Archive for December, 2010

My 2010 Year in Review

Posted: December 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

My 2010 started out probably a little more interesting than yours – not on purpose.  On New Years Eve 2009, I was looking forward to spending the evening with just my wife and her parents.  Our plan to play games and ring in the New Year quietly in our home in Mechanicsburg.  No ball drops, no gunshots, no pickles, no all-nighters with the teens.  It was supposed to be a seemingly uneventful night.

Then Max stepped in.

Our dog Max is a mix of Jack-Russell and Beagle.  He’s a pretty chill dog but he has his moments where his Jack-Russell energy takes over and he becomes a dog that rivals the dog from the movie Marley and me.  When we first got him on our honeymoon we fell in love with him right away.  We could practically fit him in the palm of our hands he was so small.  But as he grew – he learned to chew.  He chewed up computer cords, pieces of our couch, and every stuffed animal that came in his sight.

When we found out Vicki was pregnant late in 2009, we knew we’d have to train him to calm down his aggression.  We began scolding him for his energetic outbreaks, and we even began using mops, brooms, and our greatest tool: the beater.  The beater is basically a rolled up newspaper wrapped in duct tape that is used to remind Max who’s in charge. We felt like we had done a pretty good job as Max had begun showing signs of maturing and growing out of his chewing on everything phase.  Then on New Years Eve… we had a slight setback.

While Vicki’s parents were gone dropping off Vicki’s brother and sister off at a New Years party – Vicki and I were patiently sitting at home watching a food network marathon.  As Vicki was laying on the couch, Max was laying beside her – almost protecting the baby in the womb – with his eyes closed.  I have no idea to this day if he knew his soon to be sister was in there or not, but as the show we were watching went to commercial, I leaned in (rather quickly) to surprise him.  Surprise him I did, and surprise me he did.

After Max bit me in the nose – I could see the remorse in his eyes.  Meanwhile, I was in the bathroom taking a look at the damage.  He got me pretty good, almost completely removing the bridge of my nose.  We called our friend Betsey who knows a thing or two about these types of emergencies.  Within minutes we were on our way to her house.  After stopping there, she gave us the news we were not hoping to hear.  We were going to have to go to the emergency room.

We arrived in the emergency room around 9 o’clock, and we would eventually watch the ball drop while still waiting.  It wasn’t until about 12:30 when we were finally given a room.

So 2010 rolled in with a bang, and although it didn’t start out so well, it turned out to be an amazing year.  Max would ultimately calm down – never having another moment that like again.  Thankfully 🙂

Here are some of my other favorite highlights from an amazing year:

Snow – In Feb/March 2010 – We recv’d between 20-30 inches of snow

Mike Cox speaks in Youth Group – We had our largest group ever (to date) the night we had professional football player Mike Cox of the Kansas City Chiefs come and speak at youth group.  His then fiance (current wife) would also share her testimony that night which made for an awesome evening.  Mike and Dana also gave me the privilege of singing in their wedding which was an amazing honor.

Meeting Casting Crowns – We were able to go to see the Casting Crowns and Kutless when they came to Hershey.  There were about 20 others from our church that went along, but through the power of twitter, I was able to win backstage meet-n-greet passes to meet the band.  It was a really cool experience as I consider the Casting Crowns to be my favorite band.  We were able to get the whole bands autographs and also snapped this very cool picture with lead singer Mark Hall and the drummer Brian Scoggin.

Winning 2nd place in our church softball league – One of my favorite things to look forward to each spring is playing softball.  As a kid, my favorite sport was always (and still is) baseball.  Softball is the closest thing to baseball and playing on our church team with a bunch of awesome guys was one of the highlights of my year.  Having Joey Johnson show up the night of our championship game (which we unfortunately lost), was a great moment for all of us.  Joey was one of our best players who left after 3 or 4 games to serve our country in the US Navy.  So proud of you Joey!

Seeing Teens accept Christ and Baptizing them – This has been an amazing experience for me the last 2 years.  Each summer the past 2 years, we have baptized teenagers.  This year we baptized 8 of them.  All total we had 13 teens accept Christ in 2010.  Praise God for all he continues to do through our church and the youth ministry that Vicki and I are so privileged to serve in.

NAOMI! – By FAR the biggest highlight of my year was on June 21, 2010 when Naomi Joy Riggins was born.  She has been such a blessing to Vicki and I and we are so blessed to have her in our family.  I cannot even comprehend life without her at this point.  For Christmas this year, 4 days after her 6 month birthday, she gave us a pretty awesome gift – she crawled for the first time.  It’s tough to pick just a few, but here are my favorite pictures of my precious little bundle of JOY.

First Ever Picture

Still in Hospital

Not a football fan… yet 🙂

Naomi and Max… already friends 🙂

Naomi and her Nanny… before saying good bye

Mommy… please let me out of here 🙂

Is it Christmas yet?

Saying Goodbye to two Grandparents – This year my grandfather from my mom’s side and my grandmother from my dad’s side both went home to be with Jesus.  At my grandfathers funeral, I was given the opportunity to honor my papa by singing “Give Me Jesus” in Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va.  At my grandmothers funeral, I was given the opportunity to honor my nanny by singing 4 songs with my cousins Lindsey and Anna and my older brother Jason.  We also sang “Give Me Jesus”.  Every time I hear that song now – I think of my two grandparents up with Jesus and can’t wait for the day to join them in glory.

Growing Closer to my Wife – I wouldn’t be the man I am, the dad I am, the Youth Leader I am, the husband I am, without the love, support, encouragement from my amazing wife Vicki.  She is everything I could have ever imagined her to be.  She never ceases to amaze me and I am so thankful and blessed to call her my wife and best friend.

2010 had it’s up and downs, it was filled with triumph and tragedy.  There are things we wish to remember and things we hope to never think about again.  Through it all, God has shows us that He remains faithful through everything.  He is still here, right where He was this time last year.  He will never leave us or forsake us.  Never let us go and walk with us every step of the way.  At the beginning of this year – I told the teens to “Go all in in 2010”.  I am thankful for giving it all to Jesus this year and telling Him to take my life and use it for His glory.  I made mistakes along the way, but in the end I can look back and say – Thank you Jesus for making 2010 the best year of my life!

And I am looking forward to an even better 2011!

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“Ma’am, do you mind to take one more?”

Those would be the last words I would say before my life would change forever.

My wife and I had been dating for a solid 6 months since she returned from her year-long stay in Slovakia.  It was about 2 months before she left on that missions trip when we officially became a couple.  It was the most difficult year of my life, but we both learned many things about ourselves while she was serving God on the mission field.  Although I was thankful for God that we had that time to be apart, I was extremely thankful the day she arrived back in the US.

During the next 7 months, we continued getting to know each other, praying about our future together, and just enjoying spending time with each other.  I knew she was the girl that I would someday marry, but I was nervous about proceeding with the next steps in making that happen.  I knew I would have to ask her dad, purchase the ring, and then plan on the perfect scenario that every girl dreams of since her childhood years.  I wanted the moment that I asked Vicki to marry me to be special – a day that she would never forget.

After finally talking to her dad, and purchasing the ring – all I had to do was come up with the plan.  Vicki had casually mentioned one time months before (perhaps while she was even in Slovakia) that she would love to be proposed to in front of the giant Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center in New York City.  So – there was no doubt in my mind that we would have to go there.  I requested off work for a random Friday and told Vicki that we would spend the day going Christmas shopping.  It wasn’t until the night before we left that I casually mentioned with her the idea of ditching shopping and going on a road trip to New York City.  I figured if she thought it was a spontaneous trip she would have no idea I had something major planned.

Friday morning, December 14, 2007 arrived, and I was nervously excited.  I picked up my future bride and we left for the Big Apple.  After parking our car in New Jersey and taking the PATH train across the river into New York, we jumped on the subway.  My legs were most likely nervously rocking up and down as we sat on the train headed straight for the Rockefeller Center.  Anytime I visit New York City – my favorite part is coming up out of the Subway and seeing all the big buildings, bright lights, taxis and everything that makes New York City the most famous city in the world!  Today would be no different, and when we walked around the corner, there was the tree, the ice skating rink, NBC studios, and what looked like a million people.  Then it hit me… WHY DID I COME UP WITH THIS IDEA!?!? Why couldn’t I have picked a silent spot in the woods?  Why couldn’t Vicki have picked a different location for her perfect scenario?

I began scoping out the area looking for a good spot.  This was going to be a challenge.  While this was happening, and I’m trying to think on the fly, I realized that Vicki really didn’t want to be at the tree.  You see – she had already been slightly disappointed in the past month because we had gone on a few romantic dates where she thought I was going to pop the big question.  In the back of her mind, she didn’t want to get her hopes up only to be disappointed so this was the last place she wanted to be if we were just going to spend a few minutes looking at the tree.  With so many people around it was hard to find a good spot to do this.  We actually started to walk away when I asked her to walk around the ice skating rink to the other side of the tree.  She reluctantly agreed.  After we walked around to the other side, I found a spot for the two of us.

“Excuse me ma’am, could you please take a picture of us”?

Here was my moment.  She counts to 3.  What am I waiting for?  The camera flashes and she takes our picture.  The camera lady started walking back to us to give us our camera back.  With a quiver in my voice, I asked her once more.

“Ma’am – do you mind to take one more?”

She looked surprised, but said “Sure”.  Vicki looked at me like I was silly.  As I mentioned – she was ready to head to our next stop.

I took a deep breath.  Ok, here goes.

I got down on one knee.

Vicki’s eyes pop open.  She shockingly says, “What are you doing!?!”.

The camera lady started freaking out!

“Will you marry me?”

“YES! Of course!”

Success! We hugged! Kissed! Hugged again.  I yelled out “I AM THE LUCKIEST MAN ALIVE” and all 1 million people simultaneously gave us a standing ovation.  A camera crew came out and interviewed us for the Today Show.

Ok – neither of those last two things happened… but we did hug and kiss!  And laugh!  And call all of our family members!

We then proceeded to spend the rest of the day in New York City.  We went to Central Park and went on a ride around the park.  It was a great day – and it was gotten better every day since then.

My life changed forever that day.  I am so thankful for the wife that God provided for me.

Vicki, I love you so much! Thank you so much for these past 3 years!  Let’s make the next 3, 30, 60, even better! 🙂

Handling Stress

Posted: December 9, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

I’m stressed.

For numerous reasons.

But there’s 2 things I can’t do with my stress:

  1. Take it home with me
  2. Hinder my relationship with God

Normally I handle stress by watching sports or playing a game.  It helps take my mind off things.  Although, ultimately it takes spending a large amount of time with God through prayer, reading the Bible, and listening to powerful worship music to help me calm down, and trust God.

How do you handle stress?

Yesterday in church, my dad spoke about the Wisdom of the Wise Men found in the Christmas story.  The last point of the message was “an encounter with God will change you”.

After the wise men visited with Jesus, they returned to their country a different route. (Matthew 2:12)

This may seem insignificant on the surface – but they were originally tricked into believing that King Herod also wanted to worship Jesus.  They were originally scheduled to return to Herod and tell him where Jesus was staying.  The truth was that Herod had heard that a King had been born and he was threatened by this news.  He wanted to kill Jesus.  After the wise men encountered the Son of GOD, their minds were open to know the truth.  In fact, God spoke to them through a dream and warned them not to return to Herod.

If you truly meet God and have an encounter with Him… it will cause you to change the direction of your life.  Many people have a relationship with God and they have accepted Christ into their lives, but their lives have remained the same.  After a God encounter, you will no longer be able to simply go through the motions.  It will floor you, it will rock you, it will change everything about you.

Will you be perfect?  Not a chance.  But God will continue to restore your soul and bring you renewed passion for Him!

In Psalms 51:10, as David was confessing his sin and pouring his heart out to God – he wrote these awesome words: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  In verse 12 David says “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

That’s worship!  That’s having an encounter!

Ask God to give you a fresh encounter with Him.  This is not something that needs to be done in public.  This encounter could take place in the quietness of your heart, maybe over a lunch break by yourself in your car, maybe at home when everyone else is gone.

I encourage you to read Psalms 51, the entire chapter, and then listen to a song like this… and ask God to give you a fresh glimpse of who He is and open the floodgates of Heaven.

Let it rain! Open the floodgates of Heaven!!!

Malachi 3:10 – “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

In a conversation that took place earlier today I was reminded of some Christmas gifts I received as kid.  Being a Pastor’s kid, we were pretty poor, so Christmas time usually started out with big wishes – only to discover on Christmas morning that this wasn’t the year that we got the big one.  It’s funny because although I’m sure I got really nice stuff for Christmas, for some reason I can only remember the gifts I was disappointed with.  I know… I was probably a selfish unappreciative little brat, but regardless … that little nugget can’t be to encouraging for parents who are currently searching for that perfect gift.

I’ll never forget one Christmas my older brother asked for a TV.  For some reason, he thought this was going to be his year.  As a teenager, this would be a turning point in his life.  Back in those days, even though it was rare for someone to have a TV in their room, in our minds everybody our age had a TV in their room.  This was going to be huge.  Even I was started to get a little excited for him… jealous, well yes that too… but I thought this could possibly benefit me in some way as well.  As Christmas got closer and closer, he was getting more and more excited as he knew he was getting a TV.  When Christmas finally arrived a large box showed up with his name on it.  This was it.  The moment it was all going to change.  The year we start getting the “big gifts” on our list.  We had finally made it!  His turn came to open his gift.  A funny look appeared on his face as he thought “hmmm, I would have guessed a TV would be slightly heavier than this”.  Perhaps he thought that it was a new, much lighter TV.  He tore into the box with much anticipation, ripping through the paper to find a big brown box secured in tape.  Quickly the tape was torn from the edges and he opens up his box to find his brand new, top of the line…  ELECTRIC BLANKET!

Um… Let’s just say this wasn’t a great moment in the Riggins household.

Couple that with the fact that our cousins got motorcycles that year… and yea, things started to get a little ugly.

With Christmas, especially for kids, there is always expectations – sometimes we get what we want, sometimes we get what we need, sometimes we get what we’re told we need.  As I mentioned above, I only remember for the disappointing gifts which means that socks and underwear really stick out.  My most disappointing gift that I remember was an electronic football game.  Talk about a waste of money… although the ads on TV made it look so awesome.  Check out this commercial – this cracks me up — and trust me, this thing absolutely DID NOT do this at all…

So… as a kid, were you ever let down at Christmas?  What was the one thing that you had your hopes up for that Santa forgot to bring you?  Or maybe some of you parents thought you had the perfect gift only to discover it wasn’t quite what your child was looking for?  Any good Christmas gift stories, let’s laugh about it in the comments.

Have  a great weekend!