Tag Archives: Madison

Willingness

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said.
Matthew 8:3a (NIV)

When my daughter Madison was about four years old I called out to her from my home office in the basement of our home. She came scampering in my office from the next room where she had been playing. I needed something (I can’t remember what it was) retrieved from upstairs. “Will you go upstairs and get it?” I asked.

“Sure Dad!” she said with a big smile and child-like excitement. “I’ll be happy to!” And with that she ran off, immediately did as I asked, and cheerfully returned with the item.

I sat there for a moment thoroughly dumbstruck by her willing attitude. I can vividly remember sitting there and enjoying that little moment. She didn’t do what I asked grudgingly. She didn’t do what I asked dutifully. She didn’t do what I asked because I paid her allowance. She didn’t do what I asked out of obligation or familial obedience. She did what I asked out of a cheerful, willing attitude. I’ve never forgotten that moment.

One of the rarely demonstrated service skills I teach my clients is the simple act of expressing your willingness to do what a customer asks.

“Can you…?”
“I’ll be more than happy to do that for you.”

“Will you…?”
“You bet I will. I’m on it.”

“Is it possible…?”
“It sure is. And I’ll be glad to take care of it.”

In this morning’s chapter, Jesus begins by using this simple service skill when asked by leper if He’d be “willing” to heal him.

“I am willing,” Jesus said, and I imagine the warm smile on his face as he reaches out to touch the contagious, infected, deformed leper.

The rest of the chapter reveals so much about Jesus willingness:

  • Willingness to heal the son of a member of the despised Roman occupational force. (I’m guessing that Jesus’ disciple, Simon the Zealot, would have preferred Jesus kill both the Roman Centurion and his son).
  • Willingness to cast out evil spirits and heal anyone and everyone who came to him.
  • Willingness to heal the mother of his friend, Peter.
  • Willingness to use His power and authority to calm both the sea, and his followers fears.
  • Willingness to show mercy, even to His spiritual enemies, and grant the demons’ request.’

This morning I’m enjoying the memory of Madison’s cheerful attitude. I’m thinking about Jesus willing attitude, and I’m recalling what He said in yesterday’s chapter as He concluded His “Sermon on the Mount”:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

I must confess that I, too often, approach God and Life with the attitude of scarcity. I expect that God wants to punish more than bless, and even if He does bless me He will be miserly doling out those blessings. “After all,” I think to myself, “I’m such a wretch that I should be grateful for anything I receive.” I sometimes attach to God my own warped image of the begrudging parent. Ugh. I see God out of the lens of my own personal shortcomings.

“If you’re willing,” I hear Jesus whispering to my heart this morning in the quiet of my home office, “you can choose to see me differently. To see me as I am: Willing.”

Yes, Lord. I’d be happy to do so. By the way, thank you for your willingness to be patient, and to help open my eyes.

New Years 2016

New Years is always a whirlwind and a time of celebration for Wendy and me. This year was no different, and the holidays were stretched out more than normal for us.

New Year’s Eve was our 11th wedding anniversary. Wendy and I gathered here at VW Manor with a small group of friends. Last year was a bit of a blowout as we celebrated our 10th. This year was a low-key affair. We told everyone to wear sweats or pajamas if they wanted to do so. We snacked, we chatted, we played a few rounds of Head’s Up, and we laughed. It was a laid-back way to say good-bye to a very strange 2016 and welcome 2017 with all its possibilities.

Madison could not get home from South Carolina until late last week. So New Year’s Day was the first we got to see her since she joined us at the lake this past summer.  Wendy and I drove to Ankeny for a New Year’s Day gathering of the Hall clan. Taylor and Madison drove up from Des Moines to join us. It was a chance to see Becky, Court, and Lydia one more time before they flew back to Colorado and a chance for the girls to hang out with the family.

We returned to Pella in the afternoon and had our Christmas celebration with the four of us. It was fun to sit together in front of the fireplace ad enjoy opening gifts between the four of us. We then settled in for a relaxing evening together on the family room couch. Supper was a hodgepodge of leftovers on the counter to snack on. We watched the recorded Vikings/Bears game and then watched Cinderella together. It was really a lot of fun.

Yesterday was the only full day we had with Maddy Kate. Wendy made a fabulous breakfast for us. The entire morning was spent eating, drinking coffee, and great conversation around the dining room table. The afternoon was an equally laid-back affair. We opted for a Sherlock binge. We watched. Taylor knitted. Madison and I worked on editing a video for a little project she wanted to do together. Wendy scoured Pinterest and we discussed house ideas. And, in true family fashion, we baptized the living room rug with two spills that necessitated moving of the couch and cleaning up.

Wendy made a wonderful evening meal of tilapia, sweet potato wedges, and rice. We then capped our evening by planning our wardrobe for family pictures we’re taking this morning, and watching the newest episode of Sherlock which premiered on New Year’s Day.

It feels like a bit of a stretched out holiday this year. With Christmas and New Year’s on Sundays, it feels like we’ve stretched two two-day holidays into two four-day holidays. Today we take family pictures, say good-bye to Madison, and then settle back into routine.

The Latest 10-15-2016

Life continues to feel like a whirlwind, whipping Wendy and me from one thing to the next. This past couple of weeks and weekends was no exception.  I spent the entire  work week, last week, on the road to Texas, working with a client there in Laredo and San Antonio. Wendy stayed busy with rehearsals for The Christmas Post here at home.

 

I arrived home on Friday evening in time for the Cubs first playoff game against San Francisco. Wendy had beer, hot dogs, and nachos ready and the living room here at Vander Well Manor was transformed into our own little ball park for the game. Glad to say our Cubbies won in dramatic fashion. Classic pitcher’s duel into the bottom of the 8th when Javy Baez hit a solo-shot to left for the game’s only run. I spent the late innings texting updates, like a modern form of the telegraph, to our friend Kevin who was monitoring the game in Palm Springs. So much fun to get to text the good news.

Saturday was Union Street Players annual Award’s Night. This year our friend Spence Ver Meer was inducted to the USP Walk of Fame. Spence starred with Wendy in the 2005 production of Barefoot in the Park and it was an honor to be part of the festivities. While Wendy spent Saturday morning at rehearsal, I spent the time preparing slides, video, and music for the festivities. It was a full day of preparation as Wendy had made cheesecake’s for our dessert. The event went really well. The local improv group who performed (made up mostly of USP members) even got Wendy to volunteer to help out on the final game. That’s not an easy feat but it was hilarious to watch (see featured image).

Wendy continues to do a masterful job directing The Christmas Post for Union Street Players. Performances are scheduled Dec 2-4, 6, 8, 9 here in Pella. You don’t want to miss this! I’ll be on stage reprising my role as Mr. Herzog.

I preached again last Sunday morning in the auditorium at Third. We kicked off a series on the love chapter. Wendy and I got a little rest watching the Vikings beat the Texans in the afternoon before our preparations for the coming week kicked into high gear. The whirlwind continues.

Madison got some Cubbie swag to help maintain her Midwest roots in SC!
Madison got some Cubbie swag to help maintain her Midwest roots in SC!

Madison is safe and sound in South Carolina. Hurricane Matthew gave Madison her first taste of a tropical storm, but Columbia was mostly hit with heavy rain and 25-30 mph winds. She hunkered down in her apartment and killed flying cockroaches. I sent Madison some Cubbie swag so she can “keep the faith” down south for a Cub’s World Series.

Taylor has received some encouraging signs regarding potential employment across the pond. And, some interest in employment here in Fun City. Where will she end up? More on that as things prayerfully progress.

 

Increasingly Rare (and Priceless) Moments

Taylor Madison Gma Gpa VW

A couple of weeks ago we were blessed to have Madison home for Tulip Time. Taylor’s sudden bout of stomach crud meant that Wendy and I did not get to spend time together with the four of us, but before Madison flew back to South Carolina Taylor joined us at Grandpa and Grandma Vander Well’s apartment and I got to capture this lovely moment with my iPhone.

As our girls have left the next, it seems that these little family gatherings are increasingly rare. Therefore, I find them increasingly precious…priceless really.

Top Five Red Heads I’d Kiss

So I learned today that it was “Kiss a Ginger” day and #Kissaginger was the top trending topic on twitter. Redheads have historically gotten a bit of a bad rap, kind of like lefties (Wendy and I are both lefties). I immediately warned our daughter,  Madison, to be prepared for any unwanted advances. I then started thinking about the red heads I’d want to kiss … appropriately!

For Top Five Tuesday, here are five red heads I’d give an appropriate smooch:

  1. Wendy has red streaks in her curly locks. So I would, first and foremost, appropriately give a deep and passionate lip lock to the only woman I care to truly kiss. That is, I would kiss her if I were home tonight (but will take a rain check until Friday!).
  2. Our daughter, Madison, would then get a loving, paternal peck on the top of her carrot topped head.
  3. I would give Carol Burnett a traditional show biz peck on each cheek if I had a chance to meet her and thank her for a lifetime of laughs.
  4. Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson is one of my “brushes with greatness” as I unexpectedly looked up to see her standing right in front of me at O’Hare one late night many moons ago. Love her pluck, and the charisma was oozing out of her as I understood in a moment why she is so beloved by so many. So a peck on the cheek for the cheeky lass.
  5. Finally, and just for the fun of it, my “fantasy” pick goes to an anonymous red haired lass in a Dublin pub.

The Latest 11-22-2015

Madison has her wings!
Our birthday girl!

Today is our daughter Maddy Kate’s 24th Birthday!! I have to send a shout out to her. Madison has diligently focused her life on graduating from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in December. Between school and flying the friendly skies, she’s been such a busy girl. We’re so proud of her and can’t wait to see where God leads her in her impending new stage of life. 🙂

It seems like I’ve been unusually haphazard with posting the last couple of weeks. To be honest, the switch back to regular time from Daylight Savings Time has thrown my body off more than usual this year. I’ve always been a morning person, but I’ve been having a hard time pulling myself out of bed in the mornings and so I’ve missed a few mornings.

The Latest 2015 11 22 - 1

Wendy and I enjoyed celebrating her brother, Lucas’ Birthday at Hickory Park in Ames. We also had the opportunity to meet his fiancé, Brooke, for the first time. After dinner we got a tour of the Greek Orthodox Church that he is helping to fix up in Ames and the parsonage where he lives with a couple of other guys from Iowa State.

My friend, Matthew Burch, and I were scheduled to present our More Than Conqueror’s men’s conference at Westview Church in Waukee on Nov 13-14, but it was rescheduled due to a tragic death in the Westview family and the funeral that had to be scheduled that Saturday. We’re looking at a date in January or February. Stay tuned.

The Latest 2015 11 22 - 3
Pella’s Tulip Court for 2016.
Me with my fellow judges Doug and Chad. We were three of about 30 or more judges for the evening.
Me with my fellow judges Doug and Chad. We were three of about 30 or more judges for the evening.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to be a judge for Pella’s Tulip Queen. We got to meet each of the 13 ladies for a brief personal interview. We then judged their presentation before the Tulip Queen and her court were announced at the end of the evening. It was a great experience, and I was amazed at the amazing group of capable young ladies. Any one of them would have represented our community well. It was hard having to see eight of them be disappointed, but so proud of our 2016 Hollandse Magdz.

Speaking of Pella, a shout out to the boys’ football team who won their second State Championship in a row on Thursday night. Wendy and I had to record the game, but we stayed up late to cheer them on. Well done, boys!

Even though the men’s conference got cancelled, I had plenty of opportunities to speak this past week. I gave the morning message in the Auditorium at Third Church last week. On Monday I left at 4:30 a.m. to make the four hour drive to Sioux Center where I presented two training sessions for a client. Then drove home. Long day. Then on Wednesday evening I spoke to the high school group at Third.

We headed to Theatre Central’s production of Lion in Winter on Thursday evening. A few of the cast members were in Ah, Wilderness! with me back in 2013 and it was fun to see them on stage.

The Latest 2015 11 22 - 1 (1)

On Friday night Wendy and I had our Open House and Stock the Bar party here at VW Manor. Murphy’s Law struck and Iowa got pounded with our first snow storm of the season. We forged ahead with our party and were pleased at the number of hardy souls who braved the elements to join us. We got the chance to meet several of our neighbors whom we had yet to meet. Our house was packed, and the bar definitely got broken in. Of course, Wendy had an amazing spread of snacks and desserts and everyone had a good time!

The Latest 08-02-2015

Weeks come and go, but this past week held special significance:

Wendy reading her Charles Martin book in Starbucks as we waited out Taylor's 3 hour flight delay.
Wendy reading her Charles Martin book in Starbucks as we waited out Taylor’s 3 hour flight delay.

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  • On Tuesday night Wendy and I picked up Taylor at the Des Moines airport as she moved back from her year in graduate school at the University of Edinburgh. Her flight was supposed to be in at 8:30, but strong storms in the Des Moines area delayed her flight until just before midnight. Wendy and I holed up at the Starbucks on Fluer until they closed at 10:00. It was a late night and had been a long day of travel for Taylor. She fell into our arms and cried. We got home just before 1:00 a.m. to give her a tour of the house and show her to her new room.
You know it's been a long day on the road when you watch the sunset in your rear view mirror!
You know it’s been a long day on the road when you watch the sunset in your rear view mirror!
  • Busy week work-wise for me. Road trip to Sioux Center on Wednesday. Hopefully it will result in a new client. End of the month always means deadlines, so the end of the week had me chained to the desk.
Photo: Jim Palmer
Photo: Jim Palmer
  • It was the second weekend of USP’s Fiddler on the Roof which means we’ve seen very little of Suzanna. Wendy and I have been helping with ticket sales.

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  • Madison flew in on Friday. We tried in vain to remember the last time that the four of us last had a meal together at home. It’s been years. We boiled up some Iowa sweet corn, had Italian chicken in the crock-pot with salad and a nice bottle of wine. It was so wonderful to spend the evening together. After dinner we enjoyed wine and chocolate as the girls played videos and we all laughed.
  • After the girls headed to bed Wendy and I buzzed down the road to our friend Cyndi’s where we enjoyed an after show drink and conversation with she, Megan, and the McQuades. Lovely evening chatting about Fiddler and theatre. We were up much later than we’d planned on [shocking].
  • On Saturday morning we were up early to get ready for our nephew, Sam Keithley’s, wedding to Lydia Yoder. We had to be on the road for Des Moines at 8:30. It was so fun for me hearing Taylor and Madison getting ready together, hearing them laughing and singing. Made this papa’s heart extra joyful. We arrived at Westkirk Presbyterian at 9:30 for a quick Vander Well family photo. The wedding was at 10:30 with a brunch reception after. The bride and groom zoomed off to their honeymoon about 2:00. We headed to the folks new apartment in Woodlands Creek to hang out with them. Tim, Kumi, Terry, Bonnie, and Ellie all joined us. They, along with Taylor and Madison, had not seen Grandpa and Grandma’s new apartment. Madison took her leave to spend the night with Nancy. Taylor, Wendy and I made a stop at Baskin Robbins (Taylor’s request) before driving back to Pella.