Friday, September 12, 2014

Living Life Together

This week marked the 5th year anniversary of our community group meeting for the first time. Our community group is comprised of 10 adults and 13 kids from Faith Church. We try and meet every other week together to discuss our faith in Jesus, our trails of life, pray together, and in general intentionally live life together for Christ.

This past weekend we went on a retreat to a lake house in Northern Indiana (sadly one of the families couldn’t make it) and had just an absolutely great time. I’m the only fisherman in the group, so I got up earlier both mornings and went out on the lake to catch some bass, which though it means I’m really tired at night (also angry one night after fishing for 30 minutes because I lost a HUGE ONE, but I don’t want to talk about it). We all then had breakfast together, with kids spread between two tables and adults just sitting around on couches or standing and discussing the day. Then throughout the day we would boat together, tubing and skiing (and attempting to ski), wrangling lunch and supper, disciplining and playing with the kids, then finally getting all the kids in bed. The adults then stayed up late, playing games, discussing life, heaven, and Jesus,  and answering questions like what brought our group together, and finally when everyone is so tired their blurring their words going to bed (Which isn’t late as you think, because all those kids can really wear someone out!).

Living Life Together is what we call our group and that is what we really try to do, because we truly believe that in order for us to grow in Christ and we must also grow together. I hear far too often from Christians that they don’t need to be in church, that they can love God on their own, because after all it is a personal relationship. That is contrary to what scripture says and also practically just not good. My family and my walk with Christ have been strengthened from living in community with fellow believers. He has used them to encourage us during trials, help us move & watch our kids, sharpen our beliefs, and fill our lives with laughter. Our kids get their lives invested in by other adults and they get to see how those adults also live and follow after Christ. In return, we get to encourage, help, and invest right back into the other families’ lives as well.

This post started out as a “let me tell you about my weekend” post, but I guess I’ll end it as a challenge and encouragement to those Christians reading this. Get involved in a local group of believers! Don’t just walk in the door Sunday morning at 11am and rush out as soon as the sermon is over at noon. Be intentional, find where you can fit in, and live in community with other believers. Yes we are not perfect and yes there are just as many hypocrites in the church as there are at the local country club, but we aren’t called to live our lives on our own!

If you won't take my word for it, here are some verses to read and consider: 

Hebrews 10:25 - Don't forsake meeting together.
Romans 12:5 - We are one body.
1 Corinthians 12:12-27 - We're all one body and have a purpose.
Ephesians 5 - Reminds us that Christ is the head of the Church.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lawrence Invitational Badminton Tourney

When it comes to pure fun and relaxation, Labor Day is my favorite official holiday of the year. If you’ve read my blog before, you know that Gen Con is the best holiday of the year, but for some reason the Federal government won’t recognize it, which makes Labor Day the winner. Anyways, why Labor Day you ask? Well, let me tell you…

The legend begins way back in the dark ages of 1988 (I was 5 years old) when my Uncle Jim & Aunt Theresa hosted a Labor Day party.  They were sitting around eating & drinking, thinking about something to do, and decided to get a badminton set out and play a tournament. They made a trophy consisting of two beer cans screwed to the top of a 2x4 about 8 inches long and gave it to the inaugural winners my Uncles Jim & Tony. Everyone had such a fun time that they decided to do it again next year and the year after and it has been continuing ever since.

Picture of Original Trophy

The trophy itself has grown and changed over the years. Originally the charge of the champions was to improve the trophy ever year and bring it back for the next champions. The original trophy gained a banner, a second level, some birdies, and was quite a sight. Predicting that eventually my younger brother would win the trophy as a 12 year old, Jim knew my mom wouldn’t like beer cans in his room, so Tony went dumpster diving behind a trophy shop and put together a 3 foot tall Frankenstein monster of a trophy in the mid-90s, which continues to travel today.  Here is a picture of it in its current state. It had to be taken to a trophy shop for repair in 2014 as all the travelling had caused snapping of the flags and breaking of the posts.

Trophy as it is now.

The Lawrence Invitational Badminton tournament in 2014 marked the 27th time that Lawrence family members and friends converged on court. There are usually between 8 and 16 teams that play in the double-elimination tournament. There are two courts set up for play and players ranging from ages 8 years old to late 50s. I’ve now played in 17 different tournaments, my first one was 20 years ago, missing three years while in college. My first year I played with my aunt’s brother, then a couple years with my cousin Scott, then in 1998 began playing with my best friend Ryan. We’ve been playing together ever since. In our 14 years playing together we’ve made it to the championship every time, losing twice, the most humiliating loss coming to my brother and my cousin Scott (yes, my former partner and yes they beat us twice in a row from the losers bracket). Ryan and I have yelled at each other, hit each other with a racket (sometimes it is necessary to give your body to the game), come back from the loser bracket, played in the mud & rain, sweated and bled for the game, and generally took a whole lot of heckling from the Mark & Mark team.

Ryan & I in 2008. I couldn't find earlier pictures though I know they exist.

I think the reason that Labor Day is so fun for me is the competition. I love competition and tournaments. Basketball tournaments, Netrunner tournaments, badminton tournaments, rock/paper/scissors tournaments, it doesn’t matter. Just give me a tournament. This one is fun for all the trash talking that goes on throughout the year and during the day. The jokes cracked at everyone’s expense, the rooting for the underdog , watching a good volley while enjoying a burger and snacking on the ridiculous amount of dessert that is always there, and ending the summer in the camaraderie of competition and food. It is awesome that my aunt and uncle still host this, though they’ve stopped playing in the tournament quite a while ago, yet are now watching the 3rd generation of players beginning to pick up the rackets and smack the birds.

Ryan & I in 2014

So never plan on me attending your Labor Day cookout or going camping over that weekend or taking a trip to see a natural wonder, because it ain’t gonna happen. I’m playing badminton.