In The Way

From My Dad’s Kindle.

My father, Delbert Frank Shinabarger, passed away February 23rd.

I have inherited his Kindle, and have been reading through some of his books that he left on the device.

When I first opened the Kindle, it was left open on a book called “Called to Worship”, to a chapter/section entitled “Worship Before the Fall”.

I will include the section, and bold the specific page that was left open. I found it powerful and profound. Thanks for reading.



OUR TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY IS A POSTMODERN INFORMATION age. Machines talk to machines, info is measured in bits, and travelers purchase airline tickets without human intervention. Automated checkouts loudly bark prices with prerecorded, mechanical precision. With a click of a mouse, an e-mail has replaced the routine of licking a stamp, driving to the post office, and communicating with a human being.

Digital technology makes communication easier–but intimacy scarce. We pay our bills online, order our clothes through virtual boutiques, and shut out the unwanted distractions of a self-centered world by plugging in our MP3 players, iPods, iPod nanos, iPod shuffles, iPhones, BlackBerrys . . . My, how things have changed.

The way we establish relationships has changed, too. Internet dating is today’s substitute for traditional courtship, and virtual marriage counselors now provide cyberspace advice void of physical encounter. But in spite of our electronics explosion, cell-phpne dependency, and IM addiction, we are a lonely generation. Parents spend less time with their children. Kids are left alone to play video games or text their friends, while Mom and Dad scramble to make money and accumulate things–that is, if Mom and Dad are even together; more than half of American marriages end in divorce. As a result, more and more children are reared in single-parent homes, spending ever more of their time flying solo. But youngsters aren’t the only ones who suffer the bane of being alone. Grandparents, too, live in isolation in nursing homes, forgotten by a generation deluged with data–yet themselves just as isolated–and lonely. Loneliness is the unspoken disease of the soul. But God never intended for us to experience it. He created us to enjoy relationships, because He is the God of relationships.

At the end of your life, no one will remember much about what you have achieved in wealth or position. What people will recall is how you treated them. You will be remembered–or forgotten–based on the love you showed–or didn’t show–to those around you. They will recollect the relationship you had with them. That’s because all of life is about relationships. In fact, everything we do reflects something about the relationships we have–or don’t have–with friends, families, coworkers . . . and God.


The rest of the section talks about worship, and the importance of it in your life.

Thank you for all of the support. It has really meant a lot.

The Story of the Beautiful Free Kitchen Table

We are now over two months into being married.

For those of you reading this who are married, this might sound like a very short amount of time.

For those of you are not married, this might sound like a long time.

To me, it seems short. The last two months have gone by too fast.

The wedding was super fun. It was my favorite gathering I’ve been to – I was exhausted afterwards, but it was worth it. We saw many of our friends and family. To end the night we lit off a few Chinese lanterns we remembered we had, then crashed in the RV on site. It turns out some of our closest family and friends stayed up all night talking, playing twister, and enjoying the heart-shaped bonfire.

The honeymoon was perfect, too. We car camped at a different state or national forest campground in the upper peninsula of Michigan and northern Wisconsin. There are different stories to go with each and every day of that particular adventure. Those pictures will show up on Facebook one of these days.

We moved into our first place, a gorgeous two bedroom apartment located in the Midtown Neighborhood of Milwaukee – we are walking distance of downtown and Marquette University.

Living a married life is different. We moved in with very few things – all of it fit into the back of a mini van and Valerie’s car (Skinny P).

There are some very generous and helpful families at Unity, the church we attend, and which I am completing my year as Outreach Ministry Intern. One family member called me at the church and asked me what kind of things we needed for our apartment. I said our priority was finding a table we could eat dinner on with guests.

Fast forward a few hours. I am standing outside Unity on a Wednesday night. Wednesdays are nights of beautiful organized chaos where Jesus feeds, people eat, and many conversations happen. We serve something like 180 meals each week to various people living in the community.

In Guatemala, most restaurants would welcome you at the door with great enthusiasm to come in and enjoy dinner. If I am able, I like standing by the door and welcoming people. The double doors were wide open, letting in the beautiful crisp fall air. Some people ignore me when they walk in, reminding me of when I got paid to “Greet” at Wal-Mart, but thankfully most people look up, make eye contact, and say “Hi!”

This particular evening, a fellow walks in with a sign hanging off of his neck. I assume it is a sign asking for food or money like I see people with on my bicycle commute each day. I ask him “What’s the sign say?”, wondering what kind of response I will get.

I realize this man is an angel sent from God. I ask him about the table, and he describes it as very nice. This is how things work around Unity. If you say you need something, it shows up like manna dropping from heaven. Whether it is bread, a coffee grinder, or emotional support in time of tragedy, it shows up. That Wednesday it just happened to be a Free Beautiful Kitchen table to furnish Valerie and I’s first home.

We eat dinner by candlelight on this table each night. It suits our first home. I hope we can use it for years, decades even.

It is a reminder of community and support. It is a reminder of what to be thankful for.

A Newcomer in Milwaukee

Ever since moving to Milwaukee, I don’t have a car. This isn’t new for me. I haven’t had a car since before Valerie and I’s cross-country bicycle trip in 2011, when I gave my parents back their full size van, the Starship Enterprise. I don’t think they got very much money for it, but I was glad to get rid of it and become car-free.

I didn’t need a car when I lived in Guatemala, when I worked for Youthworks, or when I was trucking away at getting a piece of paper labeled “BA in Global Studies”, which I still haven’t seen.

I moved to Milwaukee the first day of June, just over a month ago. I still don’t have a car, so things have been interesting. I bicycle everywhere. I mean, everywhere. Seriously. I love that Milwaukee is a small enough city that biking everywhere is actually feasible.

Things look differently on a bicycle. The people seem nicer, and more friendly. At least the ones that aren’t in cars. Just Sunday I was riding back from downtown from Vulture Space, a sort of bicycle cooperative on Plankinton in downtown MKE. I was riding one bike and holding the other with one hand, ghosting it next to me. I stopped at a stop sign at an intersection with a bar and lots of rainbows, and one guy says, “It looks like you lost someone! Come on in!” Friendly people here.

On a bicycle I have a bell that I ding, where I can wave to people if I recognize them. Or if they’re in my way on the bicycle path. Ha.

I go slow, on bike. My goal is to make people bicycle friendly, so I try not to come off as a jerk. I don’t wear spandex. If anything, I try to dress nice. Normal. Jeans and a t-shirt, or something like that. Someday I hope to get a cargo bike, something that can fit lots of stuff.

I’ve just upgraded my bike from a Schwinn Varsity to a Fuji Absolute. Reddit’s bicycle feed is filled with these people who want to show off their new bicycles. It’s called “NEW BIKE DAY.” Adults, it turns out, are like kids. Excited about their new toys. I’ve got a little bit of thicker wheels on it, and it fits me much better. Plus, it is lighterweight so I go significantly faster.

Every time I ride, I see something interesting. People ask me directions when I am downtown, and I pretend like I’m from MKE and tell them where they need to go. Most of the time they are searching for the Third Ward, which could definitely use more bicycle racks. And bike lanes, since I don’t think there are any there. Taking the lane is a good precaution, but pretty annoying for both parties.

On a bicycle, the neighborhood seems different. Better. Slower. Less alienated. We biked to Summerfest to see Switchfoot, where Jon Foreman read some of my favorite lines from the song “Gone”

“We got information in the information age

But do we know what life is outside of our convenient lexus cages?”

Their performance, I have to say, was better than Cake. Thanks for reading.

*EDIT* I changed the timestamp from July 29th to July 10th, when I wrote the blog post. *EDIT*

Serial Killer every 50 miles.

To the sweet woman at the toy store in South Haven, Michigan, who warned me that there is a serial killer every 50 miles in the world:

I am home, safe, sound, and living.

I appreciate the concern, but really, I think the world is a much better place than what the television tells you.



Having Ears to Hear

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear!” – Jesus, Mark 4

I lost my hearing in my left ear on Tuesday night.

I have been trying to wake up with the sunrise, which is currently a difficult task since it has been mostly cold, snowy, and cloudy for the last few days. I was in bed at 10:09 pm, reading a book called The Longevity Projecta study looking at a group of Americans, their life longevity, and what traits resulted in a long life well lived. My roommate began listening to music, the band was Jesus Culture.

I can’t read or sleep with music on even if it is soft and in the distance. I put my earplugs on. The problem came when I removed the earplugs.

When I took my left earplug out, I could see in my left hand how I had removed the earplug, but to my ear’s senses, I still had the earplug in. I was unable to hear. It was in this fashion that I went about  a day and a half without hearing out of my left ear.

I was completely and functionally deaf in one ear.

What a perspective change! If you’ve ever worn an eyepatch, had temporary hearing loss, or had anesthesiology performed during dental work, you know how startling it can be to lose even one sense. In my case, it was only half of one sense. It still bothered me.

I had to ask people to speak up who were sitting next to me mumbling. I had to sit on my beautiful fiance’s left side when talking with her.  The loud music in Chapel physically hurt for the first time.

After a short amount of Googling I learned quite a bit. Google is quite useful in simple medical assessments. There were two possibilities.

Option 1: I had built up lots of earwax in my ear over time, and due to my occasional use of earplugs I had pushed the earwax in too far into my eartube, and it was blocking my ear from hearing.

Option 2: The intense suction, coupled with the waterpressure of swimming ten feet under earlier in the night, caused my eardrum to perforate, or, in bloggers terms, to tear.

Even though my ear didn’t hurt, it was certainly irksome. It changed how I viewed everything, and I found myself rubbing my left ear in search of the high pitched scratching sound I could hear from my right ear. My ear didn’t hurt, and I didn’t think I had been brutal enough to tear my eardrum. Google was right, and so was the nurse in the Holton Health Center at Spring Arbor University.

I had a large buildup of earwax removed through a process called “ear irrigation”. I prefer combining the two words to be “earrigation.”

I can hear again, and I feel like I’m using my ears to hear at the first time. Even the short time of less than 2 days gave me time to appreciate what I have now.

It is a wonder, this feeling. But it’s also a tragedy, knowing in a few weeks I will forget this feeling.

Why don’t we have this sense of wonder every day? What do we need to do to appreciate our very existence?

I don’t understand why we don’t have this, and I also don’t really understand Jesus’ parable of the sowers in Mark 4. What is that supposed to mean? I love growing my own food, but what did Jesus mean in this parable?

Perhaps I will come to understand these things one day. I would like to. I want to use my ears to hear, to use my eyes to perceive, to hear, and understand.

Thanks for reading.

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