Saturday, September 3, 2011

Learning my heritage: My Grandpa's story

I got to see my Grandpa Pahl's Bronze Star tonight.

He served in WWII in an artillery unit attached to the 66th Division (Black Panthers).

He was about to board the Leopoldville when he was instructed to board a different ship instead (Leopoldville was sunk in transit).

He served mainly in the Lorient sector, containing an area deep behind our lines where cut-off and entrenched German troops held several ports and refused to surrender.

I'm appreciative to learn this and privileged to share another example of service and duty.

I never got to know him. Shortly after I was born my parents smuggled me into his Hospital so that he could meet me before he passed. I'm told he was so weak he couldn't rip a square of toilet paper off a roll, yet he sat up and held me for five minutes. He passed away shortly after.

His example of duty and service is one that I pray stays with me my entire life, as they are very applicable themes when it comes to our Christian walks.

Thank you for your time.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Can I be human for a moment?

I'm a guy.

I'm tough, incapable of emotion. I am as thick as steel. Things don't get to me. I don't meet people and not like them. I'm tolerant. I like fart jokes and ponder Socrates. I consider myself stalwart and stubborn. I say I am open to new ideas and will explore anything if it ever makes more sense than Christianity, but in my heart I know I am so set in my ways that it will never happen.

I bleed but I do not hurt. I don't sweat the small stuff. I love through action, not expression. I'm a guy.

Why do I find myself feeling so emotional tonight?

I'm going through old family videos. 9 months ago for my sister/mom's birthday I thought it would be a great idea to rip all of our family videos from VHS to DVD. A healthy way to extend their longevity. Why it has taken me this long to complete the project, I don't know. Maybe I knew this would happen? I doubt it.

There are all kinds of clips on the video. Birthday parties, big news incidents (we lived in Sunfield when the silo collapsed), Easter gatherings, school plays, face paintings. All kinds of stuff.

I saw footage of my Grandpa Curby tonight. It's the first time I've really thought about him since he passed away earlier this year. Maybe it was near the end of last year, I don't really remember. It's something that for some reason I never really thought about until it hit me tonight.

We were angry with him. Grandma Betty-Ann passed away a long time ago and eventually he had met and courted a woman we came to know as "Grandma Bev." It was a big deal to me when we started calling her Grandma, but she deserved it. She was a wonderful woman. Time went on and almost out of nowhere Grandpa split from her to be with a younger woman that he met when he went out dancing.

We were upset. He would call every now and then and the parents would talk with him for a bit. We kept in better touch with Grandpa Bev. When he passed away I didn't think too much about it, since you know, we disagreed with what he had done the last few years.

Yet as I watch these videos he is in them. I smile, there is no doubt about that. It is so good to see him. We're all so much younger (lol) and he is there. There's no denying it. He was a huge part of our lives and brought us so much blessing and joy. In Sunfield if we were out and our parents wanted us to come home, his was the first number called. We knew him longer than any of our real grandparents, who all passed away while we were very young.

I've forgiven a mentor who left his family to follow his homosexuality.
I've forgiven a youth minister who I thought didn't care for me.
I've forgiven Christians who harshly and wrongly judged my sister because they didn't take the time to know her.
I've forgiven a church that even with the best intentions at heart wronged me.
I've forgiven a friend who slandered me behind my back and has never sought forgiveness or reconciliation for doing so.
I've forgiven people that I wronged when they wouldn't accept a sincere apology.
I've forgiven a friend who thought he wronged me when he never did.
I've forgiven mean kids who made middle school a terrible time.

At the end of all things, I've forgiven a grandpa that upset me, even though when you think about it I was never personally wronged.

God has taken all this and worked out into His great and perfect will. I can't look back at any of these situations with any bitterness because I know God was there through it and He has handled all of it. All of it has worked for his glory. Even the situations where I've been told I would be right or understood if I still held a grudge. I can't do it. I won't do it.

We're doing a lesson series at The Flood called "Reset" and as I think about these situations I wouldn't change any of them because they are all living testimonies to God's will, power and guidance in my life.

That feels real random, and all over the place when you think about it. I never said I was organized!

What it all comes back to is this: I teared up thinking about the amazing life I have lived so far. I've known incredible people and God used them powerfully in my life while they were in it. I know that this life is temporary. This life is nothing. I know that those I love so much, I will see them again. We will live together with God for eternity. That fills me with so much joy, with so much happiness and I can't hold it in as I watch these memories.

I will see Grandpa Curby again. I will hug him and he will say he needs a step ladder to hug me back. I will see Grandpa Earhart again, and I will meet Grandpa Jack, who died not even a month after holding me as a newborn. I will walk with my Uncle through a park. I will play with my dog in the snow. I will play dreamcast again with Kyle Rudolph.

I'm so overjoyed and excited just thinking about it. With so much to look forward to, how can anyone not be? It is overwhelming! I only hope as I live my life out that this hope and God's love continually shines out from me, so that others may know this joy and hope.

I will share with as many people as I can.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Ministry Milestone?

The following story is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

I had a ministry first tonight while volunteering with the junior high at SLCC. It was an interaction with a student that took a predictable twist, yet at the same time I've never had it happen before. It has made me grin, stop, and ponder it, and I can only attribute this pondering to the fact that it hasn't happened before. Let's tell the story to set the context.

I certainly don't think myself too friendly, but I love how so many people are comfortable talking to me. Such was the case as I was talking with one of the students I work with about their day at school and their current drama situation.

Without going into too much detail let's just summarize it by saying the student wants to date a boy, but dating the boy would add a lot of tension to her friendship with both of her best friends, one of whom used to date the boy.

Listening to her reasoning for both sides of it, I thought I had a great thought and relayed it to her. "Well you know, you don't "have" to date this guy, you can just be friends right?"

Her reply was the incident that is the focus of this blog: "James, you're too old to understand!" She then began to explain more of the situation, but at the same time the comment stuck with me. A student finally played that card on me. A true lifetime first.

Now don't get me wrong, I partially agree with her. You can never fully understand any situation that you are not directly a part of. However, 10 years from now I guarantee if she looks back and by chance remembers this conversation, she'll agree with what I said 100%. I wasn't wrong, but it's part of the journey of life and even when things seem important in the moment, often in hindsight we can accept that most things in our life may not be as important as we thought they were at the time.

People live hard lives, and middle-school is where you start to think that no one understands you. I think you could make the argument that this realization is one that sticks with you the rest of your life. I would even guess in marriage there are times in a couple's life that they feel their spouse doesn't fully understand them.

Do you work tirelessly to make yourself understood? Do you "re-invent" yourself to be understood a certain way? Do you really want to be understood, or just accepted?

I mean that's what it really comes down to. Understood or not, we all want to be accepted for who we are. Figuring that out takes time; many people are still doing it. I would make the case that figuring out who we are in Christ (for example) is an endeavor that takes no less than our entire life.

I don't really know where I'm going with this, nor do I think I need to go somewhere. Like I said, it was a ministry first that got me thinking.

We have a desire to be understood and accepted. Inherit in that is a desire to be loved. God has imprinted that in us because we are not meant to go through life alone. At the same time, the only chance we have to experience this desire fulfilled is in God, in life as part of His people.

What's hard for me is I work at a job where I see tons of people. I have no idea if they know this or not. I see them choosing not to find out. I see people in my life who have known this truth, yet still choose to wander away from it. Why? I've known nothing else my entire life, and I've learned enough to know there is nothing better out there. I come from two very stubborn families so I know I'll never venture out enough to try a life away from God, because again I know it to be the best life there is.

How do I help others see this for themselves? What can I do to make that impact, to make that need apparent? The saying goes you can lead a horse to the water but you can't make him drink. I only worry that the constant sight of thirsty horses hasn't made me forget to lower my head and drink what I know is good. (Wow, I've just discovered I really don't like extending sayings too much.)

So what do we do? That is the question that is the daily struggle, the daily commitment, the daily sacrifice. We do the best we can, and God works through the rest.

And that's where I stop tonight.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A small entre for a quick pondering

(Intro unrelated to topic): Currently listening to The Megas. If you've never heard of them, they are a band that specifically covers music from the Mega Man video games. Their album, "Get Equipped" is an amazing take on the music from Mega Man 2. Check them out!

(Topic): Just thought I'd throw this out there for some quick "food for thought." How many times do we sit and pray to God asking for guidance in our lives? I did it a lot, sometimes I still do. I understand that I, and many others, want to know "the plan" for our lives so that we can equip and prepare ourselves how God needs to.

What I wonder is how many times are we wondering this while God is literally sitting wherever he is (everywhere) almost screaming back at us "I HAVE YOU RIGHT WHERE I NEED YOU RIGHT NOW! DO SOMETHING!"

God can use you. Are you willing to let Him, or are you waiting for a sign? Will you be stubborn like Gideon (or me) or will you act? Yesterday is over, we don't know about tomorrow, and you only get one shot at today. MAKE IT COUNT!

Friday, October 23, 2009

This has to be real, I found it on the internet!

Letter Sent By College Student To His Dad

Dear Dad,

$chool i$ really great. I am making lot$ of friend$ and $tudying very
hard. With all my $tuff, I $imply can't think of anything I need, $o if you
would like, you can ju$t $end me a card, a$ I would love to hear from you.

Your $on.


Dear Son,

I kNOw that astroNOmy, ecoNOmics, and oceaNOgraphy are eNOugh to keep even an hoNOr student busy.
Do NOt forget that the pursuit of kNOwledge is a NOble task, and you can never study eNOugh.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Even more things to neglect updating...

Hello, faithful believers!

I thought I'd try a Stan Lee greeting, but I don't feel it suits me.

I haven't updated much, probably because I figured I didn't have much to update about. Oh well. After talking with some friends, I decided to start (yet another) new blog, this one specifically dealing with my encounters with people while working nights at Speedway.

These are truly unique. It seems every time I pop in and visit someone I've got all sorts of strange stories, and they are all completely true.

This blog will attempt to chronicle those strange stories. I hope to post in it every morning when I get home from work, so that it will be fresh in my mind and easier to type.

The new blog is titled "Humanity on the Clock." I hope to continue it even when I'm no longer at Speedway, as it is always worthwhile to make observations about people while you're at work. I don't think it will be as interesting once I stop working nights, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sometimes words aren't needed

I think this describes my life to a T more readily than I'll admit. At least at some points.