Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Week of Wood, Work & Worship

     It feels like not that much happened this past week. One major task is the continuing adventure with our baseboards. I tried a couple of times this week to get the 14' boards to our place from Dan's but it took until Friday, when I finally just rented a U-Haul van for $20 and was able to get them here with Dan's help. Then Saturday I cleared a space in the living room, which is really the only room large enough to accommodate all that wood, and laid down some blankets and plastic. I put on one coat of stain on Saturday and then a second coat on Sunday afternoon. We think that may be enough to match the rest of the wood on the main floor. My legs are really sore after all of that up and down to apply the stain, I guess (plus the fact that I haven't gone to the gym in 3 weeks!).
     Devon had a great message last week (which actually was his last message at Westheights as we are not able to renew his assistant pastor contract for the new year) that focussed on the kingdom of God. It lined up well with a lot of what I've been reading lately, and it reminded me of Bruxy Cavey's teaching that Jesus didn't just come to make a way for us to go to heaven after we die. He came to 1. shut down religion, 2. save us from sin, and 3. set up his kingdom. As well it made me think that I should give Devon Brian MacLaren's book "The Secret Message of Jesus" because it really focusses on many of these ideas as well. Then I decided maybe I should reread the book before I give it to him so that's been a project for this past week. Once again I realize how little I retain of books I have read before.
     Beth and I went to see the movie "The Descendants" on Saturday afternoon. We were surprised by the large number of people that would be there for a 4:30 show. It is a powerful drama and I'm sure George Clooney will be nominated for an Oscar (not that I care much about those awards). He plays a father of 2 girls who's wife is in a coma for the whole movie. It does a great job of examining love, pain, forgiveness and grief.
     We went to both small groups/house churches this week and had good discussions and time for connecting. On Friday night we met Alison and her friend Pete at Boston Pizza for a quick visit and meal before heading off for the meeting.
     It was anniversary Sunday at Westheights this past week so the service had some special elements in it that made it very meaningful. Then we went out to lunch at Milton's with Mom & Dad, David & Rachel before Dad and Beth went over to Aurora to pick up Alison, who needed a way back from Pete's place. I stained and then started to get caught up on a pile of marking. There was a worship night at church as well so we took that in. The youth did an excellent mime called 'King of Hearts' that was quite moving. Afterwards it was back to marking before heading off to bed.
     I've been focussing my music listening on page one of my list so have enjoyed some Adam Again, Andrew Smith (lots of great songs - reminded me of the concert I hosted with him back in 2009), Andrew Peterson, Amy Grant and Barry McGuire.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Working with Wood

     I was pretty thrilled to wake up last Saturday morning (the 12th) and feel normal once again. I still went to the doctor's on Tuesday and got bloodwork done on Friday to make sure my kidneys are functioning properly. Beth and I made a quick trip up to the market on Saturday and the wood (10 pieces of 14' red oak) for our baseboards got delivered that day.
     After church on Sunday I headed over to my friend Dan's to work on planing down the wood. It took a lot of passes through the planer before it was even, and then we needed to cut it to the proper width (and then plane those edges too!). Dan's amazingly handy with this kind of stuff, like my friends Frank and Steve too (I'm often in awe of these guys and their abilities). The defining moment with Dan was when his skill saw stopped working. Without missing a beat he climbed into the storage space above his garage and pulled out a box containing a brand new saw ("I bought this on sale a few years ago, just in case I needed it sometime.") We finished putting a 'profile' (the shape at the top of the baseboard) on the wood, along with sanding each piece, this past Saturday. Then Beth and I took Dan & Ellen out for supper to thank him for all of his help (plus it was their 25th anniversary this week).
     Last Monday we celebrated Mom's birthday at our house and it was great to have everyone together in one place, since it so rarely seems to happen now. Everyone seemed to have a good time and it was a nice, relaxed visit.
     On Tuesday Beth and I went to see the movie "In Time" which was just okay but was still a good escape. Wednesday night we headed to the library to hear speaker/author Anna Rains, who I had read about in the paper. She's from the Ottawa area and has written a book about her older sister's experiences with tuberculosis and spending many years at the sanitorium as she was growing up. She made an excellent presentation and we bought the book, but it was unfortunate that only 5 people were there to hear her.
     Thursday was busy with after school/evening interviews and then small group. Beth went with Alison, Tina and Ashton to see the K-W production of 'The Sound of Music' at the Centre in the Square.
     On Friday we served at Ray of Hope with our Thursday night small group. I took care of getting the potatoes cooked and worked as a runner to make sure the servers didn't run out of food. Beth was in charge of overseeing the kitchen. It's always a busy job but is such a worthwhile thing to do.
     I read a thought-provoking article by Tony Jones this past week. We've heard him speak at Cornerstone and the Wild Goose Festival and I really liked his book "The New Christians". Plus I visit his blog pretty much every day. He's been involved in the whole 'emerging' church movement from the beginning and he explained it in a way that makes a lot of sense to me. Things really began when youth who were experiencing dynamic, relational youth ministry wanted to see that kind of thing replicated in 'big people's church'. It made me think of youth meetings and retreats, and how special they are - why can't church be more like that? It seems to me that the format of services has really changed very little over the last 60 or more years (the music has been contemporized in many, of course). Tony is part of Doug Pagit's (I wrote about him previously here and here) church, which really seems to try to think differently about how we 'do church' (See the picture? Looks more like a youth room don't you think? It sounds like Sunday morning sermons are more discussions than preaching). I really like how these guys think about the church and culture.
     I finished reading Dinesh D'Souza's "What's So Great About Christianity" and found it had some great ideas in it. I also read a book called "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" which was a unique story about an autistic boy who lost his father during the 9/11 attacks. It comes out as a movie at Christmas.
     I've been listening through Randy Stonehill's discography lately and am really enjoying his songs. I wish I'd had time to do that before he played here in October - I would have had many more requests to make as he's written some great tunes over the years. Sometimes I wonder why I buy new music since I've got so much wonderful old stuff to listen to.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Kidney Stones

     This is the longest I've had between posts here and I'll definitely blame it on kidney stones. I woke up last Thursday with a pain building in my back that I quickly recognized as kidney stones (I've been through it about 3 times in the past 6 years I think). I took some Tylenol 3's (that's 60 mg of codiene) and figured I'd tough it out. When I got to school though I realized there was no way I'd be able to function so I came back home. With applying heat (hot baths, heating pad) and T3's every 4 hours I wasn't in terrible pain though and actually felt well enough to attend our Thursday night small group. However when I woke up Friday morning I had a few waves of nausea. Stupidly, I thought once again that I could handle going to school, but within 20 minutes of being there I threw up (which I haven't ever experienced with kidney stones, though it is apparently quite common). I called the doctor and he recommended I get some gravol into me so that I could keep down the T3 pills (I'll leave it to your imagination how I had to take the gravol). Amazingly I was able to go to our Friday night house church as well.
     Saturday I was continuing to deal with the pain, and this had now gone on longer than my previous kidney stone experiences. Usually it's only been a day or so of pain and then I may or may not notice the passing of a stone in the next week. I tried to wean off of the T3's a bit but we had plans to go to Exeter for an anniversary dinner out with Beth's siblings so I still needed something for the pain. I had a great meal (I think it was called green apple chicken, but it was delicious) but it was the most I had eaten in 2 days so I got full pretty quickly.
     Sunday I made it to church but when people decided to go out for lunch I had to opt out. But I was really trying not to take pain medicine, especially as it wreaks havoc with your bowels as well and who needs that complication? By the evening I decided I wouldn't try to go to school on Monday (but of course had to go in Sunday to prepare for the day). I was pretty much pain free on Monday but my body was obviously still recovering - slight fever, some sweats, very tired. I think I probably passed a stone at some point but 5 days later I know things still aren't completely back to normal. I called the doctor and will go see him next Tuesday - I hope he orders some blood work (creatnine levels measure kidney function) and/or an ultrasound.
     My one accomplishment from this past week has been completing the listening of one full page in the personal listening guide which I created earlier this year. One page represents about 70 albums (yeah, I said albums, I am 54 years old y'know) so it's a fair bit of listening. The other main music I've been listening to is Bob Bennett's "Jesus Music Again". Bob had sent me a prerelease version but the final production is really fun and beautiful. He and his friends take some classic old songs (all of which I have in original versions) and rework them in his own creative style. I'm lovin' it!
     I heard 2 amazing speakers this week. On Tuesday night I watched the message from The Meeting House where Tony Campolo spoke. I've been reading and listening to Tony for decades now and he's always been a favourite, but seeing him make such a powerful presentation at his age (he's now 76) really blew me away. I'd highly recommend checking out the video podcast - the guy is just amazing! This past Thursday we went down to Toronto to hear Rob Bell speak. He's a much younger author/pastor/speaker who I've appreciated for a few years now. Beth and I heard him at the Festival of Faith and Writing back in 2008 and were really impressed. His talk at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on the CNE grounds was excellent - it was like a 2.3 hour concert but without a band, just story after story with lesson after lesson. A special treat for us was seeing our old friend Tom Doherty there and getting to connect with him. Tom was my first guitar teacher, sang at our wedding and at my sister Kelly's funeral. We shared heart surgery scars as he was operated on just last Christmas. He also recommended some more authors for me to check out that write on what he called 'progressive Christianity'.