Archives For Life

Jarid and Joni Wedding

August 7, 2011 — 1 Comment

 I had the great opportunity to recently take part in the wedding of a really good friend of mine.  I met Jarid way back when I was 12 years old.  A lot has changed over the years but I am glad that we have stayed connected through all of life’s twists and turns.  We went to school together just outside of Pittsburgh, PA in a village called Imperial, and yes it is a village.  It says so right on the sign.  I am now living in Indiana, and he is currently residing in Texas.  His lovely wife Joni is from Texas, and oddly enough my wife is from Indiana.  Interesting how that works out isn’t it.  I have lots of memories of Jarid growing up.  Ask me to show you the home video we made one summer day years and years ago.  It is horrifying to watch now. To think we were that geeky, okay maybe not that much has changed, well for at least one of us.  We were in a rock band together, I was the lead screamer.  What an amazing front man I was, or not. They seemed to get much better once I was off the stage. We even attended college together for a few years.  Now there are some really crazy times.  That is where Jarid first met Joni.  But there love story starts many years later.  I won’t even attempt to tell it.  I will save that for them to share once they get a blog.

Okay enough of the nostalgia, back to the wedding.   Did I mention it was in Texas in July? No, how about that it was an outdoor wedding in Texas in July, during one of the worst heat waves in Texas history?  Yes sir, it was 102 without the heat index.  All complaining aside it was a fantastic day.  To see how God brought these amazing two individuals together and to be a part of that day, it was simply amazing.  Jarid and Joni were beaming, and it wasn’t just from the extreme heat.  You could just see it on their faces, the anticipation, the love, the excitement, all of this while staying incredible calm and peaceful.  There is something so precious about seeing two people who are so deeply in love with each other joining together as one.  I was honored to play a small part in such a special day.

Seeing them together, and being at that wedding took me back 7 years earlier in the same month when I married my amazing wife Kristi.  It made me appreciate the love we have for each other, and the commitment we made to each other.  Time goes by so quickly and we face challenges as in every marriage, just having children is enough to test your marital bonds.  I still very much love her and I am thankful that God brought her into my life.  She is a wonderful wife and mother and I can’t imagine my life without her.

I am so excited for Jarid and Joni. I can’t wait to see all of the great things that are in store for them. I am privileged to still call Jarid my friend.  I am so incredibly happy for him. I pray the very best for their marriage and that they would live a full and blessed life that is pleasing to God. I know they will face challenges and adversity but as they put their faith in God and look to him I know they will overcome any obstacle that comes their way.

All wedding photos provided by Sara Sobkoviak Photography
http://sarasobkoviakphotography.com/
More Wedding Pictures Here 

 

Celebrate Stamp

July 26, 2011 — 1 Comment

I recently had to buy some stamps at the post office.  The clerk handed me a page of stamps that said “celebrate” on them, neon and all.  I laughed and said to her, “celebrate? What that I am sending in bills?” She replied, “well maybe celebrate that you can pay the bills.” I was taken back and thought, you know what she is right.  At times it is easy to see the negative side of things, or to miss the blessing in the midst of the mundane.  While it is anything but a celebration to send bills in the mail, it is indeed a huge blessing that we have jobs that allow us to pay those bills.

It started to make me think about all of the things I do have to celebrate in life.  It is easy to miss all of the great things going on around us because we get so focused on what we don’t like.  We become critical of our situation, and even of others.  I admit we may face some difficult challenges, and that life is far from grand. That however shouldn’t stop us from recognizing the things in our lives that are going well.  Instead of being critical we can take the time to make inventory of what we are thankful for.  So what do you have going on in your life worth celebrating?

Indiana Dunes 2011

July 15, 2011 — 1 Comment

Well we finally had some time to take a family vacation.  Even if you are entitled to vacation with your job it still seems like a fight to make time for your vacation.  This is especially true for us since me and Kristi both work full time jobs.  If you add to that full time ministry for me and the challenge can become greater yet.  Our girls are still young so we can’t go do some adventurous treks across the country, or navigate the globe. Well at least not yet. J Wherever we go is not as important as it is to spend time together.  We run so hard most of the year. I realize this will only get compounded as our children get older and have school, and are involved with other things.

I was so thankful for the opportunity to get away for a few days.  For me vacation is about getting away from it all.  Breaking routine and finding some escape from the trappings of life.  I even go as far as to leave my phone off and to ditch social media and the web.  I just need to disconnect from it all.  I know vacation is different for everyone but I would encourage you to try disconnecting from your phone and the internet for a few days.  Try to focus on the face to face relationships happening right in front of you.  I think sometimes we get so caught up with a screen in our face that we tend to ignore the most important people around us.

This year we went to the Indiana Dunes on Lake Michigan.  The girls loved to swim in the pool at the hotel.  They had a smaller kid’s pool with a slide and a fountain.  It was definitely a hit with Braelyn.  We got to spend some time on the beach.  It was a nice beach for being on a lake.  The state stepped in some years ago to save this portion of beachfront.  Flanking each side of the beach a ways down is steel mills, and to the other side a nuclear power plant.  They were far enough off that they didn’t really impose too much on the beach.  We planned on taking a train into Chicago from the dunes but the girls communicated in their own way that they weren’t so keen on spending that much time in an umbrella stroller.  We will save that for next time when they are a little older.

It was an interesting region filled with heavy industry and beach tourism.  With the relatively short drive from here and the cost it would be somewhere I would recommend checking out.  There are several towns and beaches to check out on the Indiana and Michigan sides.  There are also several quaint bread and breakfasts in the area to stay at. If you want to go spend a little more you could always rent a home on the lake front as well.  With the addition of an inexpensive train ride to Chicago it has the potential to be a great vacation spot.  I have a feeling we will be heading there again.

I am exceedingly thankful that we have jobs that afford us the opportunity to provide for our family and that also allows us time to get away together.  In a world where we go faster and work more and more it is so important to disconnect and spend time with the ones who really matter the most.  In the end it doesn’t matter how much you worked, or earned. We are all gifted such a short time on this earth.  It is imperative that we make our family our priority. It isn’t about a fancy vacation it is about spending time together.  That is what really matters, taking a break to get refreshed and spending time with those who matter the most to you.

Life is a Gift

June 8, 2011 — 2 Comments

Life is a gift.  There are times when this statement may seem far from true.  You may agree life is a gift, but one that should be returned to the store with all the other lame gifts we have received.  I understand this can be even more challenging in the times we live in. We live in a broken world, and this makes life a challenge and difficult at best.   This is even without mention of the recent economic hardships we are facing.  Yet in it all life is really a gift.

Life is a precious gift from God. Our time on this earth is short.  The Bible makes it clear this life is fleeting (James 4:14).  While we as Christians have hope in what is to follow our time here on earth, we still want to make the most of the time we have here.  It is easy to get caught up in all that is broken in the world, and one doesn’t have to look far to see the injustice and seemingly cruel hand life has dealt so many people on our planet.   Even so our hope is in Jesus, and we still must be willing to accept this gift, the gift of life.

Last year I had the privilege of becoming a father for the second time.  Watching the birth of both our children has to be the greatest miracle I have ever witnessed.  How amazing and wonderful to see our daughters born into this world. What a marvel to see their tiny little fingers and toes, and to see how perfect they were.  It is so easy to get caught up in all of the noise that surrounds us; we soon forget how precious life is, and how astonishing a new life coming into this world really is.

Now I don’t have all the answers, and I can’t explain why so many people have to suffer. I have yet to grasp why some are so wealthy and have anything they want and some don’t even have the basic nutrition they need to sustain life.  I cannot give you an explanation why innocent people die tragically, or why our family members suffer with heartbreaking ailments.  While I can’t answer these questions I still believe life is a gift from God.  It is frustrating that our human brains cannot comprehend all that we see going on around us.  Yet in it all God is in control (Isaiah 46:9-10).

It is so important that we live this life with everything we have got.  This isn’t the dress rehearsal, this is the real thing.  I think of the song “I Hope you Dance” and how true those lyrics really are.  The last thing we want to do is sit by and be a bystander to this amazing life we have been given.  Life should be pursued, celebrated, and cherished.  Don’t sit it out, chose to dance, chose to live life to its fullest.  Take chances, mend broken relationships, and pursue your passions.  Life is too precious of a gift to waste.

I understand life can be daunting.  There are times when we don’t even want to get out of that bed.  We may not always have the answers, and we still out our hope and trust in God (Romans 8:28).  I challenge you to live life with all that you have got.  Do not wait for tomorrow or for your situation to change.  Life will always present challenges, we know this with certainty.  Don’t take your eyes off Jesus.  Remember this life is a gift.  Chase after it with everything you have got. So what has caused you to recognize how precious life is?  What experiences have you had?  I would love to hear from you in the comment section below!

 

Life Without Regrets

June 3, 2011 — 1 Comment

Yesterday I read an article written by a lady who worked for years as a nurse for the dying.  In this article she listed the 5 most common regrets people have on their death bed.  I included the link to that article at the bottom of this post.  It really is a must read.   Whenever I read articles such as these, or see a movie like the bucket list it always causes me to become introspective.  Honestly I think that is a healthy expression and something we should do from time to time.  In the midst of the insanity that is our life we should pause at moments for reflection.  It is important to take inventory of where we have been, where we are at, and where we are going.  As I grow older I am becoming painfully aware of the limitations, of time, health, and life.  I am of the full belief that life is short, incredibly short.  We are never too young or too old to figure out where we are at, decide if that’s where we want to be and make course corrections along the way.

I have decided to heed to the wisdom of many who have come before me.  I can’t tell you how many times I have been told how fast life goes by.  Now add to that having children and apparently the clock ticks even faster still.  We have one life, and it is a gift.  We must decide how we want to live it.  No one else can do that for us.  We have to make the effort to get off the treadmill and really take a look around us.  Many times we get so stuck in a routine, or are afraid to step out, or even paralyzed by the fear of what others will think.  In the end we are responsible for our decisions.  We will be held accountable for how we decided to live our life.

In the end (and yes there is an end) we have to decide what we want our legacy to be about.  What was most important and took the precedent for our time here on earth?  It is imperative that we take stock of our lives.  What are we living for, chasing after, and in the end was it worth it.  I don’t want to live my life with any regrets, as I am sure you don’t either.  Hearing the regrets of those who have just moments left to live really can put thinks into sharp albeit painful focus. So pause, take a deep breath, look around you, do you like what you see?

 

Here is the link the article I referenced:
http://ohdarling.posterous.com/nurse-reveals-the-top-5-regrets-people-make-o

 

 

You know it may seem silly but one thing we talk about in RSM is the difference between being inclusive and exclusive.  I have talked so much about this topic that most of our teens could give this talk for me.  That is not a bad thing, this is critical to us at RSM.  So what is the big deal?  Well just as it sounds being inclusive is all about including other people, and being exclusive is the exact opposite.

Think of being exclusive like an “exclusive club”.  Only certain people are going to be allowed in.  It isn’t for everybody, you have to be somebody or know someone to get in.  That is the last thing we want our youth group to be.  We want and strive to be an inclusive group.  We want teens to feel included, that they belong, and that they don’t have to do anything to earn that feeling.

We all at one point in our life have been excluded.  We know the feeling of being left out, or on the outside looking in.  I can honestly say I have been there in my life.  I know we really start to feel that in elementary school all the way through high school.  So much of it is unintentional, while some is not.  Many times we don’t mean to exclude others, we just don’t put the extra effort to try and include them, or to make them feel part of the group.

So once again what is the big deal and why am I writing about this in the newsletter?  Well honestly I believe this is something we really never grow out of.  This pertains to adults as much as it does to the teens in our youth group.  It is really easy to get comfortable with the people we know, the table we sit at and not reach out to include other people.  While we are not intentionally trying to exclude others, it’s just that our actions say little about trying to include others.

Being inclusive comes naturally to some people, while be it few, these are the type that just make friends easily and make the outsider feel a part of the group.  Most of us including myself don’t fit into that category.  We have to go out of our way to make others feel included.  Sure we may see that person sitting alone at a table, or looking disoriented but our natural reaction isn’t to go greet them, we usually think someone else will make them feel welcome, or feel included.

Now let me say this as I do in youth group.  I am not saying that we need to be everyone’s best friend, and just be the outgoing, bubbly, life of the crowd.  It is about being genuine, and honestly wanting to make others feel welcome and included.  There is nothing worse than being fake with someone and being less than genuine in our efforts to include them.  When the opposite happens, and we are genuine and really strive to include others it can be a very powerful thing.

Let’s face it, we all want to feel included.  Even those of us who are the loaners still want to feel as though we belong to something.  What better place to make people feel included than our church.  I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and work on including others.  Go sit at a table you with someone who is alone.  Greet people as they come in and don’t expect that the people standing at the door to just do that job.

It is important that we don’t stop there.  We teach in youth group that we don’t want to be one way in the youth room and another way outside.  This principle should carry on in our daily lives, at work, with family and in school.  We can’t include others at church, and then ignore them the rest of the week. Invite people over for lunch or dinner.  Invite them to be a part of your circle of friends.  Include them in normal life activities that we all participate in and want to be a part of.  You may see something happen without you even knowing it.  That is right the “D” word, discipleship, but that is another post.