Monthly Archives: May 2008

Interesting Topic

My friend Duncan is exploring the topic of women and leadership positions in the church on his blog.  This is an interesting topic that has come up in a few different conversations over the past three weeks.  Opinions on this subject are all over the place – some stress the writings of Paul (2 Timothy especially) and think that woman are not allowed to hold leadership roles in the church, other stress that Jesus never denegrated women by making them feel like posessions or servants and even revealed significant parts of His message to them first.  I personally worship at a church with a full time woman pastor.  She is an excellent teacher, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for her. 

What are your thoughts on this subject? 

Feel free to comment here or over on Duncan’s blog.

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Trinity Friends

Last night our Sunday School Class and the women from the Susanna Wesley Circle hosted Trinity Friends at our church.  Trinity Friends is a group of “special needs” adults that meets once a month for dinner, games, and socializing.  There were about 40 “friends”, 25 care givers, and 30 volunteers at the event.  We decided to have a Luau theme for the event.  Chik-fil-a donated enough chicken to feed everyone (almost twice), Publics donates rolls, and Wal-mart donated the deserts.  We had a great time.  Here are some observations from the event:

 

  • These guys and girls love to talk.  I spent dinner talking to Dee, Penny, and Stephen.  All of them have jobs and are proud of what they do.
  • They love to play games.  BINGO is huge.  We also played limbo and a game where we all joined hands in a big circle.  We had to pass a hoola-hoop from one person to the next without breaking our hands.  Some of the adults were in wheel chairs, which made the game interesting, but we succeeded in getting the hoop all around the circle.
  • They love to dance.  Hokey Pokey and Chicken Dance are perennial favorites.
  • The love to sing.  We decided to give karaoke a go with them this year, and they loved it.  Zach sang Hollaback Girl and most of them got out of their seats and danced.  It was highly entertaining.
  • The laughter was intoxicating.  These guys and girls laughed all night.
  • The sense of community was touching.  Some of the adults had more needs than others.  The more capable ones looked out for those that were less capable by pushing their wheel chairs during Limbo and Hokey Pokey to getting drinks for them.

 

This is the third year that our class has hosted the May dinner for Trinity Friends.  I was intimidated the first year not knowing how to act around adults with special needs.  I quickly realized that these adults are children of God just like me, and are actually very easy to get to know.  I now look forward to talking to Jesse about driving a car, talking to Charlie about professional wrestling, and talking to Penny about how clean she keeps the foyer at McDonalds.  Serving and participating in this event is rewarding for me and the other volunteers and I think the participants in Trinity Friends have a great time.

 

Special thanks to Beth Wilson for organizing the event, and to the other volunteers that made the evening very special!

 

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Memorial Day Weekend

 

The long weekend was very nice!  I really wanted to lie on the couch and just relax one of the days, but that didn’t happen.  Here is a run down of my Memorial Day Weekend:

 

Saturday:

·     Mowed the yard – Nothing out of the ordinary.

·     Cleaned the garage – Once a year my garage vomits all of its contents out onto the driveway.  I swept the floor and removed the spider webs from the ceiling corners.  I then bring all of the contents back into the garage one-at-a-time.  First of all, this forces me to realize how much junk we store in the garage, and second it incentivizes me to get rid of what we don’t use or need.  I took a truck load of gently used items to Goodwill.  I found my daughter’s harmonica and she spent about 15 minutes serenading me as I cleaned (who needs/wants an ipod when you have this?) I’m sure Claudia will appreciate this picture later in life. The cleaning process took most of Saturday afternoon, but it was worth it.

·     Cooked Dinner – I grilled hamburgers and we all ate on the back patio.  The weather was great.

 

Sunday:

·     Church – I was part of a drama during the service.  The drama was a spin off of the Mac vs. PC commercials.  I was the Mac guy.  The theme of the little drama was “Worrying”.  Steve Henderson was the PC guys and he was over the top funny.  I forgot to turn my microphone on – fortunately I speak loudly most everyone said they heard me fine.

·     Leak – I got home from church and discovered a leak behind a wall in my kitchen.  I called a plumber.  Amanda and the kids went over to some friends house to swim.  Plumber came and fixed the leak.  Now all I have to do is patch the hole in the sheetrock.  I’m sure I’ll get to it before Christmas.

·     Pool Party – We had a great time swimming at the Weir’s pool.  There were over 15 kids swimming and playing together. Exactly what summertime should be.

 

Monday:

·     Cotton Row Run – I woke up way too early to run the annual 10K race in Huntsville.  My training this year wasn’t what is has been in years past, and my time reflected that.  I ran the 10K in 52:25 – two minutes slower than last year.  This race is renown for the hill at mile 3 – It’s a killer and can really blow your time (and body) up. 

·     Lunch at the Lake – We loaded up the family and went out to my parent’s lake house.  In true Lowe fashion, my dad had a “project” he needed us to do.  He needed help rewiring the fountain.  The rewiring part was easy, Assembling the fountain afterward was not.  The base bowl weighed over 500 lbs.  We engineered a solution and got it and the rest of it put together.  After the project we enjoyed lunch together with my sister’s family and my brother and his son – Kevin’s wife had to work at the hospital.

 

I didn’t get my afternoon to lounge on the couch, but I got a lot accomplished – most importantly was spending time with immediate family, close friends, and extended family.  This was a great weekend to kick off summer.

 

What did you do on your Memorial Day Weekend?

 

 

 

 

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Constructive Criticism

Over the past five months I have helped start a “Green Team” at work to look at different aspects of our operations to see if we can be better stewards of our resources.  The Green Team increased the office paper recycling, eliminated Styrofoam cups, and hosted an E-waste collection day for the employees to bring in all of their old electronics equipment from home.  The next challenge we are going to pose to the entire company is a day of public/alternative transportation.  This is part of the reason that I wanted to ride public transportation to work last week – gotta do it before you can ask others to do it.  The Green Team efforts are not the point of this post.  What’s interesting is that I had a friend come into my office today to tell me that when I start to talk about Green-efforts I act different than I normally act.  He went on to say that I have this slight arrogance when I discuss it like I am on another level than the people that I talk to about it.  He said that it’s a very subtle change in behavior – not necessarily offensive, but still out of character for me.

 

At first I got a little defensive, but told him that I would try to think about my actions and reactions a little more on this subject.  I consider this person a good friend and really value his observations and comments.  I spent the afternoon thinking about what he said, and maybe there is something to it.  I feel very passionately about the stewardship of our resources, and maybe that energy and zeal inadvertently comes out as haughty.

 

The constructive criticism made me realize that I need to temper my energy when I get supercharged on a subject (public education, recycling, local politics, religion, etc).  As much as I like to discuss these topics, if I am talking down to others instead of with them, the conversation isn’t going to go very far.  On the flip side, I know I have been turned off in conversations as soon as the other person starts passively judging and pointing out how I should act/think/feel.  This exercise really has me thinking about how to effectively express a message.

 

I’m glad I have a friend that will point this out to me.

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All I Need

 

I really like Radiohead.  This is a video put to their song “All I Need” by MTV for thier new EXIT (End Exploitation and Trafficing) awareness campaign.  The cost of what we consume goes a little deeper than amount of money we pay.  Visit Eugene Cho’s blog for more information and for ways you can help.

 

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Culture Making

“You don’t change culture by critiquing culture.  You change culture by creating culture.” – Andy Crouch, Fermi Q Conference NYC 2008

 

Andy Crouch was one of the speakers at the Fermi Q Conference in April.  In our conference swag-bags, we were given a sampler (chapter 4) from his forth coming book titled Culture Making.  I read it and encountered some interesting ideas.

 

 

One of my biggest foibles is thinking that I can come into any new situation and make a profound impact.  Now that I write it down, it looks a lot like arrogance.  This may be possible on some small scale things, but as I become involved with more sophisticated systems (corporate, political, cultural, religious) I realize that a fresh face with a new idea is nothing new.  It’s extremely uncommon to start work in a company out of college and become the next CEO within a year.  It’s extremely uncommon for a person to get off their couch with a “great idea” and get it adopted by city leadership.  It’s extremely uncommon to walk up to group of people outside of the church and convince them that a life dedicated to following the teachings of Jesus Christ is worth pursuing.  I have come to realize that all of these different systems are extremely nuanced and require a significant amount of learning before anyone is able to contribute in a profound way. 

 

Crouch says “creation begins with cultivation – taking care of the good things that culture has already handed to us.  The first responsibility of culture makers is to not make something new but to become fluent in the cultural traditions to which we are responsible.”  We almost have to spend time imitating the culture that we want to participate in before we can credibly contribute to it.  This may look like spending time at City School Board meetings just to learn the key players, how the meeting are run, who creates the agenda, what other outside players are always present in the crowd at the meetings, who has the ear of the media, etc.  For corporate leadership it may look like dialoging with your supervisor about the corporate organization chart to learn the roles of each position within that company, asking to be involved with proposal writing, getting involved with business development, mentoring new employees through the day to day processes, etc.  For a Christian trying to bridge the gap with a group of people that don’t see the utility of following Christ it may look like immersing yourself in their community, asking open-ended questions and truly listening to their response, get out of your head and truly try to learn what it’s like for them, establishing authentic friendships, truly offering your presence to them, etc.  

 

Discipline is required of us before we can create.  Crouch illustrates this idea with an example of his piano playing ten year old son.  His son hates playing scales for practice on the piano.  His son looks forward to the day when he can stop playing scales and start playing “real music”.  He tries to tell his son that the more serious about piano he becomes, the more scales he is going to play, and that professional musicians often times spend over an hour each day on the basics of their instrument.  “The discipline of playing scales is a prerequisite for forming the faculty with the piano that equips a musician to create a new song or perform an old one with creativity and fidelity”.  He continues “So underneath almost every act of culture making we find countless small acts of culture keeping.  That is why the good screen write has first watched a thousand movies; why the surgeon who pioneers a new technique has first performed a thousand routine surgeries; and why the investor who provides funds to the next startup has first studied a thousand balance sheets”.

 

“Cultural creativity requires cultural maturity”

 

With all of the endeavors that I have been getting involved in lately, I have been working to keep my arrogance at bay.  I have instead started learning as much as possible about the system.  This is difficult because it takes time, and patience. 

 

That being said, you can’t become to enmeshed in the system that you lose your creative edge.  You will contribute nothing if you start thinking like they think.  In order to influence change you have to insert your ideas within the existing system framework.

 

Has anyone else been frustrated because you feel that no one is listening to your solution or your good idea?

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Shuttle Route #10

Today my friend, Bennett, and I used public transportation to get to work and back. We both live in English Village in South Huntsville and both work at TSC/Phase IV Systems on Triana Boulevard near the middle of town.  The journey started in my back yard at 6:00am.  We walked about 0.75 miles to the Super Walmart on South Parkway.  We paid our dollar and boarded the #10 route shuttle at 6:23.  There were four people on the bus when we got on, and we picked up six others on the route.  The bus riders obviously knew each other.  Jim, a young professor at Virginia College, liked to talk about NASCAR.  He was not very happy the Kyle Busch won again last weekend.  Leroy was a bit of a loud talker that discussed the finer points of trying to provide food for an entire family for less than $20 a day (He was really proud of the fact that he knew where to get thick Ribeye steaks for half of what they cost at Ruby Tuesdays).  “Smiley” is a twenty-something that turned the volume up on his ipod (trying to drown out Leroy’s talking) and just smiled whenever anyone looked at him.  The riders were friendly, and Bennett and I felt comfortable participating in the conversations.  Most of the riders got off at Parkway Place Mall and waited to catch another shuttle.  

 

Bennett and I stayed on for one more stop.  We pulled the cord to let the driver know that we wanted to exit the bus.  He stopped on the parkway in front of the Walmart on the corner of Drake and the Parkway.  We walked down Drake to the edge of Braham Springs Park.  We cut through the park and ended up on Ivy Street.  A homeless guy asked if we would sell him a cigarette.  Neither of us smoke, so he was out of luck.  We continued our 1.25 miles journey to work and arrived at 7:30.  It was a beautiful morning. The walk felt great, and conversation with Bennett is always entertaining!

 

Getting home was just as easy.  We left Phase IV at 4:30pm and walked back to the Walmart on the corner of Drake and the Parkway.  The route #10 bus arrived at 5:02 at the spot where we were dropped off earlier.  We rode with four other riders back to the Super Walmart near our house.  We got off the bus and walked home.  I walked through the back gate and into my back door to the screaming of, “DADDY!” by all three kids.  They wanted to hear about the bus ride adventure as if I had just got back from scaling Mount Everest.  It was great!

 

Trip Observations:

  • Instead of the Jared “Subway Diet”, Bennett suggested we start the “Huntsville Transit Diet”.  We ended up walking a total of about 4 miles during our transit.  The number of holes in the routes will definitely give you the opportunity to walk off a few calories.
  • I loved the experience of riding the Route 10 Shuttle.  I felt strangely urban walking and busing through town.  I found out that it is very easy to get to the Target Shopping Mall (Target, Barnes and Noble, Rave movie theater), my church on Airport Road, and Parkway Place Mall, all on one route.  Unfortunately, the buses do not run past 6pm or on the weekends, so it will be difficult to take advantage of the access to these places during working hours.
  • Huntsville is now the 30th largest city in the US by land area, and our public transportation is very weak (being kind).  It’s about time for city leadership to step up and addresses this issue. Give us a viable system, and I bet that people will take advantage of it.
  • The current bus route does not go out to Research Park.  This is the second largest research park in the nation and we do not have any public transportation to get the workforce there.  Everyone is forced to drive their car to work – there is no other viable way to get there.  This is appalling.  Again, it’s time for our city to grow up (Metro public transportation between Huntsville, Madison City, and Madison County is an ideal solution – I hope we can find leadership that will actually sit down together to consider such a solution).
  • Bennett pointed out that two different Wal-Marts were our starting point and ending point on the bus ride to work.  I am still trying to figure out what this says about our city.
  • The busses are clean and safe and the existing routes (at least route #10) are efficient.
  • I wish there were buses going in opposite directions on each route.  You have to go all the way around the horn to get back home on a particular route.
  • My five year old son is now looking forward to the adventure riding of riding the bus across town with his father.  I am looking forward to taking him and the rest of the family on Route #10 to a movie and ice cream in the Target Shopping Center.

 

Challenge:

 

I want to challenge all of you to try out Huntsville’s public transportation system.  It is functional at best, but it won’t get any better unless we adopt it and make it ours.  Once you ride it a few times, write letters to the city directors with kind suggestions on how to improve the routes.  We can help Huntsville grow up into the city we are being called to be, but it’s going to take some sacrifice!  Join me as I continue to take Route #10 to work periodically (saving a little gas money in the process)!

 

What are your thoughts?

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