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Unworthy

Unworthy 150 150 admin

I am humbled by the goodness of God. I have the privilege of helping people during their hardest moments and guiding them in the most important part of their life – their relationship with God. This does not mean that I have all of the answers! What it does mean is that God has called me to help find the answers that we can have and grow from there. I am a screw up that God allows to lead other people who screw up every once in a while themselves.

In this leading of other people, God is constantly putting me in situations where I have to look to Him. God is blessing my family despite the truth that I mess up in parenting and husbanding (is that a word?) more than I get it right. God is growing His church here at Northline despite an unworthy leader.  God is good and does good even when we are screw ups and mess ups. That is what makes Him God and that is what makes Him good. He deserves the very best of my life because He is so good. 

I am writing this to give God the praise that He deserves. If you do not do this, you should try it. It is amazing how good it makes you feel when you realize how incredible God is in comparison to how much of a misfit we are.

God, thank you for being good to me!

Until next time…

The Incredible God

The Incredible God 150 150 admin

I am blessed!

God has blessed us with another pregnancy. After losing our son, Caden, in July, we did not know what God had planned for us in regards to children. It must have been a month later when God placed a baby in the womb of my wife, Amy.

Blessing – yes! Paranoia – definitely!

We kept it between my wife and I for a couple of months without telling anyone. We were afraid to let it out until we knew things were seemingly alright. We told immediately family at the end of October, beginning of November. We found out right around Thanksgiving that according to the baby’s ultrasound that everything looked good. They didn’t fear anencephaly at all, which is the birth defect that took Caden’s life. We saw brain matter! I have never been so excited for brain matter in the head in all of my life. We waited until seeing extended family at Christmas time to tell them. We told our church family the week after that.

Well we just went to the doctor’s office and learned that we are having a boy. We were shocked! Amy has had a miscarriage, blighted ovum, and Caden’s situation. She assumed that her body was not able to carry a boy. God showed us that He is able to carry anything He wants.

I mean God is good, in that, He gave us another child. The fact that God has given us a boy makes Him, in my mind, just incredible. We are anxious because God chose this boy’s life (without a name, yet) over the life of Caden for a reason we do not know yet (and may never know). What is God going to make of this child’s life? God, the One who gives and takes away, has given us not only a healthy pregnancy thus far, but a boy that I actually get to grow up with. God is just incredible!

Thank you for letting me babble!

We will have a name shortly.

Ryan 

No Car Seat Needed

No Car Seat Needed 150 150 admin

Many of you might have heard by now that our son Caden transferred his residence from his mother’s belly to the beauty of heaven. We got news right after our morning church service on Sunday, July 22 that Caden had no heartbeat and that God had chosen to take him before he breathed a breath in this life. They began to induce labor so that Amy could deliver him. We were so blessed with nurses that cared so much for us and our situation. Thank you God for the blessings during trying times. On Monday at about 7:11 PM, Caden was delivered. His little body was a joy to hold even though he had no life in him. It was unique in the fact that Caden was in heaven watching his own birth. Not too many people can say that!

The Lord has been so good to us during this trial! Let me give an example – we were at the hospital on Sunday and the nurse was asking a bunch of questions. I was watching as she typed the answers into the computer. It got to one point where the screen had asked this question – “Car Seat for Discharge”? The available answers were “Yes”, “No”, or “N/A”. When the nurse checked the box “N/A”, the truth that we were not taking a boy home really sunk in. It was probably one of the lowest points of this entire journey. However, God filled my heart and mind with an even more amazing thought. Caden didn’t need a car seat for where he was going. He got there, not by an approved car seat, but by the hand of Almighty God. He is in heaven and I miss him greatly, but I KNOW that I will see him again because I have asked Christ into my life to forgive all of my sins and wrongs that I have done. Christ died for me to have life in heaven forever and for me to have an intimate relationship with Him. I know the end of the story for my life – HEAVEN!

Thank you to everyone who has been praying! You do not know what it means to have the body of Christ praying for us. It means so much! We would continue to covet your prayers for us! However, let me challenge you with something else – there are more hurting people in our world. Some of you might have been so burdened for our request that it drew you closer to God in prayer and intimacy. Keep growing in that relationship. Find someone else now who needs you to pray and seek God’s face and ask God for their miracle. God said no to this one, but God is still a GREAT God! I could not imagine going through this without a God who cares infinitely for us.

Thank you again for your prayers!

 Until next time…

Northline, Fear, and This Sucks!

Northline, Fear, and This Sucks! 150 150 admin

It has again been a long time since I wrote last. I apologize. I am not going to offer up some excuse that would allow you to forgive me until I do it again. Instead, I am just going to ask you to forgive me.

Things have been going well here at Northline. We have had some very unique and powerful services that I pray God is using to leverage Himself into the lives of people who will be changed forever. We have been busy in the remodeling of some of the church areas. We are trying to have much of it done by our 45th Anniversary Celebration in October. This place has had an impact in the lives of many people and we want to rejoice in that and celebrate that. We are indebted to the pastors and people of our past that have enabled us to operate effectively here in hte present as well as reach forward into the future. Things are changing in our church because we want to be the most effective that we can be to reach the people of this culture. Pray with us that God would continue to work in our church and through our church.

Many of you might be wondering how in the world Amy and I are doing in relation to Caden (our unborn baby who has anencephaly). We are doing okay. Amy is strong. She amazes me. Many have been touched by our story and we are thankful that God is using this trial in our life to draw people to Him. I have surrendered myself to the fact that this sucks! But God is good. I have also surrendered myself to the fact that I am scared. But that God is real and making His presence felt in my life. The doctors have basically said that Amy could go at any time between now and her due date. With us knowing this for a few months now, we still aren’t ready for what could happen. We are praying and believing for a miracle if that is how God wants to be God. We are also struggling to be at peace with God taking Caden to be with Him if that is how God wants to be God.

Please feel free to talk with us about our situation and do not be afraid that you will offend us. Talking about Caden and our situation actually helps us to cope. Understand, however, that I will be real. If my day has been lousy, I will tell you. If it is a good day, I will tell you that too. In any case, we appreciate your prayers.

Something else that has helped is spending time focusing on people who have it worse off than we do (and there are many). It helps me to understand that we are not the only ones in need. It is hard to put myself in a situation to receive support and love from people. That is my job – I am the pastor! However, I need to do this in order to let others help to bear my burdens. At Junior High Camp last week, I realized that I was not doing a very good job of this, so I want to improve. They had me come up in front of the camp and told our story and then had pastors and youth pastors come up and pray for us. I felt very uncomfortable, but was very blessed! As a pastor, we are used to being on the “other side of the desk” and this time it was my turn to receive encouraging words and support. Thank you Lord for putting me at camp last week.

Thank you for putting up with me and listening!

Until next time…

Ryan

Caden Norris

Caden Norris 150 150 admin

After weeks of not posting anything, I am back at it. It has been a pretty crazy time of year and looks like it will only get worse. Between renovations at the church, fundraisers, Houseboat Trip, and weddings, it might drive me crazy. I love it! I love the busyness and I love how God is blessing at Northline. There is still a whole lot of work to be done with our church, but I know that we are at least on the journey.

We have received an overwhelming response and support to the situation with our baby boy (see previous posts). The ability to talk to complete strangers and share with them about this season of testing that we seem to be in has been a great joy. I am starting to come to grips with the fact that I am not the same person that I was before this all started happening. Amy has felt the baby, whom we have named Caden Norris, move on several occasions for a little while now. Now, I am able to feel him kick. Some doctors say that they are not suppose to be able to hear, but Amy has said that on more than one occasion when I have been speaking she has felt him move more. I told her that everyone moves when I speak. They move to get comfortable so that they can doze off. We are experiencing different aspects of God’s grace each day. He does not give us one lump sum of grace and strength, but instead He gives us what we need to make it through moment by moment. I guess I will trust Him – He did create me. He might know what He is doing.

I want to thank everyone for their love and support. I know many people do not know what to say or if to talk about it. We are doing fine and you should act the same with us. Talk about the baby, his name is Caden. You must realize that the reason that God has made our paths cross is for some greater reason than “just because”. Maybe He wants to use us to help you or maybe He wants to use you to help and encourage us. I do not know what the case may be. Just be willing and I will be too.

Until next time…

Distractions

Distractions 150 150 admin

Distractions are a funny thing. We all get distracted from the tasks that we begin. Sometimes we begin the task of mowing the lawn and get distracted by the kids playing and getting hurt. As a pastor, there will be times when I will begin a task at 9 AM (ok maybe 10) and get distracted 15 minutes later and do not get back to that task until 4 PM. I do not believe all distractions are bad. In fact, I believe some distractions to be exactly what God wants for us in that moment. Now make sure you are reading this clearly because I am speaking in specific terms (sometimes, some, etc.). Please do not take what I am writing out of context. There are some distractions that get us sidetracked for a while and are not good. Do not tell people that I think all distractions are good – they will think I am psycho and we want them to meet me before they think that.

I think of distractions that have happened in my life that I know were God ordained. I remember on a Sunday morning while I was getting ready for our services, around 8 AM or so, there was a woman who called and asked for help. Now you must know that Sundays for a pastor have the tendency to get a little crazy and hectic. After forgetting to print off the bulletin, unlock all of the doors, add a cool illustration for my third point of my message, find a replacement for the teacher who called in sick, get a hip reminder of the day’s message, fold the bulletins now that they are printed off, and other minor details, things can get jumbled around and we forget that people are going to be coming in no time. This is what it is about, isn’t it? People. You must also know that I receive several of these needy requests during the course of a week. This one was different all the way around. The moment I began speaking to her, I felt at peace that God was going to use our church to help this woman and her family out. She had a child who needed a  breathing machine for his asthma. We obviously do not stock breathing machines, but we could do something. I told her to come that day to our services, look me up, and when I saw her then I would collect an offering to help buy a breathing machine for her son. She came! We kept our end of the deal and purchased a breathign machine for her child and gave it to them. Now it would have been just as easy for me to shove her off to get my to-do list done for that day, but I felt that this “distraction” was God’s way of practicing what I preach. You see, that day I spoke on our need to help other people when the opportunity presents itself and we have the ability to meet the need. That took care of the object lesson and reminder of the day’s message. We put it into action before the final prayer was even said. WOW! Thank you God for the distraction!

In this season of life that Amy and I have found ourselves in, there is no shortage of distractions. It seems like thinking about this child consumes my thinking. It distracts me from some of the responsibilities that I have. However, I am confident that this distraction, too, will serve some greater purpose.

Sometimes our distractions actually help us focus our attention better. This is what I am hoping for!

Until next time…(hopefully not a long space in between this time)

Word from my Wife

Word from my Wife 150 150 admin

I know I have neglected my blog for the past week or so. I apologize. For some reason, life doesn’t slow down for my blog. Today, I am including something from Amy that she has written. I told her to get her own blog, but she insisted that she could improve my ratings if I would just let her post something. After reading what she wrote, I am sure you will understand how blessed I am to have a wife that is willing to write my messages for our services as well. Anyways, I would like to introduce my lovely wife, Amy.

First of all, I would like to thank everyone that has sent us e-mails and cards. They have been very encouraging and appreciated. And more improtantly, thank you to everyone who has kept us in your prayers.

I want you all to know that I am doing very well. There are some days that I ask God for more strength than others, and I am quick to say that He always delivers. Scripture says in Psalm 40:2, “He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.” I believe I make it through each day because I trust my Lord. There is no doubt in my mind, my God loves me and promises to take care of me. I Peter 5:7 says, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” There are times in all of our lives that are tough and sometimes seem unbearable, but know this, God is still there with us, walking beside us every step of the way. I Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation (trial) has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted (tested) beyond what you are able, but with the temptation (trial) will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” Scripture also says in I Peter 5:10, “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” What an amazing promise!!!

Now, as for myself and my situation, I’m not scared. I’m not even worried. I know I serve a God that created the very universe that we live in, a God who hung the stars in the sky, and created man from dust. Do I believe that God can heal our little boy? I would be silly not to. So please, do not spend your time feeling sad for me or my family. We know that God is in control, and through our situation, He can do amazing things. I actually see lives being changed daily because of our little boy – the little boy we have yet to meet.I can only imagine God’s purpose for all of this. What an awesome God we serve!!!

Thank you again for all of your prayers. I am strong because God has put me on a rock.

As I feel our son move inside of me, I know he’s saying, or maybe even singing (he would get that from his daddy), “He’s Still Workin’ On Me.”

Please continue to pray for our son, and know that God is faithful and God is good all the time.

So Long Sanjaya

So Long Sanjaya 150 150 admin

Everyone who knows me knows that I am a huge 24 fan. Jack Bauer is my hero. When I grow up, I want to be just like him. However, there is another show that I watch pretty consistently as well and that is American Idol. Now, I am not the best singer in the world, in fact, I do not even claim to be good, but how in the world did Sanjaya Malakar make it to the top 7? I am sure he is a nice guy and would not put him down in relation to his personality, but the boy did not belong in a singing competition that usually produces superstars.

It was kind of cool though to see Simon squirm because he did not know what to do when America wasn’t listening to his advice and kept Sanjaya going. I laughed a couple of times over that. It is humorous to me to see Simon take a bunch of heat especially when he is usually right. I have to admit that I wonder a little bit as to how much of the fights between Ryan and Simon are staged for ratings. They get into it pretty good. Why is it that we enjoy seeing people belittle each other? Is it because we are just glad that it is not us that is being put down? Not sure. Could be.

It is an entertaining show that sucks America – including me – in to. It will be much easier to endure this next week knowing that Sanjaya will not be singing. So long Sanjaya!

Tragedy at Virginia Tech University

Tragedy at Virginia Tech University 150 150 admin

There are so many times when all you know of a college/university are its athletes. You know we see them on TV and think them to be heroes. Some probably are, although not defined by what they do on a field or court. Yet we never get to know the people at these schools who are making a difference. I look at the faces of those who were killed in that horrible tragedy at Virginia Tech yesterday and although they might not be well known, they represent people – people whose families are going to be radically different for a very long time. They represent people who were doing what should be considered wise and respected – attending classes to enable them to pursue their dreams. I love people! When things like this happen, I cannot help but think of all of the people that are going to be affected!

God help them!

I also realize that the media wants to focus their time and attention to the negative things that the school did or did not do to help this situation. While there might be a better way to protect the students for the future, I want to commend the school for employing professors who were willing to do their part in protecting the students to the best of their ability against someone that was out to cause damage and no one could have prevented it. We will probably never hear from our “blessed” media about the students and professors that risked their lives to save others, but will continue to hear them blast the president of the university and any one else that they can make look like an idiot.

There is something in people that causes them to do the unthinkable – some positive and some negative (this shooter). We need to do our part to start the wave of reducing the negative and be someone that does the unthinkable in a positive way.

Until next time…

Some People Just Don’t Understand

Some People Just Don’t Understand 150 150 admin

The baby boy that my wife Amy is carrying in her belly right now has not been given any chance to live once he is born. Every doctor and website that I have been to has stated this unfortunate outcome. There is not, to my knowledge, one person that has survived for any amount of time with this condition. I know some people would say well then let’s pray for the family as they begin now until September 14 to deal with the loss of their son. Let me pause and say – hold off on those prayers for now. As this past weekend has brought to my attention in a very real and relevant way – our God conquers death. Hello? He thrives on the impossible! Let’s not get caught up in believing only what doctors say when the God who conquers death hasn’t had any say. We will know what God wants to do when this child is born. So please pray that God would form this little boy’s brain and close the skull and scalp. This isn’t supposed to happen – I get that. But dead guys aren’t supposed to come back to life either!

Some people probably think that Amy and I are setting ourselves up for heartbreak. No – we are asking God to give us our heart’s desire. If He doesn’t – He is still God and He is still good.

How do you want to be remembered? Praying for God to comfort us (He has already promised to do that) or having a part in praying for the impossible? Please help us pray for the impossible! We will leave the rest up to the God who hates death so much that He overcame it.

Psalm 40:3 – “And He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.”

Our goal is that many people would see that we believe God is good even when life is not, begin to fear (respect), and trust in the Lord.

Thank you for coming in this journey with us! We need you!

23695 Northline Rd Taylor, MI 48180

734-287-3544