8 Must-Haves for Your Dopp Kitt

Dopp Kit?  What in the world is that?!  A generation or two ago, every man in America could tell you what a Dopp Kit was.  These days, it’s an old-fashioned term – one that I picked up in an article by a blogger that I admire: Brett McKay at Art of Manliness.

Apparently Charles Doppelt was a German leather worker in Chicago in the early 20th century.  He invented leather pouches for men’s toiletries, which became popular when the US Army contracted him to make them for GIs in World War II.  The pouches quickly were nicknamed for their inventor: Dopp Kits.

Shaving in hotelWhile the original Dopp Kits were made of leather, I love my Genius Pack bags!  Their Brilliant Toiletry Kit is an amazing, organized kits, with four zippered compartments in addition to the roomy pouch.

Brett’s excellent article over at Art of Manliness goes into more detail on what a man should pack in his Dopp Kit, I have made a shorter list today, sticking to the essentials.  These are the items that, no matter how long or short the trip, nor where the destination, are necessary.


Tooth Brush

Obviously.  A no-brainer, I know.  So many varieties are out there, it’s all a matter of personal preference.  But dentists currently advise ones with soft bristles for the best results in gum health.

Tooth paste

A small “travel-sized” tube is best for a Dopp Kit, to save space.  I tend to prefer a basic paste from Crest or Colgate, but the important thing is to actually use it!  LOL


I used to use an antiperspirant, but I have cancer and Alzheimer’s in my family history. There have been studies that show links for these diseases with aluminum in antiperspirants.  (Although admittedly, they are divided.) Still, I have decided to stick with deoderants.


Several years back, I read the article “How to Shave Like Your Grandpa” at Art of Manliness.  That is when I first was introduced to wet shaving with a traditional Safety Razor.  Later, I purchased Douglas Smythe’s “The Agent” travel razor.  This handy safety razor assembles four pieces easily, and is actually my favorite razor, at home or away.

Just be sure if you are flying, that your double edged razor blades are in checked luggage.  Your other options being to find somewhere at your destination to purchase them, or to ship them ahead of your trip.


Shaving Soap or Cream Shave

Two options here.  You can get a great shaving soap, like Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements’ The Beach!  A great fragrance that simply smells like fun travelling!  My other favorite is his soap called “Cavendish,” which reminds me of my great-grandfather’s pipe. Douglas’ soaps are vegan, and have no parabens or other toxins.

This of course, means you need to have a ninth item: a travel shaving brush to whip up the soap.  But that’s an article for another time.

The other option, is if one prefers creams or “cream shaves.”  I have a cream shave that is naturally based, with no toxins, and works perfectly whether one uses a safety razor, or some disposable alternative.

Kent comb

I used to use cheap combs from the supermarket or pharmacy.  And they still are fine, no judging of anyone who does that.  Yet I have found I enjoy Kent combs far better.  There are fewer snags or pulling with these hand sawn combs.  It is hard to describe, but it is a superior feeling to how it grooms one’s hair!

You can have the international touch of ordering directly from Kent in the UK, or simply from Amazon.


Not everyone enjoys product in his hair, but I like the way that my naturally based, non-toxic clay feels and holds my hair in place.  If I use a lot, and when my hair is still wet, I can get the “wet look.”  Or I can use a little less and when the hair is towel dried a bit more, and it just holds well.


Here is where I really stepped up my game.  I have gone from using Aussie (or occasionally other brands) for nearly 30 years, to exclusively using a line of shampoos and products that are nature-based, vegan, and non-toxic.  It’s shocking to find out how many chemicals with links to cancer can be found in a vast number of hair and beauty products.  Mine has none of that.  (And it has a scent from eucalyptus and other clean ingredients that almost makes me think of chocolate chip mint ice cream!) I now refuse to use any other shampoo, than Monat.  My go-to is the “Men’s line” Monat Black Shampoo + Conditioner.

[Full disclosure: my wife and I not only use these hair care products, we give that opportunity to others through network marketing.  Private message us if you are interested in hearing more.]

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Ten Things Needful for Winter Car Travel

december on montroseSo 21 years ago, Kristi and I went on a day trip – in October – from Chicago to central Illinois.  There was a Divine Service at a sister congregation, with a meal and presentation to follow.  We anticipated it to be done by 9:00pm, and to be home before midnight.  Oh!  One more detail…Kristi was three months pregnant.


Again, the Boy Scout thing.  I start putting some water, Hershey bars, sweats, and a blanket in the car.  A funny look came across her face.  “Really?!  Why all of this?  It’s not going to snow or anything!”  (And indeed, the weather forecast was clear.) Oh, and she may have even said, “You’re such a Boy Scout.”


Funny thing, that “Be Prepared.”  That Sunday evening, October 19, 1997, while we were inside the church there was a sudden, wet and heavy snow.  Some power lines had snapped.  Some roads shut down, others were risky.  So the local pastor and his friendly parish became welcoming hosts to a number of overnight guests.


We stayed with a great family, and are grateful for their hospitality.  And guess what?  We didn’t need to sleep in a suit or dress; we had sweats to sleep in.  After a warm and comfortable night, we had roads safe for travel, and returned home.


To this day, while my dear wife may remark “You’re such a Boy Scout!” she says it with appreciation that we are ready for any travel or weather complications.



So what should you potentially include in your winter-time supplies?  Here are my Ten Things Needful:


Either your own refillable, or a case .

Protein bars and other snacks

Make an informed decision about how much protein and how much sugar/carbs you prefer.  I enjoy these Elevation Protein bars from Aldi, which satisfies the chocolate cravings.


Something warm, obviously – not a cute cotton throw.

Gloves/ear clips/hat

Even if you think its warmer when you leave, you never know when the weather will change and you need that protection while clearing snow or scraping ice.

Extra socks

Any fresh, dry pair.  But if your feet get wet in the snow, you’ll be happier with some moisture-wicking socks.


They may not be comfortable to drive in, but they can be in the vehicle as back up.

Ice scraper/Snow brush

An absolute must from October through March in many places!

Change of warm dry clothes

Whatever will keep you warm and comfortable in unforeseen circumstances.


I didn’t have a cell phone yet in 1997, but now it is unthinkable to travel without it.  If others are concerned about your travel, send them updates (while parked!)  Also be sure to let them know when you have returned home.

Charging cords

Of course, you can’t use your phone and not drain the battery.  Your charging cord is a must, with adapters for charging in the car and in a typical wall socket.


car selfie_thanksgiving 2018

This list is not exhaustive.  But it’s meant to be a catalyst for your own list as you “Be Prepared” for winter driving for any distance.  While we should never live in fear of traveling, or worry over “what-if’s,” we should indeed be prepared for anything.  So enjoy some tea or coffee in your favorite chair, in the warmth of your own home, and jot a list of your own, knowing that if anything unexpected would ever arise, you can say, “Hakuna Matata,” and roll with it, since you have your Ten Things Needful, and you are a prepared traveler.


Bon Voyage!

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Comfort in a Cup

Our dear friend and “Fairy Godmother” moved to a small town north of Columbus, Ohio some years ago. She shares our love of tea. Not long after her move, she and her daughter discovered a little cottage where afternoon tea was served.

Now, tea rooms usually have an assortment of loose teas that brew in the pot and are poured through a strainer into your cup. This little shop, however, had a specialty blend – one that we always selected – no need to waste time with the other choices. The Apple Tree Cottage’s special tea was Cinnamon-Vanilla.

Soothing. Calming. A delightfully mellowing way to relax, sipping cinnamon-vanilla tea and tasting some great sandwiches, pastries, and desserts. We had to take some home!

We were pleased to be able to buy some sachets of it, and had shared it with other friends. Emma and Brian were over one evening when we served this delightful hot beverage. That night Emma first called it “comfort in a cup.”

How true! This amazing mixture of sweet and spicy was truly comforting. Yes, comfort in a cup!

A decade has passed already, and the Apple Tree Cottage is no longer open for business.  One cannot purchase this signature blend any longer.  We were quite sad.

But, “Fear not!” as angels would greet you.  Kristi and I have found a great tea hack!  We have enjoyed it with our Fairy Godmother, and we are happy to share it with you.

Tea at the Grand_compressed


Your shopping list is as follows:

Harney & Sons Vanilla Comoro Tea

Torani Cinnamon-Vanilla [Sugar Free] Syrup

Coffee Mate [Sugar Free] Italian Sweet Crème


Steep a pot of the Vanilla Comoro Tea.  I find that one sachet is typically enough for a teapot.

Just a little bit of the syrup in your cup, to taste.  The bottle suggests 2 Tablespoons as a serving; you don’t need anywhere near that.

monat cup



A splash of the Italian Sweet Crème.  Again, the bottle says a Tablespoon is a serving; much less is needed.  Just add to taste.


This particular black tea is decaf.  The combination of the vanilla and cinnamon give a soft, smooth, and soothing experience.  It’s good for any time, but we especially enjoy a cup on winter evenings, close to the fireplace.  Even if you are not a tea-drinker already, give this a try.  I think you will find it to be a great experience, as you find Comfort in a Cup!

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Personal Baggage

Do you recall the opening scene of the film Titanic?  One load after another of great steamer trunks and bags are loaded by porters, as the passengers arrive for embarkation.  That is my dear wife and I.  We often tease that we are Edwardian travelers at heart, and were simply born 75 years too late.


Yes.  My name is Rich, and I am an over-packer.

steamer trunks


Help me to track down the original URL on this photo.  I want to use it with permission, and if it is denied, I will remove the photo promptly.



Having been a Boy Scout, I have two conflicting philosophies when preparing for a trip:

  • Travel “light,” and
  • Be Prepared.

Perhaps because it is the official motto of the Boy Scouts, “Be Prepared” usually wins out in our home, and multiple bags attend us on even the shortest of trips.

So our friends Chad and Cori spent a week in London with their girls, and each person had just his or her carry on and a day bag.  Our friends Tim (a commercial airline pilot) and Carol are a traveling family and consistently do the same. And an ongoing joke has arisen between our friends Chris and Melissa and us, after they backpacked through Europe and later went on a cruise simply with backpacks, while we had checked bags, carry ons, and day bags.  All the while, Kristi and I are laying out clothes for every possible scenario and temperature change, a few pairs of shoes, and continue adding as we consider new “what-if’s.”


This week, I am beginning a journey in my packing philosophy—one that may not be able to happen fully at once, but may brew/ferment/develop into a new way of life with packing, thanks to Samantha Brown and Rick Steves.  After seeing Samantha Brown’s Instagram post about coming to the Travel & Adventure Show in Chicago, I messaged a college buddy and we decided to attend the event.  We heard Samantha Brown present, as well as two different sessions with Rick Steves.


Rick talked a lot about traveling light, and even said on the tours through his company, travelers are not even allowed any checked baggage; it’s a carry on and a day bag for everyone. Period.


His advice continued on how to condense and make that happen.  (More on that in a future post.)  And that’s when it started sinking in.  Going back to the Scouting terminology, to “Be Prepared” doesn’t mean to have the most stuff ready for any situation.  Instead, it’s about knowing how to use the resources and supplies that you have to respond to a given situation.  I don’t have to have multiple pieces of luggage to bring everything I need.  Instead, I can intentionally pack, knowing what is really needed, what can be used in multiple ways, and what (if worse came to worst) I could simply buy at the destination.  Rick even talks about the fun of going into a store and figuring out where and what is the toothpaste!


So the journey is about to begin.  It may be bumpy, trying to figure out what times actually do require more luggage and content, and what times do not.  There may be times when checking a bag feels easier, and I fall off the baggage wagon.  However, this is a new goal, intended to free me up to enjoy the experience even more.


Making this even more enjoyable is my bag itself.  I own a set of Genius Pack bags (a suitcase, carry on, small back pack, and toiletry kit.  I love these bags, and will tell you more about them in the future!  Highly organized, with labeled and zipped pockets, these bags have the 21st century traveler in mind.  They are fantastic, and will make this goal more attainable and enjoyable.


Be prepared? Yes!  But be discriminating (in the proper sense.)  Choose the clothing and supplies you truly need to truly enjoy traveling.  In the end, I’m working on the two mottos merging: Be Prepared and Travel Light!


Bon voyage!

backpacks square

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Useful: A Homily for the Feast of St. Mark

This morning’s chapel service at Concordia University Chicago, on 25 April 2018, the Feast of St. Mark.  The text is the epistle reading for the day, 2 Timothy 4:5-18.



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Will We Run Out? : A Homily on John 2:1-11



Somehow when I posted the interview with KFUO‘s Andy Bates, I did not put the link from that morning’s Matins on “His Time.”  I preached a brief homily on John 2:1-11 — Jesus’ Sign at the Wedding at Cana.


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SEE, We Are Going Up to Jerusalem: A Homily on Luke 18:31-43


Luke 18:31-43


2 March 2014

St. Johns, Chicago, IL


In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


How many times do I have to tell you!? the frustrated parent tells the disobedient child.  Weve been over this before. 


Jesus does not lose His patience, but this is the third time He has plainly told the disciples that He will be handed over, suffer, die, and on the third day rise.  And yet, when it all comes to fulfillment a short time later, they are blown away, not expecting any of it.  Really!?  Seriously, guys!?


The disciples are like everyone else.  They have lost sight of why Jesus has come.  Christ Jesus did not come in the flesh to simply show off with some miracles.  He did not walk the roads of Galilee and Judea simply to be popular.  He was not on His way to Jerusalem to force His way into earthly government and enforce His rule over some geographic empire. 


It is easy for you to lose sight of why Jesus has come too.  At times you focus too much on sound bites and quotes, liking Jesus to fit neatly into some box.  At other times you jump on some bandwagon with other Christians who work for some cause that may be good and helpful to others, yet lacking in a true proclamation of the Gospel of forgiveness.  Still other times you ignore Jesus altogether, and think you can dismiss Him throughout the week, and make up for it next Sunday.  Yes, you have lost your sight.


That is one of the problems, actually, when we sing, Amazing Grace.  The song goes, I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.  The problem is, we go back and forth from blindness to seeing, all the time — even after being brought to faith.


Daily you fall back into various sin and failure.  You become blind once more to our Savior.  Yet Jesus still has compassion.  And just as with Bartimeus, He rescues you and restores your sight, day after day.


Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!  Bartimeus was blessed with the gift of faith.  He had the trouble and struggle of a first century man, challenged with blindness.  Yet even in his darkness, Bartimeus recognized Jesus as the Christ.  Son of David!  King David was promised that he would be the ancestor of the Christ. Son of Davidbecame a proper title, much like the British title Prince of Wales can only refer to the heir who will one day be King. 


Jesus, the Son of David does indeed have mercy on you.  He has mercy on you in being far more than some earthly king.  He is the King of kings, who comes into His glory at the cross.  He wins and secures mercy for you in the blood and water that issue from His holy wounds.  The mercy of Christ, the Son of David, is washed onto you in Baptism, and fed you in His Holy Supper.


Like Bartimeus, like the disciples, you had lost your sight.  But having received His mercy, Jesus blesses you to recover your sight.  “Lord, let me recover my sight.  Jesus responds, Recover your sight.  And you do.


The recovered sight of faith looks, and says with Jesus, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.”  The blindness of sin refuses, and merely looks to Jesus as one option among many; a single part of the crazy “Coexist” bumper sticker mentality. 


Jesus the rabbi.  Jesus the good man who teaches people to love each other.  Jesus the all-powerful, mighty sovereign One.  Yes, Jesus is the almighty One, and great teacher of love.  But that should never be the what you dwell on.  As you focus on these items, you remain blind.


Yet the Holy Spirit has led you to cry out, “Lord, have mercy!” and Christ has opened your eyes, washing them in Baptism, and giving you godly sight.  The Son of David restored the eyes He created in Bartimeus to see, and He restores the eyes of faith that He created in you, to look for Jesus in Jerusalem, in His suffering and death on Calvary. 


Our Savior brings this ultimate truth that will shed light on the subject of salvation.


Dear friends in Christ, you are baptized, and you have received your sight!  Jesus has heard your pleas for mercy, and has lovingly answered them with His abundant grace and love.  And now, you see Jesus, setting His face toward Jerusalem, for you.  You see Jesus, suffering and dying for you.  You see Jesus, rising for you. 


Your dear Lord and Savior is about to usher you into the holy season of Lent, to prepare you for the blessed and amazing Feast of the Resurrection.  And today, before plunging into the depths of that season, he does not raise His voice and use that parental tone, saying, “How many times do I have to tell you?!”  No.  He speaks tenderly, preparing you for the preparation: “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.”   Amen.

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His Time: You Will Never Run Out of Jesus


Listen here to the “sermonette” from the Matins portion of “His Time” on KFUO AM radio on Friday, February 7, 2014.


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His Time: Andy Bates Interviews Me as We Study John 2:1-12

His Time: Andy Bates Interviews Me as We Study John 2:1-12

Last week I was interviewed by Andy Bates on KFUO Radio, on the Treasury of Daily Prayer reading from John 2:1-12. What a fun way to begin that morning!


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Lord, I am Not Worthy: A Homily on Matthew 8:1-13



St. Matthew 8:1-13

3rd Sunday after Epiphany

26 January 2014

St. John’s, Chicago, IL


In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


“Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.”


Pop singer Justin Bieber was arrested this week in Florida for driving under the influence, and then resisting arrest.  The mug shot released to the media shows him with a big smile on his face, totally unrepentant from appearances.  “I am not worthy” seems to be very far from his mind.


In Disney’s Frozen, Princess Anna does not know the truth about her sister’s magic, and so she is simply isolated, and even thinks that she has done something wrong or else her sister wants nothing to do with her.  Anna is made to feel unworthy.


In the crazy 1980’s farce, Wayne’s World, when Wayne and Garth meet a rock star that they have long admired, they start waving their arms, bowing, and exclaiming, “We’re not worthy!”  While this was filmed to be greatly humorous, there is a serious point that escaped the writers.  Perhaps Wayne and Garth were unworthy to be in the presence of the talent they appreciated.  But like everyone else, they were indeed unworthy of our holy and perfect, sinless God.


All these people either are, or feel, unworthy.  What about you?  Do you feel worthy?  Do you keep up such a state of perfection that you are worthy to receive favors from others, let alone the Lord?  If you do, there is terrible news for you: nothing you can ever say or do will make you worthy of that.  Along with every other man, woman, and child, even along with the baby baptized this morning, you have been a poor, miserable, unworthy sinner.


Yet, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!”   Jesus Christ came for you, perfect from before His conception and birth.  Completely worthy of being in the Lord’s presence, as He Himself is the Lord God!  Your worthy Savior became Man for you, and gave Himself  into death, that you might not die eternally.  He rescued you from your unworthiness and suffered, bled, and died for you.  And because He was not deserving of death, death was unworthy of being champion over Him, and had to submit to Jesus and His resurrection!


Although Jesus had not yet suffered and died and risen, the centurion was given faith, and knew that He was the Lord.  The centurion recognized that Christ is the Lord of Life, and at His Word, all things must be as He says.  If Jesus commands it, it must be so.


Like the centurion, you have been given the gift of faith.  Only you are on the other side of Calvary.  The centurion looked forward, not knowing exactly what Christ Jesus would do to redeem us.  You have His Word that declares the fulfilled Gospel, that Jesus has “redeemed [you], a lost and condemned person, purchased and won [you] from sin, death, and the power of the devil.” 


When Jesus laid down His holy, perfect, sinless worthy life for you, He earned your salvation, once and for all.  And now, through His gifts, Christ delivers that salvation to you, and makes you worthy. 


We witnessed worthiness and healing being given this morning, as baby Sophia was given new birth from above.  Yes, she seems innocent enough, but she has the same disease as everyone else: sin.  Tainted by this wretched condition of unworthiness, she needed to be healed.


The Lord declares: “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”  And He gathers each of us to His font, washing each child into new birth, and bestowing a God-given worthiness!  And with that gift of worthiness, He heals you from sin and death.


The Holy Spirit leads you to confess your sin, and the Lord gives His pastors to you to give you absolution.  They speak: “I forgive you in the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit,” and you are healed.  That healing word continues to pour forth from them, healing you throughout your years on this earth.


And then you have the Holy Eucharist — the Lord’s Supper — Holy Communion.  Our friends in the Roman Catholic Church have applied the words of the centurion to our own lives.  As part of their communion liturgy, they pray, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only say the word, and your servant will be healed.”


No one is worthy that Jesus should come under the roof of his or her mouth.  But we come to His Table in faith, knowing that He speaks the word that heals us in body and soul, making us His worthy, forgiven, healed children!


Day after day, week after week, you are renewed and restored by the ongoing forgiveness that was purchased and won at the cross.  You are constantly being made worthy by the forgiving gifts of Jesus, which heal you of your sin.


Thanks be to our loving Lord, who has rescued not only the children of Israel, but all people, and in the faith He gives, has made us worthy!  He has said the word.  You are healed!  Depart in peace.  Amen.

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