In Memoriam: Chip 2004-2017

In Memory of Chip

Chip, you were the best dog I ever had. We lost you so quickly that sometimes it feels like it isn’t real. But it is and it hurts knowing that I’ll never get to see you again. You were with us for 12-1/2 years and I’ll cherish every day of it.

18268268_10213284673331071_810917817842894846_n

I remember when we got you from the breeders. We had to drive through a security check point because we were near the Canadian border. The police officers made us pull over and searched the car because they said we were acting nervous. We were nervous. We didn’t know why there was a check point or what going through one entailed. We told the police officers who searched the car that we were on our way to get you. When we came back through the check point the same police officers were still on duty. They recognized us and  waved us through. Aimee waved your little paw at the officers as we drove through. They smiled.

14051656_10209699720237338_935783679503075688_n

When we were at the breeders they had you in a pen with your brothers and sisters. I was shocked at how you were almost twice the size of all your brothers and sisters.  The breeders laughed and said “yeah, he likes to eat”. For your entire life your favorite thing to do was eat.

 

When we first got you, your eyes were very blue. We had already named you Chip, but your eyes were so strikingly blue that Aimee had talked about changing your name to pay homage to Frank Sinatra. I’m glad we never changed your name. Chip was a name that fit you. The two best parts of a cookie are the chocolate chips and eating them. You liked eat. You would eat anything and you would eat all the time if you could. You were a Chip. It was the perfect name for you. The color of your eyes changed to brown anyway.

 

Like all dogs there were times when you got loose and we had to try and catch you. Most times it involved getting your attention by shaking a bowl of dog food and you would come running back. Usually if you got loose that meant Abbie got loose too and she would run faster than a rabbit and to wherever she wanted to go. She isn’t as easily swayed by a bowl of dog food. Abbie misses you too. She didn’t eat for a few days, and has been walking around the house looking for you. At 13-1/2 years old, Abbie is old but it never really showed on her. The past few days as she’s been mourning you it seems that her age is catching up with her quickly. Abbie loves you too.

 

You were young when we brought baby Makenna home from the hospital. You were so sweet with her. She could climb on you and pull your ears. You didn’t care. She dressed you up. She painted your nails. You let her do whatever she wanted. You were so good to her. You were much older when we brought home baby Colton from the hospital. You were sweet with him too. You patiently endured another round of being climbed on and having your ears pulled. Both of the kids love you too. Makenna has carried around your collar. Colton doesn’t quite understand what has happened, but he knows you aren’t here and he asks where you are.

18199468_10213285460670754_507585128772511356_n

You were a good cuddler too. While Abbie has to lay where and how she wanted, anyone could grab you and pull you towards themselves. You would just lay there curled up against them and find a way to fall asleep. When the other dogs would run into the bedroom and sleep with Aimee when she went to bed you always stayed by my side. It didn’t matter what I was doing. If I was reading, working on the computer, or just watching TV; if I was sitting on the couch you would sit next to me.

WP_20170418_22_13_20_Pro.jpg

You would sit through re-runs of Star Trek: The Next Generation and episodes of The Flash with me when everyone else would just roll their eyes and go into the other room. Don’t worry Chip, Barry won’t let Savitar kill Iris, and Caitlyn won’t be Killer Frost forever.

1268823_10208482626402899_1650029213623794784_o

You had two little spots of lighter colored fur right above your eyes. It made you look like you had eyebrows. You had this little gesture where you appeared to “raise your eyebrows” and then look to the side. I have always told people that you were “giving the side eye”.

18222162_10212109266034477_5500802566441644781_n

When my hand was infected you knew something was wrong and you knew I was worried about it. You stayed right by my side no matter what I was doing or where I was.

 

You loved to give kisses. As your teeth started rotting your breathe got so horrible that no one really wanted your kisses anymore but that didn’t stop you from trying to give them. I would rub my finger on your nose and you would lick my fingers. No one in this house ever doubted that you loved us.

12376799_10208393828423005_8859964671417632907_n

While you weren’t my first dog Chip you were my best dog and I’ll never forget you. I hope that you enjoyed your life and that you feel that we did as right as possible by you for the time that you were here. I love you Chip. I miss you, and I’ll never forget you.

Advertisements

The Importance of Fellowship

The Importance of Fellowship

Last Saturday I started my day in a doctor’s office and ended it in a hospital bed. Whether I cut my hand or was bit by and insect no one will ever know, but either way my hand was infected. So when I say that I’m happy to be here with you guys today I really mean it. Hospital visit or not I’m happy to be here today because I’m here having fellowship with you and today I’d like to talk to you about why fellowship with fellow believers, such as being here right now, attending a small group bible study, attending church with other believers, attending a Men’s Retreat (if your able), or just sharing a cup of coffee and the word of God with someone who is more mature in their walk with Christ than you is so important.

Origin of Fellowship

Fellowship comes from the Greek word, KOINONIA (Pronounce Coin-non-ia, if I pronounced it wrong it’s Google’s fault, since I had Google Translate say it for me several times…), which means “to share in common.” Christian fellowship is more than attending Church — it is “assimilating” into the body of believers, becoming “one” in worshipping, loving, caring and sharing.

Fellowship is not an optional matter for believers, in 1 John 1:7, John says “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7 (NIV). When it says “if we walk in the light” it is referring to having fellowship with God. The outcome of this fellowship is, “the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin”. Having fellowship with other believers is vital to our walk of faith.

We were made for fellowship

When God created Adam and put him in the Garden of Eden he quickly decided that it wasn’t good for him to be alone. In Genesis 2:18 (NIV) the Bible says “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone…” Genesis 2:18 (NIV). So God created Eve and from that we have many people around us, both believers and non-believers to fellowship with. In 1 John 4 we are given a very direct command 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 1 John 4:19-21 (NIV).

As believers the expectation for us is made very clear: we are to love our bothers and sisters-in-Christ. In 1 Peter 2:17 Peter says17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” 1 Peter 2:17(NIV). So when it comes to our church family we don’t get to pick and choose whom we love. We are called to love all believers, even the ones that annoying personality traits.

The people we surround ourselves with influence us

In Proverbs 13:20 it is written “20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20 (NIV), and in 1 Corinthians 15:33 it is written “33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV).

For a moment think about how you feel or act after spending a day around people that are motivated and excited. Typically a person would feel motivated and excited themselves. The feeling is contagious. Now imagine you are surrounded by people with foul mouths, who tell all sort of crude jokes and use curse words like they are going out of style. It’s not that hard to imagine is it? We’ve all probably been in a workplace where our co-workers are a little rough around the edges despite Human Resources’s policies. If you are only around these types of people after a while you might have noticed that it doesn’t shock you so much if you use a curse word yourself or a crude joke slips out of your mouth easier than it should. Imagine yourself surrounded by people that have no hope and are depressed all the time? You probably aren’t feeling very chipper yourself, do you?

Now imagine yourself surrounded by passionate Christians that are devoted to seeking God every day. That are devoted to reading their Bibles, praying, and teaching other’s about Jesus. What type of influence do you think they would have on you?

You can’t control the people that surround you at your workplace but you can surround yourself with fellow Christians to help offset their effect. As you continue to mature as a Christian it shouldn’t be shocking to see God use you to influence those around you.

We share our burdens together and pray together

In 1 Timothy 2:1-4 Paul writes “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NIV). Now earlier I told you that I ended up in the hospital and while I’m not looking for any pity, it was only one of the difficult things that happened to me this week. Yesterday, my dog got into the trash and ate an entire can of moldy tuna fish. Mold is extremely toxic to dogs and we ended up having to put our dog Chip down last night. I bring this up because it illustrates how unpredictable life is. I didn’t know I would be in the hospital. I didn’t know my dog was going to die, but it happened back-to-back. While it’s tough to process these situations that are completely out of my control I know that if I’ve cultivated a fellowship with other Christians that if they are aware of my situation they are praying for me whether I’ve asked them to or not. That’s extremely comforting because on days when I just don’t feel like I can pray, I know that others are lifting me and my situations up. I also know that I have the responsibility to do the same for others. There is nothing more comforting than a fellow brother or sister-in-Christ telling you “I’ve been praying for you”.

In Galatians 6:2 Paul writes “2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 (NIV).

We mature as Christians together

In Hebrews 10:24-25 Paul writes 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV). One of the most important things for me is to have friends that are fellow believers that are encouraging me and holding me accountable. I’ll admit that there are times when I’m not very good at praying or reading my Bible. If we are being honest here, we might as well say that at times I’m downright horrible at it.

I need fellow believers that will ask me how I’m doing. I need fellow believers to encourage me to pursue my walk. I need fellow believers that will encourage me to be more active in prayer. It’s not that I don’t want to have an active prayer life and pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s just that sometimes I’m not very good at it and I need the extra push from others. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way.

As Proverbs 27:17 says “17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 (NIV). We need other believers to help us become more mature as Christians.

And Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says “9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. “ Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)

The Early Church devoted themselves to it.

In Acts 2:42 Luke writes 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42 (NIV).

It shouldn’t surprise us that the early church devoted itself to the “the apostles’ teaching” and “to prayer”. Apart from the ministry of the Holy Spirit, these are the two most important means of growth, power, and effectiveness in the Christian life and this fact is evident everywhere in Scripture.

But Luke tells us these early Christians also devoted themselves to fellowship. They just didn’t have fellowship; they devoted themselves to it. This means that fellowship was a priority and one of the objectives for gathering together. They made fellowship a priority.

Shouldn’t we make fellowship a priority too?

Conclusion

Fellowship is important because God made us for fellowship, we surround ourselves with people that will influence us in Godly ways, we share our burdens and pray together, it helps us to mature as Christians, and the early church did it. We are sitting in a room surrounded by people that we all have something in common with: we all are brothers in Christ. Because of our unity in Christ we are obligated to fellowship together. Don’t let today or Sunday mornings be the only time that you interact with other believers. Protect and grow you walk of faith by attending a Men’s retreat and/or joining a small group Bible study. Fellowship is too important to be ignored.


This is the devotional that I gave at the Men’s Breakfast last Saturday. I was inspired by Dale A. Robbins writings “What Christians Need Fellowship” (http://www.victorious.org/pub/need-fellowship-103) and discussions my Dad and I had on a road trip.

The Value of Life’s Trials: A Meditation on James 1:1-8

Faith Header

THE VALUE OF LIFE’S TRIALS

A Meditation on James 1:1-8

What I wanted to talk about today is the value of life’s trials. Now before you all collectively roll your eyes and walk out I want to say that I am in no way attempting to trivialize the trails that you’ve faced in your past or are currently facing. What I hope to accomplish is to encourage you by what is written in James Chapter One versus one through eight.

Why did I decide that I wanted to talk about trials today?

Trials are something that we all have in common. In the past six months my wife has had two different surgeries which resulted in two different periods of missed work, recovery, and weight restrictions from lifting. Having a two year old son and a weight restriction don’t go together very well. She couldn’t pick him up nor could she wrestle him to try and dress him or change his diaper. Missed work also meant financial hardships. And most recently my son has experienced a mysterious medical situation that has resulted in two different emergency room visits, multiple tests, phone calls, and as of right now mostly unanswered questions. After my wife’s weight restriction from the second surgery was lifted I excitedly thought: Great! Things can finally get back to normal!” The issues my son is currently facing started shortly thereafter. Well, the reprieve was nice while it lasted… Now I don’t say these things so that you’ll feel bad for me. I say these things to illustrate a point: We all will inevitably face trials.

In verses 1 and 2 James says:

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,”

Notice he says “whenever you face trials” not “if you face trials”. As much as we would love for God to put a protective bubble around us it’s just not something that God does. Read the book of Job if you don’t believe me.

James’s letter is written to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations. What he is referring to is believers you have become dispersed because they were facing persecution because of their faith. These believers had to leave their homes and jobs and flee with their families because of their faith. These people were definitely facing major trials in their lives. Trust me it wasn’t like the time when the cable went out and you had everyone over to watch the big game.

Looking again at verse 2, what type of attitude does James says we should have towards trials?

Verse 2 says “2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,”

Pure Joy?! Pure joy is not what comes to mind when I think of obstacles and trials in my life. Usually I think about how quickly can I get it over with and how can I make sure it never happens again. We know that trials are an inevitable part of life but the real issue is: what is our attitude like during the trial? Are we speaking doom and gloom or are we speaking of the hopeful expectation that God will see us through all trials? Do we resent God for the trial in our life or do we still continue to seek him through reading the Bible, praying, and fellowshiping with other believers? After a particularly frustrating visit with a neurologist regarding my son where we expected the visit to result in some sort of answers but we didn’t get anything I was feeling pretty dejected and downtrodden. While driving into work the next day I prayed “God, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to think. This is what’s going on” and I proceeded to list all the challenges going on in my life and ended with a simple “please help us”. Later that day a prayer was answered and a need was met. I worshiped God with my prayer by acknowledging that I needed his help. I worshiped God by seeking him and not hiding from him. I worshiped God by thanking him for answering a prayer and meeting a need.

It’s not easy to be joyful or worship during a trail but let’s look at versus 3 & 4 and see what James says.

3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

James is giving us a sequence of events here. First we have faith. (Our faith is that we believe in God and we believe that God is our father and that he loves us.) Then we are tested. (Somehow our faith is challenged.) The testing leads to perseverance (or as the ESV translation of the Bible puts is: steadfastness), which is the ability to stand firm and strong no matter what our circumstances. And then perseverance leads to maturity and completeness. As a Christian we want to be mature. We don’t want to feel strong in our faith on day and then doubting God’s existence the next. We want to be stable and mature. James view of trials is that they aren’t obstacles to spiritual growth, rather they help us grow spiritually.

Don’t assume that God threw a trial at you to grow you spiritually, but be confident that God will work all things for his perfect will and glory, and that when you face a trial you will grow spiritually because of it. And don’t go looking for a trial just because you feel that you are stagnating spiritually… Trust me, trials can find you well enough without you going to look for them.

As we read verses 5 through 8 ask yourself: what is the key ingredient that we need in our lives if we are to live by James’s formula for Christian maturity?

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all that he does.”

Wisdom! What is wisdom?

Wisdom is understanding. Wisdom is seeing things from God’s perspective. Wisdom is the knowledge and ability to make the right decisions as you navigate through a trial.

How should we obtain wisdom?

We should ask God for it. And as James says God will give us wisdom generously and without finding fault. If you ask God for wisdom he will give it to you.

It doesn’t matter that you have already asked a million other times.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve already asked, received, and then squandered gifts that God had previously given to you.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve failed to truly appreciate the gifts that God has given to you.

That’s the beauty of our relationship with God. Our past doesn’t matter. We are living in the present and if you ask God for wisdom he will give it to you.

Why do we need wisdom?

We need wisdom to see the bigger picture of God’s will.

We need wisdom to know how to behave when we do face a trial.

Don’t forget that God uses all things for good.

God doesn’t give to us because he is expecting something in return but because it is God’s nature to give us good gifts. God is utterly sincere and pure in his intention and he wants us to grow in our faith and is not going to withhold anything that we need for growth.

What type of attitude should we have when we ask God for wisdom?

We must sincerely expect a response from God.

In verses six through eight James says that when a man asks God for wisdom he must believe and not doubt. What he is saying is that we must be sincere towards God. How can we expect to receive anything from God if we doubt God’s compassion for us or his ability and willingness to bless us in times of need? Are we wholeheartedly focused on having a relationship with God or are we leaving the door open for worldly living? James calls a man who is unwilling to choose between God or the world a “double-minded man” and characterizes him as being a wave that is blown every which way by the wind.

Let me ask you a question: how would you characterize your relationship with God?

If you say that it’s an old car that you bought with the intention of restoring it but haven’t looked at in years, and now it sits out behind the garage rusting away then I want to encourage you to roll up your sleeves and get to work on it.

If you got your car stuck in a snowbank who do you want to show up: a person in a Ford Escort with only baling twine to pull you out? Or a person with a four wheel drive diesel pickup truck with a tow chain? You would want the person with the big truck and the tow chain because you know they will get you unstuck.

So in the same light, do you want to be confident that you have a strong relationship with God or do you want to repeatedly doubt your salvation or if God actually loves you? Folks, they say that showing up his half the battle, but that’s all it is, half of the battle. There is still the other half to fight. Showing up to church is good, but intentionally showing up to church with the desire to meet God is better. Owning a Bible is good, but intentionally reading your Bible with the desire to meet God is better. Make your relationship with God a priority and begin to intentionally seek out God.

We know that we are going to experience trials in our lives, but we can be confident in the truth that God is with us during the trial. As uncomfortable as the trial may seem God will use it for his glory by developing us into mature Christians. God gives us wisdom so that we can gain his perspective on our situation and wisdom on how to handle it. God is with us. Never leaving us. Never forsaking us. God wants us to be mature Christians, steady in our faith, and engaged in a vibrant and growing relationship with him.

To close, let’s hear the words Hebrews Chapter 12 verse 11:

11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”


This devotion is heavily influenced by notes graciously provided by Larry Nemitz and the Wesleyan Quarterly study by the same name. This devotion was created and read at a recent gathering.

Nickelodeon announces new series Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for 2018

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-classic-animated-series

1987’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Image courtesy of the Internet)

Nickelodeon recently announced that they are working on a new 2D animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon with the working title Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which will premiere in 2018.

Nickelodeon provided this official synopsis:

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will follow Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo on all-new adventures as they seek to unlock the mystical secrets of New York City. From the tallest skyscraper to the dankest sewer drain, the Turtles will encounter absurd new mutants and battle bizarre creatures all while enjoying their favorite slice of pizza. Tapping into mystic, ninja powers they never knew existed, the four brothers must learn to work together and navigate the perils of the modern age and hidden realms in order to fulfill their destiny to become a team of heroes.

Now, I’ve been a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ever since I was first introduced to them while watching the original animated cartoon which aired on Saturday mornings on CBS. Of all the incarnations of the Turtles that have ever existed the only ones that I didn’t have a level of excitement about were the live action Next Mutation series and the Coming out of Their Shells Tour.

The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons was my gateway to TMNT, which then got me interested in the toys, and then as a birthday present I was given two issues of the first Mirage comic book series. A reprint of issue number three and a first edition of issue number twenty one, part three of the Return to New York where SPOILER Shredder dies a second time.

donatello-threes

Going from the goofy adventures of the cartoon to the gritty comic books I was instantly hooked and actively sought out other issues. My mom was able to find four collected editions through the local library for me which collected somewhere between 16 to 20 issues of the original comic book series. I was in my glory reading these books. In fact as an adult I sought these books out and bought them from an eBay seller and still own them to this day.

When the new animated cartoon debuted in 2003 I would record them so that I could watch the episodes later. Having become such a fan of the original series of comic books I was very excited when I saw how much the series was influenced by the original comic books.

donatello

But getting back to the new series, what I am excited about the most:

New Toy Designs: With the new cartoon their will be new toy designs, which means toy hunts and looking for something cool.

New characters: Every incarnation of the TMNT has brought new characters to life. By far the best new character of the current TMNT series is the villian Tigerclaw. I can’t wait to see which new characters will be created for this new series.

New Stories: Of course we want new stories. That’s what this is all about for us as fans. We want new and interesting stories.

Now the new series doesn’t debut until 2018 but in the meantime we get the fifth season of the current CGI series which has been re-branded as the Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and which I’m led to believe will feature a story arc with Usagi Yojimbo and the turtles as samurais. The toys to support this story arc were displayed during the recent Toy Fair and they look amazing. My fear; however, is that the production copies won’t look anywhere near as good as the models that were on display… (but that’s on Playmates Toys not Nickelodeon).

What are you looking forward to the most about season five of the current series and the new series Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

What I’m Thankful For (2016 Edition)

First off, a lot of my friends and church family members are facing difficult and heartbreaking situations at this time. Is something going on or am I just more aware of it now? I don’t know. I know that we were never promised an easy life, but we are allowed to call out to God in our suffering and ask for his relief.

Today while listening to Pastor Eric’s message about the book of Acts, God spoke to me about my prayer life. Some people have been complaining about their situations but seem not to do anything within their power to change their circumstances, even the seemingly simple and obvious ones. After repeatedly hearing the same complaints its very difficult to be empathetic. I begin to feel as if the person is complaining about their situation for the sake of complaining rather than what they are truly doing: crying out in desperation. God’s words to me were to pray for the person, not judge the validity of their request. If the person’s problem is going to be solved or lessened by practical advice then God will give those words to be spoken but spoken out of love, and not irritation. If it is a supernatural act that God is going to perform in this persons life then God will do that.

My heart was truly moved in service today.

Pastor Eric was talking about authentic churches and authentic Christianity.

1.) Family

It can’t even begin to tell you how much God has blessed me through my family.

God gave me an amazing woman to be my wife. We’ve been married for 11-1/2 years. I’ve seen some friends and co-workers get married and then divorced in a time shorter than that. I’m not even going to sit here and pretend that our marriage has been easy. We’ve had our ups and downs. Some of the downs seemed very down, and I wondered if we were going to be walking down the road to divorce. At one point, I just broke down before God and pleaded, and he intervened in the situation in a dramatic and spectacular way.

6tag_030816-152247

My wife and I dancing at my cousins wedding.

wp_20160710_11_01_13_pro

Photobooth fun.

I have two amazing children. One is a pre-teen and the other a two year old so, yes we do have the occasional tantrum. In retrospect, our two children are very well behaved and trustworthy kids. We just have to make sure that our expectations of them are clear and that there are consequences related to actions of dishonesty or distrust. Some parents act as if they ultimately expect their children to disappoint them and fail. When these children fail, their parents are resolved to accepting the failure as inevitable rather than teaching their children why the behavior is wrong and what the expected behavior is. I’m not saying that I’m a perfect parent, or that my kids more well behaved than other, or that my kids are going to turn out super well behaved… I have no idea. I’m just doing the best that I can and relying so much on friends and family to help. They say it takes a village to raise a child, you know…

6tag_280816-183329

Summer Fun.

instagramcapture_0e45506e-322b-4eb8-a9e9-ddc4713c1252

Serious driving.

2.) My church family

We made a difficult and wrong decision to start attending another church almost two years ago. Now there was nothing wrong with the church we started attending. The Pastor was an incredible Shepard. The congregation very warm and welcoming. However, we never felt like we were truly part of the church. We never just fit in with the church. The reasons that we had for leaving our other church that once seemed solid began to seem ridiculous and as more time passed the ridiculousness of the reasons only seemed to heighten. We started to have discussions about our old church and we made it a point to start visiting there, and soon we found ourselves desiring to be there and not at the new church. Did God lead me away from the church? Did God lead me back to the church? I don’t know. I’m glad to be back though.

wp_20160719_18_43_21_pro

My son playing at church.

wp_20160920_16_35_54_pro

My daughter plays trumpet.

3.) Friends

If you have a Facebook account take a moment and scroll through your friends list. How many of those friends would you stop and say “hi” to if you saw them in real life? If there is anyone on your list that you wouldn’t stop and talk to in real life then in all likelyhood they aren’t really your friend. A true friend rejoices when you rejoice, and grieves when you grieve. Friends take time out of their day to be concerned about you when concern is warranted. I have been blessed with some truly amazing friends.

6tag-1396604546-799892841865612896_1396604546

My best friends Nate and my son.

4.) Gainful Employment

Thankfully both my wife and I have full time employment. Unfortunately, our furnace (boiler) died late in the winter. Praise God it was during an unseasonably warm week. Praise God that my father-in-law helped us to get a good system at a good price. We didn’t have the money to replace the boiler on hand so we had to borrow it and our already tight budget was not going to be able to handle the additional payments as we were already faced with the additional payments of my daughters braces (without the braces there were going to be some teeth that couldn’t come in). Faced with this situation I told my wife that I was going to get a part time job. I’d have one for the previous three years. She didn’t like that idea so she decided to get on instead. She was able to find one quickly that worked into ours schedule and allowed us to bridge the gap in our budget.

wp_20161003_18_17_25_pro

My son reading a dinosaur book at the local public library with Lightning McQueen right next to him.

We have not been very good with finances throughout the years. It’s something that I am constantly praying for wisdom regarding. I feel as if my wife and I came from two different planets in regards to finances. I am constantly praying that we can get on the same page.

wp_ss_20160913_0002

My wife had shoulder surgery a few months ago. Her labrum was torn and they basically “stitched” it back together. This picture was taken about five hours after surgery was done and we were sent home. She is doing well in her recovery (the sling was gone after four weeks) and hopefully her weight restriction will be removed soon.

 

I hope you have many things to be thankful for this year and I just pray that God will bless you and your loved ones.

6tag-1396604546-1006593842390437456_1396604546

And here is my son reacting to a t-shirt with a picture of Yoda on it. (Priceless).

[FICTION] The Day the Cubs Won the World Series

NOVEMBER 11TH, 2016

PROGRESSIVE FIELD, CLEVELAND, OHIO

GAME SEVEN OF THE 2016 WORLD SERIES

BOTTOM OF THE 9TH

CHICAGO CUBS: 3; CLEVELAND INDIANS: 2

ONE OUT

***********************************************************************

Jason Kipnis walked three steps off of second base and leaned forward in anticipation. From the pitchers mount Kyle Hendricks turned and looked at him, and then towards first base where Francisco Lindor was also leading off of his base. Hendricks was tired, he had pitched all nine innings, but he had the hot hand right now and he was going to see this game through.

Mike Napoli was at bat. He already had one strike and one ball against him. He tapped his bat on home plate and then got into his stance. Willson Contreras, the catcher signaled the pitch to Hendricks. A curve ball. Hendricks didn’t like it so he shook his head “no”. Contreras signaled again, a fast ball right up the middle. Hendricks liked that pitch and nodded his head in approval.

Hendricks raised his leading leg, planted it, as his arm flashed around launching a ninety mile an hour fastball towards home. Napoli saw it come in and he swung hard and missed! The ball went right into the Contreras’s glove. Napoli gritted his teeth, mad that he missed on such a choice pitch. The next one was his. He was going to win this game, for his team, and for Cleveland.

Contreras and Hendrick’s agreed on a pitch. Hendricks checked on Kipnis and Lindor to keep them honest, went into his stance and hurled a curve ball towards the bottom left corner of the batters box. Napoli swung and hit the ball! It drove itself into the ground towards the third base line. The third baseman scooped up the ball and fired it towards second, the second baseman caught it tagged the bag beating Lindor for an out, and then threw it to first before Napoli got there.

A double play! The Chicago Cubs won the World Series! The curse was broken!

After a second of stunned silence the stadium erupted with Cubs fan screaming at the top of the their lungs. The Cubs players ran out of the dugout towards the pitchers mound, gathering around Hendricks jumping up and down and screaming.

Indian fans got up and slowly started towards the exit, their heads hung in disappointment. Suddenly, a bolt of lightening shot across the sky, a clap of thunder filled the air, and the stands shook violently throwing fans against railings and seats, and to the ground. The rejoicing Cubs players stopped celebrating and slowly started to back away from the pitchers mound as the ground was shaking violently. The dirt on the pitchers mound began to leap into the air. Suddenly, the ground split in two from the pitchers mound to home base and a skeletal hand burst up through.

The stadium erupted in screams of terror as players and fans started to run for the exits. The skeletal arm grabbed the ground and began to pull itself out of the crack. It was a re-animated skeleton and it started ambling towards the Cubs dugout. More skeletons pulled themselves up and out of the crack and started ambling towards the dugouts.

Another bolt of lightening shot across the sky and a deafening clap of thunder followed drowning out the screams of the fans as they ran for the exits. The sky turned red as red winged creatures filled the sky and began to descend on people in the stadium and in the streets picking them up and flying away with them out of the stadium.

The world was ending.

A skeleton stumbled into the Cubs dugout and found a Cubs ball cap on the ground. The skeleton picked it up, placed it on his head, adjusted it, gave two thumbs up towards the other skeletons still on the field and smiled a toothy grin.

THE END

***********************************************************************

This short piece of fiction isn’t anything special. It’s more of an idea from a joke that I made at work about the Cubs winning the World Series bringing about the end of the world. It’s not really developed to the way it should be, but I knew if I was going to do anything with the idea I wanted to do it before this years World Series was over. I’m actually watching the game right now as I type this. I already know that the final score isn’t 3-2, and that Hendrick’s isn’t pitching the whole game. While I hadn’t really started following baseball up until the last few years, and I typically root for the Mets and the Blue Jays, I will say that this game has been exciting. This is actually the best game that I’ve watched so far this year. I really don’t have a preference for whom I want to win the World Series this year but the Indians did knock the Blue Jays off this year, so if the Cubs beat the Indians, it wouldn’t be so bad…

Listening and then acting

Yesterday on the radio a man was talking about his ministry in which he works with elderly people. He was sharing a story of a woman who recently had lost her son and had a medical bill that needed to be paid soon but had no way of paying it. This woman went into her back yard and laid prostrate on the ground cried out to God for help in her situation. The day that she had to pay to the bill she went to the doctor’s office and as she was standing in the elevator she could see the desk at which she would have to tell the receptionist she could not pay the bill. As she stepped out a stranger came over to her and asked her “are you so-and-so?” to which she replied yes that is me. The stranger handed her an envelope with money in it and said “God told me to give this to you.” The money in the envelope was the exact amount to cover the medical bill, down to the very last cent.

Now logically, I could attempt to explain this away. I could wonder where the stranger worked. Did he work for the doctor’s office and know about the bill and the woman’s inability to pay? Did he attend the same church as the woman and know about her predicament from a prayer request? We could attempt to try and string all of these things together and make some cohesive explanation of why this man knew this woman needed money to pay the bill, but to do that would devalue the miracle and also cheapen the lesson that God had for me in this story.

Regardless of how the man knew about this woman, her bill, and her ability to pay it, he had the money and he willingly gave it to her so she could pay the bill because God told him too. God spoke, the man listened, the man obeyed, and the man acted.

There is a lot of noise in our lives. We are distracted by our hectic schedules, our own problems that attempt to overwhelm us, but God is still there. Even when we think that we are in an unbearable situation there are people in much worse situations and they don’t have a faith in Jesus to fall back on. They have nothing. Maybe God is asking you to do something for a stranger today? Have you quieted yourself long enough to listen? If you hear will you obey?