At the age of 15, just a few months after my decision to become a follower of Jesus, I met Andy Bales. For the next three formative years he was my youth pastor, my mentor, and my friend. When I think of Andy I think of John the Baptist’s words about Jesus: “I’m not worthy to tie his shoelaces.”
Andy is an Iowa boy who has given his life to serve the poor, addicted, homeless, and most destitute people.
This week, my Wayfarer Weekend podcast is a conversation with Andy. I’m not worthy to tie the laces of the shoe on the one foot he has left, but I’m grateful for the opportunity of having this conversation and sharing it with you.
Wendy and I returned last night from our “spring break” in which we spent a long weekend getting our Playhouse at the lake opened up and ready for the coming summer. Our friends joined us for a weekend of hard work, a long task list of chores, along with good meals and time together in the evenings. We arrived home last night with aching muscles and weary bones, but our souls were overflowing.
Our place at the lake was not something which Wendy and I long-planned or even desired. Looking back, it was one of those things on life’s road that just sort of unexpectedly falls into place and you realize in retrospect that it was meant to be part of the story in ways you could never have foreseen. We have had our ups and downs with it. In fact, on more than one occasion we’ve felt strongly that it wasn’t what we desired at all. Yet in each case, we were given the assurance that we were to stay the course.
This past weekend, I had a lot of time to contemplate as I spent a number of hours sequestered in the isolation of my earplugs and the din of the power washer as I sprayed siding, windows, trim, decks, docks, and sidewalks. I have thoroughly enjoyed all the blessings that have come with the place over the years. It’s not, however, about the thing or the things that come with it. What I really treasure about the place has no worldly value. I can’t buy family or friendship. I can’t use legacy or cherished memories as collateral. Purpose, quiet, rest, laughter, peace, relationship, intimacy, conversation, and healing will never appear on an appraisal when it’s time for this chapter of the story to end. Yet, that’s what I value so much that our “spring break” was spent working our butts off.
Today’s chapter, Psalm 135, is an ancient Hebrew song that was sung as part of the temple liturgy. It’s a recounting of history and a celebration of God. As I came to the verse that says, “The idols of the nations are silver and gold,” it resonated with power-washing ruminations. There are lots of things that I observe are valued in this world, especially in a place like the lake. They are the things of silver and gold, made with human hands. And, that prompts in me continuous soul-searching.
On the drive home last night, Wendy and I spent time talking through the various intimate conversations we enjoyed with our friends this past weekend as we worked together, ate together, and rested together. Wendy talked about the unique struggles each person and each couple are going through on our respective way-points on Life’s road. We prayed together for our friends. I treasure these moments, conversations, meals, rest, and friends. Not silver and gold, but spirit, flesh, and relationship.
In the quiet this morning, I return to the routine. I find myself thankful for my many blessings which include a place on the lake (that requires up-keep and work weekends) and really good companions on life’s journey with whom to share both the labor and leisure. And, I find myself praying to always treasure those things that have no tangible value in this world.
On this Wayfarer Weekend (WW) podcast: Part Two of my conversation with Dr. Karen Cleveland, Clinical Psychologist, and Certified Enneagram coach. Karen was a reluctant convert to the wisdom of the Enneagram. In Part 2 we talk specifically about Enneagram “wings” and “triads.”
To listen to the podcast you can subscribe to the Wayfarer Podcast through you favorite podcast app, or click on the link below to listen online:
On this Wayfarer Weekend (WW) podcast is Part One of my conversation with Dr. Karen Cleveland, Clinical Psychologist, and Certified Enneagram coach. Karen was a reluctant convert to the wisdom of the Enneagram. She discusses what she’s learned about its wisdom, and we talk about those confusing arrows on the Enneagram diagram.
To listen to the podcast you can subscribe to the Wayfarer Podcast through you favorite podcast app, or click on the link below to listen online:
This week it’s Part 2 of “Companions on the Journey.” My conversation with Kevin Roose about friendship, accountability, the Enneagram, and what our chapter-a-day journey has practically meant in our life journeys.
When it rains there’s always movies! Star Wars was a big hit.
Watch your step.
Oh Captain, my Captain.
Playing on the beach at Captain Ron’s.
It didn’t rain ALL the time!
Driving Tom & Wendy’s boat.
Ready for my nap.
The VLs hangin’ with the Captain.
A pair o’ pirates fer sure, matey!
Hazy days didn’t dull the fun.
Hanging out at Captain Ron’s.
Fun weekend with the VLs!
Dinner at Larrywood!
Sweet Miss Camille.
Walking back from the beach.
A little beach time at Captain Ron’s.
Hoola Hoopin’ at Larry’s.
Memorial Day Weekend is the traditional start of summer at the lake. The Pella VLs joined us for a weekend that, unfortunately, was cooler and rainier that we had wished, but it didn’t dull the fun. There was fishing: a few small ones caught, a big one got away [sorry Chad], and Aaron dropped his pole in the lake (thanks to Dad for fishing it out of the bottom of the lake on Sunday morning). There were movies: Star Wars was a big hit with the kids (of all ages) this year. There was also reading, frisbee golf, boat rides, Captain Ron’s beach, and plenty of food and laughter.
Wendy and I arrived late on Thursday afternoon and got the Playhouse ready for fun. The VLs arrived just after 9:00 p.m. and everyone hit the hay fairly early. On Friday we headed to the beach at Captain Ron’s in the afternoon. It wasn’t exactly sunny, but the rain held off and the kids enjoyed the sand and water. In the evening we had a lovely dinner with salmon on the grill and, after the kidlets went to bed, the adults enjoyed conversation on the deck.
Saturday started out pretty rainy, but by the afternoon there was a break and we headed to Larry’s for dinner. We’d never been there, so it was fun to try. Food was great and we all enjoyed the boat ride there and back.
Sunday we headed back to Captain Ron’s in the afternoon and enjoyed grilling out burgers and brats in the evening. The VLs headed into Osage for some frozen custard while Tom and Wendy held down the fort.
Monday morning was the requisite donut run to Sunrise Donuts. Afterwards, Tom and Chad took the kids for a long boat ride. Then, it was time to pack up for home. It goes so fast, but the memories last a lifetime!
Wendy and I had an enjoyable couple of days at the lake last week. We drove down on Thursday morning and came back Saturday night. Quick trip, but it was nice to get away from what has been the normal routine for a short while. We watched the Iowa State vs. UAB game from Buffalo Wild Wings in Osage Beach over lunch on Thursday and were disappointed, like the rest of Cyclone nation, with the outcome.
We worked remotely the rest of the day on Thursday and into Thursday evening. Also worked most of Friday, but took the opportunity to get things ready for the coming summer and take care of stocking up. The lake level was as low as we’ve ever seen it. I tried to lower the boat into the water, but the lift dropped about six inches and sat on the bottom. So, no boat rides this past weekend.
Friday was a day of celestial events. It was the spring equinox, as well as there being an eclipse of the sun and a giant moon. I don’t know if any of these events had anything to do with the sky in Missouri, but Wendy and stepped out on Friday evening to see an eerie red glow. The sky was as deep scarlet as I’ve ever seen it in my life. I took the photo above from our back porch looking out at the western sky through the tree line. Gorgeous. It reminded me of the old saying, “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.” It was delightful.
We got home Saturday evening. Unfortunately I had been working on coming down with symptoms of a cold. Cough, congestion, and waves of weariness. We went to church yesterday, but rested most of the day in an effort to try and ward off things getting any worse. Now, for another work week.
It has been raining A LOT around here of late. Wendy emptied our rain gauge yesterday which had 5 1/2 inches of water in it. There’s a couple of more inches in it this morning. Ugh.
Rain put kind of a damper on the Des Moines Art Festival this weekend. Wendy and I usually find ourselves at the lake on the DMAF weekend, so we were kind of excited to be in town for it until the rains threatened to ruin the afternoon. We arrived in Des Moines Saturday morning and met Taylor at Gateway Market for lunch. She was on her way to volunteer at one of the beer tents for the afternoon.
We ran a few errands and met Kev and Beck at their house. By the time we were ready to head downtown the rain was imminent, so we chose to go to “The Other Art Show” at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. It’s inside the Varied Industries Building, so we figured we could enjoy the art without getting wet. It was a good choice.
We spent a couple of hours wandering the art show. Here are a few of our favorite artists from the show. There could be so many more, but this is a diverse list among our favs:
It was pouring rain by the time we were ready to go. We headed to P.F. Chang’s for dinner and made a stop at Vintage Wine & Spirits for an after dinner glass of wine and a cigar on the patio. We ended up back at Kev and Beck’s for a night cap before heading back to Pella.
Suzanna was up and ready to talk when we got home, so late night conversation in the kitchen ensued until way too late.
Yesterday morning I delivered the morning message on in the auditorium services at Third Church. It went really well. Message should be on the Third website by mid-week. I’ll post a link when it is. We returned home to work and prepare for our departure to the lake for a few weeks.
Hard to believe it’s Friday already. Wendy and I arrived back from our week at the lake on Monday night. After Memorial Day, we worked from the lake house. Wendy and I are blessed to have jobs that we can often manage from anywhere provided we have our laptops and an internet connection. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were spent working and trying to get ahead knowing that Kevin and Becky were arriving on Thursday night.
The big news of the week came with finding and buying a cute little boat that we’ve dubbed “Apollonia” or “Polly” for short. For many years we’ve been blessed to have the use of Dad VW’s boat down at the lake. He felt it was time to sell it and so he hauled it back to Iowa last fall and sold it to a guy from Minnesota just a few weeks ago. On the way down to the lake Wendy and I talked about how hard it was going to be (especially for me, I confess) to be “on the lake” but not to be able to be “on the lake” with family and friends.
The conversation continued over the next day or two and we discussed how much we could afford (not much) and what we really needed in a boat (something small, reliable that fit on the existing life and would get us from point A to point B on the lake). A little searching on-line led us to this cute 18 foot bow rider. A quarter of a century old, the 1989 Century shows signs of age and wear, but she’s cute and feisty (and she’s red, a big plus in Wendy’s book). After negotiations, test drives, mechanical inspections, we finally got her in the water on Friday.
Kev and Beck arrived late on Thursday night (Warning to all who come to our Playhouse: trust GPS directions at your own peril). On Friday the girls headed into Osage for a little shopping while Kev and I blew up the Relaxation Station and relaxed in the sun for a while. We got the boat in the water in the late afternoon and enjoyed an amazing steak dinner before taking the boat on a moonlight cruise to Bulldog’s for a nightcap.
Saturday was Bear Bottom day. We arrived early and staked our claim at the swim up bar, though the pool is always so cold this early in the season. It was there that Becky initiated the conversation about what we would call the boat, and we landed on Apollonia/Polly in homage to Apollo the Greek god of, among other things, light, sun, healing, and the arts. We ate lunch at Bear Bottom and hung out until mid-afternoon. A day in the sun had everyone worn out and naps were in order before another fabulous evening meal. Saturday night was spent on the deck in long, meaningful conversation. I’ve always known that the Playhouse is a thin place, but Saturday night’s conversation was a powerful reminder of just how much.
Kev and Beck had to leave at zero-dark thirty to get home for family activities. Wendy and I cleaned up, finished a little work, and then headed out on the lake for a long evening cruise. On Monday we cleaned up the house and packed up for home. My folks arrived about 2:45 and we showed them the new toy grandpa has to play with (He’s already fixed the horn and replaced a broken exhaust cover. Thanks Dad!). Wendy and I hit the road for home about 3:30.
Wendy and I had a fun weekend in the Twin Cities as we made our annual pilgrimage to a Minnesota Vikings game. It was a perfect fall weekend with lots of warm sunshine during the day while the evenings and mornings were crisp with cool fall air. The drive up on Saturday afforded us time to catch up on some much needed conversation. Road construction in Minnesota was awful and gave us more time in the car together than we really wanted, but what do you expect from Minnesota (nine months of winter – three months of road construction)?
We arrived at our hotel which was just blocks from Mall of America field. We checked in and freshened up before heading to our favorite Twin Cities’ haunt, the original Buca Di Beppo’s (literally translated from Italian thats “Joe’s Basement”). Wonderful meal. We headed back to the hotel to watch Zero Dark Thirty which we’ve had from Netflix and have been trying to watch forever. We cuddled into bed and pulled it up on the ol’ laptop. Fascinating movie. Definitely kept us awake.
Sunday morning dawned and we walked the mile or so from our hotel to Al’s Breakfast in Dinkytown by the University of Minnesota. Al’s is a hole-in-the-wall greasy spoon that has been in operation since the area populated with rail workers back in the old days. Al’s has thirteen bar stools. That’s it. People line up behind the bar stools, out the door, and down the sidewalk to wait for a chance at breakfast made on the grill right behind the bar. It’s a unique experience for sure. We enjoyed a big breakfast and then walked back to the hotel to get ready for the game.
It was another mile or so walk to the stadium, but with all of the feasting we were happy for the exercise and the weather was so beautiful we didn’t care. The Vikings are building a new stadium next year so this is likely our last visit to the old Metrodome. We had great seats in the seventh row on one of the end zones. I got a chance to catch some great shots with my camera. Being the home opener, it was packed with fans expecting the Vikes to take it to the hapless Cleveland Browns. On the way to the game Wendy said, “I hope it’s not a blowout. I hope it’s a close game and the crowd is into it the whole time.” She got her wish as the lead went back and forth. Unfortunately, the Vikes gave up a winning touchdown with 51 seconds left in the fourth quarter and it happened right in front of us. Bummer. As one fellow fan put it, when you lose to the worst team in the NFL, that pretty much makes your team the worst team in the NFL. It’s going to be a long season.
We walked back to the hotel and enjoyed a drink on the patio of the neighboring micro-brew while we waited for traffic to thin out. We then headed to the suburbs where I had client meetings scheduled on Monday and Tuesday. Sunday evening was spent enjoying pizza on the bed while we watched Sunday night football.
Monday evening we went to Mall of America and did a little shopping. Wendy found some great stuff and we both bought hats at a cool little hat shop I don’t ever remember seeing there before. We grabbed a bite at Buffalo Wild Wings before heading back to the hotel. After client meetings on Tuesday we headed home.
On the way home Wendy mentioned how refreshed she felt by our weekend getaway. I was grateful for that. We got home at 6:40 and had just enough time to change our clothes ant be at the community center for a 7:00 rehearsal. Talk about an abrupt re-entry. Nevertheless, it was a great weekend together.