Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why do I love fall?

Early in my life summer was my favorite time of the year. I still love summer, but since I got out of high school, fall has become the best time of the year for me. There are several reasons for the switch:

1. The fall of 1995 was the first time in my life when I experienced true, authentic community with other people my age.

I had some good friends in high school, but most of them were older than me and went to different schools, so we didn't really get to experience community life. But when I got to Bethel College in the fall of 1995 it didn't take long to hook up with a group of guys who had a lot in common with me and lived in the same dorm with me. Some of those friends are still great friends to this day.

All four of my years at Bethel College were life-changing but none more than the first semester of my freshman year. I never knew there were other people my age, who liked the same things as me, who wanted their lives to be all about following Jesus and who were willing to share their lives with others. It was an amazing season of my life.

2. Football.

NFL Football and Fantasy Football are my favorites, but I also enjoy college and high school football. I never played football growing up and it's one of the great regrets of my life. I may have been terrible at it, but I'll never know.

I'm not sure what it is about football that is so captivating, but I just love to watch it. For several years I didn't have a favorite team, but over the last few seasons I've become an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers. It turns out I picked a great time to jump on this team's bandwagon, because they are one of the top teams in the NFL and have a great shot to return to the playoffs this season and maybe even make a run toward the Super Bowl.

Fantasy Football was introduced into my life in 2005 and every year since I've been enthralled with it. Again, I can't quite pinpoint what about Fantasy Football captures me the way it does, but I can't get enough. This year I'm in 5 Fantasy Football leagues, which is probably too many, but I can't say no when I get invited.

3. Fall weather is amazing.

There's nothing better than walking out of the house early in the morning and feeling a slight chill (usually when it's around 55 degrees) but the sun is bright and the air is crisp. You can still leave the house without a jacket because it's going to be 65-70 degrees later in the day. The crisp air is what separates a 70-degree fall day from a 70-degree summer day. There's just something different about it - maybe it's the different levels of humidity. Whatever it is, I love fall weather.

4. My birthday is in the fall.

The older I get the less significant the actual day of my birthday becomes, but the more significant my age becomes. Does that make sense?

It's not that I dread getting older. Quite the opposite actually. I LOVE getting older and watching my wife and kids get older with me. The longer I live the more I appreciate the good things in my life and the more I learn from the experiences I've had.

So, I'm looking forward to this fall when I turn 34!

5. School.

Any student reading this, please don't be annoyed with this one. It's not that I enjoy seeing you guys in misery, but I do enjoy the opportunities that school brings.

My daughter is entering 2nd grade this year and my son starts Kindergarten. Both are home schooled and I am so excited to see what they will learn this year. For my son, the first big hurdle is reading. He'll soon be sounding out words on his own and eventually reading short books. For my daughter, a big part of this year will be learning new math skills and mastering reading. She's already a really, really good reader but I can't wait to see her get even better. Reading is such an incredibly important part of a child's development and I'm glad my wife gets to teach it to my kids.

Beyond learning academic things, school gives most students the opportunity to learn social skills. School can be a rough place sometimes, but it's all part of growing up and becoming an independent adult.

Another thing school brings is another year of involvement with my Senior High Small Group at NMC. I have an amazing group of guys who are sophomores this year and I can't wait to dive back into their lives!

It's not fall yet, but I can feel it getting close and I'm very excited!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Building benches ...

I try not to repost things much because I'd much rather just write my own thoughts, but Jon Acuff at Stuff Christians Like occasionally ruins my day with the things he writes and today was one of those days. His post, titled Building benches instead of frisbees, has got me reeling.

As you've probably picked up from the past few posts, God has been working on me - sometimes holding me up and sometimes knocking me down - and it has caused me to take a real evaluative look at my life.

In the post, Acuff talks about finding the sweet spot that God has designed just for you. I know without a doubt that God placed me where I am and it's part of His plan, but I'm wondering if there's more to that plan. I wonder if He's got this and more in mind to get me to that sweet spot.

So, please, take a few minutes to read the post. It will be worth it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Keller Park Basketball Camp

Last week I had the privilege of helping out with the first ever Keller Park Basketball Camp.

My last post on here was about the lasting effects of Kids In Need and how it was changing my life. This camp was an opportunity to live out what I wrote about.

I met some really cool kids and connected with some new adults I probably would never have had the chance to know if it weren't for the basketball camp. I was able to come alongside of Kory and Alison Lantz and Ryan Yazel in the ministry they're working so hard at in the Keller Park neighborhood.

One little girl, in particular, touched me deeply. Her name is Synsere and you can see her in the picture above. It wasn't until camp was over the first night that I met her. She was hanging out with some of the adults outside the court and I noticed her smile and spunk pretty quickly. Then I showed her how I could spin a ball on my finger. She seemed fascinated, so I tried several times to pass the ball to her outstretched finger. It took a while, but I finally got it to spin on her finger for several seconds and she lit up! She has a big smile anyways, but after spinning the ball on her finger she was beaming.

I played with her for a little longer and then had to get back home. The next night I brought my whole family and they, too, fell in love with Synsere. That night Kory also told me a little bit of Synsere's story. She comes from a broken home, as many of the kids in that neighborhood do. The last month of her life has been a real roller coaster and they were happy she was at camp.

I am happy too. Synsere may have changed my life last week.

Going into those three nights of camp I knew God was breaking my heart for kids who are in bad family situations, but I didn't have a face to put with that burden. Now I do. It's a face with rich, dark skin. It's a gummy smile with a few missing teeth. It's braided hair and bright eyes.

It's Synsere.

Now, every time I think about kids in rough homes I think of Synsere. She's just one of millions, but for me she's every one of them and she deserves more!