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Sunday, December 4, 2011

80 kids

I have learned something new, I am a very self centered person....its all about me.  So how did I come to this life changing realization?  Well, here goes....I try to spend 1 weekend a month volunteering my time at church running the sound board.  So this was my weekend.  As I started the weekend I prayed that God would honor my serving him.  I prayed that He would be blessed by my service.  I went as far as praying faith with out works is dead....see God my faith is still alive, I am working for you!  Yup I prayed that.

So yesterday I began my weekend at church.  I would be there for 1 rehearsal and 5 services.  During the rehearsal I starting feeling that my prayer the night before might have missed the mark.  The first service was great went very smooth (always very important when running sound).  During the second service my feelings and attitude really changed.  What was the reason for the change?  80 kids.   This weekend the kids choir was leading worship.  As I watched and listened to these small children sing worship songs I hit me, to enter into heaven I must become like them.  These kids are a perfect reflection of what God wants from me.  Matthew 18:3 "I tell you the truth unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven"  NIV.  

As I watched the kids I was struck by how pure their worship was.  They were told they were singing to God and they did just that they sang out.  As the kids sang there were hand movements, when they raised there hands in worship it hit me, it looks like 80 small kids asking to be picked up by there parents.  I felt inside myself....YES, that is exactly what it is, a child reaching out for his or her parent.  I think this is what God sees when we raise our hands in worship.  His kids asking for his attention, wanting to be picked up.

By the 5th service I had come to know that I had told God I was working for him and he should be happy with my service.  When the truth is God does not need me, I was at church this weekend because he wanted to teach me, He had a lesson He wanted me to learn, a opportunity for spiritual growth.  I think I got the lesson, trust in God as a child trust's its parent.  I can take Ananda and put her on a table and tell her to jump into my arms and she will do it trusting that I will catch her, she has total faith in me.  God wants that from his me.  When Ananda is hurting she cries out for me and Melissa, knowing we will come and meet her need.  God wants this from me.  When Ananda gets excited she dances with joy and sings out, God wants this from me.  So at 40 I guess I need to become more like a child.  The 80 kids this weekend blessed me in ways they will never know.  I hope we will do more kids choirs at church, there might a another lesson to learn.

~Rick    as always feel free to comment

Monday, November 21, 2011


I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!  the countdown has begun, 34 days and counting.  I love the Christmas / holiday season! I am not sure when we officially enter the "holiday season" but its here for sure.  I looked out my window at work and today for the first time this year I see the holiday star thingy the city hangs on the street lights.  So the holidays are upon us, its the magical time of year that for me ramps up to Christmas.  On my drive home tonight I gave in and started listening to Christmas tunes.  I figured if the city was ready to say its Christmas time who am I to deny it.  I do have to admit that about a month ago I spent a day listening to Christmas tunes at work.  I kept the iPod dock volume very low to not get caught by a coworker, but the guy who lives in the office next to mine busted me with a "is that Christmas music?!?"  Sucks being caught when your doing something weird.

This time of year is so special, I love the Christmas trees, gifts, lights and all the other stuff that goes into Christmas.  I love singing along to Christmas music who doesn't like White Christmas by Bing Crosby?  Its a classic!  My love for this season goes much deeper though.  I remember all the Christmas's that have past.  I remember the Christmas tree's that were so carefully decorated and all wrapped presents under the tree.  I can remember the smell of the tree and the food my mother was cooking.  What other time of year do people make candy and give it away as gifts.  How could you not love that!  I remember the people that we would spent time with at Christmas.  It was the one time of the year when I would see all of my family.

Its funny when I think back I don't remember what the gifts were just that there were a lot of them.  My family has always made a big deal out of Christmas.  In thinking back I can remember my parents watching me and m little brother as we unwrapped our gifts.  There was always a look of pride and love on their faces.  When my kids came along I learned what my parents were feeling, it's so cool to watch your kids unwrap gifts!  I wonder if this is what God feels when people "unwrap" the gift of salvation.

This season is about so much more then the trees, lights and gifts it's about the birth of Immanuel "God with us".  This is the reason for Christmas to celebrate the birth of a Savior.  The greatest gift my parents gave me was to teach me about Jesus.  My parents ave lived their lives showing me what it means to follow God.  I love the fact that I come from a strong christian home.  I hope my kids see this in me.  I want my kids to see me living my faith.  I hope my kids see me when I pray and hear when I worship, I hope they know how much I love my creator.

I am so excited the holidays are here and once again I will be with my family and get to enjoy the Christmas tree and music.  Presents will be given and received the house will be decorated and once again I will attempt to make Christmas candy.  So far I have had no success with this, but I will try again it's Christmas how could I not.  I hope everyone enjoys this season and remembers what it's all about.


Monday, November 7, 2011


I have yet to figure out what it is that get me thinking about things.  It's like there is a switch in my brain that gets flipped on and my mind is off to the races.  I can spend hours thinking about the weirdest stuff and not know why I started thinking about it.  I hope this happens to everyone and I'm not a nut job.  Today's thought started about work and pondering if I really am happy doing what I do.  The thought grew as I let it expand until it became:  Am I doing what I was created to do?

It's funny that a thought that started as, am I happy doing this job became the deepest spiritual thought that I have ever had.  I don't know if I can ever really answer my question at least not on this side of heaven.  I am guessing the answer I seek can only be given to me by the one who created me.  This is the part where I am happy to say that I was created by a loving God who knows my name and is a part of every aspect of my life.  There is no place I can go where He is not.  But I will admit I have attempted to hide from my creator on several occasions.  It has never worked....

As far as the job thing, I am not sure it really matters if I am super happy doing what I do, it's just a job and since this life is temporary I guess it will do for now.  I do also know this I don't care if my headstone says I was a hard worker; I am striving for good husband and father.

So how do I find out or figure out if I am being what I was created to be?  I pray...I do wish God would just send me a letter or email that says what He wants from me.  It sure would make things easier!  I don't think God's plan is to make my life easier, I think he wants me to struggle some with the tough questions.  So my prayer has changed into a daily reminder that God created me and I am his to do with as He wishes.  I think I am learning that it's not for me to know if I am being what God created me to be, but to be willing to follow where ever he leads.  So I guess it's ok to not know all the answers....just be ready and willing to follow.


Friday, September 30, 2011

40 years of living

Today I celebrate 40 years of life.  Not sure where all that time went, but it's gone.  I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to take my birthday off and spend the day going to places where I have a lot of memories.  So that's what I have been up to today.  I have been all over the Salem and Keizer areas looking at the places that hold so many dear memories.

I started this life at Salem General Hospital on Center St in Salem.  It's great that where I took my first breath is now part of the state mental hospital.  I find this kinda funny....  I drove around and looked at the schools I attended and let my mind get lost in the memories of days long gone.  I remembered friends and teachers, playing on the playground and skipping school in high school (best 4 1/2 years of my life) the skipping did come with a cost!  :)  

I went and looked at the houses of grand parents, aunts & uncles.  I saw the houses where we would get together as a family, share meals and good times.  I went to the house where I learned to ride a bike.  I remember my aunt baking in the kitchen and us kids playing in the yard.  At each stop I would say a prayer of thanks for the people who God put in my life, the people who made me who I am.

My next stop was at another house, this one is the home of my God Parents also a aunt and uncle.  I remember playing in the big back yard and many holidays spent in this house.  I remember my cousin Donald taking me for rides on his motorcycle in a field close to the house.  In this house I played Atari 2600 and had a blast with my cousins.  This was also the place where the family gathered after the passing of my Grand Father.  There are many great memories in this home, a few sad ones, it's a place where life has been lived.

I stopped by the places that are special to me because of the ties to me and Melissa.  I stopped by the state capitol where we would walk around the park.  It was here where we held hands for the first time (it was our fifth date).  I stopped by Toy's R Us, the place I met Melissa.  Yup all the magic started at Toy's R Us!!  I spent some time at Corbin College which was Western Baptist College when I was dating one of it's students.  There are many good memories if this place.  I spent some time at Salem Alliance Church.  I grew up in this church, 35 years and counting.  In this church I was baptized with my mom, married to Melissa and my kids were dedicated to God.  This church has been my church home, the men who have been it's pastor's are some of my spiritual hero's.  Thanks to men of faith, who have taught me about Jesus and prayed with me in the times I needed prayer.

As I continued my trek it became very clear to me that this journey was not about seeing homes or places but was about remembering and honoring people.  I am who I am today because a group of people loved me.  They gave me guidance, wisdom and encouraged me along the way.  Today I am me because they were each a piece of the fabric I am made from.  With this in mind my trek took on a whole new significance, the new goal was to go to the places and give thanks.  To say a blessing for the people attached to the place.  The emotions was overwhelming each place lead me to another, there was no way I could get to every place or remember every person.  I decided to grab some lunch and make a plan.  So with my bacon double cheese burger from Five Guys, I planned out where to go next.  Not to go off topic but that burger was amazing!!

I spent some time in front of Salem Hospital.  This place has a few memories, both my kids were born here.  This also is the place I would spend 18 days a year ago getting my guts re-engineered.  It is because of the doctors and nurses that work in this place that I am still alive.  I gave thanks for them, I prayed for the hospital and the people in it.  I thanked God for my children!  I will never forget the two times I would go into a O.R. and come out with a child.  My kids are my life, I prayed God would give me wisdom to be the father they need and deserve.

I spent some time in a few other places and gave thanks for many people.  In total I stopped at about 20 places and allowed myself some grace to know it was not possible to go to every place.  In the end I would stop at Restlawn Cemetery where I placed roses on the graves of the family who have passed.  I thanked God for them, and that I would see them again.  This separation is only temporary.  I am happy I come from a long line of Christians.  My faith in part was learned from these people.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

The table

It's funny how you can do things over and over again with out giving them much thought then for some reason you actually think about what your doing and it hits you how cool it is.  Tonight I was up at my parents house where we enjoyed dinner as a family.  For the past 35 years we have done this and I have given it little thought, but something tonight was different I had one of those deep moments where I thought about what was happening.

To say my mom enjoys cooking would be an understatement, mom loves cooking and loves even more entertaining people.  A meal at mom's is always big, lots of different foods and the table must be set just so.  Tonight we all dished up our food and sat around the table eating.  Our family eating together is a normal thing we do it all the time, almost once a week we gather together and share a meal.  Tonight I reflected on what has changed and what has stayed the same.  Over the past 35 years who is at the table has changed the Great Grand Parents and Grand Parents have passed, but we have welcomed some new people to the table.

Melissa joined the family 20 years ago and claimed her spot at the table.  Vince came along 16 years ago and Ananda joined the fun 3 years ago.  Tonight was Ananda's first night at the table with out a high chair or booster seat, she thinks "big" kids don't need them. Both my kids have there places.  I do miss the people that are no longer at the table, I miss hearing them talk as they eat and listening to the conversation.  There will always be an empty place at the table for them, I know I will see them again and I hope we share another meal.

This old table has been the place for several great conversations.  There is no better place to talk then at a table filled with food.  The table has heard many great debates, when I was young and looking to spark a debate all I had to do was tell dad that I thought big corporate farms were good for America, or that the democrats had the right idea.  Yup good times!!  Not sure how many of the debates I won, but it was a good time.

Tonight the Garner clan was together, 3 generations all 7 of us around the table, nothing special or different, just together for a meal.  After deeper reflection I take back the nothing special comment, it is special, while its normal for my family its very different from our culture.  In an age when we hurry through life and don't take the time we should as a family I love the fact my family spends so much time together sharing meals.  I know that as the years go by who is at the table will change, it's a part of life.  I hope as the characters change the love never fades.  My challenge to anyone who reads this silly blog....spend time with your family, share meals together, it strengthens the family.

As I write this the table is cleared off all the food put away, the chairs are pushed in the center piece is still there but everything else is removed.  The table waits for the next time we gather together as a family and spend time together around it.  I hope it's not too long until we share another meal and spend this precious time together.   ~Rick


Monday, August 1, 2011

20 years

Wow, what a journey it has been !  I can't believe that Melissa and myself have been married for 20 years.  July 20th 1991 what a day!  I remember the fear like it was yesterday!  As the church (Salem Alliance) filled up with family and friends I keep thinking, what the hell are you doing here?!?  Then the pastor, Morris Dirks my high school pastor and good friend tapped me on the shoulder and said it's time for us to go up front and get this show on the road.  Now the fear was really growing, my hands were shaking, mouth was dry and I thought I was going to explode.

After a few minutes my bride appeared at the back of the room, and with her father made her way down the isle.  Then 17 minutes later after saying some words or something we were husband and wife.  People stood, clapped and tossed stuff at us and wished us well.

During our premarital counseling Pastor Dirks gave us some great advise.  The one thing that to this day stands out to me was when he asked me how long I thought it would take for me to be disappointed with my wife.  I told him it might be months, or weeks but it would take some time.  Rick with in the first 24 hours you will be disappointed, you will find things you don't like, there will be things that make you mad, or hurt.  He gave Melissa even less time...Morris had been my pastor for along time and knew me well.  His great wisdom... love is a verb, an action word not a feeling.  Feelings come and go they change with the wind, but true love is a choice.  Pastor Dirks told us both we daily would need to choose to love each other, even if we didn't really like each other.

So after 2 decades and some counseling along the way, we are still together.  We still choose daily to remain faithful to each other and to honor our commitment.  So it was fitting that we "celebrated" our 20 year anniversary working at a camp, doing a ministry.  I believe with all my heart that when I took Melissa as my bride I did it not only in front of friends and family but also in the presence of the living God in his throne room.  So with that in mind it was only fitting to be working for God on our anniversary.

So far with 20 years behind us we have created two great kids.  Vincent Joseph 16 a junior at West Salem High and Ananda Kaylee 3 (daddy's princess).    I love these kids more then anything, they are my world!  I am so appreciative that I get to raise these kids, I know they belong to God and my time with them is borrowed and a gift.  I had Psalms 127:3 tattooed on my right arm so I would never forget it:  Son's are a heritage from the Lord, children are a gift from him.  I hope I am the dad they need and deserve.

I just did the math I have been married to Melissa for 7311 days or 175,464 hours give or take a few.  It's been a long, hard journey so far.  Marriage is not an easy thing, and it's not for sissy's!  I hope we have many years ahead of us as we continue to grow together and try to become what the other wants and needs. I pray some day I will be the husband my wife deserves.      ~Rick

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Growth and mountains

Growth hurts!  It is painful to grow, and while growth is part of life it can suck!  I think this is true on all parts of our lives.  Weather growth is physical, mental or spiritual it can cause pain and discomfort.  I am finding myself in a season of spiritual growth and am finding it uncomfortable.  I am so wanting a time on the mountain a time when things are easy and faith is abundant.  But instead I find myself in a valley looking up and asking questions.  I have asked God to take me back to the mountain and let me rest.  I know if it's God's will that's what will happen.  Not much growth happens while on the mountains.  I guess that's why there are no tall trees on the top of the mountain.  I have a mountain climber friend who talks about how great it is to get up so high you are looking down on the trees and get to be above it all.

I have preached 2 sermons in my life.  I won't say the name of the church to save them the embarrassment of having to admit I preached the message (twice).  One of the my sermons was on staying up when you're knocked down.  I am finding it hard to live the message. God does not want us to worry and we were created by God for God.  That's just a small part of the message.  That's the part I'm having troubles with.  I know God is in control, there is no place I can go where He is not.  But it's hard to live this. When life gets yucky, it's easy to want to take back the control that's not yours to begin with.  I will continue to pray that God's will be done in my life. I am His creation; He has paid for me with blood.  So while it would be great to live on the mountain for a while, to rest and take it easy, I know the true growth is being in the valley where I am now.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

June 24th 1995

As I walked through the doors into Salem Hospital I was as nervous as I had ever been in my life.  I kept thinking to myself, this is crazy my whole life is about to change.  I don't know how to be a father, and at some point today I will become a dad.  Maybe the doctor was wrong, maybe today isn't the day.  But we were there as scheduled by the doctor.  It was time to induce labor, Doc says the boy's got to come out and today is the day.

So in we go, Melissa is put in a bed and hooked up to the liquid that will induce labor.  Me I just pace around the room trying not to freek out and wanting to be supportive.  The first hour passes with minimal issues, but the promised labor is not happening.  Hours two and three go by slow as well, still nothing.  Melissa is slowly becoming less fun to be around, she isn't laughing at my jokes any more.  She seams to be getting more serious about this child bearing thing.  Hours four through six are painfully boring for me and At this time Melissa is really not fun to be around, The magic drugs are working some but not enough to really get the ball rolling.  More hours slowly, painfully go by, things are not working as they should.  The nurses are in and out checking things, making sure mom and baby are doing ok.  At one point the doctor comes in the room with a plastic hook thingy and hands it to me "hold on to this, you will need it soon".  I ask "what is this thing"?  the reply "it's the tool your going to use to break the water and get this party going"   "Ummm  NO"  I don't think that's a good plan.  It turned out after an exam things were going any where our doctor called for a consult and it was decided that a C section was needed to get Vincent out.  At this point Melissa had been in labor for about 11 hours with nothing really moving along.

So within a few minutes of the decision to do the cesarean Melissa was wheeled out of the room and I was left alone.  After a few moments a nurse came in the room with a pair of scrubs for me to wear.  I changed and the nurse had me sit in a wheel chair.  I protested and said I could walk just fine.  She informed me that she was not allowing me in the ER and having me pass out, sit down!  I follow her directive and she wheels me into the ER.  If I was nervous walking into the hospital, I am now in full on panic mode.  The surgeon tells us, all will be fine, it wont be long now.  With in 15 minutes, I hear the nurses and surgeon and our family doctor saying how good he looks and he has red hair.  My son, they are talking about my son, fear is now replaced with and intense longing....I want my boy!  They hold him up so I can see him, YUCKY!  OK, I want him after you clean him off.  I hear him crying, that's a good thing!  The surgeon says all went well everything will be fine.

Finally after what felt like an eternity a nurse hands me my son.  I cradle this small child in my hands, holding him so Melissa in her drug induced state can see her son.  I never wanted to let go.  This is my child, a part of me and part of his mother.  The nurse says she needs to take Vincent for some standard tests and then we can have him back.  It felt like I had only held my boy for a few seconds but it had been 20 minutes.  I had the boy over and go with the nurse to get the official measurements.  During this process my mom would first see her first grand child.  As I looking Vincent over good counting fingers and toes, every thing seams perfect, his right thumb is normal that bums me out.

After all the tests were done we were moved into a room where we could be together and have family come see us.  After several family members stopped by to say hi and congratulate us, it was just the three of us.  I sat for hours holding my son, feeling like this was why I was created.  This was one of the most special times in my life.  I write this to share my story with anyone who would want to read it.  I write it because Vincent turned 16 two days ago.   June 24th 1995 my son Vincent Joseph Garner was born and radically changed my life.  I love this boy very much, he is my son!  I strive to be a good father, to teach him what is true.  To help him grow in his faith, as he becomes a Godly man.  I can't believe he's 16 already, those year flew by.

Father God, thank you for blessing me with a son.  I will try to be worthy of this blessing.  And to my wife Melissa sorry for all the times in the hospital when I pushed the button on your PSA pump so I could laugh as you got all drugged up.  I was fun to watch!!

And just a FYI...Vince is doing great, he is working this summer for the YMCA at a summer camp and is having fun.  He is growing fast into a Godly man.  I pray today as I did the day he was born for the girl he will eventually marry.  I pray that God protects her and keeps her safe and that she will grow into the Godly woman who will one day marry my son.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fathers day

This is a subject that means a lot to me, a day that holds special meaning to me.  I first want to start by thanking my father for all he has done for me.  My dad has helped raise me into the man I am today.  He has taught me about Jesus and has walked with me in my journey to faith.  I think maybe I should take a time out and go back and explain how it all started.

My Mom and Dad got married when I was five years old.  When they were dating, there was a time when I needed surgery to have tubes put in my ears and the tonsils and adenoids removed. The ears were a big deal,. Mom was told that I would lose my hearing without the tubes.  My biological father declined paying for the surgery even though it was part of the divorce.  My dad informed my mom that if my biological dad did not want to be my father, he did.  To this day I am amazed by this story. My dad chose me. He wanted me to be his son.  I think there are very few men who would have done this.  To this day at 39 years old, I know I am loved and wanted by my father; he has lived this for me many times over.

So at five, Mom and I moved to the farm on the hill.  I still today live on this same farm today.  My children are the seventh generation to live here on this small piece of the planet.  Its on this farm I was raised and here that I learned to first drive a tractor, then later a car.  Dad has always been one my biggest teachers. When I needed to learn about cars, fishing, girls and how to fix things, he was the go-to guy.  When I first started dating my wife, dad was there with the fatherly wisdom that only comes from age and experience.  Some of this advise I failed to listen too and years later would kick myself for not listening.  When we got married, Dad was there giving me advise and thoughts on how things should be done and how I should treat my wife.  My father adores my mother. She is his world and he is very quick to tell he how much he loves her.

When my kids were born dad took it to a whole new level.  He started teaching me how to be a father.  This I have to say: he has been doing almost all my life - teaching by example.  Today I still look to Dad's wisdom at times when I need his guidance and strength.

I will never forget my first driving lesson. Dad was in the passengers seat riding with me as I pulled into our gravel driveway going way too fast. The truck spun sideways as I slammed on the brakes. Dad calmly said "little too fast." His attitude was - it happens, take it easy, you're doing fine.  When I raced my first kart race it was Dad watching from the fence.  His wisdom was "don't go too fast too soon." When I crashed the kart his words were "that can happen".   There have been several times I have failed in my life and dad has always been there for me.  When I spent 18 days last summer in the hospital it was dad who was there every day sitting with me as I slept.  During that time I took a ton of pain meds and watched a lot of Fox news channel.  Dad is about as conservative as you can get.  Dad still calls me almost daily to check in and see how I am doing.  Dad is a man who loves deeply and is passionate about his family; if you're around him for any length of time you will be reminded you are loved.

Well, that's about it for my thoughts on my father - this special day that we celebrate fathers.  It's one of the toughest jobs ever (if done right).  Happy fathers day to all dads!     ~Rick

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Dear Mr. Gopher,

  Your destructive presence in my back yard is no longer wanted.  I have warned you many times that your feloniousness and destruction was no longer going to be tolerated.  I do not understand why you would choose to destroy my back yard when there are hundreds of acres of fields you could live out your life in, in peace.  But you have chosen to take up residence in my back yard and treat it like its a buffet line for you to devour.  I have decided that your life will be ending shortly.  You made a mistake when you started digging in a yard that is not inside city limits, and a yard owner that is armed.   The next time I see you making a huge mess of my yard your life will end.  I wish it did not have to come to this, I try to be non violent and live and let live but you sir have crossed the line.  The damage has been done, and the war is on!  

Thanks for your time
Rick  (the guy pointing the shot gun at you)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I have heard it said many times, you will learn more from your children then they learn from you.  I think this might be true.  I have been blessed with two kids, Vincent 15 and Ananda 2.  Yes I know that is a big age difference but it took me time to decide if I really wanted a second child.  I joke with Vince that after dealing with him as a toddler it took me that long to recover.  It is very cool to have two kids in such different stages of life, one who can take care of himself and one who needs for everything.  Though I am hoping she won't be needing for diaper changing soon, this would be great to have behind us.  So what have I learned from my kids?

With Vince I learned that anything can be a toy if you have a good imagination.  Vince could pick up about anything and it would be a toy to him.  He has had collections of sticks that were all different things to him. About 2 years ago Vince started asking questions about God and my faith.  After sharing my story with him I encouraged him to start learning about God on his own so he could grow in his faith.  In the last year I have been amazed at how much Vince is learning and growing in his faith.  Vince has taught me the value of knowing what you believe.  My challenge to Vince is be baptized with in the next year.  This is something that is totally up to him, but I look forward to the day when I get to see my son being baptized!

Ananda has also taught me a lot.  Never try to pet a turkey, they are mean and not friendly.  Never try to pick up a bumble bee, they don't seam to want to be picked up.  As I watch my daughter try to get my attention with her hands raised up I have come to the thought that this must be what God wants from us all.  Ananda has reminded me of Luke 18:16-17 God wants us to come to him like children, how appropriate is that as we are His children.

Both my kids have strengthened my faith, I have grown closer to God because of them.  I am learning new things daily because God is using my children to speak to me.  God has taught me through them.  I pray as they both grow up that God continues to use them in my life.     Rick

Monday, May 23, 2011

Memorial Day

We are getting close to one of my favorite holidays, Memorial day.  This is the day we honor those that have gone before us.  For me it's a day to remember the lives that were lived so that I may live.  I hope that makes sense.  For most people Memorial day is just a day off work and not much more,; for me this is a day to pay honor to my family members who are gone.  Much of who I am is comes from the family I was raised by, so to honor them in a small way is appropriate.  So this Memorial day my father and I will make our yearly trip to several cemeteries and place flowers on each grave.  I also like to say a prayer of thanks for each person.  Since most of them are Christians I know I will see them again in heaven.

As my kids are the seventh generation to live on this same property my Memorial day delivery takes a good chunk of time.  It's fun to go to each grave and think about what life was like for them as they lived where I live, and wonder what they were like.  When we get to the grave of my great grandfather, Glen Southwick, I knew the person and have personal memories of him.  We will visit numerous grave sites in several cemeteries in hopes that we bring honor to our family and spend time remembering them.  Each one of these people lived and had an impact on us; they paved the way for us in their love of family and country.  Several of the graves will be decorated with a flag honoring their service to this country.  I will place my flowers on each grave and give thanks for them.  I love my family!

Oh yeah, almost forgot. Memorial day weekend is also the biggest weekend in auto racing with the Indianapolis 500 and Gran Prix of Monaco.  Looking forward to watching all the auto racing I can.  


Saturday, May 14, 2011


I guess I should start this blog by giving notice that the prayer contained in this blog was stolen from my former senior pastor John Stumbo.  John took a prayer from AW Tozer and re wrote it using today's wording.  I love this prayer and thought I would share it.

Almighty God
You are over all things and under all things;
You are outside of all things and
inside of all things;

You are above all things, but not pushed up and
You are beneath all, but not pressed down;
Outside of all, but not excluded;
Inside of all, but not confined;

You are above all things presiding and
Beneath all things sustaining and
Outside of all things embracing and
Inside of all things filling.

You are God.

At the contemplation of your majesty,
All eloquence is dumb.
You are greater than anything said about you;
No language is worthy of you.

You are more sublime than all sublimity
Loftier than all loftiness
Profounder than all profundity
More splendid than all splendor
More powerful than all power
Greater than all majesty
More merciful than all mercy
More just than all justice.

This is the God we adore, our gracious unchangeable friend
Whose love is as great as his power,
And knows neither limit nor end.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's day

As mother's day 2011 rapidly approaches I have been thinking a lot about my mom and mothers in general.  The Wikipedia definition of mother: is a woman who has conceived, given birth to, or raised a child in the role of a parent. It goes on to say that because of the complexity and differences of a mother's social, cultural and religious definitions and roles, it is challenging to define a mother.  In my job I see lots of woman who have given birth to children, most of them I would not consider mothers.  My definition of mother has been shaped by the woman whom I call mom.  I will say this, I am biased, I believe my mother is the best!  So then here is my definition of mother as lived for me by my mom.  My mother is a woman who loves her Lord and follows his ways, she has raised me up to know my Lord and when I was twelve we were baptized together.  When times were tough my mother always put my needs before her own, I have always know as her child, I was the most important thing to her.  When I felt hurt and pain my mother was there with me to offer comfort and wisdom.  I learned young that if you had a owie there was nothing better then a mother's kiss to take away the pain.  As I grew and started making my own decisions it was my mom who walked beside me and at times if needed offered Godly wisdom to help correct when she saw I was going the wrong way.  As my children have been born, again my mother has been right there, helping teach me how to be a father.  With the birth of my kids mom added another role to her life - grandmother.  She did this without any effort, like she was created to be it.  I believe just that, my mother was created to be a mother, grandmother.  She is living out the love God has given her, and blessing others with her love.  So I guess this is how I define mother...little longer then Wikipedia.  I guess for me to define mother, would be to define love as the two are just about the same thing. Happy Mothers Day!     Rick

Friday, May 6, 2011

A life well lived (part 2)

I have continued with my inward thinking about who or what I would like to be.  It's kinda fun to look at others and see things in them that you want to take and make your own.  I think that a lot of who we are as people comes from what others have modeled for us.  I have a friend that I so want to be like.  This man makes people feel good, he is such a Barnabas (son of encouragement) Acts 4:36.  I want to be like that!  It's so different from how I am wired.  I wish I could be like this.  To be a person who can make others around them feel good, I wish.  It's funny that this is what I long to be and I would guess most of my friends would never think this is what I want for me.  I hope I don't sound like I want to be a sissy, I think a strong man can be a great encourager to others.  So this is what I am working on in myself, I know I can never be what God wants me to be with out His help.  Anyone need any encouragement?  I need to practice.      Rick

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A life well lived

Today I attended a memorial service for my uncle Larry.  My uncle was a great guy, loving husband and father and most important of all he was devoted to his faith in Christ Jesus.  Larry shared his faith with anyone who would let him talk about it.  As I sat through the service some many people shared cool stories about Larry and what he had meant to them and his impact on their lives.  The service got me really thinking...what do I want people to say about me when I have gone home to be with my creator.  Out of all that I heard today the one thing that keeps coming back to me is hearing both my cousins tell about how there father lived his faith and showed them the love of Jesus.  I think this is now my number one goal in life, to live my life in a way that shows  my kids I love Jesus and am his child.  I need to do a better job at living my faith.

One day at work the boss asked each of us to go around the room and say one nice thing about each other.  People were coming up with good stuff...hard worker,devoted, great PO, cares about others, and on and on it went until it got to me.  My nice thing was  "Rick tries"   huh?!?  I try?  that's it?!?  that's the best you could do?  At the time I laughed it off.  There is a post it note above my door at work that says "I try"   As I thought about it I came to realize that it's very true I do try...I try to be a good husband, a man who is worthy of the blessing he has been given in my wife.  I try to be a good father, one who loves his kids and teaches them the good way.  I try to be a good Christian, to live my faith and love my God.  I try to be a good worker at my job. Though most of the time I feel like I have no clue what I am doing....I try.  As I spend more time expanding this though I really like "I try" there is so much that goes into trying hard.  So at the end of my life what can be said about me .....I Tried  :)      Rick

Sunday, May 1, 2011

John Deere Tractor

It's funny that my favorite time to think and reflect on things comes while riding around on my John Deere lawn tractor. Today I spent several hours mowing and spraying and had some great time to think about life.  My thoughts keep coming back to this small piece of the planet I call home.  I have lived on the same farm now since  I was 5 year old, that's when mom and me moved here.  I now live in another house with my family and am a 1/4 mile away from my parents but still living on the family farm.  I love this farm like I love my family!  I stole that line from Sarah Palin in her show about Alaska.  I remember as a small boy playing in the barn and throwing walnuts at the horses in the pasture.  We use to have about 250 head of sheep up here but after they kept getting out and eating mom's flowers, they had to go away.  It was about this time in my life when I learned that not all animals that live on a farm stay on a farm, some move to the freezer!  That was a tough lesson to learn...it was such a cute lamb.  There are the animals that lived here till they past away from old age.  My favorite was a donkey named Willy Bill!  I miss him all the time, it's been 22 years since he died but that donkey was a good friend, and I loved him!  Over the years we have had several other animals: goats, llamas, chickens,ducks, pigs.  The goats were a bummer something killed them so I had to get ride of them.  The llamas sucked butt, those fricken things can spit and jump a fence with ease.  The pigs are yummy and kinda fun to raise.  My chickens and ducks are cool, by far my favorite animals very easy to care for and produce yummy eggs

I remember as a kid I was so embarrassed that my father was a poor farmer, he was often dirty and smelly.  Dad never drove a "new" truck his was always a old farm truck.  I was jealous of my friends who's dad's worked in offices and drove new cars.  I wanted to be like my friends who got to go on vacations in the summer.  Can't do that as a farmer, summer is the busy time, always too much to do.  At times dad would work from sun up to sun down.  At about 10 I got to start working with him.  My job was to follow him with the little Massey Ferguson 175 and disk up the stuff the big disk missed.  I loved working with Dad and working the ground.  Today as I sprayed and mowed I let my thoughts drift back to being a kid and driving a tractor turning the dirt.  Now At 39 I would give anything to be able to farm with my dad.  I now understand why he loved farming there is something spiritual about growing crops.

The most profound thought of the day was that my children are the 7th generation to live on this piece of property.  Most of the land has been sold over the years but we still owe the small piece of the property.  There is enough land left to hobby farm and that's what do.  My goal is to raise all my own meat and raise a big garden.  I hope my hobby farming makes the family who has gone before me proud of me and that I am still trying to make this land work. I do love this place!   Rick

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter 2011

This Easter has been the best I have ever had!  For the first time I spent my Easter weekend working at church.  I don't know if I should call it "working" as each service was a blessing.  I got to spend many hours with some amazing musicians listening to them worship the risen Savior.  I only wish I could do what they do I am envious of their talent...but since I can't sing and don't play an instrument, I sit behind a sound board playing with buttons and dials and other things. I feel so amazed that in working 6 services I got to see numerous people making first time commitments of follow Jesus.  I know that there will be people in heaven spending eternity with their Saviour because of the people of Salem Alliance Church. I can think of no better way to spend an Easter then helping others worship and some coming to Christ.  I am forever changed by this experience!  HE IS RISEN!

Friday, April 22, 2011

It seamed like a good idea at the time...

For some reason I spent a lot of time today thinking about the stupid things I have done and thought it might be a good idea to share a few.  At age 2 (this story comes from my mom, she might be lying about what happened) After hearing she needed to clean the carpet I decided to help... with the garden hose.  When asked why I flooded the living room I told her the hose worked at cleaning the car.  I have always been very helpful.  I have been told this story MANY times some people need to learn to let go.  At about 10 I learned that a couple gallons of gas, a lighter and the front lawn don't mix.  I remember watching the lawn burn and hoping the parents wouldn't notice.  They noticed!  Oh and water only spreads the fire!  Fricken hose got me in trouble again!  At about 12 I figured out model rockets could be launched from a piece of pipe and if you add one farmer working on a tractor and it turns into target practice.  The farmer wasn't so happy with me.  Sorry dad....I do think I should say I never hit him, just the tractor, and no damage was done.  Being raised on a farm out in the country had some advantages.  Especially since we live so close to the make out spot "Popcorn" hill.  I learned the primer of a shot gun shell makes all the noise of a shot gun so if you smash it between two rocks it sounds like a shot gun being fired.  So...one couple making out in a parked car...a friend as my partner in crime and a handful of primers.  We would hide in the bushes and wait till things got going in the car.  My friend Brian would sneak over to the car and jump on the back bumper while yelling "get off my daughter!!"  at that moment I smashed the primer and made the shot gun boom.  It was amazing how fast they sped away!!  So much fun!  There has been so many other stupid things but this is probably more then enough for now.   ~Rick

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Powerful Practice

Last night was the first rehearsal for the Easter service at church.  As the band worked on getting the songs just right, a group of middle schoolers came in the sanctuary.  The kids went to the cross on the stage and a group of them nailed ribbons with there names on them to the cross.  At church this is to signify a first time commitment to Christ.  As the band played worship music the kids nailed there ribbons, the sound of the nails being driven into the cross was powerful.  The kids began to dance around the stage with hugs, high fives and tears of joy.  I was amazed at the power in this moment.  I began to wonder if the angels in heaven joined in the song and danced. 5 more people said yes to Christ, yes to follow him and yes to eternity.  These young people have radically changed their lives and I got to see it happen.  To feel the power of the moment.  I am sure there was singing and dancing for joy in heaven.  This is going to be a great Easter!  The power of God is working and is alive...


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dance me Daddy

I have found the greatest thing ever!  It's a two year old girl who want's me to dance with her.  There is nothing better then when my daughter asks me to dance. "Daddy I want the Cinderella song, dance me"  The  song she is talking about is Steven Curtis Chapman "Cinderella"  Chapman sings about his daughter growing up and her asking him to dance.  First she is little and says she was invited to a ball and needs to practice dancing.  The song then changes to the daughter is going to the prom and needs to practice her dancing and then finally before her wedding.  The end of the song is "I know something the prince never knew, one day the clock will strike midnight and she'll be gone"  I love this song, I love it even more that my daughter wants me to dance with her and listen to it and I too know at some point I will have to give her away.  On July 26th 2008 I started praying for the boy that will one day marry my daughter.  Until then she is my princess, and as long as she will let me, we will dance.  I do recommend the song for any daddy with a daughter, it's a good tune!

Monday, April 18, 2011

A good neighbor

This is something I will never be accused of being.  I don't think I am antisocial. I know I like some people, but yesterday I learned that I suck as a neighbor.  Yesterday was nice - the family was gone to church and I was home alone working on projects.  (For some strange reason I feel I should mention I went to church Saturday night alone.  OK, now that I got that covered...)  I was cleaning my truck when I noticed a vehicle coming down the driveway.  This doesn't happen often so I watch as it approaches the driver looks familar but not sure where I have seen her.  She pulls up, hops out and has a box in her hands.  The boxs looks very familar to me kinda like all the other boxes that have my cigars in them.  Oh I think so that's where they went. I think to myself..."thanks UPS you guys rock! delivering my cigars to my neighbors house."  So she comes up and introduces herself and hands me my shipment of stoggies.  I thank her and we start to chat about living in the country and coyotes.  We have a lot of them around here!  My neighbor asks about my chicken coop and the chickens.  I give her a dozen of my freshest eggs, she seemed excited to get real farm eggs.  So we chat for about a half an hour; it was nice!  I was being social.  It was a nice visit.  When she told me that they love living here and it's been great four years, it hits me.  Four years!?! They have lived by me for four years and I have never said hi and introduced myself.  Like I said I will never be accused of being a good neighbor.  We did have a nice chat, I look forward to waving hi as I drive by...I just wish I could remember her name....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Blessings and Rocks

One Sunday as I sat in church listening to another great message I heard God speak to my heart.  What I heard was....Do you know how many blessings I have given you?  Are you thankful for what I have done and am doing for you?  Give thanks for what I have done for you...I asked how?? How could I ever give enough thanks or praise for what has been given to me?  Rocks. Go to the rock wall in the back yard name each rock with a blessing and give thanks for each.  I have to admit I thought this sounded kinda nuts giving thanks to God by naming rocks as blessings.  I figured if I was going crazy I should invite my family to join in my journey.  I tell Melissa and Vince what I fell I was led to do and asked them to join me.  I thought for sure we would get a few rocks in and that would be that, a nice prayer but nothing special.  As we started praying we covered the "big" stuff, family, friends, jobs and health.  Then we really got going we were each taking turns after a dozen rocks it became..."that's my rock!" and the prayer got very cool after what seemed like a no time at all we ran out of rocks..."Dad we need more rocks!!"  Since there was some more pressing things to give thanks for we went up the hill and gather more rocks for the wall.   It has been a few years since we did this and there are so many new blessing to give thanks for....Ananda needs a rock.  I need to get more rocks!  I think this wall will never be completed, at least here on earth.  After this cool time of prayer I asked God why the rocks??  Psalm 18:46  

Saturday, April 16, 2011


It was my first shift with at the sheriff's office, I did not know what to expect or what to think of the place.  I had met a few of the guys, they seamed nice enough and it appeared the place was cool.  This first shift I was to spend the shift with a patrol Sgt so he could go through the policy and procedure manual with me.  After a while of sitting in the Sgt office there was a call of a possible burg in progress. Cool a hot call that will get us out of the office!  So we go jump in a car and on come the lights and sirens.  I had never gone so fast in a police car, it was exciting!  I could tell the Sgt was a good driver and the speed did not seam to faze him at all.  After a five minute drive at 100 mph we arrived on scene...The primary unit beat us there and was already looking for the bad guy.  I got out and assisted in the search, then it happened....A deputy I had never met come up to me and in a serious tone asked me what was with my janitors keys hanging from my key ring.  "you know we are looking for the bad guy right"  "the bad guy that can hear your jingling keys a mile away"  I was shocked I never thought about the noise my keys were making, I guess thinking back they were loud.  Then this deputy asked the Sgt to get "Jingles and his janitor keys" out of there.  I was devastated I thought I was doing things right and to hear other wise sucked.  And...he called me Jingles??  What the heck was that all about?  Was this guy mean to every one or am I special?  After we cleared the call and got back to the sheriff's office it became painfully obvious that I now had a nick name one that to this day sticks with me...Jingles   Maybe not the coolest name but it's me.  In the 4.5 years and thousands of hours worked at the sheriff's office jingles became a fixture...I think some of it was the guys could not remember my real name so I was and am today to some people Jingles.  A very special thanks to the deputy who gave me this name he is a close friend who means a lot to me.