Monday, November 21, 2016

10 Years

Dear Dad,

Ten Years? Where has the time gone? It feels like just yesterday I was saying goodbye and yet there are so many events that have happened in the past decade. Here are few things that have happened since I said goodbye that cold lonely November day in 2006.

First, I have learned to love and hate the month of November. I have met some people in the world that are like me. They have learned the pain of loss and for some reason November seems to be the month that majority of the people that I have run into have lost someone. Remarkably my brother in law Hank lost his mom on the same day you left us. I am not sure why but God seems to keep picking November over and over again.

Since you've been gone... I have had 3 children...

My oldest is Abigail: She is is ten years old... You only had a few months with her. Abby has turned into a wonderful girl. She is a splitting image of her mother. Smart, fun, and beautiful. Boys are going to be a problem for me with the teen years come. She would've loved your strong hands and warm heart. I know that she would have been your little princess because she is mine.

My second child is Madilyn: She is wonderful! She loves life, is incredibly funny, has the best laugh and smile. She loves to ask the tough questions and wants to learn so much about God. She lights up a room when she walks in. She is my "Monkey in Middle". Her personality is infectious. She makes me laugh all the time. I find myself thinking "if only Pop could have meet Madilyn." She has me wrapped around her little finger and I know that she would do the same to you.

Last but certianly not least is Jackson or "bruiser" as I call him. This little man is so smart, and fun. He loves to use his imagenation (I wonder where he gets it from: probably from your "space cadet"). I will often catch myself watching him play alone and I think I wonder if Pop got this much enjoyment from watching me when I was little? I question God all the time why He couldn't have let you stay around just a little while longer? I don't think I will ever understand why you were taken from us so early and that's okay. Somethings are just the way they are.

I wanted you know that I have taken many of the lessons that you taught me and I have passed them on to your grand kids. Speaking of grand kids... There is an amazing young man that would make you so proud.

Jonah: In 2013 He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles... Crazy right? Jonah must make you so proud... I remember the times of you playing catch together... He is one heck of catcher.... God really blessed him. Of course he wears number 6 (for your birthday). I love watching this kid play ball. He was made for it. You would love Emma (his girlfriend) too. She is right mixture of fun and level headed. She keeps him in line... Emma is the perfect fit for Jonah....

Ashley: Is now an incredible mom herself. I know that she misses you really bad. I am sure that you are really happy to watch her with her family. You must be proud! She wrote this about you today
"So in 2006 on this day we lost a wonderful man. A man  that was funny, silly, crazy, and a happy man. My grandfather, my best friend the best man that I have ever  known. The world  has not been the same with out him he is missed every min of  every day. My kids will never get to know the man I loved  calling GRANDPA the only thing I can do is show them pictures of him and tell them about him how he was an amazing man. We love you and miss you so much."
 I saw this great picture of the two of you today. This is a perfect picture of your relationship. I know that she misses you real bad. Maybe you could reach out to her and let her know that you are     still there? I am sure she could use it...


Then there's Stephen... You must be so proud of him and his love for power tools. He has really taken a liken to fixing and building things. Not only this but he really loves his mom and wants to see the best for her. I love the way he honors the military and those who have served. He is a terrific young man! 


James: (named after you)... Funny loving kid! He really loves his family and takes care his younger brother and cousins. Also, he is a really good bowler. He must get that from grandma Schlenker?

Jordan: This little guy would have given you a run for your money. I am sure you love watching him run circles around Jamie. I love watching him and Jack play starwars and whatever they can think up. He is a great kid and I know that God is doing to do some amazing things in his life.

Of course there's the love of my life. Rebecca: I would be lost without her... She is incredible and a gift from God. I daily thank God that He put her in my life... She an amazing mother and wife.  I am not sure that I can write enough here to explain all that she means to me and this family. I do wish that you would have had more time with her but I know that Heaven is really long time.

Then there's the person who probably misses you the most. Mom! She is strong and loving. She does the best she can to shower my kids with the love you would have given. She honors you and your memory whenever she can. I know that she is looking forward to seeing you again but in the meantime think you could send one of the famous Poppa signs? She could use it. This 10 years hasn't been easy on her or the rest of us. 

 Sheba is still going strong but we had to say goodbye to Watson this past September... That was really hard. We are looking forward to the new memories that Willow brings to our family.  Few other notable events... The Cubs won the worldseries... Bills hired Rex Ryan but still haven't made the playoffs, maybe this year? If you have any pull up there please do something...

All this to say... WE REALLY MISS YOU! It is hard to believe that you have been gone for 10 years but like Rebecca said today... Tens years isn't a drop in the bucket compared to forever. See you soon Pop. Please save us a seat!


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

In a New York State of Mind

   The picture above I took while riding the Staten Island Ferry.

This past Sunday I was able to take a spare of the moment trip to the city I love. New York! In my mind there isn't a better city. The real reason why I jumped at the chance to go to NYC is that my best friend (20+ years) mentioned that he was going to be in the city for a business trip. After some thought I wanted to go hang out with my bro and check out the city that I love.

I have been struggling lately with just trusting God and walking in the path that He has presented me. I have found myself asking these type of questions. "God what You doing in my life? Wondering am I making a difference? Am I on the right track? God am I following You?" Once again should Himself faithful and gave me exactly what I needed. He gave me and great day in the City with my best bro. 

The day was filled with conversation about who is the better basketball player Labron James v. Michael Jordan (naturally Michael Jordan) to the state of Christian Hip Hop and Christian music in general. We talked about loving people and not being a bitter Christian. We discussed how the greats in the faith have placed a safety plan in their life so that they don't fall into sin (i.e. Billy Graham, Tim Tebow, Judson Cornwall.) 

We discussed our parents & the shinning examples of godliness that they are to us. We discussed our wives and children and how incredibly blessed we both are. We talked about how far God has brought us and where we might end up next. The conversation was rich and full of God. I needed it desperately.The day was filled with remembering our childhood, looking forward to what the next step is and what God was doing currently... 

I remember looking at the Freedom tower and thinking to myself... I feel like that! I feel incomplete I feel like there is so much more work to do on me and I began to wonder if God moved on from finishing the work that He started in me. Then God said, "I AM... The Author and The Finisher..." Justin, you aren't a completed work because I am not finished with you..." I know that I don't look like the Freedom tower and there is MUCH more work to finish the work that He started. But I realized something even greater He is faithful to complete the good work that He started in me. Most amazing is that He doesn't frustrated with me, my lack of faith, my questioning, or lack of obedience. He is patient and forgiving, filled with grace and mercy.Those questions that I had... Wondering am I making a difference? Am I on the right track? God am I following You?  Disappeared...  Too many questions and not enough of just believing and walking with the Author and Finisher.... 

I don't have many answers but this I know... God is still there and He is still leading me. Where? I don't know but it doesn't much matter. The Father reminded me that He is aware of my every need and He hasn't brought me this far to let me down now. So thank you Jesus for the reminder of Your love and how You will never leave me nor forsake me. 

As an added bonus I got to take a bunch of pictures of New York City. Below are few of these shots.... 

Ps... Thanks to my mom for the finical support. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"When the Bombs Break Right Outside My Door..."

Once again, I find myself in place where I realize that I must rely/count on God. I consider myself a person who has a pretty strong faith in God. I am defiantly an optimist in that I believe that God ALWAYS has my best interest in mind. There are times that this belief/certainty is strained however. It is never because of anything that God does or doesn't do. He is always the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. 

Last night I was teaching at youth group and I spoke very briefly about the lie that Eve & Adam (who was standing next to Eve throughout her conversation with the enemy) believed spoken by Satan.
Genesis 3: “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
In other words the devil was saying "God doesn't really care about you, he doesn't really care about your situation, God doesn't want what's best for you... God is withholding HIS best from you..." Adam and Eve bought hook line and sinker... Unfortunately, I do the same thing today...

I am currently looking for work in youth ministry field (either secular or with a church) and I have been to a number interview and sent my resume to even more places. I know that God has a place in mind for me and I know that He will never withhold HIS best for me. Even though I "know" this there are times that I fall for that same lie that my forefather and mother fell for in the perfect garden that God created all those years ago. 

I was having a hard time today and began to question God and if He was still there? I felt like Martha and Mary (Lazarus' sisters)... John 11:21 
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 
Essentially, Martha (Mary says the same thing a few verses later) were saying to Jesus... This (Lazarus' death) is your fault! Don't you care about us? Where were you? Why didn't you come to his rescue?!!?!?

Well, little did they know that Jesus is the Resurrection and Life and HE WAS ABOUT TO PUT ON SHOW....  

On my way home from work today I was listening John Mark McMillan's new album titled "Borderland" (if you haven't heard it I highly recommend it) and I was listening to a song called "Counting On" here are the lyrics to song... I am seriously in love with the lyrics and message of the song. Well done Mr. McMillan
COUNTING ON by John Mark McMillan 

When the night stops pushing up the day
When the miles drop me on the open planes
When I’ve lost grace with the lady of the dawn

You’re what I’m counting on
You’re what I’m counting on

Where the hounds run
Track me in my sleep
When I can’t trust the company I keep
When I’ve push passed the point of pressing on
You’re what I’m counting on
You’re what I’m counting on

I’m throwing stones
Up at your window
I’m casting shadows
Upon your door

Where the bombs break
Right outside my door
And I can’t shake the onset of my wars
When the stakes are raised
We hold the hand we’ve drawn
You’re what I’m counting on

I’m throwing stones
Up at your window
I’m casting shadows
Upon your door

Here in Maryland (much like most of country) we have had a rough and long winter. However, last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the DC Cherry Blossom Festival. Guess what happened this year? The flowers came out, green leaves sprouted on the trees, and SPRING finally sprung...  I believe this was God's way of saying... I AM more faithful than Spring, I AM more faithful than the sunrise. I AM more reliable the dawn... I am learning to live by faith and I am waiting for THE SHOW!!!! "Do your work Lord! Be honored in all my comings and goings. Show YOURSELF strong in my life... I will WAIT on you. Amen."

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Glorious Ruins

"When the mountains fall
And the tempest roars You are with me
When creation folds 
Still my soul will soar on Your mercy" 

"When the world caves in
Still my hope will cling to Your promise
Where my courage ends 
Let my heart find strength in Your presence"

"I'll walk through the fire With my head lifted high 
And my spirit revived in Your story 
And I'll look to the cross 
As my failure is lost In the light of Your glorious grace..."

"Let the ruins come to life
In the beauty of Your Name
Rising up from the ashes
God forever You reign
And my soul will find refuge
In the shadow of Your wings
I will love You forever
And forever I'll sing"

"Let the Ruins COME TO LIFE!!!"
(lyrics by Hillsong Live: "Glorious Ruins")