Monday, November 29, 2010

Letter to Grant on Humility


I was thinking this morning about our ping-pong game last night. After you beat me three games in a row you got pretty confident that you could keep on winning. That’s when you started “trash-talking”. I wasn’t upset about the trash-talking, I know that you were just having fun.

But, when I came back and beat you the next 5 or 6 games in a row, you looked pretty upset. You were frustrated, and I would have been, too. But, in a way, I am glad it happened that way – because it gives us a chance to talk about a very important teaching in the Bible.

Boys your age loved to trash talk, brag on themselves, and try to make themselves look good in front of other people. It’s a normal thing – but it’s not a godly thing. God wants something better for you – he wants you to learn humility. And, if you can learn what it means to live as a humble person, God has promised to honor you – to show you his favor.

This was my experience in football. In 8th and 9th grade it was all about me and making myself look good. I ended up flat on my face both years, quitting the team in disgrace, and feeling like a loser. In 10th grade I had a different attitude, because God was at work in my heart and I was learning how to walk before him in humility. And God honored that humble attitude. The trophy that sits in your bedroom is a reminder of that.

I want to spend some time this week talking with you about the following verses. What do you think?

If you are interested in doing this I will take you out for breakfast or lunch one day this week and we can talk about it.

I love you, Dad

Proverbs 16:18 ~ Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 29:23 ~Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.

James 1:1 – 10

1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”

7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Back into the Blogging world...a somber return

Well, after being kidnapped by FaceBook and held against my will for the past 2 years, I have made my way back to Blogspot (and the crowd goes wild!). My reasons? Although FB is cool and instant, it's a mile wide and an inch deep. It's like trying to say something meaningful by writing a thousand notes on index cards (if you are under 30 you will have to look up that strange term) and tossing them off John Hancock building. A few will make their way down to street level and get read - fewer yet will illicit some type of response - and fewer still will engender any meaningful conversation. I will keep my FB world alive for now, but I have to admit that I hardly ever snoop around my "friends" pages to see what's going on in their world. For me, it's mostly an online photo album that gives me a chance to talk about my faith and brag on our kids. (It's like hundreds of people all talking at the same time, all shouting out "Look at me! Look at me!" without anyone LISTENING.)

What it doesn't do is give me a moment to reflect. And today, I need to do a little reflecting for posterity - and for the good of my own soul. Yesterday was opening day of firearm season. Pictured above are my Dad and Grant in our fort that sits just inside the woods on our property. I won't bore all you non hunters with the tale of "the one who got away" (she didn't get far, I heard a gun blast 10 seconds after she crossed the river and ran into the field), but I do want to talk about what the day meant to me.

Two weeks ago my Dad was diagnosed with liver cancer. He is 70 years old and his health is not the greatest to begin with. To make a very long story short he and I got a second chance at the whole father-son deal when he quit drinking 8 years ago (thus the cirrhosis of the liver and now the cancer, so they tell us). We had an OK relationship before that, but I was one of the millions of young men out there with that empty place inside my soul that a father's love and affirmation was suppose to fill. God (my Heavenly Father) had already brought much healing into my life, but that ache remained.

Since the day I finally believed that the drinking and addiction were now truly things of the past (and it took A LOT of convincing before I would even get my hopes up again) a whole new reality set in, a door was opened for me to know - experientially - for the first time in my life - a father's love for his son. (I'm not saying my Dad didn't love me before - just that the addiction created so many walls I could never feel it.) How has my Dad said "I love you and I'm proud of you" without ever verbalizing the words "I love you and I'm proud of you"? He has shown his love by taking an active interest in my life, by helping me in anyway he could, anytime I asked him, and by doing things WITH me like building the fort that we hunted out of yesterday. He told me he loved me yesterday by driving 3 hours round trip to sit with Grant and me in that little fort staring at trees and squirrels for most of the day with a smile on his face. His body language said - I want to be here with you, there is no place I'd rather be. He told me he loved me in the driveway as he was climbing into his truck. I stuck my hand out to say goodbye and he ignored it and hugged me (I can count on one hand the hugs I remember getting as a kid - but these days they are not uncommon). Yep, my Dad drove out to my place on November 15, 2010 just because he wanted to spend the day with his son and grandson - the deer hunting was just the pretext. No, more than a pretext - it was a vehicle.
As I look out the window today at that fort, I must confess to getting choked up. I can't help but wonder if that was our last opening day together. All of a sudden I feel this desperation for more time with him. I feel this intense mixture of gratitude for him and panic that he is slipping away. I find myself pleading with God for more time - a few more years even. I so badly want him to be there for more opening days, to be there when Grant gets his first deer, for Megan's graduation from High School...
But, whether I have him for 10 more days or 10 more years, I did have him on November 15, 2010. And even though we didn't recover that deer (despite my fervent prayers) I will always treasure those memories.
Dad, if you ever get a chance to read this I want to say that I love you and I am so grateful to have you in my life - to call you Dad.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Florida Vacation 2009

It's been awhile since I've posted to this blog (Facebook is taking over, truth be told). But I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the vacation we took a couple of weeks ago in Orlando. This was a great vacation and the weather was very nice (70s and sunny everyday - the last day was in the 80s). Some highlights of this trip:
  • We spent the first day visiting my Uncle Joe and Aunt Deb in Vero Beach. We play on the beach and in the surf all afternoon and had a wonderful meal that Deb cooked that night. Joe has been very influential in my life - he was the one who first introduced me to Christ and gave the love and encouragement I needed to progress spiritually.
  • We spent a few days hanging out at the condo. We swam, sat in hot tubs (Dad), played putt putt, rode bikes, read books, watched movies, and played shuffle board. These down days at the condo are my favorite part of the vacation.
  • We did one day at Univeral Studios, Island of Adventure. This is a rollercoaster kind of park. The kids and Sandi love the coasters - I like to eat ice cream and read newspapers. They did get me to go on "The Hulk", and like David Bannester I ended up turning green...
  • We did one day at a water park called "Blizzard Beach". This was a perfect day for getting wet as it was in the low 80s. It was a bit crowded, but the kids had a wonderful time.
  • The real highlight of this trip was Cirque Du Soleil at Downtown Disney (please do not ask me to pronouce it!). This is something Sandi has wanted to do for a long time, and since she is turning 40 next week I decided this was the year. With some help from my Mom (we both took out Home Equity Loans) we bought tickets for the entire clan. It was truly an amazing experience. Sandi was thrilled and in the end it was worth every penny.
So, there is a little Blaylock vacation update. We are very thankful for the opportunity God has given us to enjoy these types of vacations - they are gifts to be cherished.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas!

The Blaylock family had a great Christmas celebration this past week. The gifts, of course, were wonderful. But we are most thankful for the gift of Christ and for our family. We wish you God's very best this Christmas and in 2009!

Gift to Grandpa - 8 point mount

This past deer season, despite seeing fewer deer, I was blessed to harvest 3 (one spike, one 8 point, and a doe during the late season). After Grant and I decided to mount the 8 point we both thought it would be a great idea to give it as a Christmas present to my Dad (who hunts with us on opening day each year out back - but so far with nothing to show for it).
We glued two pictures on the back of the mount and then Grant wrote the following note:
"Dear Grandpa, Marry Christmas! I hope you like this present. Maby we can get one together next year.
Love, Tom and Grant"
Isn't that just too precious?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Megan!

Well, believe it or not, we celebrated Megan's 14th birthday the other night. Wow, 14 years old! (Don't tell Megan, but Sandi was 13 when we first called ourselves a "couple".) Thankfully, she is not boy crazy - in fact, I would have to say that she has a good head on her shoulders when it comes to boys. So far, she pretty much avoids them. This is a strategy that I will heartily support for at least the next 8 years...
So, Megan, this is what I want to say to you as you turn 14. (You most likely will not read this for months or years to come, and that's fine.) First, I want you to know that Mom and Dad love you very much. We not only love you (parents have to love their kids, right?) but we like you, we enjoy being around you. I look forward to coming home from work and having an hour or so to visit with you before the other kids get off the bus. One of the things I enjoy most about you is your sense of humor - you make me laugh just about everyday.
Another thing I appreciate about you is your desire to help people. Through TeamKid, the Impact Team, and helping out at Lighthouse you demonstrate this time and time again. We see God growing your heart for him and the people around you - and that makes us smile.
This will be a big year for you - no more Middle School come this September. Soon we will be talking about Drivers Education and college...My prayer is that we can slow down long enough this next year to experience all the blessings God has in store for you and our family. You are our first born and you will be the first child we send out into this world. I believe you will grow up into a godly, intelligent and beautiful woman. You are already well on your way.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Opening Day 2008

Once again my Dad came out for opening day of gun season yesterday. He arrived by 6 a.m. and Grant sat with us out back most of the day. In all I hunted 13 hours yesterday, and we did not see a single deer!

Fortunately I took this spike on the final day of bow season (two days ago) and we at least got to see one deer, albeit already dead and hanging upside down...

I look forward to Dad coming out again next year, and maybe by then we will have a better story to tell.

Impact Team Service Project

Last week we took our Impact Team (a group of students who have committed to serve, pray, and encourage one another's spiritual growth) to Spring Hill Camp in Evart, Michigan to do a service project.
As you can see, we raked leaves all day long. The weather was cold with a mix of rain and snow - mostly rain. I was very proud of these students as they hung in their for over 5 hours of raking in miserable conditions serving God and this ministry.
We also worked hard on memorizing Matthew 28:18 - 20 in which Jesus gives his followers the command to go and make disciples, baptize them, and then teach them to obey all he commanded. This is a great group of kids and my wife and I truly enjoy serving alongside of them.

Grant and the cheerleader!

Here are some pictures that will live on in infamy for our son Grant and his good buddy, Daniel.
Guys, sorry to say it, but you will be seeing these images at every important event for the rest of your lives. Graduation parties, weddings, and yes, even your retirement parties...
We just hope that when we show them at your wedding you are both marrying a girl!

Halloween 2008

Well, here is a photo of our beautiful children! For Halloween this past year Emily was Cleopatra (she was beautiful), Grant was a punk rocker (is this is a vision of the future, may I please be excused?), and Megan was the "5 minute girl" (this means she threw a costume together in 5 minutes and called it good - it's all about the candy when you are 13!).

It was a beautiful night to be out banging doors and demanding free candy! This year Sandi and I sat around a camp fire talking with friends while the kids made the rounds with a few other parents - very nice.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Upland game at Nettie Bay Lodge

Last weekend about 18 guys (several from our church - along with a bunch of friends) headed up to Northern Michgan for some waterfowl and upland game hunting. The weather was perfect and the hunting was pretty good. We hunted grouse, woodcock, duck and goose - and as a group shot a few of each (mostly woodcock and duck). I shot my first grouse - while grouse hunting anyway - and woodcock, and a friend, Ken, also shot his first woodcock and duck (his Dad shot the squirrel over his right shoulder - Ken is not claiming that!)
I always enjoy this trip and next year will most likely bring Grant along. There is something special about spending lots of time outdoors in God's creation - something that both cleanses and expands the soul. The camraderie and excitement of the hunt add elements that make this trip one that I wouldn't want to miss.

Family Bible Study

Last night we drove down to Sandi's Mom's house near Detroit and held our first family Bible Study. This was a very big deal to me because my Mom (third from left, in the front row) came out and because this was a key way God reached out to me over 25 years ago. Back in 1981, when I was 13 years old, our family got together once a week for a very similar Bible Study. In fact, the same guy who lead the studies back then (my Uncle Tom - second from right) also lead this study. Uncle Tom was very influential in my life as a young Christian and has continued to study God's Word with a passion and teach with a lot of energy all these years. Thank God for people like Uncle Tom and Aunt Wanda who have been so solid for so long...
Sandi also had some family members come out - and we were especially happy to have her Aunt Connie join us along with her cousin. We will be inviting others from both sides of the family for our next gathering (November 14). For those of you who are Christians, please pray that God uses this study to bless our families with the good news of Christ and the new life he offers.