Friday, August 31, 2007

Guest Blogger: Stephen Emlund

I'm Stephen Emlund, a graphic design student at Truman State University, and past student of Goldie's. I've had a blog since before they were the cool thing to have. It's probably been four years since I started my first blog at I want to break down the most popular blogging sites out there, to give you an idea where to start if you are new to blogging. is a service by Google, so you know it's got to be good. I was quite impressed with how easy it was to make posts and publish them. They have a nice WYSYWIG (What You See Is What You Get) when it comes to changing the layout and color scheme of the blog. This is a great place to start if you are new to things.

Blogger doesn't have built in statistics (although Google Analytics can be used). Google Analytics is a separate service that allows you to view many statistics about your visitors. Setting your blog up to get these stats takes some time to figure out though. Also, when photos are uploaded, they are automatically resized and linked to a larger version.

Words of Warning: Text formatting and photo uploading problems can occur and it's very difficult to fix them without some HTML knowledge. The best thing to do when this happens is to just start over with a new post. Also, your blog URL will be "" It's short and easy to remember - granted IF you choose a short username.

This blogging service is for the advanced user who knows a lot about HTML and PHP. It is totally customizable and you can put it in your own domain (ie: Hosting Companies like offer a free service to install Wordpress for you. It's a lifesaver if you have never done it before. Statistics of your visitors are also available within your Wordpress account. Wordpress also gives the option of signing up with them and getting a domain such as:

My current blog is using wordpress: Within two hours I had the website looking identical to my portfolio website:

Words of Warning: With the free hosting at wordpress, you don't get options to upload photos to your posts and you have to pay $15 to edit the CSS file (A CSS file is the main document for changing the look and feel of your website)

I have never used Typepad, but from what I can tell it is very similar to Wordpress, with one downfall. It costs money. I recommend using a free blogging service when you first start out. The cost is $50 a year. Typepad seems to have a lot of features such has WYSYWIG editing. This is perfect for a user without much HTML experience. Typepad is also very customizable and has the same photo uploading features as Blogger. They allow for Video uploading also, which is nice for those users looking such a thing.

I have also never used LiveJournal. From the looks of it, LiveJournal is similar to Blogger. Blogger doesn't have a networking system or search engine to find others with a "Blogger" site. LiveJournal does have a sense of community and networking with their search tools. You can find other blogs by people with the same interests, career, etc. LiveJournal only costs money if you want to fully customize your blog, just as Wordpress does.

So, there it is. A break-down of the biggest names in Blogging.

I have a reason to love blogging... my girlfriend (and future wife ;) ) found my blog before we even met and we began talking about Truman and such before the school year began. A few months after first seeing each other's blogs we began dating.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My Naked Pastor? YIKES!

I've heard of the "farting preacher" but this one's too fun to pass up!

The lead pastor, Troy Gramling, at Flamingo Road Church is getting naked! No...not that kind of naked, a new kind of naked. A nakedness that isn’t embarrassing; a nakedness that God would say is cool.

On 9-9 @ 9PM, Troy will be on a 24-hour webcam for five weeks in four locations: house, car, hotel, and office. Every day, all day, we will see his life in a fishbowl - the good, the bad, the great, the ugly.

Why? Well, first, let us tell you why not--it is not too exalt him. Rather, to realize with him, that we are all fish in a bowl. The more transparent (naked) we get, the more God can do amazing things through us. We weren’t created to be people in hiding, concealment, or shame, we were created to be real, naked and unashamed.

Can you say "naked Bryan?"

[link courtesy of these guys]

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I Have Difficulty (Part 2)

I have difficulty saying no. I'm definitely getting better at this, but there are still instances when I don't know when to draw the boundaries. It typically happens with something very little, or seemingly an innocent task that goes awry. Trying to please people and overestimating what I can get done in a short amount of time are also the culprits.

So how am I learning to work on this challenge in my life? I try to live by the following "order" of importance:

(1) Does it honor God?

(2) Does it honor my wife and my family?

(3) Does it honor my values and strategic plan for my life?

If I can't say "yes" to all three of those questions, then I'm learning to say no. Having an established set of guidelines makes it so much easier to say no to begin with and ultimately saves a big headache in the long run!

Do you have trouble saying no? What strategies do you use to keep things in balance?

Monday, August 27, 2007

I Have Difficulty (Part 1)

I have difficulty keeping my mouth closed when I get angry. Now granted, I don't get angry very often. I'm typically a "happy-go-lucky" kind of a guy. But when my buttons get pushed or my emotions get fired up, I tend to let my mouth get ahead of my brain. Usually I cool off and go back and apologize for my behavior. I only wish that I would learn to walk away and cool off first!

Here are a few scriptures that I found helpful:

When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you.
Ephesians 4:29 (NCV)

Put away perversity from your mouth;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Proverbs 4:24 (NIV)

Don't shoot off your mouth, or speak before you think.
Ecclesiastes 5:2a (Msg)

Does anyone else struggle with this? What are some strategies you have used in those situations?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Inner Soul

There's a new book coming out about the life of Mother Teresa. The book is a series of letters from Mother Teresa to her confidant, Rev. Michael van der Peet. There has already been much discussion around the publishing of this book - you can read an article here and another fascinating one here.

The quotes from the letters suggest that Mother Teresa struggled with her relationship with God. You'll have to read for yourself, but don't we all struggle with our relationship with God? I think of Paul who spent so much time in prison, or beaten, or without food. Didn't Paul struggle with his situation? But yet he never came away denying God. Just maybe God allows only those who are strong enough to be the incredible warriors in situations we could never understand. Mother Teresa was one of those warriors.

There is no doubt that she gave much to God. She also gave much to the world - much more may I remind everyone than any of us has given. As we read these quotes from letters written long ago in situations none of us could possibly understand, remember that God had a plan and that His love is a personal one; to be comprehended by each individual in a way specific to them. [check out this very insightful post for more]

Mother Teresa had the courage to ask for help, to share her inner soul with another who could help carry her burdens. That's what life is all about. And that to me is loving God in a very, very humble way.

The Fumigator

God's timing is crazy!! As a follow up to my last post, check out this post by this guy. As always, he nails it again!!

Projects 'R Us

I'm in the middle of three major projects:

  • Technology Project - for our current campus and first launch site
  • Branding Project - logo development, website, print media development
  • Film Short - for our upcoming campaign

These three projects have been incredibly exciting and awesome to work on, but they have also consumed a great deal of time and energy. My wife can sense those times when I seem to be running on empty after a long day. When I came home the other night she handed me a piece of paper and told me to keep it and read when necessary. Here's what it said:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 (Msg)

That sounds like some pretty incredible advice!! Many of you have heard that passage before, but I encourage you to find comfort with the words of Jesus when you find yourself tired at the end of the day, worn out from a stressful situation or looking for that freedom that has eluded you for so long!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Guest Blogger - Melissa Goldsmith

Let me start by saying I'm honored that anyone would invite me to be a guest blogger. It makes it even more special that it is a request from someone I respect and love dearly. I have had a couple of days to think about what I might write. It's pretty easy to whip things up and drop them on your own page. (I'm not even sure more than 2 people read my blog!) It's a little overwhelming writing on someone's page when you know a lot of people might read this. So here goes! I was asked to talk a little bit about how I started blogging and what it means to me.

Let me start by saying, my blog page was accidental. I had the opportunity to spend time with a friend I had not seen in years. When we parted ways she gave me her "blog address". I did know at that time what a blog was because Michael was blogging. Anyway, I checked out her site and was attempting to leave her a message and it asked me to have a login. I filled out all the info and before I really understood what was going on I had started my own blog. I really wasn't sure what I would have to say but right now I'm up to 29 posts and going strong! The evolution of my blog has been very interesting to experience. My blog address is, that phrase has been my anthem of sorts for 2007. I started the year really wanting to grow in my relationship with God, my family, and my close friends. In January I sat down and wrote out my Life Plan and in March I started my blog. I went back last night and read several of my posts. I realize I am a very emotional blogger. I'm not sure if that's more a female perspective or it's just my personality. I love writing about how God's growing me as a person. One particular post stood out. I wrote it right after I returned from the Women of Faith Conference. The impactful point of that post was a verse I read during my quiet time. It rocked my way of thinking even though to anyone else it might have been such a small detail they wouldn't even have noticed. The verse said, "They agreed they were in this for good, completely together in prayer,
the women included..."(Acts 1:12,13) I have spent my whole life with all this crazy baggage about never measuring up to people's expectations. That verse was like a lightning bolt, a catalyst for change. It gave me a strength in ministry I had never experienced before, it said women were included. My husband will tell you I say what's on my mind. That's true! I'm thankful to have my blog be a positive outlet for who I am. I feel very strongly that God's preparing me for something down the road. I've had opportunity for spiritual growth over the last several months and I have taken it all in no matter how painful or difficult.

I promised God and myself that when I started this blog it wouldn't be a place for me to rant about things that made me unhappy. It would be a place where I would be honest and vulnerable. It would be a place to share information and life. To me it has been a blessing and I realize that my blog was not "an accident". See, God knows my heart and my gifts and where my strength is. He knew that I would be careful before posting anything, unlike my mouth which blurts out things sometimes before I can stop it. I read posts a minimum of 10 times before I post anything. I'm obsessive about writing, it has to be correct. Thankfully that gives me the time I need to get my thoughts in order. Even if I am the only person that reads my blog I realize how okay that is. Going back and reading my posts again showed me where I've been on this journey and what I've learned. I love that there are some really amazing women that are blogging. I get some great insight from their words. Women in ministry like Nancy Beach and Kim Meyer. Women I live life with like Elaine and Ragen. An exciting new discussion blog called "Church Planting Wives" was started by women to help empower women whose husbands are in ministry. It's a whole new world! I'm excited to stand
beside my husband and look forward to what God has planned for our lives.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The "Big" Announcement! here it is - the "big" announcement.

Starting tomorrow Bucketology will be hijacked. That's right. For several posts a week I will be having "Guest Bloggers" here at Bucketland. I've not placed any restrictions on the guests. Sometimes I have asked them to talk about specific areas, other times I've let 'em loose. You won't want to miss them!

Who will be first out of the gate? Tune in tomorrow...same Bat Time, same Bat Channel!

Monday, August 20, 2007

'Round and 'Round

It's Monday and I promised an update from last week, so here it is:

Tuesday - meetings...and more meetings...

Wednesday - worked from home part of the morning and then hit it hard the rest of the day including a leadership team meeting and then music practice the rest of the evening.

Thursday - major work day and prep for our a/v consultant. Small video editing project as well as a LARGE visual arts project (props to Melissa and her team for pulling this off!!)

Friday - prep for the weekend followed by the arrival of our consultant (this guy was the bomb!)...oh yeah, I played in the Fredericktown World Softball Championship (man were we spanked!)

Saturday - up at 5:30am to get work done for the weekend followed by spending the entire day with our consultant (did I mention this guy was the bomb?). We visited a potential location for our multi-site campus. Then a music rehearsal followed by our two weekend gatherings. And finally a debrief meeting with our consultant. Arrived home and in bed at midnight.

Sunday - up at 5:30am again and headed to music rehearsal. Three Sunday gatherings and I was totally wiped out. The afternoon was a bit better - some fun time followed by a 30 minute nap! The evening? We had a much needed "family meeting" to establish our mission statement and vision for the future.

Monday - up early to get some work done. Tear down of our visual arts from our youth kickoff event and then a rushed trip to St. Louis to return some gear. Return home for more research to prepare for staff meeting in the morning.

As you can tell, there hasn't been a heck of a lot going on (and if you believe that...I'll come up with some land in Florida for you to purchase)!! Since life is somewhat hectic, I'll have a big announcement tomorrow so stay tuned - you won't want to miss it!!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Still Crazy After All These Years

Yes...I'm still here. It's VERY RARE for me to go more than a few days without a post. It's certainly NOT because I don't have something to say!!

I'll have more details later, but look for something "new" starting Monday!! Until then...have a great weekend!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Beating the Odds

I can't think of a better way to return to the blogging world today...


Melissa and I have been married 20 YEARS today!! It's really hard to believe. There were so many "nay-sayers" back in the days. Those folks who told us that life was too hard, the obstacles too great and that our marriage would never last. Guess what? They were wrong! I love to fight for the underdog, but I have no doubt that God had this plan in mind all along. What we have learned and shared over the past 20 years is invaluable. Those experiences have allowed us to impact other lives - the real power of living life.

There were many times we thought life was all about us. That perspective has changed drastically. We love to share our thoughts and challenges with marriage because we've been there. We've lived it and we certainly didn't get it right most of the time. So why not save others the trouble?

I joke a lot of times that the secret to a long-lasting marriage is this, "Yes, dear." But in reality there are no secrets to marriage. It's just plain hard work! It's about loving my wife even when I don't want to. It's about sacrifice and sharing and hurting. It's about laughing and listening and persevering. But most of all, it's about God and what He is teaching us through Him.

If being humble is thinking about the other person first, I pray that our marriage stays humble to the end. I am so thankful that Melissa is in my life. We have a great relationship with great kids and a family that has "beat the odds." After 20 years, I can honestly say that I am more in love with my wife today than I have ever been before, and I am looking forward to sharing the next adventure!

I love you Mel!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Have Coffee, Will Travel

It's 1:30am...

The coffee is wearing off and my eyes are drooping a bit. I have been hard at it for two straight days now trying to put together some organizational structure to the Creative Arts Ministry that I lead. We are off for a staff retreat at 7am this morning and I am still not quite ready.

Pandora is running strong in the background...

I miss my family already - they are visiting my mom for a few days. The timing was perfect however as I have pulled my kitchen table into the living for better access to my work. The house is a mess, I've eaten anything and everything as the past two days have literally vanished.

There may not be any internet access at the place I am heading, so I might be out of the "blogosphere" for a few days. Updates to come!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Digital Revolution

Mark has some great thoughts on the "digital revolution" and the church. Here are a few key thoughts:

Podcasting is circuit riding at the speed of light.
Blogging is digital discipleship.
Video technology turns screens into postmodern stained glass.
Websites are virtual front doors.
Email is word of mouse.

As new technologies emerge so do new distribution channels for the gospel.

You can read the entire post here.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Surprise #2!

I don't know if word got out that my wife and kids are gone for a few days, but I had another incredible surprise just a few minutes ago:

These are some fresh baked chocolate chip cookies straight from the Minson oven! For those of you who don't know Scott and Tonya, they make some of the best desserts this side of the Mississippi. I was the lucky guinea pig for a new type of recipe they were trying, and I must say that I don't mind playing the part!

Thanks Scott and Tonya for a great conclusion to the day!

A Pleasant Surprise!

I had a nice surprise tonight - a visit from my very good friend John. And not only was it great to see him, but he brought a little present with him:

John and his wife Marsha just returned home after several days in New Orleans. You can read about their adventures and see many marvelous pics here. I was salivating at the thought of some Cafe du Monde coffee and beignets when the knock at my door brought the happy sights of a gift bag! Thanks John!

So I'll continue my work (late into the night) with a delicious cup of chicory coffee!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

From Good to Great

My wife and I ate at a nearby "Huddle House" after my gig the other night. If you've ever eaten at a Huddle House, you know that at 11pm it becomes the cultural hub of any community. Even at that late hour, we had one of THE BEST waitresses I have ever had at any restaurant (and I like to eat!). Here's what I learned from my experience there:

Good Customer Service vs. Great Customer Service

"Hi. I'll be right with you."

"Welcome to Huddle House. I'm so sorry I couldn't take your order right away."

Stopping by to ask if you want more to drink.

Bringing another glass of your beverage BEFORE you've run out of your current one.

Checking to see if you need anything else.

Checking to see if you need anything else, checking to see how your food is cooked, apologizing again for the delay in serving the food.

Bringing your check to the table.

Bringing your check to the table as well as several to go cups "just in case" you wanted to take your drinks with you. And then pouring them in the glass for you.

Thanks and come back.

Thank you SIR and we hope to see you back at Huddle House again. Have a great night.

Are You Interested?

Tony shares his thoughts on folks who believe in God but just aren't that interested. It reminded me of a friend of mine (actually several) who, in my opinion, shares that philosophy. Three thoughts from Tony's post:
  • He's not looking for religion. (And, I don't blame him.)
  • Though he doesn't have a relationship with God, his comments suggest he believes there is a God.
  • There are times when he even practices the discipline of prayer even though he doesn't have faith that those prayers will be answered.
What's refreshing to me is that Meadow Heights Church is trying to develop relationships with the people described above. It's our mission and focus. We're not trying to discount folks like this, but working desperately to cultivate authentic relationships built on real life practices and not the "religion" that has turned them off in the first place.

It's not our job to "assimilate" them to God - we're simply here to point them in the right direction as we experience the journey with them. We'll do what we can do and then we'll let God take care of the rest.

Who do you know that fits in this category? And what is the next step in your journey together?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Kickin' Cancer to the Curb!

Another win for coffee!!

The data shows that coffee drinkers were 41 percent less likely to have been diagnosed with liver cancer than people who don't drink coffee. For every daily cup of coffee people drank, their odds of having been diagnosed with liver cancer dropped by 23 percent, compared with people who never drink coffee. People who drank a lot of coffee were 55 percent less likely to have been diagnosed with liver cancer than those who didn't drink any coffee.

You can read the entire article here.

30 Days To Live is launching a new series called "30 Days to Live." It looks very interesting. Here's a snippet from their series blog:

Do you ever wonder what you would do if you were told you only had a few days left to live? The 30 Days to Live message series, as well as this website, were designed to challenge you with that very idea...You’ll discover practical approaches to apply as you begin to live in the moment, live for eternity, leave a legacy, and fight for peace. Also, you can read about how others are planning to live as though they were in their last 30 days.

This looks like it's going to be good!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Searching the Past

I just spent several hours going through old cassette tapes. WOW! Did those things bring back some memories! I heard everything from songs taped off the radio to my senior recital to tapes of several of the school bands I used to teach.

We're in "de-clutter" mode at the house. I learned a lot about decluttering from this guy. We're trying to simplify our house and ultimately our life. I'm finding it hard in stage one to let go of the memories from the past. It's funny how attached we become to things that happened so long ago. I hadn't pulled out those tapes for years, but they instantly brought back memories.

Where has life gone? It seems like yesterday when I was making those crazy cassettes and now I'm wiping off the dust. I guess I'm getting ready to enter a new stage of life but I haven't quite gotten over the old stage. Change is difficult, but I have found over the years that once you settle in to a new routine, the past distances itself from the future.

So the next few weeks will bring much "change" and hopefully I'll be ready for it! Any advice out there?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Thoughts @ 3:40 AM

It's 3:40 in the morning...

I just returned home from the hospital where I had the opportunity to sit with a family as they prepare for the passing of their mother. It was a new experience for me, but one that I will not soon forget.

I have the utmost respect for nurses that help people during the final stages of their life. I talked about this a few weeks ago with a message on "Love Is Kind." During the message, I talked about my wife and her thoughts on being a nurse. I know I am biased, but I cannot think of anyone else I would want to be with me during my final stages. Not just because she's my wife, but because she is a kind-hearted and loving person who deeply cares about people. That's her way of showing God's love - by sitting, listening, and simply letting people know that they are not alone.

Love is kind...but love is also action. We show love by doing, and tonight God gave me the opportunity to share Him in those few precious moments. For that I am grateful, but I am also reminded of the temporary status of my own life. While the party will be rockin' on the other side, there is so much more love to share before it's my time.

I'll close with a question you have probably heard before, but one that deserves an honest response:

"If you walked out into your community today, would people know you follow Jesus not by what you say, but more importantly, by what you do?"