The Wedding vs. The Will-Power

This week Mike Idle and I have launched a competition to see who can lose the most weight.  We’ve created a blog to document the competition that you can visit by clicking here.

Mike wants to lose weight for his wedding.  I just want to be smaller, my Mom just wants me to have a wedding.

7 interesting people and things for 2011

Here are 7 people or things that I’m looking forward to in the upcoming year.

#1. My friend Chris Thurman’s new business venture: Visual Swirl.  Chris is a web, video, and graphics creator who does great work.

#2. The XXX Church’s Organizational guy, Ryan Russell, has a site called RedbikeLeader.  Ryan has a passion for helping develop young leaders and his site is aimed at doing just that.  (*disclaimer: I sometimes write for Redbike)

#3. There will finally be a new Muppets Movie in 2011.

#4. Robby Wheeler and his family will move to Guatemala this year to work with an Orphanage.  This has been on he and his wife’s heart for many years and in a month or two they’ll relocate and begin work.  You can follow them here.

#5. My friend Matt McFarren has a blog and he writes about how he balances his faith, his job, and his family.

#6. This year, I and Mike Idle will engage in a lifestyle competition.  I fully expect to win.  Stay tuned for details.

#7. My brother’s band, Daniel Ellsworth & the Great Lakes, are recording a new album in January and you can help them by visiting their site here.

Tom’s influence

This week was a bittersweet one.  And it caught me by surprise.  My friend Tom, aka “Black Lavender”, is leaving Louisville to take a ministry in my hometown, Wichita.  And while I knew that I would miss my friend and co-worker, I didn’t realize until towards the end of the week just how much of an influence Tom had on me.  I met Tom when he was a High School sponsor at Northeast and over the years he got more and more involved in the life of the church and about 2 ½ years ago he came on staff as the Guest Services Director.  It became very normal for me to have Tom around, to go to lunch with him, to make a joke with him, etc… – it became a regular part of my life to have Tom around.


So as we said goodbye to Tom, I found myself thinking a little and I realized that because of Tom, I prefer local places to eat lunch and usually end up spending a little less on lunch.  Because of Tom, I use cheapcycle on yahoo, pay more attention to parking spots, know more about poker (I still know VERY little) – realistically, I’ll probably end up finding even more ways in which Tom influenced me after he leaves.


And here’s the thing: I doubt Tom ever purposely decided to “impact” me, and I never really sat down and decided to “become” more like Tom.  Nobody will ever call me a clone of Tom, but some of him has rubbed off on me, and I’m grateful for it.  I don’t have access to studies and research data like the Seth Godins and Malcolm Gladwells of the world but I wonder is real influence is just as much about subtlety as it is about purpose.


There is no doubt that I will miss Tom, his wit, his work ethic, and especially his friendship.  Tom will do a great job in his new role and ministry.  And as he’s leaving he’s made me think about the ways in which he influenced me, and even how in turn, I influence others.  How much of an influence do I have on the people I’m just “around”?  Is my influence good/beneficial like Tom’s has been?  I hope so.


Fall 2010: 3 trends that encourage me vs. 3 that worry me

What encourages me…

The rise of the rest

I love my country and always want the US to be the leader of the free world.  But I think its also okay that other countries like India, China, South Africa, & Brazil are emerging as global leaders too.  The more other nations prosper and develop, the more they have to lose when it comes to terrorism, trade, and technology.  This could lead to more cooperation and coordination between the US and other nations.  Some of the burden of being the only superpower might be lessened if there are others willing to help share the load.

More people are choosing adoption

I keep hearing and reading about stories of couples and families choosing to adopt.  Whether its international adoption or not, I can’t help but be encouraged by the idea of children without families being given the chance to be loved and cared for.  Some great friends of mine have adopted and some others are trying to adopt.  There isn’t anything wrong with couples having kids of their own but there is something to be said about couples also choosing to raise and be parents to kids who so desperately need it.

The Social Conscience of Craigslist

Whoever Craig is, his site was incredibly useful for buying/selling all kinds of stuff.  But it was also a pretty weird site for all kinds of other exchanges.  Normally companies and corporations chose to be silent about stuff like that and privately enjoy the profit made from sex trafficking.  But Craigslist began to have a little bit of a conscience and removed all of the adult personal ads on its site.  Its pretty refreshing to see a popular social networking site raise the level of morality on it’s network rather than the opposite.

What worries me…

Restoration over innovation

Most of what I hear in the news regarding the state of the country and especially the economy has to do with recovery and the plans by which US and world leaders want to restore the economy to the way it was before 08.  To some degree I can’t blame them.  Many are unemployed, many are making less, and many are worse off than 3 years ago.  But I wonder if maybe we’re focusing on the wrong goal.  How could future technology, innovations, and developments create new opportunities for jobs, wealth, and growth?  For example, the government spent LOTS of money to help save GM.  How much money has been spent on developing technology that would allow cars to be more fuel efficient or to run without oil?  I think there are opportunities here and I wonder if we’re missing them…

Saving the world = raising money/awareness

Maybe it really does work.  And I’m sure there are stories out there about people who raised money and raised awareness of an injustice or inequality.  But part of me wonders if it really works to long term make a dent in real life global problems.  How much of a real impact can someone with a website, a paypal account, and T-shirts to sell have on the global child sex trade industry?  I’m not trying to be cynical but I worry sometimes that the efforts of so many well meaning individuals does more to make Americans with an extra $15 to spend feel better than really end cycles of injustice and poverty.

Less variety in our politics

When a politician, or really anyone for that matter takes a stand or holds to a belief on a particular issue, we assume that they also have particular stands on other issues and we type-cast them.  I.E… if someone is for Universal Health Care, often times we (including me) assume they are also for everything else the current administration has proposed and passed, as well as it’s stance on foreign policy.  I just don’t think that’s always the case. The “red vs. blue” understanding of US politics is too simplistic and prevents real dialogue between people who probably have more in common than they might think.

The Summer of 2010

The sun has gone down and Labor Day is almost over which means, for all intensive purposes, so is summer.  Summer 2010 wasn’t like any other summer I’ve had before, in part because of what I did and where I did it, and also in part because of who I did it with. I went to places I’d never been before and to places I’ve been going to my whole life.  I made some new friends and came to appreciate some old ones in new ways too.  All in all it was a good summer and I’d like to share some of the highlights.

Silas & Matt hanging out

In early June on my way to Oklahoma I spent the weekend in Kansas City.  My good friends Matt & Sarah Barnes live in Basehor and I stayed with them.  Matt has a 2 year son named Silas and he and I became quick friends.  Matt is one of my best friends and so I was glad to finally meet him.

They tell you that the friends you make in College are the best friends you ever make and from my experience that’s been true.  Matt & Sarah are great and it was really good to see them, as well as Darci & Travis Webster and T-Bone.  Matt drives a mini-van which I thoroughly enjoyed making fun of him for (I would end up driving a mini-van later on in the summer but I didn’t know that yet).  Silas and I watched this show called the “Fresh Beats Band.”  He loved it and I kept trying to figure out the plot.  Matt told me it didn’t matter.

The "Straaanger Daaanger" girls & me

Right after Kansas City I went to Tulsa, OK where I spent the week at Sunset Bible Camp.  I’d never been to Tulsa, let alone be in OK more than 6 hours so this was new for me.  It was a blast.  I had a great time speaking to the Junior High Camp where my old friend Kyle Rodell was the Dean.  I loved getting to meet some of the other guys at the camp, especially Bryan Champ, Lane Moss, Jimmy, & the infamous ROXIE.  I don’t think I’ve laughed as hard as I have before when I played the disc can game at 2 am.  Marcy Rodell, I’m sorry I was so bad at it.  Ok, I’m not sorry at all.

There was also a group of girls from a church whose name I can’t remember but who kept calling me the “Straaanger Daaanger” because I didn’t have a camp wristband.  (I showed up late)  They were a lot of fun and I especially enjoyed convincing them, and every other student at the camp that there was a dance on the last night.  Oh how I love misleading Junior High kids…

The DAISY Fan Club.

Its hard to quite put into words what High School Camp was like.  I tried taking sleeping pills on the bus and ended up not sleeping.  I met a lady named Daisy who drove the Bus we took to Orange Beach, AL and let me assure you, there is nobody in the world like her.  If it hadn’t been for Erin Hinson & Kristen Thurman, I think I would’ve tried to strangle her but she probably would have killed me when I tried because she had 3″ acryllic nails and more porcelain figurines on her dashboard than I’d ever seen.  This lady was weird.

I also met Charlie Hall, Stuart Hall, figure out a way to extend camp a day, lost my cell phone charger, saw the Oil Spill first hand, and successfully convinced the whole HS group to start calling Tom Black, “Black Lavender.”

Megan, Kendra, Kevin, & Preethi

In early July I was incredibly honored to do the Wedding Ceremony for my friends from High School, Kevin & Tiffany (Hart) Seaman.  Kevin and I had gone to school together since 3rd grade and I was a blast to see him, his family, and some other friends from Northwest like Megan (Pechin) Drake, Jason Cheng, Jason Crowther (who just had his 2nd baby), Preethi (Chandrasakharen) Schmeedler, Joe Knipp, & Nick Dean.  Kevin & Tiffany got married in Cowtown which sounds weird to anyone who isn’t from Wichita so let me assure you, it was nice.

They also got married on my birthday, which was fun to celebrate with my family for the first time since the 90s.

The BEST Junior High game ever

For the 3rd year in a row we took the Junior High group to Country Lake for camp and had a great time.  It is always a blast to be with the sponsors, the students, the band, and the rec guys.  The last day of Rec we played a game with a 12′ oily beach ball and the game was essentially tackle soccer with water balloons.  This was the best game I’ve ever played.  Phillip Pennington is the man, he thought it up and it was awesome.

We called the camp Zombieland and even though the name was weird, the students loved it.  And for the 3rd year in a row, the only injury was a sponsor, not a student. Chase Lackey kept the streak alive.

My Family in Colorado

The last week of July I met my family the cabin in Colorado and we spent a week together.  We fished, hiked, white water rafted, slept-in, and had a great time being together.  Colorado in the summer is just amazing.  I had forgotten that and it was nice to be in the Mountains and away from cell coverage.

One night Joel and I sat out on the porch and watched the stars.  It reminded me of the nights we stayed up and watched the stars over Jerusalem a few years ago and the nights we’d set up lawn chairs in the back yard outside Mom & Dad’s pond.  It got sentimental for a moment and Joel made fun of me.  I deserved it.

Rockies vs. Cubs

Oh, and the last night in Colorado we went to the Rockies game and witnessed Baseball History.  The Rockies scored more runs in one inning than ever before and won 17-2.  I don’t ever really like Baseball and it didn’t really change my mind but it does give me something to talk about to people who do.

Most of us with Ben

Last but not least, Ben Sullivan got married.  This is a picture of everyone who had served in the ministry (Van Zants left early) with Ben.  It was nice to see how happy Ben and Izabella were.  The wedding was a great celebration for both of their families and I’ve never been with so many Hungarians in my life.  (you had to be there)

My personal highlight was Izabella’s dad’s 28 minute toast.  A close second was convincing Lindsey Sturdy that I had bent a spoon.  Some things never change.

Its a long post but it was also a long summer.  Last spring I remember not really looking forward to summer but now looking back, I’d do it all over again.

I haven’t posted since Thanksgiving


forever and a day

Its been several months since my last entry.  Plenty of opportunities to write, but it just didn’t happen.

I’m sitting in my parent’s living room alone.  They left for Colorado today and my brother left for Tennessee as well.  Tomorrow I’ll head back to Louisville.  We had our family Thanksgiving on Tuesday due to Grandma’s funeral on Monday of this week.  I’ll probably write a little more about Grandma later but suffice to say, it was tough to say goodbye.

So on the eve of Thanksgiving, I’m not overwhelmed with any particular feeling or emotion.  But maybe I should be.  I’m thankful for the great blessings in my life but like any American, am fighting the tendency to focus more on what I’d like to have instead of what I already have.  So at the moment, I’ll take some solace in the truth that even in an empty house on the night before a major holiday that I’ll be spending alone in an airport, I know that I am loved and that for moment, will have to do.

I could think of worse ways to spend a holiday.