July 24, 2006

Buttons and Belts

Why is it that buttons fall off at the most inopportune times? I was in the bathroom at the mall the other day, doing what you do in a bathroom, when the button on my shorts popped off. This wouldn't have been a problem if I had remembered to put on a belt that morning. However, I had not. When I was done with my business, I zipped, washed, and headed out the door, praying that the zipper would stay in place and keep my shorts in the appropriate place. Unfortunately, it did not hold. Now, I know what you are thinking. Stop it. I did not fully lose my shorts to gravity. It was close, though. I spent the rest of our time in the mall with my hands in my pockets, holding up my shorts.

Life is like that sometimes. When you least expect it, something bad happens and makes everything even worse. It would be really easy to cower into a corner and give up. Some will choose this solution. Others will get mad at the situation and lash out. Yet others will decide to improvise and troubleshoot what has happened to make the best out of the situation. This is the hard road in my opinion. Though, it is the road that I seem to be walking lately--the road that I have not chosen. I do not feel like I get to make my own decisions right now. The only option I have is to react to what has already happened and make the most of it. That is not always a good feeling. It is definitely not freeing.

Tenacity is a word I learned at 8th grade basketball camp. One of the coaches there used it to describe how one should play defense. He was the most intense of all the coaches that week. He was the hardest of all the coaches. We dreaded drill time with him. But, thinking back, he was the one that I remember. I can still hear him screaming in my head, “butt to the baseline!"

When the road we walk becomes tough, we need to become tenacious with how we live. This is especially true for those who claim faith in the most High. Faith is nothing if it does not include anything more than mere thoughts. It is nothing if it is not lived out tenaciously when things get hard, even if it gets too hard to handle and your only option is to react. That is when the want to be faithful, to live out kingdom ways needs to take over. There needs to be a deep resolve to live out the fruit of the Spirit and not become worldly with our actions. We need to lay aside the thoughts of revenge, anger, and giving up and be the people that God has called us to be--those who are called by his name because they are holy--set apart and different.

Paul tells us that we need to cloth ourselves in the armor of light in Romans 13. In Ephesians 6, its the armor of God. Interestingly, the first part of that armor is the belt of truth.

"Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist. . ."

Ironically (to me anyway), I was wearing a pair of the new shorts I bought on the aforementioned shopping trip today. When I went to the bathroom, the button on them fell off. Brand new, yet already broken. And to think, I almost didn't wear a belt today because they were new.

Be ready for anything and make the most of what God puts before you!

July 18, 2006


Thirteen years ago today, Steph and I returned from a trip to Toronto, Canada with friends from our church college group to see The Phantom of the Opera at Pantages Theatre and to visit Niagra Falls. It was a great trip with many highlights, like running through the parking deck in our formal attire because we were late in getting to the opera. The night of the opera she wore a red, polka dot dress. I remember it as if it were yesterday. She was stunning!

That night we went out to Chilis, which is her favorite restaurant. If I remember right, we both had burgers, and of course, chips, salsa, and skillet queso. After dinner, we drove to the church we grew up at, and I proposed to her in my powder blue Ford Escort under the carport of the church. I was going to propose to her at Niagra Falls. I had the ring in my pocket, ready to go, but it wasn't right. It was too public. She knew it was coming, and didn't want it to happen there.

Now, some might say that proposing in a powder blue Escort under a carport is not romantic. Yet, for us, it was perfect. We grew up at that church. We played in the nursery together, though we don't really remember it. We were in church plays together there. I sang in the choir beside her father. It was the center of our connection.

That night she agreed to be my wife. My love for her was strong then, though it was a different kind of love that I have for her now. It was a young love, steeped in infatuation and innocence. And, from that moment on, I've been learning about her and loving her more as every day passes. We've come a long way from that quiet night in my car. It has not always been perfect. It has not always been easy. At times, it was downright horrible and painful. Even in those times, love has carried us through.

My love for my wife is the deepest ever right now. She has not always been perfect. Neither have I. Yet, we've always committed to doing our best to right wrongs and show love as best we can. She's given me the most beautiful daughter anyone could ever want. And, as I have watched her be a mother to Hannah, my love for her has multiplied many times over.

Babydoll, thank you for your presence in my life. Thank you for the last thirteen plus years of friendship. Thank you for staying beside me in this journey that we are on, even during the hard times. Thank you for seeing through my inadequacies and loving me anyway. I have done my best to do the same. Thank you for being the mother that you are to our daughter and for loving her the way you do. You are still stunning to me, even though you don't think it at times. You will always be stunning to me. I thank God every day for you and pray that he would continue to give us love, life, and hope. I promise to continue to cherish and love you in every way possible for as long as I live.

July 3, 2006


My back yard is full of groundhogs. That's what happens when you live on what used to be a farm. They used to live out in the field to the north of the farmhouse I live in, but they were ran out of town by our church building. It's been fun watching the baby groundhogs run around the back yard from year to year.

The only real run in I've ever had was last summer. One of the babies was up close to the house one day when Steph, Hannah, and I came home one afternoon. Me, being the guy that I am, decided to take off and chase it, to introduce it to the greater of God's creation called man. However, the little furball rodent had not learned to fear the greater creation and quickly turned and charged me. This wouldn't have been a problem had I been wearing real shoes; I would have punted him into next week. However, I was wearing flip flops because it was summer. Naked toes and sharp teeth don't go together in my paradigm of life, so I did what any 270 pound man would do--turned and ran like a little girl. My wife still giggles about it.

On Saturday, we piled into the car to take Hannah to Fast Track (our hospital's version of a walk in clinic) because of some minor health issues. I go to start the car and nothing happens. Mind you, the car has been sitting for a week while we were at CIY, and worked well the last time I drove it. Needless to say, I was frustrated. My daughter was sick, my car didn't work. It wasn't a good day. Later that afternoon I made a few phone calls to those who are more car repair oriented than me and came to the conclusion that either my starter was bad or that some of the extra electronic gizmos they put on your cars was not working. I knew it was way beyond my expertise, so I pushed my car out of it's normal spot in my driveway so the tow truck to take it away on Monday.

Sunday rolls around and one of the before mentioned car repair oriented peoples stops by to take a look. As we are looking under the hood, I see this foot behind the engine. It is attached to a hairy, furballish body. I quickly grabbed a stick and began poking and prodding at it to get it out of my engine. Why an animal that God created to live in the ground decided to crawl up into my engine compartment is beyond me. But he was there. I figured that the car was closer to his turf than its place in the driveway. He was just exploring. He left after awhile, once we stepped away from the car.

Now, I know what you are thinking. The car doesn't start, maybe the little furball chewed threw something. I thought that too, as did my wife. Yet, when I looked behind the engine compartment, there didn't seem to be any wires that he could chew on. Plus, I figured he was just crawling up in there because he was young and fearless (remembering back to my earlier encounter with one of his brothers/uncles).

This leads to this morning. Before the tow company came to pick up my car, I saw the furball and one of his siblings playing in my front yard. As I tried to scare them, one ran under the car. While this frustrated me, I didn't want the little guy to take a scary ride to the auto dealership. So I popped the hood and promptly gave him a few more good whacks with the stick, which sent him scurrying for the safety of his hole in the ground. Hopefully he has learned his lesson.

About an hour ago, I got a call from the car dealership. It seems that my little engine stowaway chewed through a wire harness or something to that effect. It's going to cost me $275 with the tow to get my car back up and running.

It's going to be a bad week for groundhogs. . .