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Showing posts from August, 2011

Breaking News: Man hears God's voice, Name

Man Claims that God Reveals "Secret Name," Wants to Deliver the Oppressed
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
by X. Odess, Staff Reporter

(AOR) MT. HOREB - The voice of God can be heard even in small brush fires.  At least that's what one local man, a shepherd named Moses, believes as he claimed to have heard God's voice today in a burning bush.  Just like any other day, Moses was tending the sheep of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian.  But this turned out to be anything but an ordinary day for the awestruck Moses, who says he saw a bush that appeared to be engulfed in flames but not consumed by the fire.  Intrigued by this strange sight, Moses approached and he says he heard a voice.  "It was like nothing I'd ever heard before, "he told Agent Orange Records, "like the sound of the sun setting, or like music from the heavens."  Moses claims that this celestial voice instructed him to remove his sandals, telling him that this section of Mt.…

the dawn is coming!

well, it's coming up on that time again.  we're only a couple of weeks away from the start of the football season, and while that feels like it might as well be a hundred years, i figured it was probably the right time to go ahead and profess my love (in case you didn't know) of football in general and the pittsburgh steelers in particular.  the video above is a fun little take on the earthquake last week and it's relevance for the start of steeler season.  the folks over at make some really funny and quality videos. 

anyone who lives in pittsburgh or reads the news (i try to read the post gazette online as often as i can) knows that the newest batman movie was just recently filmed in pittsburgh.  not only that, but it will have a huge steeler connection, as the executive producer of the film is a part-owner of the team, and as such enlisted many of the steelers to be in a scene featuring the gotham football franchise.   there was a great deal of buzz …

first day of school, 2011

well, we've started another year of school.  both boys have started their respected grades, and now we've already come to our first monday of the year.  it is, predictably, sleepy.  still, it's been a great first few days, and although mommy and daddy were very nervous about jack starting first grade at a whole new school this year, he seems to be doing really well and wanting to go back each day.  i think his favorite part is that he gets to ride the bus in the morning. 

cade is back for his second year of preschool at the same school he went to last year, so he is feeling pretty comfortable there.  looks like it will be a good year for him to learn all sorts of new things. 

and left at home, it's shannon and quinton and i.  i'm looking forward to all the things that we will learn together this year, and all the ways we will grow as students and as a family.  to see the letter i wrote to my boys at the beginning of the school year last year, .click here.  and re…

saturday song: when the cold wind blows

well, given that as i type this, hurricane irene is already pounding the coast of north carolina and is carrying deep threats with it as it travels north east, i had wanted to make my saturday song be this song by waterdeep from the album "waterdeep worship" called when the cold wind blows.  it's a song about how the circumstances of our lives (both good and bad) aren't an indication of whether or not God loves us.  instead, it is God's presence with us in the midst of the storms of life that remind us that God still loves  us.  and yet, in the midst of the rising waters and cold winds, we, in our humanity, are still given to ask, "where are you, God?  do you still love us?" 

i hear the echo of God's answer to us in isaiah 43:    I have called you by name; you are mine.  When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.

When the cold wind blows all around
Will you still love me?

make slime: our summer crossed off in dry erase

i have an awesome wife, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that she is an awesome mom.  this post is evidence of that fact.  the picture above is a photo of a framed picture in our house, under glass.  it is a fun list of all the things we wanted to do this summer, which she put together.  it is under glass because the kids could then use a dry erase marker to cross everything off once it was completed. 
i guarantee that, left to my own devices, i wouldn't have done something like this.  and even if i had, it would have been full of things like: go to steelers training camp watch at least 50 yankee games watch each of the 6 steelers superbowl wins and so on. 
but not shannon.  she made an awesome list.  it includes things like: go camping make slime ice paint make a pet rock watch fireworks make glue prints play in the sprinkler catch a lighting bug play in the ocean tie dye t-shirts go to the zoo turn lemons into lemonade have a water balloon fight have ice cream for dinner and m…

an open letter to quinton on the first month anniversary of your birth

my dear quin,
well, what do you think?  since you've emerged into this wider-than-you-realized world, the sun has risen and set some 30-odd times and those of us who keep track of such things can now proclaim that you are having your first month's birthday.  all of this just serves to confuse your older brothers who think you get to have faster and more frequent birthdays than they, but i'm wondering if you really care at all.  if you do, you're keeping your cards close to your chest.  by that i mean that you've spent this morning much like every morning (make that every part of every day) of your life so far: sleeping, crying, eating, and making messes in your pants.  i think that about covers it.  the fact that you've reached an early milestone doesn't seem to phase you. 
in fact, not much phases you.  i am amazed at how you barely seem to notice the way cade likes to stomp and yell near you; how you hardly react when he grabs your arms and legs and moves…

like the fig in a newton

well, this morning i'd thought i'd just reflect on yesterday's mri experience.  my head didn't itch as furiously as i feared.  but there were a few rebellious pores on my face that thought it would be hilarious to do an irish jig right on my cheek, daring me to twitch my cheek or squirm in the machine. 

as it turns out, that was the least of my problems.

while i was lying inside this sanitized mechanized death trap, wearing headphones, they pumped light classical music into my ears.  this would be nice and calming except that the music coming through was frantic classical music, like schubert on speed.  and, to be honest, the music didn't really matter.  i could have been listening to death metal and i wouldn't really have noticed because you don't get much of a chance to hear it, when the blips and beeps and buzzes of the mri machine start assaulting your ears.  it felt like some acid-induced techno music made by someone with access to a variety of buzzin…

mri (my head itches already)

well, today i'm scheduled to get an MRI, which supposedly stands for magnetic resonance imaging, fancy medical jargon used to conceal the fact that it really stands for "may result in insanity" or "major reduction in inertness."  in other words, i'm going to have to sit very still for however long it takes and try to think about how i'm not allowed to move.  with every thought about not moving i will want to move more.  i imagine that i will feel every pore on my scalp calling out to me with an intense and torturous itch, begging me to scratch it.  it will be man vs. nature and man vs. machine all wrapped in one, as i wrestle against both my baser itchy instincts and my will to conquer this picture-taking torture chamber.  hopefully this will provide a picture of my back that will be helpful in understanding what caused my very debilitating pain this summer, in addition to turning me into a slobbering, scratching idiot. 
 i'm feeling much better, no…

the twenty dollar bill principle

i once washed a twenty dollar bill in the pocket of my pants.  when i found it, it was balled up and soaking wet.  when i tried to straighten it out, i ripped it, and parts of it had just crumbled away in the agitation and rinsing.  it was a mess. 

but with some tape and time, i managed to make it look something like a twenty dollar bill again, and took it to the bank, where the teller shook her head at me with a slight smile, and handed me a new crisp bill. 

i share this little episode because i've been thinking about paul's words to the church rome (in romans 12) about how we should offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices.  when i think about offering things to God, i think about trying to give my best.  God wants the things that i'm good at, right?  God wants to see my best efforts, right?  like, i should preach for God, and make collages for God, but certainly not ice skate for God, or cook for God.  that would just be insulting.  and there's no way God want…

saturday song: beautiful things

i've been listening to this song all week, and really enjoying it (the whole album, actually), so i thought i'd share it this morning.  it's by gungor (formerly the michael gungor band) and it comes from the album "beautiful things."  that is also the name of the song.  and it expresses that old sentiment that "God don't make junk," but so much more eloquently.  it speaks to the wonderful truth that God takes what is broken and fixes it.  or takes what is chaos, and makes cosmos (see madeline l'engle's "walking on water" for more about that particular image).  in any case, God makes beautiful things.  it's amazing.  and hope-giving.  enjoy. 

my few days in pittsburgh

it's been a great few days, and i thought i would share it with you. 

after church on sunday, we drove out to pittsburgh (quin's first long car ride - he did great) and met my mom and dad and sisters and their families at kennywood park. 

i got to ride the racers, the thunderbolt, phantom's revenge, the bumper cars, raging rapids, the kangaroo, the brand new roller coaster (forgot the name) and my all time favorite: the jackrabbit.  the boys got to ride a bunch of things, too, which was fun, and we had great weather and very short lines, so a good time was had by all.  it brought back a ton of memories since i spent two summers working there, and not that much has changed in 14 years. 

monday night we had a little family and friends get-together so some folks could meet quinton for the first time.  we had a great time, but earlier that day i had slipped out for a little jaunt up to latrobe to catch the steelers second-to-last public practice of training camp at st. vinc…

speaking with the angel

here is a video i put together of a few scenes and pictures from quinton's first few weeks of life.  i set it to a song written by ron sexsmith which is here performed by a folk trio called cry cry cry. the song is called "speaking with the angel" and it is a really cool lyric about the innocence of babies.  take a look, and enjoy our precious little boy.  he's speaking with the angel.

saturday song: viva la lego

two of my favorite things in one saturday song post:  coldplay and legos.  brilliant!

quin's third week

for those who are only checking my blog for new pictures of quinton (mostly my mom), here are a few of the latest.  our camera has been working overtime, and sorting through the thousands of digital pictures is a chore, but here are some for your viewing pleasure:

a milk moustache, skunk spray and other fantastic fits of fatherhood

- yep, it's random wednesday time.  welcome back to the steam-of-consciousness ramblings of agent orange records.

-last night i woke up to the sound of quin crying and  the strong odor of a skunk.  i don't mean that it smelled like someone ran over a skunk outside, i mean it smelled like a skunk sat on my chest and aimed his little sprayer right up my left nostril.  this  morning i walked around the house, certain i would find a family of skunks lying on the mulch by the bushes, spent with exhaustion from spraying every inch of the house last night.  but i found no such thing.  it didn't even smell anymore.  i asked shannon if i dreamt it, and she said she smelled it too.  weird.  possible explanations?  skunk stalker?  my own breath?  help!

- i finished reading "the girl who kicked the hornet's nest" which i borrowed from the library (actually, i technically rented it because i had to pay 50 cents to 'borrow' it, so the library could continue to off…

update on the farm

as i wrote earlier this summer, we've been working on a garden all summer, growing tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons, carrots, lettuce and peppers, as well as some sunflowers just for fun.  it's been a really neat experience not only to see the whole growth process work, but to do it as a family and then enjoy some of the "fruits" of our labor.  we haven't had to buy lettuce in a while and we've got enough cucumbers to last for a long time.  we've got some great watermelons growing and should soon have a great harvest of tomatoes.  the peppers weren't very successful, and the carrots remain to be seen.  but it's been a really rewarding process for us and we hope that the boys have learned something about food and where it comes from. 
farmer greg

a naked mess

in my sermon yesterday based on matthew 14:22-33, in which we read about Jesus and then simon peter walking on water, i talked about trust, and that trusting in God doesn't mean we won't have storms in life.  in preparation for this sermon i've been thinking a great deal about trust over the last couple of weeks, and its been a pretty cool experience because i am living with such an amazing illustration of trust. 

quin can't do anything for himself. 

well, that isn't quite true.  he poops pretty well.  and on occasion he's got a championship caliber "feed me" cry.  i also must admit that he's pretty good at being ridiculously cute.  so i stand corrected.  he can do a few things.  but my point is this:  he can't really do anything to insure his life.  he can't nourish himself.  he can't provide his own shelter from the elements.  and he can't dress himself or take care of his own messes.  without someone to love him, he'd be h…

saturday song: farther along

for today's song i give you an artist that i've been listening to a great deal this summer.  i had never heard of josh garrels until i picked up one his albums for free on (a great website that you should check out) and then he became a regular part of my listening.  a person of faith who doesn't writes about his faith without being trite or relying on moral grandstanding.  the music feels authentic and honest, personal and passionate.  if i had to compare him to anyone, i would say he is sort of a mix of jack johnson, ben harper, mat kearney and ray lamontagne.  this song is a twist on a classic song of faith, one that garrells doesn't allow to become a cliche and patronizing answer to the difficult questions life presents. 

just trust me

just trust me.  that's a statement that rarely seems to conjure up much confidence.  if you have to tell me that i need to trust you, then you've probably already given me sufficient reason to doubt you.  in fact, trust seems to be in short supply these days.  some of that is just human nature: we trust implicitly and instinctively when we are babies and children, and then, as we grow up and discover that others sometimes let us down, we learn to rely on ourselves.  but some of the lack of trust is cultural: america has always valued independence and self-reliance.  pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is a national value that has almost nothing to do with trust.  finally, it seems that we live in an age when trust is at an all time low.  we've been disappointed by our heroes.  our political leaders are often frauds, our religious leaders are liars, and our sports heroes are cheats.  power, sex, and money have made fools of them all, and somewhere along the line we have …

random wednesday: jambourines and kidz bop 19

-we are getting close to that most excellent time of the sports year when baseball and football are concurrent.  even now it's exciting, what with the yankees in a pennant race, the pirates actually buying instead of selling at the trade deadline, and the nfl going crazy with free agent moves training camp news and new steeler songs.  it's beautiful. 

-speaking of baseball, i will be attending the august 16th pirates game in PNC park as they host the st. louis cardinals.  it will be part of an all day continuing education event called "baseball and theology."  when i saw that thing advertised i just about got whiplash trying to sign up. i couldn't do it fast enough.  two of my favorite things?  plus hot dogs!?!  you've got to be kidding me!  it's going to be a great day!

-the boys went to a program at the library yesterday where they learned about music in different cultures.  they made tambourines out of paper plates.  cade called his a "jambourine…

one week old

if you're tuning in today for some commentary on the national debt, or my reaction to the steelers free agency moves, or even some inspirational meditation, sorry.  you're getting baby pictures.  that's just how it is around here for a little while. 

at least for now it feels like the world has a new axis: it revolves around quin.  as it should be.  c'mon, it's only been a week!

he's doing really well.  he is sleeping 2-4 hours at a time at night.  he is so good during the day (we have barely heard him cry - only when we change his diaper or his clothes.  otherwise he is so content) and even during his alert time he is just content to look around and take it all in.  we've never had such a quiet and content baby.  he is eating well and certainly all the plumbing is working very efficiently.  also, the cuteness readings are off the charts, so what else can i do?  shameless procession of pictures follow. 

just a couple of days old here.  still not sure about…