Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Administrative Professionals Day

Today is Administrative Professionals Day in the United States, a day to honor and recognize the work of secretaries, administrative assistants, receptionists, and other administrative support personnel.

I am blessed to have SIX administrative professionals as colleagues across my two jobs.

At Calvary Memorial Church, we have Cindy our office coordinator, Janet our administrative assistant, and Soo Ai our executive assistant.

At the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music, we have Susan and Janice our office coordinators and Michelle our administrative assistant.

All six have been in their roles since before I assumed my current role with each organization, and I find their experience and institutional knowledge extremely valuable.

Make sure you thank the administrative professionals in your own workplace today!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017: A Hobby-Based Look Back

My biography indicates that in my spare time I enjoy attending concerts, cooking, reading, and traveling, so to recap 2017, I will summarize my accomplishments in those areas.


The irony is that managing concerts, as I do, sometimes makes it difficult to attend them. Nonetheless, I was in the audience for several concerts in the last year and a few in particular I really enjoyed.

In April I heard Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 5 Reformation, appropriate given this Reformation 500 anniversary year, as well as Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 with Yafim Bronfman.

In December I heard the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under Nikolaj Znaider, perform Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5. On both occasions I was hearing these symphonies performed live by a professional orchestra for the first time, and on neither occasion did they disappoint!

Over the summer I attended a couple performances at the Grant Park Music Festival in Millennium Park, including, in August, one featuring the Mariachi Cobre, which may have been only the second time in my life I had heard live mariachi music, at least in concert.


Naomi and I are regular Purple Carrot users, and a few of the recipes we have gone on to reuse, particularly the delicious (and simple) red bean burger. We have been introduced to new ingredients and new twists on familiar meals. One of my long time favorite recipes, which I first learned when Naomi and I were dating in college, is a zucchini and kidney bean chili. I am also now very partial to the use of dates as a sweetener, though that is more for baking than cooking; my skills are very much still in the cooking realm.


I read eleven books from start to finish this year and read bits of some others, but I really do want to increase that total in future years. Three in particular are:

  • John Bateson's Building Hope: Leadership in the Non-Profit World, anecdotes and experience-based advice on many facets of the non-profit institution
  • Andy Crouch's Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power, a compelling analysis of the ways power is often abused and how it could and can be used for so much good instead
  • Christopher Gehrz and Mark Pattie's The Piestist Option: Hope for the Renewal of Christianity, an encouraging look at the principles of pietism and how they can inform most other traditions


In addition to my home state of Illinois, I found myself spending time in Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Carolina, and Vermont this year. (I also changed planes in California but I am of the school of thought that that does not count.)

My visits to Hawaii, Oregon, South Carolina, and Vermont were my first times in each of those states. The Hawaii trip was Naomi's and my honeymoon in January to the island of Kauai, and it was very much the perfect time of year to go and an all-around enjoyable trip. I chronicled the Vermont trip in detail previously on this blog.

What's Next?

I already have tickets for two CSO concerts in 2018, we are due for our next Purple Carrot later in January, I have two books waiting for me on my desk to read, one of which I am sure I will take on our January trip to Florida, and after that who knows to where else I will take books for the plane ride - New Orleans and Canada are on our list!

I hope 2017 had many satisfying moments of those things you enjoy doing in your spare time, and that 2018 will have no less!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Music and Meditation for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Sunday, December 24 | The Fourth Sunday of Advent

"Love Came Down at Christmas"

  • Words by Christina Rossetti (1883)
  • Musical setting by John Rutter (1971)
  • Performed by the Cambridge Singers and the City of London Sinfonia on The John Rutter Christmas Album (2002 Collegium)

Love came down at Christmas
Love all lovely, love divine
Love was born at Christmas
Star and angels gave the sign

Worship we the Godhead
Love incarnate, love divine
Worship we our Jesus
What shall be our sacred sign

Love shall be our token
Love be yours and love be mine
Love to God and neighbor
Love for prayer and gift and sign


For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:16-17

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen.

The Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Music and Meditation for the Third Sunday of Advent

Sunday, December 17 | The Third Sunday of Advent

"Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying"

  • Words by Philipp Nicolai (1599), translated by Catherine Winkworth (1858)
  • Music by Hans Sachs (c. 1513); hymn tune is WACHET AUF
  • Performed by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist on the album Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring: Christmas with the Dominican Sisters of Mary (2017 De Montfort Music, LLC and Sony Entertainment)

Wake, awake, for night is flying
The watchmen on the heights are crying
Awake, Jerusalem at last
Midnight hears the welcome voices
And at the thrilling cry rejoices
Come forth, ye virgins, night is past
The bridegroom comes, awake
Your lamps with gladness take
Alleluia! And for his majesty prepare
For you have come to meet him there

Zion hears the watchmen singing
And in her heart with joy is springing
She wakes, she rises from her gloom
For her Lord comes down all glorious
The strong in grace, in truth victorious
Her star is risen, her light is come
O come, you blessed one
Lord Jesus, Son of God
Alleluia! We go until the halls we see
Where thou hast bid us sup with thee

Now let all the heavens adore thee
And men and angels sing before thee
With harps and cymbals all are peal
Of one pearl each shining portal
Where dwelling with the choir immortal
And angels round thy dazzling glow
No eye has seen nor ear
Has yet been trained to hear
What joy is ours
When we rejoice and sing to thee
Our hymn of joy eternally


Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and forever, Amen.

The Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent