2015 in the Rearview

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Ronda (my wife) shared a moving and very sweet post on facebook Tuesday night (you can read it here) that almost brought me to tears. It verbalized and quantified 2015 in an articulate and appropriate way. I love her so much.

She drew out and briefly mentioned many of the struggles which have made this one of the most difficult years we have experienced as a couple. And it has been.

She also pointed out what God has taught her through this year and some of the conclusions she has been brought to. I would like to do the same. There have been lessons I have learned this year. Struggles which have taught me more about myself, my family and my marriage than I knew possible. Things I learned about myself, things I learned about others and things I realized I was doing all wrong.

Not every year is going to be epic. Not every year is going to be a trial by fire. Maybe the year will fall somewhere in between those extremes. No matter what your year is like, there inevitably are moments maybe even seasons of joy and goodness. Focus on those and the lessons learned through the struggles.

So, with 2015 in my Rearview, here are my takeaways.

  1. There will always be difficulty. This seems like a no-brainer, but the reality is this: life will always throw us curve balls. We practically need to expect the worst instead of fearing it. Life is not going to go the way we expect, hope or plan. That is the nature of life. We live in a fallen world which is marred and broken by sin. Since, sin is the dominant predication of this world… there will be hurt. Hurt is a natural byproduct of sin. Not even a byproduct as it is in the nature of sin. Brokenness breeds hurt and hurt breeds difficulty in strife. Its like my ole pappy used to say, if you expect people to let you down, then you won’t be disappointed when hey do.
  2. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade… or freeze the lemons an throw them back! This year, I was constantly making the best with what I had. Hey, even the prophet Ezekiel made a tasty meal once using his own poop to cook it on (Ez. 4:!2). Can you imagine the flavor that bread had? I bet it was fantastic. This year was in no way what I expected it to be, but in the end while I would say it was a very tough year, it wasn’t my worst year I have ever had. It was close, but it wasn’t. Many good things happened this year. My family certainly saw difficulty. Some of that difficulty we have emerged on the other side of, stronger and better equipped for life. Some of that difficulty isn’t quite over yet. Nonetheless, I am making do with what I have. I am making the best out of what I have been given.
  3. Live in the moments. Each day is filled with countless moments of life (I realize there are a finite amount of minutes and seconds in a day), moments for us to live in and make the most of. Countless times throughout the day I am given the opportunity to interact with my boys and help them to grow. Numerous times each day I have the chance to cherish my wife and show here how much she means to me. I have great opportunity each day to build into the lives of the young men I work with. We must find a way to live in these moments. Live in each moment and don’t let the moments we have let slip by us consume us.
  4. Be the change you hope to see. Yes, its a cliche. But it holds some truth. If you want change, then be the change. I have found when I change my perspective and begin working to become who/what I want to be, there is a much greater chance the change will occur. A subtle shift and change in the perspective we have will work wonders for our outlook and the situation we find ourselves in. It doesn’t always make everything, or anything, better… but it is a good place to start. Making the changes and forcing ourselves to be better, be different is a step on the right path.

2015 is over. Thank God for that. But just because 2105 is over is no guarantee 2016 will be any better. For what ti is worth, I am doing my best to make 2016 the best year it can be. I am doing everything I can to learn from what 2015 has taught me so I don’t make the same choices in 2016.

The Beginning of Another Year.

As we begin another school year, we have a fifth grader, fourth grader & a kindergartner.

We also have a safety patrol.

This is the only year they will all be at the same school.

These little dudes rock! So happy to be their dad.

I find as I get older, it is the little things in life which bring me the most joy. Sending the dudes to their first day of school for a new year. Celebrating the little things in life that make them who they are. Getting excited about our safety patrol in the family. I joked with my parents, that we all have to be on good behavior because we now have law enforcement in the family.

Noah had a pre-season soccer tournament this weekend. His team ended the tourney 1-2. He was a little disappointed, but happy for the win. Ronda and I saw a lot in Noah over the weekend and we spoke with him a length about playing the best soccer he can. I know he thought we were coming down hard on him, the reality is we see something in him and we want others to see it too. I told him (and his bros) I only push him for more, because I know he is capable of more. I know he has more inside him. I have seen it. He agrees. In the midst of our discussion, he conceded Hayden (our middle child and Noah’s arch-rival) was putting out more effort in soccer than he was. I asked how he felt about that… he said he was glad for Hayden and a little disappointed in himself. He said he was going to do better. He was going to put more effort into it. He left the house with a soccer ball today, to spend time at recess and in his free time working on his skills.

With all the boys, we are pushing them to work on the skills/drills each of their coaches assign them as homework. Additionally, we are trying to play more pick up games and encourage them to practice juggling the ball to improve their footwork and touch on the ball. We are trying to make it fun again. This is one of those little things I spoke of. Making soccer fun. Making it a friendly competition between them and me to see who can improve themselves quicker. I have decided I need to practice my ball skills too. I try to do the drills they do also in order to improve myself, but to also model the commitment they need to see.

Commitment. It hit me this weekend, we are asking our boys to commit to touching a soccer ball for 20-30 minutes everyday. Using the argument, the people who really want it, who want to be the best, who want to get better do this. You have to be committed to putting time in everyday for this. If you love it and want it, you will do it. As I gave those words of encouragement and instruction, I felt convicted there are many aspects of my life I give lip service to their importance but don’t follow through with any real commitment to them. I felt convicted to be serious about my life and the things which are important to me. It felt a little hypocritical to be asking them to do something I wasn’t willing to implement in my own life.

What does this mean for me? I hope it means I will take stock of the things in my life, identify those I wish to excel at, and them implement a strategy to excel at those endeavors. I want to take my own advice and become a father and leader they look up to and follow because they see me modeling in my own life what i am asking of them.

Which Jesus? & the Klankster

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***This is an old post, that honestly I’ve posted several times… this morning it just seemed to speak to me.***

As I was running tonite I was afforded the occasion to listen to some of kLaNk’s music. It has been a little while since kLaNk has put out an album. They had one in the last year, but it was only ok. I was listening to the Numb album, their sophomore effort. As I was listening to two songs in particular, I was reminded of my relationship with Jesus. The first songs was Dfl:

I’ll prove to you that I’m a man
With my blood I’ll take a stand
I welcome you with open arms
Have no fear I mean no harm
I know the weight of pain inside
Sometimes the only thing
That’s keeping me alive
I got what it takes to make it through
I want you to know I’m down with you
Gotta drill it in your mind
Friends like me you’ll never find
Words that cut deep like a knife
Just like brothers….Down For Life
I’ll prove to you that I’m a man
With my blood I’ll take a Stand
I welcome you with open arms
Have no fear I mean no harm
I know the weight of pain inside
Sometimes the only thing
That’s keeping me alive
I got what it takes to make it through
I want you to know I’m down with you
Gotta drill it in your mind
Friends like me you’ll never find
Words that cut deep like a knife
Just like brothers….Down For Life
Down…For…Life…I’m down

I finished the Which Jesus? book earlier this week. As I neared the end, Campolo relayed a story of a well-known pastor whose son had died. At the funeral the orator stated that this was God’s will for him to have died. The pastor immediately objected pointing out that Jesus was the first to cry at his son’s death. He reminded us that at some points in our lives, the only comfort we are going to have is knowing that Christ weeps as well. I have felt that way over the last few years. As my mind has been clouded, I have been angry at God often, but as I read those words from Campolo it was very comforting and encouraging to realize that Jesus is crying too. The shortest, and maybe most profound, verse in the Scriptures is in John, “Jesus wept.” Knowing that when my life is hard for me makes Jesus weep, makes it easier to get up each day. In the kLaNk song the lines: I welcome you with open arms; I know the weight of pain inside; I got what it takes to make it through; I want you to know I’m down with you; Friends like me you’ll never find; Just like brothers…

I was also listening to God?:
Tonight’s another night
I wonder aimlessly
To put it all in place
A picture I don’t see
And when I close my eyes
I don’t care if I wake
I use the same excuses
I make the same mistakes
Sometimes it seems so hard
Like you’re ignoring me
I wonder if you do exist
Than what you mean to me
Sometimes I think you hate me
Sometimes I think you hate me
Is this some kind of test
Or a way to make me see
There has to be a reason
Why it’s happening to me
How much more to cry
Until I have a clue
The emptiness I’m feeling
Does it come down to you
Show me everything
And tell me what to feel
My eyes have been so jaded
That I don’t know what is real

Sometimes I think you hate me
Sometimes I think you hate me

As I listened to this song, I realized why God is not afraid of my fears and doubts… he has felt them. Hebrews tells us that our High Priest (Jesus… theology for another time) knows what it is to be like us in every way. I thought of the cross. When Jesus was on the cross he took on the sin of the world and the world was covered in darkness and God hid his face from his only son. Jesus knows what it is like to feel as though God hates him. He has felt as though God left him alone and was not there for him. Hebrews also tells us that God will NEVER leave us or forsake us. I appreciate Rick Warren who points out that it often FEELS like God has left us. And as Ortberg says, in his God is Closer Than You Think book, God is only a reach of the hand away.

I don’t know if kLaNk intended this album to have the spiritual and theological ramifications that it does, but I have been able to apply them for me. In many ways, I believe this album to be the best effort that kLaNk put out.

As I was running I was reminded of the how and when that I became interested in kLaNk and Circle of Dust, who later became Celldweller. I was at ACC and Skip introduced me to Circle of Dust. Another dude, Roy, clued me into kLaNk and then Reese fueled the fire. I actually saw kLaNk in concert many years ago. From there came the interest in Argyle Park. My interest in this music is really more of an obsession than mere interest. I was surprised to think that I have been a big fan of both of these bands since 1996.

Which Jesus? & the Klankster

20130721-082802.jpg

***This is an old post, that honestly I’ve posted several times… this morning it just seemed to speak to me.***

As I was running tonite I was afforded the occasion to listen to some of kLaNk’s music. It has been a little while since kLaNk has put out an album. They had one in the last year, but it was only ok. I was listening to the Numb album, their sophomore effort. As I was listening to two songs in particular, I was reminded of my relationship with Jesus. The first songs was Dfl:

I’ll prove to you that I’m a man
With my blood I’ll take a stand
I welcome you with open arms
Have no fear I mean no harm
I know the weight of pain inside
Sometimes the only thing
That’s keeping me alive
I got what it takes to make it through
I want you to know I’m down with you
Gotta drill it in your mind
Friends like me you’ll never find
Words that cut deep like a knife
Just like brothers….Down For Life
I’ll prove to you that I’m a man
With my blood I’ll take a Stand
I welcome you with open arms
Have no fear I mean no harm
I know the weight of pain inside
Sometimes the only thing
That’s keeping me alive
I got what it takes to make it through
I want you to know I’m down with you
Gotta drill it in your mind
Friends like me you’ll never find
Words that cut deep like a knife
Just like brothers….Down For Life
Down…For…Life…I’m down

I finished the Which Jesus? book earlier this week. As I neared the end, Campolo relayed a story of a well-known pastor whose son had died. At the funeral the orator stated that this was God’s will for him to have died. The pastor immediately objected pointing out that Jesus was the first to cry at his son’s death. He reminded us that at some points in our lives, the only comfort we are going to have is knowing that Christ weeps as well. I have felt that way over the last few years. As my mind has been clouded, I have been angry at God often, but as I read those words from Campolo it was very comforting and encouraging to realize that Jesus is crying too. The shortest, and maybe most profound, verse in the Scriptures is in John, “Jesus wept.” Knowing that when my life is hard for me makes Jesus weep, makes it easier to get up each day. In the kLaNk song the lines: I welcome you with open arms; I know the weight of pain inside; I got what it takes to make it through; I want you to know I’m down with you; Friends like me you’ll never find; Just like brothers…

I was also listening to God?:
Tonight’s another night
I wonder aimlessly
To put it all in place
A picture I don’t see
And when I close my eyes
I don’t care if I wake
I use the same excuses
I make the same mistakes
Sometimes it seems so hard
Like you’re ignoring me
I wonder if you do exist
Than what you mean to me
Sometimes I think you hate me
Sometimes I think you hate me
Is this some kind of test
Or a way to make me see
There has to be a reason
Why it’s happening to me
How much more to cry
Until I have a clue
The emptiness I’m feeling
Does it come down to you
Show me everything
And tell me what to feel
My eyes have been so jaded
That I don’t know what is real

Sometimes I think you hate me
Sometimes I think you hate me

As I listened to this song, I realized why God is not afraid of my fears and doubts… he has felt them. Hebrews tells us that our High Priest (Jesus… theology for another time) knows what it is to be like us in every way. I thought of the cross. When Jesus was on the cross he took on the sin of the world and the world was covered in darkness and God hid his face from his only son. Jesus knows what it is like to feel as though God hates him. He has felt as though God left him alone and was not there for him. Hebrews also tells us that God will NEVER leave us or forsake us. I appreciate Rick Warren who points out that it often FEELS like God has left us. And as Ortberg says, in his God is Closer Than You Think book, God is only a reach of the hand away.

I don’t know if kLaNk intended this album to have the spiritual and theological ramifications that it does, but I have been able to apply them for me. In many ways, I believe this album to be the best effort that kLaNk put out.

As I was running I was reminded of the how and when that I became interested in kLaNk and Circle of Dust, who later became Celldweller. I was at ACC and Skip introduced me to Circle of Dust. Another dude, Roy, clued me into kLaNk and then Reese fueled the fire. I actually saw kLaNk in concert many years ago. From there came the interest in Argyle Park. My interest in this music is really more of an obsession than mere interest. I was surprised to think that I have been a big fan of both of these bands since 1996.

Perfectly conceivable behavior of Eli, Abe & dad on trips to target

If u need a laugh and have a sense of humour ENJOY this story!

I instantly thought this something me, Marv Westfalll and Abe Westfall woulda done!!!!!

After I retired, my wife insisted that I accompany her on her trips to Target. Unfortunately, like most men, I found shopping boring and preferred to get in and get out. Equally unfortunate, my wife is like most women, she loves to browse. Yesterday my dear wife received the following letter from the local Target.

Dear Mrs. Samuel, Over the past six months, your husband has caused quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and have been forced to ban both of you from the store. Our complaints against your husband, Mr. Samuel, are listed below and are documented by our videosurveillance cameras.

1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in other people’s carts when they weren’t looking.

2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.

3. July 7: He made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the women’s restroom.

4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official voice, ‘Code 3 in Housewares. Get on it right away’. This caused the employee to leave her assigned station and receive a reprimand from her Supervisor that in turn resulted with a union grievance, causing management to lose time and costing the company money.

5. August 4: Went to the Service Desk and tried to put a bag ofM&Ms on layaway.

6. August 14: Moved a ‘CAUTION – WET FLOOR’ sign to a carpeted area.

7. August 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and toldthe children shoppers he’d invite them in if they would bring pillows and blankets from the bedding department to which twenty children obliged.

8. August 23: When a clerk asked if they could help him he began crying and screamed, ‘Why can’t you people just leave me alone?’ EMTs were called.

9. September 4: Looked right into the security camera and usedit as a mirror while he picked his nose.

10. September 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, he asked the clerk where the antidepressants were.

11. October 3: Darted around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the ‘Mission Impossible’ theme.

12. October 6: In the auto department, he practiced his “Madonna look” by using different sizes of funnels.

13. October 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed through, yelled ‘PICK ME! PICK ME!’

14. October 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumed a fetal position and screamed ‘OH NO! IT’S THOSE VOICES AGAIN!’

And last, but not least:

15. October 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waitedawhile, then yelled very loudly, ‘Hey! There’s no toilet paper in here.’ One of the clerks passed out.

Perfectly conceivable behavior of Eli, Abe & dad on trips to target

If u need a laugh and have a sense of humour ENJOY this story!

I instantly thought this something me, Marv Westfalll and Abe Westfall woulda done!!!!!

After I retired, my wife insisted that I accompany her on her trips to Target. Unfortunately, like most men, I found shopping boring and preferred to get in and get out. Equally unfortunate, my wife is like most women, she loves to browse. Yesterday my dear wife received the following letter from the local Target.

Dear Mrs. Samuel, Over the past six months, your husband has caused quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and have been forced to ban both of you from the store. Our complaints against your husband, Mr. Samuel, are listed below and are documented by our videosurveillance cameras.

1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in other people’s carts when they weren’t looking.

2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.

3. July 7: He made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the women’s restroom.

4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official voice, ‘Code 3 in Housewares. Get on it right away’. This caused the employee to leave her assigned station and receive a reprimand from her Supervisor that in turn resulted with a union grievance, causing management to lose time and costing the company money.

5. August 4: Went to the Service Desk and tried to put a bag ofM&Ms on layaway.

6. August 14: Moved a ‘CAUTION – WET FLOOR’ sign to a carpeted area.

7. August 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and toldthe children shoppers he’d invite them in if they would bring pillows and blankets from the bedding department to which twenty children obliged.

8. August 23: When a clerk asked if they could help him he began crying and screamed, ‘Why can’t you people just leave me alone?’ EMTs were called.

9. September 4: Looked right into the security camera and usedit as a mirror while he picked his nose.

10. September 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, he asked the clerk where the antidepressants were.

11. October 3: Darted around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the ‘Mission Impossible’ theme.

12. October 6: In the auto department, he practiced his “Madonna look” by using different sizes of funnels.

13. October 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed through, yelled ‘PICK ME! PICK ME!’

14. October 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumed a fetal position and screamed ‘OH NO! IT’S THOSE VOICES AGAIN!’

And last, but not least:

15. October 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waitedawhile, then yelled very loudly, ‘Hey! There’s no toilet paper in here.’ One of the clerks passed out.

The Xmas curse

This marks the second year in a row that Ronda and I have been sick @ Xmas. This is rapidly making Xmas move lower & lower down the list of my favorite holidays. Based mainly on the sickness factor. We are at Keri & justin’s for a few days. We are playing by ear.

I think I need to rest.

— Eli

This time last year…

As I ran on Saturday through ‘my woods’ my thoughts wandered to last Xmas. We were in Georgia. I had just finished another term at school, having told my classmates not to expect to see me again as j was moving for work. I had a start date planned fo a new job (which was actually an old for a second time). Life seemed good from the vantage point I was at…

I remember my New Year’s Resolution being I wasn’t going to have another crappy year (as with all resolutions, that didn’t go as planned). It seems that life has a way of working itself out. Dr. Ian Malcolm would say that ‘life finds a way’ due to chaos theory. I would say that God finds a way… Maybe through chaos theory as well.

The outlook for 2k10 is much better than 2k9.

We live in a different town. We both have jobs. We are having more family time. The family time we have is more enjoyable. It is hard to complain at this time.

We are not where we want to be and our hopes for this coming are high. I do believe we are in a place in our lives thAt we are going to be able to make our goals come true. It is going to take hard work and determinAtion along tons of prAyer, but it is possible.

I’m not resolving to not have another crappy year in 2k10, that’s impossible ( as fAr as my power to control or effect it… although with God nothing is impossible, which is why I say as far as my power). My resolve will be for something that I can actually do…

— Eli