Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Age is Just a Number

With so many folks sharing lists on Facebook and my birthday just marching by, I thought it would be fun to make up a list of how to stay young.  I've pulled it off to some extent, even though many scoffers said it would wear off by now.

FYI: Many of these may be RESULTS of being young at heart, not CAUSES, but I believe most of them help out in some way or another.  Also, I'm not an expert on anything mentioned here.  Allison McCormick might know how the food part works, and Kayla Nye might understand the physical activities.  Tons of my teacher friends will understand the general outlook on the life of an elementary kid.

Anyways, here we go:

1) Run around a lot.  Not like a marathon, but because it's fun.  Haven't you seen a 4 year old book it from room to room intent on whatever his little world is focused on?  Whenever the volleyball is hit to 3 courts down I always try to go get it.  It's not to show off, or be obnoxious (although both might happen as a result), it's just to run and run and run.

Eric Liddell sums up (in Chariots of Fire at least) what I feel every time I run for a loose ball or jump over some random object :  "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure."

2) Skip New Year.  It may sound silly, but I began to skip New Year in the 2007 range in a hot tub with Evan Winer.  It's not the physical act of skipping the ball dropping or not knowing the passing of Midnight, but it's the mental decision that this hyped up passing of 1 second from the clock isn't worth dictating my activity for the moment.  Sure, I'll celebrate the New Year, but I'm not going to let some piece of some holiday (especially a secular one) decide what I'm doing. 

I shoveled the driveway this year.  Other years I've taken a lap around the house.  Outdoor hot tub is still the favorite though.

3) Learn!  At some point in the 20's we acknowledge that we thought we knew everything in our teens, but really we knew nothing and now that we know that we know everything.  Read a book!  Doesn't have to be a school text book.  Read Ender's Game and consider the ethical dilemmas that run right along side of school yard dynamics.  Or the Chronicles of Narnia!  Each book will awaken the imagination (that the internet and modern media have put to sleep) and at the same time each book will teach Spiritual Truths in a form that is SO easy to digest. 

Also you can learn through experiments, or art projects.  Use creativity and imagination.  Color!  Even use the internet to come up with some random experiment that is probably free and fun.  Our Youth Pastor is constantly coming up with new experiment that I'm often baffled and amazed by.  Learning can be fun, and I think it'll keep you young!

4) Calories.  While learning about things, look up calories.  Never mind, here it is:

Calorie = "the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1 °C (now usually defined as 4.1868 joules)."

I think of these things different than most (and probably incorrectly in this case).  Calories are like clutter in your house.  If you don't clean it up, it'll find a spot to stick and you'll end up on hoarders.  Well if you don't clean up your calories on a regular basis they'll stick to you in places you don't want it.  So simply if I have a Swiss Roll pack then I just need to move, jump, run, and dive enough to change X grams of water through X degrees Celsius. 

So long story short.  Don't drive everywhere.  Ride you're bike to church, or work, or whatever.  Not to save gas (although that's nice) but because it's cool!  Make it a goal to make it to one weekly activity on your bike.  I try for Youth Group in the Summer, and then anytime I go to friends and I have 20 minutes extra I'll bust a ride there.  It's fun and it's a good example to kiddos that are apt to follow us right into feeling like we need a car.   

5) Work with kids.  This is my favorite!  Usually.  Personally I teach a Learn to Swim class twice a week, then I go to two church activities with kids.  Everyone has different interests and limits on how much kid they can deal with.  Find your niche and go for it.  Maybe helping one kid with homework is more to your limit.  Be intentional about it! 

You don't have to focus on needy kids either.  Your friends will probably appreciate you helping their kids with homework so A) they get a break and B) someone (that may or may not be "cool") reinforces the worldview they've been striving to lead their kids into.  Some parents need some prodding, but next thing you know you'll be coloring and running around with a light saber.

6) Get decent sleep when you can... but never give up friends for sleep.  Well not never.  I think it's important to get a good night of sleep on a regular schedule, but I also think it's important to stay up til 3am star tipping (if you don't know what that is it'll also help you stay young unless you're a victim of getting dizzy as you get older), playing taboo, or talking with folks you haven't seen for a while.  I'm an early bird, but every once and a while an all nighter can liven things up.

7) Don't worry.  This is straight up Biblical.  The lilies of the field don't worry, so trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understand, and don't worry about tomorrow cause He's got it under control.  Pretty much enough said.  Don't let life cripple you.  When finals are coming up study for 2 hours then go throw a Frisbee for a bit.  If you're unsure then pray about it. 

8) Fresh air can rejuvenate you.  This goes along with some of the others as well.  Study breaks outside help renew your mind 4.7 times better than study breaks watching tv or napping.  It's science.  It's not science.  But you see the point.  Something about pumping blood through your system will help you focus.  This is something our kids need to do more as well. 

9) Don't drink (pop, coffee, alcohol, energy drinks) or smoke (or do drugs).  One more situation where I'm an oddball.  I wouldn't condemn folks for these things, but I would condemn myself for it.  Our bodies are a time bomb and all of those things seem to take time off of the clock.  I know you can even out some of those things by working out maybe, but in order to keep life simple I avoid them.  Less junk in, less junk out. 

Energy drinks are the new ones on this list.  I personally have never had on but they terrify me.  There are physical laws, like the conservation of energy.  I think we're overlooking something when we drink a Monster or 5 hour energy and figure our day is good to go.  Our body has to process that stuff and I am betting we'll pay for it later (with exploding hearts).

10) Keep life simple: Eat PB&J every day. It's the perfect storm.  A nutritionist could tell me why, but I just figure there is some protein, fruit and bread mixed together.  I love PB&J.  I look forward to lunch every day because of it.  Yogurt too for that matter.  Some things need mixing up here and there, but PB&J with a Dannon (or some live culture yogurt of some sort) keep me going all year.

So scoff again if you want, maybe my heart will explode tomorrow.  But until then I'll keep eating Little Debbie's like it's my job and running down errant foul balls (even if I have to push other kids out of the way to do it. JK. But seriously.... jk.)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Winter Goes On

Here we are in February and Winter is still dumping on us.  I'm a fan in general.  Sure, our driveway is difficult to navigate and our shovels have been pushed to the limit, but I'll still take this.  I've been reminded of Michigan Tech days over and over again, yet even this is a shadow of what they go through every year. 

I made plans to watch the Super Bowl up at camp  and arranged for lodging with the Alchin's.  It turned into a great weekend where I got to catch up with most of my camp friends. 

Tubing with Andrea Ford was fun!  As well as some good ole pond hockey.

Adela spent more time in the skate hut.
I know I'm the minority, but I really enjoyed the Super Bowl.  Anytime one team is so clearly dominate I usually like it.  Especially a defense that executes perfectly.  I don't really blame the Broncos for that mess, because the Seahawks came out with a good game plan (another thing I enjoy watching- solid strategy beating another usually solid strategy).  Plus I enjoyed seeing most of the ads, which are another aspect that got knocked but I thought they were at least par for the course.  It helps to watch with kids cause they are all about laughing at those commercials.

This week our Youth Group enjoyed sledding.  A lot of folks balk at the idea of going out to sled in some of the single digits we've been dealing with, but I'm a huge fan.  Kids need to learn that if they go outside and run, their bodies will keep them warm.

After some hesitance, most of the kids (and helpers) ended up sledding.  I actually ended up freezing my toes (too many layer, too tight, doesn't let the blood flow) and I bailed to the car after about an hour.

The girls do what they can to stay warm, including sledding.

Noah Wygant is getting down.

Most of the kids were majorly bundled.
We made it to Pizza Sam's and enjoyed the pizza and a group devotional with Tim.  I've been enjoying the steady group we're getting at Youth Group and I'm looking forward to Valentine's dinner this Thursday.

To finish up the weekend Adela and I went to the Valentine's banquet for our church.  In about 17 years of attending Garrison Hill's I've never joined the Valentine's banquet.  I enjoyed the special evening with Adela and 17 other individuals from our church.  We took home a solid door prize with dinner for 2 at Culver's.

In a final note I'd like to mention that some of my dear friends from Camp Barakel have left their positions there.  I spent many nights at the Harris' house, joining them on family events and learning what it's like to eat the best kind of food.  All while Randy gives me a hard time for eating all his yummy food.  And while I worked for Randy, I worked with Mike Baker.  I grew very close to him and his family over my years there. 

Their exit from Camp doesn't surprise me, but it is a bittersweet ordeal.  Friction is often difficult to work around, even among Christian friends.  Most of our churches have experienced some kind of difficulty over the years, sometimes ending in catastrophic meltdown's and other times ending on good terms for all involved.

My hope and prayer for Camp and these families is that everything comes together over the next months and years.  I just experienced jumping off of the cliff from one job (Camp) to another (Denso) and I understand the nervousness that mixes with excitement.  Yet my experience didn't include taking a wife or 4 kids along with me. 

So I pray for these folks and for the stability of camp.  And I send out a big thank you for the decades of service represented in these two families.  They were a tremendous help to me for my years at camp and I am confident they'll be a great asset to the ministries and communities that they land in.

In the meantime life goes on like it does.  I look forward to weeks of swim lessons, church outreach, ultimate Frisbee, volleyball, and whatever else comes my way.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

It's Been a While...

Well it's been almost 3 months since I last blogged (most of November, December, and now most of January).  I'd been unsure about continuing because my life is very steady and repetitious.  But that's how it works when I'm putting in 40+ a week and filling my nights to the brim.  The final straw was a Sunday night when I was trying to stuff blogging in between volleyball, watching a show with Adela and going to sleep.  The balance wasn't working out right, so I held off, forgot and then chose to take a rest for a while.  Well tonight I have an extra half hour, so I'll try to churn out some quality information.
December was fun.  Denso has a bit of a Winter break and I spent it travelling up North for a wedding, hanging out with my visiting brother, freezing under several blankets during a 4(ish) day power outage and feeling sick in there as well. 
Casey, Bernadette, Myself, and Adela
January has been a whirlwind.  I've stayed in Battle Creek every weekend so far and enjoyed the time at home.  I'm loving the snow and I've been sledding several times.  Here is my schedule at a glance:

5:00PM- Learn to Swim Class
7:30PM- Swimming workout (about 45 minutes)

Ultimate Frisbee in Kalamazoo (1 hour starting at 7:30pm, 8:30pm, or 9:30pm)

5:00PM- Learn to Swim Class
6:15PM- Clubhouse (games and Bible study with elementary ages)
7:30PM- Swimming workout

6:30PM- Youth Group (various activities from week to week)
8:30PM- New game/tv night with friends.

No plans, and so far no travelling.

9:00AM through 12:15ish PM- Swim meets.  I try to organize the little ones so they don't miss events.

9:00ish AM through 12:00ish PM- Church
5:30PM- Volleyball

That's the rundown.  I fill extra time with Adela for the most part.  We have been watching the Shield and sometimes the Harry Potters (although she's ditched me on those).  I also have been playing video games over this stretch and trying to read a couple books. 

Here are some quick pictures from Youth Group where we did some melting crayon art:

To wrap up, I had a couple thoughts. 

1) Not sure how much I'll be interested in blogging.  Weekly worked much better when I was at camp and I had lots of different stuff going on, and usually some off time to write a little.  Even repeating the same schedule can be of utmost importance because it takes a lot of time to invest in relationships and community.  So maybe I'll get back on the weekly bandwagon, but most likely I'll try to find something a little more spread out.

2) Camp ministry is so much different than people ministry.  Instead of rocking peoples world for a weekend (or more likely doing dishes while OTHER people rock their world) I now am hip deep in Battle Creek.  Between work, sports, and church I'm interacting with lots of folks and enjoying the reconnection to Battle Creek.  This takes time and patience, both of which are difficult for me to manage at times.

3) A random thought as I travel around town and spend much more time in vehicles with radios in them: I hate the radio.  Christian radio has been generally awful around her for years.  I've found some new stations I like while I also mix in pop stations as well.  Today I realized that if I turn it off I can redeem some of my drive time.  I've realized this before, but habit takes over and I mindlessly scan.  Often times I'm trying to drown out my thoughts (frustration from sports or life, idle driving thoughts, or even generally happy thoughts about sports or life). 

My goal is to just leave it off for a while.  I listen to sermons here and there but otherwise I'll leave it off and force myself to address my own thoughts and maybe it'll be just the time I needed to sort things out and prepare myself for the coming tasks of the day.

Well that's it for now.  I think I'll try to take more pictures on a weekly basis and aim for Sundays again, but we'll see how it goes. 

Thanks for checking it out!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Back to Huckfest Again

It's been 3 years since I was able to go to Huckfest.  We won the "B Cup" portion of the tourney.  That means we lost a game in the pool play, were placed into the B Cup and won our games from there.  I think that places us in 9th place officially, but we got a trophy, so the rest is whatever.  

Our team consisted of a fairly random group of folks that Chris Hox and Evan Winer have assembled over the last several years.  It's actually to the point where I feel comfortable with most of them and we have a very skilled team.  I feel like we miscommunicate at first, but then we get it together as we go. 

After spending most of my last couple years of college with Evan, it's always good to catch up some.  7 years after I graduated we still have a lot of things in common and the old jokes usually still stand. 

Here we are after the final win.  We were 5-1 for the tournament, kinda funny to get 9th place after that. 

Volleyball was mixed this week.  It was fun to switch up to another pool of teams.  They were much more skilled, but it also meant we lost.  We played tight on the best team in the league, then took a straight dump on the next team. 

I also saw Ender's Game this weekend.  It was one of the better book adaptations I've seen.  So many of them have been terrible (the Hobbit being the latest, and about to fire it up again).  This one really covered the heart of the story and did a good job of communicating the themes.  The end of it didn't quite jive right, but otherwise it was very well done.

Anyways.  Not the most exciting batch of news.  Next weekend should be more chilled out than that even.  So here we go.  Still working and staying busy.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Jack and Jill Again

I thought this would be my first weekend to skip Jack and Jill since my first time in 2010.  Again, Jack and Jill is a work weekend at Camp Barakel that focuses on bringing the Summer staff back to impact camp while enjoying a reunion atmosphere.

Well to spite the Jon Ford's weather forecast, the sun was out most of the day, but then some icy showers blew in and out a couple times.  My crew consisted of JD Stanton, Joey Winterstein, and none other than...... Mike Baker.  We were tasked with building a new Octoball ring in front of Boys Dorm on the West side.  By 2pm we were wrapped up with time to send the boys off, fix the door on Danny VanOrman's work garage and then a bit of cleaning to help Mike prepare for an upcoming group retreat. 

The rainbow lands on Ethan!
We're cleat brothers now or something.

The afternoon was capped off by a bit of an ultimate Frisbee game.  I didn't really plan to play any sports, so I was privileged to share one of Dan Krueger's cleats with him.  Never tried that before and it worked pretty well.  I enjoyed spending the evening with other Summer staff carving pumpkins, a little catching up with Mike Baker at his house, and finally a bit of frosty star gazing before turning in at the reasonable hour of 1am.

This pumpkin tried the microwavable cheese dip and then hurled.

Sunday turned out to be quite filled up.  Adela and I decided to hustle down to catch part of Hannah Ford's last soccer game at Delta College in Saginaw.  We were able to catch the second half, a point that left me fairly grumpy.  I like my itinerary going really well and not only did we miss the first half, but I took the wrong directions (didn't specify the correct campus or something) and ended up being an extra 10 minutes late.  After testing Adela's patience and using her GPS we were back on the right track before long. 

My attitude turned around about the same time as some of the girls almost got into a fight.  There was a hard foul (deserving a yellow card) that led to a tussle, then some other girls jumping in, and finally a couple red cards for the main belligerents.  The refs forgot about the original foul though, so I made sure they remembered it (although I think the ref on the line already was thinking about it). 

Beyond that excitement Hannah played excellently, and so did her friend Natalie.  Even if the skill level isn't perfect, it's fun to watch A) someone that has a great touch like Natalie, and B) someone that I trained with for years and then seeing them put together an excellent effort on defense. 

From there it was the usual.  Volleyball in Battle Creek, and then some tv with Adela before she scrambled back to Hope for classes on Monday.

Working with Mike always fires me up about camp.  I always try to keep myself open to Camp Barakel (where I think God might bring me more permanently someday), but in the meantime I am really excited about the work to be done in Battle Creek over the next several years. 

Thanks for reading and enjoy the Fall weather while it's back to being reasonable.  Not long and we'll be buried!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Busy Weekend for Real!

You can tell the Winter is coming because our Youth Group is at M-66 Bowling once a month or so.  This month was no exception.  I ended up rolling in a little late and not playing, but there are usually a couple kids that want a helping had for a throw or two.


This weekend was all setup.  Adela was coming and we already had plans that were complicated and filling up our Saturdays.  But I decided to fill it up to the brim.  Here is the breakdown:

Friday night I jumped at the chance to go to downtown (like usual).  It was the "Fall into the arts" event that filled up all of downtown.  The premise is that every business opens up its doors to artists to come in and display their work while offering their wares to the public.  We ate with Mom at Pastrami Joe's, got some cupcakes and walked the whole stretch and back. 

Saturday morning we went straight to Middleville for some breakfast with Adela's camping parents.  It was a pleasant country drive, a short visit, and a different route back to catch Maribel Cleland's last soccer game in Pennfield.  We hung around town for a couple hours, then hustled over to Charlotte to join in on a surprise dinner to celebrate by Dad's birthday coming up at the end of the month. 

After pizza we considered what to do next.  Adela was thinking about a haunted house and I knew there was a "good one" in Jackson.  I'm not a big fan myself, but I've never been to one so I figured we should go for it.  I hollered at Hannah Ford, knowing she lives in Jackson, and we caught dessert with her and Brad Smith.  After that we made our way to the "Jackson Underground" haunted house.

I didn't know what to expect exactly, but it was pretty fun.  I go through these things so differently than most people.  I'm analyzing hiding spots, checking corners and inspecting every shadow.  Oh, and also walking as low as possible to get under the fog.  I was never scared, but there was some cool stuff.  My favorite was the star tipping tunnel that makes you lose your equilibrium.  All said, Brad was the point man for the most part, yelling at the props and people for being unsanitary and doing illegal things, the girls screamed a lot, and I took up the rear, ignoring the chainsaw people that kept jumping out of the shadows.

The next day we went to Cornwell's Turkey Farm to check out the Haunted Adventure after church.  Most this weekend was either unplanned, or planned at the last possible moment.  I was also trying to keep Adela in the dark for the most part, trying to keep her on her toes.  This was the main surprise I was planning, especially because I had roped Emily and Xavier into coming over to check it out.

Our first stop was the haunted barn which had the same type of star tipping tunnel, only much slower.  It's still very disorienting and hard to stand up straight. 

Following the haunted house we went to the free mini train rides, stopped through some of the shops and eventually took the hayride to the corn maze.

The corn maze could have been more difficult, but it was good for daytime and a comfortable walk around. 

It was so much fun to see Brad, Hannah, Xavier, and Emily.  We also saw her family, celebrated with my family, and supported our church family all in one day.  I love looking back at a day that we were able to see so many people, and cover so much ground.  I've been hoping to see all these people and I'm thankful that everything kind of came together on its own. 

The biggest news is that we set the date of June 7th for the wedding, and we are aiming at Midland.  It's not my ideal timing, but it's fantastic to be able to start planning.  Don't get your hopes too high yet cause I don't know about numbers or people or anything.  I wish I could invite anyone and everyone but that's not quite how it works.  I am very grateful for all of the folks that I'd like to invite.  I'm thinking of you as I draw up my lists of people.

Well now that a date is set I can finally start to get excited and jump on some of the planning details.  Hopefully we'll have jet skis, sleds, and ultimate Frisbee!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Most Beautiful Day of the Year

If you're like me, you've found yourself saying it over an over again this Fall.  This is the most beautiful day of the year! We had multiple chances for that this week.  But let me back up a bit before I get all the way into that. 

First, major schedule changes taking place now.  I may have mentioned it already, but I'm playing Sunday night volleyball at the Y.  It's the best volleyball I can join in on and I'm thankful for a team that let me jump in with them.  So far we're undefeated and it's been a lot of fun to play. 

Then on Mondays and Wednesdays I offered to help with Learn to Swim classes at Harper Creek.  One of my favorite things to do and something that I missed a lot at camp. 

On Tuesdays I've joined in on a pick up basketball game at Pennfield High School.  It worked out that I was invited through some people at work and now I'm in.  And although people may think I hang my hat on my athletics.... I'm seeing the wear and tear on my knees and it worries me sometimes.  Then again, maybe it was being out of shape.  Either way, that sets me up for some good athletics to help keep in shape from week to week.

On Thursday our church had one of my favorite Youth Group activities of all time.  A downtown scavenger hunt.  Tim scattered some food for the kids to pick up and took pictures of them to use as clues.  We made our way from one end of town to the other.  I rode my bike to it and was distracted in the middle by parent teacher conferences at the Math and Science Center.  Fun to roll in and say hello to any teachers that weren't chatting with parents.  The building is beautiful!

Thursday was truly an awesome day.  Perfect temperature all day, yet a crisp touch to the air.  Youth Group ended at the Math and Science Center where Tim spoke about spreading the Gospel in practical (and impractical) ways.  Anything could be just the trick, from inviting someone to Youth Group, to throwing a message in a bottle.  Even TV pastors can be the push in the right direction!

I know a lot of folks avoid and dislike Battle Creek but I still have hope for the place.  Like the whole world it needs a lot of redeeming work, but this city is just the product of those that will invest and take part in it.  If everyone keeps their distance and hides in the country (or in Kalamazoo) then there will never be any improvement.

Anyways, being downtown was a blast and I'm happy the downtown area is growing up and that the most intelligent kids in the county are joining in on it (whether they like it or not).

That's the weekend crew.  I joined Dad, Brenton, and Grant for the Camp Barakel Men's retreat.  We all drove up together but I cheated because Adela also came up with some of her friends to volunteer in the kitchen.  The weekend was also gorgeous up at Camp Barakel.  A little chilly here and there, but by and large another perfect Fall Day.

Although it was nice to be able to hang with the guys and then switch over to see Adela periodically throughout the day... I probably won't go for that at a Men's retreat again.  I pretty much want to spend all my time with her, so it can potentially defeat the point of a Men's Retreat.  I think we balanced it decently, and I was excited for the opportunity to be together to see the camp staff.

The weekend speaker was Tom Harmon and he focused on "But He Giveth More Grace", which is not only scripture, but the name of his latest book.  I don't think anyone would have been talking about the Tom Harmon books 10 years ago.  Times change though.  Lots of good wisdom and fellowship with other believers.  I'm very blessed to call the weekend a reunion with staff, a Father/Son retreat, a Men's Retreat, and a Couple's Retreat all at once. 

That being said, I'm looking forward to a weekend where I may be able to catch up with different staff for lengthy periods of time.  In the meantime I'm hoping my muscles and sleep schedule recover from this fun filled weekend.

God Bless!