Sunday, May 1, 2016

In memory of Chad...

I have debated whether or not to write something in regard to the passing of my cousin Chad "Slam Dunk" Coon. There are so many memories that I will not be able to capture all of them in this post. I will do my best to remember him, but it will not be complete or in order.

Chad was more like a older brother to me than a cousin. Some of my earliest memories are from when I was in 1st grade. Chad, who was in 12th grade, along with his twin sister and younger sister would come in the big blue van and pick me up for school. I remember watching Chad, #14, play basketball. He had a love and passion for sports, but especially basketball. He is the reason why I am a Chicago Bulls fan. In the time before the technological age that we are in now, I would go down to Chad's house to watch the Bull's on WGN. Chad was so cool because he had a satellite.

He was such a giving and gracious person. He would take this teenage boy to "cruise the boulevard" in town. He would let this much younger cousin hang out with him and his "older" friends. He would let me tag along with him when he would broadcast sports with Q102 FM. He would take me to buy soda and candy to Brister's Grocery. He would let me play co-ed softball with him and his crew. He had the first "bag phone" that I had ever seen. He would always stop by my parents house and just talk sports. If he wasn't talking loudly about sports and how to correct the coach of a certain team, then it wasn't Chad talking. If he wasn't covering a sporting event, he was always watching our high school play sports (Go Jackets!) wherever they were playing. He would stand on the sidelines of every football game. He would be in the dugout cheering on softball and baseball teams. He would be at every basketball game coaching from the stands.

I remember when he had an accident while working at the paper mill. I found out about it while at school and I immediately left and headed to the ER to check on him. I remember playing pool (billiards) with him in the upstairs of his house. I remember the poster of race cars and bikinis on his bedroom wall. I remember that when we would "go to the pool" he would always come say hi and eventually we would be throwing some sort of ball around in the yard.

My first experience with golf was with him. We would drive all over the state to watch high school and college basketball. We drove all the way to Ole Miss one time to watch an Ole Miss and Alabama game. We drank a lot of Mountain Dew and Dr. Peppers on that trip. We made many trips to State Championship basketball games. I remember driving to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to his friends apartment and we watched Brett Favre play. A lot of these things I would have never done or gone to, but because it was with Chad my parents would let me go. I got to experience a lot of things because of him.

Memories are flooding into my mind as I type and I can't begin to write them all down. Chad was always supportive of my decisions. He always seemed proud that I was following wherever God was taking me.

Now that I think about, he may have even introduced me to coffee. For those of you who know me that is a big deal. My first "coffee milk" was probably at his house. He always had a golf bag, a softball bag and some dirty shoes in his car.

He loved sports. He loved family. He loved his "baby girls." He loved Michael Jordan. He loved Dr. Pepper. He loved his mom, dad and sisters. He loved.

When I heard about his cancer one year ago, I immediately booked a flight to go see him. I spent a lot of time with him last April. I was able to see him again on a visit this past October. I am so glad I got to spend this time with him. Of all these memories I have shared and of all the things that I have listed that he loves, I was reminded on these two trips about how much he loved Jesus.

He understood that all he was going through was a part of God's divine plan. He told me that he was able to share about Jesus with his friends who were visiting and with the doctors and nurses who were providing treatment and care. When most people question God during a difficult time, Chad trusted God. His belief and faith never waivered.

Chad is in heaven with Jesus today. It is not because of all the great things he did or the kindness he extended. It is not because he was a good man. It is not because he loved. The reason he is with Jesus today and the reason he could be kind and good and love was because he had a personal relationship with God through Jesus. There was a point in his life, when he asked God to forgive him and save him. God was faithful and He did forgive him and save him. Chad is now face to face with his Saviour and Sustainer today. Chad is cancer free and pain free today.

He would want all of you to know that you can have a relationship with Jesus too. Chad was not perfect, but Jesus doesn't ask for perfection. He asks that you trust Him with your life. Chad trusted Jesus with his life through the sports and through the cancer. Because he trusted Jesus with his life, he now has eternal life in the presence of his Creator and Saviour.

What about you?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

40 days and 40 nights

On December 21 I began a fast. It was not your typical fast. I did not fast from food or drink, but I began a fast from social media. I am an avid user of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope and other social media outlets used for staying connected. I decided to delete all those apps from my phone and live without them for 40 days. I have tried these types of things in the past and have failed miserably. I would log in for a quick check or reinstall the app and that would defeat the purpose. I can honestly say that I did not login, reinstall or check any of the aforementioned platforms over this 40 day period. Today, January 31, ended the fast.

The purpose behind my fasting was spiritual. I wanted to be reminded to pray, meditate and read. Think about how many times you reach for your phone, iPad, tablet or computer to check Facebook. What if you prayed to God instead of opening Twitter? What if you meditated on who God is each time you reached for your phone? What if you read His Word instead of posting a picture of your food (or coffee)? As I thought of these possibilities, I realized how many times a day I was on social media.

I want to share with you a few things I learned from this social media fast. Most a very simple. Not many are super spiritual. Here are 7 things I learned:

  • I am less distracted. I am more attentive to my job, my kids, my health and my responsibilities. Previously, I would put checking my phone first. I would even say, "wait kids, I am posting a status." 
  • I have more time for other things. I have been reading from books more. I have been folding laundry more. I did not say I like all the things that I have more time for, but I do have time to do them.
  • I do not need to know what is happening every single second of the day. The world still moves on and I can find out about it by watching the news once a day.
  • I am actually talking to people. Social media keeps us informed on who had a baby, when they went on vacation and what restaurant they ate at lately. Without a constant check on Facebook, I have to actually ask people questions.
  • I am surprised when I hear news. With the constant access to news via videos and tweets there really is not element of surprise. For the past 40 days, I have been surprised when my wife has said, "Did you hear about..." and I say, "No I haven't."
  • It helped me grow in some spiritual disciplines. I purposefully would pray when I reached for my phone. I has helped me to get in a better habit of prayer. 
  • I may not go back. I logged in tonight to see my notifications, likes, retweets, etc and to post this. I actually did not enjoy trying to "catch up" on everything that I missed over the past 40 days. I currently have not reinstalled the apps on my phone.