September 26, 2004

Theres A What?

Wednesday and Thursday this past week were bad days for me. Let me try to explain. We are adding another computer here at the church. All of the pieces parts were donated or scavaged from older computers that have past their prime. The only three things that were still needed were a monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse. Add to this the fact that I have been itching to buy a flat screen monitor for my desk for some time now. It’s been haunting me for over a year. The church’s need for another monitor seemed like a good excuse to me—or at least it helped squelch my guilt for the moment. So I bought one.

One must understand my shopping prowess that I’ve inherited somewhat from my father. When he buys something, he researches, reads, and price shops for months. I, on the other hand, drive to all the local shops that have what I’m looking for and see who has the best components and the best price. If you do it right, you can price shop from the church to Okemos and shop on your way back in a couple of hours. That is what I did on Wednesday. I came home with a nice 17 inch flat screen monitor that is very bright—a desired feature in flat screen monitors.

However, when I hooked it up that evening, it seemed a little fuzzy. I attributed this to the fact that it was much larger than my last monitor and my eyes were not adjusted to it. To make sure, I went to another store and purchased a second monitor. I planned to keep the one I liked best and return the other.

Now, one would think that buying one flat screen monitor is a dumb enough idea when it is not necessarily a necessity. I would hate to think what purchasing a second one would be considered, probably profound dumbness. Nonetheless, by Thursday afternoon my desk had two flat screen monitors sitting on it. (Just wait, it only gets better)

The decision of which monitor I liked better was an easy choice. My eyes had adjusted to the first one I purchased and I really liked some of the features it had better than monitor number 2. Plus, the second store had sold me the wrong monitor--it was supposed to have silver plastic instead of black plastic. So, I repacked the second monitor and headed back to the store. Keep in mind that I packed it back up the same way it came out. The bags that contained the wires weren’t even opened, because I had already used the wires from the first monitor. There wasn't even tape sealing the box! And off to the store I went to return it.

When I arrived at the store, I turned in my receipt and explained to the gentleman why I wanted to return my purchase. He said no problem, and then informed me of the 15% restocking fee. At that point my two days of purchasing and excitement came to a crashing halt. I was stuck. Had I known there was a restocking fee, I wouldn’t have purchased the second monitor. I really couldn't justify one monitor, let alone two. It was a bad few moments for me. I explained my situation to the manager—how if I had known there was a restocking fee I would have never purchased and how the monitor was still like it was when I purchased it. He wouldn’t budge. So, I left frustrated, angered, and a little bit poorer.

So what’s the point of all this rambling? Well, for one, don’t allow simple desires for something extra ordinary to get to your better judgment. Yeah, my monitor is great and the envy of the computer savvy. But, how did that further God’s kingdom? If anything, it gave me nothing but second guessing, anger, and frustration. Even more, I probably didn’t make the greatest of impressions for Christ while returning the second monitor. That’s what frustrates me the most. Some would say those are little things that you just cannot control. But the little things add up—like a 15% restocking fee.

I wonder what little things Jesus did that had a more grand impact. What impression was left with the little children that he was so eager to spend time with? How did those few moments change their lives? What impact did a meal here and there with those who weren't considered worthy to eat dinner with have? It's amazing how a not so good decision can bring the perspective of life back to where it needs to be.

September 21, 2004

The Blur

What day is it? Where did September go? It seems like only yesterday that summer was here and September was a distant spot in the future. Now, there are only a few weeks to October and fall. This has been the story of my life this year. It has been nothing but a blur.

At the beginning of the year, my ministry transitioned at South Lansing Christian Church. I took over the leadership of the 40 Days of Purpose program that we put on and stepped out of some responsibility with the youth program. Not to long after that, my wife and I had our first child, Hannah Grace.

Add my other ministry responsibilities to those two things and you have a blur. Towards the end of July, I was beginning to settle into everything. The summer traveling and camps were done. Hannah had been through the first round of teething. Life looked promisingly slower. Then, about a month ago, I found out I was shifting back in the thick of things with youth ministry because of finances and whatever other reasons.

It seems like all I've done this year is stop and catch my breath from everything going on. In the process, I realize that I'm not where I expected to be and I jump back into the blur. It has been a tiring existence. Don't get me wrong, it has been joy filled in many spots, but nonetheless, tiring.

There is a benefit to being caught in a blur. It is not as easily seen because of the fear, pain, uncertanty, and speed that are felt, but it is there hiding in the wind and what not blowing about your head. As I have went through the last year, I have come to realize that there is worth in some things, and and not worth in others. There are things to really care about and there are things that can wait a week to get to. I guess it is only logical that in the blur you must know what is important and what is not. I guess for me, my vision has gotten better this year because I've come to realize that there is much worth in such things as leaving unfinished work sit in the office to go home and play with my daughter. The time with her is quickly passing away even though she is only 8 months old. The work will get done the next day or the day after that, but I may not get to catch the joy in her eyes or the giggles she has today unless I am there. And, when I am in the office, or doing whatever it is that I do, I believe I'm more diligent just because the less time I spend there, the more time I spend with the things that I find more worth in.