Monday, June 26, 2006

Auntie 'Em, It's a Twister! It's a Twister!

For those not living in the Lima area, last Thursday the community suffered a fair amount of damage due to a natural phenonmeon known as "Sheer Winds". While the damage incurred looked like something a tornado would accomplish (uprooted trees, removed roofs, and the like), apparently it was straight winds traveling at a high rate of speed that accomplished the destruction.

While the church sustained no damage, we haven't haven't had power since last Thursday. The reason for this was that the sheer winds destroyed about a mile's worth of power poles on Shawnee Road, right out our front door. The picture above is a view of Shawnee Road last Friday morning, looking south from Ft. Amanda Road, toward Shawnee UMC.

To compound matters, the Bucher family was without power for two full days. The loan of a couple of generators (from my parents and Jason & Josie Belton) saved our (and our neighbor, Clem's) refridgerated items, and sanity (the boys played a little X-Box), but keeping a generator going necessitates many trips out the door with a gas can.... which must have caused some anxiety, because on night two, I found myself in the driveway, in my underwear, checking on the generator without the aid of flashlight, in my sleep. I was also carrying an umbrella, as apparently in my dream, it was raining (although in real life, it was not). Thank goodness it was 2:45am, and not pm, or yours truly would be asking for donations toward making bail.

Anyhow, while we manged life without power here at the house, we also had to move a wedding, complete with a distraught bride, to another church (thank you South Side Christian Church), and a worship service to Hugh Downs Auditorium at Shawnee High School. As an aside, in order to entice a custodian from the High School to work on a day off, I promised him that I'd bless his bike (a nice 1999 Yamaha V-Max), complete with an official "2006 Blessing of the Bikes" patch, which I had to coerce out of a layperson because I couldn't find any left in the building.

Oh, and all of my wife's relatives were in town to celebrate my Father-in-law's (Bryant) retirement/70th birthday party. Needless to say, the weekend was completely insane.

Now, as we piece the house back together, we've started packing for our move to Asbury this Friday. I'm finishing up the "one or two books" (har har) I have to read, while Aimee makes lists, and checks them twice. Boxes are appearing in the garage in order to be loaded, as I speak for loading on Thursday, and the adventure which will be the next 11 months.

So, there are no "10 things" this week, here are a few stray comments that will have to tide you over until I can behind my new laptop next week...
  • People have asked it I'll keep up the fight against a local casino while at school, and the answer is "yes", but of course, it will largely be conducted via email and prayer. If you haven't yet done so, please go to, and join over 350 others from the community in stating that you'd like to see local economic development money and land go to another form of commerce.
  • Yes, I lost a pound of coffee to my brother because he took the Heat in the NBA finals. Another good reminder why gambling isn't a good thing. It's bad enough my little brother whipped me in our NBA Fantasy League. Now I've got listen to him remind me that he wants a pound of "Samba Blend - Whole Bean" from Dean's Beans, pretty much everytime we speak. Apparently, the student has passed the teacher.
  • Buster Baker, a young man from our church who failed to get into college, and thus now attends the University of Toledo, will be watching our house for us this summer. If you happen by and see that all is in good order, thank him on our behalf. And if you stop by to find some huge out-of-control party, please call the police and his mama.
  • Keep my mother and father-in-law in your prayers. Both had surgery on their feet in the last five days.

See you in Kentucky!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Ten Things I Think I Think (plus 2)

1) Went to Annual Conference last week, came home, and got inundated with church and home stuff. As a result, not only did you not get a promised update two weeks ago, but I also failed to produce a "Ten Things". Thanks to all for their own "Good Morning Slacker" emails... and yes, in answer to all of you, I am still alive. Thanks for your concern.

2) Lots of people are asking if I'm going to third reading of the proposed compact or accord or whatever it is that the City of Lima (and Perry Township) are trying to make with the Eastern Shawnee Tribe on this casino. The answer is, "no", and the reason is that I am not a resident of either of those municipalities. If the Shawnee Township trustees decide to join such an accord, and hold an open meeting, I'll be there. Besides, I have a sense that a very large, vocal opposition to this project will show up and do what they can to change one of the five "yes" votes to this legal travesty (Riddle me this: Since when can an American incorporated municipality make an agreement with a sovereign nation without any input from state or federal authorities?). Until then, I will ask you again to go to and join the other 380+ people from the area that have said they don't want a casino in this community.

And when hearings and meetings are held where you live, go, speak, and let them know that you'd like our public officials to focus on positive forms of economic investiment in this community.

3) Speaking of casinos, for those who haven't seen it, here's Ronald Lederman's (one of the Editors at The Lima News) latest PR release ..... er, I mean, editorial for the Eastern Shawnee's bid for a casino in the community: Lederman, who continues to make the argument that if you are opposed to this project for moral reasons, that you should keep your mouth shut until after the project is finished, and then persuade people not to spend their money at a local casino, has become the point man for the Eastern Shawnee's legal and business team. At this point, in his opinion, if you are opposed to a casino, you are total idiot-facist-puritan who is going to cost us 62.5 million dollars in local payroll checks. That's 2500 jobs, at an average of $25,000 a year, which are numbers given to us by the Tribe that haven't been fact-checked by anybody.

Look, I'm not crazy. I know that if a casino is built here, it will make a lot of money. Hoards of money... which is exactly why I'm opposed to it. The only real winners, in the end, will be the Tribe and their corporate partners (whose percentage in this venture has not yet been disclosed), because you can't beat the house. It always wins! And it will never, ever be satisfied. Those interests won't stop at bingo and bingo related games. The gambling industry will always continue to push for more latitude in the games it can offer, and in the locations where those games can be offered (I can't wait for "video poker" machines to be installed at the local grocery store... how about you?). And the argument that will always be offered is "gambling already exists there", "it will provide jobs", and "the municipality/school system will reap financial benefits". And people will continue to fall for this arguement, and take the bait.

Which is fine, if you like inviting well-financed, large corporate entities into your midst who have little, or no, regard for the corporate welfare of your neighbors. At least WalMart is doing whatever it can to change it's image as an unconcerned member of the community by offering more jobs with benefits. If Lima and the surrounding area, starts suffering a rash of bankrupcies that can be traced to problem gambling, what, if any, response do you think we'll get from casino officials? I just can't believe people are falling for this.

4) But, then again, at one of our local corner gas stations, you can buy a fake ID of a famous person for only 5 dollars. Yep... ever wanted to be Brad Pitt or George Washington? Are you ready to flash your "Brittany Spears" ID at the local club to see if you'll be ushered into the "VIP Room".

You know, in college, because I wasn't always a pastor, when I was home from school, my buddies used to occasionally frequent establishments in Lima that featured live music and alcholic beverages like "The Firehouse" and "The Wayside Inn". Let me tell you something: if they had "VIP rooms", I'm relatively sure you wouldn't want to go in them.

Anyhow, I asked the lady working the register if people were actually buying those things, and her answer was "by the dozens". So, I guess, that I'm surprised there isn't a casino on every corner of America. And all of this from a man you once "adopted" a "pet rock", so I'm not exactly writing from the deep end of the gene pool.

5) Played golf with Andy and Dad last week, which was fun, but also a little depressing. It was fun in the sense that I was with my brother and father, which is always a blessing. It was depressing in the sense that as a golfer, I still stink. I mean, I stink bad. I stink like a dead whale after rotting in the middle of Seattle in the summer for a full ten, rainy, hot, humid days. I can kick a golf ball farther than I can hit it with a club. Just the most frustrating experience, ever... which is why I can't kick Phil Mickelson for giving away the US Open yesterday. Mark Twain was right: Golf is a perfectly good walk, spoiled.

And yet, I still play. Either I'm the Don Quioxe of the links (believing that the best will ultimately happen to me.... to dream the impossible dream and par the impossible par), or I'm certifiably insane, that is, I keep doing the same things over and over expecting different results.

On second thought, I'd trade all my clubs for one motorcycle. Email me at if you're interested.

6) Watched what was probably one of the great NBA Finals playoff games last night on "The Great One's" new 37" Flatscreen LCD/HDTV. Pretty much anything and everything you could want in a playoff game (except a win for the Mavs.... my brother and I have a pound of Dean's Beans coffee on the series). Which led me to this conclusion: It's too bad that LeBron ended up with a franchise that was so bereft of talent, that it's taken four years for him to get to the second round. Duane Wade, for example, at least had a nucleus of good, young talent when he arrived in Miami that either has developed into part of a solid supporting cast (Udonis Haslem) or was traded for players that know how to win (Shaq, Antoine Walker, James Posey, Jason Williams). Cleveland's management was so inept (thank you, former GM Wayne Embry), that when LeBron arrived the team was counting on guys like Robert "Tractor" Trailer and Lucious Harris to give them major minutes. It's been a long hard climb for the organization. Here's hoping that in the off-season, some deals can be made to get LeBron onto the big stage in the next couple of years.

7) For my hockey-loving friends (a.k.a. Eric Stalkamp, Neil Whitney, and... well, I don't know anybody else who really loves hockey), kudos on what is rumored to be a great Stanley Cup series. All 800,000 people in the country who have been following (that's .3% of the population) have thoroughly enjoyed Edmonton (the smallest TV market of any city with a "major" pro sport.... hey Green Bay, you're not last!) and Carolina (I'm not sure which one, North or South) duke it out for Lord Stanley's big mug. I actually (I am not making this up) accidently found the Stanley Cup playoffs on NBC, which has roughly spent about $13 promoting a contest that as recently as the late nineties garnered a 5.4 rating on another major network. How does somebody who owns a Chicago Blackhawks jersey and actually enjoys watching hockey, "accidently find" a major championship match-up? More importantly, how does this league re-capture an audience that's now spending it's time watching bass fishing and NASCAR?

8) Or riding a motorcycle, which, wouldn't, and probably in the near future, won't include me. Gave up the dream of owning my own ride when Aimee and I closed a deal on a new (to us) mini-van last week. The deal, which we got at Allen Nott's (from Josh Gould, a former Shawnee UMC Mission Trip attendee and basketball player, from back in the day), was a good one. Now, we (which, I should clarify, means Aimee, the credit union, and I) own a 2005 Kia Sedona. Can't say that I've ever owned a Korean made vehicle before, and my experience with Kia ( is a bit spotty (I rented a "Sportage", which sounds like it was named by somebody who speaks English as a second language, once, but that's it). So far, so good. Kia is 51% owned by Hyundai, so at least we've got a Hyundai dealer in town where service related to our warranty can be done. The important thing is that Aimee loves it, and the unimportant thing is that the 1995 Honda Goldwing I wanted to buy from Don Fischer is still up for sale. If you are looking for a good bike, give him a buzz (he owns Cappie's Sports here in Lima if you are wondering how to get ahold of him).

9) The Episcopal Church, in my estimation, is in for a bumpy ride. According to reports coming out of Columbus, already three dioceses have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to please put them under a different authority other than the new elected Presiding Bishop Katherine Jacobs Schori. The new Presiding Bishop (which, for those who know less about the Episcopal Church than I do, is kind of like the Chairperson of the all the Bishops in the country, and will, for the most part, run their meetings and the annual meetings of the denomination. Presiding Bishops don't have the same power as say, a Pope, and thus can't make church law) is the first woman in the denomination's history, and has a long history of doing blessing ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples. The combination is proving toxic for conservative Episcopalians, who are afraid that their denomination is taking a theological course that will inevitably create a schism in the World Anglican Communion (the umbrella under which all Anglican and Episcopalian churches rest).

Episcopalians set this into motion when they elected a gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson, last year. And then, amazingly enough to me (as a backwater UM-pastor) Robinson was permitted to continue as a bishop after entering rehab for an alcohol problem in February of this year. This combination of personality traits is something that isn't exactly inspiring many Episcopalians in believing that Bishop Robinson has his act together. Now, with the election of pro-gay, female as their national leader, this whole things seems to be coming to a head... and that right soon. Given that the members of this General Convention of the Episcopal Church are generally leaning to the left, it leads one to believe that more congregations and diocese will be withdrawing from the denomination in the coming months.... a sentiment that Episcopal bishops seem to agree with as they build a warchest of money so that they can sue congregations that try to leave with their property (court cases that our bishops will be watching with great interest, no doubt).

With the "nature v. nurture" question still not answered, the issue of homosexuality continues to dog mainline denominational churches. With the culture slowly moving toward widespread acceptance of at least gay and lesbian people, pressure is increasing on church leaders to re-think what the Bible has to say about homosexuality. Well, not really homosexuality, because that question as far as the Bible is concerned is pretty much closed (let's just say that for 2000 years, nobody ever questioned the historical stance, which has been that it's been a sin), but rather, whether or not, much like, for example, many of the dietary laws of the Old Testament are no longer followed by Christians, if the same kinds of prohibitions on certain forms of sexuality can now be eased, or lifted.

At this point, I don't have the same sense that some others do that the Holy Spirit is leading us in this new direction. While I'd like to think myself as being grace-filled theologically, and open to just about everybody, human sexuality is kind of a weird duck. I remember, for example, in an article in Utne Reader (yep, I digs the Utne Reader) about six years ago, gay counseling professionals were expressing concern that growing numbers of young people were expressing their belief that sexuality was a choice.... much like the clothes we choose to wear or the car we choose to drive. Thus, teens had no problem with the idea that one could choose to be gay or straight, and leave the possibility of changing their mind later. Couple that with lesbians who I met in college who chose that lifestyle predominatly for political reasons, and stories of all kinds of people who are messed up now sexually because of abuse they endured as children, and it makes me relunctant to throw out thousands of years of history and pretty straight-forward language in scripture. Of course, I don't want to burn these people at the stake, but the question of how to be open, and yet principled, is one that I'll be asking until the day I die.

That being said, I think the Episcopal church is moving too fast for the Anglican Communion, and eventually, will stand apart and alone. And, I'm not convinced that the inevitable march of history is leading where the Epsicopal church is leading. I think we're more likely to see more denominational schisms than a moving toward a unified vision of what should be.... and maybe, until we start reaching some clarity on the issue, that's OK.

10) No word, currently, on Shawnee's search for a new youth pastor. Word out Pandora, however, is that Brent, our youth pastor who just left, is doing well in his new church. Pray for him, his church, whoever our new youth pastor will be, and our church, as we all seek to be faithful to God's call for our lives.

+1) We experienced our first two swim meets last week (Max is swimming for Sherwood Country Club, which is the pool we're members of here in Lima). They were, well, very long. Max, for example, in his first meet swam in events 2, 14, 40, and 70. There was a total of 78 events (plus exhibition heats), so we pretty much had to be there for the duration of the meet (about five hours). Max loves it, so we'll soldier on, but there is a part of Aimee and I that wishes that he'd gotten into something that moved faster, like, say, chess.

+2) We move in 10 days to Wilmore, and the realization is hitting us like a ton of bricks. We're still gathering all the things we'll need to set up a place to live (Aimee and the boys will live with me until August, and return home, meaning we'll be a bi-housal family for eleven months), haven't been given a scheulde of the academic year yet by the school, and are just generally in a panic. Pray for us, and next week I'll give more details on our upcoming year which will be filled with adventures.

Until next time...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Six Things I Think I Think

1) Sorry for the abbreviated "things". Spent most of the afternoon and evening (save 90 minutes preparing and doing an Adminstrative Board) helping Grandma Great discern what to do about a new TV. You see her faithful RCA console crapped out on her this past Sunday, and it is apparently on its way to "sleep with the fishes". Now understand that having no TV means having no Fox News, C-Span, any of the favorite evening shows, DVD's, the internet ("The Great" has WebTV), Instant Message, or Email. In other words, my grandmother, who years ago told us that she didn't need the internet because she'd never use it, is now the most wired person in our family.

Well, fortunately, tomorrow the good people at Hefner TV (no better place to buy a TV in this county... take my word for it) will be bringing a new 37" flat-screen LCD/HDTV to "The Nest", connecting "The Great" to the cyber universe. We'll celebrate this Sunday night with a viewing of "Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room" (which I have applauded already in this blog - go rent it!) and the eating of copius amounts of ice cream (which is good for the soul, when eaten with good friends or family).

2) An uneventful Ad Board, which is just the way I like them. Had enough eventful Ad Boards in my last church to last me a lifetime, so the nice, quite, short meeting about church business is welcomed, indeed. As a matter of fact, for a variety of reasons, the SPRC chair, Finance chair, and Trustee chair all couldn't make it, so I spent a lot of time making reports tonight. For those that missed it, finances are strong, the SPRC is engaged in a search for a new youth pastor (as Brent left us to take another job in Pandora), and the Trustees are intent on tearing down the old parsonage next door (although the part of the building that is a log cabin will be preserved if at all possible). Couple that with all folks in attendance praying over me as I look to this upcoming year of study, and you've got a complete update of the evening. Now, you can rest easy.

3) Received, via an intra-library loan, a copy of "The Ghost Rider" by Neil Peart (the lyracist and drummer for "Rush", a Canadian rock band). In 1997, Peart lost both his daughter (car accident) and his wife (breast cancer). After a couple of months of holing up in his home in Quebec and realizing that he was spending too much time engaged in activities that destroy ones health, Peart makes the decision to take a trip on "The Healing Road". So he packs his BMW RS1100 with various gear that he needs, and heads west on this fine cycle toward Alaska. The rest of the book details how he spends the rest of his journey (which he interrupts with the a two-month break in the winter to return to Quebec to check on his house and do a little cross-country skiing) of 55,000 miles across Canada, the US, and Central America.

Peart, who was (I have no idea where he's at now) an admitted agnostic, found that the only way he find out if he could love living life again was by going out and experiencing the things that he had always loved to do (namely, ride his motorcycle, visit good friends, hike, bird-watch, write, and eat find food.... strangely enough, the man who makes his living drumming isn't all that into music, which seems odd), and find out if he could still love doing them. I've made it though about the midway point of the journey (he's breaking after riding 25,000 miles over 5 months) and am enjoying every page. If you like riding, you'll love all the detail Peart gives of the places he goes and the people he meets. If you like stories of spiritual recovery, you like how Peart does his best to care for his soul, and begin to wake up spiritually (although, not in the Christian sense) as he slowly begins to heal.

One story I liked in particular involved a memory that he had of his daughter. While on tour with Rush in Europe, Peart flew his family over to tour with him for a number of days. It was during this time that Peart took his daughter (who was 15 at the time.... she would die four years later) to see his a favorite Cathedral in the heart of Paris. Peart goes on to say that his daughter, while not particularly religious. was captivated by the nuns who were singing, the smell of the incense, the beautiful imagery in the art and archetecture, and a sense of being in the presence of "something very holy". He experiences this memory as he's sitting in a large cathedral in Mexico, and the thought that the church inspires makes him feel closer to his lost daughter. Peart describes how places of worship, which had always turned him off, now brought him great comfort because of that memory. Just a great story of grace.

4) Speaking of motorcycles, still have not purchased one. Just can't seem to bring myself to do it, and as a result, the door is closing fast on a beautiful 1995 Honda Goldwing Aspencade 1500. The price on the bike is more than right, but I hate to take out a loan to buy it because Aimee and I have worked hard at acheiving some important financial goals for ourselves, which we are now just beginning to complete. We're praying about the situation, and taking our time to discern what we should do.

As an aside, a good many of you have expressed concern about my climbing on a two-wheeled machine. Thank you for your concern. I intend to take every precaution (including making the assumption while out on the road that every other vehicle is out to kill me, which makes a great motivator for driving defensively) to try and assure my safety. However, I do still intend to ride. The zen-like qualities of the experience promote inner peace (a phrase I got from my Uncle Jack that seemed pretty accurate), and it's probably this or develop some debilitating disease related to stress. I just want to explore where this road might take me. Your prayers for my safety, however, are greatly appreciated.

5) Am placing an order with Dean's Beans for a good bit of coffee I intend to take with me to school. For those who have never tried Dean's Beans, Dean (yep, there is a real "Dean") helps financially support coffee cooperatives in underdeveloped nations, and then distributes the coffee for the grower on the open market. The price Dean pays for the coffee beans isn't set by the open market (free trade), but rather is a price per pound that is paid directly to the farmer and is much higher (fair trade) than what he would have received on the open market. Dean's theory is that by giving more money to the farmer, as opposed to a middle man selling coffee on the commodaties market, or the final processor/seller, who help the people who need it the most, and completed the most important part of the process - grow the coffee! As a result, people who grew coca in various places in South America, are now growing coffee, which is better for the world and for their families (drug dealers are as merciless with those who supply them as they are with those buy their product).

If you are living in the Lima area, and would like to try a pound of Dean's coffee (which I think is every bit as good as any other coffee you'll find out there), go to, pick out the blend for you, and then email me your order at . This way, if a bunch of us go together, we can save on shipping. If I may, let me suggest the Moka Sumatra and Samba blends. They both rock!

6) And finally, our theatre seats for the new children's theatre at our church did finally arrive last Friday afternoon (after begging a number of people at a trucking company to please deliver them only three days late). Now, all we're waiting for is our "Youth and Children's Intern", Clint Beasily to return from Israel so that he can steam clean the cloth seat covers, and scrape off any old gum underneath the seats (we bought em used). Just remember, "Intern" is a French word that means "working like a dog for the experience and very little money". Gotta love interns!

I promise at least one more post before the end of the week. And for those in Goshen, we'll see you at Cameron Yoder's graduation party on Saturday, June 10th.

Until next time...

Friday, June 02, 2006

Good Morning, Slacker

Woke up this morning, went to work, checked the email, and was greeted with a loyal "from Bryan's office..." fan who wanted to know where this week's post was.

"Good Morning, Slacker", was the heading of the email, which made me laugh, out loud (or LOL for those you online fugitives who no longer recognize standard English). I also, upon looking at the counter at the bottom of the page, realized that I had received hundred of clicks, which leads me to believe that 26 of you have checked this thing numerous times hoping for something that will hopefully make you laugh.

Well for those wondering if I'm still alive, thanks for the concern, and the answer is, "you bet your sweet bippy". It's just that I tend to write this at the end of the day on Mondays, and this past Monday was Memorial Day. The end of that work day was spent eating spare ribs at my in-laws, so here are few random thoughts to get you through to next week's "Ten Things".

1) Have been listening to the Dixie Chicks new album via the church's Rhapsody account, and I must say that I'm largely impressed. I especially like the song "Silent House", which is a haunting ode to somebody getting on with their life after a divorce/separation. While the album won't do the normal sales of past Chicks albums, artistically it is a step in the right direction. Their sound was pretty disposable before Natalie Maines decided to make a very un-country sounding statement of disrespect toward a sitting President from Texas. Here's a "hip hip" to the DC's, who decided to pursue a new road that examines them using their voice, as opposed to a well-traveled road of just giving the people what they want to hear. My hope is that when it's all said and done, they'll all agree that it was worth the price that they paid.

2) Max just started swimming for the Sherwood (our pool) Sharks this past Wednesday, and he's so excited that he slept in his new swimsuit last night. Practice was cancelled this morning because it was raining and 62 degrees, and Max was genuinely upset. A chance to get better, in his mind, increases the likelihood that he'll win a ribbon in a meet. Let's just say the boy will have no trouble grasping the basic principles of capitalism.

3) Am getting a taste of what its like dealing with the trucking industry, and I must say, the taste is bitter. We bought some used theatre chairs for the new children's theatre in the education wing of the church from an outfit in Denver, and the chairs, which were supposed to be here Wednesday, are somewhere lost in Columbus. I've been dealing with anguished truck drivers, dispatchers, and largely unsympathetic managers now for three days.... and it's getting old. Apparently the company we're using doesn't have those boxes that talk to them like in the IBM Help Desk commercial. Given that they lost our chairs somewhere between Denver and here, maybe they ought to give IBM a call.

4) If you are wondering why I haven't mentioned much about any books that I'm reading, it's because I haven't been reading at all (outside of my morning newspaper). I kinda hit a mental block about going back to school last week. I should be excited about this program, but, to be honest, I kinda feel like a first-grader facing the first day of school, all over again. Not to mention, I do feel a lot of guilt for essentially leaving Shawnee for a year to do this. The gift of time and support on the part of the church for me to do this is really a blessing I don't deserve.

But mostly, I'm upset because last week, Max brought home an "Alphabet Book" that he made at school, and under the letter "D", he had a drawing of me. "D is for Dad", read the caption, and the sentence he wrote for illustration was...

"Dad is always busy."

Let's just say that Beeson approaches, the internal struggle continues...

5) Am agonizing over a decision, that really shouldn't require much agonizing at all. A few weeks ago I earned my motorcycle endorsement on my driver's license after taking the class, and passing the test, mandated by the state. Sue Dickerson (who became a grandmother again this week... Congrats to her, and the proud parents, Bruce and Kristi, on the birth of baby Abby) has graciously allowed me to ride her bike as a means of practicing before I buy my own.

And that is where the agony begins.

You see, about a year-and-a-half ago, Aimee and I made a decision to live our life debt-free, which meant that we had to first, get out of debt. I've told the story at every church I've served about getting my first credit card in college, and the ruin that it led me, because I am, essentially, an idiot. Thus, actually making a change in our personal finances to accomodate real debt-elimination, and sticking with it, has been a big deal for us. To do it essentially on one income while still tithing has been an interesting challenge. But it's one that we've met, and very shortly, we'll acheive a number of very important personal goals we set ourselves, and start working on new ones that will lead to greater financial freedom for ourselves.

The stuggle now is that I really want a motorcycle, which, on the surface, seems shallow and self-centered. And, well, probably is.

But here's the best part of this story: Years ago, I'd have just bought the bike. I'd have gotten the loan (at probably a terrible interest rate), and wouldn't have bothered to justify the purchase. Now, I just can't bring myself to do it, as I don't want to do anything that jeopardizes the work Aimee and I have done together. I want to honor the decisions we've made together.

And the really sweet part of this, is that my wife, who for years had to put up with my stupidity, is telling me to go ahead and get a bike... partly because she sees the value in it (personally for me, professionally for us), but also because for the first time in our lives she doesn't feel like things own us, and that a purchase like this would plunge us back down a blackhole. We, not some bank, own our future, and the realization of that has been a spiritually enriching experience.

So I'm in agony, but its a good agony. And no matter how we do it, somehow Aimee and I will figure out, with God's blessing, an appropriate resolution. Used to be we only fought about money... now we can pray about it.

And for that, I give thanks.