Plus, it would be 5 minutes from the new church site. A nice bonus considering how often we’re there. Did I mention this is a Hubble?

So now we are starting the ever-exciting game of shuffle-a-lender, where we throw our intensely personal information at every starving mortgage freak within gagging distance. More likely, though, we will end up getting our loan from – get this – The USDA. Yeah, that’s the United States Department of Agriculture. We, who cannot grow weeds on purpose, might end up with a home loan courtesy of people who can…well, grow stuff on purpose. Or at least regulate those who do. Deal is, our house would be in Kuna (stop laughing), and as a small town they have signed up for the Rural Development program under the USDA. Essentially, this is a program designed to help vitalize small farming communities…like Kuna. The loan would be basically like any other loan, except that we’d pay it to the government (yikes), our interest rate would be slightly lower (hooray), and there is no mortgage insurance to pay (huh?). Evidently you don’t need to insure taxpayer money. Hey, I don’t feel bad. It will be some of the only tax money ever invested in something that pays back! With (considerable) interest!

So yeah, we’re doing that if possible. If the good ‘ole government is so eager to bail out greedy banks, why not take a chance on a family who has never, ever, ever been late on a mortgage or rent payment?

Stay tuned…working with the government is like fishing with toothpicks. You might eventually accomplish your goal, but you’re guaranteed to feel like an idiot in the process and the results are rarely up to expectations. Sigh.