Saturday, December 15, 2012

What is worth fighting for?

"My guidance counselor told me I had potential and could do many things the problem was there wasn't one thing I was passionate about." Were the words of a 23 year old young man I was talking to this week.
Through the conversation we had, I tried to pull out some sort of passion. In the end the best I could do was find out his passion for sports.
I wonder if many people in life have a passion that is worth fighting for? Ideals, principles, or people that they would go to any lengths to preserve.
Sure many of us have opinions, beliefs, family, jobs, careers, and even faith but do these become so familier that we become apathetic.

I love observing people that are determined, and focused. Curiousity and trying new things mark my life. So I really do appriciate those who are steadfast and solid.

Some are determined and focused because they have to be. Kyle has to be determined in order to get through each day. It is hard work for him to do the simplest tasks. It is work for him to go to school, eat, and go to the bathroom. Determination marks his life whether he wants it to or not.

Yesterday I met Bart. Bart is determined to provide for his family. Bart is disabled, an ex offender, and doesn't have much going for him. Yet Bart is determined, a hard worker, someone who is going to do all he can to provide for his family.

As I think back on this year in many ways I would describe it as a year of brokeness. One of the issues that has hit me the hardest is seeing many family and friends marriages/families split up.

It would be very easy to perscribe the items worth fighting for and those that are not. But the only one I can say that I believe is not worth fighting for is happiness.

I say this because for some reason we think that happiness is the goal in life. We (I) have the mentality that if I feel secure financially, safe from scary people, and have health than this what life is about. Once I have achieved these than I feel happy. Yes these are all the things worth fighting for.

But the questions is are these the things we fight for? Sure all these things are great but how much control do we have of these things?

Happiness- I don't believe comes from the logical places. Last week I had a friend text me and say I got a bonus from work do you know any families that coud use money this Christmas? Through the money given two families were blessed. Both have been struggling and fighting for marriages and survival.

This morning a man who lost his son to suicide is leading a group of people to build a bedroom for a family whose young girls lost their mother earlier this year.

Keeping away from pain, as much as try can we control it? Yesterday as we watched in horror of the conn, school shooting that was a good town in a "safe" neighborhood yet still tragedy struck. We can not control the diagnosis of cancer. So is pain aversion worth fighting for?

How will we deal with pain, unmet expectations, and the plethera of other things that can mark our lives? Will we fight for people? Will we fight for justice for the oppressed? Will we use our resources to help others?

As I think of Christmas I think of the story of God sending His Son to earth to live a life that was perfect in the sense of Jesus being perfect far from perfect in the sense of wealth. To die a painful and horrific death and take an eternal punishment that was meant for us.

Brokeness- that is a word that describes many of us and our world. I want to fight for wholeness, restoration, and forgiveness. That is what Jesus fought for and I want to fight for the same thing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Preserving Life

Life- there are many cliques to describe it, there are many different ways of explaining it. In the end we all enjoy it to some degree and want to live as long as we can.

Today I was asked in prison self defense training "if you were attacked would you attack back physically to main or kill?" Of course the answer should be yes I want to preserve my life. But is perserving life the point of living?

Life is it about the length, is it about the perserving of it? Jesus said "whoever who loses His life for my sake will find it." This may be literal but in many cases this will be proverbial. Do we hold onto life so tightly that we try to love life more than anything else.

Do we love life more than anything else? Do we love perserving our breath here on earth to the detrimate of others?

While I pondered the question of maiming someone else to perserve my own life in prison. It brought me back to the reason why I walked into a prison freely in the first place. It was to share the hope, love, and life of Jesus. To me worrying about perserving my life goes in direct opposition to Jesus and the way He lived His life.

Jesus' gave His life for something greater than Himself. He gave Himself for the love of humanity.
His life meant something. Does my life mean something? Is there concepts, principles, or people that I would be willing to give my life to?

Life takes on a different tone when living with someone with a life shortening disease. Death and life is a conversation that can't be shied away from. We as a family are going to experience it sooner rather than later. How does this affect the way we live each day? It is impossible for us to preserve Kyle's life, we may prolonge it but the outcome is still going to happen. Reality it is going to happen to all of us just it is more immenent when we think about Kyle.

So what does that mean? For us there might not be a tomorrow to do all the things we wanted to do. Each day is precious but it is short. The words that we want to say have to be said today, the experiences we want need to happen now, the example we want to share needs to happen before it is to late.

As I think through the question of would I maim or kill someone trying to take my life? The answer is no because preserving my life for the sake of preservation is not the way I live my life.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

what is different?

What started off as a good idea, no a perfect idea went horribly wrong. In believing that God created man and earth to be perfect I believe that the accounts in the beginning of Genesis are a depiction of perfect harmony.

I have been thinking a lot lately of what makes what we experience here on earth different than heaven. The pain, hatred, sorrow, pride, bigotry, was not what God had in mind when earth was created.

I have had numerous people ask me of late "why does God hate me?" The question means  the circumstance in my life are so bad that if there is a God he must be punishing me because it is so awful. Is that true for anyone? I don't believe it is, but I do think that there is enough garbage that happens in the world to make us think that at times.

What would it look if life was full of perfect people?  That is one small aspect of heaven. As I am thinking about this what does it mean to be perfect? Even when I do the "right" thing most of the time my motives aren't pure.

The idea of perfection when it comes to people is hard to comprehend. People do good things, and there are great examples of love, sacrifice, and courage in our history. But there is also much more examples of anger and hate. It pops its head up in all of our lives. What does it look like to have a pure motive? A pure motive is one that does not put self as the top beneficiary. In life we look at every problem and situation with us as the center. How does this affect me, my beliefs, values, and quality of life?  It is extremely hard to even think of life without being selfish at the core.

Trust, faith, patient, kindness, and self-control (among other attributes) do not come easy or natural to us. They may come natural in certain settings but put us in the tough or threatening situation and those attributes dimish very quickly.

I fully believe one of the main differences between earth and heaven is not having self at the center of every problem or decision.

It is interesting to think about trusting God, if God indeed created everyone than there is no bias. There is no bias toward certain races, gender, special needs, intellegence. How come I find it easier to trust humans who have biases (we all have them) then a God who is above bias?

Life on this earth will be difficult and imperfect in so many ways, but the desire for something perfect has to be one of thoughts when I think about heaven.

Monday, November 5, 2012

We all have normal childhoods because we don't know any different

Jill and I were talking about the many questions that we have been asked about Kyle. Many are asked about his sleeping habits- "does he sleep in his wheelchair?" "Or how does he go to the bathroom?"

Most are asked by children full of curiousity and wonder, not being exposed to handicapped children they don't know. One of the basic premises that surround these questions "is Kyle like us?" or "is he inhuman in someway?"

It is very easy on a very basic human level to see those not like us and have second thoughts or aprehensions that there is something wrong with them.

As a child we have thoughts that everyone's homelife upbringing is the same as ours. Everyone had basically the same experiences as us. Recently one of the guys in my prison class said as a child he thought white people didn't go to church because he never saw them in his African American congregation.

How many untrue thoughts do we have about others because we just assume? We never experienced something or saw it for ourselves so we think it isn't true?

As Jill walks through stores with Kyle and the look of disdain or fear of a wheelchair apears on peoples faces Jill will remark "you can't catch it."

Either consciously or subconsciously we teach our children about other people through the way we act and not act.

There are some things that Ayden and Ellyse experience that is going to be natural for them that would be totally foreign to most. For instance Ellyse has helped get Kyle on the toilet and it is natural. Both of them take Kyle for a walk in his wheelchair. This may not seem like a big deal but there is strength needed and care. It is very easy for cracks and bumps to derail a wheelchair.

Will this affect both of them in their lives, career choices, and the type of people they will be? I believe so. I think that at least Ellyse will end up caring for people in some capacity.

To continue to push ourselves through our prejudices, pre concieved ideas, and the unknown is difficult. But in the end we are cheating ourselves if we embrace untrue notions.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The beauty of souls

Gen 1:26 "Let us make man in our image."

Many people observe God through nature. They can see his handiwork through the beauty of sunsets, trees changing color in the fall, or through snowflakes. These are tangible expressions of God. Some may even see God's beauty through the various animals,and creatures. The originality of a platypus, or the majestic blue whale. These again are beauty that can be seen and appriciated.

I have been thinking a lot lately in the beauty found in people. Not physical beauty but beauty of the soul. If man was indeed created by God there are His fingerprints on each of us. Now I fully believe that we are sinful people and have a will of our own and do horrible things. But, I do believe there is beauty found within people.

It is very easy for us as humans to be around people that sound, smell, think, and live like us. No matter what our culture is we tend to gravitate to those that reflect our way of living. It is difficult for us to be around people that don't look at the world as we do. It is difficult not to become frustrated and call people ignorant, misguided, or just plain wrong. I believe that our view of God is directly affected by this. When we are only around people just like us who believe in God the exact same we do, this becomes the only picture we have. God must be this way because all of my friends believe this.

Prejudice may be one of the biggest obsticles we as people face. Prejudices can be against race, economic status, people that are handicapped or just stupid people. Pride swells up and the thought of God loves me more than these because I am smarter, more educated, or have it together is common place.

But what happens when we allow ourselves to listen, engage, and be learners from those unlike us? What happens when we sit at the proverbial feet of those who previously we thought we had little to learn from?

Recently I have gotten to be friends with Eli, Eli grew up a gypsy. I had never met a gypsy before and had all sorts of pre concieved ideas of what a gypsy was. One of the most important concepts he told me that gypsys have is family. The other is faith.  His upbringing looked a whole lot different than mine, his rituals, and even his way he viewed life was different. But as I listened to him, I began to see the beauty of Eli's life. He is a man of faith, he is a man of morals (very similiar to mine). But yet he is someone who I could say all sorts of nasty things about because he doesn't look like me. In our blossoming friendship he has already challenged me in some very good ways about my own life.

Don was a man I met via craigslist who bought a drum set off of me. We were in a parking lot in the middle of a rainstorm when he told me he bought the set for a son who wanted to play in church. Immediately I told him I was a pastor. He then for 15 minutes told me his journey from the church, . through some poor choices he had been ostricized. Don was a drummer like his son, and had been playing and worshipping God at home through his playing. As I was freezing, I was able to say a couple of encouraging words but again I could see God's work through Don.

Joe was another man I met via craigslist. He was a tough steel worker. He had picked up a table I was giving away. Joe had wanted it because he remakes junkie tables and makes them into something beautiful. Joe happened to have a zip drive with former projects and proudly gave them to me. Spiritually came up and Joe shared how he use to be Catholic but he had been going to a nazerene church with his wife. In a steel worker tone he told me he needed God taught in a practical no-nonsense way. He was very confused by catholism but had wanted a relationship with God. Through my conversation with Joe I again realized that God was working in Joe's life in a totally different way.

One last story, I met Garry last week at a storage auction. Garry was an African American man about 45. I had never seen him before and but he seemed very friendly. After the last unit was auctioned off Garry made a comment about my signature crocs I wear everywhere. So not letting a conversation escape I asked him if this was the first time he had been at an auction. He told me yes, and I am here because I fell on some hard times. I was a little confused and I asked did they auction off your unit? He said not here but at the next auction (they did numerous different storage units) they will. He then shared that he had been in California for a while and his son was to keep paying on the unit but had stopped to buy a car. So all of Garry's possessions were to be auctioned off. Immediately I knew I had to do something, but I had to get home so I couldn't buy the unit for him. There was a friend of mine at the auction and I usually don't bid against him as a courtesy. So I approached him told him Garrys story and asked if he could either let Garry buy the unit or buy if and let Garry get the personal belongings out. He agreed. Garry was thrilled. He then asked me if I bought storage units for a living? I told him nah I am a pastor. He then said I knew it, there was something about you that just glowed. Garry texted me that night and said I got my stuff back. I have no idea what happened other than God worked.

I fully believe God works through us every day, He has created us and expresses beauty through our souls. But it so easy to miss this when we are prejudice or so wrapped up in our own problems.

I love the different ways God has expressed himself but one of my favorites is through other people.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Black and white

For the last couple of months, Ayden and Ellyse have a game that they like to play with me. The game is see if I can make them talk or laugh. The goal is for them not to make a noise or say a word. So of course I say off the wall things, or all sorts of other techniques to get them to talk. Usually they are pretty good and can keep a straight face or be quiet. Kyle tried this game out and I learned real quick his weakness. All I had to do was say something that wasn't true and Kyle would correct me.

For instance if Kyle was wearing a blue shirt, I would say he was wearing red and immediately he would correct me. I would pretend that I had his nose and he would feel on his face and say no you don't. Kyle can not tolerate things that are not true. It is a natural instinct. If something someone says does not line up with the way Kyle sees the world he corrects it.

For Kyle the world is black and white, there is truth and there are lies there isn't to much middle ground. He doesn't function to well in decisions that are arbitrary but if there is a right and there is a wrong Kyle will let you know.

There are a few things in life that Kyle would say are wrong- the worst thing you could be in the world is a hoarder. The second worst is a smoker. Third is a litterer. Kyle thinks it is his job to inform our neighbors about their issues.

We walk through our neighborhood almost every night and visit with various people. A few of them smoke, a couple hoard, and even a few litter. The other night one of the neighbors who smokes put his cigarette on the ground and Kyle saw that immediately. He started to complain at the neighbor.  The neighbor was a good sport and picked it up and showed Kyle it as he threw it away.

I many times envy the black and white view of life that Kyle has. It is very easy for me never to make a decision because I analyze it from so many different sides that it becomes muddied and not clear.

It is easy for me to justify all sorts of words I say, attitudes I have, or actions or inactions due to my mood or feelings I have at the time.

Now we are working on Kyle to start viewing other injustice' in life with as much passion and vigor as hoarding, smoking, and littering. He has started to embrace the idea that hoarding in his room might be fun.

It is refreshing, and helpful in our family to have someone that cuts through all the side issues and fluff to the core issues and states it in black and white terms.

Sometimes it is easy to overlook a handicapped person's knowledge and intellect but when we do we miss on simple and profound truths.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Three distinct days

With Kyle's birthday on Sunday I wanted to post a writing I did for the book Saving our Sons and Daughters 2. It came out last spring:

Three distinct Days

There are momentous days in each of our lives, I want to share three of those days that have shaped our family.

Sept 2, 2000-

The anticipation was palpable, this was our first child, first grandchild on both sides of the family.  We knew he was going to be a boy.  Jill had checked into the hospital on Friday morning and finally on Saturday early evening she had a c-section to bring Kyle into this world. I remember the first time I saw him, he was being held by the nurse and he was scrunched up with his eyes closed.  He was perfect, it was exciting, tiring and the beginning of an adventure. We were in our mid-twenties, and we were ready for this new stage of life with kids.

This was just the beginning, the possibilities were endless. Sports had played such a huge role in my life, and I was positive that they would play an integral role in Kyle’s life also.  The first thing we did as father and son was watch a football game. I remember it well it was opening day of the season. It was the Bears against the Vikings. Cade Mcnown had one of his best days as a pro.  The Bears won and life was good.

At about six months we knew something wasn’t right. Kyle was a great baby but he wasn’t functioning as a “normal” baby. He wasn’t rolling over, he wasn’t sitting up on his own.  Throughout the next  couple of years we kept hearing the word delay. Kyle is just delayed, it wasn’t anything to worry about, with physical therapy he would catch up.  No one seemed overly worried, so we were patient.  When he was two and a half we decided to take him to Riley’s children hospital in Indianapolis, during that visit we had a blood test with various other tests done. It would be about a week before we received the results.

 A Wednesday in Febuary of 2003-

It was a typical morning.  I had left around 8:30 for work, and had been at my desk for about half an hour when the secretary told me Jill was on the phone. Jill calmly and softly told me the blood test came back and the doctors believe he has muscular dystrophy. The first question was “what does this mean? Jill said something to the effect of she didn’t have any idea.  My head was spinning, and immediately I did an internet search of muscular dystrophy.  It didn’t take long for my world to crash around me.  As I sat in my office at the church I worked at, I sobbed.  I was sitting in a place where people find hope, peace, and comfort but  I was feeling despair, hopelessness, and anxiety.

We didn’t initially know what type of muscular dystrophy Kyle would have.  There was hope in the initial stages he would something other than Duchene.   We quickly learned that Duchene was the most common form of MD and it was likely that Kyle had this.  I didn’t know all the implications but I did know that this would change life.

There were good days and bad for the next few years, I didn’t know how to respond or react.  I am not sure I still know how.  

There was a loss, Kyle wouldn’t be the person I thought he would be.  There was so much gut wrenching pain in that, each time it would hit me of things we wouldn’t experience together it would be a new wave of emotion. 



There is a huge difference between existing and living.  For much of the last 8 years our family was breathing and existing but we weren’t living. I was disengaged most of the time, trying to escape reality by being over involved in work, projects, and leisure enjoyments.  There were many titles and roles I was comfortable with but father of a special needs child was not one of them.  I didn’t have a road map for what I was supposed to do or how to act.

Then the summer of 2011 came. There were two catalytic moments that changed our (specifically my) life and our relationship to Duchene’s.  The first was going to a family camp put on for special needs families by Joni and Friend’s ministry.  Our church had tried talk our family into going for 3 years. I had drug my feet and not wanted to do it, I was very uncomfortable with the thought of going to a place where I would have to face reality for a week. I was voted down 4-1 in our family vote for attending the camp.  It was that week that began the reengagement for me.  Seeing and meeting other fathers who had dealt with the same moments I had was therapeutic. We laughed, cried and bonded so quickly over our common crisis in life. Seeing these examples was what I needed.

The other moment that changed our perspective was when we received a call from a local foot doctor who asked if he could have Kyle do a sprint triathlon with him. We(I) had focused so long on Kyle’s limitation that we had not allowed him to live life.  The triathlon opened up possibilities that we never had thought of before. After the triathlon Kyle began asking to do activities like sky diving he had never known before. Our conversations began to center on how Kyle can do something rather than lamenting why he couldn’t.

Today is such an important day in Kyle’s life, because we can’t wait. We can’t wish that he didn’t have this disease, we can’t feel sorry for ourselves or for Kyle. 

Matthew 6:34- “So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.”
We can’t wake up every morning scared of the future, we can’t dwell on all the horrific moments, but rather have peace in the moments of today.  Today is a great day, we have the privilege and opportunity to spend it with Kyle. Each day brings laughs, tears, moments that will never be forgotten.
I have missed out on moments in Kyle’s life do to my fear and trepidation about his future. No his life didn’t turn out the way I expected but no child’s does.  I believe that Kyle is fearfully and wonderfully made by a creator who knows and loves him. Jill and I have been entrusted with Kyle’s life and as difficult it is we have made the choice that we are going to live one day at a time and not allow Duchene’s to have the last word in our life.  Yes it is a reality, but it is not going to steal our joy, peace, and break up our family. Kyle will have a great day today and that is what we are going to focus on.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

When things dont go as planned

This week was a small microcosm of life. Many things planned and an idea of the week would shape up, in hindsight the plans didn't come together. The plans and ideas didn't go as I would have liked them to.
So how does this affect my attitude and the way I treat other people? Yesterday afternoon I was frustrated because some logistics didn't work out, I was tired, didn't want to talk to anyone, and just wanted to get home. As I was grumbling and muttering to myself I realized I was oblivious to my surroundings and the people around me. I was inside a storage unit facility and not 10 feet away from me was an elderly couple struggling to pick up a full size frig.
This poor couple was hispanic and didn't speak much English. I sheepishly laughed to myself as I realized how self absorbed I was. Very easily I helped them out and they were very thankful.
Perspective can change pretty quickly when we aren't so self minded.
The rest of the day I was thinking about the way God works in life. Was my being there at that exact moment for me, for for me to be a help to this couple? How many other moments were missed during the week because I was only concerned about what I wanted to do?  When the questions like where was God when? Is the answer the Christians are too self absorbed and missed the opportunity?

Life is about the big and the small moments. This was a very small insignificant moment, something very simple and something that will be forgotten by all very quickly. But I hope for me this will be a reminder that my life, and time isnt just about me. Actually it has very little to do with me.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A picture of community

We all have the desire to be known and to know others. There are so many hindering factors to this though. When I think of community this means being with people I care about and care about me. There can be this fantasy that when we find a group of people that we commit to, that we will all become perfect and it will be something magical.

As difficult as the commitment to marriage is, the commitment to a community of people is even more difficult because we can bolt without any problems. The only thing that ties us together is relationships. If a community is based on geographic location we can move, or we can dodge any forms of communication. We can basically back out of community any time we would like.

It is easy to be in community with other people when things are going well, when we all agree, when people's dogs don't bark all night. This is when we want and enjoy being with other people. But when things difficult, when we are annoyed then we jet.

A couple of weeks ago I was literally hit what it looks like to live in community with others. We had a storm suddenly blow through our region. At about 7 am it got very dark, windy and we watched out our deck as we got the rain we needed that we had been sorely lacking. About 8 am it was all done and I went to walk out my front door and looked out and saw trash strewn everywhere. It had been trash day and most of the neighbors had put their trash out before they left for work. Somehow our house and two neighbors next to me had all the trash from across the street in our front yards.

I had to leave for a meeting and didn't do anything about it until I got home later in the afternoon. When I got home the trash was still everywhere. So Jill and I retrieved the 6 or so trash recepticles and returned them to where we thought they went. We picked up our yard and the assisted our neighbors as we picked up all sorts of trash.

As I have thought back on that day I have begun to see this as a metaphor to living in community. We get a whole lot of trash in our space. When we really know others we know the good, and we also know the bad. Unfortunately not to many perfect live on this earth and when we are being known and knowing others we see the imperfect side many times.

So what happens when we end up with trash in our yard? Either literally or proverbial? Do we build a fence and to try and keep the trash from coming in our space and try to get it to go somewhere else? Or do we realize that this just comes with the territory and not only clean up the garbage that comes in our yard but also go to our neighbors and help them also?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What is really important?

This is a question all of us have to answer. What is really important? If we don't decide then it is very easy to go along with the culture around us and agree with whatever everyone else is doing.

It is very easy for me to become over involved in different things and negate the important because it has become muddled with everything else.

Decisions happen every day, they may be small but in many ways shape the way we live our lives and effect our childrens lives. The importance we place on money, time, and the stuff that clutters our homes all directly affect us.

As a wise person told me when I was younger "the good is the enemy of the best." It is easy for me to be busy. It is easy for me to be involved in many different projects, different friendships, and good misc. stuff. But is all of this beneficial? Is it all really important?

One of the friendships that has become important to me is one with a neighbor of mine. It has been built on our mutual faith and our interest in baseball. The other night we were throwing a baseball together (boys never grow up) and talking about life. While we were throwing he asked me what were some of the most important things in my life? There were many that came to mind, and I realized there were to many. I say that because as my list grew I realize I don't have time for all of the really important stuff.

There isn't any possible way that I can do everything and be everything to everyone who I deem important. So what gives? What gets shelved? What gets taken out of the really important catagory?

I haven't entirely thought through all the implications of that conversation but it continues to make me think. It continues to push me in making decisions and not just allowing life to control how I spend my time.

As I think about priorities for me there are basically three: 1. Having a relationship with God. 2. Serving/providing/loving my family 3. Serving/investing/discipling other men.  Those I have concluded are the big three. I am trying to figure out how all of those look practically but I have concluded that these are the most important.

It may be easy to say those things and even put them down on paper but it is hard to continually focus life around those that are most important.

But if we don't make the decision about what is most important it will be made for us. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

But this is a Christian league....

This summer I was in a leadership position of a church softball league. It consisted of 13 teams from various evangelical churches from around "the region."  This league has been going on for many years and it is very typical of many other Christian sporting leagues.

Many times when dealing with problems this year I heard the phrase but this is a Christian league. As I began to hear this over and over again, I began to think about what this really means. The people who would bring this up meant a couple of different things. 1. It should be a family friendly enviornment, there shouldn't be cussing, and drinking. 2. It should be moral- there shouldn't be any fighting or dirty play. But is that the essence of sticking the name Christian in front of a sporting league?

I have been playing in church league sports since I was 12, and there really isn't too much of a difference between church leagues city or beer league sports, except there is more whinning in church leagues.

This may come as a suprise but church leagues are made up of people just as the city and beer leagues are. The difference shouldn't be a suprise that all of the people mess up aren't perfect or occassionally lose their temper. I unfortunately have in my share of sporting events.

The diffference may seem in the beginning when the teams pray, but most of the prayers are for good attitudes and no injuries. I would think in general most people who don't follow Jesus woud want the same things.

As I thought about this quite a bit this summer. I realized that the difference in a church league is the response. The response when we are frustrated, angry, feel slighted, know someone else was wrong. This is where a church league can be different. It can be a place where forgiveness is given and recieved. Where people understand that have been forgiven much so they can forgive much.

This isn't just about church league sports but about life. There are many different facets and parts of faith, but one is what is my response when I have been wronged, when life has given me the short end of the stick?

Bitterness can feel like such a good companion. Last week I went to a baseball game with a friend of mine and his twelve year old son. The son plays and loves baseball the three of us talked the whole trip of our baseball playing experiences. It was a great time but when I got home that feeling of bitterness crept in why can't I have those times with Kyle like this?

Anger resentment and bitterness can be our natural reaction if let it. After a few minutes of thinking of those thoughts I realized that this isn't what it is about. Why do I get so hung up on the few little negatives in life and not all the gifts that God has given me?

When an umpire makes a bad call I have a choice I can throw a fit (which I have done) or I can move on and continue to play. The same is true with each choice I make in life, the things I can't control do I throw a fit or do I continue to do the things God has asked me to do?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

15 years ago

15 years ago tomorrow (July 26 1997) Jill and I were married. It was a blur of a day, so many family and friends that celebrated that day with us. We were beginning an adventure, with many plans and ideas for what the future would hold.
If I had one statement that would sum up the past 15 years it would be "this wasn't what we had planned." I have no idea what the plan would have been but I am pretty sure it wouldn't have looked like this.
Now that isn't to say that this is much worse or even better than the plan, but so different.
One of the statements the pastor made in our wedding is very true. He said something to the effect "You two don't even know each other now." So very true.

It may be the stage of life (30-40 years old) but we have been innundated by many around us going through divorce or husbands abandoning their families.

I am only going to talk from my perspective as a man. I was clueless getting married, as I typical male I wanted to find someone attractive, who was smart, and interested in me and that is about it. Not to much thought other than that, and not to much more. I don't think that is abnormal thinking for most 20-25 year old guys. If that is stilll the thought process when guys are in their 30s than I can totally understand why men leave their families.

As I look back at the evaluation of our marriage I can see many of the different hurdles we have overcome.

The first was the way Jill and I view life- I come from a totally unrealistic fantasy idealistic point of view. I am way too optimistic that everything will work out great, and future ideas are much better than whatever is currently going on. Every idea I have is better than the last one, and it is bound to work.

Jill on the other hand is very firmly realistic, very steadfast, and doubtful until proven otherwise.

Needless to say there were many "discussions" in the first years of marriage. There was so much frustration, and heated words as we dialogued about the ways we do mundane to the very important aspects of life. Finally (and there wasn't an aha moment but many little moments) there was understanding and compassion for the other ones point of view. I realize that many ideas I have will not work and Jill has realized that some of the ideas do have validity. But it has taken much work and communication, and me not sharing every idea that pops into my head.

The second huge hurdle has been with Kyle and the rythms of life. It has taken us ten years to even come close to a plan on how to make this work. Things came still be tweaked (better ideas than the current one) but overall it works fairly well. It has taken a lot of give and take and taking on different expectations to make this work.

From going from a career oriented life to a family oriented life took a lot of work, communication, and willing to sacrifice on both of our parts.

Above everything we have learned it has been by God's grace that we have stayed together over the past 15 years. I have done and said my share of dumb things. But more than anything else it is both of our commitments to God and also each other that has brought us this far.

I was recently reading through Tim Keller's The Meaning of Marriage and there were many good quotes but one that I thought that was fitting for where I was at in life is this:

“In any relationship, there will be frightening spells in which your feelings of love dry up. And when that happens you must remember that the essence of marriage is that it is a covenant, a commitment, a promise of future love. So what do you do? You do the acts of love, despite your lack of feeling. You may not feel tender, sympathetic, and eager to please, but in your actions you must BE tender, understanding, forgiving and helpful. And, if you do that, as time goes on you will not only get through the dry spells, but they will become less frequent and deep, and you will become more constant in your feelings. This is what can happen if you decide to love.”

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Serving is a two way street

"So do you get paid for this?" The inmate asked me after a class I taught. I said no, no I don't paid to come in here and teach. He was a little puzzled and then asked "So are you rich?" I laughed and said look at my clothes "do I look rich?" He thought that was very funny and then ask why do you this?

I don't remember what my answer was at the time. But this is something I have thought a lot about over the past few years. If money isn't the motivating factor why?

Why do people go out of there way to volunteer, to serve and help people different than themselves? I say different than themselves because if I have the mentality that I help people who are needy I miss much of why I am serving.

I may have answered the inmate a few years ago the reason I come in and teach is to help. But that is very minimal. I may have helped teach a few new concepts, I may have said a few things that are helpful. But in all of my time spent teaching those in prison, I have learned much more than I have ever taught.

I feel the same way with Kyle, if I continually have the mentality that I am only helping him I miss out on so much. This past week Ayden and Ellyse went to camp and Kyle spent two full days with Jill and I.

Kyle's perspective is so much different than mine. Recently we were at a restaraunt and a waitress came up and said "I see you are short of silverware let me get you some more. " The only words Kyle heard were I see you are short. He was very offended and upset complaining "she called me short." I didn't realize that he was so self conscious about his height in his wheel chair.

When I am in the constant mode of helping and doing things for Kyle, I don't allow him to express himself or even be a blessing to others. While in the swimming pool at the hotel we stayed at Kyle met a friend from Canada named Wade. They hit it off and we found out Wade was about Kyle's age and had autism. We saw them multiple times and every time Kyle and Wade greeted each other as friends.

As much I as I feel that I give when I serve and give, I recieve so much more in return. One of the things I have been recieving from Kyle of late is his sense of humor. He makes me laugh so much, sometimes on purpose and sometimes just through the way he views life.

We were driving through Michigan on our way home and at many exits there are signs for car pools. I am not sure where all these people are car pooling to, but at one of the exits I commented on the sign. Kyle immediately was intrigued. He said I want to go to the car pool. I knew exactly what he was thinking. I started laughing so hard.

My thinking about serving, volunteering, and being with others different than changed. I see it not from ego centric view of solving someones problem, but rather both mutually teaching each other.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Expectations in Life

I don't know if I had a picture in my mind of what life would look like in my mid 30s. I don't exactly know what I expected, hoped for, or even viewed as what my life would look like. So I really can't say I am disappointed, overjoyed, content, underachieved, or even overachieved by reality.

Over the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of thinking of expectations that we put on life. The ideals that crop into our heads and then how do we deal with them when expectations aren't met.

When fairy tales mix with reality where does it leave us? The view of what life is suppose to look like may be unrealistic. The view that everything will be ideal and problems will be at a minimum is probably not likely.

Yet this is the world most of us live in, we live a life that does not meet what we had expected.

The question is now what? If this is reality what do I do?

Is being addicted to alcohol, any type of drug, porn, having an affair the issue or is it a symptom of escape?

Are these rampant issues in our society the issues or does it stem back to the issue of what did I expect?

Where do we go, and what do we do when we realize our life isn't going to be the perfect children, in the perfect town in the perfect neighborhood with the perfect marriage? Sometimes I believe we see those around as the ideal and we don't measure up to it.

It happens in our social circles and it also happens in the church setting. We see others and we don't want what they have but we want the ideal that we have built into our minds. We want the perfect which in reality isn't realistic.

As the phrase first world problems becomes a common saying I see the issues that we deal with in our culture aren't any better or worse than other places. They are different but they are issues just the same. We may not have to fight for survival, food, disease, but the inner fight of contentment, happiness, and peace are some of our issues.

The inner pain that I see many around me struggle with is real and deep. The unfortunate thing is that the ways we self medicate leads to deeper hurt to those around us.

I am not sure how exactly to solve the issue, but I do realize that the amount of time and space we allow others to voice this is extremely important. I realize that we can build and reinforce unrealistic expectations by the way we talk and act. I believe that that we can do more harm than good by not being realistic. I believe that in the Christian culture we can create a God who can be the answer to make our lives mirror the unrealistic lives that we think we see.

In the end are we content with what we have been given? Are we content with the non-perfect children in the non-perfect marriage, in the non-perfect house, in the non-perfect neighborhood?

Contentment is a daily choice and in reality has so little to do with our circumstances.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Life has slowed down the past couple of weeks and has alloted me time to read. I hadn't done much reading over the past few months so this has been a refreshing change of pace.

One of the books I read was Shadow of the Almighty the story of Jim Elliot. To give a brief synopsis  Jim Elliot and 4 other missionaries were killed in the 1950s by an Indian Tribe in Ecuador. There are a few books written about this topic but this one specifically deals with Jim's life through his journals and letters he wrote to others.

It shares about his inner struggles, his faith, his doubts, and his shortcomings. He wasn't a perfect person, he had choices to follow and obey God throughout his life just as everyone else did. In the end he was obedient. The choices he made not only affected him but also his wife and his daughter. The story continued after the death of these missionaries. Some of the families went and lived among this tribe for years to come. The tribe changed their ways and became God followers. The story was an amazing testiment to obedience, and doing the right thing even though it took some tragic and difficult turns.

"the biggest issue right now is fatherless children." A quote I have shared before by an inmate in one of my classes in prison. 85% or so of fathers of special need children leave.

Decisions we make in life aren't just about us. Choices do not happen in a vaccum. The reason I started this blog was to encourage fathers of special needs children to stick it out.

The majority of men of special needs children don't stick it out. It doesn't matter what their faith background is they leave. These decisions do not just affect a few but generations.

Sure there are many reasons why men leave, and some of the reasons may be valid. Some may be justified. Does that mean there will still not be consequences? Does it mean that it will not affect children and grandchildren?

In the end what will be our legacy? In the end is life about making us comfortable, and happy at the expense of our families?

We will all have a legacy the question is what will it be?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Isolation bothers me, seeing someone alone, cut off from the rest of the world really gets under my skin.
There are many other injustices that are probably much more important but for some reason people that are isolated from others really gets to me.
Maybe it is because I can't tangibly do anything for someone who has a need for someone who needs something fixed (i.e. house, fixing their car etc.) or something  for the people who need food or medical help. But I can  do something practical for those who are isolated.
I remember the first time this passion/concern came into my life was when I was in kindergaten. There was a boy in my class who was a little troubled. He smelled a little funny, was dirty most of the time and just seemed like an outcast. One day he got angry at the teacher for some reason and grabbed this big rock and threatened to throw it at the teacher. After the teacher went to get to the principle he ran into the wooded area behind the school. Seeing him sit there all alone and scared I went and sat with him. We sat there together until the principle came and told us to go back inside.

I didn't want to get involved in the problems he was causing but I felt for him.

One of the saddest times I get with Kyle and his situation is when Ayden and Ellyse are out playing with other people and Kyle says I don't have any friends. It breaks my heart to see the isolation he is in many times.

Recently one of my former youth group kids got in trouble for some very disturbing things. He was put in jail and I am sure was seperated from the rest of the general population. Immediately I began to think about the isolation he was feeling. He may very well deserve the punishment he is going to recieve, and he has made some very wrong choices but the isolation he feels and will feel for many years to come gets to me.

One of the common themes of Jesus' life while he was here on earth was going to the isolated. Spending time and loving those who have been margonized in society. The lepers, the sick, tax collectors, fisherman, and every other undesirable. He brought hope, and community to those who had none. He gave of himself to those who others turned from in disguse.

The opposite of isolation is community. Community where people not only know your name but where people know what makes you tick, your good, and bad. People that journey through life and don't quit on you.

Maybe there are many more in the world who are isolated than I realize. Maybe there are many who don't experience community. Maybe there are many who are so intrenched in shame, guilt, hurt, and bitterness that they don't allow others in.

Isolation doesn't have to happen. But it takes work and alot of investment.

As much as I worry about Kyle, people continue to come into his life. Last week while playing baseball for the last time a friend of mine Eric took Kyle on as his buddy. They laughed, and even made up a song together. I am so thankful for those who help Kyle not be isolated.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


The two best times in Pine Creek subdivision are Halloween and the annual subdivision garage sale. Both of these times people connect not only to each but also to others who venture in to the neighborhood.
This past weekend was the garage sale. This was the first year I manned our treasures, wares, and other items that we were looking to end up in someone's elses garage.

The garage sale was the opportunity. It was an opportunity to have people show up at our house for conversation and interaction. Between the two days we figured we had close to 250 people visit us.

There were the interesting interactions like the women who had me try on a shirt to see what it would look like on her son in law, who may be a little huskier than me.  Or the gentleman who wanted to buy my power washer by testing it out on my back deck.  I did have some items I had rescued from storage units so I wasn't sure what they were. So we had some moments of people trying to figure out what things were. For .25$ it was worth the investment for whatever the contraption was.

There were the moving moments. I am suprised how many people in our area don't speak English. I met a couple of different Asian families, and a hispanic family who were not fluent in English to say the least. There was a lot of hand motions and the slow and louder words on my part. (it doesn't help when someone doesn't speak English). The Hispanic family used their young daughter (about 6) to communicate. It is a reminder that many who live among us who are isolated due to their language.
Another moving moment was when an aquantance stopped by. I was wearing one of my umpteen Red Sox shirts. He mentioned how he was going to be getting a Red Sox hat soon. He shared how he was getting a Red Sox hat because last summer his father was killed while running, and he had a Red Sox hat on and wanted to get one to remember him by.

One older gentleman came by himself and talked to Kyle and I for awhile, and told us his birthday wastoday and he was so excited for his party.

People told us about their hobbies, interests, medical ailments, and uses for their items they would be buying. We talked to little old ladies, neighbors, friends, strangers,little kids, and everyone in between.

There were many other interactions, many people talked to Kyle and asked about his disease and why he was in a wheel chair.

The garage sale was like so many other social situations are opportunities. Opportunities for us to encourage, communicate with, and act like Jesus. To often we can get so caught up in tasks that we miss these moments. We miss the human interaction.

I think the one thought I have after this weekend is that people are lonely. People want, and desire to have interactions. It is so easy for us to get caught up and not spend time building people up.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Human Connection

"I have a baseball game Sunday night." was one of the first statements made by Kyle when he got in the car from camp. I was a little suprised that he was so excited about going back to play baseball. It was fun for all of us but wasn't sure that would be that thrilled with going back. He didn't even mention the concession stand so I knew that it was the game he was talking about.

As I mentioned before each player has a "buddy" that plays with them. The buddies are adults and teenagers. Some have a personal connection to the players others are just willing to serve. The first week Kyle played someone I didn't know was his buddy. The buddy did a great job not only helping Kyle but also engaging him on a social level. Kyle will talk, ask questions, and even the same question over and over again. He talks quite a bit. So engaging Kyle socially can be time consuming and even tiring.

This week when he went and played another guy came up and asked if he could be Kyle's buddy. I know Billy a little bit, we run a church softball league together. Billy is a typical Portage softball player. He has quite a few tattoos, looks like he would be more comfortable in a biker bar than anywhere else and someone you would want on your side if a fight breaks out.

Kyle had hit the ball by himself the first time up, but seemed very tired the second time. He missed a few and then Billy put his arms around Kyle and they swung together and hit the ball. During the fielding time, Billy squatted and talked to him, and Kyle threw the ball to him after every batter. Kyle's throws go about 2 feet and straight into the ground but Billy patiently would go and pick it up each time.

At the end of the game, Billy brought Kyle back to me and said thank you for letting me spend time with Kyle.

One of the moments that brings tears to my eyes in life, is when two people who seem like opposites or wouldn't have anything in common connect. It can't be forced. Kyle and Billy have little in common but Kyle wanted a Tigger tattoo after the other night. But in the end both of them have a new friend.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Kyle's week at camp

Leaving the nest is sometimes tougher on the parents than the child. Last week Kyle left for the longest he has been away from us. He went to camp for a week.
I was not sure how this would affect us and our routine. But I didn't think it would be so different.

To start off with Kyle's week was great. He had a very good time at camp, and he was just fine without us. He loved archery, and the food was good. He wasn't thrilled with nap time. He went to his first dance, sang karaoke, stayed up late, went to a bonfire, and made many new friends. His counselor was only 17 and not much bigger than Kyle but they seemed to get along great. Someone in his cabin snored. When Kyle came home he slept and was as dirty as any typical boy coming from home from camp. Overall he enjoyed it but he only wants to go back if the cabins are air conditioned.

I don't think we did as well. In some ways it almost was paralyzing. For the last year about every 20 minutes or so there is a need that needs to be taken care of. Whether it be going to the bathroom, something that dropped, or any other normal part of life life revolves in many ways around Kyle's needs. Not to have that for a week would seem freeing and have tons of time/energy to do other things. But the reality is it has become such a routine that it wasn't normal.

Normal is so different now, I hadn't realized it until last week. Sleep patterns changed, life rythms changed. It was very strange. It wasn't normal and that was more unsettling than I would have imagined. What to do with the extra time. emotional and physical energy?

These are just observations, I am not sure if these are right or wrong.

It is nice to be back in the routine of life, it is nice to have our family back together. It may be more difficult physically but it is back to being complete.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


I have enjoyed baseball since I was a little kid. I have spent many hours playing, watching, and thinking about baseball. In the late 1980s early 90s I like most boys my age collected baseball cards. I remember spending hours looking, and pouring over them.

There was a game a few of us would play in college. We would go to steak n shake late at night and see how long we could name 1980s baseball players until someone would finally lose. It could take hours. After going through all the starters of the teams we would go through backups. One of my favorites was a back up catcher for the Pirates by the name of Benny Distafano. It was great fun and in some way stroked our egos. But all it did was confirm that we had spent to many hours pouring over a game. In the same way people get into star wars and other "nerdy" things. Yet we were definitely "nerdy."

I realize as I get older that as we become more knowledgable, the temptation is to develop a level of pride. I know more about a certain topic so thus I am smarter, and in turn more valuable. I have seen it in my own life so many times, it is a constant battle to think of someone less because they have less knowledge in a certain area.

In a conversation recently I had about helping people, this topic came up. It is very easy to develop a posture of I can help you because I am more enlightened, smarter, richer, or whatever. There will be knowledge that could be of help to those in need physically, mentally, or emotionally. But knowledge doesn't have to be a one way street.

It is easy for us to view individuals, races, or clusters of people as beneath us. The more exposed to others, the more I realize how little I know.  I realize how little I know about faith, trust, God, and community.

Just because Kyle has disabilities and may not know a lot life, there are many things that I can learn from him. But I can only learn if my posture is right. If I view him as someone who is a burden or who couldn't possibly teach me anything, than I am the one who loses out.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Putting Heart into it

We are all uncomfortable in different situations in life. I was performing a wedding a couple of weeks ago and I am not a huge fan of being dressed up and in formal situations. (my vermont back woods roots coming out). For some reason I always thought I am the only one who feels uncomforable in these scenerios. Then as I watched the guests I arrive I realized that many of these people are uncomfortable and feel our of place. The aha moment was when this late teen early twenty something was wearing high heels and fell right on her face. I'm sure she was horrified and felt like the whole world was watching her.

We all have the situations that make us uncomfortable. I have seen it with taking people into jail/prison situations. There is a fear of the unknown, the different, the unknown possibilities. The fear of others from different races and economic status. There is also people with disabilities that make others uncomfortable.

We have seen it first hand, the looks and the avoiding looks. People with disabilities make many uncomfortable. As Jill will say "you can't catch it" meaning you can't catch muscular dystrophy.

It is freeing when we can overcome these uncomfortable feelings. When we begin to interact and realize that all of us in life are in the same boat.

Last night Kyle played in his first baseball game. He actually hit the ball twice. He was ecstatic. Everyone who played had special needs. There was one other boy in a wheelchair. There was a wide range of ages and disabilities. These kids have a helper who helps them hit and field. Whenever someone hits a ball there are multiple balls thrown onto the field and every fielder gets a chance to make the play. (It is somewhat controled chaos.)

Kyle was a little apprehensive about going. But immediately he had a helper who talked to him and helped him through each play. I didn't even catch his name but he seemed to enjoy the night as much as Kyle did.

This baseball game is done every Sunday night in June and a church hosts/sponsors it.

My expectations of most things in life (especially new things) are very low. So I was just hoping Kyle had a good time. I was pretty suprised to see close to 100 people there cheering and encouraging the kids and their families. These were people from the church. They weren't part of the game, they didn't have a specific job to do other than just be an encouragement, and they were.

There was a speaker system and each of the kids had their names announced. It was very special for each of the families.

It is easy to do something with our hands or our money for someone else, it is a whole new level when our hearts are put into it. This is what we saw and experienced, is a church that got behind a cause and put their hearts into it. I am sure there were many that have felt uncomfortable with special needs people but they overcame that and put their hearts into it.

Kyle won't be able to play next week due to going to camp by himself for the first time. But he will playing the final three Sundays in June. He enjoyed the game but I think he may have liked going to the concession stand even more afterwards like a typical little leaguer.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Personal Connection

This morning in my class I teach in prison I posed the question what is one injustice that bothers/makes you angry about the world? There was a wide range of answers, rants, and well thought out statements. The injustices didn't have much in common one said ignorance, another said bullying, a former rodeo star said the mistreatment of animals. But what each of them did have in common it was personal. There was a personal connection to each injustice they shared. Will who shared about bullying talked about how he was bullied as a child for wearing glasses and coming to school smelling like cigarette smoke. That clearly made a mark on his life and it has become something that he will never forget. All of us have had different experiences that have left indellible marks on us. We have felt hurt, pain, sadness, anger, and rage about injustices that we have felt personally. It is through these feelings that people begin to do something. In my situation I would not have ever given two thoughts to someone in a wheelchair or the care that goes into taking care of someone with those needs. I'm not sure what a normal life is, but I don't know many people who haven't been effected by some sort of roadblock in life. I don't know too many that haven't been affected by something that was unplanned. I have been recently been reading a book called Anonymous Jesus Hidden years. One of the anologies that the book uses that our lives are like icebergs only about 10% are above the water (meaning what people can see). The other 90% is hidden and what we do in our personal lives. A quote from that same chapter says "I feel that trials do not prepare us for what is to come as much as they reveal what we have done with our lives up to this point." How are we dealing with the disapointments, unmet expectations, and just ordinary life situations? Life doesn't go as planned in most of our lives and are prepared not only to deal with it, but use it to glorify God? There is a huge difference from surviving to overcoming. It is so easy to identify the injustices but it is a whole lot more difficult to get overcome it and help others coming behind you on the same path.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


The other day a nurse asked Jill how long Kyle had been in a wheelchair full time. Her answer was "September." I couldn't believe it had been so long. As I reflect on the first 8 or so months since Kyle has been wheelchair bound it has flown by. There have been many adjustments in life. The physical ones were the first ones we realized. The physical work of moving Kyle for the first three months was literally back braking. At night Jill and I would lay in bed just exhausted after talking quite a few pain killers. After getting a new van and learning how to move his weight that pain has subsided some. The getting up every couple of hours a night is still a process of working through and learning how to function with it. The physical side of having a child go into a wheelchair is the first and urgent learning curve. That seems to become a primary focus of life and seems to be seen in every part of life. The emotional and mental part isn't seen so quickly. It has only been in the last couple of weeks that I have seen the emotional and mental toll this has taken. Between lack of sleep, exerting energy on daily living for Kyle, and just the long journey ahead it is daunting. I am not sure how one prepares oneself for something like this. The physical side happens because there is a need and it happens. The mental health is something that can go neglected. We continue to adjust our lives. We got a call last night at 7:45 to come visit some friends. I laughed because Jill and I were both in bed close to falling asleep. We have realized that we go to bed by 8 oclock most nights. I have tried playing softball and I have struggled to stay awake. It has been a struggle to continue keeping up with relationship we have. It is very hard to have conversations with others while most of the free time we have is being with Kyle. (at least have some interesting stories with buying storage units :)). While the lack of energy has played a part in our social life the emotional energy going through the day with Kyle is also a huge factor. One of the things I have realized in the past few months is that not only is Kyle going to take a lot of physical energy but equally he is going to take as much mental energy. That one is tough to get use to. In some ways I feel a shell of a person I was even six months ago, but this is the scenerio and situation God has put us in. Character is built in all of us, this wouldn't have been the way I would have envisioned it to be. It is easy for me to try and escape but in the end Kyle with his dry humor, wit, and observations on life keeps me engaged. Being engaged is so much more work and energy but in the end it is worth it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Life lessons from buying storage units

One of my first desires for a job as a child was being an archeologist. I have always found enjoyment in digging through stuff/dirt and learning about history. I have always found it intriguing to find out about different people, the way they lived life and what was important to them. In some ways I am able to be an archeologist, as I have bought 35 storage units over the last 8 months I have seen indepth into what typical Americans value. I have bought units in city settings (Chicago), in urban settings (Gary) in nicer areas (South Bend, Shereville) in country towns (Wheatfield, New Prairie) and many places in between. As I have seen a lot of different items I have seen some common themes that has really made me think. These concepts are not found in one certain area but are overall themes that can be seen across the board. #1- There is an inner struggle- In almost every unit I have bought I have found a Bible. There have been many that I have found devotionals, and other spiritual deepening books. But in about 75% of the units I have also found porn, and in some some found drug paraphernalia. There is an inner struggle going on in many people's lives. There is the desire and knowledge of what is right but there is also the addiction and draw to the unhealthy. #2- What is most important to us?- It doesn't matter what a storage unit costs to rent, what I always think about is the intentional movement of items from where ever they were into this facility. More than money is the physical labor that many people took in moving this stuff. What people value is a very interesting thought. Sometimes I ask the question of why? Why would someone find this valuable to store. For instance I have probably found close to 100 phone books. Why did someone not throw those out? Why would there be the need to lug this from a living space into a storage unit? Values come in all shapes and forms. Valuables come in the form of guns, household items, jewelry, money, tools, antiques, and collectibles. I have found all of those in units. But we also find a lot of items I would say are just plain trash. The reality is that many of these items I would deem trash were the contents of someone's home. These were nasty couches and mattresses that people slept on. These were dirty toys that the grandkids played with. This was food that needed storing until life got more settled. #3 Memories- One of the things we always say that we would grab from our house if it was on fire is our pictures. There are pictures and memories of some sort in almost every unit I buy. There are plaques, medals, countless pictures, homemade movies, notes, diaries and even human ashes in units. Now it is asked when you find this is to return it to the owner through the storage unit company. So these sometimes get back to the owners. Now I say sometimes because not all the time the owner comes and gets them. Sometimes they don't want them for whatever reason. The most interesting situation was in a unit I found an urn of human remains. Myself and a friend of mine went in together on this unit and we nicknamed these ashes Aunt Betty. It is sad to think that a storage unit is where we could end up when we die, it is even worse to think to think that those ashes could end up in complete strangers hand. After finding Aunt Betty we dropped her off at the storage unit office and she has been sitting there for a couple of months now. Another unit I bought the lady had stopped paying on it and told the storage unit company she would rather have strangers get her antique dishes and other heirlooms than her family. Unbeknownst to me the granddaughter was at the auction sobbing afterwards about this. Family dynamics are always interesting and it this is just another avenue for their true colors to come out. #4- Change of mindset- when I first started buying storage units in September my only thought was I want to make some money. Being a relational person this has become secondary. Many people watch the storage war tv shows and see rivalries . They see the cut throat business aspect, and there are some in the midwest with this attitude,but there have been many that have become good friends. I have met people I would never have met or talked to. I have met struggling business owners, successful entrepueners, auctioneers, and treasure hunters. I have gotten to take people along the journey and spend endless hours talking about life, faith, and God. This is what it is about. When I get old and can't do this anymore I may remember some of the cool treasures I found, I may have the benefit of making some money, but more importantly I am going to remember the people. I am going to remember all of the bonding experiences we had. In the end this work is difficult, strenuous, but it is worth every minute of it. Being worth it has nothing to do with the money. It is about the lessons I have learned and will continue to learn. It is about opportunity, it is about opportunity to be around people that don't hang out in churches. Being a pastor has excluded me from spending time with many different kinds of people in society. Buying storage units has opened up the opportunity to meet, enjoy, and learn from so many others.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


What makes one lonely in life? Is lonliness one of the big issues in life? Is it something we should be even aware of? As I have been thinking through my journey in life, I realize I have been drawn to people who are lonely. I think each of us have certain people we are drawn to for a wide variety of reasons. As I look back on my life I see one common theme is being around a lot of different people who are/were lonely. I have always had a desire to help people. Since I was young I realized that I am pretty worthless doing anything with my hands. So fixing things or building something to help people has never been an option. But yet what could I do? The only thing that I ever could do (and anybody could do it) is spend time and listen to people. Lonliness comes to so many different people in so many different ways. Not having someone who cares what is going on in your life, or having someone to enjoy the big and small moments is something that many people go through. Lonliness finds those who are in the nursing homes, those incarcerated, those single parents who are just trying to survive, those who have special needs, those who are annoying, and the list goes on and on. Spending time sitting and listening to people may feel like the least productive thing to do on a daily basis. There isn't a whole lot of seen productivity from just listening to someone's soul. But the effects are much greater than we realize. That encouagement and interest in one's life can give them the courage or reinforcement they need to make changes or motivate them. I think of all the stories, and various views of life I have experienced because I listened to someone who was lonely. It has changed who I am as a person. It has given me a much bigger view of God. There are probably a lot of different ways I could have spent my time in life, but I thank God that He has given me opportunities to be around people who have encouraged me even in their midst of being lonely.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Learning is an act of humility. We take a role not in control but rather a role of submission. We let our defenses down and we try not to act as we know everything but, rather we admit that we may not know everything about a certain topic. The question is how do we learn from? Do we have a learning posture in life? Are there people that we are pretty sure don't have anything to teach us? As Americans we are inbred with the thinking that we are right and superior to many others in the world. But do we have it right about most things? Are we the utopian society that doesn't need to learn from others? I have been thinking about the concept of living by faith. It is very hard for me to grasp this. I have been trying to think of the worst case scenerio of my life. My house could burn down, my family could be killed, and I could lose my job. But I am sure even in that worst case scenerio I could still find a place to live, find food to eat, and probably have clothes to keep me warm. Even if all that happen my life would be much better than most who live on this planet. So as I think about learning how to live by faith I realize that people who aren't white American's probably have a much better grasp on depending on God than most people I know. This is just one of the topics that I need to humbly learn about. Pride can stunt my growth in so many different ways. I can look around me and see everyone else going the same way or having the same philosophy on something but does that make it right or true?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Have to vs want to

What motivates us in life? When we go through our list of things we have to do during a week it would appear that a good chunk of our time is things we have to do. We have to work, we have to do this we have to do that. How many times have we thought or said "if only I had the time to...." The question is is time really the issue? With every single person having the same amount of hours in a week is this a valid argument? I'm not sure how each of us come to the conclusion of what is important, it may be faith, career ambitions, family, or something else. However we choose what is important drives the list of have tos. As I think about my life, my list of "have tos" is short if money is the motivating factor. In essence I work to get paid with money 25 hours a week. I'm sure this is an example I would encourage anyone else to follow. I recently told someone I worked only 25 hours and they started fantasizing about what so little work would mean for them. They started saying oh all I could get done, to be able to relax and not do anything. As I was thinking about those comments, I wasn't sure if I should be offended or take a look at my life and reevaluate the way I spend my time. Then I started thinking through the various things I did, the values I hold, and what motivates me. Can money be the sole motivator in life? I know I would like more and there are some things I would do if I had more money. But is that going to make me happier, or more fullfilled? I have freedom with my time, I can pick and choose what I do and don't do. Freedom is a blessing, but I do believe with every freedom (no matter what) comes responsability. What is my responsibility for my time? I believe first and foremost I am accountable to God with my time. If Jesus is the one example I would use to live my life how can I spend my time like He did? How can I care for, love, encourage, and to some small degree help others? Many times living with a special needs person we put the thought of "I have to do this for them." It is a bother or a burden. But is it really? What else would I be doing? What else is more important than the care and love I give Kyle on a daily basis. There are days when I do feel the drudgery but loving him isn't so much a chore as it is an honor.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The question of why?

I am pretty convinced I don't understand the why of most situations in life.

I am reminded of a story in the old testament and Joseph is sitting in jail. (which the question of why could be asked of his life). As he is sitting in the jail he has two men come up to him to interpret dreams they had. Long story short one is exaunerated and goes back to his normal life and the other is hung. There isn't much more back story to this story. I have no idea what either man did. But one life turned out pretty good the other not so good.

It is easy for me to physco analyze each situation and person I come in contact with. It is easy for me to judge and give an opinion and logical reasons why this person is in a good place in life or why they aren't. Of course the good place in life is by my definition.

As Mother Teresa said "If you judge people you have no time to love them." I have found that so true in my life. I can easily make the question of "why" center to each interaction I have with a person. But is that the most helpful and important part of my encounter with any person I meet?

If someone is different than me for any number of reasons (race, economic status, physical or mental ability or disability) does my opinion and pre determined ideas jump to the forefront of my mind?

I am trying to have peace without knowing the why answer for both my life and others around me. In the end my opinion on "why" really doesn't matter.

Loving people the second command behind loving God is so much more difficult than I realize. I wish the command had been love God and fix people. Trying to fix people is a little easier concept than loving people. Fixing is what we do naturally, if we see something different with someone we want to make them like us. It makes us feel more comfortable and right.

It is difficult for me to see a situation or a person who can't be "fixed." This is one of the reason I feel that it is so hard for dads of special needs children. We can't "fix" them. We can't make them "normal". So how do we love them as is? How can we be at peace with just loving?

There are many things in life I would love to learn. But one of the biggest is not having to answer why all the time. If I could be at peace with that I may be freed up to love.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Almost 20% of Indiana Students are in special ed classes

That was the headline from our local paper yesterday. It is actually 16% of students in Indiana.

Having two children in special ed classes, I can see the positives of having children struggling in mainstream enviornment and placing them in special ed classes. Both Ellyse and Kyle have done fairly well in their classes. Ellyse especially, as she is on the border of needing the special ed assistance.

The flip side becomes what does this do long term? What does this label invoke? How does this become a stigma that she carries with her? Does this play a part in how she is treated by her peers? Does her academics prepare her for a college education or does this disqualify her?

Some of the questions may have easy and simple answers and some may not play out for years.

Here is a link to the article:

Friday, February 10, 2012

You can pre order saving our sons and daughters too

You can pre order by clicking on the link. This book is a Chicken soup style book about Duchene Muscular Dystrophy. There are 40 different authors affected by dmd and I wrote part of Kyle's story for it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

dealing with pain

Romans 7:15-
"For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate."

Last night I was again made aware of how a verse like this plays out in someones life. A young mother of 2 children who used to be one of my "youth group" kids died of a drug overdose a few months ago. I unfortunately didn't find out until yesterday. It is doubtful that many on this path plan to die, plan to ruin their lives, the plan is to ease the pain for a moment and then go on with life. Getting help down the road, or feeling guilty immediately afterwards, letting people down.

This is the second encounter of death by overdose I have experienced in the last week. A good friend of mine spoke at another young man's funeral last week who also succumed to his addiction.

Pain comes in all different forms of life. There are multiple thoughts that have run through my head over the past week.

1. Pain comes to families in many different ways. I have had it said to me that maybe God gave Kyle this disease so he wouldn't get involved in drugs or other addictions. I think that was an extremely outlandish thing to say but on the flip side, I know that those families that deal with the addiction of a loved one is extremely painful. Seeing it semi first hand, the worry and the wonder never leaves the family. The life time struggle for so many rips families apart.

2. Masking pain comes in many forms. Inner turmoil needs to be dealt with some how and there are easier ways than others to deal with it. Well the short term that is.

3. I had someone come up to me at church on Sunday who I hadn't seen in months when asked why he told me he had made some bad decisions and stayed away. I get it when we are living ashamed and guilt filled lives we want to stay away, but is that the best thing?

As I think of my situation and dealing, coping, surviving, struggling through pain and hurt it is easy to mask and hide it. I want to escape on a regular basis and I do sometimes. It may not be illegal and it may not be deemed dangerous but I still have the same mentality. I have regrets, I have issues, I can relate to Paul when he said "I dont understand my actions." I guess in some way I do understand I want to escape, I want to leave a situation I can't control. I want to leave the mundane.

As I continue to process through dealing with pain, my heart aches with those struggling through addiction and those around them. My heart aches for those who feel ashamed and hide it.

People ask me many times why I became a pastor, or am a follower of Jesus. It can simply summed up by Mark 2:14 when Jesus was asked why He came he said "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Having a relationship with a God who understands and is with us while we are in pain and suffering gets me through life on a daily basis.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Time flies

I had this strange epiphany the other night as our family was driving home from our weekly Friday night family dinner. We were flipping through the radio stations and we passed a 1980s song. I can't remember which classic band it was- Wham, whitesnake, men at work or some other band that immortilized that decade. As I was calculating the time between now and the early 1980s it was 30 years ago. I realized that when I was listening to this song in the 80s it was the 1950s that was 30 years earlier.

Time travels very quickly. Way to quickly, Kyle will be celebrating his 12th Birthday. As each week speeds by the feeling of time slipping through our hands also happens. I unfortunately do not cherish the moments very much in life. I tend to look to the future and am preoccupied with fear, hope, and excitement for what lies ahead. It is extremely difficult to sit still and enjoy today.

I have to force myself to slow down and savor times. This week I have the opportunity to do this. While Jill is in Florida, I have the time to enjoy my kids. I have the priviledge of taking them to dance class which Ayden is now a part of. (side note) last week when Ayden was getting his haircut the hairdresser asked Ayden if he played any sports. His response was "No I am more into dance."

I get to do all the mundane things of getting them dressed, ready, and off to school. Talk, listen, and help them with homework. There maybe (will be) stressful moments in this week. But there are only so many of these moments left. There are only so many moments left of childhood. Before I know it, 10 more years will pass.

Regrets come in many ways, shapes, and sizes. Regrets of how I used my time is going to be on the top of my list. The book of Ecclesiastes addresses many of these life issues. Throughout Ecclesiastes the author writes that so many parts of life is meaningless, futile, vain, or empty.

In the end of the book his summation is to "Fear God and keep his commands."

Even as I spend this next week with my kids, how is that being shown and taught to them. How is fearing God and keeping his commands being taught to my kids? How am I coveying to them that many of the pursuits of life are meaningless?

When Lady Gaga is a distant memory am I still going to be struggling with the same issues as now? Are my kids going to be searching in vain for fullfillment in ways that can't be fullfilled?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fabric of life

Kyle absolutely loves Pee Wee Herman. Second to Tigger he is Kyle's favorite character. I never thought I would ever have to relive the annoying laugh, the goofy characters, or just the weirdness that was Pee Wee Herman.

I find it very interesting the traditions, moments, memories, and pieces of life that our children latch on to. I would have loved to pass down GI Joe, Alf, or the smurfs to my kids for their enjoying pleasure. But no it was Pee Wee Herman that emerged as the favorite. For some reason Ayden is scared to death of Alf.

But beyond tv memories from childhood, and moments of goofiness what else is being passed on? What memories are becoming long lasting?

Recently we were looking through pictures and Ayden got real excited when he saw a picture and practically yelled "Kyle that was when you could walk."

That is going to be fabrics of Ayden and Ellyse's lives remembering when Kyle could walk and play. It already seems like a distant memory.

What are the lasting impacts of our home on them? What will be the affect on them throughout their lives? What are Jill and I teaching them through all of this?

Many times it isn't intentional because we are just trying to survive. How is this going to influence who they become? There is a fine line between only focusing on Kyle and his needs and neglecting other needs. "The tyrany of the urgent" how is todays immediate problems effecting the long term?

As much as we have tried to prepare ourselves for this life, and the different stages of dmd I still feel very unprepared. The energy for many normal things in life gets put into just living. How does this effect the rest of our families lives? Both individually and as a unit?

The strands that make up who we are, are varied and are made up both of the good and bad experiences of life.

Today I can't say how this will effect each of us in our family long term. But it will be a defining strand in each of our lives.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A summer pastime to get me through January

Soon after Kyle's diagnosis I had the thought I wanted to take Kyle to many baseball games at places throughout the US. That was back in 2004, and we went to our first game in Chicago.

I remember the day well it was a Saturday afternoon. Kyle walked back and forth in the row we were in for the first four innings then he fell asleep until the 7th inning and because of the nap we were able to stay for the whole game. That was our first game, but to this point it was also our last.

Baseball has always been near and dear to my heart. One of the best memories of my childhood was the first time I went to Boston to see the Red Sox play when I was ten.

Summer equaled time spent playing, watching, and going to baseball games. Throughout my childhood and adulthood my seasons have been thought around the baseball schedule.

As time past on I thought going to baseball games with Kyle would be one of our traditions but after that first game I haven't made the time.

I was reminded today of our first game by a picture I found while going through some old pictures.

As we experience the first snow of the year, I am reminded of summer and even as we experienced much last year a baseball game has to be part of our plans for this year.

Not having went back to New England in 5 years maybe it is time to take Kyle to Fenway Park for the first time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Kyle's dance

Childhood leaves us quite suddenly, and it seems to speed up for us as parents. It seemed much longer as a child, but seeing childhood speed by for my kids leaves me wondering what are the memories I have. What are the moments that are going to be indellably ingrained into my memory.

Recently we were looking through some pictures, and Ayden suddenly exclaimed: "this is when Kyle could walk." Having a child with dmd childhood becomes even more cherished because the older they get the more the deterioration sets in and the sweeter the childhood memories are. Not only are the childhood memories great for each of our children, the memories of Kyle's childhood will be equally memorable.

When Kyle could walk he would get excited and there was this uncoordinated dance move that he would do. It would involve some hip swinging, and look a little bizzare but it was a move he would do to show his excitement.

It was through looking through those pictures that day that brought the memories of those times. Although Kyle can not walk at all in normal conditions. He can still walk to some degree in water.

During the christmas break holiday we were able to spend the night at a hotel with a pool. Through careful manuvering we were able to get Kyle into the pool. When he got into the pool the water was able to take the pressure and the weight off of Kyle and he was able to form some sensblance of walking. As he began to gain a little balance excitement came over him, and then came the Kyle dance. We hadn't seen it in about a year, but in the water he was able to move somewhat freely and the excitement led to the expression that became synonomus with his excitement.

For a brief second his disinigration was forgotten and the memories of the past were renewed.

I believe God gives us small blessing each and every day. Some days it takes some work to find them, but when circumstances and situations are tough anytime dancing happens is a blessing.

Kyle still dances in the house, it just involves wheelchair spins, and a lot of arm raising. Each day that he is here with us is a blessing and although there inconviences, and things we wouldn't have wished for God blesses us and takes care of us.