Monday, January 26, 2009

the calm before the storm

A good time this past weekend. My family came down on Saturday to visit. Originally I had thought it would just be my parents, but it turned out my sister was able to make it along with my nephew, Gavin. We went to lunch at the Essenhaus, came back and hung out a while, and then when my parents and sister went to Shipshewana for about an hour or hour and half or so, we got to watch Gavin.

Very cool, fun time...I think when you get a chance to spend time alone with a "new" relative (Gavin's about 10 months), it helps your sense of feeling like an Uncle or Aunt. Obviously its been great the other times my family gets together, but often, because of the number of people and the shortage of time, you selfishly feel less like you are watching your nephew rather than your sister's kid or your parent's grand kid. I know its somewhat semantics here, but having time alone helps create that personal connection/attachment/relativity. Anyway, I know both Jackie and I really enjoyed watching him for that hour or so...playing with some blocks we had (building them up and watching him knock them down and laugh), lifting him high like a human airplane and see his smile get bigger and bigger, just really fun times.

It made for a very nice weekend, and in some ways, two very nice weekends back to back (Jackie's parents came to visit last weekend. I was so tired of traveling after the holidays (6 straight weekends on the road was just too much), that I didn't really want to go anywhere for at least a month. We have basically accomplished that, but it was nice that each of our families were able to visit so that we were able to have some good times with them despite not going anywhere.

For the next week or so however, there will be much traveling again. On Wednesday of this week, Jackie and I leave for Union Pier, Michigan for my firm's annual retreat. Its essentially a meeting where the partners of the firm plan for the entire year - really covering everything - while the spouses get a chance to do some shopping, go to a spa, whatever. Then we usually hit up some nice restaurants for dinner on a couple of nights and have lots of good food and good drink. This will be the third retreat I have gone on with the firm, and thus far I enjoy them immensely. I know it can be a little stressful for Jackie to work to get her guest teacher plans together and this is always a busy time of year for her class, but hopefully it can provide a chance for her to relax for a couple of days as well. After the retreat, we head back this way Friday morning, then head down to Fort Wayne to pick up Ellie (decided to leave her with the in laws considering they volunteered and we were unsure about boarding her this young. Then on Saturday, we head up to Lansing to celebrate my sister's birthday, which is actually Sunday. Then next week, Monday my dad has surgery for something related to his colon, so I will be going up again either Tuesday or Wednesday to visit him in the hospital post surgery and maybe give my mom a break. So its going to be a busy next week or so, but hopefully things will all go smoothly.

The place we are staying at Union Pier actually has wi-fi, so I might actually bring the laptop and see if some blogging inspiration hits me there when I stare at a couple feet of snow drifting off the lake.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

25 random things

So Jackie tagged me in a Facebook note of hers about 25 random were the instructions...

Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.
(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)
I guess I am supposed to write about this in Facebook...but I try to do my blogging here, and they import to facebook anyway, so I guess here goes... (quick digression - I find it incredibly amusing that this was sent to me by my wife, who apparently wants "to know more about you," gives me a chuckle everytime)...

1.  When I was a kid, I wanted to be general manager of the Tigers.  I still do.

2.  Whenever something of mine and something of Jackie's is next to each other, i.e. toothbrushes or keys, mine have to be on the left when I am looking at it.  That's just the way it is.

3.  I enjoy cooking most of the time, but can't stand baking.

4.  My job requires me to make many decisions, yet I tend to be very indecisive when faced with simple, small decisions.

5.  I used to play video games a lot.  Then I sold everything.  From time to time, I still miss playing those games.

6.  I'm probably much less cynical about religion than most people that know me would think.

7.  No matter what I do, I can't help constantly re-evaluating my presence online between facebook, twitter, and blogs.

8.  I am obsessive about scheduling things.  Everything is written down in my work planner and my phone.  Sometimes its even on google calendar as well.  On Sundays I even schedule the meals I will make each night of the week.  It amazes me Jackie puts up with this.

9.  During Saturdays in the fall, when college football is on, I can watch 12 hours of football consecutively with no problem.

10.  One of my best memories is attending Game 1 of the 2006 World Series at Comerica Park with my dad.

11.  I start thinking about semi big purchases very early.  For Jackie's car we got in August 2005, I started researching cars in 2004.  I started looking at houses a good year and a half before we actually went out and visited some together.  I am already looking at car options for consideration when the lease on Jackie's car is up this August.

12.  During my first years of college, I really wanted to live in the Pacific Northwest, either Seattle or Vancouver.

13.  Most of my time in college was spent dealing with insomnia.  I have no idea now, when I like to get at least 6 hours of sleep or more, how I made it through college when I only slept 15-20 hours a week when I was lucky.

14.  I have to remind myself that I have travelled abroad to England, Italy, France, and Greece, because at times it honestly feels like a vague dream.

15.  One of my single biggest regrets in my life is not taking pictures when I was on those foreign country trips.

16.  My single biggest fear is losing my it simply going crazy, getting Alzheimer's or dementia.  I can't stand the thought of not being in control of my mind and thoughts.

17.  A goal of my remains to write a book of some sort, be it fiction or something else.

18.  I want a kid badly.  But fatherhood is also one of the most terrifying thoughts.

19. I constantly change my mind on how I want to do our finances...from a written checkbook, to on my palm pilot, to a spreadsheet, and back again.

20.  There are many jobs I sometimes picture myself having...from a sports GM, to a professional writer or editorialist, to an archaeologist, to a college professor.  Despite always thinking about these jobs, I really like my current job and feel very blessed.

21.  I yell at the TV and rant randomly.

22.  I quote movies frequently.

23.  I don't think I could dislike a chore anymore than I dislike mowing the lawn.

24.  I very much enjoy some traditionally "non-masculine" things such as decorating our house and making decisions from paint color to room layouts, and being actively involved in Christmas shopping - I must be involved in the process to feel comfortable giving the gift with my name on it.

25.  This is a bit sentimental, but true - at least once a week I feel incredibly blessed by the fact that Jackie chose to spend her life with me and that I get to live my life with my best friend.  At least once a week I am blown away by this fact.

I'm glad that I was able to come up with at least twenty-five things.  I'm not going to tag anyone, but if anyone wants to post something like this in the comments, or post it in their blog, I will provide a link.

Friday, January 23, 2009

just some thoughts

Just some thoughts swirling in my head this morning as I try to recover from being up most of the night with a stomach bug...

Should there be a law, providing for criminal punishment, for someone who commits adultery?

If a state already has a law that criminalizes adultery, should the State actively enforce such law?

If a politician in said state proposes to repeal any such law, does that make the politician pro-adultery, or an adulterer?

For some time these questions have been nagging my brain...possibly motivation for doing some research and writing a law journal type article on the topic. The relationship between society's moral code or ethics and society's legislation has always intrigued me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

from Merton

Just some passages from Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation that I am in the middle of right now...

Let no one hope to find in contemplation an escape from conflict, from anguish or from doubt. On the contrary, the deep, inexpressible certitude of the contemplative experience awakens a tragic anguish and opens many questions in the depths of the heart like wounds that cannot stop bleeding. For every gain in deep certitude there is a corresponding growth of superficial "doubt." This doubt is by no means opposed to genuine faith, but it mercilessly examines and questions the spurious "faith" of everyday life, the human faith which is nothing by the passive acceptance of conventional opinion. This false "faith" which is what we often live by and which we even come to confuse with our "religion" is subjected to inexorable questioning. This torment is a kind of trial by fire of invisible truth which has reached us in the dark ray of contemplation, to examine, to doubt and finally to reject all the prejudices and conventions that we have hitherto accepted as if they were dogmas. Hence it is clear that genuine contemplation is incompatible with complacency and with smug acceptance of prejudiced opinions....

In the end the contemplative suffers the anguish of realizing that he no longer knows what God is. He may or may not mercifully realize that, after all, this is a great gain, because "God is not a what," not a "thing.' ... There is "no such thing" as God because God is neither a "what" nor a "thing" but a pure "Who." (p.12-13).


So much depends on our idea of God! Yet no idea of Him, however pure and perfect, is adequate to express Him as He really is. Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him. (p.15)

The last statement is very powerful...what does my view of God say about me? What does your view of God say about you?

Friday, January 16, 2009

a quick book post

I finished "I Was Told There'd Be Cake" by Sloane Crosley last night. Its a book full of essays, dealing primarily with situations that occur during one's mid-20s. What I really enjoyed about it is that the author was born in 1978, so the stories she relates from her own experiences, the flashbacks to things in her childhood, are easily relatable...they are from my generation. For some examples, it was great to read about the glory of the old Oregon Trail game that many of us grew up with during our school years, the experience of that first apartment or place, and the pressures of the first time you entertain guests in your own place. I very much enjoyed the book, very quick read, and it was nice to be able to read someone else's experiences and reminiscence about my own from the same time periods. Highly recommend for anyone interested in a little light reading.


You have to love the things that a puppy will do...or else you'd probably just go crazy. So yesterday I leave work early so I can drop off my Kia to get some new tires (when you can't get up a hill in bad weather because you have no tread on your tires, and other cars are going by honking and flipping you off, its time for new tires). So Jackie leaves directly from school and meets me there, and then we head home. We get home and Jackie walks over to Ellie's kennel. This kennel is like a camping kennel, all canvas and mesh. We got it awhile back to take when we went on the road because it folded down flat, making it easier to pack than the normal kennel that was pretty bulky. We really like this kennel, it worked well, looked decent, and was easy to travel with.

Jackie arrives at the kennel, zips open the top, and exclaims, "where is she?" Ellie was not in her kennel. At first we were thinking this some sort of Houdini dog, or she just disappeared being as small as she was. Then we looked at the front of the kennel...

That's right, our little 3 pound dog with her little puppy teeth decided she had enough of spending her day in the little kennel and chewed her way out. Unbelievable, I still have a hard time picturing her doing this...I only wish I had a camcorder on her so I could have seen what it looked like. After the moment of shock wore off, we start searching for the little troublemaker, and find her upstairs - which we really should of known considering she knows how to up stairs but not down them yet.

So last night was filled with an unexpected trip down to the Goshen Petco to pick up a new kennel, one not made of canvas and mesh but of plastic with a metal gate. Hopefully the little escape artist doesn't learn how to get out of this one. So to add to the list of things learned this week with the new puppy...our dog will eat mesh to escape.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Me on a Church Council?

The title is right...Monday night I attended my first meeting of our Church's Administrative Council as an At-Large member. To be honest, I had little idea what to expect. Although, looking back now, I should have. My job entails representing various boards and commissions, and I shouldn't have expected or thought that a council meeting would be different than those meetings simply because it was a church council versus a political council or governmental board. You have all your reports from the various committees, and I was somewhat surprised by the number of committees that exist - its good to see how many people are involved and the various things the church community cared about enough to have a committee for, to actively work on that area. So from this perspective, it was very educational, enabled me to learn a great deal more about what the church does in its ministry.

It was also educational from the perspective of running a church, operationally speaking. Budget for utilities, staff salaries, mission funds, educational funds for Sunday Schools, and the many, many other things that have to be thought of when running an operation that serves so many people and variety of interests and still has to pay the bills. Over the last two years in my work, I have become more and more aware of the business side of practicing law, how to budget for long term capital improvements, anticipating rising costs, seeing areas where money can be saved to allow for more profit. Its interesting to see that many, not all, but many of the tools in that business area are necessary to keep a church running at its "optimal" operational capacity.

I find it interesting that this is something that I would get involved. To those that know me well, they know that me and religion have a complicated relationship. Its not that I dislike religion or distrust it, far from it, its just complicated due to my personal experiences and the way I think about religious matters and approach them. Lately, religion and I have learned how to better coexist (which is to say, I have learned). Succinctly, how to be actively involved and participatory and not lose an inner sense of authenticity. Because of my personality, being involved with the administrative council, I dare to think, will be a great experience. If for no other higher complicated reason that it takes it out of the sky and lets me see the nuts and bolts. I think to some, seeing the operating nature of a church, and how it can be kind of business-like, would be a turnoff. They don't want to see that in their church, they want to just think about the ministry and the worship and all the "religious" stuff. But for me, it really clicks. I care about those things as well, but if all I see is that, I'm sometimes left to my more cynical side drawing conclusions on those things that aren't fair and aren't realistic. Seeing how those things come to be, the process everything goes through, the discussion and dialogue that is participated in before a decision is made, it makes religion, church-going, worshiping, and so on, for lack of better wording, real to me.

I don't really envision myself as someone who would be heavily involved in direct, interpersonal ministry (maybe I'm limiting this definition?). Its not really in my make up, my attributes, to accomplish those types of things well. But it is in my makeup to participate in dialogue for decision-making, to analyze reports, ask questions, plan for the future. Thus, seeing my church this way, in this planning, discussing, decision-making for the future, worrying about budgets to accomplish all they want to do, makes it real. Makes me think, "I can do this, this is how I can serve." Analyze, question, plan, work to create the means and environment for the others in our community to use their attributes and talents for ministry, to create an environment where fellowship can be planted and grow.

I still find it somewhat humorous that by seeing the nuts and bolts, the part of running a religious organization (which a church really is) that seemed so often hidden when growing up, made the whole religion "thing" more something I could feel authentic being active and participatory. Its times like this, when I think about my individual talents, of Jackie's, of friends, family, and other community members, where the idea of the "Body" really clicks in my brain - all these different parts, utilizing their talents to accomplish their function, working together for a greater function/reality. And its really interesting for me to sit and reflect and think where I was with religion, and my thoughts about it, and realize that while many of the beliefs are still there, I feel completely at home in this setting with my small town church. Mysterious ways indeed.

introducing Ellie

As my Facebook status (and Jackie's) hinted at last night for anyone on there to see, we got a new addition to our family last night, a new puppy named Ellie. She is all of 3 pounds right now (about 10 weeks old), and is a Bichon Frise - Shih Tzu mix. Its kind of exciting for me because I have yet to have a dog that's "mine." Growing up, my family had a Scottish Terrier named Blue, but it was more of my sister's dog than mine. When I married Jackie, she had her Bichon Toby, and it was very much her dog. So with Ellie I have the chance to forge my own "ground up" relationship.

She was introduced as the one with the "lopsided" face, which, if you get the right picture, you can see how her eyes don't seem to symmetrical on her face - but it just adds some more character. She is a typical puppy thus far - everything is a game. Things learned already include: she really like the pedestal under our kitchen table (one of the pictures is her sitting on it), I think she thinks its the best place, her place; she has yet to eat o
ver her bowl...she grabs some food, runs to the other side of the kitchen, eats it, and then runs back and repeats as necessary - I hope she doesn't always do that, but its hysterical to watch right now; she has already learned that the front door leads back into the house when she's out - it being so cold outside right now may speed that learning curve up; she seems very comfortable already curling up on the couch and our bed...not sure how I feel about that last part yet; and she likes to bat things with her paws, but still hasn't gotten the kick to chase things our play fetch yet.

Anyway, we are both really excited about it. Its been over four months since we lost Toby, and while we still miss him, its nice to have another being to live with, another dog to spoil, a third wheel around the house.

And, without further ado, introducing Ellie...

let it snow

As anyone in the Northern Indiana knows right now, we are going to have a lot of snow. Probably already a foot on the ground, another couple inches today, some more tomorrow, and with below zero temperatures at the end of the week, its not going anywhere. We like snow in our household, although my opinion of it is much more tempered than Jackie's. I like it if I can stay inside and watch it fall, and perhaps go out and throw some snowballs and whatnot. I don't particularly care for it when I have to drive in it or shovel it.

Our driveway looked like this on Saturday morning. That was at about 6 inches. We went out in the morning to shovel, with Jackie looking particularly happy, although I'm not sure why she gets so happy about shoveling (she attempts to explain some of that odd passion here).

So were out there for about 5 minutes and one of our neighbors comes out, with his lawnmower with a blade attached to it, and clears his driveway in about ten minutes. I look at Jackie and say that we need to get on of those. Our neighbor was generous and gracious enough to notice that we would be shoveling for another 30 minutes or so and came over and helped cleared the rest of our driveway in probably less than ten minutes. I tell Jackie again that we seriously need to get one of those. We chatted with the neighbor (Roger) for a little bit, and were, and still are, extremely thankful for his kindness. (And he was smart, he's in Florida now enjoying nicer weather and avoiding our blizzard and sub-zero temps.)

Because it kept snowing, we were out again on Sunday morning to shovel a couple more inches off the driveway, and the way things are looking today and into tomorrow, we will be shoveling again sometime tomorrow. At least we really don't have anywhere to go (except for work of course), so I guess I can join Jackie in saying "let it snow."

And I almost forgot, the most fun of the weekend was had in Jackie getting stranded in the school parking lot, in part because it hadn't been plowed and she was parked at the bottom of the parking lot, which slants down towards the school. So I had to go over and play musical car seats between our two vehicles to get them back up the parking lot. Jackie's much funnier recap is here.

Hopefully another post later today with pictures of our new puppy!

Friday, January 9, 2009

discovered secrets

I was reading an essay last night where the writer worried, that if she died randomly somehow during the day, how her family would react to her apartment. The obvious things were in there; such as worry about how cluttered something would look, where all the dust would be found, how sad the fridge would look, and so on when the family was packing things up. Her greatest fear related to a secret collection she had of plastic ponies stuffed under her kitchen sink, each left over from a previous relationship now gone bad (why she ends up with them or receives them is a bit complicated, and not really relevant to this).

It made me think in similar ways, what would my family think if they were packing up my things tomorrow? What would they find that would make them puzzled, what would make them wonder if they really knew me, what would make no sense? Would anything make them worried? Amused? Distraught?

As I was thinking about it, I had a hard time imagining anything on the level of the writer's plastic ponies...something that the family would have no clue about. Its not that I don't have idiosyncrasies and weird fetishes, I have plenty, Jackie could go on for hours I bet at how many of them completely annoy her. But I would have to say that most of them are out in the open, so I don't think anyone would be surprised. I have some baseballs I collect, pretty much everyone that knows me knows that I love baseball. I have lots of books on a variety of topics, again, not surprising for how much I read. There would not be anything substantial, nothing collection like. There is the possibility of various random things that I have drawing curious glares, small things that have been held on to for whatever reason.

There's the European money (French, Italian, Greek) I have from my trips, which are now worthless due to the Euro, sitting inside a small chest in our downstairs spare room. There's the tiny stuffed animal SJC puma, that I have no idea when or how I got (truly can't remember at all), but can't bring myself to get rid of it. An assortment of pins collected over the years on my dresser that I never use. But there's nothing on the level of plastic ponies hidden under the kitchen sink. In fact, the only thing I can think of now that would draw a confused face would be a set of artfully designed custom chopsticks, complete with their matching carrying case, in my nightstand. I received this years ago from my sister, but I can't even remember when, where, or under what circumstances.

Anyway, I find it interesting to think about - what things have you kept that if found after you died, would make no sense to those closest to you? And is it a good thing if you have many of these types of things? Is it good if you don't have any thing that would fall into this type of category.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

when one library isn't enough

So on my lunch hour today I went down to the Goshen Public Library to pick up a reciprocal card from my home library. After getting the card, and walking through the stacks for awhile, I am very appreciative I have another option for books besides my hometown library. Its one of the things to adjust to when you live in a small town is less access to certain resources, and while libraries are a good place to get access to most resources, in a small town library, those resources are limited. Middlebury's library, while nice, would fit inside a single wing of Goshen's, which even has two floors ( and Goshen really isn't that big of a town either). Thus, I was able to pick up an essay book by Sloane Crosley that I'd been meaning to read for awhile, along with a piece by Thomas Merton, which I have been also waiting to read. Neither were available at the home library - which isn't totally unexpected, they are both a bit more obscure than most books.

Another advantage was the philosophy section in the Goshen library - as it actually had philosophy books. Middlebury's section of philosophy consists primarily of psychological self-help books and religion texts - which while it may be philosophy for many, its nice to have access to more of the writers I read in college.

Don't get me wrong, I love my little home library. Its been my social center for the last year, allowing me to make my own connections with people in our small community on a more comfortable setting than Jackie's school or even church. The Let's Talk About It program is excellent, gave me the opportunity to read books of Jewish Literature and about pirates that I wouldn't have done otherwise, and good discussions with a variety of people. This winter/spring the series is about Love and Forgiveness, and the book selections appear to again be very interesting, and stuff I may have never gotten around to read or even consider reading absent the program. But it's also nice to have access to just a few more books and a little more topic diversity.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

free will and grace

Wrote this down earlier in the day as a reflection to some readings, kind of free flowing thoughts, and decided to share it here...

Readings today regarding the Prodigal Son and God's grace from Gospel of Luke.  I've always liked this story, seeing the Father as God, and the sons as varying versions of us, either being the troublemaker or the individual fighting jealousy when grace and love is given to those who we don't believe deserve it.

I particularly take notice that the father ran and hugged and kissed his son before the son even had the chance to tell his father his repentance.  Grace, that which we do not deserve.  An amazing concept, and I like reading the story this way, with the father's grace and love coming before his son apologizes.  I would think that God's grace would extend to all people, for all time, and would conquer death and not be limited by such an occurrence, and would ultimately "defeat" all human sinfulness/stubbornness to reject God's grace.  We can only reject God's grace for so long, as we are finite, whereas God's grace would have to be infinite.  To say otherwise treads a line where our power to reject such grace forever means that the power to reject is more powerful than the power of God's grace.

How much emphasis on the fact that the father, presumably, didn't know the son was going to ask forgiveness when he ran out...maybe he assumed as much, but didn't know for sure that his son was apologetic.  He was giving grace and love without knowledge of the recipient's remorse.  Makes me think again on how these gifts are truly independent of our actions, yet we tend to subconsciously make salvation dependent on our actions - be it how we live, who we worship, where we worship, what we read and call holy, what we call ourselves.  All human choices that would supposedly affect our ultimate fate and trump gifts of love and grace.

In the back of my head, I hear "free will, free will" ringing out.  I accept free will on various levels, but is our free will more powerful than God's grace? Is our free will diminished in any way if our ultimate fate is determined, not by our actions, but the endless nature of God's grace?  I don't like the idea of diminishing free will, but I have trouble accepting a promise that seems to limit the reach of grace, putting something human as more powerful than God.  It just doesn't seem to completely add up.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Ark

I finished reading The Lost Ark of the Covenant by Tudor Parfitt over the weekend.  The book simply recounts Parfitt's quest to track down the Ark of the Covenant that is mentioned in Jewish Scriptures.  That journey, and the amount Parfitt goes through, is amazing in and of itself.  Its not a book trying to sell the reader anything, just a summary of his findings and conclusions.  Parfitt presents all the evidence he has along with his conclusions, but leaves enough room for readers to make their own conclusions.

I've always had a peculiar interest in archeaology and myth and things along these lines, actually dreamed about being an archeaologist at some point during my childhood.  Reading the book probably confirms that its something I could never do.  The number of languages alone that Parfitt and others possess is something I never had great skill for, along with being willing and able to go to some of the most remote places on earth to chase down leads honestly isn't in my particular skill set.  But I enjoyed the book very much.

A couple things that I took from the book that were somewhat unrelated to the main journey of its story - First, the fact that with DNA evidence, they were able to show that a sub-Saharan tribe of people living in Zimbabwe (the Lemba), who had an oral tradition that they were originally "white men" from the north, have Semitic names, and various Jewish customs, had truth to that oral tradition.  They shared a specific genetic trait that linked them to a common ancestor with current Jewish temple priests (in that tradition, the only way you became a priest was by being a descendant of Aaron) from about 3000 years ago (which is pretty close to Aaron's tribe).  Absolutely fascinating.  Amazing what science can do sometimes.  And amazing to see an oral tradition that most people would scoff at, a tribe as far south as Zimbabwe claiming to have Jewish lineage, to be true.  Interesting stuff.

The other is just the number of Ark stories there are.  Maybe its from growing up with primarily Christian tradition as background, that has other, more imporant religious symbols, but it was amazing to see the number of references to the Ark in various Muslim writings, to have oral traditions about hiding the Ark, or using it in battle, or whatever the case may be from all other the African continent and Arabian peninsula, to as far away as New Guinea.  Its incredible the power this object must have had to reach so many different cultures and traditions.

As the author points out at several points, this doesn't necessarily solve the mystery of what the Ark really was/is, and his discussion regarding the etymology of the words in ancient hebrew is excellent.  He also points out that it endures as a mystery because there is nothing that specifically accounts for its destruction.  Yes, the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, and the Temple was built to house the Ark, but its odd, particularly in light of other ancient Hebrew texts and writings, that if the Ark was destroyed then, that it was specifically written about.  Granted, there is a great void of specific writing about the Ark at all once the Temple is destroyed.  All of which makes the mystery that more intriguing, and made the book a very fun and enjoyable read.

catching my breath

The craziness of the last two weeks have finally subsided.  This past weekend Jackie and I stayed home...the first Saturday we spent out our place since November 22.  Just crazy.  We didn't do anything, and it was great in a lot of ways, nice to have a weekend at home just to kick back, relax, watch some movies, read some books, stuff I really enjoy doing.

The break over the weekend also provided an opportunity to take a deep breath and just kind of think and reflect on things, partly due to New Year's.  I've never been one for making a new year's resolution, but do enjoy the nice clean break the date can provide.  A marker separating the past from the future, which is probably why so many people make resolutions.  I guess I could do the same, but I like to avoid such specific declarations.  To be a bit introspective, there is so much that I could work towards being better at, that I may as well just resolve to be a better overall person, and worry about how the details and specifics fit into that later.  Another reason why I shun away from New Year's resolutions is that I think they are set up for failure, at least for me.  Envisioning making a drastic change, for whatever reason, at this point in my life, for an entire year, is a  bit overwhelming.  It seems better to make a daily resolution each day you awake, gives you increased focus on the daily choices you have to make to effectuate drastic change, and gives you plenty of redemption moments when you inevitably have a slip up or "fall off the wagon."  So I guess I can make the resolution to make daily resolutions, and see if overall self improvement follows.

There's more going on, and as usual, I could be better about posting things here, but often when you think of something to write you're not on the computer.  Anyway, just for the sake of loading pictures, as I mentioned previously, our mailbox got one of the times we were gone for Christmas.  So pictures of the old mailbox in all its bent and rusted glory, along with the new one, that Jackie and I endured 25 degree temperature to "install," driving it first into a partially frozen ground and then attempting to keep my hands warm enough to handle small metal screws to put the box on the post.  Just another joy of home ownership, having to handle all these little things when the come up.  (On one little last digression - its amazing to me that in the picture of the new mailbox, the weather looks so nice outside, yet its below freezing).