Thursday, May 24, 2007


In the next week or so I'll be saying good-bye to the S-10, which has been an Oglesbee family workhorse for 20 years. For me, the S-10 is more than just a is one of the last physical objects I have that is directly connected to growing up. I don't see a rusting, moderately dangerous, underpowered compact truck, I see my dad picking me up from elementary school in order to take me to piano lessons. On those days, he usually had a small thermos of milk and a couple of mom's chocolate chip cookies ready and waiting for me. We would listen to NPR on the AM radio that came with the truck. I distinctly remember listening to some sportscasters discussing the new football term that had been coined for the region between the goal line and the 20 yard line (i.e. "red zone").

I also think of how dad would hitch the boat to the truck, and as a family we would head over to lake Waubee and go sailing (Rob and I would ride in back). Later on, when Rob got his license, I remember the contract he had to sign with dad in order to use the truck. Rob succeeded in filling every bit of cubic of the cab with a speaker or amplifier. Given what I've learned in my Ph.D. minor, I'm shocked that neither of us show any signs of hearing loss. I have to say that one of the bass tapes (yes that's right, tapes) Rob used to play always made me feel like I had to poo.

Later, when it became my turn to learn to drive the truck (it's a manual), the one memory that stands out is killing the engine roughly 6 times in rapid succession on a county road at a stop sign. Dad just sat calmly in the seat next to me, waiting for me to figure out what the problem was. Eventually, I got the truck moving, and when I went to make the shift into 2nd, I discovered what my problem had been. I had been trying to start the truck in 3rd gear (it was a 4-speed transmission), and had succeeded...the burnt clutch smell testified to my persistence. Although the truck only has 83,000 miles on it, I believe it has gone through 3 clutches.

Some of my favorite memories are from college, when Lisa would sit in the middle of the bench seat and fall asleep when we would be driving back from Nappanee or Ft. Wayne. One of the worst things that ever happened to couples was the mass adoption of bucket seats.

Some might think that it is silly of me to be so attached to a physical thing, especially something which is likely to give you tetanus if you're not careful while washing it. However, more than being a vehicle, the truck is a symbol. Among other things, it is a symbol of fun family times, growing up, and helping others. Symbols are important. Symbols help define us. The Christian faith is jam packed with physical items that serve as powerful symbols (i.e. the Elements in Communion). It's okay to treasure the symbols, as long as we don't let that stand in the way of letting them go when the time is right. For me, that time has come.

Although it is hard to let the truck go, I'm happy to say that she is not headed to a scrap heap (for now). The S-10 is being fixed up and is going to a guy from our church who is just a little bit older than me. He has had a difficult life, and has spent the last year in a program at a local rescue mission that has helped him turn his life around. He owns virtually nothing, and some people from our church are helping me to fix up the truck to give to him. People are donating money to pay for plates and insurance, so that this young man from our church will get a working vehicle to start out with.

So, I bid my S-10 a fond farewell. She has been a good truck, and I will miss her.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Whatever you do...

"So whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." (Colossians 3:17)

This verse stood out to me this morning in my brief quiet time before Ian woke up. It comes at the end of a chapter where Paul is lining out "rules" for holy living. He has some good suggestions, actually: Focus your thoughts on Christ and heavenly things. Get rid of sinful acts. Don't let your emotions control you. Stop always wanting more and more. Banish bitterness, hate, and lies from your life. "Clothe" yourself with mercy and compassion. Be patient. Forgive. Let peace infiltrate your heart. And finally, whatever you do, do it for God, with thankfulness.

It all sounds so simple, doesn't it? Do this, don't do that. But it's more difficult to flesh out in the day to day kind of stuff. What does it really look like? We were discussing in our small group this past weekend how to glorify God in the mundane, every day occurrences. How do I glorify God when I'm stressed out? When I'm sick? When I'm frustrated? When I've got so much on my plate that I can hardly think straight? I know I tend to think sometimes in those moments, "External forces are caving in upon's just not possible to glorify God right now." But Paul says, "whatever you do." In everything. In every situation. In every word and every action.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Romanian Lettuce

Sometimes I forget that I live in a place where people know food. This past weekend we went up to South Bend/Mishawaka in order to celebrate our 6th anniversary, as well as reconnect with some friends. Anyhow, while we were at a restaurant, one of our friends asked the restaurant owner (who happened to have stopped by our table) whether one of the salads was made with Romaine or Iceberg lettuce. The owner responded saying, "Romanian lettuce? Nope. The lettuce is American." At first I thought the owner was making a joke, then I realized, he wasn't. My friend asked a couple more times about the lettuce, thinking that he was just being coy. What was funny was that you could tell that the owner had no idea why my friend cared so much about where the lettuce came from...

Our anniversary was quite nice. We washed/waxed our car and went to a small Italian restaurant in Mishawaka with some other friends. It is cliche, but time does move along so quickly. Here's us after six years of marriage...

One other funny story. I'm currently teaching an introduction to Linguistics course at IU, and yesterday one of my students said something that made me realize the age/experience distance between me and them. At one point, we were discussing the syntactic properties of the sentence "Jack and Jill ran up the bill", when I happened to mention that one of my former roommates routinely had a $150-$200 phone bill from talking to his girlfriend at another school. One of my students raised her hand and asked, "Didn't your roommate have a cell phone?" A second student immediately chimed in, "What year were you in school anyway?" It's amazing what has changed in just 8 years.