Archive for November, 2010

Some funny things happened this past weekend in the NFL.  A fight, a future Coors Light press conference commercial, and probably the most popular thing an athlete has ever done with his twitter account: blame God for causing him to drop the potential game winning catch.

In case you didn’t see it on  your local news, Sportscenter or the Drudge Report – just about everyone, and I mean everyone has broken down the Stevie Johnson tweet that he sent out after Sunday’s heart-breaking loss to the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers.

Just in case you forgot, or didn’t see what Johnson tweeted… here it is, in its unedited glory:

I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…

When I first saw this on Sunday night, I relayed the tweet to my wife and we began chatting about it.  I don’t recall the exact dialog of our conversation, but I’m sure we were ripping apart the context.  24/7?  Never forget?  Do you think God really cares about the Bills/Steelers game?  And what about Scott Norwood, good thing he didn’t have twitter.  But in the two days have passed since then, I’ve changed my tune a bit.  Basically it starts with Johnson himself.  Consider the following tweets he has sent out:

I learned A lot Within 24hrs. Saw Both Sides.(Ups&Dwns) I AM HAPPY & THANKFUL 4 YESTERDAY! w/out Sunday iWldnt have grew closer w/The Lord!!

And No I Did Not Blame God People! Seriously??!? CMon! I Simply Cried Out And Asked Why? Jus Like yal did wen sumthin went wrong n ur life!

Spoke To Friends Fam Teammates and Most Importantly I Spoke With My Wife. I Honestly Believe Evrything Happens For A Reason! Everything!

I love the honesty!

One thing I love about twitter is sometimes you can see conversations between two high-profile athletes.  If you know anything about Kurt Warner, you will know that he is a God-loving, former Super Bowl MVP winning quarterback for the St Louis Rams and also took the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl… the ARIZONA CARDINALS!  That same Kurt Warner, who has nothing to do with the Buffalo Bills sent the following messages to Stevie Johnson shortly after Johnson’s initial tweet:

@StevieJohnson13 Hey, man, we all have those moments! I had way too many of them… Keep ur head up, U will b on other side next time!

@StevieJohnson13 I asked same thing when released in STL & benched 3 times, But then God did his thing… Be ready! Enjoy watching you play!

How awesome is that?  And not long after those tweets…

Almost Missed Your Tweet Mr. Warner. I Just Want to Say Thank You! Meant A Lot! @kurt13warner

Another thing I read that I really thought was respectable was this report from a Peter King Sports Illustrated article regarding Johnson’s willingness to face the media after the game. 

I got an interesting explanation of what happened with Johnson postgame Sunday from Scott Berchtold, the Bills media-relation poobah. Here it is: “We figured Stevie would address the media at his locker, but he insisted on doing it at the podium. He assured us that he was OK to address the media at the podium and really wanted to do it there, even though we reminded him that he had the option of addressing them at his locker. The bottom line is that Stevie was really a stand-up guy through it all and it was his idea to go to the podium. He didn’t duck anyone and he answered the questions that were asked of him. He was extremely honest in his comments, as I’m sure you saw, and we just thought he deserved a lot of credit for being a stand-up guy in a situation that was, obviously, very emotional and extremely difficult for him.”

Talk about a guy being real.  Isn’t this how the church needs to be?  More real, less fake?  Whether it’s in life or in football, I think we can learn a lot from this situation.

  1. It’s ok to question God’s sovereignty.  Sometimes it’s ok to say “Why God”.  It may be emotional, angry, or a result of total emptiness, and I’m sure we all feel that way at times.  Are we naive to think that Joseph didn’t question God when he was sold into slavery, accused of rape, or completely ignored when put in prison?  What about Job?  We commend Job for “in all this he did not blame God”, but remember he tore his robe in grief, and shaved his head, and fell to the ground.  Real emotion!  These men served God whole-heartedly… but they also faced HUGE negative trials in their lives, but God had GREATER things in store for them… as He did for Kurt Warner when He was cut by the Rams, and as He does for Stevie Johnson… and as He does for me… and you!
  2. Don’t jump to judge someone who expresses their true feelings when dealing with an extremely emotional situation.  A similar recent example of this is when Carlos Whitaker, a Christian musician, recently tweeted the phrase “damn monkey bars” followed by “Seanna my 6 year old just broke her wrist. prayers please…” after his daughter apparently had an accident falling off the, uh, monkey bars.  Predictably, a few people immediately started criticizing @loswhit for his actions calling him “a prominent leader” and he needs to “watch his language”.  Carlos shot back asking why they would judge him, when he was really asking them to pray for his little girl.  He later clarified that in the heat of the moment, that was exactly how he felt and he actually tweeted an edited version of what he really said.  He was real.  Genuine.  Sure… not perfect, but also… not fake.  You can read more about this story here.
  3. Be there to lift up someone who is going through a difficult time. As a fellow Christian, I’m so proud of Kurt Warner.  He just recently went on Dancing with the Stars and worked his tail off to make it as far as he did. Now, while he’s retired and living a full life spending time with his family, took the time to send Johnson the tweet that quite possibly re-opened his eyes to the reality that God has bigger plans in store for Johnson than beating the Pittsburgh Steelers.  When you see someone going through an emotionally tough time – sometimes all it takes is a simple email, tweet, facebook post, card, or phone call to lift them up and remind that God is still in control.  It helps if you’ve experienced a “Why God” moment in your life.  If you have… allow God to use that moment to help others that are currently going through a “Why God” moment.

Bottom line… I commend Stevie Johnson for his questionable faith.  I don’t know what his normal relationship with God is like, whether or not he really praises God 24/7, but quite honestly, that’s not my problem either.  I respect the man for being real, authentic, and transparent.  I admire that, and wish that more Christians would be the same way…  and that fellow Christians would respond with Christ-like attitudes when people of faith admit their true feeling, their fears and their doubts.

For me though, that’s tough… on both sides.  By habit, I’m a hypocrite.  At times I can be fake on the outside and I judge those who are real.  God help me!

So now that the greatest holiday of the year is officially behind us, I feel it’s OK to actually care about Christmas.  I used to be one of these “last minute” guys that waited to do my shopping on Christmas Eve.  But as I’ve gotten older, there is something exciting about Christmas.  I’m not talking about the kind of excitement you have as a kid, it’s a different type of anticipation.  Possibly because this is my first Christmas as a dad, which is AWESOME! Possibly because I’m looking forward to attending a few Christmas parties with some close friends. Possibly because I’m looking forward to visiting Hershey Park’s Candy Lane.  Possibly because I now appreciate GIVING gifts way more than I look forward to receiving gifts.  Whatever it is… I am thankful it’s that time of year.

Over the weekend we put up our Christmas lights, our Christmas tree and all of our little Christmas decorations that go in and around the house.  Last night, my wife made some cookies and then after Naomi fell asleep we played a few games while listening to random Christmas music on the public advertising channel.  (Our version of XM!)  Now all we need is SNOW!

So… as you sink into the “Most Wonderful Time of Year”… I ask you the question: What is your favorite Christmas song?  It can be an old classic like White Christmas, or maybe a newer one like Bebo Norman’s Come and Worship.

I’ll go first…

Are You Likable?

Posted: November 29, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Ben Arment, who has a blog here, had a simple post this morning on The Likability Factor.  His bottom line:

Never overestimate your likability factor. =)

Whether you like it or not… your likability factor affects the perception others have towards you.  Whether it’s business, ministry or life, it affects how others respond to you, whether they respect you, want to listen to you, want to work together with you, enjoy being around you, include you in their “inner-circle”, want to grow with you.

Our day-to-day decisions (big and small), how we respond to our circumstances, and general dialog have a lot to do with creating a high likability factor.

Am I likable?  I like to think I am.  I think most of my friends would say that I am.  But what about strangers at the grocery store, or someone I’m waiting behind at a Red Box kiosk, or someone that has offended me and I hold a grudge against them, or someone that is introvert and doesn’t communicate well, or someone who disagrees with me, or someone I disagree with, or someone that works for me?

Would they consider me likable?

I’m not sure.  Truth is, in most cases I listed above… probably not.

The reality is that sometimes I become so focused on my selfishness, my schedule, and my insecurities that I fail to respond and take advantage of opportunities that would help increase my likability factor.  By responding differently, I could potentially create the possibility to change someones life, or at the very least make their day a little brighter.

I am going to try a little harder this week to be more likable.

Are you likable?

Earlier this week, I blogged about how this was the greatest week of the year.  It only makes sense then that during the greatest week of the year would include the greatest day of the year.  Now obviously you may consider your birthday, wedding anniversary, or even one of your kids birthday’s the greatest day of the year, but this Thursday is a day we ALL collectively (if you live in America) get to celebrate together!    

TO eliminate all future arguments, I’ve created the official Matt Riggins Blog Holiday Ranking Calculator.  Using this simple formula, we are able to figure out what the greatest holiday of the year is.

  1. Is it on the same day every year – 1 pt 
  2. Is it on the same day of the week every year – 2 pts
  3. Do we get any days off work – 1 pt for each day (assuming you don’t work for a school, or the federal government)
  4. Has commercialization ruined the “real reason” for celebrating the holiday – if so subtract 1 pt
  5. Are sports played on this day – 2 pts for pro or college football; 1 pt for basketball; 1 pt for baseball
  6. Do you celebrate with family – 1 pt for immediate family; 2 pts for extended family
  7. What type of food is served – rank on a scale of 1-5
  8. Are gifts given – 2 pts

I took an imaginary poll in my mind and figured out that the top 4 Holidays are Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.  There are other holidays that would probably end up on your list, especially if your jewish, or live in another country… but since this is my list, I’m going to assume those are the top 4.  Here’s how they ranked up against each other.

Easter

  1. 0
  2. 2
  3. 0
  4. -1
  5. 0
  6. 1
  7. 4
  8. 0

Total: 6 points

Thanksgiving

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 2
  4. 0
  5. 2
  6. 2
  7. 5
  8. 0

Total: 14 points

Christmas

  1. 1
  2. 0
  3. 1
  4. -1
  5. 1 (since football isn’t played every year, only counted basketball)
  6. 2
  7. 3
  8. 2

Total: 9 points

New Years

  1. 1
  2. 0
  3. 1
  4. 0
  5. 2
  6. 1
  7. 3
  8. 0

Total: 8 points

 There you have it folks.  It really wasn’t even very close.  Thanksgiving destroyed the rest of the field with a total of 14 points. 

So, the next time someone asks you what your favorite holiday is, just point them to the Matt Riggins Blog Holiday Ranking Calculator.  

Perhaps I missed something in my ranking system.  Let us know in the comments and we can add it into the fail-proof formula. 

Regardless of whether you agree with me or not – Have an extremely Happy Thanksgiving… and speaking of thanks, THANK YOU so much for reading my blog and being apart of this little community.

A Great Surprise Story!

Posted: November 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

I love surprises!

Who doesn’t love a great surprise?

When I turned 30 my wife through a surprise birthday party for me, and walking into a room with 40 people yelling SURPRISE!! was one of the most shocking moments in the last year.  It was during March Madness so I knew my cousins were here but I had no idea so many other people would be at my brothers house waiting to surprise me when we walked in.  It was a great moment, I got to see some old friends and best part – we were all celebrating MY birthday.  Kudos to my wife for pulling it off.

So, over the past year, I have searched for opportunities to return the favor.  2 weeks ago while I was in Atlanta, and she was in Lynchburg, Virginia, I was finally presented with the perfect scenario.

My Uncle (who lives in Roanoke, Va) showed up at my Grandma’s funeral. This was surprising to me, because my Uncle is on my mom’s side of the family, the funeral was for my Grandma from my dad’s side of the family.  Regardless of how confusing that last sentence sounded, the reality was I was not expecting him to be there.  As we spoke the night of the viewing, I had an idea… so I asked him.

“Would you mind if I rode back to Virginia with you after the funeral tomorrow and you dropped me off in Lynchburg?”

For those of you not familiar with the Virginian geography, Lynchburg is only about a 45 minute drive from Roanoke.

“Sure!” He says, “I’d love the company for the 8 hour drive”.

I had a plane ticket already with my name on it for the morning after the funeral.  I was scheduled to fly back with my 2 brothers and my sister-in-law.  My wife was expecting to see me around 1 o’clock Friday afternoon when she would arrive home from visiting her family in Virginia.

Truth is.  I missed her.  And I missed Naomi.

So as soon as the funeral was over, I got in my Uncle’s car and we headed for Virginia.  Our anticipated arrival was about 9 o’clock.

After we stopped and ate at Subway, sat in traffic in South Carolina for 45 minutes, and took 20 minutes to change a flat tire, we were behind schedule a bit.  My Uncle didn’t seem to mind.  He’s an adventurous type and was telling me stories the whole time.  He’s a Pastor of a large church in Virginia so it was great to talk to him about so many different things.

As we drove, I started to get texts from Vicki.  Most were simple as she was telling me about her evening, and how she was getting ice cream with her brother.  She had no idea I was heading in her direction.  Then at 10 o’clock as we were about 15 minutes away from her, I got the text that I was worried about getting the whole time.

“Whatcha doing? I hate not knowing”

This night the Baltimore Ravens were playing the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL.  This was cool, because being in Atlanta, everyone would be watching the game.  I had mentioned earlier in the week that I was looking forward to watching the game with my cousins husband Scott.  What would I say now?  Well, thankfully I have an iPhone and was tracking the game results on my phone, so the following statement was not a lie.

“Football game, I’ll call you in 20 mins or so. Nomes still awake?”

I could not wait to make that call.

15 minutes later we pull into her driveway.  My plan was perfect.  I was going to have her step outside and look to the sky to see if she can see the same stars as me.  This was a game we used to play back in our dating days when we were apart from each other.  From just off her front porch, I called her gave her the idea.

She goes out the back door!

NO! I think to myself… starting to panic.

I start walking around back… I can hear her talking through both the phone and my other ear.  I’m getting closer to her.  My heart pounding!

“I’m going back inside… it’s freeezing out here!”

NO! AGAIN!

I get around back just in time to see the door shut.  She was on a deck and I’m on the ground, so I can’t just follow her inside.

Meanwhile, it’s dark so I continue to walk around to the front of the house, all while carrying on the now awkward, non-flowing conversation.

Finally I decide to just walk in the front door.  Thankfully it was unlocked.

Her parents are on the couch watching a movie.  They were the first to see me, and they look at me like I’m a ghost.  I smile. They smile back.  I put my finger to my lips as to indicate to be quiet and point to the phone on my ear to indicate I am talking to their daughter.  They point in the direction of the back room .  Not saying a word the whole time, I walk around the corner into her sight.

She gasped! Her jaw dropped.

“OH MY GOODNESS!”

Imagine the feeling of thinking the person you are talking to on the phone is 300 miles away, and now they are wrapping their arms around you.

She didn’t exactly know what to say, except to smile, laugh, hug me back!

It was awesome!

Unfortunately Naomi was asleep but that didn’t stop me from laying beside her in her bed and kissing on her.

I love surprises!

Who doesn’t love a great surprise??

How about you?  Do any of you have any good surprise stories that you can share?  Doesn’t have to be as long and detailed to what I just shared.  Toss it in the comments – maybe you’ll give the rest of us a good idea for our next surprise opportunity.

Greatest Week of the YEAR!

Posted: November 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

Welcome to the greatest week of the year!

The kids are out of school, at most it’s a 3 day work week, and there’s probably a road trip scheduled in there somewhere.

Wednesday is considered the busiest travel day of the year and Friday is considered the busiest shopping day of the year.  And as a bonus, if you live in Pennsylvania – Monday is a holiday as well… the 1st day of deer season!

All this results in a week-long celebration of Thanksgiving!

This year things are a little different for us.  For the first time in years, we will not be making the trip to Virginia to spend time with my Aunt/Uncle, cousins and their families.  This was a tough pill to swallow when I first heard the news, but with our families growing so much, we would have soon been forced to sell tickets to guarantee space and seating.

Since no one wanted to contact Ticketmaster, the decision was made to start new traditions.

So this year no matter how things go, remember to relax and enjoy the day with whoever God has brought in your life.  Maybe everyone is not together like has been in past years.  Maybe someone is missing from Thanksgiving due to getting older and families growing like us.  Or maybe it’s much worse because of tragedy, death,  or rebellion.  Or quite possibly, some family members are serving in the military or they’ve simply moved away.  No matter what, remember that God is still with us, and really that’s the most important thing we have to be thankful for.

Think about this:

“The pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts… nevertheless, they set aside a day of thanksgiving.”

If anyone had it rough, it was our founding fathers.  Let’s consider how thankful they were and agree to join them with a thankful attitude… no matter what our circumstances.

As per yesterday’s sermon at New Life… here’s a few ways to RELAX:

  • R ealize my worth (James 1:18)
  • E njoy what I already have (Ecc 3:13)
  • L imit my labor (Ex 20:9-10)
  • A djust my values (Mark 8:36)
  • X change my pressure for God’s peace (Matt 11:28-30)

This week, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, be sure to add REST and RELAX to your “to do list”.

Don’t overwork. Don’t over-stress. Don’t over analyze.

Most importantly… Slow down and ENJOY this week.  After all – it’s the greatest week of the year!

My blogging has been slow lately… I’ve lost my groove… I need to return to form.  Going to Atlanta last week really made me lose my focus – but I promise to jump back into things.  But it’s Friday… which means it is FUN DAY!  As you read this… remember this is just me being completely SILLY!  Please do not take this seriously as I am just trying to have a little fun with this.  Hope you enjoy 🙂

In a recent post about my grandmothers entrance into heaven, I mentioned the idea that Jesus is like our great Ty in the Sky. Basically, while we’re down here living in the slums of earth, Jesus – let me remind you, a carpenter – is in Heaven preparing us a place that will make Ty Pennington and ABC’s Extreme Makeover’s greatest accomplishment on earth barely fit into the trailer parks of heaven.  What?  Trailer parks in Heaven?  Yes indeedy… otherwise known as the houses reserved for the folks who “said the prayer” but never really lived for Christ.

I was thinking about what it will really be like when Jesus finally shows us the mansion that He has been building for us for the last 2000 years. I’m guessing that since Extreme Home Makeover has become so popular down here on earth that during the last supper (not the last supper, just the most recent supper… in heaven) the disciples convinced Jesus that from now on they should have their own “Move that Bus” ceremony. However, since the bus idea was already taken, they decided to go a different route. I believe these were the ideas they came up with:

Move that Whale” – Ever since Jonah was spit up onto the beach, the whale has been a missing character of the Bible. And since we didn’t see the whale show up on any episode of LOST, we have reason to believe that God ushered the great fish (Seinfeld edit: mammal!) up to swim in Heaven’s Crystal Sea. Since no one is running from God in heaven, and the whale’s only trick was swallowing people who were running for God, the disciples decided to teach the whale a new trick. It just so happened that a former Sea World employee was a believer so it made this task much easier. They taught the whale to block the mansions while a new arrival lines up outside. Then all together everyone shouts “move that whale” and off he goes back to sea – and a new member of the family gets their house.

Move that Ark” – You know how big the houses are going to be in Heaven? HUGE! You know what can block the entire house so you can’t see it when you’re standing out front? A boat the size a ONE and a half FOOTBALL fields! The ultimate Heaven welcoming party would include the great crowd of witnesses standing outside of our house shouting “Move that Ark” and then when the boat floats away, Moses shows up, raises his shaft and voila! the waters part – Red Sea style – giving us dry land to walk across to get to our front door.

Move that Mountain” – You don’t think God can move mountains? You’ve obviously never heard the song “Mighty to Save”. Of course He can move the mountains if Hillsong, heaven’s future house band, wrote a song about it. You think there are no mansions big enough that need a mountain blocking them? Think again my friend! This one is reserved for missionaries and anyone else who has been completely sold out, spending their lives “storing their treasure in heaven“. For you slaves of Christ, Jesus has been building your house for so long that it will take an entire mountain range to hide it from your eyes when you get to Heaven. As you walk up to Heaven’s Himalaya’s – wondering if God has another Elijah and the prophets moment prepared to dazzle your eye and commemorate your arrival, the crowd begins to shout “Move that Mountain” and then God shows off, blowing the mountain out of the way, revealing your giant mansion. You will need boxes of tissues to wipe the tears as you realize your life spent in the Amazon jungles was totally worth it.

Move that Stone” – The greatest event in Christianity and all of humanity took place on Easter morning two thousand years ago. Sin was defeated and Christians rejoice because when the stone rolled away, out walked Jesus (ALIVE!) after being in the grave for three short days. Perhaps when we get to Heaven, God will put us in a little holding area, just teasing us with little hints giving us previews of our house or showing us clips of our old house being torn down. Meanwhile we are being primped up with heavenly manicures and pedicures to get us ready – and then 3 days after arriving onto the scene everyone begins to shout “move that stone!” and out of nowhere a GIANT stone rolls away and there sits our beautiful mansion. What a better way to remind us how it was even possible that we are there.

So clearly these were intended to be funny, but to also get us thinking.  Can you imagine the houses in Heaven?  What tactic do you think Jesus will use to reveal to us our beautiful mansion?  Will they all be the same, or some bigger than others?  My mind wonders – but I know I cannot begin to comprehend all that we have planned for us.

On Friday night, I attended the Hershey Bears hockey game.  At one point during the game, I went to the concession stand to get a drink.

As I’m standing in line, there was a kid in front of me.  He was maybe 10 years old, with a half eaten stick of blue cotton candy in his right hand.  There was only one customer in front of him, and he was frantically searching his pockets for something.  As I watched him, I could relate to him.  I know this feeling very well, as I do this about twice a day… usually looking for my cell phone.  He turns around to notice someone is standing behind him, and as a polite gesture, steps out of line to continue the search.

I made up my mind right then and there.  I’m going to ask this kid a question, and if he tells me he lost his money, I’m going to buy him whatever he wants.  I realize this could backfire in my face.  He could give me a list of items he was planning to buy, and considering we were at a hockey game – two or three items could have turned into $10-$20 right there on the spot.

“What are you looking for”

“Um… I lost my money”

“What do you want… I got ya covered”

“Um… a Kit Kat bar”

“No problem bro… just hang right there”

A simple Kit Kat bar.

I never saw this kid the rest of the night and chances are I’ll never see him again… and even if I did, I’m certain I wouldn’t recognize him.  I was thinking about this after the moment.  Why did I just do that?  And my conclusion was…

  1. I wanted the kid to know that good people exist in the world.  Who knows what his world up to this point has been like… but just in case he has been dealt some difficult circumstances, I wanted him to feel the joy of someone doing something nice for him, even if it was simply to buy him a Kit Kat bar.
  2. I wanted this to impact him so that perhaps he takes this simple act of kindness and uses it to impact the people around him in a positive way.  Sort of a “Pay it Forward” idea.
  3. I wanted to glorify Jesus, and when I was presented with this opportunity, I just said… hmmm, “why not”.

 

Tomorrow morning I leave with my two brothers and sister-n-law to go to Atlanta.  I will be gone until Friday morning.  It goes without saying that blog posts this week probably will be sporadic at best, and more than likely won’t happen.   But before posting my “I’m going to be away all week” message, I want to leave you all with this thought:

“Welcome Home, Welcome Home”

As some of you know, we found out last Friday morning that my grandma, who was battling throat cancer, took her last breath and went home to be with Jesus.  I will miss my Nanny so much, but I know that she is no longer in pain.  She is probably smiling more, eating more, talking more, and breathing more now than she ever has.  Her last few years were filled with suffering that included not having a voice and being fed through a tube.  I am sad she is gone, but as I’m about to share with you – I know she is in a much better place now.

If you are anything like me, you love watching the Extreme Home Makeover show on ABC.  If we are home on a Sunday night, my wife and I usually always find ourselves glued to the TV, encouraged by the stories of Ty and the gang changing someone’s life.  Each week, I’m nearly brought to tears as the production crew does an amazing job capturing the reactions of each family member receiving a house they never imagined was possible.  The “Move that Bus” segment is by far my favorite scene, but then to watch them all go through the house and see their bedrooms, and other crazy rooms, transports a huge smile to my face.

I sometimes think that Ty has the best job in America.  I’ve never met Ty and I’m not sure what he is like off camera, but he seems like he is having an absolute blast showing people their amazing new home.  His enthusiasm for giving away the house is fun and joyful, but then his soft-spoken attention to detail and knowing how to say the right thing at the right time often creates emotionally filled moments that send the blessed family rushing into his arms to say thank you and thank you and thank you again.  His team knows how to put the perfect touches to each house that uniquely fits the new residents, filling their new home with memories from the past, and a hope for the future.

Can you imagine for a second that if Ty Pennington, just a regular guy with a big heart, can create that type of atmosphere down here on earth – what in the world could Jesus possibly be preparing for us in Heaven??

In John 14:2, Jesus said: “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.”

I don’t know you caught that or not… but Jesus said “I go to prepare a place for YOU!”

No offense to Ty Pennington… but he is NOT Jesus!!

My grandma lived a wonderful Christ-centered life.  She was an amazing woman.  She had a sense of humor that could make you change from sad to glad just by being in her presence.  She knew how to make you laugh, but she wasn’t afraid to ask tough question or engage in deep conversation.  She loved her family so much, but more importantly, she loved Jesus Christ with all her heart.

I think when she arrived in Heaven on Friday morning, there was a “move that bus” ceremony for her.  Might not have been a bus, could have been Jonah’s whale, or maybe Noah’s ark… but something was moved.   With a crowd of witnesses cheering her on, perhaps angels and family members, my Nanny finally saw the house that Jesus had been preparing for her for all these years.

With youthful enthusiasm that she hasn’t felt in years, I’m sure she jumped for joy as she walked through the doorway and down the hallways of her new mansion.

And just like on Extreme Home Makeover, I can’t imagine what went through her mind as Jesus handed her the keys to her new home, and heard for the very first time:

“Welcome Home June, Welcome Home!”

This has been a busy week, and the weekend doesn’t look to slow it down, so late yesterday afternoon I got the brilliant idea to take today off.  I’m officially taking a Ferris Bueller Day!  Although, hopefully instead of running from my boss, and wrecking a car, today I will relax by hanging with my beautiful wife and lovely daughter.  I haven’t had too many opportunities to do this and so today we are having a fun day!

Here’s the game plan:

Watch Sesame Street – When there is a baby in the house, this is a MUST.  Naomi already loves Elmo.  As a matter of fact, I sang her a song this morning.  It was called “Do you love daddy or Elmo more”.  I think she picked me… but it was a close one.

Go to the Mall – Rarely do my wife and I get the chance to just go and hang out and do some casual shopping.  I think there are things she has to get, but I’m more interested in taking Naomi in her stroller and just cruising around checking things out.  We get out to the mall at least once or twice a year, and each time we go we play a game.  It’s called “How many people we know will we’ll see”.  I’m going to say 3 for today’s adventure.

Pack our Samaritan’s Purse Box – This one has me excited.  We may even pack two.  Sometime while we are out, we will stop at the dollar store and pick up some things that a needy boy or girl in a 3rd world country would like.  I am excited about throwing these all in a box and packing them up – wrapped in love.  Our youth group set a goal of 25 boxes so hopefully next week we’ll meet our goal.  I just wish I could see the look on the children’s faces when they open their box.

Olive Garden – The Olive Garden has very reasonable lunch time prices.  Whenever we have the chance, we like to dive into the unlimited soup, salad, and bread sticks menu.  The last time we ate lunch there, was the last time I took a day off.  Can’t beat it, and as a bonus I get to eat lunch with my wife and daughter,which rarely happens.

Watch a Movie – Most likely tonight will end with us watching a movie together on the couch.  Naomi is not old enough to enjoy movies yet, but deep down I am wishing that we could rent Toy Story 3 and watch it with our little girl.  Probably in another year or so and we’ll be watching our fair share of kids movies.  I can’t wait!

So… that’s what I have planned for my day off.  When you take a random, unplanned day off work – how do you fill your day?