Goodbye Grandma by Brett Sayles

I recently got back from Michigan. I traveled there to attend my grandma's funeral. It was sad of course, but it was also very cool. The cool part was getting to see some family that live far away from me!

Jan, Heather and Barb!

I also got to see an old friend... Vernors!

 The offical drink of cool Michiganders.

The offical drink of cool Michiganders.

I also got to visit a cemetery that I used to haunt as an emo teenager. You can click to cycle through the images.

Here are a few other pictures I took while I was there. Click to see more!

The morning after my grandma left us, I jotted down a few thoughts and posted them to Facebook. The pastor used some of it in the service. I thought I'd post it here for safekeeping. I wasn't trying to write something special, I was just sitting there crying and typing. Just another kid missing his grandma.

My Grandma died.

I'm still a kid. I'm a kid that grew up knowing that no matter what I did, no matter what I said, no matter how ugly I was inside or out, that my Grandma loved me.

Oh, she let me know when I wasn't making her happy and wasn't being the person that I should be. But she loved me in word and deed. Word-and-Deed. It wasn't the sappy greeting card love. It was the kind of love that was strong as steel while being soft enough for big squishy Grandma hugs that smell like apple pie.

I loved that woman.

I have a memory of them. Keep in mind that I don't remember much from my teenage years, but I remember when I was living with them, coming downstairs into the living room. They were both sitting there quietly, my Grandfather sitting in his chair reading his bible. That memory is etched in my mind and I thank God for it. I got a glimpse of why they loved me so much. The love they had for me was just the surface of the ocean of love they had for their God.

I want to be like them. I want to love people even though I don't like what they do. I want people to know it.

I'm a terrible grandson. I'm a horrible son. I hope I'm a better husband and father... But I try. I didn't talk to her enough. I didn't let her know how I felt about her enough. I'll own that.

But I see her and my grandfather every day. I think about them every day. I keep this picture on my bathroom counter. It's an odd place, but it's a place that allows me to see them every day. I remember every day what they've done for me.

I remember every day who I want to be.

I'll see you both soon.

grandma and grandpa.jpg

Oh Snap... by Brett Sayles

So it's Saturday morning.

Here's the science: Every Saturday morning I either drop off or pick up my laundry. Because this chore entails dragging around a basket of clothes, I can't ride my motorcycle. This really hurts; I love riding my motorcycle.

Since I have to travel like a lemming packed in a shiny metal box (bonus points if you get the reference,) I began the Saturday-Morning-Take-The-Girls-To-The-Coffee-Shop tradition. I like this tradition. I get to spend time with my girls. As I was thinking about this trip, I (like every weekend that finds me playing with the worship team at church) made a mental note to invite the girls to come and hang out.

Avery used to come, but these days they always say no.

This is the point where I start feeling a little hurt that my girls don't really enjoy spending hours listening to me practice and play music they're not into. Why don't they want to go see a great Boise Baroque concert? Why do they only hang out with me when there's something in it for them?

How dare they?

They just want to run around and do the things they enjoy doing. It would obviously be so much better if they wanted to hang out with me. I mean, I'm the one that loves them. I'm the one that takes care of them. I'm part of the team that makes sure they get all the things they need to be healthy and happy. They know that I would defend them in their time of trouble with unmatched ferocity. I hope they know I hurt when they hurt. They DON'T know how much it hurts me to discipline them or what it feels like when they act like little idiots that haven't learn to act like adults.

I'm thinking in all these things in the shower, just about ready to go get coffee by my damned self.

That's when God taps me on the (spiritual) shoulder and says, "You poor thing, how could they be like that?"

I think he was smirking as he said it... 

The Important Stuff... by Brett Sayles

I'm not exactly sure how it happened. For me, things related to God tend to be like that.

I'd been praying and somehow got to thinking about a major failure I'd undergone in my life. I'll save that for another post. Let's just say it was the worst day of my life and I have no one to blame but me.

Anyway, after bathing in my past failures, somehow I found myself trying to find an old friend on Google. He was my best friend back in the day. One of the links was for an obituary bearing his name. Obviously, I wasn't feeling bad enough at this point... -Click- Thankfully, the obituary was for a different person with the same name. Why do all my friends have common names...grrrr...

I gave up, but the picture of the person in the obituary hit me pretty hard. Since I wasn't done being bummed out this morning, I entered an image search for Boise obituaries...

This is what I saw.

I'm not sure that any of you will see this image the way I did, but my personal self-loathing and all around bad attitude, shattered like a dropped vase. I can't look at that set of images without seeing all the connections, all the love and pain shooting out to all the family and friends. Then the greater: God's love for them. Encased in these photos are more triumph and failure than 10 of my lives.

I'm still working through the point of all this. Here's where I'm at right now: My failures and problems are bad, but tomorrow I might be in that set of pictures. You might be up there tomorrow. Maybe we should put away what's behind us, not worry about tomorrow and dig into today. Maybe our top priority should be loving people today, praying for people today, helping people today. Maybe we should let the people around us, friends, family, even strangers know how much we care about them.

And that the reason we love them, is because He loved us first.

I Am by Brett Sayles

So, I'm sitting in a work sponsored class called 'A Call to Positivity.'

The biggest part of this class is being spent on hammering into our heads that what we say about ourselves comes true. Well, these statements become true in the sense that we start feeling like they're true..

I immediately asked my self if the veracity of this self talk mattered. Does it matter if my self talk is blatantly untrue? I can say "I am super good looking" all day long, but it's not going to make it true. I suppose that I might start thinking that I'm super good looking and because of that be more confident. On the other hand, I might start acting like an ugly guy in the sad position of thinking that he's beautiful.

But what if these  'I Am' statements were true?

I decided to make a list of these statements that I know are true. Here they are:

I am forgiven.
I am someone that the king of the universe valued enough to die for.
I am in enemy territory, but the calvary is coming.
I am blessed with a wife that loves me.
I am blessed to be able to use my music to worship God.

I like where this is going...

Drifting... by Brett Sayles

I have this little ritual. Well, I have lots of rituals.

One of them I like to call "First Song of the Day."

As long as I can remember, the first song of the day that I listened to, always seemed to hit me the hardest. I'm not sure why, but that's how it is. So over the years, I've grown to be serious about what I choose to listen too first. These days I choose to start the day by thanking God and listening to something that helps me do that.

Most of all, I'm thankful that he didn't dump this rebel planet the minute it went south and decided (beyond all reason...) to throw us rope.

I'm grabbing the rope. His name is Jesus.

This morning, the FSotD was Drifting by Plumb. Check out the lyrics:

There's a sea of lonely
Swimming sad
Look just for
An arm to grab

I don't need to
Understand
I'm just lending you
The two that I have

You might be drifting and can't find the shore
So hopeless and all alone
The waves are crashing all around you
Just when you've lost the will to live, you see the sun

Can we make a searchlight
From all the bridges that we burn?
Do you see a rescue
Or a deeper kind of hurt?

Who could love you?
Who could hold you?
I'd swim across the sea
You don't have to be alone
Where the shallow gets so deep

You might be drifting and can't find the shore
So hopeless and all alone
The waves are crashing all around you
Just when you've lost the will to live, you see the sun

I am hurt and nearly drown
(Open up your eyes)
I cry for help, you turn around
(Open up your eyes)
Farther from the shore or you'll be farther from the shore

I am hurt and nearly drown
(You're not alone)
I cry for help, you turn around
(I'm not letting go)
Farther from the shore
So you're not farther from the shore

You might be drifting and can't find the shore
So hopeless and all alone
The waves are crashing all around you
Just when you've lost the will to live, you see the sun

Anyway, these words really hit me this morning and I thought I'd share. If none of this makes any sense, move along- Nothing to see here.

If they do make sense to you, join me in being thankful for being pulled back to shore...

Here's the song!

 

Dubrovnik by Brett Sayles

 

Today I saw a picture of a place called Dubrovnik.

Have you ever been to a place, seen a picture or heard a song that pulled some string in your soul? Something that all at once gives you a feeling of longing so strong that somehow you know that the thing you're seeing or hearing isn't actually what you're desiring?

I have.

It doesn't happen often, but when it does, I sit there and pray that the feeling doesn't leave, knowing full well it's already headed out the door.

C.S. Lewis knew all about it...

“I call it Joy. 'Animal-Land' was not imaginative. But certain other experiences were... The first is itself the memory of a memory. As I stood beside a flowering currant bush on a summer day there suddenly arose in me without warning, and as if from a depth not of years but of centuries, the memory of that earlier morning at the Old House when my brother had brought his toy garden into the nursery. It is difficult or find words strong enough for the sensation which came over me; Milton's 'enormous bliss' of Eden (giving the full, ancient meaning to 'enormous') comes somewhere near it. It was a sensation, of course, of desire; but desire for what?...Before I knew what I desired, the desire itself was gone, the whole glimpse... withdrawn, the world turned commonplace again, or only stirred by a longing for the longing that had just ceased... In a sense the central story of my life is about nothing else... The quality common to the three experiences... is that of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again... I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power and Pleasure often is.” 
― C.S. LewisSurprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

Mind Still Blown by Brett Sayles

Since the usual trend for me is to lose weight and then pack it back on, I thought I'd post an update. 

I'm still losing weight and not craving garbage food.  

I'm not losing it as fast now, but that's just fine. I'm 3lbs away from my goal, well, I think I'm going to drop it down a bit. I've started up jogging again and need a little less jiggle.

 

It's hard for me to believe how easy this is. How many calories am I eating?  No freaking idea. Do I stay away from carbs? Nope. Am I killing myself at the gym? Nope.

Just eating real food.

Mind Blown... by Brett Sayles

Many across the vast expanse of the Intarwebz may not now this, but I've been trying to lose some weight for a long time.  About a year (maybe two) ago, I really got too it.

My goal was to lose forty pounds.  That would put me at 195lbs.  The way I'm built, going any lower would make me look like I was on a hunger strike.

The first twenty came off through sheer force.  Low carbing, low calories and high will power.  Some of you will get this.  Six days a week I did my best to stay on program, then one day I fulfilled my cravings.  I don't think I ever did really well at it, but managed to get 20lbs off.  I bounced around that 215lb mark for another extended period of time.

I'd get up in the morning and be thinking about the cheat day tomorrow.  While being good, I could only really think about getting as much yumminess out of the yum deprived day I was in.

I couldn't get the desire to eat the stuff I 'couldn't' eat, out of my head.  Then I had an accidental break through.  It is the perfect storm of ADHD ideas that all hit my squirrel brain at once.

My mind is blown.

I read recently about a study that said that artificial sweeteners promoted diabetes, not from messing with blood sugar levels, but through changing bacteria in your gut.  Since I was drinking a huge amount of diet soda, sweetener in my tea, on my food etc.  I decided to put all artificial sweeteners out of my diet.

About the same time, I watched a documentary about industrial meat farming and didn't like what I saw.  I decided to lay off meat that comes in styrofoam & plastic wrap.  Now don't get me wrong here.  I love meat, but I also care very much about treating my meat with respect (that sounded weird...).  I decided that I wasn't going to eat meat (maybe fish..) unless I killed it myself.  I'll make allowances for animals that friends kill...  I'm not crazy....

As you can imagine, that pretty much dried up the flow of meat products in my diet.

I also had the bright idea to stop eating processed 'food.'  I really don't know what came over me...  I make exceptions in what I call processed, for some yummy yakisoba noodles and locally made bread that's got that old school thing going.  You know, it's got bark in it I think.

Here's the good part...

Two or so days into this insanity, eating Irish oatmeal for breakfast (with real brown sugar and dried fruit), a loaf of bark bread and fruit for lunch and steamed rice & veggies or some home made yakisoba, a strange thing happened. 

All of a sudden, I realized that I wasn't craving stuff.  In fact, I started craving crazy stuff like water and veggies...  What??

After two weeks, I came to the conclusion that I'm not 'on a diet' anymore.  I'm just eating real food.  Real, as in doesn't come in a box.  Real, as in that stuff grows out of the dirt and you can eat it.  Real.

I've lost 7.5lbs in two weeks and haven't had a cheat.  Well, I decided that I needed some pizza and ordered this thing with eggplant, broccoli and basil on it.  I'm outta control!

In this short period of time, I went from looking at those bad foods, and being ready to kill for them, to looking at them and not wanting to put the garbage in my mouth.  I'm not sure if it's the artificial sweeteners, lack of meat or eating foods with some nutritional value, but it's working.

The only reason I'm sharing this, is to let my friends know what accidentally happened to me.  I'm not saying that eating like this will work for you, but it seems to be working for me.  It's really strange, but I'm not missing the old foods, I'm wanting the new stuff... 

If you have problems like I've described above, give it a go.  What do you have to lose?  

-Brett 

 

Worship, the Sky and Google... by Brett Sayles

The other day I was walking back from breakfast listening to some incredible worship music by a group called Watermark. 

Now, to my non-theist friends this will make no sense at all and probably get them thinking that it's time for an intervention or maybe just a quick call to our local mental health authorities.  That's OK, I totally understand.

My believing friends (not the ones that go to a cool club they call church, but the ones that believe that this world is only a dirty smudge of the true reality... you know who you are) will get this.

Anyway, listening as I went, I was caught up.  It's hard to explain if you've never been there.  Sometimes in worship, a switch flips.  It's like getting hit with a truck full of good - the real good - the truth.  It's like God takes his finger and wipes the grime off the window through which we see our world.  You feel for a moment what might be a billionth of a fraction what God's presence might be like and if it got any stronger you just might be unmade...  It happens quickly, then just as quickly goes away. 

It's what C.S. Lewis called Joy.

“True, it was desire, not possession. But then what I had felt on the walk had also been desire, and only possession in so far as that kind of desire is itself desirable, is the fullest possession we can know on earth; or rather, because the very nature of Joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between having and wanting. There, to have is to want and to want is to have. Thus, the very moment when I longed to be stabbed again, was itself again such a stabbing.”
C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy

Anyway, I'm running on.

During this moment, with tears running down my face (I was glad to have my Ray-Bans on...) I looked up, being thankful for such a moment.  Then it was gone as quick as it came.  The thought struck me that the sky looked pretty cool and the geek in me decided it was a good time to grab my phone and take a picture.  Sorry, the geek in me is strong...

Fast forward a day or two later.  I had forgotten about taking the picture.  This morning I get one of those annoying alerts that Google sends about having uploaded photos.  I take a lot of pictures and mostly just swipe the alerts away.  This time I clicked to see what was uploaded since I couldn't remember when the last picture I had taken was...

This is what I found.

It brings psalm 19 to mind...

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

Get Over It... by Brett Sayles

I don't like or agree with President Obama's policies most of the time.  Politics is like that.

That said, people need to get over the selfie thing.  If you decide you're outraged that a guy smiles in a picture with a few other world leaders while over one hundred thousand people dance, sing and celebrate the life of a great man- you need to check yourself.

Save your outrage for headlines like, "Obama snaps selfie with hooker while doing crack at wife's birthday party."

Besides, if Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt wanted to snap a pic with me ANYWHERE, I'd be there.  Just sayin'.

Carry on.

 

What a morning... by Brett Sayles

I ran over to the hospital for some breakfast this morning; it was still dark and quite cold.  For reasons unknown I found myself taking a different route back to work.  My new path took me by the hospital chapel.  I don't think I've ever been in there before today. 

There are a few things I try to do every day.  You know, brush your teeth, don't hit your wife...  I try to spend at least a few minutes each day praying.  In spite of being more of a barbarian/gentile Christian, I decided to get my traditional on and pray in the chapel.  On some deep level the chapel-kneel-repeat-this type of prayer rubs me a little bit.  I'm more comfortable with old leaves, the smell of soil and the sound of water rolling by.  Maybe I'm more of a druid at heart...  Or maybe I'm just selfish and the smell of cologne irks me...

As I prayed and looked up at the the stained glass and candles I started to tear up.

God meets me where I am.  And today I was in a simple chapel.  Something hit me to see that human hands had made this simple place to honor God.   In that little moment I felt like I was surrounded with other people that were looking to Him.  And there we were, together asking for no more than His will be done.  Whodathunkit.

I'm used to having this type of experience alone, looking up at trees that seem to be lifting their arms to Him or mountains looking up, asking to be set free from this enemy occupation.  This morning has taught me once more to open my eyes to see whats around me.

It seems more than God's creation cries out to him.  Sometimes man's creation does too. 

Debt Ceiling by Brett Sayles

So I was thinking about the debt ceiling.  I heard a voice on the radio that was aghast at the idea that someone would try to stop the government from raising it. 

She said, "we've always done it this way".  She was implying that it was business as usual to for our government to keep spending, then raise the amount of debt we can accumulate as needed. 

I started thinking about my personal economy.  Sure, I spend and borrow more than I should, but here's the difference...  If I called my bank or credit card company and asked them to raise my debt ceiling, at some point they're going to tell me NO.  When this happens, I'm going to get really mad and let them know that "we've always done it this way".

I'll let them know how much damage their decision not to raise my personal debt ceiling is going to wreak on my personal economy... My people would surely suffer.  

I have a feeling this radio lady would would tell me that I needed to start living within my means.  Instead of being shocked that crazy people were not extending my credit, she'd be shocked by my failure to see the plain truth that I was spending more than I was making, and that depending on credit extensions would eventually lead to my own personal financial crisis. 

Which is insane?

A. Spending as much as you can, then depending on more credit. 

B. Taking a stand by telling someone that spending as much as you can, then depending on credit is insane. 

 

 

So it begins... by Brett Sayles

I've started a few blogs, only to have them wither and die.  That's precisely what I plan here.  That way when I stop paying attention to it, I can say, that's what I pla... is that a squirrel?