Thrift Shopping again

My wife’s parents are in town helping my wife and I get everything ready for the birth of Maanum Baby #2. Today they wanted something to do, so we took them out to our local Thrift store that we like so much and talk about often. I took an extended lunch between my morning office stuff and my hospital visits, plus with the heat today I needed an excuse to relax. Anyways…. here’s the stuff that I bought.

To start things off I bought a Land’s End blue dress shirt for $4. This was a 16.5 in neck and 34 arms. I tried on a second by Land’s End. They both had the same tag measurements but the arm length was too short by about an inch. That just goes to show that you need to try on everything in a Thrift store or brand new and ignore what the tag says, even on the item itself, because it can be wrong and rely on fit…. Note to self: write a post on ‘fit’ and why it’s important when Thrift store shopping or clothing shopping in general.

This is a nice J. Crew 15.5 in neck striped long sleeve dress shirt. It’s pink with green stripes (look below). The neck is a little tight, but the arms fit, so I just won’t wear it with a tie, unless I buy a neck extended tab and for this little number, I just might.
My wife said I should wear this with the shorts I wore today because the greens match. I agree and might have to wear this in the next week or two to work in the office.

This is a plaid Ralph short sleeved in the Gregory style. Looks and fits nice and couldn’t pass up for $4.
I like the way this stripped polo with button collar by Ralph looked on me. It’s snug but I’ll be working out when the doctors clear me to… so I’m not worried about this not fitting for long.

I normally shy away from horizontal stripes because of the widening factor…. however, this one didn’t ‘widen’ too much. Plus it only cost $3. 50

This is a McDonald tie from Scotland made from 100% ‘new wool’. Not a bad little tie for around $1.


Summer outfit for the office

Today was a bright, hot and dry day here in Pueblo and I received a lot of flat-front shorts from e-bay in the mail yesterday. So I decided to wash them and wear one of them today with a shirt I bought recently. Also a few weeks ago I bought a pair of blue deck shoes by Levi… very comfy and they look nice also.

As you can see in the photo I need a haircut, but besides that, I like these Nautica flat-front lime green shorts that I’m wearing with a bright multi-colored Ralph Lauren Blake style short sleeve shirt. I do believe that not every man can pull off this shirt and shorts combo (maybe I’m one of them).

To bottom things off I wore my new Levi deck shoes in blue. These are some of the more comfy shoes that I now own… and I bought them for only $25.00… which was half price. A little bit more than I wanted, but still not a bad price for brand new and in a store.


The last week I’ve been feeling much better. So much better in fact that I’ve been cooking again. This is a hobby of mine and something that I enjoy doing. It helps calm me down, it’s relaxing and the best part of cooking is seeing the reactions of my wife when she eats it. Isn’t that the whole point of cooking? It’s not just for sustenance, but to make the ones you love happy.

Tuesday morning I felt like something warm for breakfast. I made Peak-A-Boo eggs, at least that’s what my Gram calls them. To make you just cut a hole in the center of a piece of bread, butter the bread, cook with egg on a skillet and heat the center circle with butter to dip in your egg. This is my wife’s, it’s got a scrambled egg in it with cheese on top.

This pic. is of the two that I made for myself with the yokes nice and runny, just like I like ’em. Then it’s topped with some cheese. I think my Gram would approve. I know my dad would.

To go with the eggs the wife and I split a bowl of Strawberries and Blueberries. Nothing goes as good with breakfast or vanilla ice cream quite like fresh berries.

That same night I made a chicken-noodle casserole, with some extra cheese in it. Do I detect a theme in my cooking?

This is a pic of the boys plate with the casserole on it.

Last night I made some sliders … ground meat lightly seasoned with only salt and pepper, caramelized onion and some 2 year aged Irish Cheddar on a small bun with just a little mayo to hold the whole together. To me the best burgers are the simple ones. The ones that you can taste the meat, enjoy the cheese and what few extras you put on. Not that having 30 toppings on your burger is bad, it is after all your burger. I’m just saying that sometimes simplicity is king. Before I go any further you’ve got something at the corner of your mouth. Never mind, it was only some drool.

Tonight I made some lasagna. I started it last night by cooking some meatballs and Italian sausage. Today I sliced them up, as you can see.

This is what the lasagna looked like out of the oven. It had three layers. 1. sliced meatballs, 2. sliced Italian sausage, 3. ricotta with parsley and some egg. The first two layers had a little bit of tomato sauce to hold everything, then each layer was topped with some mozzarella and pecorino romano, not a lot, just enough for some flavor.

We started dinner with a nice side salad while the lasagna cooled. Then we cut, put on a plate and ladled on some tomato sauce. (Did I mention that when I cooked the meatballs I also roasted garlic in the same pan and then I used that garlic in the tomato sauce? No. Well I guess I just did.)

Morning Devotion Time

This morning, in my private devotion time at church, away from family and other distractions, I was doing some reading in the Minister’s Prayer Book and came across a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The quote deals with pastoral authority.

I put this quote as a reminder. A reminder to people who go to mega-churches or watch mega-church pastors on tv because they look like nice, decent clean cut boys and girls, they have nice hair and white teeth, they speak eloquently or sell many books that provide secular help, but no Christian faith help. In short they preach the world’s gospel, but not God’s gospel. (Yes, that’s a veiled jab at the Joel Osteens, Rick Warrens and Joyce Meyers of the world.)

It’s a reminder to pastors, myself included, who are at smaller or stagnant congregations that feel like, or have ever felt like, they’re not doing anything of use… like it’s their duty to grow the church, or that the members think it’s their duty.

It’s a reminder to members who find the preacher boring or out of touch because he’s not dynamic enough, or doesn’t connect with me… because church is all about me, what I’m feeling, what I’m dealing with, what I’m going through at work or at home. I’m the center of the world.

To put it bluntly, we all need to read what Bonhoeffer had to say about pastoral authority. Where does pastoral authority come from? It comes from God, it’s God’s message of Salvation. The Holy Spirit will use a minister that’s boring and out of touch just as well as a minister’s who dynamic and ‘connects with me.’ Because in the end, the minister is only the messenger, the message of the Gospel, of God’s Gospel is what matters. Not the man preaching it.

This goes contrary to what the world and the ruler of this world have us tricked into believing. They tell us that the man matters, not the message. You can get salvation from anyone and anywhere because God is at the top of a mountain and all roads lead to Him. So go! Find one that is dynamic that puts God on the back burner, because church and worship are supposed to make you feel good and focus on the good that you have done and continue to do. Church and worship is about serving your needs, and your ego, even though worship, true worship is all about letting go of your ego and ‘getting over yourself.’

Bonhoeffer wrote, “Genuine spiritual authority is to be found only where the ministry of hearing, helping, bearing, and proclaiming is carried out. Every cult of personality that emphasizes the distinguished qualities, virtues, and talents of another person, even though these be of an altogether spiritual nature, is worldly and has no place in the Christian community. The desire we so often hear expressed today for ‘ episcopal figures,’ ‘priestly men,’ ‘authoritative personalities,’ springs frequently enough from a spiritually sick need for the admiration of men, for the establishment of visible human authority, because the genuine authority appears to be so unimpressive. There is nothing that so sharply contradicts such a desire as the New Testament itself in the description of a bishop (1 Tim. 3:1 f). One finds there nothing whatsoever with respect to worldly charm and the brilliant attributes of a spiritual personality. The bishop is the simple, faithful man, sound in faith and life, who rightly discharges his duties to the church. His authority lies in the exercise of his ministry. In the man himself there is nothing to admire.”

Follow ups.

As the title suggests this post, the first in a month, is a follow-up post, not only to what my wife wrote last time, but as a follow-up of, or continuation of, the blog’s original purpose… which is me writing about my Thrift store finds and some other stuff that I want to talk about. (If you don’t want to wait for the thrift store stuff I suggest skipping ahead, otherwise keep reading, you might learn something about me and why I’m a Lutheran pastor.)

My wife’s post that was published on here was done 4 weeks ago. A lot can happen in such a small span of time, like having a kidney transplant (my second, more on that later in the post), being released from the hospital, house sitting for friends while I recouped, getting back home and preaching my first sermon post-transplant…. oh, and my wife is due with our second little one at the end of this month.

Now it’s time for some background info.When I was in Grade School and High School I knew I wanted to be a Pastor. I didn’t know why, but I knew that’s what I wanted to spend my life doing. Then I was diagnosed with FSGS (Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis) when I was 18 and in my first year at Concordia University, River Forest. (I probably developed this while in High School and just ignored any warning signs.) I went in for a TB test and had some edema (lots of fluid) that the doctors noticed. They had me do a urine test and told me that I had some kidney disease, they didn’t know which one. They sent me back to my parents house with a renal doctor’s name and an appointment. This is where my journey for the last ten years of my life started.

After several tests, visits, biopsies etc., they finally knew that I had FSGS, which if I am not mistaken is very limited in the amount of patients with this disease. The first step was to start medications, specifically anti-rejection meds in hopes of slowing down the disease. This lasted for a couple of years until my Junior year in college, January 2002, when I started doing peritoneal dialysis in my dorm room. Luckily I only did this for about 6 months before my first transplant on June 7, 2002. My older cousin was a match and donated. I don’t think that I can ever thank her enough for what she gave me. Unfortunately, I suffered a rejection after less than 2 months, was in the hospital on some heavy, heavy meds and, when I was released, went to finish my undergrad studies. A month after the rejection they noticed that the FSGS was spreading to my transplanted kidney. This first transplant lasted though my last year at CURF, our wedding that summer after graduation, and most of my first year at Concordia Serminary, St. Louis.

Allow me to go back for a few sentences. Like most people reading this, or experiencing some other life altering, chronic condition, I blamed God. (I’m about to write something that I’ve only told my wife.) Truthfully, and in the openness of full disclosure of what I experienced, I didn’t just blame God, but I hated Him. I wanted nothing to do with God and wanted to do nothing more than curse His name. I would ask myself, ‘what did I do wrong to deserve this punishment? I’m only 18. Why do you hate me so much that you need to punish me and pour out your anger and vengeance upon me?’ (So I was a little melo-dramatic back then, we all are at times.)

It is during this time of doubt and despair that the Lord put into my life some of my closest friends. They were there when I needed people the most… when I needed to get ‘over myself.’ They introduced me to a band called Caedmon’s Call – good music, not great, but good. They were there for me when I was sick and doing dialysis (which is also why I knew I’d marry my wife, but that’s a story for another day.)

Eventually, during my wrestling with my faith and with God I opened my Bible blindly and it opened to the Book of Job. (Eventually I learned what “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.” and “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” truly meant). Then I started to read the Psalms daily. I read Romans by St. Paul. I re-read the narrative on the story of the man born blind… “Who sinned this man or his parents?”

It took my family, my friends, my school work and other items, big and small, to help me ‘get over myself’, to get back to worship (which is all about getting over yourself and noticing and praising God for all the things that He does without any merit or worthiness in us) and realize that God doesn’t just give people random diseases, death or pain because He gets some sick joy or fascination out of playing and meddling in our lives. All of those items are symptoms of a much greater disease, sin. It infects us all and causes doubt, despair, a hole in your heart and a hatred and rebellion towards God, the only one who can help you through. It took me a while to understand that He doesn’t abandon us, but works through our situations and circumstances to make us into better people. He works though our friends and family to help us, and we don’t notice it until it is all said and done.

It was through those big and small situation and circumstances that my life changed for the better. I knew that I wanted to be a Pastor again. That I wanted to offer the Gospel to those who are going through what I’ve been through, to be there for people in their time of need. I knew that this is what God wanted from me the entire time, to get over myself and focus on helping others. Sure I can be as self-centered, self-serving, arrogant and egotistical as the next guy, but I’m growing everyday because of His love for me.

Near the end of my Spring term at Concordia Seminary in 2004 I was getting sick again. My slightly larger frame, was carrying a body that only weighed about 185 lbs. I wasn’t healthy, didn’t feel healthy, I was sick and throwing up almost everyday, sometimes more than once. All of the toxins in my body had to come out somehow. Yet, me in my infinite wisdom, wanted to wait till the end of the school term. I started peritoneal dialysis again and was doing that for a couple of years without complication. Eventually I was doing this mostly during the night so as not to interfere with my school work, classes that I was taking and eventually my vicarage (for those non-Lutherans, it’s a year long internship at a church as an assistant Pastor).

*NOTE: We’re not, nor have we ever been Mariners fans, we got these shirts as a gag gift for our wedding. We went to see Blue Man Group in Chicago and were hoping to get doused in paint and ruin them, oh well. Go White Sox!!!

About 3.5 years after starting peritoneal dialysis for the second run, I had an infection, a bad one. (3.5 years without was a blessing, but I made up for it.) During November and December 2007 I was in different hospitals for almost 6 weeks total. I missed school, my friends visited me as did some profs, which helped keep my spirits high, and most importantly, my wife was able to take leave from her teaching duties at a Lutheran School to be with me in the hospital. I honestly don’t what I would done without her there with me for those 6 long weeks.

By the spring of 2008, after many attempts to do peritoneal dialysis again, I got a fistula put in my left arm. (If anyone wants to see a pic, let me know and I’ll post it some time.) Hemo-dialysis took some getting used to… what with the needles in the arm for 4 hours times 3 days a week. But I knew that life could have been worse. This is just part of the sinful, human condition that we live in. There is a plus side to having a fistula that we soon discovered, our son Bear, after his birth would lay his head on it and fall asleep within a matter of minutes, no matter how bad he was crying.

In June 2008 I received my Call to Bethany in Pueblo, CO and have been here ever since. I have had several different shifts for dialysis treatments, always 4 hours and 3 times a week. Back in October 2009 or so, I started on the Nocturnal shift which would hook me up at 9pm on M W F and unhook me around 3am T TH SAT. Then I got the “Call” from the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, CO on May 9, 2010 – six years after starting dialysis for the second time and almost 6.5 years after getting myself on the transplant list in St. Louis.

The Lord has a plan for everything and works through all circumstances to show His Gospel. Now I am home with my wife, my son Bear (that’s not his birth name, but that’s what I’ll refer to him as on here) and our soon-to-be son or daughter. If the next one is born on time I’ll be fully able to help carry the kids around, drive, and pamper my wife, after all she deserves it for putting up with me.

This was taken on May 9, the night before the surgery. It was taken at like 11pm, notice how tired the Bear looks. My wife wanted a family picture before the surgery and we weren’t sure what time that would happen or if Bear would be allowed to see me in the morning.

This was taken in the afternoon on May 11th, about 15 hours post-transplant. The pain meds definitely helped.

This was taken on May 13th, the day I left the hospital after my transplant.

That’s my story, or at least a summary. I just wanted to say ‘Thank you’ to all of our friends and family for their prayers, love and helping me ‘get over myself’. I’ll leave you with the hymn that we, while in college, would sing as a group during our ending devotions after a concert. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye Heavenly host. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.”


I told you I would also post something about my Thrift Store shopping, which I was able to do on Saturday. It’s fun being home and doing the things that help you relax. I know I shouldn’t go into my favorite store because every time I do I buy something, in this case three things, plus a jacket on e-bay I got on Saturday as well. Here they are:

I got this nice multi-colored shirt for $4.

It’s by Ralph and I really dig the colors on this bad boy… some pink, yellow, purple, green. It’s ok to be a little jealous.

Next I found this Woolrich short-sleeve green button up with double breast pockets for $3.50.

Lastly, while Thrifting I found this 100% camel hair number for $3.50.

I can’t wait for the cooler months to wear this bad boy with some wool or flannel trousers, or maybe even a nice pair of dark blue jeans, even doesn’t look bad with a t-shirt.

I found this little 100% leather number by Banana Republic on e-bay. It only cost like $15 including shipping.

I’m going to enjoy wearing this on date nights with my wife and going to the zoo in the fall.