thoughts/ideas/opinions from scott hodge

Monday, May 31


What a day... About 20 hours ago I reluctantly woke up to begin my Sunday. By the time I got through my first (and only today) cup of Starbucks I was ready to fly.

Our worship gatherings went great today. It's always awesome to see so many new faces. What's even more awesome is when these "new" faces become "relaxed" faces and then watching people connecting to what's happening. We themed our services around Memorial Day and ran into some great video footage to use. We also had military presentations by retired veterens and an ROTC group. It all came together very well.

This afternoon we went to the annual Greek Festival in St. Charles. I was proud to introduce Ted and Kathryn to Greek food (gyros, kabobs, athenian chicken, baklava, pastitsio, etc...). Elise got her face painted and spent the day showing off her new "tattoo". (The pic is of the shoes worn by the traditional Greek dancers - children actually...)

While at the Greek Fest, we met a family who visited The Orchard for the second time today. They are an unchurched family who heard about our church from some friends. It was great meeting them and hearing about their background, etc...

So now I am going to bed. Tomorrow will be a big family shindig and then I'll be shooting out of town for a few days to work with the leadership team of a church in Minneapolis.



Saturday, May 29


Haeftling clothing is handcrafted by.....are you ready for this? Convicts. Yes, it's true. According to their website:

Haeftling means “detainee”, “inmate” or “prisoner” in German – if the fascinating, unmistakably distinctive brandname under which the hand-crafted products of federal penal institution workshops and trainee programmes are marketed. The cleanly designed, highly robust and supremely practical products are all produced by the prisoners themselves. It’s simply clothing and household products that can take a few more knocks and stand a little more wear-and-tear than comparable products produced in the outside world.
Since 1898, Berlin convicts have been busy at work creating and handcrafting these straightforward products. In fact, their work has become so popular that recently, they've added wine, preserves and even bed linens to their product line.

Tell me the folks in Berlin aren't innovative! Their products have become so popular that people will wait months to get their hands on Haeftling clothing.






(thanks to pomomusings)



Sorry - my blogosphere has been pretty absent of action the past couple days.

Getting ready to head out to this guy's wedding in a few minutes.


Friday, May 28


Spent the morning and early afternoon yesterday at Willow Creek Community Church. In the morning, Greg Hawkins, Willow Creek’s Capital Campaign (CC) director gave a brief summary of Willow Creek’s 4 year CC. (A Capital Campaign is an effort to raise finances, involvement, etc… to pursue the goals/vision of a church.)

At the end of this year, WCC will be on track with raising $80 million dollars to cover the costs of massive ministry expansion and focus on additional unchurched groups here in the Chicago area and beyond.

Here are a few thoughts/ideas that I walked away with in his session:

The purpose of a CC is not just to “raise money” – it is all about funding a vision.

When launching a new initiative, give people plenty of opportunity to digest & ask questions.

The process that WCC used in their CC was:

1. Info – cast vision, answer questions, give people an opportunity to digest.
2. Spiritual Process – pray, ask God, “What do you want me to do?”
3. Commit – Ask people to commit whatever it is that they feel God wants them to do.

Our job is not to “convince” anyone to be involved – just cast vision and let God do His thing.

The role of the Senior Pastor is vital – this cannot be delegated.

Interesting observation: 71% of those who committed to their CC were involved in volunteerism at WCC (Willow Creek). Only 17% of those not involved in volunteering made commitments.

6800 famlies committed to the CC
8800 contributed

Don’t have a CC just to have one – have a purpose! (In response to the question, “When this is finished, will WCC have another CC? The answer was “no” – not for a while.)

To raise $80 million, it cost WCC roughly $1 million to cast vision, fund their CC. (Not a bad ratio!)

During a CC, all staff must make it #1 priority – even if that means accepting less than best during the CC (in their ministry areas).
(Next post: Bill Hybels leadership talk)


Thursday, May 27


1. I'm really into Mexican food right now. Not Taco Bell type crap - but good stuff - simple, real Mexican taco's & carne asada. (Aurora people - try Jalisco's Tacos!!!)

2. I am waking up in a few hours to head over to Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington. In the morning is a stewardship seminar followed by a lunch to connect with a bunch of church leaders. In the afternoon, Bill Hybels is going to be talking about leadership (surprising?).

3. Preparing for my message this weekend. It's not coming together too quickly. Memorial Day theme - lots of directions I could go.

4. Elise has the flu. This sucks.

5. I am faced with some real leadership challenges right now - need to identify some strong volunteer leaders for several projects. I'm on the hunt...

6. Excited about working w/ a church in Minneapolis on some leadership/transition stuff.

Ok - so there you go. I'm off to bed now. I hope to get a blog in @ Willow Creek tomorrow (they are WiFi enabled...)

Stay tuned...


Wednesday, May 26


A couple of months ago, I posted an article about a woman who rode her motocycle through the abandoned city of Cherynobyl on her motorcycle. It turns out that this is not how it happened. Apparently, motorcycles are banned from the zone and there is no way that she would have obtained permission to ride alone through the city. BoingBoing has all the details.


Tuesday, May 25


We did it. We finally got in the car and drove to the new Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora.

Every day for the last several months, my commute would take me past this mammoth structure where a hundred plus brand names would soon scream out to me in passion as I drove by.

The mall opened just last week and has already been swarmed by people from all over the Chicago area and beyond. I-88 has been littered with cars all seemingly making their way to this gargantuan mall.

Amanda, Elise and I met our friends, Ted & Kathryn there on Monday and walked until we decided that our legs had endured enough for one afternoon.

The highlights of my afternoon were hanging out in the Sony store coveting all the fun electronic gadgets and then of course the stops at Asian Chao (Chinese fast food - orange chicken and bourbon chicken), Aunt Anne's Pretzels, and the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory where we dove into a giant (green) apple covered in caramel and chocolate chips.

The mall is a typical outlet mall - like all the ones all across America. In fact, the owners of the mall, Chelsea Premium Outlets, own and operate over 60 outlet malls all across the country and even into Japan and Mexico.

After it was all said and done we didn’t end up buying much. Still trying to figure out what is so good about outlet malls too. If anyone figures it out, let me know.

Click here for a list of stores.



I walked into my local Starbucks this morning and ordered my usual morning coffee - a venti coffee of the day w/ room and a vanilla biscotti.

The girl behind the counter (who is a very nice person by the way...) replied to my order by saying, "You know, there's just something not right about the coffee today - how about I make you a 3 shot Americano?" Well I, of course, was not interested in a bad tasting cup of coffee so I accepted her offer.

The Americano is pretty good - tastes like a latte but with water added instead of milk (my stomach sings praises this morning...).

So I'm trying to figure out if this is some new marketing ploy by Starbucks to get people to try new drinks or was the coffee really not tasting right? If it is the latter, then why would Starbucks even waste time letting it sit? I'm pretty sure that Starbucks has enough sense not to serve bad tasting coffee...

Ok, enough questions. Now I need to focus on my day - which will be much easier now that I have this off of my chest.

Good day.


Monday, May 24


I'm trying to decide if I should go back to the "old" website design (click here to see the old...) or keep the new one.

What do you think? Vote "old" or "new". And thanks...



Anyone got a good caption for this picture?

Here's mine:

"I love Krispy Kreme Jelly Donuts!"



Mickey Mouse has invaded Chicago.

In celebration of Mickey's 75th birthday (talk about looking good for your age...!) 15 giant Mickey Mouse statues will be on display on State Street through July 20th.

Chicagoist has the skinny on the details. Interestingly enough, Walt Disney himself was born in Chicago in 1901.

Each Mickey was designed by different celebrities and reflect their personalities and style. You can view the gallery here.

Long live Mickey!


Sunday, May 23


Can anyone figure out what this is all about?



It’s official - I’m an idiot.

Today, it was raining on and off here in Chicagoland. In fact, at times it was a pretty heavy rain. This evening I was in my office doing some work and it started pouring pretty bad. During the down pour, I remember thinking to myself, “I hope no pour souls left their car windows down…”

An hour later I went outside to get something from my car and found my moon roof open…….…all the way! My first thought was, “Who in God’s name went into my car and opened up my moon roof?” And then it dawned on me – it was me. When I got to the office today, the sun was shining and it was at least 80 degrees. So, I left my moon roof open.

There was at least 2 ½ inches of water on each seat. Water everywhere. So, I grabbed a bunch of towels to soak it up and covered my seat with 2 large plastic garbage bags. (You better believe I’m lookin’ cool in my car…) On my drive home as I was sliding around on my plastic covered seats I felt like I was sitting on my Aunt Margie’s couch in her living room.

So, that’s how my Saturday ended.

How was yours?


Saturday, May 22


Two or three times a week my wife, Amanda, wakes up coughing. It's not a "cold" type cough, but more like the kind of cough you have if you are sleeping and a say.....spider makes its way into your mouth and down the throat. Ok, that's sick. Anyway - it's weird. Of course I always come to her rescue with a bottle of water to wash "it" down - whatever the "it" is.

So, this blog post is dedicated to my coughing (and pregnant...) wife, Amanda.

Cough, Cough....


Friday, May 21


Everyone's talking about it... Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock has super sized his eating habits by consuming nothing but McDonalds for 30 days straight. And it's all caught on film in his new movie Super Size Me.

According to the movie website, the rules of this "heart attack waiting to happen" frenzy were:

1) No options: he could only eat what was available over the counter (water included!)
2) No supersizing unless offered
3) No excuses: he had to eat every item on the menu at least once
I haven't seen the movie - yet... but it sounds like Morgan's body went through quite a shock and awe experience.

I'm sure the folks at McDonalds are loving the movie, probably about as much as they loved the book, Fast Food Nation, that came out a few years ago.

Have you seen it?



Worth 1000's Hybrid Produce entries - check them out.


(Thanks Boing Boing)


Thursday, May 20

MANIPULATION.COM is a photoblog featuring photos by San Francisco-an Jason Zada. He has some great photos of Wrigley Field that he took on a recent visit to Chicago.


(Thanks Jordon Cooper)



According to a recent study done at Northwestern University, Chicago is sinking. The study indicates that we are sinking at the rate of one millimeter a year. Not too bad - at least not enough to justify buying a boat...yet.

Canada, on the other hand is going up.

Canadian friends... Don't let this go to your heads.

(Thanks Gaper's Block)


Wednesday, May 19


The Seattle Times has featured some great images of the new Seattle Public Library. Check the photos out here.

(Link courtesy of Jordon Cooper)



All time great jazz drummer, Elvin Jones, passed away on Tuesday (5/18). Jones was best known as a driving force behind the John Coltrane Quintet ensemble of the 1960's. I had the privilege of hearing Elvin Jones play at the Chicago Jazz Festival last summer. Between all the marijuna smoke (not mine) and the music, it was a pretty good night. :)

Thanks for the great music Elvin! I'm pretty sure there is going to be some nice jazz in Heaven - and I hope to see you kickin' it behind that drum set.

The Complete Blue Note Elvin Jones Sessions Review
Elvin Jones Official Site
Elvin Jones Images


Tuesday, May 18


I really want to try this. 2 pieces of gum = 1 cup of coffee. I'm curious if they mean coffee as in "Starbucks" powered coffee or the dark flavored water served at most gas stations.

What's next? A patch that you put on your arm that injects caffeine into your system? Oooh... I think that's my "free prize"... It could be called the "catch" - patch w/ a "c" for caffeine? Ok, sorry - lame...



This weekend was awesome. Sunday morning Ted concluded our “Life Unscripted” series with a message entitled, “A Makeover Story” and I ended our worship gathering by interviewing a woman named Reema who just recently made a decision to become a Christ follower. Her story is amazing.

Reema was raised by her Muslim father and mother (non-Muslim) and grew up with religion playing a very minimal role in her life. As far back as she can remember she felt something missing in her life. Occasionally, as a teenager, she would sneak out and visit a local church. She loved the feeling that she got in church. She called that feeling the “Christmas feeling”.

About 10 or 11 months ago, Reema began attending our church (Orchard Valley Community Church). She had never been a part of a Christian church and had never even opened up a Bible.

Throughout the last year she became a part of our church community (see this post from September... it's about her!) and brought lots and lots of questions to the table. We did our best to offer her a safe place to ask questions and to seek answers. Reema and I began engaging in an ongoing email conversation about God, unconditional love, and a bunch of other subjects.

On several occasions, Reema would come up to me after church and say, “I’m not ready yet, but I’m almost there…” or “I just want to make sure I really mean it when I make that commitment.”

We became her friend. We didn’t try to “convert” her. We didn’t try to rush her into making a commitment that she didn’t understand. We told her to take her time – to ask questions and to get to know other Christ followers. And she did.

A few weeks ago on a Friday afternoon, Reema called me at my office and said, “Scott, I’m ready. I’m ready to say “that” prayer – I want to make it official.” So that following Sunday, Amanda and I sat down with her and prayed with her. It was an awesome moment.

Last Sunday after telling her story we water baptized her – in front of the entire church. As she walked up the steps of the baptism tank, tears began flowing down her cheeks as she realized the magnitude of what this meant. The second she came out of the water people jumped up on their feet and clapped and cried and clapped some more and cried some more. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. It was powerful. Everyone in the room witnessed the next chapter in Reema’s spiritual journey.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been so moved by something in my life. Even as I write this I am overcome with emotion as I think about Reema and what I witnessed in her life over the past year.



Jason Kottke has posted a brief piece about social environments - specifically the "office" environment. Good/interesting thoughts here...



Monday, May 17


Interview w/ Rob Bell here. Rob is the teaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan where my friend Troy Hatfield is on staff.

If you've never heard Rob Bell teach, check it out here. You will enjoy this guy - no "fluff" here...



My friend Ed made a quick trip down for a visit this weekend from Minneapolis. We did the 5 hour Chicago tour. Made a stop in Little Italy for an italian beef and italian lemonade. Shot over to Greek Town and walked and walked and walked. Here's a few pics from the day.

(From Top: Ed chowin' down an italian beef @ Al's Original in Little Italy, Al Capone mural along Michigan Avenue, Chicago Sun Times Building - future home of Chicago Trump Towers.)


Friday, May 14


Hi, I'm Elise. I'm 4 years old and my mom let me have the digital camera yesterday while we were driving in the car. This is what I came up with!

Note from dad: "Oh crap. She has my big toe..."



Awaiting the delivery of a couple of new books I've ordered:

Free Prize Inside: The Next Big Marketing Idea by Seth Godin and...

Bird by Bird : Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott.

Seth Godin is a great writer on the topic of marketing. Check out his blog here. He's one of those people who is great to read for a little "outside the box" inspiration.

I was introduced to Anne Lamott by hearing John Ortberg mention her name over and over, so I finally decided to order one of her books. If she's good for John, I'm sure she'll be good for me. (Not that I'm comparing myself to John - by ANY means.)

I recently restarted (for the 3rd time) reading The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. The book has been #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list for 59 weeks now. There's a lot of controversy surrounding the book and maybe if I can sit down and focus on reading it I will one day find out why.

What are you reading right now?



Dear Weebleland Readers: It's honoring and comforting to know that it makes a difference when I don't post for a day or two. Fear not - I haven't forgotten about you... More to come shortly.

In the meantime - click on some of my links! There are some great sites worth checking out.



Wednesday, May 12


Jordon Cooper has written an excellent article on blogging over @ The Ooze. It's a great summary with reviews on several blogging platforms.

Thanks Coop!




I had a meeting this morning with a woman representing a parachurch organization who wants to partner with our church on a project. The meeting started with her pulling out a bunch of charts and statistics and reading each one verbatim.


I interrupted her.

“This is all great information, but you don’t need to “sell” me – just talk to me. Tell my why you believe in what you do.”

It kind of threw her off at first, but then she began to just talk. The “script” was thrown aside and I finally begin hearing something interesting. She became excited – and it was obvious that she believed in what she was saying. And it was then that I took interest.

Sometimes we oversell our ideas. I used to do it all the time when I was in sales. We oversell because we really want people to “buy into” what we have devoted our lives to. We oversell because we are afraid of rejection so we think that if we just keep talking or throwing out stats and charts that people will hopefully believe what we are saying. After all, we want people to know that we’ve done our homework.

But more effective then “pitching” an idea is letting your passion and belief in the product/organization/etc… do the selling for you. Tell stories. Share why you believe in it. Discuss why you have sold your life out to it. Tell stories. Did I already say that? Stories have the ability to cast vision in an incredible way.

Shine, don’t sell. Nothing wrong with charts and stats – but nothing will impact your audience or market more than “eyeball” time and belief in your product.


Tuesday, May 11


The June 2004 print edition of Fast Company arrived today. There is an article in it entitled, “The Thrill of Defeat” about the folks over at Pfizer. The article headline states:

“Every leader and every business faces setbacks: they’re the price of ambition. If you want to know how to persist in the face of failure, ask the folks at Pfizer who spend entire careers doing just that.”
The article is about – failure. The article points out that:

“Pfizer spends $7.9 billion on R&D. But 96% of its efforts end in failure – and most researchers never work on a winning drug.”
Imagine working for months or even several years on a project that will more than likely end in failure.

How do you keep people motivated in that type of environment? One gentleman named Peter Oates has spent 19 years on Pfizer’s diabetes effort. He says that the “scientific efforts” he gains there sustains him through repeated disappointments.

Nancy Hutson, the senior vice president of global research and development focuses on these four things in helping her team succeed:

1. Offer support
2. Put people first
3. Celebrate small victories
4. Instill leadership
Good advice to us all - facing failure or not...


Monday, May 10


People must have a need to get things off their chest. Group Hug is a website (warning: there is some weird & freaky stuff on here certainly not endorsed by myself) that allows its users to "confess" their sins or faults to the world. So far, over 69,000 confessions have been made to the site.

There are some "rules" to follow. From the site:

"...the purpose of this site is not to tell funny stories or be as vulgar as possible. the point isn't to get a thrill on posting lies about you and your livestock. the purpose, if there is one, is to offer a little bit of relief from your conscience. this web site is not a message board or an open forum. we'd love it if you would cooperate just a bit."
I guess it just goes to show that some people still have a conscience and need to clear it from time to time. Is this the latest in e-psychotherapy?

Gotta go - confession time...



Apparently a woman in Califorina was eating a hotdog from Costco and while eating it she bit into a bullet. She later complained of having stomach pain and they found another bullet in her stomach.

Lesson? Don't take such big bites of your hotdog - that way you don't miss a bullet.




Popping bubble wrap seems to do the trick. Let out some of that afternoon aggression here!

(thanks to pomomusings for the link.)


Sunday, May 9


i know - it's weird. looks a lot different. i'm playing around w/ a new look. feedback anyone? i still have to figure out how to get my links on here.


Friday, May 7


Peggy Noonan has written one of the best editorials I've read on the recent treatment of some of the captured Iraqi soldiers. Check it out here.



So yesterday was around 110 degrees (ok, maybe more like 80 degrees), today is 25 degrees (ok, more like 55 degrees), I'm sitting in my office working on some graphic stuff for the weekend and listening to John Mayer. His CD, "Heavier Things", has really grown on me big time. What I like about him is his originality. So much of today's music (don't I sound old?) sounds the same. Mayer's music is creative and original, yet there are certainly influences ranging from U2 to 80's rock. Good stuff...

Take a listen.



Well, it's over. Ten years and many, many Thursday nights later the final episode of Friends aired tonight. Amanda, Elise & I went to Ted & Kathryn Egly's house to watch it along with some other friends.

It was a good ten years and it still amazes me how well so many of us continually identified with the humor of the show. Lots of laughs over the years...

Funny too how it almost seems like the cast of Friends and my friends all grew up and matured together over the last ten years.

Thanks Friends for a great ten years!

P.S. Good luck Joey - you might need it!


Wednesday, May 5


The Chicago Tribune recently published a short article on the trend of new emerging churches. Good article w/ quotes from Leonard Sweet and Dan Kimball.

You have to be a registered Chicago Tribune user to read the article, so I pasted it into a Word document that you can view here. (Is this illegal???)


Monday, May 3


Yes - another food one...

Saturday morning we found a new breakfast spot in downtown Naperville called Heaven on Seven. It's the suburban location of a great downtown restaurant that I've heard much about but had never eaten at. They specialize in Cajun cuisine and let me tell you....they do it right!

The brunch menu is fantastic - so good in fact, that I went back on Sunday with my mom and dad to introduce them to it.

On Saturday, I ordered "Jimmy's Big Ass Breakfast" which included two eggs any style, chicken fried steak, biscuit and andouille gravy. The name fits the breakfast well and certainly contributed toward my fat.... Amanda ordered the Bananas Foster French Toast which was unbelievable. We also couldn't resist trying out the Parmesan-Reggiano Cheese Grits and the Fried Green Tomatoes in a remoulade sauce.

The highlight of my morning was a certain appetizer that was screaming my name - called "Hot as a Mutha" (see picture above). It's a whole habernero pepper (very hot pepper - way hotter than a jalepeno) stuffed with jalepeno cheese and served with peach salsa. The first bite wasn't too bad. It was the second and third bite that just about made me fall on the floor. Those were the bites that contained the seeds. Oh, the seeds... My eyes are watering right now just thinking about it (no lie).

When I went back on Sunday, I ordered the Poached Eggs on Crabcakes with Creole Sauce. My, oh my, oh my. The crabcakes were delicious.

One of my favorite things about this restaurant is that on each table they have about 15 different hot sauces you can try with your meal. I looked around and noticed that there weren't too many people taking advantage of these, but I did and man, were they great! Each hot sauce made my meal taste a little bit different with each bite.

So - if you live around here and want to abuse yourself, try the Hot as a Mutha. If you just want a great and unique breakfast, give Heaven on Seven a try. There are four or five locations around Chicagoland.

And don't forget the cheese grits.



I didn't even know they still make them. I guess I don't watch enough late night television. I'm talking about BluBlocker Sunglasses. You know - the ones that have the commercials where the dude (Dr. Geek) is rapping about BluBlocker sunglasses? (My name is Geek I put 'em on as a shocker; Man, I love these BluBlockers!)

Well, their latest advertising campaign still involves the rapper, but in addition (in an updated attempt) now they show images of US soldiers in Afghanistan wearing the sunglasses too. I guess they saw that as a giant marketing opportunity. Afghanistan = sun = the need for sunglasses = BluBlockers!

And don't forget:
Remember what I said "now I'm a hip hopper"
Yeah go get you some BluBlockers.
Um, now yep its sweet
I'll see you later I gotta make some money on the beach.