The Restaurant Game

by Andy Wood on July 8, 2012

in Turning Points

“Where you wanna go?”

“I don’t know.  Where do you wanna go?

“I don’t care.  Whatcha hungry for?”

“Don’ matter to me.”

Ever get stuck in those conversations?  Well, friends, I have the cure – especially if you still have kids at the house.  Once you’ve played The Restaurant Game, you’ll never go back to “Oh, you just decide.”

I’ve always lived in one of two kinds of towns – either the kind where you pretty much could cover all the restaurants in a week, or the kinds that were so large, it was hard to make up your mind with so many choices.  Add to that the vein-popping frustration of trying to please five different people – all of whom have opinions about where they don’t want to eat – and you have frustration long before you ever even see a menu or a bill.

Then came the restaurant game, and our lives were changed forever.  [click to continue…]


Sometimes Words Aren’t Enough

by Andy Wood on March 17, 2010

in Life Currency, Love, Words

Okay, so there’s this song… but more about that in a minute.

If you haven’t discovered Animoto yet, you need to check it out.  This online service can take your pictures and/or video clips and produce killer videos.  You can do a 30-second piece for free, or for a modest annual membership fee, get unlimited full-song-length videos.  The program generates it for you.  You can upload your own music or choose from their impressive library.  You can then share your masterpiece with friends and family, or, if you want to improve on it, click on the re-do button and let Animoto give it another whirl.

So with the birth of our grandson and our granddaughter coming to visit for Spring Break this week, cameras have been clicking left and right.  So I started tinkering around with Animoto to see what it could do.

It was then I discovered the song. [click to continue…]


sleeping-studentOkay, you students of all things gloriously stupid!  Time for another round of Hanukkah Hams.  In case you’ve missed previous episodes, a Hanukkah Ham is a reminder of what can happen when unlicensed people are left free to drive an imagination without supervision.

What better place to discover colossal displays of “what-were-you-thinking” than in the hallowed halls of academia?  I once had a college professor that said, “College is the only place where people don’t want to get their money’s worth.” See if these true stories, drawn from the actual testimonies of college professors, don’t restore your hope in the future of America.

Remember, friends – these people will be managing your nursing home.  Or running your country. [click to continue…]


Ten Ideas for “Giving Up” Your Holidays

by Andy Wood on November 18, 2008

in Life Currency

We’re giving up Christmas this year.  Thanksgiving, too.  And if I have my way, New Year’s day will follow suit.

It all started with a meeting by our Creative Team at the church.  The conversation was about what to do this holiday season.  What’s on people’s minds?  What are they thinking/planning for the holidays, especially Christmas?

As the conversation flowed, it followed themes such as people who were giving in to discouragement, fear, and despair because of the e-word.  Also, one couple talked about giving out to charity instead of buying family a bunch of stuff they didn’t particularly want or need.

We talked about how Christmas has become jacked up because of the demands and expectations we place on it – how it’s supposed to magically solve all our problems or bring some sort of enchantment to our otherwise unhappy lives.

We talked about the pressure to make Christmas tricked up – raising the materialistic bar year in and year out.  We’ve been keeping up with the Joneses, only to discover that we are the Joneses.

We talked about how, biblically, God one-upped Zecharias, the father of John the Baptist.  God always seems to be able to out-give, out-serve, out-surprise the greatest acts of our service or obedience.

And we talked about the ultimate Gift – offered up by God to a world too busy to care.

So, our theme for Christmas is, Give It Up!  Before you give in or give out, give up!  That’s exactly what God did with His Son.  Now He awaits your response.

But why wait for Christmas Day?  Why not start now, in the Thanksgiving season, to offer up our lives, first to God, then to others?  For many of us, this will be an opportunity, albeit unwelcome, to really discover that it’s not about the toys and trinkets as much as it is about the love, the joy, the life, and the service we offer up.  So in that spirit, I thought I’d share ten ways you can give to others in life-affirming ways for little or no money.  I would encourage you to do some or all of these things, regardless of your financial status. [click to continue…]


Okay, all you fans of the amazing possibilities of humans left to their own ideas, it’s time for another edition of Hanukkah Hams!  In case you missed previous episodes, a Hanukkah Ham was named after this, uh, “creative” marketing idea last year.

With all the gloom, doom, and sleepless nights about the economy, I thought maybe we could use a little financial inspiration.

Couldn’t find any, so this is what you get instead…

One of the fundamental truths of the New Testament is that money is “coined personality.”  That is, people can see the “real you” in the ways you respond to and handle money.  If you’re generous with your finances, you’ll be generous with other parts of your life as well.  Same is true if you’re careless, stingy, unorganized, etc.  This raises some interesting questions about some or organizations.  If money is coined personality, we may have a few problems!

A couple of years ago, I walked into a local bank, started writing a check, and told the teller in my best deadpan voice that I needed $30 worth of Federal Reserve notes.  He actually asked another teller, “Do we have Federal Reserve notes here?”  “Ya mean, money?” she asked.

Last month a man in Warren, Michigan figured the best way to get a little extra cash for the holidays was to strong arm somebody and steal theirs. [click to continue…]

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Hey, wanna have some fun – part mindless, part meaningful?  Check out wordle.  A wordle is a decorative word tag that is built on whatever text you may supply.  It randomly creates a tag cloud, but allows you the opportunity to change into a wonderful variety of fonts and color schemes, including a pallette that allows you to design your own color scheme.  I just made this one from the Sermon on the Mount (NIV, if you MUST know).  Click on the image for a much better look.

Since I had the text from their wedding ceremonies, I made a unique Wordle for all three of my kids, and some of the others brides and grooms I’ve done weddings for.  Printed on a good printer, it makes a nice (cheap) and completely unique gift.  (Here’s the one from Carrie and Kyle’s ceremony:)

In order to save it, I use ScreenHunter, a great free tool for taking a picture of whatever’s on your screen.

The deep, spiritual side of me likes the way the words can be uniquely rearranged based on the number of uses in the text.  Gives me something to meditate on.  The ADD side of me gives me something to do when I should be taking out the trash, grading papers, or something more, uh, useful.  Enjoy!

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Hanukkah HamSeth Godin shared this head-turning picture taken at a market in Greenwich Village. Here’s an idea sure to get somebody a promotion – Hanukkah ham! Seth’s comment: “Sometimes a little knowledge isn’t such a good thing.”

Where would we be without ideas? And where would the good ideas be without a few Hanukkah hams thrown in for good measure?, New Coke, Volkswagon’s “Thing” and ketchup-flavored potato chips come to mind. Seemed like good ideas to somebody at the time.

Years ago Mad Magazine did a list of ad slogans that never quite made it to TV. Things like: [click to continue…]