stories, lessons, and a lot of nonsense

Archive for August, 2011

Do you like my tie?

I get that not everyone’s a people person, and even less people are a kids person.  It’s fine.  Not everyone knows how to relate in social settings with children.  Sometimes it’s because you don’t have a child, sometimes it’s because your children are all grown up and these new kids are different, and sometimes it’s because you’re weird. Whatever the case may be, I’m cool with non-kids people, so long as they aren’t mean spirited about it.  It’s one thing to not know how to interact with kids.  It’s another thing to get all riled up when kids act like kids and start yelling at them.

Whatever type of non-kid person you are – the awkward or the mean – you’re bound to leave an impression on that kid for the rest of his life if you do have a chance interaction with him.  I’m 29, and I still instinctively cringe at the mention of some people’s names, because I still see them as that person who yelled at me.  Those people have left an imprint on my life.  Some of them were my Sunday school teachers, and they’ve left a permanent imprint on my ministry, because I consciously choose to be nothing like them.

But not every interaction with a non-kid person was bad.  Sure, they may have been uncomfortable, but some guys were just trying to be nice.  One guy in particular was just trying to relate to a couple of new kids sitting in the back with their parents.  He was an usher at our church, and he did his best to reach out to us.  And I remember it well.

We were sitting there, and it came time to shake hands with those around you (a staple church tradition that has always been off-putting to me).  This man came over, shook hands with my parents, and then moved down the line to shake hands with me and Dan.  He then asked, as he pulled his tie out away from his chest to give us a better view, “Do you like my tie?  It’s baseball.”  Of course it was baseball, and the answer was still no.  It was one of those ugly burgundy ties with strange vintage looking sports designs on it.  But it was funny.  It seemed like a strange thing to say, and it still sounds clunky to me when I repeat it.  Neither of us answered.  We just stared at him, because we knew better than to laugh at him then.  So he moved on.

I think of him whenever someone asks if I like their tie, though.  If you were to call me on the phone or text me and ask me if I like your tie, I’d smile and respond, “It’s baseball,” and I would genuinely find it funny, even if you don’t know what I’m talking about.  If you texted or called my brother Dan and asked the same question, you’d get the same answer.

The guy wasn’t a kid person.  If I remember correctly, he and his wife didn’t have a kid for at least another 5 years.  He had no experience, and he was kind of weird.  But I remember him fondly, because he didn’t let his being uncomfortable with us push him to being rude to us.  So be a non-kid person if you must, but be remembered for the right reason.


giving gifts to infinity and beyond

I find great joy in giving gifts.  I also find great joy in receiving gifts.  I guess I have the spiritual gifts of giving and receiving.  I would be lying if I said I always enjoy giving more than getting.  I think most people would be lying if they said that.  There are times we want presents.  We want new things to replace our old things, even if they haven’t gotten old yet.  Exhibit A: see my shoe collection (which got bigger by one pair on Saturday).

I used to spoil Sarah, because I could.  She used to spoil me in return, because she could.  We used to have two well-paying jobs and zero children, and giving to each other was probably on the side of effortless and perhaps gratuitous.  It takes a lot more to give to each other now, because we don’t have as much.  Mine is the only income, and the preexisting debts of a foolish young couple are those of a two income family.  Oh, and have I ever mentioned that we have a kid?  His name is Jakob, and he’s pictured above (in case you’ve never seen a picture of him).  So giving takes planning, creativity, saving (which I’m not good at), and usually a special occasion.

This weekend, I did a wedding for a really cool couple, and I had fun doing it.  They are great people to be around.  As per us’, I was paid as the performing minister.  It is rare for us to receive extra income, so I had an idea of what I wanted to do with the money already.  It’s the same thing I always want to do when I get extra money: buy one pair of shoes.  Sarah told me to spend the money on me, which I liked the sound of, and I spent several hours on selfishly planning to do that.  Then I felt bad when I realized what I was doing.  I wanted to share.  I really do love giving gifts to them as much as I like receiving them, and often times even more so.

So I decided to buy Jakob a big toy, and give the remaining portion to Sarah (which gave us all similar amounts of spending money).  Now, bear with me while I tell you about Jakob and how good he is in stores.  We go to Target a lot, and every time we do, he wants to go see Buzz.  Buzz is his favorite.  It might be the only word he says perfectly.  He loves to press the buttons on the light up, talking toy.  He’ll pick up the box and smile in at him, say his name about twenty times, press all the buttons.  He really enjoys himself.  When it’s time for us to move on – and moving on means putting the toy back, because we usually can’t afford it – we tell him to say goodbye to Buzz.  So he gently puts him back on the shelf, adjusting him to make sure the box is on straight and facing out, and waves goodbye.  He walks away without a fuss.

It makes me proud every time, but it also makes me a little sad.  I want to buy things for him.  I want him to have whatever he wants.  But then I realize that he is a really unselfish kid, and he’s content to play for a few minutes and put him away.  So when we took him to Meijer the other day and let him play for a few minutes with Buzz, he started to hand him back to me.  He figured it was time to put him away and move on.  But I asked if he wanted Buzz.  I asked if he wanted to take him home with us.  He looked down at Buzz, disappearing from my view behind the big box, and then his head came up above the box again.  He’s almost two, but even at his age, the drop jawed look of shock was obvious.  The light in his eyes was bright.  He has my smile, which means it stretches widely from ear-to-ear when he’s excited, and he was, and it did.

When we got home, I set out to get his toy out of the package for him.  It took many minutes, thanks to our country’s abundance of shoplifters.  Jakob just kept saying, “Buzz!  Buzz!  Buzz!”  He was losing his patience.  I finally got him out and gave it to him.  He took off running with him, vocalizing some crazy noises that he must relate to Buzz.  He said his own name a few times, probably telling Buzz he wasn’t Andy’s toy, but Jakob’s.  He played for a long time like a little boy, not like a baby.  He made sound effects, pressed the buttons, ran around and flew Buzz through the air.

I had tears in my eyes as I watched him play.  Honestly, I had tears in my eyes while we were still in the store and on the drive home.  I got more as I typed this, thinking about how good my son is, how much he deserves to be given things for his good behavior, and how much he loves his new favorite toy that he really does deserve.  Look at his face again in the picture above.  That is the face of a kid who expects very little, enjoys what he has, and is overcome with joy and appreciation when he gets something out of the ordinary.  He and Sarah have similar personalities.  Neither one takes gifts for granted, and both show sincere appreciation every time they get something.  How could I not want to keep giving them gifts for the rest of my life?

ears to hear

If you read our KCC eNews, then you may have already read this, or perhaps, you already knew it existed and deleted it before reading it, because you didn’t care.  But if you don’t care about what I write about, why did you come to my blog in the first place?  What’s gotten into you?  Who am I even talking to?  I’d better press on.

I am on a tri-weekly rotation with our other two pastors now to write a column for our eNews.  It lends to my blogging laziness, of course, because it does scratch my writing itch.  But why not share it with you, my faithful readers?

We have been working through a sermon series called, “Letters from God,” using the 7 letters to the 7 churches in Revelation.  If you’ve read that passage of the Bible, you probably noticed this phrase occurring a lot: let him who has ears to hear hear what God is saying.  Jesus was speaking truth to His people, and it wasn’t all sunshine and unicorns.  He was laying down some pretty heavy stuff.  So He challenged them to have ears to hear what He was saying.

When we encounter the Word of God, and it sheds light on areas of our lives that need some tidying up, we can generally react one of three ways.  First, we can be deaf to what it is saying, and not realize how much it actually applies to us.  That’s certainly not having ears to hear.  The next two reactions both include hearing, but they lead to completely different outcomes.  When a person hears the Word of God taught, and it makes them uncomfortable due to sin in his life, he can choose to be convicted over it or offended by it.

Often times, as Christians, we choose to be offended.  We pretend like the person teaching the Bible was out of line, because it is easier than acknowledging that our lives our out of line with the Bible.  But if we truly have ears to hear what the Spirit of God is saying to us, we will hear what the Bible says, be convicted by the sin and inconsistencies in our lives, and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us.

Do you have ears to hear?

making memories

I have been busy all Summer, and most of the things that have kept me hopping will stay in my mind for a long time.  It’s been a Summer of memory making.  Here is a pictorial key to the big events of my Summer.  I thought, “Hey, if Bill Simmons could get me to go through a 20-page photo essay of his visit to the National Sports Collectors Convention, Maybe I can get people to go through many less pages of a photo essay of my Summer.”  I’m not sure if my reasoning is solid, since he’s kind of famous/popular, and I’m me, but here goes nothing.

Jonny Lang Concert

For Mother’s Day this year, I took Sarah to see Jonny Lang in concert.  The concert wasn’t until June 24, though, so it was our last date before I left for Nashville.  Sarah decided Jakob could come along, and that was her choice as the recipient of the gift, and I wasn’t about to argue.  8 more hours with my son before I left for a week?  Sure thing.

Todd did the same for Amanda, but their boys got to go play on a  lake with her family.  So it was just the 5 of us.

Mission Trip to Nashville

Before our trip, I put out a challenge to the students going: whoever brought the most cans for our mission trip can drive go to select my hairdo for the entire week of our trip.  Isaac won.  Here’s what happened:

I’m only halfway through the process here.  Now this would have been a good choice.  There are people who do this and think it looks good.  I would have just looked like a turd.

Things are starting to come into view.  Here’s the final product, the look I sported for 11 straight days:

I didn’t hold that facial pose for 11 straight days.  I really didn’t want it to stick that way.

23 students and 8 adults headed to Nashville.  We started our week at Crosspoint Community Church, where Pete Wilson preaches and Carlos Whittaker inspires people to worship.  It was nuts (in a good way).  Then we spent 4 days working in different areas of the community.  All in all, the kids did a lot of work and blessed a lot of people.

The Tigers Game

I had one day between the time I returned from Nashville and the day I went to a Tigers game with all of the Selph (and Joling) men, minus the two little guys, plus Troy, who fit right in.  The game was before I got to change my hair back, so that was nice.

Heading back out of the stadium after a good Tigers’ win.

Dan and I both bought capes off kids for $5 a piece.  The kid I bought mine from was my nephew Cedric.  Dan approached a total stranger with $5 and offered to buy his cape.  He made it out without being arrested.

The Fourth of July

Look closely.  I still hadn’t had my hair updated yet.  Poor Jakob was terrified this year.  He was fine last year, but it took several minutes and lots of hugging for him to calm down.  Strangely enough, it was the first time Sarah and I had ever gone to fireworks in downtown Grand Rapids.  I lived there most of my life, but I always went somewhere else.

Despite his night filled with terror, Jakob did a great job on the way back to the car.  We had to walk a mile and a half, and he held Sarah’s hand the whole way without complaining or trying to pull away.

The Selph Invasion

How many Selphs (and Jolings) live in Michigan?  I’m not sure, but of the ones I care about, there are 11.  How many were in town the first week in July (counting those that were already there)?  25.  We all migrated to my parents’ house for one afternoon, and it was crazy.

Family Pictures

We are not allowed to all be in Michigan without getting a huge family picture taken.  It’s one of my mom’s rules.  But taking the pictures of all of us at once is a special job, and not everyone can do it.  We had to call on Michael Elkins.

I can’t believe I fell for this. Steve told me to make that face that Chris Farley makes during the Zaggat’s skit.  I didn’t know till the next day what I had fallen for.  Shame on me.  I have to stay on point around my brothers.

This is pretty much how I was treated growing up.

Good pictures were taken, too, where I wasn’t being made fun of and or left out.

That’s everyone.

Jakob applauds Michael’s photographic skills.


I got to co-perform the wedding of Garren (who I’ve known since he was 3 years old and not 7 feet tall) and Lindsey with Jimmy, who was the youth pastor I interned for.  It was a throwback for me.  The groom, his best man, and his cousin (also in the wedding party) were all in my small group when I was just a young youth leader.  Scott, Jimmy, and I were all leaders together (with Jimmy being the big boss of the time).

The 10th anniversary

Sarah and I have been married for 10 years as of a week ago today (August 17).  We got married at the ripe old age of 19.  We have gotten ten years of marriage and one child in before our 30th birthdays.  Not too bad if you ask me.

For our first Christmas together as a married couple, Sarah and I went on a date to Tre Cugini.  She’s wanted to go back for several years now, but time, money, and sometimes geography has kept us away.  We finally made it back.

Dang!  My wife is pretty.  Did you notice?  Of course, you did.  I surprised her with a tigers eye ring in a gold setting.  In exchange, she’s giving me a ring she bought at Claire’s or Hot Topic that I really hate.

You didn’t really think a fatty like me would pass on showing you what I ate, did you?  I had a lamb shank with parmesan risotto.  I cleaned that plate, leaving only the bone.  Delicious.

South Haven Baptism

On Saturday, I got to baptize two friends, KC and Tree Folsom in South Haven.  I have now baptized their entire family, which I think is kind of special.  I have never baptized two people at once before (literally, one on each arm), and I really only did about 75% of the job on KC.  He had to redunk himself to finish it off.

I know I look weird in this picture – like most pictures – but focus on Jakob.  He loved the teeter totter in South Haven, and since it was all soft sand beneath him, Sarah allowed this to happen.  He’s pretty strong and has good balance, though, so she had no reason to be concerned.


We bought Jakob a sleeping bag, backpack, water bottle, and crappy flashlight on clearance last winter at Dick’s Sporting Goods for $5.  His sleeping bag looks like a football field.  I had tried once before to get him to sleep in it, and it didn’t work.  Two nights ago, it did.  We “camped” in his bedroom on the floor in our sleeping bags.  It was one of the best moments of my Summer, since he just about fell asleep rubbing my face with his hand.

Gratuitous picture of nothing important

If you’ve made it this far, you must love me or my family, or you have little to do.  To reward you, I give you this picture of a sign I saw in Jimmy John’s bathroom.  I believe it is the very sign ol’ Steven Anderson was referring to in his infamous clip originally called, “Pisseth Against the Wall.”  I didn’t even have to go all the way to Germany to see it.

And now you are caught up on my Summer to date.  If I had been faithfully blogging all along, you would have gotten to read an individual post on everything above, but if I had been faithfully blogging, it would have taken thousands of words to get my point across.  So, you’re welcome.