Wednesday, December 28, 2011

this is going to be the best thing we've ever seen

exactly the way i feel & what i want to say to you, Crystal...

"We should get jerseys cause we make a good team
But yours would look better than mine, cause you're outta my league
And I know that it's so cliche to tell you that everyday
I spend with you is the new best day of my life
Everyone watching us just turns away with disgust
It's Jealously, they can see that we've got it going on

And I'm racking my brain for a new improved way
To let you know your more to me than what I know how to say
You're OK with the way this is going to be
This is going to be the best thing we've ever see

Maybe I'm just lucky cause it's hard to believe
Believe that somebody like you'd end up with someone like me
And I know that it's so cliche to talk about you this way
But I'll push all my inhibitions aside
It's so very obvious to everyone watching us
That we have got something real good going on

And I'm racking my brain for a new improved way
To let you know your more to me than what I know how to say
You're OK with the way this is going to be
This is going to be the best thing we've ever seen"

- thx old school relient K for putting words to what's in my heart
& thanks to my amazing wife for letting me experience something so amazing.

Friday, December 23, 2011

4 drawers in the dresser

yesterday i explained the Unexpected Christmas Store that Ridge did this month. it's been amazing. you can read that post HERE.

i've got my own thoughts from this experience of being able to bless others in our city, but below you can read it in the words of my great friend Spanky... who heads up our whole partnership with Piney Grove Elementary and this Unexpected Christmas Store. you can read it from his blog HERE or in full below...

"I walked into Piney Grove Elementary this morning to drop off some presents that a family had left Saturday at the Unexpected Christmas Store and was reminded what a difference Ridge Church is making in this community. I was bombarded with hugs and 'thank you's from the principal and the administration as I walked into the office, because of the ripple effect the Unexpected Christmas Store and Ridge Church's partnership has already had on these families.

When I left there this morning I was reminded of one the most heart breaking stories that
has come from the 14 families that were able to come shop at the Unexpected Christmas Store. This family came to the store Saturday morning with a life story that would break the
average person and leave them with no hope. As this single mom came in I could again see the heaviness on her face but could have never imagined what she was going through. We began her shopping experience by piling bags upon bags on a table and all around the floor for her and her 4 children. When I brought her into the room to look over everything and she was in absolute shock.

"This is ALL for us?!?!"
"Yes ma'am. We wanted to make sure we could take care of your wish list and give you a bunch of household items that you could use."

Hugs and tears flowed but more than that smiles and joy began to appear. When she was done looking through all of it I told her that we still wanted her to go shop and pick out some cool toys and things her children would love to open from her on Christmas morning. But before she finished her shopping I told her that we had one more big item for her. I showed her a very nice dresser that The Black Lion had donated to the store for this family. She did not notice what a nice piece it was at first, she noticed that it had 4 drawers. "God must have known that I needed this since it has 4 drawers. Now we have one drawer for each child!"
[insert realty-check-wow here]
This is when she began sharing her family's story with me. Her oldest son who is ten years old was diagnosed with Lymphoma cancer last year. This crushed her and this journey was crushing the whole family. The only option for saving her son was to try and have another child. She did get pregnant and had a wonderful little baby boy, who was there with her at the store. The doctors saved the stem cells from the baby's umbilical cord to use for the older son's cancer treatments. So with the cost of having another child, having to pay for cancer treatments and becoming a single mother of 4 the family began to lose everything. They gave up their house, car, and sold all they had--even furniture, and now live in an extended stay hotel. The mother told me that this entire Christmas break they are spending their time at a cancer hospital in NYC. That was the extent of their Christmas until the Unexpected Christmas Store. This mom was so happy when she left that she went and got her children and came back. This time when she walked in her face was full of hope.
Most of us could never imagine having to go through what this family is faced with and most of us would never imagine being as generous as the small group was that took this family's wish list and went above and beyond. 
I truly believe that when we realize how blessed we are and the responsibility that comes with those blessings we can change the world and make a lasting impact...maybe one family at a time.

Thank you Father for allowing us to be apart of this family's transition from being crushed by life to a season of HOPE. We don't always see the effect of our generosity but thank you for allowing us to see just a glimpse of the reward this day and allowing us the opportunity to give!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

the coolest christmas store ever

the last 2 weekends have been pretty awesome.

Ridge Church opened a STORE at our new facility. it was a Christmas store & only 14 families were the shoppers over the 2 weekends. Tons of Ridge volunteers were there to roll out a red carpet experience for these 14 families.

these weren't just 14 random families either, but through our partnership with Piney Grove Elementary we were able to invite the 14 families who are most in need at this school where 81% live below the poverty level!

each of these 14 families have incredible stories of need & through the generosity of the peeps of Ridge Church were able to be a huge blessing to these families. we're only blessed to be a blessing. and that's what we've been doing.

it has been AMAZING to watch Moms walk through this Unexpected Christmas Store and receive car loads of all the clothes and home products they need for their family + needs that they didn't have hope of receiving - a refrigerator, dresser, bunk beds, etc...

this has been amazing to be a part of. i'll share a couple specific stories in the next posts.
i'm pumped to be a part of a community of people (Ridge) that is literally blessing and changing our community.

Monday, December 19, 2011

need to feel like a better parent? just read this

My wife's grandmother from New York has had the privilege to stay at our house and hang out with Keira twice since she's been born. and in that time i've probably heard this story about a half dozen times.

just letting you know up front that this is a true story! i didn't make it up and i didn't just steal it from something i saw on Tosh.0 or Ridiculousness.

here you go:
back in the day when my father-in-law was a baby, his mom (my wife's grandmother) was driving through town and made a U-turn...
the back door of the car came open and the baby FELL OUT!!!
he straight up fell out onto the street on his head!
out of a moving car!

she got out of the car, threw him back in the back seat, and kept driving.

hard to top that one.

and he turned out just fine (you know, for the most part). she seems like she was a wonderful mother & of course this kind of thing wasn't the norm.
but hey, stuff happens. we're all going to make mistakes. i'm sure i'll make TONS. thousands. i'm trying not to, but i'm sure i will.

but when i make those mistakes i'm going to remind myself of this story and say to myself "at least i didn't eject my baby onto the street from a moving car."

hopefully i never top that one.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Santa blackmail

always one of my fav Santa cartoons

it takes a smart & audacious kid to blackmail Santa Claus. i wish i would've thought of it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

my mom's in today's newspaper

the Charlotte Observer published an article today on my Mom and her wait for 2 new lungs. you can check it out HERE.

Monday, December 12, 2011

a random international, cross-cultural thought... globalism

(This was originally posted to renown on December 15, 2009.)

I have so many random thoughts. I have them constantly. Seriously - the thoughts never stop. I don't write about a lot of them, but I think I am going to start more often.
That's really why I started this blog - not so much to always have these polished articles to dispense knowledge & ideas to the world [sarcasm], but as an outlet for me to think out loud! I'm going to start doing that more & this post is an example. They might make me look ignorant, but that's ok... it's my blog & I'm just thinking out loud. A lot of completely unprocessed, still-forming-in-my-brain-thoughts...

Here's my thought: If someone just wakes up 1 day and wants to go live in another country, THEY CAN'T.

isn't that weird?
Maybe it's not weird to you because that's just the world we've always known. Those geo-political boundaries are set in stone. But to me, it's really weird that if I just wanted to go live in another country... just for the heck of it... I couldn't. It wouldn't be that easy!
I would have to fill out all kinds of paperwork, make sure I have a passport and a visa if I'm staying forever... + probably a lot of other stuff I don't even know about. I couldn't just hop a plane & go. Why not?

*I haven't looked up all the rules or anything. I don't really know what the laws are going to & coming from all the other countries, so I admit, I am a little ignorant. But I figure that renown readers can probably tell me more about this than wikipedia, so go ahead and leave me a comment & explain all this if you want...

I guess it's all about keeping tabs on everyone? All our geo-political borders are so solid that countries don't want peeps from other nations slipping in unannounced. (And I am well aware that 9/11 changed the world, but these laws were the same even before that, right?)

To me it's just a weird world that we live in when we have to stay so divided. If I wanted to move to New Zealand tomorrow, or Egypt, or Germany, or Kazakstan, or Malawi, or Chile, or Indonesia, or Canada, or Mexico, or Kenya, or Ireland, or Poland, or anywhere else... I couldn't just "up & do it." That is SOOOO weird to me. What if I just wanted to move to Liberia, get an apartment, get a job, try the local restaurants, make some friends, and just live there for 5 years and then come back? not that simple.

Same with the U.S. When did it even start that if someone wanted to come live in America they couldn't just come move here? When did it become "illegal"? Maybe it has something to do with paying taxes? Or making sure we all get counted in a census? I don't know...

I just think it's weird in our world of 6 billion + that any person doesn't really have the freedom to live wherever they want.

Do YOU think it's weird too or am I just weird for thinking it?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

winners quit all the time

i read a book a couple years ago that full on lines up with my philosophy on everything.

i was born with (maybe inherited) an ALL or NOTHING personality. my natural bent with anything in life is to go all in or not go at all. so i like what Seth Godin had to say about Vince Lombardi's famous statement:

“Quitters never win and winners never quit.” 
– Vince Lombardi. 

but Seth says:
* “Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.”

To sum up this whole book and my philosophy as simply as i can = Don't Quit or else Don't Start.

so, be sure you're going all the way when you start or else you're just wasting precious time, energy, resources, etc... but if you do realize you need to quit then do it ASAP!

here are a couple awesome lines from Seth's great little book called The Dip:
“Extraordinary benefits accrue to the tiny minority of people who are able to push just a tiny bit longer than most. Extraordinary benefits also accrue to the tiny majority with the guts to quit early and refocus their efforts on something new. In both cases it’s about being the best in the world. About getting through the hard stuff and coming out the other side.”

Quit the wrong stuff.
Stick with the right stuff.
Have the guts to do one or the other.

Strategic quitting is the secret of successful organizations.”

“The stupid thing to do is to start, give it your best shot, waste a lot of time and money, and quit right in the middle of the Dip.”  

“If you’re going to quit, quit before you start.” 
* “Don’t play the game if you realize you can’t be the best in the world.”  

and i LOVED this part:
‘Never Quit’ = “What a spectacularly bad piece of advice. That ranks right up there with ‘Oh, that’s a funny dirty joke, let’s tell the teacher.’

Here is the advice that Lombardi and all these other peeps MEANT to give us = “never quit something with great long term potential just because you can’t deal with the stress of the moment.” Now that’s great advice!

“In order to get through the Dip [of the thing you're called to] you’ll need to quit everything else.”


it's all about focus.
it's the 3 sport star who quits 2 sports he loves for the sake of the one he loves most and can be the best at.
it's the organization who quits 8 things they're doing well for the sake of the 1 thing they can do BEST.
and example after endless example...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

i may be old...

i hadn't heard this song in YEARS. several years. and then all of the sudden, when i woke up on Saturday (December 3rd) morning this song started blaring inside of my head. i have NOT been able to get it out since. for days it's been taunting me.

it's from one of my fav bands when i was a kid... those amazing artists from the glorious ska/punk revolution of the 90s... Five Iron Frenzy.

i guess these lyrics are just too fitting for me since Saturday. somewhat depressing to think about. at least they were writing about being old a long time ago and i just now got there. enjoy and imagine the punk/ska beating along in your head... sing along if you know it (yeah, right... like anyone would have ever heard this song... or admit to it if you have).

"I'm twenty-nine years old, still wearing the wallet chain, like I was twenty-eight. 
I'm wearing my Vans right now, so high school kids will think that I can skate. 
I've got a degree in science, yet shaking my fists in defiance.

Anyway, I'm not cliche, I hardly own any ties. 
I may be old, but at least I'm not like all those other old guys.

I'm watching MTV, for fashion tips, so I can say, that I saw it first. 
Backwards hat, tattoos, and goatee say I'm cool, just like Fred Durst. 
I pay almost all my bills, I sleep on a futon still.
Anyway, I'm not cliche, I might not even die. I may be old, but at least I'm not like all those other old guys."

Friday, December 2, 2011

let me go ahead & get this out of the way... again

'tis the season again. So, this is just your friendly reminder to please not write me a letter about writing "xmas" because you think i worship the devil and am in some kind of conspiracy to overthrow the world... just read this 1st.
merry xmas!
(This was originally posted on November 24th, 2009 HERE.)

OK, I thought it might be easier to just say this once and get it out of the way.

It is a lot easier and faster for me to write "xmas" than "Christmas". There, I said it and it's out of the way now.
So, when I am typing something quickly = a blog post, an email, a text, etc... I'm probably going to write "xmas" instead of "Christmas". (So don't be offended when you get an email or text from me with "xmas" in it.)

Lest you think I am some heartless atheist (or a devil worshipper) - it has NOTHING to do with "taking Christ out of Christmas" as lots of people say. It's not some "liberal" agenda to hijack this "Christian nation". It is simply 5 less letters to type. It's easier. That's all. I don't hate Jesus. In fact I love Jesus and am radically following Him as best as I know how.

In case you're curious "X" is actually the abbreviation for "Christ". Therefore xmas instead of Christmas. It's not "taking Christ out of Christmas", it's simply abbreviating.
* "X" is the 1st Greek letter in "Christ" (Xristou). That's why "X" is the abbreviation for Christ.
And that's why I hope you can understand that I'm not a devil worshiper just because I write "xmas".

And actually I think it's interesting in light of this topic that the ancient Hebrew scribes used to write YHWH to abbreviate God's Name because they wanted to revere His holy name and didn't think themselves worthy to even write all the letters - Yahweh... (we think).
[i wonder what they would think of us... actually writing the WHOLE name out. Would they think us irreverant or blasphemous? or even part of a conspiracy to overthrow the world?]

So, again, just to clarify = I'm going to write "xmas" instead of "Christmas", but not because I hate God, just because it's faster.

What about YOU? Do you write "xmas" or "Christmas"?