December 20, 2008

Only in Michigan

Today, my girls and I went out for a little Christmas shopping. That's what happens when you take forever to make decisions about what it is you are going to buy for people. It was an adventure, let me tell you. It started out with trying to get out of my driveway. Since moving, we aren't blessed to live on a major road that gets plowed first. Now we live on a culdsac. That means, it must snow 100 feet before they will come and plow our road, and even then they'll wait till they have plowed everyone else's and save ours for last. It took us a few moments to bounce from one rut to the next and a lot of snow pushing by the front of my car before we got out our subdivision.

The crowds weren't too bad as we shopped until you got to the checkout counters. Then there were lines. Luckily, we were able to navigate to the shortest line and keep our shopping pain down. The funniest part to me was at Walmart. As we were standing in line I looked over to my left. There were at least 5 people in camo in line. Only in MI will you see more camo in the checkout lines at Walmart during Christmas than other shoppers. Only in MI. . .

Below is one of the cartoons I read today. It won't be funny to most of you I would guess. The kid in the picture had to be from MI.

December 18, 2008

A Widget Test

I found a new widget for my mac today. It allows me to post to my blog from my dashboard without logging in. I'm testing it out right now.

Widgets are interesting things. They make my life easier, always being there in the top right hand corner of my desktop, keeping me posted on my calendar, the weather, and my gmail.

It would be nice if this worked. I doubt it will though, because it won't put the right font in the right size, and it will put and extra space between the last part of my post and the comments line.

I know, I have issues. I have a lot of issues. Everything has to be just the way it has to be. That's why I'm looking forward to rearranging my office over the holidays. . .

You see, my office has been the same setup for a year. Its time for a change. I thought about rearranging about a month ago and it has been haunting me ever since. Lucky for me I have a little disipline to actually do my work. Otherwise, I would have already moved things around.

Ok. I think it's time for bed. Enough rambling and testing.

December 1, 2008

Snow Goons and the Grinch

Well. Tonight Hannah and I got to play in the first good snow of the season. It was a lot of fun. There's nothing better than hearing a 5 year old screaming and giggling in delight as she is pelted by snow balls. It never gets old to her. She would still be out there if I would have let her stay out. It was good snow too--the kind that crunches under you when you walk on it. It was perfect snow ball snow. Unfortunately, it wasn't good snowman snow. I could get it to roll up a little, but then when you went to pack it, it would shatter into chunks. So, rather than a nice big, perfect looking snowman in our footprint littered front lawn, we have a short, stubbing looking snow goon. He looks like one of the creatures that Calvin and Hobbes would make.

Now, after some hot chocolate and some Earl Gray Tea, I'm journaling and blogging while my girls snuggle in the living room and watch the Grinch. Tomorrow we may put up the tree. Well, Steph and Hannah will put up the tree. I may help with the lights if they frustrate my wife, but I stay out of the way of everything else. I'll snuggle into the couch with my granny blanket, marvel at my girls putting the tree up, and throw in White Christmas to fill in the gaps. It will be a great evening as it always is every year.

I hope and pray your Christmas preparations are bringing you much joy!

November 17, 2008

Fusion, Secular Songs, the Mall, and Rhoda

I know. That's a great title, isn't it? That's what happens when you don't blog for a long period of time. You'll understand my randomness in a minute, I hope.

It seems that my life is always a busy, blurry mess. Part of that is my doing. I work the best when I have a million things going on around. me. I can remember times when I was at GLCC back in the 90s. I would have all kinds of school projects, rehearsals for madrigals, and so on going on around me. I would stay up late and get up early to try and take care of it all. . . and I think I did a good job. While its not fun sometimes, my personality seems to thrive in that environment. Part of the busy, blurry mess is not necessarily my fault, though. Ever since I came to South, my job description has spanned at least two or three ministries. It was worship and youth to start. Then it became worship and discipleship. Now, its worship, discipleship, and a little bit of admin/support. Granted, since my personality seems to like that overloaded sense of security, I'm sure I take on too much. It's a sick and twisted existence I live.

One of the things that has added to my busy-ness over the last few months has been Fusion. Fusion is a youth conference that GLCC puts on. It used to be Breakaway, for those of you older, "I remember that", readers. Revel on Sunday, the worship band that I'm in, was priviledged to lead worship for the conference this year. It was our first really big gig as Revel on Sunday. So, we put in a lot of work to be ready for it. It was a blast to lead for teens in that type of a venue. And, it makes us look forward to Statewide at the end of Feb, where we get to lead worship for 800 teens. That is going to be incredible!

Since Fusion, my mind has been on Christmas. I know, everyone is playing Christmas music now and people are putting up their decorations. My focus on Christmas is not about any of that, especially since we have a rule at my house to not play Christmas music till AFTER Thanksgiving. Rather, my focus on Christmas has been from a planning standpoint. Next week I will head off to a personal retreat with a few friends where we encourage one another in ministry, catch up on ministry projects that have gotten put on the back burner, and if there is time, dream about what we should be doing in our ministries. In ministry, to go away means you have to work extra hard to get ready to go--planning ahead, and working extra hard when you come back--to catch up from being gone. So, I've been trying to get way ahead in my worship planning so being gone is not so painful. Thus, my mind has been thinking through Christmas carols and what not. If all goes well, by the end of the week, worship will be planned through Christmas eve, and I'll be able to begin to focus on other things. We'll see how this week goes.

Speaking of this week, I'm wondering what types of comments I'll get, if any, about yesterday's worship service. Yesterday, Chad Cronin, our youth minister, spoke for the first time on the "out of the ordinary life". His text was John 10:10. As a lead into his message, he requested I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by U2. It is the first time I've used a secular song in worship here at South. I'm not opposed to using the "secular" in worship. We've used multiple video clips to illustrate the messages. Really, that's all we did--and I think my team pulled it off rather well.

Now to the mall. I'm currently sitting in the Panera Bread/Cafe in the Lansing Mall. I had to go to GLCC this morning for a few things so, rather than going into the office then having to drive across town, I came to Panera for a few hours before I hit GLCC. Panera has good coffee, bagels, and free internet! What more do you need? While I've been sitting here, I've been amazed at the scads of retired people at the mall. Now, I know that the mall is the "place to walk". But, Panera is full of retired people this morning. There's a group over in the corner talking about GM, how it got into the trouble it's gotten in and so on. There's another group to my left that are talking about gold, bonds, and their accountants. Every once in awhile, you'll hear a comment like, "They are gone to Branson, MO for awhile." It got so bad I had to break out my headphones. Now, as a song finishes up, it fades into the musac playing in the background and all the hustle and bustle of the crowd. Its been fun to watch younger people like me walk through the door and look apprehensive because of the age of the room.

Now to Rhoda. My friend Eric recommended a book called 11 to me a month ago. In it, Leonard Sweet talks about 11 different biblical relationships we should have in our lives and that we should be to others. One of those characters is Rhoda, a servant girl who is mentioned in Acts 12. With Rhoda, he says we need someone who is young and has life in our lives. Someone who inspires us by their vigor for life. For me, Rhoda is my daughter Hannah Grace. She is a pure joy, probably one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me. Any of you who have spent time with her will understand what I'm talking about. I know, that comes off very prideful and braggy. That's not what I mean at all. I am prideful and braggy with her, for sure. But, there's something about her that draws people in and brings them joy.

For example, I am always blessed to have Hannah Grace and my wife Steph along with me as I go and do ministry. Every year they go with me to camp, Statewide, and so on. Hannah gets to interact with the "big kids" and be there beside us as we minister. So, this past week when we were at Fusion, she had a whole group of high school students hanging out with her. During worship they had a dance party, which she tried to turn into an imaginary snowball fight. Needless to say, momma had to step in and break it up. Who would have thought that a little, crazy almost 5 year old girl could have a following?

The thing I love most about Hannah Grace right now is the fact that she wears her emotions on her sleeve. She is hardwired into what is going on around her. Whether she's not getting her way and pouting about it, having a blast playing with the simplest of things like ripped up cardboard, or sitting on the couch crying because a show is having a sad moment, she's engaged with everything she is. She's listening, watching, interacting, and reacting. She hasn't been incapacitated by the need to wall off the world like most of us have been. She wants to listen, watch, touch, talk to, and dance with everyone and everything, even if its something sad. There is so much we have yet to learn in life, even if it is from an almost 5 year old.

Ok. I think I'm done rambling now. . .

October 22, 2008

Raining Leaves and Frostbite

Fall is my favorite time of the year. I love the brisk mornings, the almost warm afternoons, and the cold evenings. I love the smell of the cold. I love the colors of the leaves. I love cider and snuggling under blankets. I love flannel pants and slippers. I love having the excuse of it being cold outside to drink coffee all day long!

This morning when I left the house, it was around 28 degrees. It was cold and frosty. When I shut the door, my attention was drawn away from heading to the car by a sound I don't think I've really ever heard, or at least noticed. Our house tucks up against some woods. In the spring and summer that is bad news. It makes a nice haven for the mosquitoes, which are insufferable. Over the last few weeks, they have turned beautiful golds, browns, and reds. it is great. But, this morning, the leaves were raining down. The cold frost had encouraged the leaves over night to give up their lofty place and come to earth. In the process of their descent, they were bumping into everything and creating quite a noise. It was not deafening, but it was certainly noticeable enough to capture my sleepy, un-coffee'd attention.

While fall and the cold brings me much joy and peace, it does however cause much trouble inside. When the weather turns cold, most run to the thermostat and crank on the heat--one of my friends mentioned today that his house was a balmy 72 degrees today (to his defense, his mother was staying with him for a few days). That's not our house. My wife, otherwise known as the heat miser, always makes an attempt to not turn the heat on before November 1st. We have a few friends who also try to do this--in an attempt to save some heating dollars for later on in the year when it's actually really cold here in MI. One of their rules is that they don't turn their heat on till the shampoo freezes. I secretly think my wife waits as long as she can because she hates the smell of the furnace running the first few times as it burns off all the dust and junk from sitting idle for months.

Sometimes October treats us well, sometimes not. This has been a not year. This morning when I got up it was 52 degrees in the house. Its a great sleeping temperature. You put on the flannel pants, a sweatshirt, and dive under a load of covers, one hopefully being a granny quilt. Its great! However, as I sit here at the dining room table blogging and working, I can't feel the tip of my nose and my legs have that hot but cold feeling. You know, the feeling you have when you come in out of the cold and you just barely start to warm up. I think my hot tea even has ice in it now. You can feel the cold in the air. Its just not right.

They are calling for highs in the 40s by the end of the week. I don't think we're going to make it till November 1st.

October 11, 2008


Tonight the band I'm in, Revel on Sunday, played at Visions Night Club tonight. Visions is a Christian night club on the north side of town. It's a great venue for worship and concerts, and a great place to hang out. It's been around for awhile. We've played there twice now.

Tonight Mike Thompson, the owner/leader of the place, spoke about collisions. The idea was, how do you have a head on collision with God? How are you putting yourself in God's path and running at him full force. The story he told to go along with this idea was about when he felt God calling him to walk to Visions from his house--13 miles. He talked about trying to talk himself out of it and how he really fought the idea, like we normally do with God. But, after giving in and walking in the rain, he shared about the focus he had from the experience and the challenge that it has been to his spiritual life.

It really got me thinking, not that it takes much. Where am I getting in a collision with God? Being in ministry, spirituality is what you do. That sometimes becomes an excuse for not doing this or that in my life. Even beyond that, where is my life totally missing with God? Those are good questions to chew on for awhile.

The other thing on my mind is how to get more people to Visions. It's a great place. Not a great location, but who cares about driving to the north side of town for a great place? Yet, on a night like tonight there were 10 or so people there. God is bringing who he wants, but what if...

Time for bed. Goodnight!

October 8, 2008

Atlas of the Real World

In my quick afternoon peak at the headlines on my yahoo page, I came across a new book called The Atlas of the Real World. It isn't your normal atlas. Rather than normal geographical maps, this atlas re-sizes each country in regards to different demographics like the amount of nuclear warheads or how many of its people were on the internet in 1990. The most intriguing to me were these two maps:

People who live on $2
or less per day.

People who live on $200 or more per day.

This should make us hurt. Does it?

Go here for more on the atlas.


I guess that one could say our nation at the moment is unsettled. We haven't been for some time. We're really in a downward spiral grappling for just about anything to slow us and stop the plummet. It's a scary time, espcially with an election in less than 1 month where, in my opinion, we're voting for the lesser of two evils.

But politics is not the point of this blog.

Within the church I serve, there are normally some ups and downs. That happens when you work with people. There seems to be a bit more wavering with people shifting from here to there, called by other jobs, better opportunities, struggling with life, and so on around here though. And so, we sit here scratching our heads, wondering if and when it will turn around.

I think the better mindset we can grasp comes from knowing that our God is still in control. That's a scary thing to lean on sometimes, but it is something to lean on. Probably, we should do more than just lean, though. We should be grasping and grabbing with everything we can, holding on for dear life. Granted, this should be a daily thing, not only when things are unsettled.

Psalm 33:16-22

No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.

A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all it's great strength it cannot save.

But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

We Wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts rejoice,

for we trust in his holy name.

May your unfailing love be with us, LORD,

even as we put our hope in you.

October 5, 2008

Camping Out

Tonight is a special night. It's the night that I go to Great Lakes and camp out for Madrigal tickets. I'm actually here right now in the student mall. What memories it brings back.

Madrigals is a dinner drama that Great Lakes puts on every year at a church downtown here in Lansing. There's a full 4 course meal, a Shakespearean drama written by the English prof, and an a capella conert by a 12 voice choral group. It is a great evening.

Camping out has been a tradition for some time now. I used to camp out every year. It was a tradition that my roommate from GLCC, Matt Fallott, and I began in 1993. Sure, there were others that camped out before us like the old guy in his lawnchair, but it was our tradition. We camped out our entire time at GLCC. When I moved back to Lansing after seminary, it was a given that on the first Sunday in October, I was camping out, no matter what.

The last two years I cheated, though. I didn't feel like camping out. So, I would pay a student to do my dirty work and get my tickets. It just wasn't the same, but it worked. Unfortunately, she graduated last year. So here I am, out in my own lawn chair at the front door of the college, typing a post.

Sitting here makes me nastalgic. I can't keep my mind from running back over all the different camp out times. I can't keep my mind from thinking about my time in Madrigals while at GLCC--about how it would really set my mind on the Christmas season. I can't help think about the friendships that I built during those times in rehearsals.

Unfortunately, I'm the old creepy guy in the chair now. Great.

September 8, 2008


In my lifetime I've owned a few vehicles. My first car was a 1986 powder blue Ford Escort. It was as cool as it could have been being powder blue. The sunroof helped it have some cool points. The 4 speed on the floor was good too, though it caused the tires to wear out too often because I was always being cool, popping the clutch and squealing the tires. Man was I cool back then. I bought the Escort when I graduated high school with the help of my grandmother and father. It lasted all the way to 2000, when I drove it to the junkyard and got $25 cash.

Even though I owned that car for 10 years, I never really became emotionally attached. Some people do that. They become attached enough to give their vehicle a name. For example, one of the students in the college age group I worked with in Tennessee named his truck "The Shagnasty". It was his pride and joy. It was the quintessential redneck truck, complete with a confederate flag. That's not me.

About 5 years ago, I purchased a 1991 Ford F150 Supercab truck from some guys who went to my church. They had been given the truck as a band vehicle. They were looking for some cash to pay for some recording studio time, I was looking for a good second vehicle. It was a win, win situation.

What I did not know was that the truck came with a name. As I continued to spend time with the guys from the band, I learned that one of them, Tim, grew up with the truck and had named it Mobius. He would refer to it as Mobius periodically, but I never did. However, as I spent time with the truck, putting in a new stereo, working on it periodically, and so on, I began to understand why she was named. She is a great truck. She has been a reliable truck--150,000 miles reliable. She has some quirks, like pushing the clutch through the floor to get her started, which makes her even more special. She's not pretty. She's scarred by rust, scrapes, a little battle wound here or there. But, that gives her character. I know, I'm a mess.

So, when the time came for license plates this past month, I splurged on her and got a personalized plate. It looks great on the truck, and gives her more personality, don't you think?

Interestingly, Mobius has been sick for awhile. The shifter on the transmission has been acting up. You have to go to fifth, then first when starting out the first time or two so you can get from second to third. Its slightly annoying, but it works. Also, the window in the driver's side doesn't go up. You have to be careful not to put it down all the way so you can grab a hold of it and help it back up. The latest happened yesterday. When I pulled into the church parking lot at 6:00am and parked, Mobius would not shut off. The key switch would turn, but wouldn't dis-engage the ingnition switch. Either the actuator or the switch itself is finally worn out. Not a good thing, in my opinion, not being able to shut off or start your truck. I ended up stalling it out and unhooked the battery cable to make sure it didn't kill my battery.

Needless to say, Mobius got an unwanted tow to the local repair shop this morning. Hopefully they will give her a little love and she'll live for a another day. Pray that she comes home better than before!

On a side note: To anyone who has borrowed Mobius over the last 5 years, I'll be taking donations for her repairs so she can continue to be a good Mobius for friends and family.

August 25, 2008

Don't Like Each Other . . .

This is a joke I received in an email last week. I thought it was humorous!


A plane leaves Los Angeles airport under the control of a Jewish captain. His copilot is Chinese. It's the first time they've flown together, and an awkward silence between the two seems to indicate
a mutual dislike.

Once they reach cruising altitude, the Jewish captainactivates the Auto-pilot, leans back in his seat, and mutters, 'I don't like Chinese.'

'No rike Chinese?' asks the copilot, '....why not?'

'You people bombed Pearl Harbor , that's why!'

'No, no,' the co-pilot protests, 'Chinese not bomb Peahl Hahbah!
That Japanese, not Chinese.'

'Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese... doesn't matter, you're all alike!'

There's a few minutes of silence.

'I no rike Jews either!' the copilot suddenly announces.

'Oh yeah, why not?' asks the captain.

'Jews sink Titanic.'

'What? That's insane! Jews didn't sink the Titanic!' exclaims
the Captain, 'It was an iceberg!'

'Iceberg, Goldberg, Greenberg, Rosenberg ,
mattah... all same!'

August 5, 2008

Brother's Keeper

Last week my life was consumed with making a video for the end of Frank's sermon. His text for the day was the story of Cain and Abel. His illustration throughout was the mirror window principle, which has its origin from the book Good To Great by Jim Collins (a must read in my opinion). The idea is that when bad happens, we should look at ourselves in the mirror and do some self evaluation. The opposite would be looking through the window at others in the situation and putting the blame/issue on them. This is what Cain did with his brother. Rather than deal with the fact that he brought a poor offering--that his issue was between him and God, he got jealous of his brother and killed him. When good things happen, we look through window, giving others some responsibility, grace, and what not for allowing the good to happen. We see this all throughout the life of Joseph at the end of Genesis.

To close his sermon, Frank talked about us being our Brother's Keeper, at which point, we showed the video I built with the background music being Brother's Keeper by Rich Mullins.

But that's not the point of this post. As I was scouring the internet for images to put with the brilliant words of Rich Mullins, I came upon this flickr photostream of a guy who found healing from his wife's death by spending time with the homeless. I was so moved by his pictures and by his story, because they were so good, that there are three or four in the video. You should go read his story and then look at his amazing images.

Oh, here's my interpretation of Brother's Keeper (its 21megs--if you have a slow connection you may be waiting awhile)

One note on the video. . . those of you who aren't a part of South won't get the last image. This past February, our church collected peanut butter for Northwest Haiti Christian Mission. It became a huge thing--other staff vs senior minister. We collected over 5,000 jars of peanut butter--4 tons worth. That was a huge learning moment for us as we become our Brother's Keeper.

May you be your Brother's Keeper today.

July 27, 2008

The Cool of Evening

Its been a good day. We got up, had some brunch, and worked on the house. I got more trim done. I was supposed to go to the steam show in Mason, but did not make it. I'll hopefully pop in their tomorrow to take in some nostalgic coal smell and ash as I take in the old time tractors and steam engines. It will bring back memories of my earlier days when I used to go with our family neighbor Calvin to the Steam Show in Dover, OH. Those were the days of helping grind corn at the stone mill, messing with the Ford 8N tractor, and so on. Here is a pic of Calvin and his wife, Berince, (Couple on the left) with Calvin's brother and his wife.

Calvin was like a grandfather to me. He and Bernice lived just up the road from when I was growing up. I used to mow his lawn. My family would help him bale hay, shuck corn (yes, I said shuck corn), and so on, along with feeding his cows when they were away on vacation. Any time we had something break, we'd take it up to Calvin's for a little welding job or what have you. It was the old days then. We'd help out when he needed our younger energies and in return, he'd plow our garden in the spring and our driveway in the winter. And, he'd always give us apple butter when they made some or meat when they would butcher a cow. We always got the liver--Calvin hated liver. Helping Calvin also gave us free reign on his sledding hill. It was a great hill. It set just right so that the snow would drift over the top 15 feet or so. You could make great tunnels and so on in the snow. It also gave us extra resources for the sled jumps we would build. It's a wonder I didn't end up paralyzed.

Two of my fondest memories of Calvin both involve animals. In addition to raising cows, Calvin and Bernice would get chickens from time to time. He'd build a pen in his garage, complete with heat lamps for the newly hatched chicks. As they grew, they'd move outside to a bigger pen. When they were fully grown, they would butcher them. Calvin was proud and boastful of some contraption he had made that would behead a chicken with "control". I say "control", because if you've ever butchered chickens, they are hardly easy to control, both with their heads and without. He would always let one go after whacking it to laugh and watch it run around the yard for awhile. Remember, it was the old days, back when you did such things and it was normal.

The other memory involves evenings under Calvin's pavilion. Every night after a hard days work of whatever, Calvin and Bernice would take their place on the swing under the pavilion. Sometimes there was lemonade, sometimes bread and apple butter. Every couple of days or so, my family would walk up to their place and relax in the cool of the evening. It was always a great time. In the spring and early summer, Calvin would watch for groundhogs in his field while they relaxed. If one was dumb enough to come out of the ground, Calvin would head inside for his gun. Within minutes, there would be a huge crack of the gun and more often than not, another dead groundhog to bury. Calvin took pride in being able to shoot a groundhog at probably 200 or more yards with his 22-250 rifle.

Calvin taught me a lot about doing things right. He helped me begin to learn about having honor and an ethic that was inherit in men and women of his era. He taught me about doing hard work and learning to enjoy it--about doing what needed to be done so you could sit under the pavilion and take in the coolness of the evening. He taught us about caring for your neighbor.

When I started this post, I was simply going to talk about being able to sit by the front window in my living room and listen to the bugs of the night and feel the coolness of the air coming in the window. That was over an hour ago. Since then, I've spent time reminiscing about the steam show
and even greater, my time as an early teen back home in East Canton. I sometimes really forget how much my childhood and teen years really shaped me. Sometimes I get caught up in the learning I've done and what experiences God has given me to put me where I am. Then, to keep me grounded, I somehow always come across something that takes me back to then, when life was much simpler and slower. Sometimes its the call of a redwing blackbird or the chirp of a spring peeper. Sometimes its the flicker of a lightning bug or the taste of good, homemade jam. Tomorrow, lord willing, it will be the smell of coal and wood smoke and the chug, chug, chug of a steam engine hard at work.

July 14, 2008


Currently I'm sitting backstage at Rock Lake Christian Assembly. It's the first morning of camp. I've been up for awhile now, drinking coffee, journaling, and preparing for the day. It's going to be a great day in God's presence here. We're talking about our place with God in worship--that he is creator/savior and that we are created/saved. With this perspective about God in the right place, everything else becomes clearer to me. Its like having the right glasses on to see 20/20.

Camp is always a good time for me. It encourages my soul and hope in God because I get to see students and fellow ministry partners step away from the normalcy of life and reflect on God for a week. Amazing things happen when we step away from life and chew on God for any amount of time. This week will be a little different. My friend Eric isn't here. He's off with another group of students at Wolverine Christian Camp. Eric and I have been doing this camp thing every summer together since the summer of 1994. We've learned to read one another, to feed on one another, to do ministry together like a married couple, which at times is amazing, and other times comical.

This week is going to be like wearing a new pair of shoes. They'll get the job done and it will be fine. It just won't be the same as the old sneakers that are formed and shaped to my feet, that have been with me every step of the way. God will fill in the gap, I'm sure. It just won't be the same.

Be in prayer for Eric and his crew at Wolverine, along with the high school weeks of camp at Michiana and Lake James Christian Assembly. We're all ministering to high school students this week. It's a great privilege and a huge challenge. Help us to be confident and bold for God. Pray that God fills in our many gaps and deficiencies as we serve.

July 8, 2008

The Kitchen Table

Right now Hannah and I are sitting at the kitchen table. Steph is sweeping the living room floor--something she thoroughly loves to do. I'm catching up on some email and updating you all about my mom. Hannah's playing with my tea accessories. You know, tea balls to brew loose leaf tea, scoops, and a Maple leaf shaped tea strainer with a stand. I know, I'm a coffee snob and a tea snob. It happens. I'm a guitar snob too. That's not the point of this post, however.

It seems that my tea balls have pulled up to a drive through (the scoop thing) and they are ordering a zipple ipple triple scooper thing. Now they are getting the dipple, dipple things. There's nothing like the high pitched play voice of my little daughter. Now they are getting camper dampers. Amazing. I wish I had time to secretly record this and post it for you. Some day, maybe.

My mom, for those of you that have been keeping us, is doing well. She's been to the doctor for bloodwork and her diabetes. It seems that her sugar, because of the meds she's on and all the stress her body has had lately, won't go down between 300. She started on insulin shots today. Hopefully she won't be on those too long.

Thank you for all the prayers the past week. My mom thanks you deeply and she asks that you continue to pray. She also is singing the praises of my father, the super nurse. Now, if you knew my father, you would chuckle at that and say, "Not Junior." You see, my dad is an old school guy. he was up at the crack of dawn and out to the factory for more than 40 years of life. He worked hard so we had a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs. He endured plant closings, stolen retirements because of corporate decisions, and much hard work that has worn on his body. He's the man that is as tough as nails when it comes to anything, holding back emotion because that is what you did back then. You would never picture him crawling up on the bed, looking tenderly into my mom's pained face, and asking how she's doing.

As one of his sons, its beautiful and humorous at the same time. Beautiful to see the love that we always knew was inside coming out in raging forms. Humorous in watching him try as hard as he can, sometimes bumbling along the way.

It is a beautiful thing to see those you love, loving on and caring for one another like God has called us to do. It brings new perspectives to love one another and put others needs before your own. Its things I know and live out, but because of watching my father and my mother, I'm going to try even harder to embody and live out.

Love is a beautiful thing when lived out to its fullest. . .

July 2, 2008

Answered Prayer

Thank you for all your prayers today. My mom went in at 2:45pm to get her heart shocked back into the right rhythm. On the way in, or once they got in the room, it reset itself without any electric. She said she began to feel better almost instantly.

She'll be in the hospital a few more days as they make sure all the issues are calmed down. Please pray that we are on the downhill side of this.

Thanks for all your prayers. Unfortunately, we hold prayer there as something we lean on when we need it. Or, we're too prideful to ask for others to pray. If we would just be like little children--helpless, in need, AND not afraid to ask for it. Why are we so dumb sometimes? Oh wait, we are humans.

Update on My Mom

My mom, May, is still in the hospital. As her body has dealt with the 3 types of mono, which turns into viral hepatitis, and the bronchitis, mom's heart is now being attacked. Its not working as well as it should, and it is out of rhythm. I would guess that they will shock it or treat her with meds to get it back in rhythm. In the meantime, her heart is racing all the time and its causing her much stress and fear.

Please pray that she has peace today. Peace and rest so she can heal and get better.

Thank you for all your prayers so far.

UPDATE: They are shocking her heart at 2:45pm this afternoon.

June 30, 2008

Pray For My Mom, Please

My mom has been admitted to the hospital again. She was in a few days ago with bronchitis and so on. They discovered that she has not one, but all three types of mono, plus the bronchitis. And, now she has fluid in her lungs. They've put her on meds and are calling in the cardiologist.

If you knew my mom, or my family for that matter, you would know that going into the hospital is something that doesn't happen often at all. Only when you are really, really, really sick.

Please pray for her healing. Please pray that her siblings will rally around her the next day or two as they deal with the fluid in her lungs. Pray for my father, that he will care for my mom the next month or two as she rests and deals with the mono. (That will be a challenging thing for my father). Pray that my siblings are a support. We're a really close knit family. Its really hitting all of us fairly hard. Mom's the rock. She doesn't get sick.

Also pray for my girls. Hannah is in Ohio with Steph's parents. Steph is away with our high schoolers at CIY. I'm home alone, working on the house and working on work . . . missing my girls tremendously tonight, and hurting for my mom.


June 9, 2008

Moving Day / 13 Year Anniversary

Wow. Have I lost track of time. I haven't posted in months. The house is mostly done now. I'm sure we'll get some before and after pics up sometime after camp next week. We've weathered almost 2 1/2 months of remodeling now. Things have turned out really well.

Tomorrow is moving day. I wouldn't have guessed when we started the project back at Easter that we wouldn't be moving till June. I thought it would have went quicker. Oh well. What a better way to celebrate our 13th anniversary of marriage, right?

So, tomorrow night around 6:00pm, come on over to the farmhouse and celebrate our anniversary with us! You may be asked to help move some boxes, or a couch. You might even get the chance to throw a queen sized box spring out a second story window. Wouldn't that be great?

In other news, Hannah Grace is again on the Canfield Jenkins blog. She was the flower girl in our friends' wedding. Jackie has managed once again to catch all of Hannah's beauty and innocence and then some with the camera lens. Go check it out!

April 30, 2008

Home Ownership--Week 5

The house is coming along. The pace is picking up now. I actually painted some things last night! That is exciting me. Especially so because I got to use my new 18" Wooster paint roller last night. It was awesome!!! Seriously, you have no idea how excited I am . . .

My in-laws arrived yesterday to help out. My father-in-law will be painting trim today, along with some other odds and ends. They head home on Friday. At that point, my brother will arrive and we'll install cabinets, bathroom items, and some new, modern looking doors. I can't wait!

April 22, 2008

Daffodils and the Orange Moon

One of my fondest memories of spring as I was growing up was visiting my grandmother's house. I may have written about her place before. She lived out in the middle of nowhere. The lane to her house was about a mile long--over a huge hill and then down in a valley. It sat on about 100 acres of land--surrounded by fields and trees. Her and my grandfather bought it to house their 5 kids back in the 20s or 30s. The house at that point was already 50 years old. They remodeled, built barns, made a pond and lived life. The house itself was your standard old farmhouse. Two stories with a suicide staircase and a fruit cellar. It was flanked on the East and the South by giant maple trees that had been planted back when they bought the homestead. By the early 80s they towered above the house, providing a canopy of shade. Gram's house was a perfect place in my opinion.

Every spring, the daffodils would emerge and turn her yard into a yellow lined paradise.
Now, we're not talking about 10 or 20 plants. I would guess Gram had hundreds of daffodils planted all along the side driveway, around her house, and leading out to the pond in all different varieties. Even to this day, the images are burned into my brain.

For me, spring is my second favorite season, my favorite being fall. I like spring because of the newness it brings with the spring flowers, the magnolia tree in my backyard, and the green grass. I love the smell of the new life--that earthy, dew laden smell that exists after a spring shower. I love being able to use the front porch again (and the potential of the back deck at the new house.

Spring symbolizes to me the hope that God is faithful, that he will return life to his creation after the cold, long winter. Some days I really need that reminder to get up and get moving. I definitely need that reminder every day to keep my heart and mind focused on the right things.

Thank you, Lord, for the continual reminders that you are there. Thank you for the beauty of your creation that I am blessed to see every day--things like the spring daffodils and the orange moon both in the morning and evening yesterday. Thank you for the gift of grace and love--that always brings new life and good news. May we join with creation and celebrate who you are and what you have done for us!

April 21, 2008

Home Ownership Weeks 3 and 4

I know, I know. I haven't been updating regularly (sorry Julie!). I've been busy renovating and such. We are making progress. Plumbing changes have been made. We're returning the bathrooms to their full functionality, since they were gutted a few weeks ago. We've done some minor electrical--adding switches and so on. All good changes. I may replace a few doors that were moved/removed this week, and put paint on the wall. Paint is a sign that we're making progress. Paint will help my wife know that it isn't going to stay like it is right now. Paint is the sign of progress . . .

One of my friends said ministry was something of a challenge, because you aren't able to see the finished product. He contrasted it with remodeling work. When you start a project, you know it will get done. You see the stages. You celebrate the changes and progress. You see completeness at the end. Ministry is not like that. You do see some progress and change. But, its rare to see the culmination of someone's journey. Tonight, I spent some time reading the blog of one of my students from GLCC. He up and decided that God wanted him to go on a missions trip--a bold step in my opinion. As I read, I could sense the change happening in him. I could read and see some of the completeness that is coming about. Its an amazing thing--quick, yet deep growth. You should check out his blog--Luke/Beret Riggs.

April 9, 2008

Home Ownership Week 2--Cramps

Well. Much has been going on at the new house. We've been finishing drywall, doing some plumbing adjustments, ordering kitchen cabinets, countertops and so on, and trying to keep up on all the dust that I have made. Things are moving rapidly and will continue to do so. This weekend my brother and his family come into town again to help with the remodeling festivities. Pray that we continue to be productive.

One of the residual effects of buying a house is cramps. Not girl cramps or anything of the sort. For me, the cramps come in my hands. For a living, I drive a desk. i type things, I plan, I play the guitar, I read and study. It is not a physically challenging position. My brother calls me a desk jockey. With the purchase of a house comes work that is done with one's hands. I enjoy such work. I look forward to it. Sometimes I even long for it. It is relaxing to me.

However, after working hard the last few weeks at the new house, my hands and forearms are nothing but cramps and pains. Even as I sit here and type this blog, there is pain. My left hand seems to be trembling a little. All because my muscles are experiencing things they haven't for such a long time. These are good pains. Growing pains. Pains of strength and determination. Pains for the coming of new life, hope, and what is to come. But, pain, nonetheless.

The biggest challenge with the cramps has been leading worship. During rehearsal this past Sunday, I began to experience excruciating torment in the fatty part of my palm below my thumb. It felt like the worst charlie horse in the world, yet it didn't fade away. As long as I was trying to hold my pick for playing my guitar in my hand, it was there, letting me know that I'm a desk jockey. It was a good bad feeling. Good, because I'm growing through this and strengthening my physical body--a good feeling for a desk jockey. Yet, bad because we're only at the beginning of this renovation. There is much more work to do and many more days of cramps and pain.

Life is like that. It is easy to sit still and do what you need to do. it can be a painless thing. Yet, if you try to move forward and do something new, you will certainly experience pain, albeit good pain. I know that I struggle when I try to change. Adding exercise to my routine is a challenge. Changing eating habits is a challenge. Why, because it means some sort of pain will be coming my way. It will be good pain, but it means change.

Why is it that we always run from what will be good for us and make us better? Why in our spiritual lives to we not endure the cramps and pain to move closer to God? Is it because we don't like pain? Or is it because we don't like surrender?

My new house is making me surrender and making me grow. No pain, no gain. I know, that's cheesy. Cheesy, but true.

Here's one thing that makes the work less painful, more enjoyable, and highly important:

So rough and tough, yet so precious and wonderful!

March 30, 2008

House Ownership--Week 1

Well. Week one has gone fairly well. It took some time to get into the house, since the bank that owned the house before hand was was taking their good sweet time to get the paperwork turned in. Luckily, we only had to wait for a few hours to get access.

Since getting access, much has happened. We removed the fake wall that hid the fridge, opening up the kitchen to the the rest of the living/dining room. It looks great. It will look even better once we get cabinets back in there.

The other big project going on is the bathroom. Everything has been gutted. Now we're working on the design and will hopefully begin putting things back very soon. Once that is done, it's paint, carpet and trim.

The only big hiccup we ran into is the roof. We were planning on doing the roof in a few years. Not so. We'll be replacing the roof in the next month or two. So, if any of you have that truck full of money available, I'd be willing to help you spend it!

March 24, 2008

The Verge

I have been very distant from here for some time now. It's not that I wanted to be away. Life has been busy with this and that and the other. Good this, that, and the other, but this, that, and the other nonetheless. One of the those this, thats or the others has been this:

Steph and I will be leaving shortly to go and sign the final paperwork, making 5824 Rockingham Drive our own. We'll, Providence Mortgage will mostly own it for about 30 years. . . then she will be ours. We haven't posted much about this because we didn't want to get our hopes (and your hopes) up until everything was final. Within a couple of hours or two, things will be final. So, its safe now!

In light of this, that, and the other (especially the above this, that, and the other), Steph and I would covet your prayers. Please pray that the next couple of hours go well at the Title company. Pray that no one gets hurt in the renovations. Pray that renovations will go quick and that everyone will be having sales on what we need. Pray that we would be wise with our finances as we take on a house payment. Pray for a dump truck full of money. I know, that one won't happen, but it would be nice, wouldn't it?

February 11, 2008

Frozen Boogers

In honor of the balmy temperatures here in Michigan today, I give you one of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes!

January 28, 2008

Why Did You Run?

Today started out as a normal Monday. I hit the office and entered my normal routine consisting of email, some audio editing of yesterday's sermon, scheduling for this week, and prep work for staff meeting. Then, there was staff meeting, which is always a joy. There were some good laughs, some reflection on the book, Making Room for Life, for Randy Frazee. There was discussion of the good and bad from yesterday's service, and some looking forward to this week. After that came TBWJ. TBWJ is short for Taco Bell With James. It's a consistent Monday activity for Frank and James.

I had planned to stay in the office and work over lunch so I could be off tomorrow for my wife's birthday. But, because of peer pressure, I went along. And, I'm glad I did.

As we were driving up Cedar Street, I noticed a guy run across the street right in front of Taco Bell. I would have thought he was just crossing the street, but he didn't stop running when he got across the road. My mind thought, "that's a little odd" and continued on with pulling into the parking lot at Taco Bell. Shortly thereafter, we were inside Taco Bell ordering some food. As I stepped up in line to order a number 5 (I think), we were all startled with a guy screaming at the top of his lungs, "Why did you run?". Startled by the shouting and the commotion, I turned and saw a big white guy with a gun strapped to his leg pulling the guy--who I had just seen minutes before running across the road, backwards over the cattle herding bars by the counter. He was quickly joined by a couple more brutes with guns. Quickly, the ruckus escalated with the jawalker pleading with the rest of us who were just staring in awe that we were getting a live version of Dog the Bounty Hunter in front of us to see the injustice that he was suffering--being arrested by some thugs with guns.

All of this happened in a few moments. Everyone in the place stopped what they were doing to watch. The taco chefs in the back even made it to the front counter to watch for a moment. Then, as quickly as it began, it was over. The arrest had been made. The Jaywalkers was on his way to a car waiting outside. As he headed to jail, we returned to our normal lives, eating our tacos and slurping our sodas.

It was fun to watch something that exciting happen in front of us. Yet, not in that moment did we wonder what the jaywalker had done to get him in the spot he was in. We laughed about his inability to run into th allotment behind Taco Bell to hide from the bail bonds boys, but we had no sympathy for him. I doubt that any of us in that place thought anything more of the incident. Not until now, as I've thought through it, have I realized how cold my reactions were today.

Why are we so cold?

January 26, 2008

Google Maps

Last night I had to look up the location of the eye doctor that my normal physician has referred me to for the spot on my eye. In the process, I spent some time looking at the goole map. I looked at Africa to see where one of my students is getting deployed to in the fall. Then, I wondered if I could see the the compound of Northwest Haiti Christian Mission from their satellites. It took a moment to figure out where it was, but I was able to zoom in and see the steeple of the church across the street there. It brought back the rush of memories--being carried by a Haitian man to a boat to go to the Tortuga Island. I remember the smells and the sounds of riding the bus from Port-a-Prince--the fresh bread smell along that road at 5:00am. I can vividly see the faces of the kids at the orphanage in Port-de-Paix. I remember becoming a jungle gym for them. I think of how they clung to us as hard as they could. What a flood of thoughts and emotions.

From there I moved on the map of east Tennessee. I looked at the areal views of the Roan Mountain area--where Steph and I would retreat to every once in awhile to take in the mountain views. I looked up the Laural Falls area, where we hiked one day with Brian and Betsy Carter in the rain. I remember almost dying from exhaustion as we hiked out of the gorge back to the Appalachian Trail. I also focused in on Erwin, the little town stuck between the mountains south of Johnson City, whose claim to fame is the hanging of a rampant circus elephant in 1916. I thought back to laundry days up in the hollow (pronounced hollar) at Nathan's trailer on the side of the mountain. Those were wonderful days of frozen Skyline chili and hockey on the computer. I remember the rainy days sitting on his porch in his recliner chair, talking about life, God, and what we were doing with it. I prayed for my friend David, who is a minister and part time prof now in the area there as I looked for his house. I also peeked in on our old apartment on Cedar Grove and thought of our lives there.

Reflection is a good thing for me. It helps me to remember where I've been--where I've come from. It helps me to think about the heritage that I am carrying with my faith. It helps me to remember the beauty of God's creation that I've been able to take in with my senses. It gives me purpose and hope for today, tomorrow, and the next day.

January 16, 2008


The only thing bad about winters in Michigan in my opinion is the lack of sunshine. Sunshine makes any day seem better, even if it is a horrible day. Sunshine makes your soul feel warmer, even on the coldest of days.

Lately, we have not had much sunshine. And, in the process, not many sunrises. One of the things I love about getting up early and heading into the office is catching the sunrise. There is nothing better than watching the dark sky explode with the color and brightness of a new day. It gives me extra hope for the day.

This morning there was a beautiful sunrise. While I sat at Cornerstone Coffee and worked, it burned my face and made it difficult to see my computer screen. It made me think of our discussions this past week in Sunday school as we talked about Genesis 1 and God's acts of creation--that he was able to speak things like the universe and the sun into existence and that he saw them as good. Even more, that he saw his creation of man better than the creation of them. It serves as a reminder to me that our God of creation is still there and in control, always trying to blind me with his presences like this morning's sunrise. Luckily, was able to have open eyes and see this morning!

January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

2007 to me has been one of the longest years. When we began this year, South was in transition. We were reworking our mission statement to Seek, Study, and Serve. We were also without a Sr. minister. That meant more work and leadership for me. It was good to be able to serve and lead, but it felt like I was continually trying to catch up to everything that was going on around me.

Because of the hectic nature of work, time at home was invaluable. There's nothing better to deal with stress than coming home and saving momma from the insanity by playing on the floor for a few hours with a hyper active 3 year old. Hannah has grown so much this year. One month she'll put on a new pair of jeans that need to be rolled up 3 or 4 inches. Then the next month, she's outgrown them. It has been a bittersweet. She's not my little baby anymore.

God blessed us in the transitioning time at South. He brought the Weller family to us in August. Having Frank on staff as our Sr. minister slowed life for me down a little. It was a nice change. Well, nice really doesn't do the change justice. I've thoroughly enjoyed having Frank across the hall in the office. We have had a ball doing ministry together for the last 5 months--which has seemed like a year in itself.

The only real regret I have with this year is that I did not read as much as I would have liked. I started this year with big aspirations. Yet, this morning, as I updated my blog template, I only had a couple books listed in the sidebar. There were a few books that didn't make it there, but for the most part, life took up the reading time. That will change this year.

So, there is a new year ahead. A new year with tons of possibilities. There's a whole shelf of books waiting to be read. There is the beginning of my 8th year of ministry here at South. There's the excitement of moving my family into a "new" house. There will be the joy/sadness of seeing Hannah start preschool, continuing to grow up right before our eyes. There will be another year of life beside my wife and us celebrating our 13th year of marriage. Its going to be a great year