Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Book Review: The Liturgical Year

I just finished reading "The Liturgical Year" by Joan Chittister, one of seven books in the ancient practices series, and I wasn't thrilled with the book. I would give it 3 out of 5 stars.
I didn't grow up following a liturgical year so I was very interested in finding out some specifics of this ancient practice, I was looking forward to knowing names and dates of fasts and feasts, finding out more about the history of the church calendar and why we celebrate when we do. It took me 4 chapters before Sister Chittister explained that the liturgical year is made up of 4 parts: Sundays, 2 major seasons (Christmas and Easter), sanctoral cycle and ordinary time. Yet later in the book she explained the year as Advent followed by Christmas, then ordinary time, then Lent followed by Easter and Pentecost and then another ordinary time.
Sister Chittister did do a great job unpacking each of the aspects off the liturgical year and how every year our lives should continue to look more and more like the life of Christ. I really enjoyed the history and wisdom she shared discussing Christmas and Easter and how those two events are the two poles that the year centers around.
I did feel that there were too many chapters to this book, with 33 chapters spanning 212 pages, I felt like we were just starting to unpack a topic and the chapter would end and we would jump to the next topic. I do understand that there is a lot of information to unpack in the explanation of the liturgical year, but I still felt a little rushed.
After finishing the book, I did walk way with a greater knowledge and respect for the liturgical year but it left me wanting to know more. I did learn that "the meaning and message of the liturgical year is the bedrock on which we strike our own life direction. Rooted in the Resurrection promise of the liturgical year, whatever the weight of our own pressures, we maintain the course." The liturgical year is the experience in both the present and in the mysteries of the past, those combined with the promise that the reign of God will be fulfilled in the future.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in knowing more about the liturgical year, but I would also couple that with a recommended read through Wikipedia regarding the liturgical year for some extra details.

I was given this book free through and Thomas Nelson Publishers but I am under no obligation to give it a positive review.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Birthday Fun!

Birthday week was full of surprises and fun. Heather and I have the tradition of not working on each other's birthdays, so we both took the day off on Thursday to celebrate my 30th birthday! We started off the morning off with some waffles and then it was off to Half Priced Books, I-80 Flea Market and Brass Armadillo. We had some lunch at Noodle Zoo and then headed home for a nap. That evening we met up with the Siskow's and the Pine's for dinner at Flying Mango!
The Siskow's gave me "The Duke" by Dr Grabow. My first pipe. Aaron, Derek and I have started a book club and our thought was we should smoke pipes while we read Derek and Aaron need to get pipes!
The Pines gave me some money for my tattoo fund and this sweet card!
When we got home, Heather and I cut out the moustaches according to the directions on the birthday card! Heather is showing off "the Frenchie"!
Saturday, we went out with Heather's family for supper to Smokey D's. Nathan tested out "the Handlebar" and Doreen is sporting "the Biker" moustache!
Gracie is also a fan of "the Handlebar"
Heather and Karys with their moustache's
After dinner, I thought we were heading to a bowling alley to bowl, Heather said "Let me drive, we need to go pick up your gift" She led me to believe that my gift was going to be a new tattoo. As we were driving, she handed me a blindfold...something was up. Sure enough, Heather has been planning and scheming since before Christmas to throw me a surprise party! Blast from the past, it was an 80's themed party...and Heather even managed to have fun outfits for us to change into at the party! Nice work babe!
Sweat into the 80's!
The Harbert's were rockin' the headbands, even little Miles had a sweet headband!
The dudes!
The Siskow's, the Vocelka's, the Comfort's and the Pine's, all rockin' the 80's style!
Morgan and I are all smiles in our sweatsuits
Kip "the Hulk" and Eric both sporting super sweet moustaches!
Christa, Piper, Wade and myself having a great time at the party
Jarrett gave us all big smiles as he yelled "CHEESE"
The Lubach's were looking awesome in their get-ups
Ryan went with the "preppy" 80's look with 3 polos with "popped" collars...reminds me of Saved by the Bell (Zach attack)
My parents and I showing our purple pride...go Indians
Grandma Gloria, the Stroud's, the OC VL's, the Pella VL's and the Comforts all smiles...surprise!
I had a great time and was very surprised. I am amazed at how sneaky Heather is and how she was able to pull this party off without my knowledge. Big thanks to everyone for surprising me (lying to me)! Big thanks to my mom and my sister for helping Heather pull this off. I had a great birthday and thanks to everyone for reminding my that I am now an "old man"! Here's to 30

Friday, January 21, 2011

30 Goals for 30 Years

So every year around my birthday I set goals for the next year and this year is no exception.

This year, I set 30 goals for 30 years.
Here they are (not in any particular order)
1. Run a race
2. Read 30 books
3. Read through the Bible
4. Go Snowboarding
5. Go Camping
6. Road Trip
7. Refinish a bathroom
8. 7,000 push-ups
9. 7,000 sit-ups
10. 3,000 pull-ups
11. Run 1,000 miles
12. Bike 1,000 miles
13. Go ice skating
14. Go sledding
15. SAF
16. Paint living room and patch walls
17. Go to a concert
18. Tandem Bike one day of Ragbrai
19. Become more flexible
20. Invest in friendships
21. Throw 4 parties for no reason
22. Landscape the front step
23. Become quick to listen and slow to speak
24. Paint doors and trim work
25. Install new storm door
26. Install new garage doors
27. Build a desk
28. Weekend Unplugged
29. Pay off car loan
30. Take my wife on a surprise weekend get-away

I know full well that I won't get everything checked off my list, but it is fun to have a list and check off stuff that I do get accomplished. I have been setting goals since I turned 25 and it is fun to go back through my list and remember what I got done each year!
Have you set any goals this year?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Happy 30th Birthday Seth!

I am so excited to celebrate Seth today as he turns 30. I love that he's my best friend and we get to share life together. It's hard to put in words his AWESOMENESS but below are a few highlights in pictures. He likes to dress up like a cowboy and go to the rodeo once a year. So fun!

He loves getting dressed up and taking me out on dates.
We can just sit at home and be silly together
I love his natural gift of running and how he's learned to persevere through anything. Thanks for always pursuing me babe!

I love that he's an awesome uncle and enjoy watching him play with our nieces and nephews. Seth you are celebrated today! I love and appreciate you so much...even with your thinning hair. :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Backyard Sledding

Saturday afternoon, the Pella VL's had some errands to run in Des Moines and then they were meeting up with some friends for dinner, that left a few hours in between for us to tackle the backyard sledding hill! Not too long, but you get going pretty fast and if you negotiate the trees right, you can make it all the way to the frozen creek!
Heather and Nathan test out the orange sled!
Shay and Aaron head down the hill with a little push from Chad, but judging Shay's face, it might have been a bigger push than she wanted!
Chad gives two big thumbs up as he heads down the hill
Heather and Nathan speed down the hill in a flurry of snow!
Nathan brought along the sled I made him for Christmas, so he and I tested it out... worked great!
Aaron wasn't super excited about sledding but he did enjoy hanging out with Auntie Heather and watching all the action.
Chad and Shay tested out the new runner sled!
Aaron didn't like the sledding but he loved the snow and he even started a snowball fight!
The whole sledding crew...all smiles except for Aaron, who was definitely ready to head inside.
After we finished sledding, we headed inside to defrost and Heather made some fresh cookies! Nothing warms you up as well as fresh cookies. We had a great time sledding with the Pella VL's, we laughed a lot and it was so much fun watching Nathan fly down the snow, crash in a pile of white dust and stand up laughing and yell, "I want to go again!"

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Book Review: Soul Print

I just finished reading Mark Batterson's latest book Soul Print and I give it two thumbs up. Subtitled "discovering your divine destiny" Batterson unpacks the truth that there never has been and never will be anyone like you, but that isn't a testament to you, it's a testament to the God who created you.
Batterson opens up his book with a quote from C.S. Lewis "There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal" The first chapter is entitled Opening: Soul Print and he lays the foundation for the book. He starts to scratch the surface of what is to come by explaining that there is no one else like you, we are each uniquely made. He then digs into the story of an Old Testament hero, David. Through the book he draws parallels to our current life and to the life of King David.
Scene 1: Holy Confidence: Batterson looks at the experiences that we have in life, whether good or bad and how God puts those experiences in our life to grow us into the person He created us to be. Looking at David's life, Mark talks about how David took down Goliath and how God brought David to that point for that specific reason. David was great with a slingshot because he was a shepherd and he had taken on lions defending his sheep. These experiences gave David a Holy confidence that when he stepped up to Goliath, David knew he could handle the giant! Batterson then asks us, what experiences have we been through in the past that have shaped us for what we are dealing with today or might be facing in the future.
Scene 2: Lifesymbols: This chapter talks about how we can use life symbols as guide posts to remind us of how God has worked in our past. He explains how he specifically decorates his office with symbols that remind him of God's faithfulness. He poses the question "Why am I surrounding myself with meaningless things?" The art on our wall, the stuff on our desks, do they hold personal meaning?
Scene 3: The Crags of the Wild Goats: This chapter talks about how David cut off the corner of Saul's robe (1 Samuel 24:3-4). David had the chance to kill his enemy but he didn't take it because an opportunity isn't an opportunity if you have to compromise your integrity. Batterson reminds us that God is always concerned with who we are becoming. We fixate on what and when and where, but the primary issue is who you become in the process.
Scene 4: Alter Ego: This chapter unpacks how we set up identities or securities in things other than Christ. David isn't afraid of dancing in his undies as he is bringing the Ark of the Covenant back, David wants to talk the focus off of himself and show those around him that God is more important than his royal robe. The tough question is what are we hiding behind?
Scene 5: The Devil's Workshop: This chapter talks about how sin can creep in if we let our guard down. David had this issue when the his army went off to war and he found himself on the rooftop. Batterson challenges us to have accountability, have someone in our life who has permission to openly and honestly speak into your life and show us our "blind spots".
Closing: The White Stone: Batterson closes his book with reminding us that God has a name for each and everyone of us that no one knows except for him (Rev 2:17). He begins the book and ends the book the same, "There never has been and never will be anyone like you, but that isn't a testament to you. It's a testament to the God who created who. Your uniqueness isn't just a gift from God. It's your gift to God."
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, Mark Batterson asks a lot of tough questions and challenges us to dig deeper into self discovery and find out who God is calling us to become, we are each different and we each have our own soul print.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Years! One of my Christmas wishes this year was to eat Pizza Hut supreme pizza and bread sticks. About a year ago I found out I am gluten sensitive so I've had to make several adjustments to my diet one of those meant decreasing my pizza in take. So I decided to close 2010 out with a big bang and gluten overload. The Pines, Siskows, Vocelkas and Comforts headed to the local "Hut" for grease and gluten...everyone is all smiles.

Bread stick goodness...

After pizza we headed to the Pines for a crazy game of Wii pictionary. Seth and I found some sweet 3D glasses.
...sticking true to tradition Derek I mean "fawn" was falling asleep at about 10:30.
We had a great New Year's Eve, celebrating with great friends, eating gut bomb pizza and reminiscing about 2010.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Christmas in Indianola

Christmas Day, we headed down to Indianola for Christmas brunch. Morgan was super excited to open up her presents!
She was all smiles in her Santa outfit standing next to the Christmas tree.
With the new DVD technology, my parents have been changing their VHS collection into DVD' mom was all smiles to find Sun Valley Serenade on DVD!
Christa helps Morgan unwrap a few presents.
Heather is all smiles as she unwraps Balderdash...Morgan is just as excited!
Piper slept through most of the unwrapping but stirred a little when Christa shouted out "Whoopee...a zeppelin!"
Morgan helped everyone unwrap their gifts!
We had a great time in Indianola. We had great food for brunch and had plenty of laughs playing games! Again, we are so grateful for our family's generosity! Merry Christmas!