Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Already back from the voting booth. Kim and I got there for 6am, when the doors opened. There were about 150 people waiting outside. It was surreal, driving up and seeing the line from the door of the church go all the way to the road. The sun wasn't even up yet, so I couldn't take a picture. I've never seen anything like that before. It felt like going to a concert. I just wanted to say, I'm proud of our country today. One way or another, God's in control, and people are doing their best to make things better around here. Maybe that's naive, but I don't care. I'm thankful that I have the freedom to vote and I'm satisfied with that.

Choose Wisely

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Knuckle Ball

That's what I'm about to throw at you. This virtual knuckler will unveil my choice for November 4, 2008. It's a knuckle ball because I plan to give you no spin at all. That's right, my pick with no digs on candidates and no advice for swaying you, the reader. Let's get to it.

I will vote for John McCain. The #1 reason for me is I believe in his philosophy on economic growth. I think that in these times of global economic development, the US must make it a priority to retain employers. These days, companies and their employees are more capable than ever before of picking up and moving to friendlier circumstances. It is important to reward entrepreneurship and hard work, promote growth and give incentives for production.

Secondary reasons include abortion, balance of party power at the federal level, experience (mostly consideration of military), trustworthiness, and dedication to national interests.

You can check out my brother's opinion here. There are some excellent comments there as well.

I hope you all will be voting on Tuesday. Who's name will you check?

Now more than ever, please Choose Wisely.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Townies Unite!

9:05-First question-economic crisis? Obama starts by reestablishing his stance on new regulations for Wall St. McCain brings up his platform of energy independence and cuts for government spending. He also lays out a plan to reevaluate mortgage values.

9:08-Who will be your Secretary of Treasury? McCain names Meg Whitman and Warren Buffett as “types” of people who are qualified. Obama also names Buffett but then goes into more details of his economic plan.

9:11-Bailout concerns? M points out that he stopped campaigning so that he could investigate the bailout plans. Fannie and Freddie are the biggest culprits. O says deregulation was the biggest culprit.

9:16-Worse before better? O says no. M says it’s possible if certain action doesn’t take place. Not exactly a great answer but a bit more effective than O’s.

9:18-How can we trust the parties? O compares the federal spending budget to the average family budget and the basic principles that don’t seem to apply to the government. Then he goes off on his negative dredging of history, but redeems with some details of his plan. M talks about non-partisan work and its importance. Points out O’s potential spending increases.

9:23-Priorities? Health, energy, SS & Medicare-M wants to tackle all at the same time. Rattles off some details that we’ve heard before. O puts energy at the top and compares his resolve to Kennedy’s goal to put a man on the moon. If Americans decide to go for it, it will happen.

9:28-What sacrifices will Americans have to make? M says some programs may be cut. Defense spending, earmarks, spending freeze. O hints that people need to make small adjustments to energy use. Also, double the Peace Corps.

9:33-Too much personal debt? O says government has set a bad example for Americans. O says CEO’s will get 700k in tax cuts under M’s plan and does not think that’s fair for sharing the burden. M does some attacking on O’s tax plan.

9:37-Score 1 for Mr. Brokaw, no O, we’re moving on.

9:38-SS & Medicare? O says these programs are tied to tax plans and proceeds to give his plan’s details. M says SS is easy to fix-just gotta work across the aisle to get it done. Medicare needs a commission of smart Americans to come up with a plan.

9:43-What would you do in the first 2 years to deal with climate issues? M claims nuclear power is the key to making progress. O wants to invest in new technologies.

9:48-What do we do to develop the technologies? M defends his voting record on rejecting certain alternative energy bills because they were loaded with pork.

9:49-Is healthcare a commodity? O says people will be able to keep their current plans if they want to. Others can buy into the same plan as Senators. Then he takes a few shots at M’s plan. M gives a few ideas on efficiency minded changes. He also takes a few shots at his opponent’s plan. Then he explains the opportunity to open cross-state benefit plans.

9:55-Is healthcare a right? M doesn’t like that wording. O thinks it is a right.

10:00-O no! Time for foreign affairs again. I don’t know how much more I can take of this. M says we are challenged to be peace makers but need to be smart about the choices we make in getting involved. O rants about M’s poor judgment and lays out all the money we spend on war activities and how we need that money here at home.

10:04-Use of Force? O says we have a moral obligation to be involved where things are bad. Need to mobilize the international community better. M rehashes O’s position on Iraq and how wrong he was. Some other details that I’m not going to summarize here.

10:08-Pakistan? A pretty long back and forth about the situation and how to get Bin Laden. I think these guys are going to really polarize their supporters with this debate.

10:19-Pressure Russia? M-Putin is hooking up with KGB and doing bad things but getting away with it. It is unacceptable behavior. No Cold War coming. O declares our need to support threatened countries with economic support. I wonder how that sounds to America considering our economic status. Also, do a better job anticipating the actions of Russia and other threats. Also, energy is key in the same battles.

10:23-Is Russia an Evil Empire? O says their actions are evil. M says maybe.

10:24-Defense of Israel? M would not wait for UN before taking action if Israel was attacked by Iran. O says we cannot allow Iran to build up nuclear weapons. We need to use all the tools at our disposal to avoid conflict. Reduce energy use, increase sanctions, direct conversations with friends & enemies.

10:29-What don’t you know and how will you learn it? O-big, unexpected challenges ahead. Then we hear about how tough his life was and how he overcame it all. M-doesn’t know what’s going to happen at home & abroad. Unexpected times. Then we get his story of tough times and how he wants to continue to serve America.

One more debate to go next week. I’ll see you then.

Choose Wisely

Thursday, October 2, 2008


9:00-I just made it home from class in time for this showdown. Looks like PBS gal will be leading our discussion tonight. Let’s create some shortcuts for this diary. Palin = P, Biden = B.

9:02-And welcome the candidates. I haven’t had time to mentally prepare for this so let’s just go with reactions to the goings on.

9:03-Worst/Best of Washington? B says Bush did it. It’s bad because of his policies. P is writing notes while he talks and it looks like she is very angry at her notes. P breaks into “and Everybody Hurts….. sometimes”.

9:07-How do you shrink polarization? B attacks McCain for being out of touch and P clarifies cleanly. Team Maverick is ready to take on the world

9:09-PBS brings us back to the topic-P brings up the oversight topic and encourages people to stop buying on credit. That reminds me of this skit from SNL. http://garritson.com/videos/pages/dontbuystuff.htm B goes straight for the throat and blames McCain for deregulation, then makes up a story about chatting with “Joe” at the gas station. Sorry, I don’t buy that one. It looks like there is a lot of voting history coming out tonight. Of course these numbers can be spun very easily. Spend some time here for more info… http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/.

9:15-It’s time for tax plans. Sounds like B is bringing a few more details than Obama did. A little more clearly too. They always mention the business tax cuts that are bad. I just don’t get that. Now P’s turn to give out some health care details. I’m just going to say I’m confused about the details on McCain’s plan.

9:21-False promises due to the bailout? P is being cute about her “newness” to the game. That definitely gave them a boost, but I’m not sure it can last until Election Day.

9:27-B is singing about fairness and P reiterates McCain’s decision to stop campaigning to keep working on current issues.

9:29-B says they will lower mortgage interest rates and lower principal. How do you do that?

9:30-Climate change? All of the above-approach for P & McCain. Not really man-made but she wants to talk about correcting the problem. B says it is man-made and there are opportunities to capitalize on with new technologies.

9:36-Same sex benefits? B says absolutely yes. P would be tolerant of people’s choices, but traditional marriage is not going to change. B and P reach an accord. Hooray, next topic.

9:40-Foreign policy? This is just a rehash of last week’s debate. Same points, same attacks. I’m using this time to eat some soup. It’s a cool, breezy evening in South Jersey. Wait just a minute, P has just unleashed B’s history from when he was running against Obama. That was potent stuff. Lots of polite smiles and chuckles. Uncomfortable….

9:48-P is sounding pretty rehearsed about the pre-condition issue about meeting with other leaders. This issue didn’t get anywhere last week and I think we’re heading down the same road tonight.

9:53-B is impressive on recent history of Middle East policy. Very firm. P ends up just giving a candy-coated side-step on this one.

9:56-Nuclear intervention? P continues to say nucular. That’s all I hear now, so I’m gonna wait for B’s turn before continuing. Wait, we’re building schools in Afghanistan. I didn’t know that. I’m not sure I like that when we have some pretty big issues with school buildings here in the US.

10:01-B just said something that made P bite her lip. She’s gearing up… She’s using her whispering powers to attack B. They are talking about war in Bosnia, Kosovo right now. P struggles to begin a response and then turns on a dime into another rehearsed answer.

10:07-What would you do if your buddy died while in office? B says, mostly the same policies. P says, continue Maverick ways and bring reform.

10:13-What are you going to do as VP? P will take McCain’s agenda to the Senate. B would do the same, plus advise on all decisions.

10:18-Weaknesses? P cites good experience as executive… you know the drill. B tells a good story about his family struggles to combat P’s hockey mom riff. Did you really think they would talk about their weaknesses? B wants to talk about education, let’s hope they get to that question.

10:24-When did you change your mind about a policy? B had trouble with judge appointments. P had some trouble with allowing budgets that she didn’t really like, but other than that, no changes.

10:29-Closing time. P goes first. Fight, average people, proud, Reagan, protect. B next. Most important election, fundamental change, mortgage, college, neighborhood certitude, ready to go. The end.

Anybody want to guess on my pick yet?

Choose Wisely

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Heat is On

8:23-And so begins my running diary of Presidential debate #1. What more could you ask for on a Friday night? Kim and I just got back from a quick dinner at the local Applebees. They had a special on their ApplebeeTini so I went for it. Naturally, Kim ordered a tall Blue Moon. It looked a little backwards once they were brought to our table. Anyway, now I’m completely geeked up for an evening with the candidates. I don’t know how difficult it will be to get all my thoughts and reactions down and it may not be all that interesting, but I want to document how this thing goes down. At the moment I’m mesmerized by CSPAN’s coverage of the House of Reps.

8:37-23 minutes away from showtime. I will follow the debate on NBC since it is my default channel for national news. I sort of grew up on NBC and have a strange bias towards the peacock network. Although, the local NBC news here in Philly is pretty poor, so I turn to ABC most of the time.

8:47-Here’s a thought. Some of you know me enough to know which candidate I will choose. But I will not name that candidate during this blog. I will try to keep my choice out of my notes and be impartial. You can let me know how well I do at the end. Tell me who you think I’m backing.

8:55-I just noticed that 20/20 was doing Portrait of a President. At this point, I think I’ve learned just about everything I can about their back stories. I watched a bit of each convention and caught 60 minutes last Sunday. I just want to see them battle on the issues. And now on NBC, bull herding? What the heck is this? I’d rather be working on homework. Just need to hang on for 5 more minutes and the fun begins.

8:58-Pre-emptive bathroom break.

9:00-Here’s Brian. Let’s get it on. And Tom. Snacks for the evening… Water & Hershey Kisses. Simple, no mess.

9:02-The rules are being laid out and my head is spinning. Huh? I hope the candidates understood them because I did not.

9:03-Where do they stand on the financial crisis? We are starting off with the question that has the longest and vaguest answers. And the same words that we’ve been hearing all week. Obama is sporting a glisteny, snow-cone looking hairdo tonight. McCain’s tie is weak. It’s too fat coming out of the knot. Was I supposed to be commenting on their opinions or their appearance?

9:08-Obama takes the lead on giving details on the history of the financial crisis. McCain also claims that he foresaw the crisis several years ago. Now he’s on WWII? Obama brings up the struggling folks on Main St. Both of these guys love the Main St vs Wall St metaphor. Their advisors must have been pushing hard for that one.

9:14-What do you do to fix the crisis? McCain talks about growing government, earmarks and excess spending. I’m not sure how that answers the question but what else is new? Obama continues in kind by mentioning earmarks and tax plans. Is it always this off topic? If you write down the question and then listen to the answers, you’d think they didn’t understand the language of the PBS guy. Here’s an example, Hey, what do you guys want for lunch? Uh, I feel that everyone should have health care. I’m gonna let my fingers rest until the next question.

9:20-O no! Now PBS guy got sucked into the mess and redirects about taxes. McCain makes a point about business tax that I tend to agree with. I heard a report about business taxes in China and other countries which are half of that here in the US. New slogan? “China, now comes in cheap labor and cheap taxes!” Obama rebuffs with solid details of McCain’s health care plan.

9:25-It seems like they are starting to throw some slop. Good stuff.

9:26-What sacrifices does gov’t make to cover bailout expenses? Obama doesn’t know what can’t happen but he will prioritize energy independence, health care, and education. Oh and fix infrastructure. McCain says to generically cut spending. Cut ethanol dollars, defense spending (overruns are bad), and examine agencies closely.

9:30-Obama agrees that cuts are important. PBS guy says, listen up! Answer my question.

9:32-McCain suggests a possible spending freeze, but Obama is not sure about that. McCain starts blabbing about nuclear power.

9:34-PBS guy makes another attempt to refocus. Obama sounds good, talking about recovering from the bailout over time but considering what the priorities should be. McCain responds with more about spending cuts and leaving health care out of the gov’t’s hands.

9:38-Obama cites “Orgy of spending.” Oh so risqué. McCain goes right back to citing his history of opposing big W.

9:39-Lessons of Iraq? McCain gives the history. And a pep talk for the future. Obama asks himself a question… haven’t seen that one yet tonight. A sneaky tactic to gain control. (sidebar-please remember that I’m injecting a bit of sarcasm here and there) He is giving a history of the negative aspects that are probably supposed to be average Joe facts to relate to us. McCain lays out the next President’s role in Iraq, which sounds pretty confident.

9:43-Obama admits the success of the surge but then goes right back to pointing out the negatives. Obama tries to reframe the question but doesn’t have any time to make a point about his ability to lead the military. McCain says the success of Iraq will carry over to the plans in Afghanistan. Obama points out the semantics of their votes on troop funding. It comes across as truthful.

9:50-Obama continues his campaign of more military efforts for Afghanistan. McCain replies with attacks on the details of Obama’s plan.

9:50-What about Afghanistan? I think PBS guy missed the last 7 minutes of conversation, but Obama picks up the torch and runs with it. He loves to talk about this one. Now he brings up Pakistan and even says it properly. He likes to score points in little ways, which probably counts for something. McCain does not want to be involved with military action against Pakistan. This might be an important difference to remember. Troops plus strategy equals success. McCain starts squinting while he’s listening to Obama clarify his position on Pakistan. Obama serves-McCain returns. Back and forth.

9:58-Next topic please. War, bombs, sob stories.

10:00-The one hour mark. Who’s bracelet is cooler? It might be time for some thumb wrestling to settle this issue!

10:02-Look away, I beg you, this is ugly. Obama sucks up to PBS guy, shameful.

10:03-Iran threat? McCain says Iran threatens Israel and the Middle East and drops the word holocaust. He says we can have a league of democracies. That sounds kind of interesting, although he just said France would be in it. No thanks, I’ll pass. Obama clarifies his position about the Iran government. Tougher sanctions, help from non-democratic countries would be good too. McCain points out the need to meet with leaders but only with pre-conditions. Obama says McCain is being inconsistent with his advisers. McCain does a lot of smirking and smiling when Obama speaks.

10:11-How did Spain get wrapped up in this mess? McCain leaves that alone and just does more clarifying on his position. Good feisty back and forth on that one. Maybe the most entertaining conversation so far.

10:16-Russia… what’s up with them? Obama says the attack on Georgia was not cool with him. He would tell them to stop being a bully. McCain says Obama is a little girl. Ok maybe not that far, but he makes Obama look a little overmatched on this topic. McCain is a champion name dropper. He’s got friends everywhere and they have some pretty crazy names. I think his advisers told him to use that to show his familiarity with leaders around the world.

10:21-Redirect by Obama gives ideas for helping Georgia. I’m too tired to come up with a worthwhile joke about this. Only 39 minutes to go. He’s got a plan but changes the subject to energy. McCain says stuff that Obama is offended by. McCain stalls a little to squeeze more time from Obama, but Obama gets a quick rebuttal in.

10:26-Likelihood of another 9/11-McCain says it’s less likely. Gives himself some love for the accomplishments of the 9/11 Commission. Gives details about the way we should do things to avoid future attacks. Obama says we are safer in some ways but brings up negative aspects of progress thus far. More focus on Al Qaeda. Make sure global perception of the US improves to help long-term security. He covers this answer well. Obama makes the point that funding for the war is directly connected to the lack of funding for other social programs. I find this argument a bit weak illogical. McCain brings out his soothing soft voice to ease our minds. He’s got different modes, but he likes to appear calm after Obama gets excited about something.

10:36-Obama’s father had a dream. America is not the same today as it was then. McCain knows how to work with friend and foe. The End.

That ended a bit abruptly and so does this running diary.

So, who am I voting for?

Choose Wisely

Friday, August 8, 2008

Acting! (picture Jon Lovitz on SNL for effect)

Just watched Reign Over Me last night. Really good movie. It got me thinking about some of the best acting performances I've seen lately so I decided to share my top 3 actors for the past 10 years or so.

#3 Matt Damon-it all started with Good Will Hunting which continues to be one of my all-time favorites. He's Jason Bourne for goodness sake. He loses points for the Good Shepherd, although I think that had more to do with De Niro's directing. But of course, he's one of Danny Ocean's boys.

#2 Don Cheadle-Watching Reign Over Me reminded me how good he is. He's very comfortable and believable in many roles. Hotel Rwanda being his best work and Crash is up there too. The Family Man is fun too. Also, one of Danny Ocean's boys. Bonus points for playing Ice Trey during the first season of the Fresh Prince!

#1 Ed Norton-Just my opinion but I think he wins this short list. He had a nice streak going with Rounders, American History X, and Fight Club. Then he was solid in The Score and The Italian Job. I haven't seen a lot of his recent movies so I can't judge his Hulk. He's in The Kingdom of Heaven too, but I haven't seen it a second time and I can't remember his part in that. Either way, he edges out Cheadle by a hair at this point in time. We'll see where these guys go from here.

What's your top 3?

Choose Wisely

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Nothing to see here

I won't waste time trying to excuse myself for poor blogging habits. Even though life is busy, there doesn't seem to be anything of real consequence going on. So, the updates....
-Discovery Church softball is in the midst of a best-of-5 series for the GCCSL Championship (click here for stats). The series is tied up at 1-1, with game 3 coming up on Friday night. GCCC has apparently won the last 2 years, but they've got their hands full this year. I've been struggling to stay healthy. I seem to pull a muscle every other game, so I have been doing heavy duty rehab between contests. Luckily nothing has been too serious and I've played in each game.
-Kim's brother has recently become engaged to his long-time girlfriend.
-Kim and I continue to attend Crossbridge Community Church and things are going well. We continue to become more comfortable and we really like meeting people who live nearby.
-August is going to be the last month for me to have any fun until next June. I'm gearing up for a heavy load of studies. I'll have classes on Wednesday & Thursday nights @ Rutgers for the fall semester and I'll have School Business Administrator Certification courses on Saturdays from 9am-2pm starting in September (plus the 1 hr drive to get there). I'll be needing some superhuman discipline to keep up.
-Work is good and busy but not exhausting. New teachers will be reporting next Monday and all teachers return the Monday after that. And then the kids show up.... I don't think I'm ready for that.
-Quick shout out to Pastor Marty who faithfully blogs about his pursuit of relationships. It's good to hear about his success but also nice to know that it's difficult for him too.
-Last note... check out the video of my nephew's first birthday party. Good times...

Choose Wisely

Sunday, June 29, 2008

By Our Love

click for the inspiration for this post. Also see a few of the posts from here, and some other relevant ideas from my Mission posts. I offer these so you have a frame of reference if you haven't been following the string of discussion as it was posted.

Sometimes I like to jot down an idea when it pops in my head and save it for later. Reading the post linked above, jogged my memory about a idea for a post that was in response to some of the "blogversation" (new word, go with it?) with Bear Much Fruit....

"What about a Christian organization that does social work and has gatherings? Just don't call it a church. Combatting cynicism with true Christian life lived out."

I feel like this is a pretty radical thought and I am even a little scared by it. There's a fine line between doing God's work and doing it completely without mentioning Him. I especially hate the political correctness that is sometimes needed to execute such a dance. You might even call it the "spiritual lambada". You put your faith in action. It's clear that you are doing good things for other people and sacrificing your own desires. But you never announce that God is the reason for your work.

I think that's where I lose it. My faith might be big enough to do works and love the unlovely, but it's not big enough to let God take it from there. I want the result and the reward of knowing that the work was worth the effort. I forget that my part is over and done with. As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that these things might stem from my issues with trusting other people (a post for another day). But God's not "other people". Ugh, I am so hardheaded sometimes. Anybody else got understanding God figured out yet?

Anyway, I'd like your thoughts on this issue of showing Christian love, with no strings attached and no expectations, only that you have done your part in someone's journey. Also comment if you have thoughts about my post idea that's italicized up at the beginning of the post. It might be fun to do some "shock and awe" caliber of loving.

Choose Wisely

Monday, June 23, 2008

Catching up

OK, so I didn't post anything when we returned from our Austin trip. I guess I ran into another dry spell, blog-wise. You can visit my facebook for pictures from the trip. My comments give you the general idea of what we did there. We really had a great time. Austin is very cool and if you're ambitious enough, you can hear a wide variety of music in just 1 night. The 2 most interesting spots were Speakeasy and the Elephant Room. Speakeasy has an alley entrance instead of sidewalk entrance. It's designed to be a throwback to the prohibition days. The Elephant Room is in a long skinny basement, and is nationally recognized for bringing in top jazz musicians.

Other highlights included, anniversary dinner @ Carmelo's, lunch @ Hickory Street B&G, appetizer @ BD Riley's, Fireman's #4 beer, Indiana Jones @ the Alamo Drafthouse, great weather, great people, and visiting our friends.

Next item... I changed jobs. 2 hours before we took off for Austin, I got a job offer from DUE Season Charter School to be the Business Manager, and today was my first day there. I spent 2 years in the Willingboro School District and there were a few times that I thought I'd be out of there even sooner. But circumstances kept changing and there was potential for advancement. Once that potential was squashed though, there was very little reason for me to stay. I had some really excellent relationships there and I am grateful for what those people added to my life. I hope that I was able to do the same for them.

Now I'm in Camden. I am really excited to be a part of a positive organization in that city. My friends, The A's, are immersed in Urban Promise. In a way, I sometimes get jealous of people like them who are so selfless and committed to their calling. I have to remember that I have not been called to do the same thing and I just have to be faithful with what I am called to do. God has definitely blessed my career so far. He must have a reason for this new position, so I'll just have to keep walking with Him so I don't miss out on anything. I'll try to keep you updated as things develop.

Next... We've been to Crossbridge Community Church 3 times now. My internal battle over this church is this... it feels comfortable and familiar, but maybe that's because it's so similar to the church I recently left. We have talked to a few people there, and they are super nice and welcoming. We have decided that we will be semi-regular for the time being.

Quick hits...(the end, I promise)... I shot 99 on Friday on my first round of golf for 2008. Fairly satisfied with that. Got a new PC from Dell's Outlet-"Scratch and Dent". There are no scratches or dents. Got a couple of suits so I can dress like an adult at my new job. It does feel like my first real grown-up job. Hopefully I act accordingly. Softball is winding down. My team has 1 game left tomorrow. I'll be playing with another team for a few games after that.

Choose Wisely

Thursday, May 29, 2008

That makes 4

Kim and I are heading to Austin, TX this afternoon for a long weekend to celebrate our 4th anniversary. It is slightly random, but in late April when I was feeling overwhelmed by school and my grandfather's health issues, I had a feeling that we would need to get away by ourselves once the calendar reached this date. So far we've gone to St. Louis, New York, and Atlantic City on our anniversaries, so this will continue the traveling theme. We also have friends in Austin so it will be a good opportunity to catch up with them. We don't really have plans to see anything in particular but I'll definitely take pictures of whatever we bump into. Check in next week for a recap.

Choose Wisely

Sunday, May 18, 2008

In Memoriam

I'd like to post what I shared at my Grandfather's funeral, this past Wednesday. It's been a long, long week for me. Each yesterday seems further and further behind. By writing this eulogy, I think I was able to process some things about myself that I already knew, just hadn't really identified them. Here is my View on my Grandfather's life...

Life was simple in my grandfather's world. You do what needs to be done and that's it. You don't make excuses and you don't look for the easy way out. You finish what you start and look back, only after the work is done. You give yourself.... your time, money, energy-your very best, to those who need it. And your family gets this effort before anyone else.

I learned a lot from him. Most of it was very practical, logical, useful-for everyday life. And most of it was from watching him. He didn't have to say much for me to know what he was thinking. But, sometimes when I messed up, he told me exactly what he was thinking.

He set goals and he worked towards them. When he came across a new type of problem, he studied until he knew how to solve it. He never stopped challenging himself.

He also knew how to play and have fun. Baseball in the backyard. Card games in the kitchen. Bowling, darts, and Nerf miniature golf set up around the basement furniture. We made an annual trip to Canobie Lake Park. We went out to eat at Big Boy's all the time and no waitress was safe from his teasing. He could always break the ice with his charm. It was easy to notice how much he enjoyed spending time with family.

These memories are a small sample of the experiences that I've had during my 28 years with my grandfather. There are so many more that I get to remember anytime I want. The memories he gave me are the greatest gifts of all.

He taught me about life and priorities, and how everyday choices impact what will happen tomorrow. That it is important to recognize the value of each choice. He taught me that it's ok to relax, have fun, be myself, and take a break if that's what I needed. He taught me that I could love my family by working hard and taking care of their needs.

Sometimes it's easier to say I love you, than it is to show it. He chose to show it. I am blessed by his example. His way of living for his family. It was a simple choice that he made everyday. It's who he was, and it's who I want to be. To honor him. Amen.

PS. Now you know why I say...

Choose Wisely

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Here's the link to my brother's blog which has more info about my grandfather's recent passing. More to come later.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


I just read this post and wanted to share. This blogger usually keeps things light and funny but this one has some deeper stuff in it. I've heard variations of his idea, like-seasons of the soul-but I think this is a cool way to look at it. Check out his other posts too, he is right on about Stuff Christians Like.

Quickie update: I'm working on my final paper for the spring semester and will be done by Sunday afternoon. Also, tonight is Game Night at my house! Those of you who have attended know what I'm talkin about. It's a great tool for making sure I see friends at least once a month. A good neutralizer for non-stop life that tries to eliminate fellowship, relationship and connection. So, I'll work hard on this paper for now, but at 7 o'clock tonight, it's party time! Go Flyers.... and please Celtics, don't.... just don't.

Choose Wisely

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Mission-Part II

I want to address some of the comments that were made as a result of The Mission. I appreciate the knowledge that others can bring to this idea and I hope you all know that I respect your insight. Church stuff has become way more complicated than it was ever supposed to be. I'll try to clarify a couple of things I said and I'll respond directly to some quotes I pulled out from the comments I received. Also, for similar challenging Church discussion, check out Much Fruit's recent blogs and comments. Let's get to it....

"I agree with this as long as it is understood that Christ cares about the ends as well as the means that His shepherds use to build His church."
-Yes I agree with this. My aim in laying out a sort-of generic mission/purpose is to allow room for wisdom and discernment to execute those means by the shepherds. I believe they are charged with the responsibility of knowing their community and what their needs are, spiritual and otherwise. This is not meant to dumb down the Gospel but it is meant to be more relevant to their local situations. I believe that God will do the work, but shouldn't we also try to relationally reach the people? Some people are going to respond to our love, which is God's love anyway, before they receive any part of the Gospel. His Shepherds must be aware of this.

"Yes as Christians we are called to win souls for Christ, however, is that primarily the church's job, or ours? "
-It's our job. We are responsible for our relationship with God. I wouldn't say that my sin is my church's fault. Neither is it the church's fault that they didn't convert the unsaved. It's the message, not the person anyway, church or individual is secondary.

"How do we evaluate the success or failure of a particular ministerial venture that seeks to ‘increase and advance the Kingdom of God’?”
-Other comments around this quote assume a little too much about my position. I strongly believe that elder and pastoral oversight is very important to each ministry. But not primarily the programmatic stuff. They need to be involved with the lives of the ministry leaders personally. Mentoring them and doing life with them to ensure spiritual growth as well as ministerial "success". Accountability is powerful and spiritual fruit flows from humble, disciplined believers.

So what is success? I think it depends on who's in the picture. Believers should grow and gain purpose of life and their place in the Kingdom (this includes evangelism). Non-believers should be challenged to investigate the Gospel, eventually facing a personal choice to accept it.

"sticking to biblical standards in terms of church government and qualifications for leadership; maintaining the outward purity of the church through biblical church discipline."
-Nothing more to say here, I like these things.

"Finally, a quick word on altar calls. First, I want you to quote me, chapter and verse, where the first altar call appears in the Bible. Second, do a little research on the history of the altar call and let me know if you think it is a biblical practice."
-I'm honestly not much of a Biblical researcher at this stage of my life/walk, so this ain't happening. After reading Lynn's comments, I pretty much agree with her take. I'm not going to condemn a church that asks people to raise their hand as a sign that they are praying for salvation, just because it never happened that way in the Bible.

I want to share my life and struggles with like-minded people who want to be like Jesus, and mix it up with unlike-minded people. And I'm concerned about a church's intentional work towards reaching the unsaved. In my definition of that, the church's role of reaching the unsaved includes building up believers-it just doesn't end there. The church is also concerned with its relevance to the surrounding community.

So in my family's search for a church, we are not looking for seeker-sensitive or Bible thumping or any other defining label. The formats and styles and programs will be different everywhere, so those will be personal preferences. But the church has to prepare me for my personal mission which is the same... "To increase and advance the Kingdom of God."

Choose Wisely

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pass it on

I know my readership is not terribly extensive, but I want to pass on this blog from my friend Jay even if it only gets a few more hits because of it. It's part of a paper he wrote for his seminary studies. Stay tuned to his blog, because there is plenty more to come.

I'm still planning on responding to all the comments in my "The Mission" post. I haven't forgotten, I am just trying to prioritize things here in the `sphere. I've been working on several projects/papers at school lately and I'm trying to keep pace with the deadlines. So far, all is well.

Choose Wisely

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hillary's resume

If you're not a fan of Hillary's, this is for you. If you are a fan, would you really hire her after you did some fact finding on her resume? Isn't that just bad business?

Choose Wisely

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

for kicks

I've been checking out this blog for the last couple of days and it's been pretty interesting. He compiles a lot of political news throughout the day but this clip he posted is just for fun. Enjoy.

Choose Wisely

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

3 notes

1. The Red Sox are in first place.

2. Watch this bid for an Oscar

3. There's a great comment under my post "The Mission". I hope to have some time to respond in the near future, but in the mean time, please add your own thoughts.

Choose Wisely

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

She's in the club

I just wanted to post the link to Kim's blog. I figured this is the quickest way to let some of you know about it. And might I say, it's a heck of a maiden post.

My mom just arrived from Puerto Rico to join us for the Easter holiday weekend. Jason, Erin & Mitchell are mere miles away from joining us as well. Hopefully I'll get some life updates posted next week for you. Until then...

Choose Wisely

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Mission

To increase and advance the Kingdom of God. That's it. Isn't it? Nothing fancy. Simple, to the point and broad enough to allow interpretation. With the challenge of finding a new church home and the benefit of many years of ministerial organization with other Christian "thinkers", this is what it comes down to for me. If a church plant or relaunch were in order, I think this is where I would begin the planning stage.

Using The Mission as the litmus test for any process or program allows leaders to operate effectively without being confused about what's acceptable or if they're in line with the organization's main goal. They can lead, manage, direct, create, recruit, develop, mentor, minister, whatever. The organization will tend to take on a personality that resembles its leader(s). But if The Mission is clear and communicated throughout the organization, it should transcend any niche that is created by the individuals who put their personal touch on the programs. In this way, despite humanity, The Mission is honored.

Choose Wisely

Monday, February 25, 2008

Just Visiting

Living Hope Worship Center
That's where we visited this past Sunday. Kim and I were joined by Mike & Becky and their friend Dana. Overall Kim and I were happy with the service. Some of the musical aspects were lacking, like the drummer's penchant for chimes and the projection person struggling to change slides at the right time. The thing about that is, I was the drummer and Kim was the projection person at our last church. Go figure that the first weaknesses we encounter are those. But I really liked that it was a solid half hour of uninterrupted music.
Pastor Brian has a strong delivery, although he strayed off topic a couple of times for a little too long. The message was not one of Christian life application, as most seem to be these days. It was a sermon about Hell and the status of our souls after death. Ultimately he lead to the metaphorical fork in the road. Which path will you choose? I think he explained things pretty well and it was a good change of pace for me.
I also can't knock anyone who leads several people in prayer for salvation at the end of a message. In my view, my previous church did not take intentional steps towards bringing people to a place where they were faced with a choice to make. Not to say they did not desire that, it just didn't seem to be something they worked towards. I know that they did impact people's lives in a positive way and promoted the Christian life, but there weren't many new believers as a result of that ministry. However, there's no way to know the scope of collateral benefit that ultimately results from the growth of the people that attend that style of church.
Yet another dilemma to deal with. What's more important? How do you even define important in the Christian universe? Of course, living and developing as a disciple of Christ is important. So is leading lost souls into the Kingdom. And I know that there's room for all kinds of churches that focus on different goals in ministry. I suppose the real question is, what's right for me and my family? Your thoughts?...

Choose Wisely

Thursday, February 21, 2008


All of a sudden, I've missed 3 weeks of blogging. That's not very good. I think about writing but don't actually do it. Maybe because it doesn't seem like a whole lot is happening right now.

Kim and I have settled into the new house and things have been going well. We have pretty busy schedules, which actually came as a surprise to her since I'm the one going to class 2 nights a week. Kim is playing indoor soccer on Friday nights, has a small group on Thursday nights, and manages to have errands to run on some other nights. Last weekend we rented a truck to get some bedroom furniture from her relatives who live in Maryland and her parents who live in DE. It was a tough day of moving, which caught me by surprise since I figured we'd already done all the moving we were going to do. It was worth it though, because now we have another bed in the house and our visitors can be a little more comfortable.

Upcoming events... Sunday we will make our first "church shopping" visit. We'll start with a few that are in the neighborhood and branch out from there. Who knows how long it will take. I haven't had to look for a church in 8 years (which is a good thing) so it's going to feel a little awkward. We've made a list of things that are factors to consider in a new church family and we've prayed over them. We know that God can move and turn our list into a bunch of lines on paper. We are ready for this.

Choose Wisely

Let me plug a couple of my blog links...
I really enjoy reading Pastor Marty. I get the feeling that he's extremely dedicated to building his church to be one that gives a sense of the fellowship that we'll have in heaven. I have a chalkboard behind me in my office and I've been putting up quotes from my Public Management course as I come across good ones. It's interesting that a lot of them translate into a ministry context because when it comes down to it, it's really about people and relationships.
"Reason and instinct do not represent rival views of leadership. Rather, they represent the creative tension at the center of leadership." -Grover Starling
This one applies to Marty's 2/20 blog. Love and maturity are critical factors for this to work, in my opinion. I am encouraged by the mission and vision that their team has for their community. By the way, I've never actually visited his church.

The other plug is Chicken Soup. No Bagel video of my nearly 8 month old nephew. If you have a pulse, you'll probably enjoy it.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


The long-awaited return of ABC's Lost will air tonight. As a faithful viewer since day 1, I can say that the next twist of the show will only make me feel more lost. The coming rescuers have a hidden agenda which will probably be the mystery of season 4, which will be very short anyway. I'll be rushing home from class to catch the latest adventure of the losties.

Speaking of class, I am in week 2 now. Public Management is the Wed night course and I think this will be a very good experience for me. Lots of issues that I deal with everyday are discussed and help me organize my own thoughts and feelings about how things are and how they should be. Unfortunately, I probably won't get to use what I learn because of the culture that exists in my workplace (school district). It can get very frustrating to be a creative manager in a stale environment (bordering on extinction). It's starting to feel like a missed opportunity to make some lasting difference here. I know that I have contributed in many positive ways but it's time to keep pushing and challenge people for more improvements. Doesn't the taxpaying public deserve our best efforts? Some possible reasons for stagnation...

Everybody is selfish
Nobody wants to be blamed for anything
The public doesn't trust the decision makers
Decision makers don't want to rock the boat
Political correctness overpowers truth
No recognition for quality effort (which will squash entrepreneurship real quick)
Lack of communication

To summarize... what's the point? I mean really. What good does it do for one or a few persons to try to chip away at a system that is dominated by senior management that has no interest in taking some chances. And they could be very small chances with low risk. Shouldn't that be a part of organizational leadership? No business would ever survive with this structure. For me, I know that I am supposed to be doing everything as if I were doing it for God. That is what gives me some motivation, but my human side says this is not going to be worth it in the end. There are too many battles going on between people and departments. Luckily that's mostly work related. I do have some excellent co-workers who I get to share my life with when I need to get it all out. Is that enough? What do you think? I'm LOST.

Choose Wisely

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Extra long weekend

Today is my Monday. Since I work in a school district, I had MLK day off and I tacked on a vacation day to extend the long weekend even more. It's nice having so many days off, even though I take it for granted some times.

Now I can look back on the weekend and take stock of what was accomplished. As usual, not quite as much of the to-do list as I had hoped for. Saturday morning was reserved for movies in bed. It's been too long since I've done that. Then Kim & I headed for The Dump and Target. If you don't know about The Dump, it's a furniture store that claims to buy from dealers who need to unload inventory. This allows The Dump to cut their prices way down. Plus they're only open on the weekends. We were a little skeptical of such an establishment but decided to check it out for the heck of it. Overall, it's not a bad place. It might not be the best place for your Grade A furniture but if you want a lot of options for middle/lower grade, this might be a good place to visit. At least it will help you get a better idea of what you want. So, we left empty handed but with plans to visit again when we're looking for a cheap, taller dining room table for the basement.

Next stop, Target. Love Target. Our living room is full of Target. We needed bookshelves and we got them there. Nothing else newsworthy really happened, but the ride back home was nice.

Since we've moved to semi-farm country, we get to drive past lots of open land and farmer's markets. This is a nice change for us because we've both grown up in thickly settled areas, albeit very different environments. This particular drive also revealed a Vineyard that has a wine tasting shop. We'll be sure to make a stop ASAP.

Without giving the full play-by-play for the entire weekend... here are the rest of the notes.
Sunday-Pats win! Bookshelves are assembled. Basement set up for TV/Movies and other fun stuff.
Monday-Worked on my church's Financial stuff since I'm the treasurer. More bookshelves assembled.
Tuesday-Made initial visit to new Primary doctor. Organized home office. No more bookshelves to assemble!
Today-This is day 1 of the Spring semester, so I have class after work. Public Management is a core course in my program and comes with 3 books plus handouts and anything else the professor decides to make us read. I am NOT a reader - this development is very upsetting to me. So, it's time for discipline and responsibility to take over. I'll have to suck it up for the next 15 weeks and press on. My other class, Public Info Systems, is tomorrow and there has been no indication if there is a book for that class. Let's all hope that it's nothing more than the syllabus. Otherwise, if you need me, you can find me falling asleep with a book in my hands.

PS-I'm going to inaugurate my sign off. Feel free to apply it as you see fit

Choose Wisely

Thursday, January 17, 2008

End of the day

It's time to burn the last few minutes of the work day. What a perfect opportunity to use for blogging. I've already received a request from my mom to write new adventure stories of Mr. Dooley. He was a character I made up in order to complete creative writing assignments when I was in elementary school @ First Assembly Christian Academy (Worcester, MA). It was much easier to write those stories with a recurring character since I could just make up a crazy plot and run it into the ground with juvenile twists and with no real outcome in sight. I think I wrote one about a trip to the Grand Canyon, which was hard to do since I haven't actually been there. I suppose I had been there in my mind (back when the World Book Encyclopedia was the only source of information-my goodness that's pathetic). So anyway, I appreciate the memory of Mr. Dooley (and classmate Danny's made-up nemesis Mr. Baldie) but I can't promise any new adventures these days.

Instead, I'm busy painting a new house and playing Wii and as many other video games as I possibly can, because next Wednesday I'll be back in the classroom beginning the Spring '08 semester @ Rutgers Univ-Camden (Masters in Public Administration). Every Wednesday & Thursday evening until May will be spent in class, trying to fill my noggin with new knowledge that will help prepare me for more challenging endeavors in the future. I can't put a label on that end result yet but I'm not worried about it. Hopefully I'll be done in December '09 or May '10. Perhaps then, Mr. Dooley will make a stunning return to life and right the wrongs that have occurred during his absence. And maybe, just maybe, he'll have grown up a little bit too. Personally..... I hope he didn't.

Joining the family in blogland

So, it seems that everyone in my family has jumped headfirst into blogging. I really have no idea if I will be a faithful blogger but I definitely see the value in doing it. It's getting harder and harder to reply to friends' emails and keep everyone in the loop with South Jersey life for Kim and I. Hopefully, this should simplify the process for those who are interested in what's happening with us. I may use this to respond to other blogged ideas too. Who knows, things get crazy at the lofty altitude of the destratisphere. I'll be back later to post actual thoughts and updates. This is just my warm up.