Saturday, November 27, 2010

First Snow

One of the things that Jen and I wanted when we bought our 20 acres in Northern Michigan was for others to be able to use it. My friend Tim was the 1st to take us up on our offer. We have never been up there with snow yet. When Tim arrived he called and told me there's about an inch of snow. I texted him and asked him send me a picture. So this is our first snow and our first time of letting someone besides us stay.


I think Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I like it because there is no pressure with Thanksgiving. No gifts to buy, no Easter outfits to purchase, it's about getting together with those you love. I like Christmas and Easter but Thanksgiving is easier to hang and enjoy family. At Christmas I sometimes worry about getting the right gift, will it be liked, did I go to far with the purchase. One year I had my parents say to me "You wasn't supposed to get us a gift." And they were seriously offended not to the point of ruining the day but enough to say something. I don't enjoy that part of holidays but Thanksgiving is just about gathering, praying, eating, telling the same stories every year but they still make you laugh, taking a fast nap, more food, more conversation. It's the best.

I love Thanksgiving because it's what all holidays are intended for, to get together with friends and family, to reflect on what God has given us and to enjoy the company of others. Thanksgiving feels warm, cozy, and not rushed.

My dad is going to be 60 on New Years Eve. That's not old but it's a significant enough age for me to wonder- "Am I spending enough time with my parents?" My dad prayed over the meal this year. In the past he's delegated the prayer to me or to one of my brothers but he prayed this year. As he was praying I was thinking he should pray every year. His prayers are thoughtful, thankful, well paced, they're real, and you feel God in them. I would love to hear my father prayer more at most occasions so I can take it in. My dad wasn't much of a spiritual leader growing up but today when he prays it carries leadership, weight and history. It's like he glues the occasion together with his prayers. I love my dad and mom and I'm going to enjoy every moment God allows me to be with them.

It wouldn't be right for me to finish a post about Thanksgiving without saying what I'm thankful for. I'm thankful for a heavenly Father who loves me and all others. I'm grateful for creation, I love being in the woods. I have my health, a wife who really loves me. My three sons are a blessing, they challenge me daily and keep my head in the game. I was blessed with 20 acres this year, which is why I started this blog. I'm glad I'm close to family, that my parents are still healthy. I get to do what I love for a living- sing. I'm thankful for the gifts and talents God has given me. I live in a place where I can pursue my passions. I very grateful for the success Father has given me. It is God who has given me the power to live life. I'm thank for the bible- how it guides me in stressful times. I am blessed in many ways, to many to mention them all.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Short Visit

We drove up to our property the last weekend in September to winterize our camp. While we there I took my son Curtis hunting and he got his first deer, a doe. He was so proud.
Also, I shot some video of our camp, took some pictures of the stream on our property, thought I would post it.

Curt's 1st Deer

Our Stream

Video of Camp

Video of Stream and Cabin Site

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Building The Outhouse

The family and I went to our property in northern Michigan for the weekend of the 4th. On the 4th we went to the Mackinac Bridge to see the fireworks. We had heard that they were the best in Michigan and we were not disappointed. The most brilliant colors seemed like they were right on top of us because we were near the bay where they were being launched.

Most of the weekend was spent building our outhouse. It took us a little over two days. My three sons helped a bit. They dug the hole, helped me frame it, measured and cut 2x4s. By the last day they were board with it and stayed inside the air conditioned camper as it was nearly 90 degrees everyday. But my faithful wife stepped in at the end to offer a hand and to give the boys a break.

I have never built a structure like this before and I found a lot a satisfaction out of the project when I was done. I did have one minor flaw though, the toilet seat wasn't placed properly for the lady folk and they end up peeing on the framing in front instead of the hole. I'll defiantly fix that on our next trip.

My design came from a few different sources. Blueprints I downloaded from online, an outhouse book my wife's grandma loaned me and a few sketches from an engineer friend of mine.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Hot Air Balloons Landing

Every year in Battle Creek we have a Hot Air Balloon Show. Always the 1st week in July. Every morning and evening they launch nearly a 100 or so balloons into the air. It's an awesome site to see, the sky dotted with colorful balloons all across the horizon. The city is crazy about the balloons. We have people who get in their cars and follow them to see if they can watch them land and help the crew. Their called "balloon chasers." My mom was a balloon chaser. She would get us up at 6am as they were launching and we would drive all over the city trying to catch one landing. We would help the crews land them, take down the balloons and eventually get a picture with the Pilate and a autograph.

On July 2nd my friend Joe Brown and I was walking down a road near our house watching a balloon land in someones yard when I noticed up the road, about a block, one was landing in my neighbors backyard. My neighbor wasn't home, he was at my house for my sons Joey's 11th birthday party. So I sprinted home and yelled "Chris, a balloon has landed in your backyard!" Puzzled he yelled back "What?" I repeated myself and he said "My backyard?" "Yes!" The whole party jumped up ran down the street to his house, dodging the crazy traffic of the balloon chasers. When we arrived at his home two more balloons had landed and then another 5 minutes later. Four balloons! It was awesome!

Joey with Pilate on his 11th birthday.

Chris taking pictures of the balloons in his yard.

I loved that I could share this moment with Chris, and with my family and friends.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Nature Calls

I checked out "Nature Calls" from our local library, it's a book about outhouses. I plan on putting one up on our property up north. This is a funny story from the book that I thought I would share.

A good friend of mine is a rather old-fashioned lady, quite elegant and delicate, especially in her language. She and her husband were planning a week-long camping trip, so she wrote to a campground for reservation. She wanted to be sure that it was fully equipped, but didn't quite know how to ask about toilet facilities; she didn't want to write the word "toilet" in her letter. After much deliberation, she thought of the old-fashioned term "bathroom commode." But when she wrote it down, she still thought that she was being too forward. So she started over again, rewording the whole letter, this time abbreviation "bathroom commode"as "B.C.": "Does your campground have it's own B.C.?" she asked.
Well, the campground owner wasn't old-fashioned at all, and when he got her letter, he couldn't figure out what the heck she was talking about. That "B.C." business really stumped him. After giving it much thought, the only expansion of "B.C." that the owner could think of was "Baptist Church," so he sat down and wrote her the following letter.

Dear Madam,
I regret very much the delay in answering your letter, but I now take pleasure in informing you that the nearest B.C. is located six miles north of our campground. It is capable of seating 250 people at a time. I will admit that it is quite a distance away if you are in the habit of going regularly.
No doubt you will be pleased to know that a great number of people take their lunches along when they go and make a day of it. They usually arrive very early and stay late. The last time my wife and I went was six months ago, and it was so crowded we had to stand up the whole time. Right now there is a supper planned to raise money for more seats. It will be held in the basement of the B.C.
I would like to say that it pains me that I am not able to go there more regularly, but it is not for lack of desire on my part. As we grow older, it seems to be more of an effort, particularly in cold weather.
If you decide to come to our campground, perhaps I could go to the B.C. with you, and introduce you to all the other folks. Remember that this is a very friendly community.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

20 Acres of Northern Michigan

For the last 17 years my wife and I have dreamed about owning land in northern Michigan.  In my 1st year of marriage we went to my wife's family cabin where they have 240 acres.  I fell in love that weekend with the woods.  Over the years we have been vacationing in that little cabin.  We've hunted, camped, went 4 wheeling, hiked, made trails, spent evenings around the fire pit, watched falling stars with friends, the list could go on. 

All that to say we purchased 20 acres of northern Michigan back in November.  It's perfect, 15 or so acres of hard woods, some pine trees, there's river frontage and fields for hunting.  It's connected to 1000's and 1000's of acres of state land, so there are plenty of places to explore and hunt.  I've spent the last 6 months dreaming and thinking about what we would use for lodging.  We plan to build a cabin in the next 5 to 10 years but until then we purchased a 2006 Gulfstream travel trailer.  This was one of the FEMA trailers used for the hurricane Katrina victims.

We hauled it 270 some miles to our property Memorial weekend.  We spent the weekend putting a small gray water system.  We are having electricity installed hopefully by the end of June.  We bought a small pump with a bladder to pump water out of the river on our property for non-drinking water use until we can put in a well.   We have 3 boys who played in the river and four wheeled all weekend.  Also the boys helped me make a burn barrel by shooting holes through it.  They love that part of the weekend.

Can't wait to make memories here.  Can't wait to take the boys hunting, to explore the state land and trails.  Here's some pictures of our weekend setting up camp.

Our gray water system.

Temporary water system until we drive a well.

Took this picture of the inside the day we bought the trailer.  This trailer has a full fridge, shower, regular toilet (not a camper toilet), microwave, two bunks in the back, a small bedroom in the front, it can sleep eight people, central air, really all the same comforts of home.  We are in the process of making it feel homey.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Quest

This last March I spent 6 days on a horse ranch in Hunt, Texas.  I was there to find God, to get my heart back.  I didn't know what that look liked or how I would do it.  I didn't even know that I had lost my heart. I was reading the book "Wild At Heart" and it posed the idea of  loosing our hearts through wounds, hurts, just life being thrown at us.  I asked God "I don't know if I lost my heart but if I did I wanted it back."

I got to this place in life where I was feeling numb, life had leaked out of me.  I began to sense that there is something more, vastly more.  I was desperate to feel again, I wanted to laugh, feel, enjoy life again, I wanted to be happy again.  I didn't know what was missing or how to fix it.  I needed a word, any word, to name what I was missing.  So I went on this Quest determined to come back whole.  I unplugged.  No cell phone, emails, work issues, no contact with my family or the outside world.  Just me and God on a 500 acre ranch.  Everyday I went to a hiding place on this ranch and sought His face.  I asked Him questions "why?", battled with my sin, my hurts, frustrations, my anger, the unforgiven issues from the past.  I wrestled with God and I wasn't letting go until I was blessed by Him, until I was free.

I fasted for 2 and a half days while I was there and Father rocked my world.  I felt a love from Him that I had never felt before.  I knew God "loved" me intellectually, but I didn't know that love.  He answered my questions and helped me get to the root of the issues in my life.  For the 1st time EVER I felt completely free and everything had changed.  Every song meant more, felt deeper, felt new.  I was singing "a new song."  My heart felt new.  His love exploded in my heart to the point of joy.  Now I see life differently, hear differently, feel and think differently.  I can love now out of His love and not my own.  My love was flawed, cracked.   I thought I loved others but that was really attempts at doing what I thought was the right thing as a Christian, husband, father, son or friend.  But, because His love filled my wounded heart and healed it, I can now love others through that love he gave me.  For the 1st time I get it, I really get it, I'm really free.  My love is real because I tasted His love.  I WANT to love others, I look for opportunities to share this freeing love with others that comes through Christ.

Those six days changed my life.  It's almost four weeks now since my trip to Texas and I still feel His love, I still feel free and pure.  I'm living again and I'm not going back.  I'm not going back to being a poser.  I would sometimes lead worship and think "I believe this but I don't really see this in my own life."  Now I see and it's great.  I can tell others this thing is for real.  It's not from my head, it's from my heart.  I got my heart back, I heard God, felt His love and it's never going to be the same.  How glorious, I am a new creation!