Monday, January 31, 2011

To the best Grandpa ever

Death is an ugly thing, but in also allows for a look back at the past, to times of great fun and joy.

I guess growing up, I never realized the closeness of my relationship with my grandpa was unusual. Every day after school from kindergarten through 5th grade I got to hang out with my grandpa and grandma. Getting babysat by your grandparents is not something all kids get to enjoy, but I was fortunate enough to have it.

My Grandpa was the kindest and most heart-warming individual I knew. He was always there to crack jokes and play games, and even pretended to be impressed with my Lite Brite skills (they weren't very good). But more importantly, you could always just feel the love seeping from his every pore. That deep-seeded love was something I will never forget, whether it was on the way down to Florida in a minivan with him, or eating with him at lunchtime.

I was a picky kid when it came to eating, and my grandpa always accommodated. I wanted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich "with no cracks" every day. This was pretty tricky - have you have tried to fold over a piece of bread with something inside, and not make a crack? Well my grandpa got pretty good at it, and who knows how much perfectly good sandwiches he had to get rid of to accommodate my weird eating habits.

I've been told that my grandpa had a bit of a mean streak to him in his younger days - yelling at refs in basketball games and such. It's hard for me to believe though, because I never saw that side of him. Perhaps, though, his passion for sports is what is deep inside me.

His battle with Alzheimer's for the past 10 years or so has been a difficult thing for all of my family to handle. But his amazing heart and kindness always shined through, no matter what his cognitive state. You could still feel the love that he had for you, even if he was completely uncomfortable and confused on where he was. His eyes lit up anytime he saw us, or especially a child, and that's why I know he has to be loving heaven right now. Imagine all the corny jokes he can crack again and the kids he can make smile.

I'll miss you grandpa, but I know it was your time to go. Go love on grandma and save a place for me down the road.



Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thoughts in the New Year

Ezekiel 36:22 - “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone.”

I find the Ezekiel passage interesting, because it strikes me as God being prideful. Perhaps He has a reason to be - I mean He actually did create the world and all. So I started looking at my NIV study Bible notes, and it actually described the the passage much differently. God is not blessing Israel for his own sake, and just bringing along Israel for the ride because he has to. Nope, He wants to bring Glory to his name and blessing Israel is the best way to do that - despite their past behavior which hardly warrants blessing.

This got me thinking about the "Prosperity Gospel" preached by guys like Joel Osteen and Dave Ramsey. Is it, perhaps, that God is blessing you, through money and other things, but is doing so for His own glory? Think about it - does God continually want to make a Christian’s life difficult without any blessings? What kind of God would want that? Blessing us may sometimes be a way for him to reveal his Glory through us. This doesn’t mean that we won’t run into hard times or difficult trials - we grow through those tribulations, just as many great Christians have before us. But when we declare that we are Christians, just as the Israelites claimed they were Yahweh's people - His name is being portrayed in some way - good or bad. Others need to see God’s glory through us, and what better way than through blessing us.

Here is another tidbit (unrelated) from my new “C.S. Lewis Bible,” which puts excerpts from Lewis’s books next to passages that relate.

C.S. Lewis - You must realize from the outset that the goal towards which He is beginning to guide you is absolute perfection; and no power in the whole universe, except you yourself can prevent Him from taking you to that goal. - Mere Christianity

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Here goes nothing!

What a blessing living in Grand Rapids has been. I could not have asked for anything more. As I sit in my new family room near Chattanooga, TN, I can recall my memories fondly. But I'm not a memories guy, I'm more of a relationships guy, I've come to find. And there is nothing else I could ask for in that department than what I got.

Coming out of high school, my crew was pretty one-dimensional. I love them to death and still am in contact with them frequently. But we were all sports junkies - high on the sarcasm, low on the tolerance scale. It certainly shaped who I was coming in to college.

College Here I come!

At and around Calvin, I got to appreciate the finer art of having different kinds of friends (even friends that were girls!!). I loved every second of it. Granted, it took me a few months to get comfortable around people that didn't think exactly like I did, but man, what an experience. Everything at Calvin was up for debate. I grew a lot because of it, and I feel I'm more tolerant and open to discussion on my viewpoints now.

Crossroads Bible

As important was being able to grow within an inspiring church in Grand Rapids. I felt like I was on a Bible retreat for that hour and a half every Sunday morning, and it got me fired up every week. There is no doubt that I will miss Crossroads a ton. Look for big things out of them! They are on fire and are doing things right. I have no doubt that God will bless that congregation and all the great things they are doing. I'll keep listening online!


All the way through Calvin, I really had no idea what God wanted me to do with my life. The Business degree was an easy choice, because, essentially, it wasn't making a choice at all. But through my experiences in the last year, and some timely encounters with some insightful individuals, I feel like I have the best grasp on what I want to do with my life that I ever have.

Perhaps this is just me being optimistic (a rarity, I know :). But leaving the Midwest for "greener" pastures just seemed right. And I can't thank my supporting cast enough for giving me the go ahead to try to pull it off. Never have I felt so much support from friends and families for making such a risky decision. And that makes me feel great. Thank you all for being a great safety net, and I will continue to look to you for your insights and thoughts.

Take care and God Bless! From backwoods Tennessee :)


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fall in Michigan

It has been a relaxing and fun fall for me. Some fall colors, as well as a beautiful sunset over Lake Michigan in mid-October. God is good!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What does a life of Following God's lead look like?

Salvation - Spiritual Resume vs. Just Jesus

I'll admit, I'm a bit of a list maker. Although my apartment isn't spick and span, I do things in a very unflowing manner. I have a rotation of tshirts that I go through. That's right, I don't pick my next shirt, the shirt I wear is whatever is next in the rotation. I don't clean the dishes or the kitchen until it is done; I clean the kitchen for 10 minutes and stop, regardless of where I am at. So for me, having a checklist of things to do is comfortable, and just feels right.

So how does this seep into my faith? Easy - every part of me just wants to put down a checklist of things that I should or shouldn't do, and just follow it. Yep, got in my 2 chapters of reading the Bible in. Read a little John Ortberg. Good, I even prayed for awhile. Looks like I was a good Christian today.

That's why the sermon today hit me so hard - My salvation is not based on "Jesus + a "spiritual resume," it's just based on Jesus. There is nothing - literally NOTHING - that I can do that is righteous enough to deserve anything in the kingdom of heaven. It's all just rubbish. I know it, but I don't live it. I still go to bed thinking, "Did I do enough today to justify a life worthy of Christ?" and go down my checklist.

So where do I go from here? What does a life of just following after God look like? I know devotionals are still a good thing, but being so structured? Maybe not. I know I'm not pushing myself enough - I want to do continue to do things that are comfortable. That's why I am still in Grand Rapids. That's part of the reason I am helping out the golf team this year. These are things I enjoy, and they are comfortable.

So on days like this, where I literally have nothing to do from 2 to 6, I am not sure what I should do. I think I should be helping somebody. I KNOW I should be job hunting. But I'd rather mess around on facebook, or look at various sports sites.

Feel free to comment. Because I'm not sure how to go from here. I just know it's not the same way I've been doing things.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Times are a changing

It's been a busy few weeks...To say the least. And decisions which I felt were made were reversed, but I'm happy to say that I am confident that the right decisions have been made. This blog may be a little me-centered, but that's what blogs are all about right? :) I feel a little narcissistic.

(I wrote the beginning of this blog before the sermon I heard today about humility. Lovely.)


For quite a while now, it has been a dream of mine (and a buddy of mine) to just move south towards North Carolina and set up shop there after we graduated from Calvin. The idea never really had real support - we just kept plowing along sending out resumes and hoping for the best. And as we both plugged along (in different states over the summer), something interesting things began to happen. I received a job offer to stay in Grand Rapids, and I was excited. However, the more I thought about the offer, the more I felt like it was settling. Settling for something not in an area of passion. Settling for something different than what God has called me to do. So I took a bold step, that I'm not sure I would have taken even a few years ago. I turned it down. And I will continue to look.

In the meantime, I will be working at a local private country club in Grand Rapids. Nothing glamorous, that's for sure, but it's in an area of passion. I figure at the least I'll learn something, and figure out if that's an area I could see myself being in for a career. That gives me a little time to work things out.

My friend, however, did land a job...down in Tennessee. So as I continue to look for a job (likely outside of Michigan), a new focus in the Chattanooga area will begin. I don't know if I'll end up there, but it sure would be nice to see our dream fulfilled (albeit on the wrong side of the Appalachians:).


As soon as I got comfortable with my decision, I found out I would need to find a place for the next few months. Could be an interesting time in my life, but I'm excited for the possibilities.


Hard to talk about, right? Crossroads has just been hammering this point home, and I believe it needs to start sticking in me. Something to consider, that my Pastor Rod said today.

"Humility isn't thinking more of yourself, or less of yourself. It's just thinking about yourself a whole lot less."

He continued by pointing out that our gaze should be fixed on Christ, rather than on ourselves in the mirror. This is tough stuff for me. After all, I am a blogger, right? I want people to read what I have to say, or care about the opinions I have on issues. But is it really edifying in some way? Is anyone really benefiting from what I'm doing? Granted, I could be doing something less productive (like watching Mad Men like crazy - oh wait - I'm already doing that). Is this -along with facebook, or twitter, or anything else - just a colossal "LOOK AT ME, I'M IMPORTANT!" I'm afraid I know the answer, and I don't like it.

(but I'll probably still check out the analytics on this post to see if anyone read my important stuff - ugh)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Up in the Air

As day after day passes, my future becomes more and more at the forefront of my mind. So on this gloomy Michigan day, I come to you somehow content and at peace with where I am at, and wherever I may end up.

Needed and Glorious Distractions

You may know me well, or not so well at all. What is clear everyday is that God knows me SO well.

I'm a person who always loves to be in control. The people close to me know this about me, and either live with it or appreciate it (probably more the former than the latter). So when I come up against a time of uncertainty, I get REALLY flustered. My heart beats a little faster, and I'm uncomfortable.

Come August 20, I have no idea where I will be. Will I stay in Grand Rapids for a little bit? Will I stay here for a long time? Will I fulfill my 2-year pursuit of moving to the Carolinas? I honestly have no idea. But this I know - if I was allowed to think about this nonstop, I WOULD. So I thank God for needed and glorious distractions.

I've been so blessed this summer to live with one of my best friends. Together we always find something to do. I've yet to feel this comfortable living away from home. And for that, I thank you Paul. Your presence has given me a steady and needed influence this summer.

To friends and friends of friends - Thank you for continuing to be a part of my life! Last weekend, I was 'distracted' by a friend coming up from Indiana. Next week, Luke comes back to Grand Rapids for close to a week! Can't wait for it.

And through it all, I can sense that God is just keeping me sane. He knows me better than anyone, and He has given me the distractions I've needed to enjoy the summer in all of its glory. And for that, I thank Him.