Filed under "Alternatives to Online Personals"

This is great. A catalog copy editor for Crate & Barrel put his name and cellphone number on a note on a piece of furniture in C&B's catalog and is scheduling dinners with the curious people who call him. So far, thirty-three people have gone to Have Dinner with Marc.



"It is unnecessary. It does not need to exist."

For those of you wanting to smell like a gas-guzzling montrosity, here ya go.



Frappuccinos ARE Manly, and Other Lies I Heard or Longest Post Ever

To copy Alisa, here are some memories that I associate with certain Starbucks locations:

I think the first Starbucks I ever went to was this one:

It's located in a Harris-Teeter Grocery store in Friendly Center in Greensboro, though I can't remember who I would have gone with or what I got. I remember it being cold and I probably got some sort of hot mocha thing and I felt extremely guilty for not getting it at Tate Street Coffee, my independent cafe of choice. I don't go to this location much anymore, unless seeing a movie next door and sneaking my drink into the theater in Kate's purse.

The Starbucks at Quaker Village holds a lot of fond memories for me.

It was here that I got to know a lot of the high school students I work with at church, many of whom have graduated and become some of my closest friends. More recently, it was here that Stuart, Kate, Lauren, John, and Justin got to meet my girlfriend for the first time. Unfortunately, we didn't take any pictures, and we didn't spend near enough time there.

This Starbucks means more to me than I could ever express.

Alisa mentioned it in her blog, but I'll mention it again. This is the Starbucks we went to the day we met. I, for one, was very nervous. I had a bottle of orange juice, and I managed to tear the cap into about a thousand pieces while we talked, simply because I fidget when I'm nervous. We laughed a lot, and I'm sure she caught me staring at her more than once. We started dating that night and things haven't been the same since. The next day, on her first trip to Greensboro, we went to the Battleground location.

The story Alisa tells is true; I did wait in the car while she got her drink, and switched out Popular Genius (blech!) for the romantic sounds of Norah Jones. Alisa can feign ignorance all she wants, but she knew exactly why I put that cd in there.

While in New York City, I frequented the Astor Place location in the East Village.

Kevin and I hung out here several times while waiting for Graham and Ryan. We spent a lot of time in the Village, eating at Chick Pea on our way back to Brooklyn from our ministry locations. I've never seen so many Starbucks in one place. Literally across the street from that location is this one:

That black cube saved our lives more than once, since New York starts to look the same after a while, that landmark became a reference point for us. Around the corner, within a hundred feet, we saw this location:

Kevin and I stopped in this one, located inside Grand Central Station.

Then, on the way out, saw this one. Two Starbucks within 20 feet of each other. We went into both, because you just have to.

I visited this one a couple of times, because it was a block away from the Burden Center on the Upper East Side, where I led ministry for the elderly.

A couple of weeks ago, Alisa came to Greensboro to visit and we went to this one.

I'll warn you: Dating a barista means you will know all the store locations within a hundred miles of you, because they will have to get a drink every 13 minutes or so, and if you aren't within spitting distance of a Starbucks, they get mean. But you get a discount and their kisses taste like caramel macchiatos, so it's cool.

She and I also went here, and this is the location I visit when I'm on my way to Greensboro, since moving to High Point. They have a drive-through that stays busy pretty much all day.

I should note that all of the pictures above were taken by Winter, owner of this site. He has been to thousands of Starbucks and documented them all. Pay him a visit.



"Yes, You Probably Are..."

Today's Random Award of the Day™ goes to these guys for Most Introspective Science Fair Project™.


In Memoriam

I found out Friday that my car, Shonda the Honda, passed away quietly in her sleep at the mechanic's. No doubt she is in a better place. I, on the other hand, am in desperate need for transportation. If you know anyone getting rid of a car cheap, email me.




This post by Tim Goldsmith is beautifully written, and hit really close to home with me. I've definately been feeling this way lately, and Tim skillfully put this feeling into words. I'm thankful for his willingness to share his heart. Rumor has it Michaela's actually kinda proud of him.



Happy Birthday Blog!!!

It has been twelve months to the day since I started my blog, and I'd like to thank all (five) of you who've taken time to read and try to make sense of the non sequitor randomness that is my life. Have some cake, and Milton, be sure to pass plates around so everyone gets a slice.

Wanderlust: Celebrating one year of not updating often enough for Alisa.



Shameless Self-Promotion

I have now posted a page where you can listen to samples of each song from the Songs of Water cd. Please give it a listen. If you'd like to purchase one, email me here.



Passion Patrol

I'm linking to this article for Lauren, in the hopes that Stuart and Kate will read it, and to show all of you why Alisa and I hate that stuff.


On Robbing God

Unsettled hearts promise what they can't deliver
Bring me the wine/And the cold night air to clear my head
Gray matter memory house/Master of this trembling flesh
Steady still my doubts
Let me speak the word that precedes bliss

Love love love love love love love love

These weakened knees/Have not touched ground or pew in ages
I haven't bowed my head/Offered thanks to any god or to ask for favors
But watch me now I'm falling down praying
To speak the word that precedes bliss
To speak the word/To speak the word
Love love love love love love love love
Speak the Word by Tracy Chapman

I wish I had the ability to say exactly what a person needs to hear to make them feel better. But I don't. I usually make it worse by speaking my heart because I'm fallible too, and my heart doesn't always do what it's told. It hurts arbitrarily and seeks only for itself instead of working in the best interest of those whom I love. I've tried changing it, molding it to something patient and kind, but it's not pliable or malleable enough. During these times, I really understand Malachi's portrayal of the Refiner's Fire:

Malachi 3:3 He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver.

I need to be refined. My heart needs the junk to be burned away until all that is left is what God made; the only thing of value. Alisa and I had just been talking about tithing, and I admitted to being unfaithful in this area of my heart. Interestingly enough, in reading about this Fire, God has the following conversation with His people through Malachi:

Malachi 3:7 "Since the days of your fathers, you have turned from My statutes; you have not kept [them]. Return to Me, and I will return to you," says the Lord of Hosts.
But you ask: "How can we return?"
8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me!"
You ask: "How do we rob You?"
"[By not making the payments] of 10 percent and the contributions.

9 You are suffering under a curse, yet you-the whole nation-are [still] robbing Me.
10 Bring the full 10 percent into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this way," says the Lord of Hosts. "See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure.
11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not ruin the produce of your ground, and your vine in your field will not be barren," says the Lord of Hosts.
12 "Then all the nations will consider you fortunate, for you will be a delightful land," says the Lord of Hosts.

Where is the great secret? There is no mystery here, God is clear! We wring our hands and cry out for relief from our troubles, yet we do not obey God. He promises not only to take care of you, but to "pour out a blessing for you without measure". This is a bold statement. I pray for more faith and wisdom in my daily financial dealings and that I can get back to a place of cheerful giving and understanding that I am not keeping what is mine, but that I am a thief who steals when I do not give to the Lord what is His.



How to Clean the Toilet or Maybe I Will Get That Kitten...

1. Put both lids of the toilet up and add 1/8 cup of pet shampoo to the water in the bowl.
2. Pick up the cat and soothe him while you carry him towards the bathroom.
3. In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close both lids. You may need to stand on the lid.
4. The cat will self agitate and make ample suds. Never mind the noises that come from the toilet, the cat is actually enjoying this.
5. Flush the toilet three or four times. This provides a "power-wash" and "rinse".
6. Have someone open the front door of your home. Be sure that there are no people between the bathroom and the front door.
7. Stand behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift both lids.
8. The cat will rocket out of the toilet, streak through the bathroom, and run outside where he will dry himself off.
9. Both the commode and the cat will be sparkling clean.



A little over an hour ago, I watched my heart ride up the escalator to an airplane waiting to take it 2465 miles away from me.

Nothing is more miserable than the long drive home from the airport after dropping off the woman of your dreams. Alisa had the opportunity to meet my family (who adored her) and my friends (who insisted she move to Greensboro) over the course of the weekend, and we got to see her favorite musician, watch her favorite shows, and drink her favorite coffee. The weekend went by so quickly, in part because we stayed up and slept in so late, mostly due to her still being on California time. The days got away from us, and we tried to balance Alone Time and Friend Time and I think we pulled it off without upsetting anyone. On the way to the airport, we called a couple of her friends in Alabama and claimed to have eloped, warranting a huge "Holy Shit!" from her gullible, Shania-loving friend Jordan.

The biggest surprise of the weekend, honestly, was just how much fun we had being around each other. We really had a blast. The distance had admittedly put some strain on us, and this weekend was a well-deserved break from the work of being in a relationship and simply enjoying each other. We laughed a LOT, mostly due to a particular cat litter commercial at 3:30 in the morning (meow!) and the Great Cheerwine Adventure of 2004. Things overheard this weekend were:

"You DO exist!"

"He even LOOKS like Yoda."

"I guess the videos are funnier if you were there..."

"She's dating Jason Windsor" "Haha, that's funny. No, seriously, who is she?"

"I SWEAR that was Aaron..."

"John, those pants make your butt look great!"

and finally...


Feel free to relive your favorite moment from the weekend in the comments section.



In just under an hour (!), Alisa's plane will be landing in Raleigh and I will be one happy camper. We haven't seen each other for the last eleven weeks, and we've only been dating for thirteen weeks (who's counting?). Needless to say, long-distance relationships suck. My only solace comes from knowing that I'd rather be in a long-distance relationship with her than in an in-town relationship with anyone else. LDRs have their own set of problems and obstacles, some unique, some not. Here is a little of what I've learned in the last three months:

1. Communication is what will make or break your relationship. This is, of course, true for all relationships, but the difficulty comes in communicating with someone solely over the phone. They say that 90% of interpersonal communication is non-verbal, which I reason means that if you're talking on the phone, you're only hearing 10% of what that person is trying to "say". You'd be amazed how much a look or glance or smile can change the connotation and mood of what you're saying. This becomes especially dangerous in a dating situation if you and/or your significant other are sarcastic. I've learned it's very difficult to tease someone on the phone and not be misunderstood. Be purposeful and deliberate with your words when on the phone. Also, I should note that while we enjoy talking on IM when working on other things and such, we've learned the hard way that IM is no place for serious discussions or arguments. It's very easy to take something someone says the wrong way and get more and more upset with each other. If you feel like the discussion is getting to heated, stop and call the other person or wait for a more convenient time and call. Nothing is gained from arguing on IM. Because you've learned to communicate so economically ovetr the phone, communicationg in person during visits or maybe an eventual marriage should be easier than if you hadn't had such practice.

2. Invest in a good long-distance phone plan/cell phone plan. Self-explanatory. That said...

3. Don't be afraid to take some time to be "apart". With the advent of cheap cellphone plans, it's easy to get caught in the trap of talking to each other all the time. While in New York, I found that I was actually hurting my ministry to the kids there because I talked with my girlfriend way too much. This was simply due to my own need to connect. Alisa and I have found that if we talk several times throughout the day, we run out of things to talk about when we talk at night. This, to me, is a tragedy, because we both cherish those late-night talks just like anyone else would, and to feel like you're forcing a discussion is awful. Use the day to experience your life, then connect with each other at night (or whenever) and share your days. This also gives you a chance to miss each other, which leads to more meaningful conversations, instead of a "I'm just checking in" style talk.

4. Take advantage of the distance to cultivate friendships at home. Alisa and I are each very social people and love spending time with friends whether we're together or apart. Take time to build and/or develop friendships with the people close to you when you're in a relationship for the same reason you'd do it if you weren't in a relationship: because you need them. Friends become a support structure that will help you become a better person for the love in your life. Encourage your significant other to forgo talking or spending time with you once in a while so they may cultivate these relationships. You're doing no one a service by monopolizing your loved one's time and keeping them from growing deeper through their friendships.

5. Make the time you ARE together memorable. This one is more for the guys. Take time to plan the time you do spend together to make memories that each of you can take with youwhen you go back to your respective cities. A special weekend together could be what tides you over for however long before you see each other again. And finally...

6. Be even MORE careful with physical boundries. Seeing one another for the first time in weeks or even months will no doubt result in heightened... um... passion and can give your flesh a foot in a door you don't want to enter. One of the by-products of being apart is that you don't have the opportunity to practice being together and respecting the boundaries that you've set up for your relationship. Couple that with the passion that's been building up and you need to be extra careful when you're together.

With that, I go to be with her. Pray for our time together.



Since Stuart mentioned him in his comment, allow me to say a few words about John Mark McMillan...

First of all, he's a great friend and a great guy. He and I had a LOT of fun hanging out at my old roommate's wedding.

Second, he's an unbelievable songwriter. A sample:

I will be Your lamp if You will pour the oil
If You light the incense I will be Your censer
I will be your tabernacle if You will be my ark
I will be your body if You will be my heart

I nearly wept when I heard those words for the first time.

Finally, his album is unbelievably good. I think Stuart would agree that if you're an indie rock fan, you will love this record. The production level is awesome (recorded by the same friend who did Songs of Water), and it really brings out John Mark's lyrics instead of burying them in noise.
Read what Relevant Magazine had to say about it here.

So, all that said, I'd like to welcome John Mark to the Music Links portion of my blog, and apologize for not having put it there sooner.



I'm leading worship this Sunday and I'm stuck in a New Worship Music Rut. I'd love to learn some new songs, but they just aren't out there. What's your favorite worship song right now?