Monday, April 30, 2007

Story...part 3

The thought that songs I've been singing for 30-something years have been less than adequate was disturbing at first. And I think maybe the problem was that I was thinking about it just like that, as an inadequacy. The more I've thought about it though, and meditated over your comments, the more I realize it's not about an inadequacy but about a choice.

I go to your comment first Steve. You asked, "how much can it really matter exactly what the three songs are about?" I think you answered your own question. God delights in the fellowship of his believers, and longs for their praises. So if we only get together and do that "in song" 1/540th of our week, shouldn't that time be spent talking straight to Him and not to each other? As individual beings, you're correct in saying we should be in Communion with God the whole week. But we get one chance out of 540 to raise our corporate voices with our brothers and sisters. I just think we can choose to on-purpose be directive in that approach.

Dave, great question about the fact that worship doesn't have to only be in song so why should teaching only be done by speaking. I hadn't thought of our songs being a teaching/passing of stories and history. While I agree that stories-by-song have historically been used for eons, in this instance I doubt too many people think that's what we're there for. Is our intent to share stories with other generations, or is our intent to worship our almighty Creator and Savior? If it's not the second and more the first, why do we call it Praise? This issue seems a little like splitting hairs and my point could be argued as semantics, so I'm not going to go any deeper into it. Thank you Dave for putting a different spin on it.

I attended the Gate yesterday where Kim was the worship leader. One of the songs we sang could be best described as an each-other song and not a to-Him song. The one line was "How great is our God, let us sing how great is our God." I found myself switching the words "is our" to "are you." Without even realizing it, I had switched the intent of the song from agreeing with other believers that we have a great God to telling God directly that He is a great God. I'm not trying to put myself on a pedestal and say my worship was better or more real. But I made a choice to exalt Him on a direct level vs. an indirect, and I felt the presence of God in an intimate way. Did the others in attendance not feel His Presence; how arrogant would it be to say that? God speaks to us all differently and uses different ways to do it. All I can profess is that I will never sing that song the same again b/c I connected with God when I switched the focus. My question remains, if the same thing that happened to me yesterday happened to everyone when they switched direction, and we did that together, how awesome would our experience become?

It was awesome to worship and fellowship with you Ell, Kevin, Kimmy, Brad, and Lyndsay. I love being with friends, but there's something more to it when our purpose is meeting God.

Kim, that's the first time I've had the pleasure of hearing you sing and play. Nothing but praise! Thank you so much for the invite. I can promise you we'll be back. As for getting together, do you even drink coffee? Even though it's right in the middle, we could meet somewhere else than Starbucks if you want. Let me know!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Funny

I'm not giving up on the previous topic just yet. (In addition to Kyle's post on the subject, check out Amy's as well. Just click on their name in my blogroll.) The subject is too good to let go, and some key players have yet to leave their thoughts. But it is Friday, and Fridays call for Funnies. So here's a couple to enjoy whilst you ponder deeper ideas...

When Brian got a promotion, he needed to move into the city. He found an apartment and moved in with a roommate named Jennifer. A few month's later, Brian invited his mom over for dinner. Brian's mother couldn't help notice how beautiful Jennifer was, which increased her suspicion of a relationship between the two of them. As she watched them interact she became even more curious of something more than met the eye.

Seeing his Mom's roving eye, Brian said, "I know what you must be thinking, but I assure you Jennifer and I are just roommates." His mom just smiled and nodded.

About a week later, Jennifer came to Brian and said, "Ever since your mom came to dinner, I've been unable to find the beautiful silver gravy ladle. You don't suppose she took it do you?" Brian replied, "Well, I doubt it but I'll ask her."

He sat down at his computer and wrote her an email that said:
Dear Mom,
I'm not saying that you "did" take the silver gravy ladle; I'm not saying that you "did not" take the silver gravy ladle. But the fact remains that it's been missing since you you were here for dinner.
Love, Brian

Several days later Brian received an email back from his mother that read:
Dear Son,
I'm not saying that you "do" sleep with Jennifer; I'm not saying that you "do not" sleep with Jennifer. But the fact remains that if Jennifer was sleeping in her own bed, she would have found the silver gravy ladle by now.
Love, Mom

Thanks to Guy for posting this, one more political jab for good measure...

How to start each day with a positive outlook
1. Open a new file in your computer
2. Name it "Hillary Rodham Clinton"
3. Send it to the trash
4. Empty the trash
5. Your computer will ask you, "Do you really want to get rid of Hillary Rodham Clinton?"
6. Firmly click, "Yes"
7. Feel good all day
PS. Next week we'll do Nancy Pelosi.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Story about God part 2

If you haven't done so already, please read part one before you read this post. Kyle posted as well and made some very good points. Click HERE to read his post. The following is the comment I left there...

I 100% agree that the story songs can, and are, uplifting and respectful by nature. There's nothing wrong about talking about how awesome our God is; I would even go as far to say it builds up the community of the church body. But I have to disagree that talking about someones accomplishments to another person or with a lot of people, is a conversation with that first person.
Imagine a noteworthy person sitting on a couch with you and me, and we sit and talk about how all the cool things they've done, how important they are, even how much we owe that person for their actions. We never say one word to that person, we only talk about him. See where I'm going with this? Would that conversation make any sense, or would it even be worth listening to for that person? That's just about all we do when we sing to each other about God's wonders and don't say thanks or give praise directly to him.

Please hear me everyone, this is a new thing for me. I never thought (which is embarrassing to say out loud) about what songs I was singing b/c they were about God and about His wonders. How could they be less than adequate? But the question I raise is, who are we singing to? Each other or God?

Today I was reading a forum where a thread was discussing types of worship, instruments, etc. While this isn't the same issue, a couple things really struck me. One comment: Formal worship is when we empty ourselves of everyday things and focus exclusively on God, in a single act of worship as a corporate body, to worship as the bride of Christ. Where we give God our whole hearts, and minister to Him. Wow! What a thought? But no where do I see that having a conversation (in song) between ourselves is giving all of ourselves to Him. If i wanted to give all of myself to Ell, I wouldn't just tell everyone else how awesome she is, I'd tell and show her. Even though it would make her feel good to hear me bragging about her, she'd get a lot more from me expressing those feelings to her directly.

If I can be so bold to ask for comments/responses, I really want to know what some of you think. Specifically: Rob, Kim, Andrew, and Steve. All of you have been involved with worship in a "visual leader" aspect, and I really want to know what you think.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A story about God

Different topic than planned, but I think the interests and talents of many of the regular readers of eleven makes this very relevant.
Some background... My friend just started taking over the worship leading responsibilities at his church. While he isn't the actual singing "leader" due to his position on stage and his role, his gift for ideas and persuasion have him at the forefront of the decision making processes. He grew up in this church, and watched it slowly die like so many other denominational churches have done in recent years. It was ineffective in its approach to almost all aspects of how to "do church" and was slowly reverting back to the stuck-in-the-mud traditional roadblocks that it had rebelled against many years before. Skip ahead to last year and a new pastor with his Faith firmly planted in scripture and a vision for the future. He denounced old traditions that had become more important than God. He lost members, but gained even more. My friend attended a service during that upheaval and felt God's strong urging to return to the church, which he did.

One of the last items that had yet to be revamped was the worship part of their Sunday morning services. They were still doing three hymns with a piano and organ. (Please hear me that hymns vs. chorus songs and piano/organ vs. guitars is not my point.) Through maybe divine intervention, the organ player left the church due to (her words,) "...all those hooligan teenagers sitting in the front row every Sunday!" I know some pastors out there that would love a bunch of teenagers in their church. But I digress.

The piano player is one of the most talented people I have ever heard play the instrument, and has a heart to match. When the pastor suggested a guitar, some drums, maybe a bass, to play with her, she jumped at the idea. So my friend, his amazingly gifted 21 year old cousin, another guy, the pianist, and a lady worship leader sat down to brainstorm. They discovered one thing about the songs the church had been using, none of them were being sung to our Creator. All the songs were about Him, what He did, where He was, things He'd done. Or the songs were about where the people were, what they believed, where they'd been. The group decided to do songs that weren't horizontal songs, but vertical songs. Songs sung to Jesus. Praises sung directly to God. Thanksgiving songs that when dissected could be best described as a conversation between God and me.

The result? The first week, and every week since they began this approach, the service was alive and on fire. The spirit of God moved into the building during their worship time, lives were changed, the wonderful Grace of God filled the place in response to the congregation's request to talk to their Savior. The direction and focus of their songs had changed, and the results were obvious. Then last week, the worship leader informed the group that some people had been complaining the old songs were gone. The strange part was they were still doing some old traditional hymns, just not the ones they were used to. So the complaints weren't about the loss of old hymns, they were about the loss of non-intimate, story type songs. As if falling into an old rut, she decided to go back to some old standbys. This pissed my friend off really bad. Why were they bending to the horizontal again? Was their real mission as worship leaders to please the masses getting their weekly God-fix or was their job to lead the people to the throne of God?

I was 100% on board with my friend's complaint until he showed me one of the songs she suggested. I may as well have been slapped in the face. It was a song I really like. I like to sing it, and it has great meaning. But he was right. It wasn't vertical at all. The song...
We are standing on Holy ground.
And I know that there are Angels all around.
Let us praise Jesus now.
We are standing in His presence on Holy Ground.

Do you know it? Good song, right? But what is it? It's a story out of the Bible. Sure, we can be thankful that such an amazing thing happened, but why aren't we telling Him about it and not each other. We may as well sing a song like...
Jesus fed the five thousand.
He fed them with only a little bread and some raw fish.
They even had some leftover.
We should sing about how good He is.

Or, how about...
David killed all the Philistines.
God helped him swing his sword.
All the women and children are fatherless.
Let's get together and sing about how God helped us.

As a worship leader, you have so very little time each week to get your congregation into an intimate time with their God, why would you waste it on story telling and not leading them in a one-on-one conversation with Him? Is there a place for songs that we sing to each other about how good God is? If so, where is that place and how much? And are they more, or even equally, important as the songs we sing straight to God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit? I know a lot of you are either now, or have been, worship leaders. Please share your thoughts and opinions and stories and put legs to these ideas.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday Funny

An oldie but a goodie...

The IRS decided to audit Ralph, and sent him a summons for a meeting at the local IRS office. Not surprisingly to the auditor, Ralph showed up with his attorney. The auditor began, "Well sir, you seem to have an extravagant lifestyle with no full time employment, which you explain by saying you win money gambling. I'm not sure the IRS finds that believable."

"I'm a great gambler, and I can prove it," said Ralph. "How about a demonstration?" The auditor thought for a moment but saw nothing illegal in allowing an example, so he answered, "Alright, go ahead."

Ralph leaned back and said, "I'll bet you one thousand dollars that I can bite my own eyeball." The auditor knew this to be impossible and agreed to the bet. As they shook hands, Ralph removed his glass eye and bit it. The auditor was speechless and reluctantly handed over the money.

Ralph continued, "Now I bet you two thousand dollars that I can bite the other eye." The auditor could tell Ralph wasn't blind and that his other eye was real, so he agreed to the bet. After they had shaken hands, Ralph removed his false teeth and proceeded to bite his good eye with the dentures. The auditor was stunned at the fact that he had just lost three grand, and nervous because he had done it in front of Ralph's attorney.

"Want to go double or nothing?" asked Ralph. "I'll bet you six thousand dollars that I can stand on your desk, and without moving it, pee into that wastebasket on the other side of your office, and never get a drop in between." The auditor, twice burned, was more than cautious. He looked carefully and decided there was no way this guy could manage such a stunt, and so he agreed to the bet.

Ralph stood up on the desk, unzipped his pants, and started peeing. Even though he was straining as hard as he could he couldn't make the stream reach the waste basket and ended up peeing all over the auditor's desk. The auditor leaped in joy as he realized he had just turned a major loss into a huge win. But Ralph's attorney just moaned and put his head in his hands.

"Are you okay?" asked the auditor. "Not really," said the attorney. "When Ralph told me he'd been summoned for an audit, he bet me twenty thousand dollars that he could come in here and pee all over your desk and that you'd be happy about it."

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


No real theme today, just some stuff in my head and for some readers. Sorry if some of it's cryptic or irrelevant, this is the best way to talk to a lot of people at the same time.

Evan, that financial thing we talked about...... I'm going to wait until next month to do it. The interest you'll lose by me waiting a month will be far less than what you'll earn with the higher interest rate I'll get you in May. Love ya man. It was so awesome to hear your voice the other day!

Kim and Amy, I'm really looking forward to giving you some insight in your garden adventures. I am in no way an expert, I just really love being out there. Hopefully I can share that excitement and enjoyment. I really mean it when I say thanks for letting me help you. Kim, I need directions to your church. We may visit the next week or two. If you don't want it real public, leave a comment and I'll erase it right away.

Kimmy, since my message to you is about something that may be a secret, I'll have to talk in code. Here goes...
As for the thing, it's a go. Of the multiple parts, only the later two will work, b/c of my sleeping-partner's pastry commitments. I think we're being bugged, so over and out!

Andrew, thanks for your honesty last night. When it first started to become one, I used to wonder about our friendship with the whole age difference thing. There was always a thought that you'd do something age-appropriate to remind me of my age and the obvious differences making our friendship less than ideal. Then I had thoughts that I'd be the one acting age-appropriate which would cause you to move on to more obvious choices in friends. None of that has ever happened and really don't see it ever happening. Ell and I have been blessed over the years to have had some amazing friends. We count yours and Lyndsay's friendship just as significant and just as special as the others God has blessed us with. Thank you for that friendship.

Brad, it finally came out that it was your initial idea to buy me my new pipe. Thanks man! And thanks for helping him see it through Andrew. You guys truly blew me away!

And for all you people that ignored my Mustang stuff and focused on the Volkswagen stuff, now you know why I love V-Dubs so much. They evoke so many memories and stories and they are so much fun to own. They have an aura about them that just makes it cool to own one; even a junky one.

For everybody... Get your opinions ready, I have another good topic brewing for next week.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Happy Birthday

I am a Volkswagen man. When I was a little kid I told my parents my first car would be a Bug. My teenage finances didn't allow for that to happen, but my love for the cars was still there. Since Ell and I have been married we've owned nine Volkswagens, three currently. Everyone that knows me knows I only drive Volkwagens. We camp at the Volkswagen show in Columbiana every year. I could go on and on. But despite all those things, my favorite car of all time is the Ford Mustang. Not a huge fan of Fords, just the Mustang. And today is its birthday.

The Ford Mustang made its debut on April 17, 1964. Every dealership that had them on the lot sold out almost immediately, and they took orders for hundreds more. It still holds the record for the highest number of opening day sales for any debut vehicle in the United States. The reasons for its success were many. It was a sporty car that still had a back seat. It had what Ford called an "Arm-length list of options." And it was really cheap. Ford wanted it to cost less than a dollar a pound. The original car weighed about 2600 pounds and the base price was under $2300. It also boasted many engine options including a 289 cubic inch V-8 that moved the car down the road faster than anyone expected.

The car single-handedly created a classification of vehicles called Pony Cars (two door, 4 passenger, rear wheel drive, V-8 engine, long hood, short deck) that still carries that name today. Chevrolet created the Camaro and Dodge created the Barracuda with the sole purpose of competing with the Mustang. They never realized Ford's sales numbers though. In fact, few cars in history have sold as well as the Mustang. In 1966, Ford sold over 665,000 Mustangs. That is an astounding number when you remember sales leaders in the past few years (Toyota Camry, Ford Taurus) sales figures were also in the 600-700k range. And the Mustang did it 40 years ago!

In 1994 I traveled with my friend Joe and his Dad to Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina to attend the Mustang 30th Anniversary Celebration. Thousands of Mustangs from all years all in one place. There were cars from all over the world, special seminars with racing legends, concept cars, famous Mustangs from movies, President Clinton was there with his '66 convertible, and there was an open track forum for those with the money to pay and the balls to see how fast their cars would go. I must have taken 10 rolls of pictures. It was an amazing time I'll remember for the rest of my life.

I could go on all day with stories of the Mustang and things I've done and places I've gone. But I'll quit for now and just say... Happy Birthday Mustang. May you last another 43 years!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday Funny

Another joke courtesy of Kimmy!

Miss O'Leary, the church organist, was in her eighties and had never been married. She was much admired for her sweetness and kindness to all. The parish priest came to call on her one afternoon early in the spring. She welcomed him into her tiny cottage and offered him a seat as she went into the kitchen to make a pot of tea. As the priest sat across from her pump organ, he noticed a small bowl of water sitting on top of it with something floating in it. He stood up to get a better look and gasped in surprise. In the water floated a condom. He thought for sure that sweet Miss O'Leary had lost her senses.

When she returned with the tea and some scones, they began to chat. They chatted for a few minutes but his curiosity was getting the better of him. Soon he could resist no longer and blurted out, "Miss O'Leary, please tell about what you have in that bowl!" She smiled and replied, "Oh Father, isn't it wonderful? I was walking in the village last October and I found this tiny package on the ground. The directions said to put it on your organ, keep it wet, and it would prevent disease. And you know........I haven't had a cold all winter!"

Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Try this

You have to try this. And when you do I gaurantee you'll tell at least one other person.

1. go to <>
2. click on "maps"
3. click on "get directions" at the top
4. type "New York" in the first box (the "from" box)
5. type "London" in the second box (the "to" box)
6. click on "get directions" top right.
7. scroll down to step #23

This is so stinking funny!

Monday, April 09, 2007

A random post for the sake of randomness

Well, it's official. This is the snowiest year on record for Ohio. As of Easter Eve, the airport in Vienna recorded the last half inch of snow needed to break the record. Most of the other major cities are reporting the same thing. I heard a meteorologist over the weekend say that January was the third snowiest January on the books and February was the second snowiest February of the same. Combine those two, and all the snow we had at the beginning of March, and you got a pretty white winter.

For obvious reasons, I kept being in and around conversations about death and cemeteries this weekend. Discussions about visiting grave stones and markers, the pros and cons of cremation, the rather open rules in the state of Ohio when it comes to after-death care of a body, and our own resurrected Savior. One of the most intriguing conversations was about natural burial. I didn't know there was such a large resurgence in that idea. I guess there are even entire cemeteries that don't allow embalming or headstones or even coffins other than pine boxes. After the burial, the land is allowed to return to its natural state. If you want to visit your loved ones burial site, they provide you with GPS coordinates. Interesting, huh?

Ell and I went to a sunrise service at the Columbiana Cemetery Sunday morning with our friends Andrew and Lyndsay. It was held outside at the Firestone Family Memorial (yes the Firestone tire people) and facilitated by the Upper Room Fellowship (yes our old church.) Even though the air was really really cold, it was nice to see old faces. We were welcomed and hugged by so many people. I guess I kinda underestimated the impact I had there and the people that have been missing us. Made the heart feel good.

I know I commented on someones blog last year about it, but I thought I'd share the Easter tradition Ell and I have had for 12 years now. Holidays can get so hectic with so many families to visit, so many dinners to eat, so much running to do, so much time-management to deal with, that a lot of people lose the joy of the season and of being with loved ones. Not that it isn't nice to see family, but when it becomes an obligation rather than a choice, is it a really a good time? Anyway, on our first Easter as a dating couple, Ell and I told our entire family and friend circles that we had plans. We went to the only Chinese restaurant open and had a quiet dinner alone. No one else was there, it was so romantic. And ever since, we've avoided the hustle and hassle the other holidays bring and spend the day just the two of us. The Chinese thing didn't always work, probably b/c they realized they were open a whole day for only two people. And we've actually gone to someone's house for dinner last year and this, but it's been on our own time line. The results have been a relaxing day without the angst that overshadows so many other people's holiday. We were actually able to enjoy the reason we celebrate the day. He is risen! He is risen indeed!

My Life With Andrew

Andrew is the coolest guy I know. It is a shame I don't mention it enough, but I am going to start saying how cool he is more.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Friday Funny

There seems to be jokes for every season. Here's a little one Kimmy sent me to commemorate the Lenten season.

John Smith was the only Protestant to move into a large Catholic neighborhood. On the first Friday of Lent, John was outside grilling a huge juicy steak on his grill. Meanwhile, all of his neighbors were cooking fish. This went on every Friday of Lent. On the last Friday of Lent, the neighborhood men got together and decided something had to be done about John... he was tempting them to eat meat each Friday of Lent, and they couldn't take it anymore. So they decided to try to convert John to be a Catholic. They went over and talked to him and to their surprise and happiness they convinced him to convert. They took him to church, the Priest sprinkled water over him and said, "You were born a Baptist, you were raised a Baptist, and now you are Catholic." The men of the neighborhood were so relieved that their biggest Lent temptation was resolved.

The next year's Lenten season rolled around once again. The first Friday of Lent came, and right around suppertime, just as the entire neighborhood was sitting down to their fish dinners, the smell of steak cooking on a grill came wafting into their homes. The neighborhood men couldn't believe their noses; what was going on? They called each other up and decided to meet over at John's house to see if he had forgotten the first Friday of Lent. The group arrived just in time to see John standing over his grill with a small pitcher of water. As they watched, John sprinkled some water over the steak and said, "You were born a cow, you were raised a cow, and now you are a fish!"

Have a great Easter weekend everyone.

An interesting meeting

Our bank is going through a hardware upgrade. New computers all around including new CPU's and new keyboards. Last night was my branch's turn to get the new equipment. While you'd think we'd be all excited about getting newer faster computers, there was a catch. The techs doing the install couldn't start working until we were closed. And b/c of security issues, someone(s) had to stay the whole time they were installing. To make it worse, for a month we'd been hearing horror stories about the network going down, files being lost, and the work taking 'til 10 or 11 at night. So needless to say, us spoiled little bank brats weren't too keen on hanging around.

The bank uses Dell network systems and Dell partners with private tech firms who do the actual install. The guy who showed up at my bank yesterday was a short little hairy guy named Dave. At first he was a bit annoying and we were a bit concerned our branch would be added to the horror story list. He was in our way as we tried to close down, he would stop working every time he spoke to us, and he had these little quirks that were just plain getting on our nerves. The nail in the coffin was that he kept stopping to take phone calls. Every time his phone rang, my head teller and I grew more and more annoyed.

About halfway through the job, I overhead Dave talking to his boss about another tech who was leaving soon to smuggle Bibles into China and Hong Kong. To say I was interested was an understatement. Even though it meant him stopping to talk and not work, I asked him about it. Well, that led to much conversation about churches, persecution, God, and so much more. He grew up Pentecostal and AG, and then six years ago married a lady who was a United Methodist Pastor. What a culture shock! I told him about my Missional church thoughts and about the great things happening through Band of Brothers. It was an awesome time. And maybe a little bit of a witness to my head teller who had to sit and listen to us talk. What started as an annoying interaction with a stranger turned into a great conversation with a fellow believer. Life's neat isn't it?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Alright already.

I got a letter this morning from a dear friend. He, and I think he'd agree, isn't one of my best friends. I don't say that in a bad way, we simply don't connect very often and when we do it's not enough time to really get into the stuff we'd probably enjoy getting into. But in contrast to the physical separation that exists between us, he is one of the most honest people I know. He doesn't mind challenging me to re-examine my thoughts and re-evaluate my positions. He doesn't try to change my mind, just look at things in a different light. This April Fools thing is no exception.

They say that hindsight is 20/20. And as I look back on the joke I shared Sunday afternoon, I wish I'd done a couple things differently. Not b/c of the backlash, but I know I could have delivered it better. I should have included the traditional "April Fools!!" tagline at the end or as a first comment. Or maybe not made myself go to prison which seemed to be the biggest gasp of the whole thing. I'm not too proud to bow my head and admit my mistakes. And those two things were mistakes for sure. And for those two things I apologize.

Many of you didn't get a chance to read my family's comments before I erased them. And despite the fact that it looks like I was embarrassed or trying to hide something, my intentions truly were out of concern for our relationship. On this blog I don't hide or shy away from anything. I've had some pretty intense debates where I was demeaned and ridiculed and ripped a new one by people I've never met as well as people I share blood with, but I never deleted a single comment. Never. The things that my sister wrote on Monday, and that my Dad seemed to agree with, were on a much deeper emotional level and voiced issues that need to be dealt with quickly. More-so as a family not in a public setting. They have nothing to do with my joke, even if it was ill-delivered. I want to deal with those issues as soon as possible, but not here.

My friend touched on one other area: Sense of humor. To quote him, "We don't all share the same sense of humor, and some of us are more easily hurt than others. We don't have to agree on what's funny and what isn't..." This isn't something I'm just now figuring out. In fact, it's why I share so many different types of jokes on Fridays. The way I see it, if you don't get the joke, or it's not your taste, avoid my Friday Funnies and you won't be lost or offended ever again. But the thing I did differently on Sunday was that I didn't give anyone the opportunity to know I was telling a joke. And for that reason, people were left worried and scared. That wasn't fair and I couldn't be more sorry.

Am I sorry I did the joke at all. No. It was a joke meant to cause laughter. Am I sorry my family felt slighted? Yes. Aside from their deeper issues that they may never disclose to me, this can be resolved.

Monday, April 02, 2007

April Fools

There are many days I greatly enjoy each year: my Birthday, Ell's Birthday, St. Patrick's Day, the 4th of July, Mother's Day, the first day of Summer, and the most recent one........ April Fools Day. When we were kids, April 1st meant jokes about our zippers being down and our shoes being untied. As we got older, we learned to use real life things like our cars and jobs and family to trick unsuspecting people. All in good fun, and all hilarious. It's nice to have a day set aside for laughter and smiles.

Yesterday was no different. I decided when I woke up to use my blog to do something funny. I didn't have a plan, I figured it would come to me as I sat in front of the keys. So when I sat down, a great story just flowed out. (If you haven't read it, it's the post before this one.) Anyway, it got a lot of people excited. Was the story a bit too real? Well of course. That's what made it so believable. And those that were tricked were a bit red faced that they fell for it. Well, most people.

My sister and Dad took it way too serious, and to be honest that kind of disturbs me a bit. I'm not writing this to degrade them in any way b/c the emotion I'm feeling is sadness. I have a great family who I thought knew me rather well. But they took the joke serious and didn't even see the irony that having me in their family made the whole story a farce. From the very first paragraph I made the story questionable. But they thought took it seriously and are pretty pissed at me. And they have other people (who are afraid to reveal their identity) mad too. All of them demanding an apology. While I'm sorry that my story scared people so deeply, I'm not sorry at all I did it. It was meant to raise blood pressure and it was meant to make people laugh. Verdict: accomplished.

This is my blog. I'll do whatever the heck I want with it. I'll write whatever I want to write, and respond however I want to respond. I am respecting my family by deleting their comments and not having people they never met laugh at them. It's unfortunate they can't see this for what it was intended and give me the same respect. But to be honest, I have to wonder if they have some underlying issues they are dealing with that caused them to get so emotionally charged. But I guess they've made their decisions so I can't say anything else.

Hey everyone, it was a joke. Laugh at your embarassment and move on!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

This is goodbye.

I wasn't sure I wanted to address this in this forum, but it's the best way to get the news to the most people at the same time. I'm not even sure how I want to start b/c there's so much to say. I guess I'll start at the beginning. About two and a half years ago, I switched jobs and started at the bank I'm at now. The main reasons for the switch was that the new job was half as far away and a whole lot more money. But there was another reason that only my wife and I knew. That reason was that I was on the verge of getting fired. That's another long story, so I'll try to give you the cliffs note version.

I got a new boss in January of 2004. She was a 40 year old strong single black woman. I don't add her race to be derogatory, just to state that she was very determined in everything she did, and was embarrassed in nothing she said. Not something you see too often in white women. Anyway, I was her number one manager in terms of sales and teller staff. As a result, she set up her regional office in my building and she used me as an example to all the other managers. I was pretty proud of that position and thought I was sort of a favorite son in her eyes. That lasted about six months. I had a bad month in July of that year, and she came down on me pretty hard in our weekly regional manager's meeting. I didn't like being singled out in front of twenty other people after making her look so good for so long, so I got upset. I started yelling, one thing led to another, and we got into an actual physical fight. There was a formal internal investigation, and everyone at the meeting was interviewed. I can assure you I didn't throw the first punch, but not too many people sided with me for fear of losing their jobs. To sum up the story, I agreed to leave the bank.

Skip forward to four months ago. I got a call from the HR person at my previous bank, and I guess my previous boss had been let go due to the sales records of her branches. At first I was glad to hear the news, b/c I really didn't like her at all, for obvious reasons. But the guy said there was more to the story and it was that she was suing me and the bank. She was claiming that by making me quit, the bank had taken her best sales person and role model. And as a result, the other branches started slacking off and her sales figures had plummeted. (In case you're confused, bank managers get paid by how many new accounts they open and how many loans they book.) So she was claiming she couldn't effectively manage her staff without having the opportunity to publicly punish me. So she was suing the bank for impeding her managment and loss of wages. In addition, she was suing me for the assault. She had a friend in the Cleveland District Attorney's office who advised her there was a statute of limitations on physical assault, and that she should sue me for lost wages, hospital bills (which she never went to,) and emotional suffering.

The end to this story is that I lost in court. No one I used to work with would testify for me. I was sentenced to fourteen months in prison, of which I'll have to serve six. I also got fined $65,000 which I'll have to pay when I get out, which means we'll have to sell our house. I have to report to the prison in Elkton, Ohio tomorrow morning to start my sentence. I won't have access to the Internet until I've been there one month so you'll have to check Ell's blog for updates on how I'm doing. Two other details, my previous bank won their lawsuit, and my present bank fired me. I got screwed royally. I'd appreciate your prayers for me but more importantly for Ell. She's really concerned about bills and stuff, besides being away from me for six months. She's really trying to be strong, but she hasn't had a day without crying since the sentencing. We feel like our world's been turned upside down. I feel completely helpless and lost and I've never felt so defeated in all my life. So this is goodbye for awhile. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we go through the next six months. I love all of you.