Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve & Christmas

On Christmas eve, we had a few families over after the service. It was great to see so many kids jammed in the house and to hear the conversations going on with the parents. we had a small crowd (including us) of 14 kids and 9 adults. Pictures are below:

On Christmas day, we woke up, the kids open their gifts from us and then we did our advent reading and had breakfast. After breakfast, we watched the Christmas Story, set up the snack table and did nothing but veg for hours. My in-laws are here, so we then had time for present opening from them. Here are a few photos:

Christmas 2009 Photo

We attempted to get some pictures of the kids during the Christmas season. We were going to use them to pass out, maybe make cards, a calendar of at least to blow up and put in frames for the wall ---- my office.

We took some on the couch and then had them lay on the ground. We had them attempt to be serious and then to have fun, here are some of the pictures:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

I cannot believe that it is Christmas Eve. I am over at church passing time till the evening activities. In about 30 minutes, we will be having Christmas Eve dinner with a family from church. After dinner, we will be heading over to the church for the 7pm service.

After the service, we are having desserts at the house. We will have 25-30 individuals over at the house for dessert. It will be a fun evening. I am looking forward to it, so much. I will definitely have the camera out.

Stacey's parents will also be traveling in from Illinois tonight. We will then spend some time together and getting the kids to bed, so we can prepare everything that needs to be prepared for Christmas morning.

Tonight will be a great night.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sunday Night Live: Compassion

In December, at Sunday Night Live, we took a look at Compassion. I believe that this is one virtue that we definitely need to instill into the lives of our children. Here was the definition that we were working from:

I think that there is one verse in particular that rings loudly about compassion and that was the memory verse for the month. Here is the verse:

Week 1's bottom line:

Week 2's bottom line:

Week 3's bottom line:

I think that our community and our world would be a much better place if we implemented this virtue into our life and started to ask these questions.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Isaiah & His Bruises

The leg came from basketball, the face came from little bro:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

SNL & Thanksgiving

These two things do not really go together, but I was not going to make two posts. My posting has been extremely irregular, so who am I kidding that I could/would do two in one day. So here we go .....

As I am finishing up items before we head out to Thanksgiving weekend, I am working on some more Sunday Night Live information.

Here are some more #'s .....

We are averaging 30 children/youth on Sunday nights for the first 10 weeks. During that time, we have had 64 different children attend. Out of those 64 that have attended 43 of them had NEVER attended worship or Sunday school. It is becoming quite clear that this is turning more into an outreach for children because since the first month, our numbers for parents have dropped significantly.

One of the items of concern is that we have 11 children who attended Sunday School last year that have not attended SNL and 4 that have attended once or twice that were active in SS that most likely will not be back. So, we have 15 children that we need to connect.

On to thanksgiving, in an hour I am going home and helping with the final touches of the packing, so we can head out to West Virginia. We will be there around 48 - 52 hours, depending on when we leave. I am looking forward to the time to do nothing and the hopeful possibility of sleeping in.

Now, back to work, so I can be out in an hour.

Monday, November 16, 2009

SNL Twist

There is a twist that is occurring within Sunday Night Live. Those who have been connected with Zion our not coming and those without Zion connections are coming.

The positive spin is that this ministry is becoming an "outreach" ministry. However, the "negative" spin is that those connected with Zion are not coming to the ministry. Thus, we are creating a "divide" in a sense.

For an illustration, here are 4 evaluations from last week that stood out to me.

1. We had 24 children that were there that were in the preschool - 6th grade age range. Out of that 21 DID NOT attend church on Sunday morning. This means that we only had 3 that attended both. And no, it is not a coincidence that I have 3 kids. So, yes, my kids are the only ones who attended both.

2. If you include the youth, the numbers are 24 out of 31 did not attend church or there were 7 individuals who attended both.

3. Our adult (parent numbers) have dropped significantly over the past 4 weeks. This past Sunday, we had 5 adults in class. 0 of them attended church on Sunday morning.

4. Our children and youth numbers have remained steady while the total numbers have shown "significant" decline.

I am going to examine and contemplating this a little more. At the present time, I am thanking God that we are reaching out to those who are not "connected" at Zion and our Sunday night group is "becoming church" for those without church. Now, there will have to be some theological issues to unpack in that .....

We will also have to think about and journey what we are going to do / if anything / about those who are coming Sunday morning but are not coming back on Sunday night but want some CE for their kids.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kasie Kelly to OSU

Kasie, a Wooster high school student and softball player will not play her senior year at Wooster. She is headed to college (Ohio State). She will graduate a semster early and enroll into OSU and begin her career. We see football players do this after they finish their senior year of football and get there to do spring ball. You do not see this often in softball. Matter of fact, this is the first time it has occurred at OSU.

Here record may not be great but look at her ERA and strike-outs as a junior last year. It highlights her amazing game against Lexington and then her whole junior year. Here they are:

The rocket-armed righthander struck out a state record 44 hitters in 19 innings pitched against Lexington last spring, but Wooster lost the game 1-0. She didn't get much run support overall in finishing with a 10-8 record despite logging a 0.65 ERA and an area-best 271 strikeouts in 129 innings pitched.

Less $$$ For You

This week, I heard about a family giving less money to their church because they feel that the services that they receive from the church have gone down.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Healthcare Talk

Tonight, I am going to share my healthcare / health insurance story with a group that is doing a presentation / forum on health care reform. Here is my "speech":

Good Evening. My name is Jeff Greathouse and tonight, I am going to share with you my story about health care and health insurance. Over the last three and half years, we have seen many different sides of the health insurance and health care debate. Because of this journey, I honestly believe that we need health care reform. I am going to be honest and I will tell you that I do not have all the answers. However, tonight is not about providing answers, tonight is about me sharing my family’s story.

In June of 2006, we moved from Alabama to Indiana to take a new job position. We had always had group health insurance and when we took the position in Indiana, we were promised that this position would have group health insurance, as well. Well, the group health insurance did not occur and my wife has a pre-existing condition that every insurance company denies. Thus, we quickly found ourselves without health insurance for my wife.

Thus, we went searching for different avenues of finding care for my wife and we came to dead end after dead end. It was very frustrating going from insurance company to insurance company and government agencies and programs and constantly getting a no; we can not get her covered. One of our major hurdles when we first moved was that we had moved from Alabama to Indiana thus we could not get into any government insurance pools because we had not been a resident for at least 12 months.
In March of 2007, my wife became extremely ill and we went scrambling to find doctors, hospitals and surgeons that would cover her. Unfortunately, the initial visits had to go through the ER and that was a nightmare. It was a nightmare not only because of the care she received but from the cost aspect of it.

We also got denied by our local clinics because we could not pay our hospital bills up-front. So, we could no longer go to the clinic. We were running out of options and went to some doctors and hospitals about an hour away in Indianapolis.

The care that we received was good. However, I have never been so humiliated in my life with a feeling that I did not take care of my wife because I did not have insurance for her. The reason for me not having insurance was far out of my control. But the humiliation was nothing compared to the realization that the surgeon told me that I needed to get her into a medical study grant or find insurance for her immediately or she may not live much longer.

Thus, I did the only thing that I thought that I could do. I sent my name and resume out to find a job that would be able to use my gifts and passion and that would be a good natural fit while providing group insurance for me and my family.

Thankfully, it took less than 3 months for me to find my current position that provides excellent insurance coverage for my family, including my wife. However, it did have to include a conversation with my kids that we had to uproot them again to another state.

We are extremely thankful for the insurance coverage and the proximity of the Cleveland Clinic. Since moving here, twenty-eight months ago - she has had seventeen surgeries. She is alive today because I have a health insurance card in my wallet. If I did not have the card in my wallet, my wife would not be alive today.

I am forever grateful that I have the insurance card in my back pocket and that my wife has her surgeon on speed dial. However, I have a deep mourning in my heart each time that we go in, because I know that there are folks who would love to get in but cannot because they do not have an insurance card. To me, from a religious standpoint, it is a sinful inequality that we have in our country.

The health insurance and health care reform not only touches people’s physical lives though. It touches every aspect; especially the financial aspect. Because of our medical situations (with and without insurance), our credit rating is shot and we are unable to achieve the dream of home-ownership.

It is my hope and my prayer that individuals would not have to walk in our footsteps. But, I know that with the many uninsured that we have in our country, many will and that is a shame.

I dream of a country where all individuals can have access to good health care. I would love to see the day when doctors, hospitals and insurance companies can look into a person’s eye and see patients not profits. It would be great if we as a country can see that this debate is a life and death issue. I look forward to the day that our country, which values life, will stop placing obstacles in the way of those seeking health care.

I believe that with a nation as wealthy and as smart as we are that we can create an impartial and sustainable health-care system.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Baskeball Season ......

is here.

This morning, in about 10 mins, we are headed up to Grace for the boys basketball season opener. Isaiah and Jacob are both playing and they are on the same team.

We will see how the season goes.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Faithful Health Care Reform

I am going to be sharing our personal story at an event called:

Faithful Health Care Reform: A Social Justice Response to the Present Crisis

The event is going to be next Monday, November 9th.

I am a little worried and concerned about making the presentation and sharing the story. Health Care & Health Insurance is a very politically charged issue at the present time and there are folks all across the board on the issue and obviously serving in/with/for a church ------- there are many that will disagree with me.

I do know this though: In My Opinion, something needs to be done about our current situation and I believe that the title (sub) is correct: there is a crisis.

Our family has lived on both sides of the coin: health insurance and no health insurance and let me tell you, it is no fun living on the side w/o health insurance.

To me, I am grateful for what we have, but it is so unjust to the privileged that we have just because I have a card in my back pocket.

Time to Pause

Yesterday was All Saints Day. It is a church holiday that some churches/denominations celebrate and others do not. For us, as a church, in the traditional church, we paused and read all the names of those in the church that have died this year and rang a chime in their honor/remembrance.

It is a time for us to remember those who have finished the race.

Thus, it was also a time for me to pause and say a prayer for those who have lost a dear love one this last year. My prayers are with you.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Family Stuff ......

I am in my office getting ready to head home for a little bit to check on Stacey and Isaiah. Isaiah is home sick with a little bug in his stomach. I think that he will be good in a day or so after some rest and eating crackers and sipping on Ginger Ale.

Stacey is not 100%, so we are going to go up to the Cleveland clinic tomorrow morning/afternoon. We should know alot more tomorrow.

My mom and family are about 4 1/2 hours away at my Uncle Mike's funeral, so I am thinking of them as the day goes on.

There is just a lot of stuff going on with the family.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Back to School ??

I am exploring the possibility of going back to school. No, I would not be leaving Zion. I will continue working FT at Zion. The school is only a hop, skip and a jump away and I think that the degree and process will be very beneficial for me.

I sent them my transcripts and they have replied favorably to them. I will need to take a few ( some would say quite a few ) to begin the degree that I want but they all should be very manageable.

The class(es) will be on Monday. I can give one day a week to go to school and instead of veggin' on the bed and watching 'pointless' tv at night after the kids are asleep, I will watch certain shows with Stacey, read in bed and make the trek to the kitchen table with a cup of coffee when writing needs to take place.

When I hear more definite news, I will let everyone know.

Also, please be in prayer for my mom as one of her brothers passed away yesterday afternoon. It looks like the visitation will be on Sunday evening and the funeral will be on Monday. I am not sure if I am going to make it or not ....

Monday, October 19, 2009

During the Captive Free concert, I snapped this photo. I love this photo for a number of reasons. Here it is:

Yes, I love the photo because it shows my daughter worshiping.
Yes, I love the photo because she is in a Steelers cap.
Yes, I love the photo because she has it on backwards.
Yes, I love the photo because she got the Steeler cap off of daddy's head.

She is a great gal and I just loved the fact that this is Bee being Bee. As a dad, I am extremely happy to see her praising God and what is a better way to do it then doing it in a backawards Steelers cap :)

Captive Free @ SNL

Yesterday, we had Captive Free at Sunday Night Live. Overall, it was a very good evening. There were a few children that were a little disappointed that we were not on our normal night. But, overall, the kids enjoyed the silly songs, the puppets and the story times that they provided. Here is a pic of them:

They have been together for a month and will remain together for a 11 more traveling the east lakes region. One of them is staying with us and Bethany was right next to her talking her ear off. They have the "day off" so they are staying in Woo today and staying with us and then departing in the morning (Tues). The others are in host homes as well - in groups - the 2 boys and the 2 girls. Hopefully all is well with them.

Tonight is council meeting and I am not sure if I am looking forward to it. I guess the one thing about meetings are that they come - no matter if you are ready or not - or if you are looking forward to them or not .....

Maybe I will share a little more about that but I am not sure how much that I can. I may need to be a little cautious, as I try to stay positive.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

On this Saturday ....

This morning, we woke up and did our normal Saturday morning routine. For those of you who do not know, we do donuts on Saturday morning. I think that we have been doing this for about 8 years now. We get up, I go and grab donuts. Isaiah and me have coffee and the rest of the family has milk.

After we had donuts, Bethany and me played a game: I spy.

Over the next 6 hours, we are going to rest a little and pick up a little for our guest tomorrow night. We are having Captive Free come to the church and we are hosting one of them. I will also be watching some football --- not sure which game I will watch.

Later on in the evening, we will head up to the soccer complex to watch Isaiah play his last soccer game of the season. I cannot believe that it is already over - time just absolutely flies. Then after the soccer game, we are headed over to the Park and Rec building for the "haunted hayride". The temperature will be in the high 30's. Hopefully, the participation will hold off because ---- that will be a cold rain.

More tomorrow ...... trying to get back in the routine, we will see.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Scripture Verse & More

This morning, I put the following quote up on my facebook status:
Whether it is the best of times or the worst of times, it is only time we have

Minutes later, I open up my verse and voice of the day email and here was the scripture:

I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.- Joshua 1:9

There are a lot of things going on and there is uncertainty in the air and I am really not sure what to do. Thus, I needed this reminder to be strong and courageous.

Thus, as I take my steps this morning, I am going to try not to be dismayed. I am going to keep focused and I am going to try to remain positive.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Time ....

Time seems to be going by at a very quick pace. Between family activities, church events and the continual tweaking of Sunday Night Live ..... there is not much time.

This past weekend was a rough one for me. A church friend passed away. I was in the church office on Saturday morning doing some final prep for ministry on Sunday when the phone rang. Normally with it being Saturday, I would have let it go through but I picked it up. It was the ER nurse at our local hospital.

She was looking for Pastor because a family had requested his presence. At first, I thought it might be a "chaplain" call because he is one of the chaplains there but with a question or two, I found it was a church family. I asked her if she could ask the family to release the name, they did and when she said Bill Ports, I almost fell out of my chair.

Bill Ports was a loving and compassionate man that supported me and the youth ministry through verbal and financial support. He was also one of those men who was around the church 2-3 times a week. I am going to miss him greatly.

One of the reasons that I am still in shock is that less than 24 hours before his death, he was in my office talking about ministry. He was sharing with me ideas about a "toy drive" for Christmas and who the drive would benefit (our local community kids). We were going to meet this week to put more meat to the bones ......

Talking about time, I need to get in the bath. We are headed up to the Cleveland Clinic today for an appointment for Isaiah and Bethany. Then, my to-do-list to get the things accomplished is extensive and the in-laws are coming in late tonight. We will see if I get everything done.

BTW, Sunday Night Live, week 2 went very well.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

SNL: Night One

Well, about 48 hours ago, we had our first Sunday Night Live. It went really well overall. We had 55 people that came out for the evening.

Big Group time ( K-6th grade and their parents ) went well and that is one segment that I was a little worried about. But, the video songs seemed to work, the interaction with the crowd was good and the bible story and video brought home the lesson.

They even were "tuned" in as I was speaking about the three pillars that we are basing the ministry on. The three pillars are wisdom, friendship, and faith.

After big group time, the kids have an option of church notes or bible connection. Each one of them was successful even though there was a glitch in the teaching rotation for the bible connection. An early hiccup (small problem) may occur with church notes though. I am meeting with Daphne on Thursday morning to go over this issue. The hiccup is the number of students and the age range. Thus, we may need to see about "adding" a group - multiplying it to two groups.

I did have an issue or two that were brought up by council last night in regards to the ministry and how it was launched. I am taking some deep breaths on the issue and trying not to focus on it and trying to build upon the positives and working on week two.

This week, I am writing personalized letters th those families who came to SS last year but did not come to SNL. I do not want to lose these families and I want them there (need them there) to help make SNL a success. But, we have to keep moving forward and reaching out to those in our community.

If you want to see some pic from opening night, take a look here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Adam & Eve Humor

I am sure that you have always wondered how men walking without shirts became acceptable; well, here you go.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gearing Up for Sunday Night Lve

In 5 days, Sunday Night Live begins. I am looking forward to it but I am also very nervous about the night. The nervousness comes because I am not sure what to expect.

For those of you who do not know, we are "moving" Sunday School from our Sunday morning schedule at Zion. They have been doing SS on Sunday morning for as long as anyone at the church can remember (probably over 100+ years, at least). We are moving it to Sunday night. Thus, Sunday Night Live is born.

So, September 20th begins a new era in the ministry of Zion. I do not have everything in place and it is not exactly what I want but it is a HUGHE step in the direction that I believe that we need to go and the direction that God wants us to go as we reach out to those that surround us.

There have been a few individuals that have questioned my sanity about moving or "cancelling" Sunday School. But for me, we had to try something new and different.

Right or wrong there were few individuals that shared interest that they might come out in the evening but there is no way that they were coming out at 10 am on a Sunday morning and some of it was because their parents would not get them there - they were sleeping.

I also think that by making the shift, it will make changing programming and implementing new ministries easier for us as a church and it will also free us up on Sunday mornings.

If you want to see a little bit about the ministry, you can check out SNL, here.

The list of things that I need to do before Sunday is extensive. However, at the same time, I am the least worried about "perfection", "smooth transitions", "all in place" and all that jazz. The reason ( I hope ) is that even though we are emphasing many aspects that we believe will help children, students and parents .... it all boils down to relationships and trying to create a place that we all can be ourselves and more often then not -- that is messy - not perfect and polished.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Isaiah is 12

It is unbelievable.

My wife shares her thoughts on him:

My Hero

Isaiah turns 12 today! I cannnot believe he's only one year from becoming a teenager. I'm not possibly old enough to have an 12-year-old child... am I?

At 4:57 am this morning, it was/will be officially 12 years since the birth of our little 2 lb 3 oz, 13 1/4 inch long, 28 weeker, wonder baby. His birth marked the end of what felt like the world's longest but also shortest pregnancy. I'd been on bed-rest for 10 weeks by the time he was born. I had thrown up at least three times everyday practically from conception. I had been in excrutiating pain the same amount of time. I had been told by doctors that I was just having normal pregnancy pains and to get used to it. I had lost 30 lbs from his conception to his birth. I was so sick. I didn't know exactly how sick until two days after his birth when I woke-up with a 106 degree temp and couldn't move from the incredible pain. I ended up in emergency surgery at 11:00 that night fighting for my life. This was when my Crohn's disease was diagnosed.

While I was fighting for my life, so was my little guy. After a day or two, his weight had dropped to a frightening 1 lb 12 oz. When he was born, he just looked like a really small, but healthy baby. After losing a several ounces, he looked like a sick baby. Although at the time, I didn't think so. I just saw the precious baby that I had wanted since I was a five year old putting a pillow under my shirt pretending I was pregnant.

I spent many moments in tears wondering what would happen during that time. If you've ever given birth and had a "normal" delivery and baby, you know the emotions and hormones that run thru you. Multiply that feeling by 1000 and you have an idea of what giving birth to a sick baby does to ones emotions. Then add in the stress of being sick for six months straight, surgery, and medical bills, and you've got one emotional train wreck as a mama.

After I was finally released from the hospital to go home, two weeks after my arrival, I went to the hospital to see him as often as I could. Most weeks that meant 7 out of 7 days. On occasion my mother and the nurses made me stay home to rest. On those days I called several times to check on him.

There was a point sometime during his first month of life that they sent us home one evening and told us to discuss the option of turning off the machines that were keeping him alive. This was right after they had told us that he had a severe interventricular brain hemorhage and hydrocephulus. Basically his little brain was supposedly so damaged that he probably would never do most of the things we take for granted. It didn't look good for our little guy. We decided that we would allow him to be whoever he was supposed to be though. We did and look at who he has turned into today.

He's the most amazing 12 year old I've ever had the pleasure to be around. He's a hard worker, which comes naturally when you have to teach yourself,at 15 months old, to get around somehow because your brain isn't letting you crawl, so you decide that scooting on your butt is a good option. He destroyed the butts of many cute little outfits by scooting around like that. He used his hands and the sides of his ankles to push around. It was a sight to behold. I remember when one of the people at the development center shot down my thrill about his scooting around and told me that he had to crawl or he wasn't developing properly. I never stepped foot in their office again. We found another person who would rejoice and celebrate what he could do, not discourage us for what he wasn't able to do.

By the time he began walking at the age of two, I had been taught the most valuable lesson in my life... don't take anything that your children do for granted. Parents of typical children just assume their child will do everything when they are supposed to. We knew he probably never would. He never has. He does everything when he's ready and not a second sooner. I've learned to rejoice in everything. I've learned that slower doesn't mean dumber as many people think. It means that he thinks differently, and wow does he.

He's an amazing kid that has overcome alot in his first 12 years of life. He's had to work harder in his 12 years than most of us will in 50. I find myself wanting to protect him from all the crap that the world will surely bring his way in the years to come. Right now he lives in what I call "Isaiah land". This protects him from the other kids who might tease or make fun because they can't always understand what he says because of his speech delay. Part of me hopes that he always lives in "Isaiah Land", but I know that one day he'll leave there and see the world for what it really is. I dread that moment because that'll be the day when I wanna step in and fix it all for him and I know I won't be able to. He has to learn to live in the world as Isaiah Michael Greathouse.

So, Big Guy, on this 12th birthday of yours... a day we weren't sure we'd celebrate 12years ago... Happy Birthday to my favorite 12 year old! I love you soooooooooooo much! You are my hero!

My wife shares it so well that I was not even going to attempt it.

Isaiah is an unbelievable kid and as each day goes by, the more and more that I am amazed at him. His determination, heart and effort is unmatched.

I love you buddy !

Friday, August 28, 2009

First Day of School 2009

On Monday, August 24th, our three kids went off to school. Isaiah and Jacob are in fifth grade and Bethany is in first grade. I cannot believe that they are in those grades. Time definitely seems to be flying by.

The first week of school seems to have been a good one with the exception of Bethany already having to miss a day of school. They like their teachers and are settling in nicely.

The boys are definitely not wanting to walk with dad and little sis, so they take a few minute lead going and coming back and they seem to be good with that and it makes mom feel more comfortable knowing that I am not too far behind.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I am a Alive

Yes, I am alive. It has been a very long week and I am working on a few different projects and the time is slipping past and I am not coming to the blog to type out any thoughts and I am not checking any of my favorite blogs either and that is a little sad.

One of the quotes that I mentioned that has been swirling around my head is the following: Your direction, not your intentions, will determine your destination.

We, at Zion, are in the midst of changing our direction as it relates to children, youth and family. The change in direction ( in my opinion ) is absolutely necessary because we will not end up where we want to be by going in the same direction.

Over the last 2 years, we have had good intentions and we have made a few shifts, but not a true directional change and those intentions are not going to get us where we want to be. Thus, we are changing direction.

I do not know if the directional changes will completely lead us to that destination. I am not sure if the changes that we are implementing will be successful. However, I feel very strongly that God has been pressing these on my heart.

In the end, I did not want to sit in staff meeting next May evaluating program/ministry and go, this year was not too successful. I wonder what the ministry would look like today if we made the changes.

So, what if propelled me to change direction.
I fully believe the change of direction will lead us to our destination.

We have the potential to reach individuals that we normally would not reach.

To some, the change is going to be very small.
To some, the change is going to be very large.

For me, I am looking forward to the change and the adventure that is about to occur. There is still alot of work to do over the next 31 days till we "launch" the new ministry.

More details coming.

Friday, August 14, 2009


A few individuals came me that advice today via facebook and they are absolutely right that I need to breathe. I also need to pick-up my morning walk (maybe not as early or as far). I need tothink and clear out the mind a little and create some "space".

There is change in the air or at least steps to make changes that will occur in 37 days and there is a lot to do before it happens. In a sense, I am not really worried about that because I think that it will com all together just like VBS but here is hesitation in my step and I need to have that removed.

There are a few quotes that are pouncing my head and I am going to blog about them the next week. The first one will be the following:

Your direction, not your intentions will determine your destination.

I believe for us to end up where e want/need to be then our direction needs to change.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sound of Music | Central Station Antwerp (Belgium)

I was given a heads up about a video to "brighten" up my day. Here is the story about the video and then the video. It really is worth 5 minutes of your time. When you watch, make sure you take time to look at some of the passer-by faces.

More than 200 dancers were performing their version of "Do Re Mi", in the Central Station of Antwerp. with just 2 rehearsals they created this amazing stunt! Those 4 fantastic minutes started the 23 of march 2009, 08:00 AM. It is a promotion stunt for a Belgian television program, where they are looking for someone to play the leading role, in the musical of "The Sound of Music".

Monday, August 03, 2009

At The Cleveland Clinic

We are at the Clinic again. Stacey was not doing well, so she gave the nurses/doctor a call. They were in contact with the surgeon and she put her on the surgery schedule.

It was a whirlwind getting a sitter for the kids and getting her up to the hospital but it all worked out. I am in the waiting room right now. The surgeon has come out and talked to me, the procedure went fine. She is not in recovery yet, should be very soon.

They will watch her for 60-90 mins (most likely) and then release her, we will then be bac on our way down to Woo.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Very Odd ... Stat Tracker

I only have a few handfuls of people that check in my blog, but occasionally, I get "spikes". Sometimes, these spikes are amusing over why the came here. Here is a sample: the photo is small but if you click on it, it will come bigger.

On Sunday, July 26 (typically a slow day - om 7/19, I had 5 hits), I had 83 hits with 130 pageviews (110 were the same post) and the next day, Monday the 27th, I had 9 hits. All the hits came from a 2007 post on born again lazy .... weird I tell you.

In case your curious, here are the top 4 posts (reviewed)

# 1 - William Paul Interview

# 2 - Badaboomz-Ale-House-Grill

# 3 - Gandhi-Christianity

# 4 - Ray-Boltz-Out-Of-Closet

My highest day by far was on November 5th, 2008 with 185 hits and they were almost all on my Ale House Grill post, a cook linked to me because of the burger.

Words of Thanks: Ray Nagin

Words of Thanks - New Orleans Mayor, C. Ray Nagin, New Orleans City Councilwoman, Cynthia Willard-Lewis, and ELCA Presiding Bishop, Mark Hanson express their gratitude.Mayor Nagin's delivered his remarks to the Youth Gathering on Saturday night, July 25th at the Louisiana Superdome


On Saturday night, Mayor Nagin came out during the general session and gave a special thanks to us. Here is the video:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

We Will Rock (Love) You

The House Band did a "parody" to We Will Rock You - it was We Will Love You. Take 4 minutes to watch - feel the energy of 37,000 Lutherans ... see, we can have fun.

By the way, are you truly loving people ?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Back In Ohio

I am back in Ohio.

It was a great trip to New Orleans. We had an absolute blast.

The 19 hour drive down there ( 2 days - hotel stay in Tuscaloosa ) was great and very uneventful. We did run into some heavy rain in Alabama and Mississippi, but nothing that was over-bearing. We decided to park in the Park-N-Fly by the airport and ride the shuttle to the airport and then ride the hotel shuttle in (smart move). All of that was fantastic and smooth.

Our hotel was unbelievable. It was the nicest hotel that I believe that I ever stayed at. The hotel was the Chateau Bourbon and is located at the corners of Iberville and Bourbon and Canal ( a whole block ). It is in a fantastic location - great walking distance to everything.

The one thing that I love about NOLA is the food, it is out of the world and we had some great times at the restaurants. There is probably only one that I would cross off my list for the next time that I am in the city and that would be Deanie's. We only chose that because it was very late - Sat night - and it was next to our hotel.

I think that my favorite few hours of the trip was our Saturday morning walk to Jackson Square to go to Cafe Du Mounde for beignets. We sat on the steps across the square and enjoyed the morning. We then walked back to the hotel and swam for 90 mins - we were the only ones in the pool and then went to the Red Fish Grill for lunch on Bourbon Street. Those 5 hours were a total blast.

The main sessions were great. It was wonderful being there with 37,000 people worshiping God. The house band was excellent, the variety of speakers were very good and the musicians were good (especially Skillet).

Our drive home was once again excellent and this time we stopped in Cullman.

The 7 youth and 3 adults that went made up an excellent team and I am extremely thankful for them. I also am very thankful for the awesome support of their parents and churches who made this happen. It will be an experience the youth will not forget.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Post 1,000

I have had numerous blogs before Thoughts From Jeff but a couple of years ago, I switched to Thoughts From Jeff for the "catch all" of most things. In the blog, I throw everything in here and that drives people crazy because they never know what to expect.

I am logged in tonight/this morning from New Orleans. i was going to make a post on The Gathering and share a few thoughts about The Gathering and New Orleans and as I did that, I noticed that this will be my 1,000 post on this blog, so I decided to make a note of that - not that many people care about it.

I am going to put a video up that is poor quality - a great thing to do on my 1,000 post; right ???

The video is from the Skillet concert that ended a few hours ago. The song is called Last night and it is a very powerful song. As mentioned, the quality is pretty bad. I "filmed" it on my old camera that is not meant for videos of this sort.

However, I wanted to show it because of the pyro and the excitement that you can see of the 37,000 people that are at the gathering. I am at over 500 photos already. I am not sure what I am going to do with getting some of them on the blog. They are all loaded on facebook if you are there and a friend of mine. Maybe, I will do my Top 20 when I get home.

I am looking forward to tomorrow - it is Cafe Du Monde morning. Yum.

I am out, I should have done something fancy for this post, like my top 10 posts of all times .. but that is too much work :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

What A Week

Last week was fantastic.

We had our Vacation Bible School at the church and it was excellent. We had a really great time. Our theme for the week was Superheroes and the kids seemed to really get into it; especially on Friday when they were able to come as a superhero of their choice.

The thing that I am holding onto are the connections. We have some wonderful individuals that live in Wooster and they came to be part of the VBS and the time together was great.

Also, I had the opportunity to meet some of the children of the community. I "knew" a good many of them from Cornerstone and around town but never really spent time with them and this week, I had the opportunity to do that - they are a wonderful bunch and I look forward to partnering with them in various ways ......

This week is also going to be hectic but fantastic. In 22 hours, we will be departing for New Orleans. We have 7 students and 3 adults who are headed down there. We will meet up with 37,000 people down there - great times.

Tomorrow, we will travel about 12 hours and spend the night in Tucaloosa, Alabama. It will/should bring back some Alabama memories. We will be in NOLA from Wednesday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. We then begin the trek back and we will once again stay in Alabama over night before getting back to Woo on Monday night.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Vacation Bible School

Night 3 was a great night. We had 66 kids and we talked about Gideon and having courage. Here are the pics of night 3 set to the song On and On. This is the video that we are showing on day 4 (thursday) closing:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Salvation Is Here

Here is the song Salvation Is Here. I put VBS pics (the first two nights) to it. I just finished it and we will be showing it during our closing session tonight. They love seeing their pics on the big screen and it will also reinforce the song - they will be singing it at the closing program.

We had 73 kids on night one and 67 kids yesterday. We are having fun and the kids seem to be enjoying the Superheroes theme.

Monday: Kid Confidence: Daniel
Tuesday: The Forgivenator: Esau

Tonight is Guts Girl with us looking at Gideon. I will share more stories and more pics later.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

VBS is Upon Us

On Monday, VBS starts. It has been a very long week wrapping everything up. There have been many 12 hour days. Thus, I have not been in contact with many people.

I am looking forward to the week, it should be fun. We have 58 kids pre-registered. I am not sure how many of them will show or how many more we will have come that have not registered.

Almost everything is set.

Ready, Set, Go.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Matt Moniz: A Hero

BOULDER, Colo. — Matt Moniz, the 11-year-old Boulderite who became the youngest person ever to summit Argentina's 22,841-foot Cerro Aconcagua last December, has set his sights on a daunting new project.

Starting Friday, he and a group of family and friends will attempt to climb 14 of Colorado's 14ers in 14 days to raise money for an ailing friend, Ian Hess.

So far, Moniz has raised about $14,000. Details of the climbing project are on Moniz's Web site,

Way to Go Matt ! I hope that the journey goes well for you and thank-you for compassion and your willingness to help your friend. We, adults, have a lot to learn from you.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Fall 2009

I have taken a few hour break from my Vacation Bible School preparation and have been working on calendaring for the fall. I am really not sure what direction that I want to lean. A lot of it may rest on a few of my confirmation students. I would like to switch confirmation to Sunday night and move "youth" to Wednesday night; at least, I think that is what I want to do .... BUT, I am also looking at the "upper elementary" age and what we might be able to place on the calendar. We have a good potentioal there. I am not sure if that would be a Sunday afternoon and if we would do 1 or 2 times a month. We will have to see.

I also have been looking at weekend trips for each group and how that will play on the calendar and how it will "mesh" not only with each other but other things on the church calendar. I feel that I am at a dance. I need (want) to dance with a few different folks but I cannot have the dances overlap ....

Maybe, I will put that aside and focus back on VBS. I think that i am going to have fun with one group and have 3 Chris's be the group leader ....

Back to planning ....

Monday, June 29, 2009

Chicken BBQ

On Sunday, we had our Zion Chicken BBQ. It is an annual event and it is a good time of food and fellowship. Our guys hit up grils and grilled hundreds of chickens. The folks of Zion brought great amounts of food and we had a great lunch. Here are just a few pics to give you a tasted of the day. C'mon out next year, it is the Sunday after Father's Day.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Here, Am I ....

no, I am not going to be giving a post about the Prophet Isaiah.

I just wanted to let people who only follow my around on the blog world that I am here and I am still alive. The past week has been a very long and training week. The list of things that occur are exhaustive and just looking at it makes me tired.

Hopefully, in the next few days, I will be able to take longer than 5 minutes and give you an update or two on things that are occurring.

Things are in high gear at the church with Vacation Bible School and The national Gathering in New Orleans closing in upon us.

Things in the community are moving along very nicely as well. An area of interest for me is that the Bridges out of Poverty initiative is shaping up nicely and there is an "announcement" that I may be making in about three weeks that will connect me to the community in another way - which i am a little nervous about but also very exciting.

Okay, the printer, copier and binders are awaiting me. I have to get some things in their correct place before DZ tonight for the preschool section of Vacation Bible School.

If there are any locals reading this, I want to encourage you to come on over for VBS as we take a look at Superheroes. It will be a good time. The days are July 13 - 17 from 6:00 - 8:30.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sermon: June 21st, 2009

Sermon: June 21, 2009
Zion Lutheran Church
by Jeff Greathouse

The Texts

Job 38:1-11
Psalms 107:1-3, 23-32
2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Mark 4:35-41

The Sermon

I have to tell you that when I first read the scriptural text for this Sunday, my first thought was that I needed to move away from the lectionary text and preach a sermon on some scripture that I liked and felt a little more comfortable with.

The texts that are in the lectionary for today are some rough texts for me.

In the Old Testament text, we see God calling out Job. He told Job to stand up tall and take it like a man. He asked him questions. The questions made Job looked down at the ground and Job had no answers for God. God looked at Job and said, “Job, I am God … you are not.”

Now in the Psalms, we are treated with the following:

Some of you set sail in big ships; you put to sea to do business in faraway ports. Out at sea you saw GOD in action, saw his breathtaking ways with the ocean: With a word he called up the wind— an ocean storm, towering waves!

You shot high in the sky, then the bottom dropped out; your hearts were stuck in your throats. You were spun like a top, you reeled like a drunk, you didn't know which end was up. Then you called out to GOD in your desperate condition; he got you out in the nick of time.

I know that I have been in that place before. I have been at the bottom. I have been clawing for the top, hoping and praying that I will get rescued.

The “wow” though was that God called out the storm …. Let me get to the Gospel, I am sure to find some hope there; right ?

In the Gospel reading, we see Jesus using these loving words to his disciples: "Why are you such cowards? Don't you have any faith at all?"

As I mentioned, as I read these scriptures, I was ready to toss them out. But then, I decided to re-read them and re-read them through a different lens – a fresh lens – and my eyes were open to something refreshing. It was not a huge a-ha moment but a gentle reminder, a pat on the back moment. Do you want to know what it was:

I can make a difference.

I look at the characters in the three stories and I see Job, David and the disciples.

These are individuals that have been put up on pedal stools and rightfully so. They are individuals who loved God passionately and overcame tremendous odds and had a marvelous relationship with God. Yet they struggled and they had a rough go at it and they did not have it all together at times.

Thus, I find comfort in the fact that I am not alone.

So, what are we to do with the scripture that we read? I think that we are to take a look at them and grab a hold of some essential truths:

1. God created this wonderful world.
2. God’s love never runs out.
3. God is in control.

These are three truths that we are able to pull out of the lectionary scriptures.

These are three truths that we can hang our hat on. We may not understand what is going on and have a thousand questions but God is there and He is waiting for us.

Speaking of God, let us take a deeper look at Him and what we can learn about Him and the relationship that is possible to have with Him; the creator of the universe.

This episode of Jesus and his disciples on the storm tossed sea of Galilee recalls the confidence of the Hebrew people that in the beginning God had ordered the chaos of the raging waters in Creation and continued to have authority over stormy seas, the power to calm the winds and bring God's own to their desired haven. So, in the Gospel reading Jesus rebukes the winds and says to the sea, "Peace, be still," and that spoken word is all it takes to quiet the waters. The disciples are awed by the divine power present in Jesus, for the wind and sea obey him.

This story was remembered however, not only for what it revealed about God's presence in the person of Jesus to the disciples, but for what the story meant for future generations. The story was remembered and retold because it revealed God's presence in the storms of life. When the Church's early life seemed at risk, Mark and the other evangelists recalled this episode and wrote it down.

Jesus being revealed as God's own Son by his authority over the winds and the waves. These stories were told again to remind God's own that Jesus was with them; Jesus is with us, in all the storms of this life. Which is not quite the same thing as saying that because of God's presence; God will immediately calm the storm, or bring God’s own to safe harbor right away.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer states it this way:

"We do not necessarily doubt that God will do the best for us; we are merely
wondering how painful the best will turn out to be."

Let me read that again:

"We do not necessarily doubt that God will do the best for us; we are merely
wondering how painful the best will turn out to be."

Or, in the image of today's Gospel, we are wondering how much water is going to get into the boat.

The appealing part of the image of God's Spirit protecting over the chaos of creation is the notion that God cares enough to protect. When we are in the midst of chaos and despair, we want to know that someone is concerned. The concern of the disciples is whether Jesus cares. We all want to know that someone cares. It helps us when life is difficult.

I would like to share a story that Stephanie Weiner ( pastor in NJ ) shares when she speaks:

Doug was a 15-year old resident of a suburb next to mine. He had been feeling badly for several days. His temperature ranged between 103 and 105. He was suffering flu-like symptoms, and so his mother took him to the hospital, and there he was diagnosed with leukemia.

The doctors told him in frank terms about his disease. They said that for the next three years he would have to undergo chemotherapy. They didn't sugarcoat the side effects. They told him he would be bald and that his body would become bloated. He heard all of us this, and Doug went into a deep depression.

He aunt called a florist and sent him some flowers. She told the clerk that they were for her teenage nephew who had leukemia. When the flowers arrived, they were beautiful. Doug read the card from his aunt, and then he saw a second card. It said, "Douglas, I took your order. I work at the florist shop. I had leukemia when I was seven years old. I'm 22 now. Good luck. My heart goes out to you. Sincerely, Laura."

Doug's face lit up. "Oh!" he said.

There he was in one of the best hospitals in the nation, filled with millions of dollars of sophisticated medical equipment. He was being treated by expert doctors and nurses with medical training totaling hundreds of years. But it was a sales clerk in a flower shop--someone who made a few hundred dollars a week--who took the time to care, who identified with him, who did what her heart told her to do who gave Doug the hope and the will to carry on.

We have the opportunity to pass on hope to individuals in our community. What are you doing to pass on hope ?

Let’s us go back to the disciples …

The disciples wanted to know that Jesus cared, that he had protection over them. And he did. The story took his caring one step further. After Jesus woke, he spoke to the winds and the waves. "Peace! Be still!" And they were. That was the ancient way of saying that Jesus was stronger than the chaos of life. It was the early church's way of claiming his lordship over the natural world as well as the human one. Jesus both cares and does something about his caring. The wind ceases and there is a dead calm. "Peace! Be still!"

There is a tradition in The British Navy. If there is a sudden disaster aboard ship, the "still" is blown. It's a whistle that calls the crew to a moment of silence in a time of crisis. When the still is blown, people aboard know that it means, "Prepare to do the wise thing." Observers of this system note that the moment of calm has helped avert many a catastrophe. It has prevented many scatterbrained actions.

It is amazing what you can do when you have power and claim it, when you know the value of stillness and practice it, when you do not give into panic but hear the words of Jesus spoken with authority, "Peace! Be still," when you not only hear those words but apply them to your own life.

Now, I don't know about you, but too often I don't practice stillness. In a bad situation, I more often think that something needs to be done and done now. Well, what if we practiced stillness? What if we claimed the power and authority to slow the response? What if we took stock of our situation a bit more before we acted? With the disciples, we might recognize that our situation is not as desperate as it seems; and if, it is that desperate -- it can still be handled better by a calm, reasoned approach.

Sometimes circumstances come in and we are overwhelmed by what is happening in our lives. We wonder whether or not in the midst of out of control there is any way in which we can discover the help and the love of God.

Sometimes when circumstances of our lives break in upon us, it feels like that to us. It feels as if when the waves are threatening to swamp our boat that God is asleep and is no where to be seen, no where to be found. In that circumstance we wonder just as the disciples wondered about Jesus.

It is interesting that their question about Jesus is a question that says: Don’t you care, Lord? Don’t you care, Rabbi (or teacher)? Don’t you care if we drown? Are you so indifferent to what we have to deal with that you can just sleep right through it?

For us, thrown out of work, faced with an unexpected and frightening medical diagnosis, struggling with financial pressures, caught in a relationship which seems to be deteriorating and going no where, or a phone call that comes and all of a sudden the heart leaps in pain and anguish, we cry out in spite of ourselves, "Lord, can it be that I have looked to you, I’ve sought your help, I’ve discovered so many good things about your love, and yet here in this circumstance it seems that you don’t care, that you are not here, that you are sound asleep? Don’t you care if we drown?"

And yet they did the right thing in the midst of those circumstances. They knew where to cry out. They knew who to cry out to. And the person they cried out to was the Savior. They were discovering more and more about His love, about His compassion, about His ability, and they woke Him with their cry.

Jesus in other places in the New Testament says to us that it is alright to cry to God. In fact, God invites us to cry. We are told to ask, to seek, to knock, and to pound on the door of heaven. You can almost see the disciples here as the waves break in and the storm is furious. They do the one thing that is left to do. They had done all that was possible to do with their human skill and now they cry in their neediness to Jesus. And Jesus hears and responds to that cry. Our fears are so often very strong when the storms threaten to overwhelm us that we can cry to Jesus and know that he hears and that he will respond to the cry of our hearts.

Regardless of the situation that you may find yourself in today, I want you to know this one thing: God is in control. No matter what the test, God is in control. Stand the storm. Remember, God is in control. You can make it. God is in control. It's passing over. Remember, church, God is in control.

Friday, June 19, 2009

16 & Pregnant

The Show

MTV's 16 and Pregnant focuses on the controversial subject of teen pregnancy. Each episode follows a period in the life of a teenager as she navigates the bumpy terrain of adolescence, growing pains, rebellion and coming of age; all while dealing with being pregnant.

Each of the girls stories offers a unique look into the wide variety of challenges pregnant teens face: marriage, adoption, religion, gossip, finances, rumors among the community, graduating high school, getting (or losing) a job.

Last Night

Farrah is a popular cheerleader from Council Bluffs, Iowa, but when her friends start gossiping about her becoming a single mom, she abandons her high school life and starts spending way too much time with her overbearing mother.

The Show: 41 mins

I thought that it was a good show and I think that it would be a great show for parents and teenagers to watch together and talk. There are episodes that might be good for parent/student to watch at a "church/small group" and have part of student ministry.

Ordinary Radicals

The video above does not give a full picture of the documentary. However, I am looking forward to watching the film with a few individuals tonight. Hopefully, it will "spark" something in me tonight.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Taking Pictures

On the last day of vacation, we were taking group pics. My sister wanted to have a picture of all the kids and grandkids of our parents. So, we all sat on the steps and my sister gave her camera to my mom. My mom was struggling a little. I had my camera with me and I decided to flip it on and switch it to video and see what we might catch. Here are my parents trying to get a group pic :)

I love you guys. They may have "struggled" a little, but they got some real good pics for us. THANK YOU !!

Here are a few pics from our vacation:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Tribe Game

We went to the Cleveland Indians vs. St. Louis Cards game yesterday. The Cards won 3-1 on 2 Pujols home runs. Here are a few pics. If you want to see more, check out my facebook page.