Category Archives: Family

The Feelings of People and Things Passing…04/02/2015

Grace_Building__New_York_by_olymbos01Hopefully, some will see this and read it. This has been an eventful last few days. It started off last week. Mary and I had a wonderful vacation in Phoenix with my parents and my sister’s family. Relaxing, fun, good family time. Then a few hours after my sister and her family had departed, my Uncle Dave called my dad, and told him that my eldest cousin’s daughter had passed away in her sleep at 27.

While the Lutz family is pretty big, we have all managed to stay in touch over the years. We have been watching each others kids grow up and I have gotten to know a few of them. Meredith was one. I can remember her a youngster with her brother and sister at the UM Church that served as our Thanksgiving Day meet up for most of the Lutzes. The one thing I really remember was talking to her when she was in high school, I believe it was at her grandmother’s funeral, my Aunt Tillie, most of the cousins where there then too. We had a conversation about what her youth group was doing, and I about how I was helping to lead one here in Gaylord. So when I heard she had joined Mission Year after graduating, and she had a blog for her year, I followed and commented. Her mom appreciated that I had gotten in touch with her to show support while she was there.

Since then we have kept in touch via Facebook. I was hoping that we could meet up with her during our ill-fated cruise, since it was ported out of NOLA, where she lived. However, with the cruise being cancelled and not having the money to stay in NOLA, it wasn’t going to work. So I apologized to her, and we went home. That was January, and here we are in March.

Then, this week as I prepared my lesson for youth group, my mind kept going back to a video about Ed Dobson that I saw a couple weeks ago. It is entitled “Grateful.” The series itself is about Ed Dobson’s life as a pastor, and now retired, living with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). The people at the web site turned this into a Lenten Meditation. That’s what I used tonight. However, as I discovered, this was being grateful through suffering. So we watched the video, and talked about it. Then I shared about Meredith. Meredith was always grateful and graceful to those around her. That is probably why she has as big a family, from her church and friends in NOLA, as she does in the several states that our clan has spread out. I was able to express my grief to the youth group and show them that Jesus is with us in the suffering.

Before this last week, I wasn’t sure that I would be around for another year in youth ministry. However, after tonight God said yes you will and I am with you even in the suffering. Why such a big turn around? Because, my message hit on something that one of our seniors got home to, a grandparent passing. She called Mary and I, and said how much she appreciated the message, it ministered to her without her knowing about it until the news dropped on her.

So as people and things pass, we do suffer, but Jesus is there with us in the suffering. On of my favorite verses in the Bible is John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” It’s the shortest verse in the Bible and speaks volumes when put into the context of the death of his friend Lazarus. So during this Holy Week, when Jesus dies on Good Friday, remember that he is with us in our suffering and promises Resurrection. Or as another pastor put it, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.”

What I want for Christmas and how my attitudes have changed…12/14/13

weemeeI was out running around tonight, doing some errands for Mary, when it occurred to me that I’m more positive about this Christmas than I have in a few years. One thing that I do with the youth group is stress the Shema, or as we say in the New Testament of the Bible the Great Commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul and all your mind. Love your neighbor as yourself.”(Matthew 22:37-40). I also stress the things from the beatitudes, like love your enemy. Of course, I get some push back. The kids have been conditioned by the culture that says you do unto others, and then split, or get revenge on them.

However, this has had an effect on me as well. I think about a verse out of one of my favorite books of the Bible, the book of James 2:18, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” So my deeds are always trying to show love and compassion.

As I said, I’m more positive about Christmas. The last few years, Mary has been on my case about being a Scrooge. This year has been different as I realize that while I want more than gifts, I have to love people where they are. I would prefer to do something along the lines of the Advent Conspiracy. Spend less on ourselves, do something as a family, and give the rest to those who need it. I’ve always pushed back at the culture, the commercialization of Christmas. The thing I realized that I can’t win against people who think that Christmas is about Santa, and not about Christ. I have to do as the bumper sticker says, “Act locally, Think globally.”

So my attitude has been just that, love the family where they’re at. Be content with what I have, and keep my attitude to  be depressed about the culture in check.

That’s all I want…well, that and a Canon EOS 700D (Rebel T5i) and a lens. 🙂

Things going on in the life of a meteorologist…10/8/2013

Remmy gets me to do this as well.If you follow this blog or my microblog, you that my life is blur sometimes. Not to mention that I try to keep a weather blog as well. This is what is going on…

  1. The government shutdown – yes, this has finally caught up with us. I mean that it was bound to happen. They threaten it every year, which gets old, but they finally pushed the button. This week when I get paid, I’ll only get a partial paycheck. This pay period straddles the ending and beginning of the fiscal year. So I’ll get about 9 days of pay and an IOU from the government for the rest. So things are okay for now, but another two weeks will mean juggling and making phone calls to a few creditors/mortgagors.
  2. Mary and I are leading our youth group – we have some adult helpers (we could use some more), and things are going well. Right now, I’m taking the group through the Old Testament, by teaching on the stories of the fathers. In this case, Abraham.
  3. Fantasy football (!?!) – After being at this office and participating in FF for the last 13 years, I almost hung up my clip board and took a break. However, I decided that last year wasn’t the last year, and decided not only would part take in the office one, but there is a family one with some of the cousins. I have to admit, that I’m feeling pretty good about it. I’m doing average in it…LOL. In my office league, I’m currently leading the league with a 5-0 record. I’m the only undefeated team left. In the family league, I’m dead last. I guess that makes me playing .500 ball. I’m hoping to win it all at the end of the year in the office league. We’ve had only 2 repeat winners in the history of the league. So, I’m hoping to get back the streak of another first time win back to the league.

So I have a pretty full plate at this point. Pray that the shutdown doesn’t continue and they find some solution. We can get by, but there are others out there, who cannot.

More Grace and why I am on this kick

I’m not a great writer. I’m good, to the extent that I do get compliments when somebody reads these posts from time to time, but not great. Sometimes, I wish that more people read my blog and commented on what I had written, if only to learn from others as they read what I said.

However, it has occurred to me that 1. I’m searching for approval from my interactions. This is not what I wanted, I shouldn’t/don’t need validation, but those feelings have occurred, as I recently noted to my wife.  And 2. that I don’t think that I need to be out there among the Christian blogosphere writing who’s right and who’s wrong. Recently, there was another dust up between bloggers which you can read about here, and why that particular blogger decided to step away.

The post is long so if you go there, be prepared to sit and read the post for about 10-15 minutes. He feels that he needs to be a positive voice in Christianity, so closed down his current blog, and will be reopening a blog that will be more positive. I have to say that his take on the exchange between the other two bloggers was right on. There was a Calvinist and a non-Calvinist.  However, as I read the post, there was little grace or mercy. Oh sure, they talked about defending the weak and why they were right, but still there was no grace or mercy.

I’m big on grace and mercy as of late. With the move back to Gaylord, and some other issues, I have been struggling to not lose my cool, because things aren’t the way I want them. Don’t get me wrong, I try to effect change into the situations, but when the advice gets trampled on, I have to remember to show grace. Die to myself, just like Christ.

However, for the foreseeable future, I’ll write about grace and mercy. Everything I have been running into as of late has been pointing me in that direction. I will sound like a broken record probably in the months and years to come. However, I don’t care. I’m going to tell stories of grace and mercy. That is loving God and loving others. That’s what Jesus commanded.

As I have been in the process of writing this post two things have popped out at me. One, is what Rob Bell said in his latest video (at the bottom) and the other is Brian Zahnd in several sermons lately. It’s about the saying, “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” I think that Rob is right when he says that the problem is that we have lost the childlike wonder, because churches have told us dos and don’ts. Brian Zahnd says that the community of the church (body of Christ) is needed, but the church itself has been going down a dos and don’ts road for about 100 years or so. That there is a shift beginning to happen. I agree.

We can’t be loners. We must be a community. We must show grace and mercy to those within our community and those outside.  When they fail, and we will all fall sometime, we can’t be about dos and don’ts, but be about love. People (and specifically the media) give Christians such hard time because of what we are against, because typically it is said without love (not that they are interested in that, remember if it bleeds it leads). We should be more.

Jesus gave grace and mercy to the woman caught in adultery, not condemning her, but sending off with, “Go and sin no more.” What if we did this? What if we granted grace and mercy, and told people to go and sin no more? I’m starting to think that more people would be willing to come to church and live life together in love, than is happening now.

Here is what Derek Ouellette (the blog writer) concludes with:

Brothers and sisters, that’s why I’m moving on. That’s why I’m creating a blog around “inform.inspire.imagine.” That’s why I want to find new, creative ways to pass along my ideas, without tearing down another person. I want to exhort without attacking. I want to teach without ad hominem. I want to see people grow. And I want my place to be a place that contributes to a positive image of God’s Kingdom online.

This is the same tact that I am going to continue with on my blog. Maybe someday more will read it and realize that this is what we always should have been doing.

HT to John Meunier

The Jeff Show – #5 Moving to Gaylord

Here’s a breakdown of what has been happening in our family.

  1. Moving
    1. Trailer – Denny’s
    2. Pulled with our truck
    3. Kaleb and Brandon helped
    4. Bringing Mary’s mom here
  2. Unpacking
    1. The living room was full
    2. the garage was full
    3. merging two households
    4. Need to keep on working on it
  3. Getting on with life
    1. Less gasoline being used
      1. 10 minute commute for me
      2. walking distance for Mary
      3. I walk to close things – church, downtown, etc.
    2. Karlie and Josh
    3. starting my walking regimen

The Power of Story, the Power of the Scene

I’ve been listening to Don Miller‘s, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.” Without getting into too much of the book, he realized that life is a story, and that God is asking us to live a better story. In the section that I’m listening to, he is talking about how important scene is. You don’t have many memorable conversations in a coffee shop, or your home, or what have you. However, you do remember the ones that were in an unexpected or memorable place, or maybe did something different in a place you have always been in. I can remember things with our kids, where the scene was different or the things happening were out of the ordinary for the place that they were occurring.

I’m thinking that I’ve been living a boring, mundane story. In some ways, I have, but there have been memorable scenes of conversations over the past 7 years since I met Mary and her kids. I know that I’m not always living a boring story. I’m trying to get into a more interesting one now, again.

In the book, Don talks about a bike trip that he initially didn’t want to do. I would turn into an epic story as he and a group of others were going to ride from Los Angeles, to Washington, D.C. on bikes, for charity. He equated that the beginning would be exciting, but that the middle would seem like they weren’t going anywhere. It would be easy to give up, chose an easier story. Not every story has a payoff. Some just lead into another story.

So, I’m trying not to abandon my story, it seems that there is a part that seems to go on forever. Like the story has come to a halt. I don’t want to abandon it. I need to be on the look out for memorable scenes to have meaningful conversations. I’m trying to be intentional about how my story, and those close to me, how their stories will evolve. That their character arc will bring change into their lives.

I highly recommend this book. I still have more to listen to. I may have to listen to it again.