29

So I am officially 29 years old as of 22 minutes ago. It really feels the same as 28, which felt the same as 27, which felt the same as 26, 25, 24, etc. Really as far as my mental state goes, I feel young still. Physically, while 29 is by no means old, my body has all these weird ailments that I know I didn’t have when I was 18. Be that as it may, here are some memories from my life up to this point.

  • My earliest memory is me standing by our front door in a diaper, watching my older sisters play outside. That is the first thing I can ever remember, I must have been like 2 or 3.
  • When I was 5 I cracked my head when my dad had to stomp on the breaks in our old death trap van. I had to get stitches. That’s the first and real lasting memory of intense pain I ever had. I remember breaking free of the restraints on the bed and punching the nurse, it was awesome.
  • At the tender age of 10, or however old you are in 5th grade, I had my first crush on a girl named Jennifer Simpson, and she liked me back. Her dad was in the military, and they ended up moving to Hawaii towards the middle of the school year. I was devastated. Came home crying to mommy, but couldn’t get up the courage to tell her I was crying over a girl. That was the second real lasting memory of intense pain.
  • When I was in 9th grade or so I had my second crush on a girl named Sara Mast. However being the ugliest and most awkward kid in school didn’t help me in that endeavor. I asked her to homecoming and she responded with a “oh I can’t, I am not going”. When I went to homecoming solo, there she was dancing with the popular guy in school. I remember asking her to dance once and she said yes, but I notice her whispering something to her friend right before she got up to dance with me. Her friend rushed off, we went to dance. We got about half the way through the song when “Mr Popular” came over and forcefully cut in on me and her, and basically making me look like a complete looser in front of most of my class. I believe this event single handedly destroyed any chance of getting any further dates with girls at my high school.
  • When I was in 10th grade I had a pretty intense year. I lost my best friend Rob Mason in a fatal car crash. He was my best friend from the day I stepped on the bus for the first time to go to school. I have never felt a pain like that. It was exactly what CS Lewis describes in “A Grief Observed”. You go on living, but in everything you do, everything you eat, everything you drink, listen to, read, play… something is missing. Read that book if you are in that sort of pain. It definitely helps you put a face to it. This event did however turn me onto the idea of there being something more to life. This road would eventually lead me to becoming a Christian. Did I understand what that meant yet?
  • On the brighter side of 10th grade, I got my drivers license, a car, and a job. It was awesome to finally, at least feel independent. I had my own transportation, my own cash, my own responsibilities. I remember feeling like a completely different person.
  • In 11th grade, I once again took up my crush on Sara Mast. I had somehow deceived myself into thinking maybe things were different and I had a chance with her now. Well, on one blistery, winter day in science class I decided to try one of those color changing gobstoppers (I don’t really know if it was blistery and winter, its just for effect). I remember, like an idiot, taking it out of my mouth to see what color it was and popping it back into my mouth, only to have it slip to the back of my throat which induced choking. I mean real, gasping for breath, dying, choking. No one would pay attention to the fact that I was doing the universal sign for choking with both hands on my neck. I managed to stumble up to the front of class to the teachers desk and started pounding on his desk. He looked at me as if I were a complete idiot and said, “I can do that too”, and he pounded back at me. At this point I was beginning to black out. Since no one was helping me, I decided to perform the Heimlich maneuver on myself by punching myself in the gut. I did this a few times and began to fall to the ground from lack of oxygen. On one last attempt I punched myself in the stomach and was spinning around to face the class. It worked! The gobstopper popped out, however it managed to fly directly onto the desk of who other than Sara Mast, covered in saliva and looking basically disgusting. She screamed and dove out of the way generally disgusted by the whole incident. I meanwhile had fallen to the ground and collapsed from lack of oxygen. My science teacher rushed over and screamed, “You were choking? Why didn’t you tell me?” This ruined any chance I had of ever dating Sara, either then, or in the future.
  • My senior year in high school I finally met someone who liked me back. Nicole Barrett of St Johns, MI. She didn’t go to my high school so she had no idea how much of a looser I was. This worked out to my advantage. Our first date was my homecoming, and we dated for 2 and a half years after that. We got engaged the summer after high school, and were married the summer after our sophomore year at college. I was 20, she was 19. This was my happiest time of life up to that point. I felt like I had all things worked out relationally, physically, and spiritually. I was in a great relationship, exercised all the time and felt great, and thought I had it all figured out as far as my religious beliefs went. My life up to this point seemed to have moved in slow motion. It was about to pick up greatly though.
  • On December 21, 2002, Nicole and I welcomed our first child, Derek, into our lives. The only word I can give to the whole experience of the first child is surreal. It felt like I was watching the whole thing while having some sort of out of body experience. It was also the new greatest moment of my life. Derek was a tough baby, he cried a lot and was gassy and what not. But what he taught me in patience has definitely helped me now. And being the first born, he holds a special place in my heart. He is ridiculously funny and witty. He could probably quote the entire movie of “Cars” to you.
  • On May 12, 2005, Grace was born. This time around, it seemed to move me way more emotionally. I can remember choking back the tears as she came into the world. I remember my first thought when I saw her was, “my God she is beautiful”. I think that comes from the fact that when Derek was born the labor was very intense for Nicole and they had to use the suction thing to get Derek out, and it was just crazy. When Grace was born, the process was just a lot smoother and there was less chaos in the delivery room. And when she came out, she literally was flawless. Her skin was crystal clear and flawless. She hardly cried and was an amazingly cute little girl. Now, at the age of 2 almost 3, she still strikes me that way, that is of course when she isn’t getting away with murder around the house.
  • On October 10, 2006, Jack was born. This time around I felt like an old pro at the whole having kids thing. Jack was a tough one to adjust to. He was like Derek as far as crying a lot and being gassy. Once we got past the 3 or 4 month mark with Jack though, he really changed. He was much less work and was very easy going and fun. He is also a tank. I don’t where he gets his size from but as of right now, he is huge and all muscle. He is kind of like Derek in that he is really funny and playful. He is also a baby genius.

These are just a few of many moments that stick out to me from what life has dealt me so far. There are many, many more moments that come to me, and thankfully most of them are really good, happy moments. The painful memories that I listed above I think really stick out to me because of the intensity of them, not to mention the time of life that they happened.
How about you? What are your most intense memories of what life has dealt you? Be they painful or happy…

What Am I Looking For?

Does anyone else feel this way? Does anyone out there know what it is exactly that they are looking for? I often feel like I am waiting for someone to say something to me that is going to completely change my life. Maybe an artist I like will write a song or say something that completely changes my view on life. Maybe a pastor somewhere will give a sermon that will turn my life upside down and I will suddenly know how to live the Christian life the way it is supposed to be lived. I will be the complete father, the complete husband, the complete employee, son, friend, musician, reflection of Christ… etc… etc.

I get the feeling that I will never see this come to pass.

Don’t get me wrong. I have had those mountain top moments when I heard something said, some amazing point made, some truth spoken, that got me all revved up and ready to go out and save the world and be an amazing witness for Christ. Those mountain top moments, as we all know, fade away and real life sets back in, and I find myself waiting for that next mountain top moment. But what is it that keeps me from being on the mountain all the time? Oh man, this is heading for some cheesy cliches real quick.

Let’s put it this way… what am I waiting to hear that I haven’t heard already? What am I waiting to hear that is going to flip some switch in my head and make me into a super Christ follower? I have heard the truths of Christ and His sacrifice for the world He loved, for the people He loved, for the person He loved. I can say out loud that I believe these truths. I can talk it with my friends and family, and make an attempt at passing these on to my kids. But it seems like a constant struggle to cling to that belief and not look for truth in something, or someone else.

I guess what I am saying is that I have heard and believed that Christ’ sacrifice was (is) enough for me. But do I really believe it? I mean really, really, really believe it to my core? I don’t think our 7 step systems to the happiest, most fulfilling, Christian life ever, or the quick happy meal sermons with nicely packaged little nuggets of how to live my life better are ever going to bring me closer to God, or make me believe more. I will end by referring to a previously quoted quote from a quote of Oswald Chambers. That sentence didn’t really make sense, but anyway…

“But during this time, Chambers did not find satisfaction in Christianity, finding the Bible ‘dull’ and uninspiring. Finally, after four years of spiritual dryness, Chambers realized that he couldn’t force himself to be holy. Once he realized that the strength and peace he was looking for was Christ himself, Christ’s life in exchange for his sin, he experienced great renewal so much so that he described it as a ‘radiant, unspeakable emancipation.'”