Jan
15

Crossroads Community Church (my church) is launching a new small group class series in Feb. Pastor Rick Warren of Saddle Back Church is the author of the study. It’s called “40 Days of Community.” I can’t wait to get started.

When Susan and I first got involved with small group we did the first series he did called, “The Purpose Driven Life.” That book along with the series, changed my life in so many ways.

The first major life change I experienced was friends. Susan and I had never had really close friends before. I don’t know how I made it this far in life without our friends The love, the genuine caring for one another…it’s amazing.

The second thing I took from this book was my relationship with God. Up until that point I thought it was about me. I was wrong. When I first started focusing on how I could serve God and not him serving me, wow… did thing really start changing in my life. My relationships with other people; Susan and the kids, co-workers, my boss…….My entire outlook on life changed. Questions like: What could I give someone else that could help them? How could I serve the needs of others? I learned what it meant to be a Christ follower.

From the small group I found my passion to teach the Word of God. I got so into studying his word, that I couldn’t wait to share with the group what I had learned. From a lot of prayer and support from Susan, the kids, and my friends, I decided last year to go back to school. Trinity School of the Bible & Seminary. I was an awful student in high school. School and I were like oil and water. But I love seminary.

My prayer is that people get out of this new small group study what I got out of the last one: friends, a closer relationship with God, positive life change, and the passion to serve.

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Jan
06

Man it’s cold!
I thought about summer this morning as I was driving Kaitlynn to school. Waking up at 3 a.m. in mid August to go to work with the thermostat already near 80 degrees with 100 percent humidity. Ahhh, the good old days, the dog days of summer…………what dose that mean anyway, “dog days of summer?” Who cares, it was WARM!!!

I don’t like coats, hats, gloves………don’t like bundling up. Don’t like my mustache freezing due to me breathing while I am outside. (or inside for that matter depending on Susan’s mood.)

I just found a trip to Mexico on the web; round trip from Detroit for $19.00 per person.

Susan said “NO!!!!!!!”

Fly down, sit on the beach, fly back home in time to pick the girls up from school……..get a tan……..

“NO, NO, NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Man it’s cold.

Jan
01

I woke up early this morning; 2:10 a.m.

Don’t know why.

For some reason I couldn’t get back to sleep. I thought of the upcoming new year and the hope I have for it. I prayed for the change in leadership of our country that this new year will bring.

I reflected a bit on this past year. Didn’t spend much time thinking about it. I simply thanked God for all the many blessings that he had given to myself and family. I thought of friends, those that we have lost this past year and also those whom I have become closer to.

I also for some odd reason thought of new years past. The worst new years was that of 1987 when my dad died. I thought of all the should haves and should nots of our relationship. That took me to New Year’s Eve 1984 when Dad and I had this huge fight and I left home. I spent nearly a week living in my car trying to figure out what was next. It was at that exact moment in my life when I met Susan. Wow, talk about timing!!!

Word of advice, don’t spend too much time looking back.

Instead, pray for the future.

Happy New Year, to all, and to all a good nite.

Dec
29

Well, here I am sitting in the lowest spot in my house: “MY MAN CAVE” the basement. A few months ago, the girls and I made some shelves for extra storage for our basement. Simple really, just some OSB walls, with shelves attached. I have been using one corner of the basement as a place to sit and listen to my old records and do class work. A little carpet, a coffee pot, a couple of tables and lamps, a chair or two………Walla!! Man Cave!!

It’s nothing fancy by any woman’s standards, but if you’re a guy, well……any place you can grab a few minutes alone in your own home is a great place.

After I quit drinking 15 years ago, I soon discovered that I had a lot of extra money in my pocket. NASCAR was just getting hot in those days and NASCAR collectibles were latest thing. Susan, Kyle and I (the girls didn’t exist then) would hit all the shows and collectible stores and spend my once beer money.

I lost count of all the die-cast, but I know it’s hundreds. I collected NASCAR trading cards, posters, photos, I even have a Sam Bass print of Dale Earnhardt with his Wrangler Monti Carlo. Thats a cool one.

A while back, the girls helped me drag some of it down to my cave and I have to tell ya, it just gave it that homey, cavey feeling I was looking for.

I think I’m gonna put an old Cream lp on the turntable and catch up on the 1993 Winston Cup season while propping my feet up on one of my GOODYEAR WRANGLER racing slicks from a NASCAR race a couple of years ago at Michigan International Speedway.

Jealous?

Dec
28

Last night Kyle and I drove up to Mount Pleasant Michigan for his birthday present. We went to see Buddy Guy and The Robert Cray Band live at the Soring Eagle Casino. Way cool!!! We had front row end seats left of center stage. Really good seats.

Robert Cray opened the show, and man what a show. If you have never seen him play in person DO IT!!!!!
Incredible guitarist.

My personal opinion is rather sad but I will share it. Robert Cray is without a doubt one of the best guitarist ever. But due to the amount of legendary performers who play the Blues, Robert Cray will never get the recognition he deserves. Long after Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Albert King, John Lee Hooker and all the other greats are all dead and gone, Robert Cray will still be out there playing his music without due noted fame.

Buddy Guy Walks out onto the stage and just blows everyone away. About half way through his show Buddy decides to walk off stage and out into the auditorium. He walked up and down the aisles just jamin’ on this yellow Fender Strat. The crowd’s going crazy. Kyle and I are trying to find him after loosing him in the crowd.

Then out of no where, we spotted Buddy in the back of the room coming our way. “Here he comes kyle,” I screamed. Then within a couple of minutes there he was, 2 feet in front of us. He made a dead stop right in front of me and we just locked eyes. He stood there bending strings, glaring at me eye to eye with this look on his face that said, “I’m bad!!!”

Intimidating!!!!!!!

It was a great night. Kyle and I have gone to a lot of concerts together. B.B. King, Peter Frampton, Journey, and now Buddy and Robert. The cool thing is this is our thing; music. My dad and I didn’t have a thing. That makes this even that more special. Happy 21st Birthday Kyle.

Dec
28

There is something about Christmas that’s really not Christmas. No, not all the commercialism, and the retail business. I want to talk about the pain that comes with the Christmas season.

There are a lot of people who are going through the motions of celebrating the Christmas season this year the same as they have done for a very long time. Agonizing over getting with family members who they really don’t like, in some cases can’t stand the thought of being in the same room with. They relive arguments and fights from years past and replay them over and over in their minds like home movies with really bad endings. All of the he saids, and she saids, haunt them to the point of hate and contempt. This for some is a good old fashion family Christmas.

They spend hours tramping around shopping malls buying each other gifts hoping the other didn’t out spend them so to avoid the appearance of looking cheep. They sign their Christmas cards, “Merry X-mas.” Not knowing they just X’ed out the reason for the season.

How many people I wonder spend Christmas this way?

How many people set around a dinner table with family who seem like strangers, or people who they wish were people they liked and got along with?

It’s sad.

The good news is that the holiday season doesn’t have to be this way. You see, God created Christmas by giving the people of this world His Son as a gift. The Bible says that who ever believes in me, (Jesus) shall not die, but spend eternity with God in Heaven.

What dose all of that have to do with getting along with my in-laws during the holidays?

Glad you asked. Through God’s forgiveness of our sins, we are to forgive others who have wronged us, thus, making it easier to get along.

I didn’t say it would be easy, the important things in life are never easy.

You will never change the wrongs that have been done to you. You will never undo the wrongs you have done yourself. But the key to healing the wounds is forgiveness. God was willing to send his only son to earth to die for us so that we may be forgiven. For forgiveness sake, what are you willing to sacrifice?

Dec
06

God put two special people in my life this week. Thursday I stopped at my barber after work for a haircut. As I was pulling into the parking lot, an older gentleman was going into the shop. I thought, “cool, only one old dude ahead of me, I won’t have to wait too long.” I had no clue that God needed me at that moment.

The older gentleman was already sitting in the barber’s chair by the time I walked in. He was talking to Betty the owner of the shop. I have been going to Betty for haircuts for about 6 months. She’s great. The conversation between the older gentleman and Betty was about the man’s health. It’s not too good.

After his haircut, the gentleman asked Betty (who is a Christian) if she would remember him in her prayers. Betty asked him if he would like for us to pray for him now. The gentleman nodded his head yes and looked my way. I stood up and walked over to him and joined hands with him and Betty. We prayed over him while he sat in the barber’s chair.

After we were finished, the gentleman wiped the tears from his eyes and put his glasses back on. He noticed that I was wearing a shirt with our church’s logo on it. He asked, “Do you go to Crossroads?” “Every Sunday,” I answered. The older gentleman proceeded to tell me how he has sometimes visited my church, and how much he liked it. I invited him to come back and he said he would. That’s way cool and I hope he dose.

Today, our church held it’s 2nd annual Project Share. We raised over $50,000 to feed 1000 families in Lenawee County. Susan and I passed out boxes of food at a local soup kitchen. Most of the people who came today to pick up their food were homeless. I can’t imagine living out on the streets with my wife and kids. There were a lot of young mothers in their 20’s with little kids who were there needing help. It just broke my heart. But that’s not the whole story.

One of the volunteers from our church who was helping us today at the soup kitchen told me that she didn’t have any food at her apartment. I’ve known this young lady for about a year, and didn’t know that things were that bad for her. I was upset at myself because I never took the time until today to get to know her well enough to help her. She has been coming to Crossroads for several years now and isn’t really connected. She is very well known and a lot of people would bust their butts to help her, but the problem is she just won’t let people in.

Susan and I took her out to dinner with us and the girls and then took her to Meijer’s to buy her groceries. This young lady was giving her time to help others who were in need and the entire time knew that she was one of the people who needed the help.

If you ask God to use you for His purpose, be ready, be prepared. He will use you. I am amazed how far out of my comfort zone God has pushed me. I am by nature not a people person. I am more of the behind the scenes kinda guy. The more I find myself involved with others I have to admit, I like it. I am also amazed at how much I have grown. It’s an incredible journey.

Nov
27

I’m Stuffed!

Turkey, dressing, giblet gravy. Did I mention the dressing?

Thanksgiving has always been a special time for me. When I was a little kid, my family and I would spend Thanksgiving in Tennessee. Wednesday night after school my house was a mad house! My dad and brother Gary would be running around grabbing all our stuff and loading it into my dad’s ’66 Buick Wildcat. My mom always fried chicken for our dinner on the road. My sister Kim and I had to make sure we had the right coloring books for the trip. Hey I was only eight!

Mom and dad would go over their mental check list of things they needed to do and or pack for the trip as we backed out of the driveway. Normally we would be half way down the street before one one ask, “Did you turn off the coffee pot?”

Cincinnati Ohio was half way. I loved crossing the Cincinnati Ohio Bridge at night. All the lights from the buildings, the traffic, the excitement of being four hours from Mamaw Brooks’ house. (Mamaw is hillbilly for Grandmother)

We would normally get to Mamaw’s house around midnight. I love the smell of coal smoke. It has this manly musk smell with just a hint of “sweet” to it. I don’t think there is another smell quite like coal and it would be hanging heavy in the cold midnight air when we would pull into the driveway.

No matter what time we would get there, everyone was always up early Thanksgiving Day. Mom, Mamaw, and my aunts would be making breakfast. My dad and uncles would be getting ready for the shootin’ matches! We are going to go into some detail of these “shootin’ ” matches a little later. My sister Kim and I got to play with Mark and Suzie Lay who lived down the road from my Mamaw.

Now, back to the shootin’ matches. Let me set the scene for you. We are in the hills of Tennessee on some red dirt road over in Stinking Creek. There is a bunch red neck hillbillies named Jebbo, Ampey and Bubba J who all have an arsenal of guns that would make the Michigan Militia drool. They’re sippin’ on moonshine, spittin‘ Beechnut, and shooting at targets located down in the “hallar” for frozen turkeys and smoked hams.

Back home in the kitchen the women folk are cookin’ Thanksgiving dinner. Roast turkey, dumplings, sage dressing, buttermilk biscuits, corn bread, sweet potatoes; and lets not forget desert. Pies, hundreds of pies, and my favorite, peanut butter cake!!!! All this was cooked on a coal cook stove in a house that didn’t have indoor plumbing and water that came from a creek about a quarter of a mile away.

All us kids were outside sliding down the slate dump on an old wash tub. I guess you are wondering what a slate dump is. Well, it’s a mountain high pile of slate that is dug out of the ground by coal miners while digging for coal.  My dad spent nearly half his life digging for coal. All I cared about as a kid is that I could go sledding year round!!!!!

After dinner my dad and uncles and who ever else showed up that could pick and sing would gather in the dinning room and play music till way past bed time. It was like “Hee Haw” Live!!!

My mom, dad, mamaw, aunts and uncles are all gone now. My aunt Fay who was my last living relative on my dad’s side of the family died last week. Even though everyone is gone, I love all the memories they gave me and am thankful that I can make holiday memories for my own kids. I just wish we had a slate dump and a wash tub to play with, that would make Thanksgiving complete.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Nov
15

A 53 year old man goes to the doctor. Aches, pains…normal “getting old” stuff. So he thought.

The pains persisted, and he goes back to the doctor for more tests, more evaluations…………..

A couple of days pass and the 53 year old man receives a phone call from the doctor to set up an appointment to discuss his test results. The next afternoon the 53 year old man and his wife meet with the doctor.

“I am sorry to have to tell you that you have pancreatic cancer.”

After more tests and evaluations it is determined that surgery wouldn’t help the 53 year old man. In fact, due to the circumstances of the cancer, it might even kill him. The best the doctor can offer is chemo therapy to help ease the pain for the last 6 months of his life.

This is the story of someone I know.

Ever sense I received this news, I have been numb with emotions that I can’t explain. I have been evaluating my relationships with Susan, with the kids and my friends.  Am I the husband, dad or friend I want to be? Am I the husband, dad or friend that God wants me to be?

If a doctor told me that I only had 6 months to live would I feel cheated? Would I feel like I have done the most with my life?

I have thought of things like the song Live Like You Were Dieing and the move The Bucket List.

Have I loved the way God would have wanted me to have loved?

I have a friend named Bob. Bob is like the most outgoing, pick you up when you are down kinda guy that you would ever want to meet. Always happy, totally filled with the love of God; a guy who you just want to be around because he is such a wounderful person. Bob and his bride Dorthy were married for a long, long time and had a relationship that would make most of us jellious.

Dorthy had cancer and was dieing. I asked Bob how he did it, how he stayed so happy knowing everything that was going on with Dorthy. I personnaly would be a basket case.

Bob said it as simple as a person could. He said, “It’s better to break bread than to argue over why it got burnt.”

All the minutes that turn into hours and all the hours that turn into days through the course of our lives spent fighting and arguing with the ones we love are simply a waste of life.  I think that if the 53 year old man could go back in time and take back all the harsh comments and ill thoughts and feelings that he has had towards his family he would. We all would. But we can’t.

But we can all start living today as if we were dieing.

Nov
04

I had today off from work because it it election day. If you haven’t yet voted, go do it now. It’s important!!!

Anyway, I have today off so I got to sleep in till 6:30 this morning. COOL!!! I was served coffee in bed by my beautiful wife Susan, enjoyed waking up slowly instead of my normal mad rush three hours earlier, and drove my daughter Kaitlynn to school.

I was amazed at how many moms and dads there were at 7:30 dropping off kids for school. I mean there were a lot of mini-vans!!! Men and women who were chugging coffee, talking on their cell phones; one dad was drinking coffee, talking on his cell phone and eating a roll while barking out instructions to his kid (who by the time got into the building forgot what his dad had told him anyway). What I want to know is how did this man hold all that stuff while he was driving?

After I dropped Kaitlynn off, I went to get my oil changed and wash my car. Both the car wash and instant oil change were closed.

Let’s review; It’s 7:30 a.m. Moms and dads dropping off kids at school, business not yet open, it’s 7:30 in the freaking morning people!!! My “normal” day started 4 hours earlier.

WOW!!!

Sorry about the rant……………..I forgot what it was like to have a “normal” life. I miss it.

Don’t forget to vote.