Things I’m a cheeseball over.

I’m a fairly levelheaded guy, but I have some soft spots. Things like this can get a tear out of me.

  1. Kids, especially mine (Sam and anticipated future ones).
  2. Things related to patriotism or the military.
  3. Christmas.
  4. People who have been married a long time. (For example, Melissa and I both cried at the end of the John Adams miniseries. I guess that would encompass #s 2 and 4.)

And you?

Dispatches From the Support-Raising Front

Not many people get a glimpse into what life is like as a missionary raising support. Melissa and I were talking about some of our funnier moments, so I thought I’d share some with you, gentle reader.

***

Non-Christians, understandably, do not know Christian lingo, and they come up with funny stuff in its place. (Sometimes theirs is better. Who in the world came up with the phrase “quiet time”?) Yesterday I was explaining our Prague plans to a guy I’d just met, and he said, “So, you’re planning to build a church for your religion in Prague.”

That will certainly get worked into 1) our standard support talk and 2) my Facebook status.

***

Once in a support meeting, a guy who’s known me my whole life asked, with no context or warning, “So what do you think about the Catholics?”

***

Another person was very disappointed to see a picture in some of our material of an event in Prague where a guy was drinking beer. Of course, the real story there would have been if there were an event in Prague where there was no beer. But it was really pretty stupid of me to waltz into the home of a conservative Christian in middle GA and not expect that to happen. The picture has since been scrubbed. (At a later appointment the same day, we had a glass of wine with the potential supporters. You just never know.)

***

I do not at all enjoy the formality of going through our presentation and then making an appeal. I would prefer to sit around, have Prague come up, answer questions, casually get everything said that needs to be said, and then have them say “Well, we’d love to support you guys.”

Once we had dinner with some friends for the purpose of talking about support. We’d had the talk, then we drifted to other things, had dessert, and when it was time to start putting kids to bed the guy and his wife exchanged glances and he said “Well, we’re ready for the ask when you guys are.”

I’ve since been much more deliberate and purpose-driven in support meetings.

***

We always get asked about ministry to internationals vs. ministry to Czechs– e.g. why is it an English-speaking church, will you try to meet Czechs, etc. In the most formal version of our talk, this comes under a section that Melissa handles. But for the first couple of months, she had a really tough time getting a handle on the summary answer, which is that there’s a “two-pronged approach.” Really, any answer that uses the phrase “two-pronged approach” would do. But early on, Melissa tended to stumble over that point and be less than clear. In one presentation at a church, she basically gave the impression that we could care less about the souls of Czechs and probably wouldn’t walk across the street to share the Gospel with them. She was temporarily relieved of her duties where that question was concerned.

***

More to come, I’m sure. Thank goodness it’s God moving through his people, not our mad social skills, that brings in the provision we need!

You don’t know what it’s like out here.

People. You have no idea. Charlotte is on the verge of freakin’ collapse. Wachovia got bought out. Wachovia. And I really like Wachovia. Citi I don’t know so much. There’s no gas. I went driving around looking for gas tonight. I found a station with a tanker truck (down by our old house), waited while he unloaded, waited 15 more minutes, then drove back home to get the other car, bring it back and fill it up. That’s pretty much how my evening was spent. Buying gas.

I went to get a beer with Tyler later on tonight, and the first place we tried to go was closed. Our house flooded two weeks ago. Today they were replacing the floors, and they didn’t finish. Half of our living room is a concrete slab, and I’m getting high smelling the glue or whatever.

Congress can’t get their *&^# together. (Actually, as you’ll note in a post from last week, I’m kind of happy about that.) Apparently the whole economy is gonna collapse unless we give Hank Paulson a trillion dollars and a bowl of green M&M’s. Either that or there will be a serious crunch for a while and things will eventually work themselves out. Who knows. Meantime, some of us are trying to raise support to go to the mission field, and it’s like stinkin’ I Am Legend up in here.

You know what’s good news, in all seriousness? Psalm 11:3 asks a question: “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” And verse 4 answers it: “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord‘s throne is in heaven; his eyes see.” Our economy may indeed collapse. People will almost certainly lose jobs– maybe even some of our friends. We might lose supporters, or take longer to get them. But not one dollar or job or supporter will be lost or gained apart from the will of my Father in heaven.

Usually somewhere in between.

Most things are neither as good nor as bad as you think they’re going to be. That is, if you think something’s going to be awful, it’s usually not quite as bad as you thought. And if you think something’s going to be awesome, it’s usually not quite as life-altering as you thought.

Example of the former: Moving to Charlotte in 2004. We thought the last month in Athens and first month in Charlotte would be miserable. Neither was true– the move was taxing, but we felt at home and happy pretty quickly.

Example of the latter: The Macbook I’m about to buy. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, but after a couple of weeks I won’t wake up and think “I have a Macbook. What a wonderful life.”

There are notable exceptions, such as giving birth to a child (or helping in the process) and raising said child.

Unexpected Week Off: Miscellenies

I’ll just be honest: I had no idea I wouldn’t post for a week. There’s not even that much of an excuse. But I’m sorry you were left hanging. Both of you.

Miscellenies from the last week:

***

We’re moving next month to a condo in hip Plaza Midwood. I will have lots of cool neighbors and will probably need a fauxhawk. Sam will get tatts and wear vintage t-shirts.

***

The Dark Knight is the first movie I’ve seen on opening night in a long time (maybe ever), and it rocked. The Oscar buzz for Heath Ledger is definitely fueled by his death, but I think he’d be a contender anyway.

***

I was pleasantly surprised by the crowd’s behavior at Dark Knight. There were a couple of color commentators behind us, but they were pretty funny, so it didn’t bother me all that much.

***

I was totally underwhelmed by every preview before the movie. Seriously, how many end-of-the-world, America’s-blown-itself-up movies do we really need? Maybe if Obama’s elected they’ll start making movies where we all ride through the rainbows on our cloud cars.

***

If you drive over a laptop computer in your car and you take it out of the case and it looks fine, that does not necessarily mean that it actually is fine. Turn it on and check.

***

If you drive over a laptop computer in your car and your wife is very calm about the whole thing, you have found a good wife and should hang onto her.

***

If you download WinAmp for the first time (I needed it to decode a show I downloaded), you get 50 free downloads at emusic.com. They have mostly independant artists, including a lot of good ones. I got the following 3 albums, plus some Kanye a la carte.

***

The Coinstar machines at Harris Teeter will now take your change and put it on a gift card for retailers including Starbucks, Amazon and iTunes. If you go with this option instead of the cash voucher, there’s no counting fee, which saves you 8.9 cents on the dollar. Iced caffe mocha, anyone?