02.29.08

Walking in History

Posted in travel at 3:54 pm

We made it back from our mini-vacation to Florence. What an incredible city! It seemed like no matter what corner we turned we found some little secret tucked away.

Dante

I was amazed when we walked into the duomo and saw a Michelino’s painting Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita – the famous portrait of Dante holding The Divine Comedy with illustrations from the poem in the background. It dawned on me … Dante was from Florence!

So as we were walking around I kept my eye open and found a sign that said chiesa di Dante – Dante’s church. I had found the church where Dante met his famous Beatrice, the woman who becomes almost God-like in many of Dante’s works. I was amazed. The church itself wasn’t much to look at, but the fact that the real Dante had met the real Beatrice in the very place I was standing was incredible. These old works or art sometime take on a mythical feeling. Then when you’re in the city where these people walked and ate and went to church it hits you. This guy was an actual person!

It’s one of my favorite things about living in Italy. I’ve never been a big fan of history, but I think it’s because history in school was always a class with a big textbook taught by a boring teacher. But around here you can’t dig in your garden without discovering something ancient.

02.24.08

A slump

Posted in family, ministry, Team at 4:50 pm

Life has it’s natural ebbs and flows, doesn’t it? It seems like for while I’ve been in a bit of a slump. Just a kind of malaise that I can’t quite put my finger on and I can’t quite ignore. I’m tired. It’s hard to stay motivated. I’m a little grouchy and impatient. And no matter what I do, I can’t seem to shake it.

My teammates are incredible, and each has privately asked if there’s anything they could do to help. I would have loved to have taken them up on the offer, but honestly couldn’t think of anything. Then Jason nailed it last week when he asked, “How long has it been since you’ve taken a vacation?”

The line between work and home has always been very blurry here. Lots of ministry things happen in the evenings when people are available, which also tends to cut into family time. The computer is always on, beeping when there’s a new email to respond to. And we tend to be a pretty mobile team, so I can work just as easily from home as from our office. I think the result of this is that I tend to always be working. Since we had two teammates gone from the field for about four months, the workload increased and I now find myself without any energy.

So my wife started cooking up a little four day trip to Florence. And I can’t help but smile at the prospect of getting away from it all. She knows me too well.

Wait … didn’t God take a break once, too? It almost sounds Biblical…

02.10.08

Is there space for both of us?

Posted in church, ministry, Team at 3:41 am

Our team just finished its twice-annual planning retreat. I look forward to these times together, and always love to see how God is going to direct His church here in Ancona.

I have a teammate who is pretty much opposite from me. He’s a thinker, a philosopher, loves reading books with unpronounceable authors, and is more liberal that I am in almost every area. And I honestly wondered before this retreat if I we could ever get on the same page. I like reading, sort of. I really don’t like the philosophical ping-pong of ideas. And I’m pretty conservative in my thinking. So is there space for both of us on this team? Are we doomed to frustration and irritation? Will he constantly see me as this stuffy, boring, uptight guy who needs to be free? Will I always roll my eyes at him, thinking he needs to grow up a little and be a little more disciplined – and for heaven’s sake tuck in your shirt?

I have to confess that the answer really surprised me. We never did come to blows. We never argued, in the negative sense of the word. There were times where I had to stop and pinpoint where he was coming from. And there were times when he wanted to explore the outcome of my way of thinking. We may have scratched our heads a couple of times at each other, but at least I was able to learn something in the process. And I think our team (and the church) is better off for it.

It’s the beauty of this crazy kingdom that God is setting up here.