Thank you for your service

Costco Wholesale Warehouse is an absolute gold mine around lunch time. Vendors set up 
tables all over the mammoth store, hawking all sorts of samples ranging from vitamin juice 
shots to mini crab cakes. I used to make sure that I would go there with the kids so that we 
would have at least one day when we didn’t have to meal plan.
    
I don’t shop there all the time because we simply can’t afford to. Not that the prices are bad, 
it’s just that I don’t know when to stop. Instead, I will go every month or so to stock up on bulk 
supplies of juice boxes, salsa, pizza rolls, peanut butter, and whatever items I am convinced 
that my family cannot live without. 
     
Perhaps the biggest, if only, drawback to Costco is that it is always crowded. Every aisle is 
clogged with shoppers pushing oversized carts full of their choice of essential goods and, 
while no one is necessarily rude about the rules of the road, it can get pretty dicey navigating 
tight corners and attempting to cross from the snacks to the pasta section. 
    
Whenever I encounter an aisle that’s a little too congested for my comfort, I will backtrack and 
take an alternative route, as if I have some secret shortcut that no one else knows about. Not 
long ago when I was shopping for the next few week’s worth of supplies, as I wheeled my cart 
filled with a 120-count box of granola bars and enough gummy bears to choke a small elephant, 
I encountered a roadblock that had me quickly throwing it into reverse into a detour down the 
next aisle. It contained socks and men’s off brand running shoes, so it was a much safer 
passage.
     
Rounding the corner that would allow me to bypass this latest obstruction, I paused for a 
moment to take in exactly who it was that had caused this latest inconvenience. There in the 
middle of the adjacent aisle was an older gentleman, possibly in his 80’s, hunched slightly at 
the waist and using his shopping cart as a walker. He was traveling at the speed of slow, which 
for him was just fine because he was in absolutely no hurry at all. 
     
On his head he wore a baseball cap, one of those military hats that veterans of wars and armed 
conflicts wear with obvious pride. The insignia on the front told me that he had served in the 
Korean War. My grandfather operated the radio on a B25 bomber during World War 2 in the 
Pacific theater and I knew all about those islands he flew over and the enemy he fought.

I have read books about Guadalcanal and Bougainville and other exotic sounding places where 
our American GI’s fought tooth and nail against the Japanese for what amount to nothing more 
than isolated plots of land made mostly of coral. On these islands we began to win the war 
against Japan, keeping them from overtaking Australia and the rest of the Pacific region. My 
grandfather never spoke much about his time over there, but I know he must have seen and 
experienced some incredible, and horrific, things.

The war in Korea I admittedly knew very little about. I know that we tried to help South Korea 
hold the communists at bay and eventually were successful in doing so, but that’s really about 
it. Nevertheless, I have a great amount of respect for anyone who has served this country in the 
military and I learned a long time ago that it was a good and right act to thank those servicemen 
face-to-face whenever you saw them. Especially if they were wearing those special kind of hats. 

As this elderly hero made his way down the aisle, I purposefully stood in his way so that I could 
garner his attention. I wasn’t all that concerned that he would run me over with his cart because 
of his lack of momentum, but I was careful all the same to watch out for my toes. Right as he was 
about to bump my cart, he stopped and looked up, staring me straight in the eyes. I quickly 
gathered myself and told him in the strongest voice I could muster, “Thank you for your service.” 

Without missing a beat, he replied, “It was my honor to serve you and my country and, if I had 
the chance, I would storm the border of Korea all over again in order to make sure that you 
stayed safe.” Instantly I felt my eyes start to sweat and any response that I could have made 
was stuck in my throat as if I was choking on a piece of steak.

Mesmerized by his response, I stood frozen in place, unable to reply. Here was this weathered 
and worn veteran who could no longer tie his own shoes, now declaring his desire to re-defend 
this country if that’s what it took. Shaking off my stupor, I was finally able to feebly respond to 
him, thanking him again for his service, words which now seemed pathetically inadequate. This 
genuine hero offered a satisfied smile and began to shuffle on his way towards the peanut 
butter and honey section. I in turn quickly turned my cart in the other direction to head toward 
the ice cream and fruit punch.

As I padded my way, avoiding more carts and the glut of consumers, I could not help but admit 
with a bit of sadness that they simply don’t make men like that anymore.

End of summer drag

Today is the first day of August, which means that there are still a few weeks before school begins and the real monotony of the schedule takes over. Summer is still in full swing and there are plenty more days at the beach and the pool to be had. It is still hot, so steamy hot that eyeglasses fog over once you leave the house and you begin to sweat just thinking about how hot it's going to be once you open the front door. Your legs instantly stick to the car seats and the grass in your yard gave up its fight for growth a long time ago. The humidity gauge reads 70%, but I think that's a lie. It probably succumbed to the heat, too.

There are no school buses to dodge in the afternoons, no homework assignments to complete, and no lunches to pack in the wee hours of the morning. There is still plenty of time to binge watch Netflix shows for the third time and to sleep in after staying up late just because you can. Walmart has aisles of school supplies for sale at rock bottom prices, but you haven't even bothered to shop for them yet. The school year is weeks away, not tomorrow. Many days lay ahead in which to celebrate the glory that is summer vacation.

Yet when I awoke this morning, a feeling of something akin to dread was nibbling at my bones. Summer vacation IS almost over and the sense of impending doom is almost palpable. It's not that I hate school – I don't. As a school teacher, I enjoy my work and my students and the challenge that it is to edu-ma-cate them the best that I can. But summer...summer is sacred, you know? It never lasts long enough and I don't know of anyone who actually accomplishes everything on their summer to-do list. Sure, it's hot and muggy and air conditioning is a gift from the Lord, but come the those bitter winter winds of January, I don't hear anyone complaining about how hot summer was.

So here we are, dreading the end of summer as much as we are the beginning of the school year. My neighborhood is stocked with kids who are bored out of their minds, but not enough to wish that school would start back so soon. They would rather empty the dishwasher and vacuum the den than to sit at a desk all day or ride that cramped bus home. Anything but the end of summer.

But alas, the time is almost upon us. If you haven't yet gone fishing, pulled out the canoe, visited your aunt or uncle in the mountains, gone to see that movie, built a campfire on the beach, or simply sat on your porch listening to the crickets and the katydids, don't fret. You still have time. Don't worry, you will also have your weekends to check those things off of your list, too. And don't forget, college football starts back soon, which is proof that there is indeed a God who loves us.

Oh, and it's gonna stay hot at least through the month of September, so you've got that going for you as well.

Wrong bait? Who cares!


They didn’t catch a thing. In fact, I’m not even so sure they got so much as a nibble on those hooks baited with artificial top water frogs, probably not the best choice for luring bass in this pond. Although there are plenty of manmade retention ponds all around, natural freshwater spots aren’t all that common this close to the coast. Yet these less than ideal circumstances did not - could not - deter my son and his friend, along with my tag along daughter, from attempting to catch “the big one.”

Before we moved to the coast, we had unlimited access to a pond on the edge of our property that was swarming with fish, which included a giant elusive bass that we named Maximus. My brother, visiting from New York, purchased cheap rod and reel combos, effectively introducing fishing to my kids. The typical haul was a glob of algae covered grass or a tree limb on a wayward cast, yet every once in a blue moon one of them would hook a small brim or bass. Maximus, however, would remain unscathed, taunting us from the shallows as he leisurely swam amongst the reeds near the bank.

Last night was no different at this newly discovered fishing hole. Excited voices chattered about the “huge fish” they could see in the crystal clear water, yet dropping their hooks in the immediate vicinity yielded no success. Undaunted, they continued to fish off of the short pier, occasionally moving to the shallow banks, determined to hone their craft and technique even if their choice of bait was made their efforts futile.

I observed these scenes as I sat in a beach chair I had brought along, glancing up from my book every few seconds at the excited voices calling from the dock. Honestly, I did not want to take them out tonight. The temperature during the day had hovered in the mid-90’s and it was humid enough to melt
the chrome off of a bumper. But a slight breeze greeted us as we sat our gear on the bank and the gnarled trees offered enough shade to protect me from the sun’s blazing intentions. Katydids serenaded us from the bushes and thickets as families of geese swam just out of reach. 

Taking all of this in, I was reminded once again of the joys of summer through the mind and eyes of youth. Who wants to stay inside playing video games when you can spend hours trying to drop your hook in hopes of catching the big one? Sure, it’s hot, but it’s not constraining like the classroom will be starting at the end of next month.

Loaded down with gear, we hiked the trail back to the car as the sun was mercifully bidding us farewell behind the trees. The evening’s lack of success could not dampen the mood as they planned their next excursion, debating which baits and rigs would work best. Bottles of ice cold soda from the corner convenience store, well earned rewards after a hard fought evening of angling, tempered the moment and added a little more inspiration to the stories they would continue to tell into the night. Next time, they will catch dinner, they proclaimed. And I believed them because they promised me they would.

The end of an era

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I reached a milestone in our lives as parents. Our youngest child "graduated" from elementary school, placing us in an elite category of parenthood that we have waited over a decade to achieve – no more "little kids" in the house.

For 13 years we have had a child walk (and at times terrorize) the halls of an elementary school somewhere in North Carolina – East Bend, Winston-Salem, Southport, and Wilmington. From Fall Creek to Bradley Creek, the Griggs' kids have maintained a steady presence in these sacred halls of public education.

The recent graduation of my oldest daughter from high school was a moving experience, one that put us in a whole other stratosphere of higher education and the costs associated with it. Yet even that momentous occasion is in a different category than that of whisking your last child from the insular halls of elementary education. I know that my kids learned loads of bad habits and not a few unsavory words while plodding from kindergarten to fifth grade, but there is something to be said about the innocence that is found in the classrooms of primary school.

There is an almost ridiculous excitement shared by most elementary school students regarding the idea of simply going to school. They don't hate it. Rather, they relish it and for the most part you rarely have to fight them to get them there. Children arrive home with bags crammed with correspondence ranging from PTA events to field trips to school fund raisers, all of which they are incredibly passionate about. Who knew the joy and pride that would result from winning a cheap rubber duck as part of a fundraiser that involved jumping rope in the gym?

In elementary school, teachers know the parents by name. Emails detailing weekly classroom objectives arrive at a regular clip and there are personal notes scrawled on quarterly report cards that get sent home. Regular appeals for the need for chaperones or classroom supplies come from these men and women that you feel are almost part of your family. The students, in turn, adore their teachers and beg to give them gifts come Christmas time. Homework sheets become family affairs at the dinner table, with paper mache projects and posters for book reports turning into weekend projects. Who knew schoolwork could actually be fun?

Then middle school happens and it all ends overnight.

Somewhere in the universe a giant switch gets flipped that turns otherwise adorable little children into pre-teen hormonal creatures that make life more challenging for the next several years than you could ever imagine. To make the situation even more dire, it was decided that acne was necessary for 12-14 year old faces and braces would be the perfect remedy for completing the socially awkward trifecta. Middle school math is about as easy as quantum physics and I no longer have a clue as to who my child's many teachers are. Where did my innocent little elementary child go and why is that sixth grade girl a foot taller than my son?

As my wife and I sat in a cramped auditorium watching these precious children walk across the stage to receive their fifth grade promotion certificates, I couldn't help but glaze over a bit at what seemed almost like the end of an era. Change is inevitable and it is true that you can't keep them little forever, I just didn't know if I was ready to leave all of the kid stuff behind for good. Was this really the end of Fall Festivals in October and field days in late May?

There are times when I wish I could bottle up the past and pull the cork whenever I needed a fix of the good old days. My wife snickers at my idealistic romanticism, and in turn I try darn hard to keep it in check so that I can function in reality. What I don't want to miss – what I will strive to not lose or forget – is that healthy appreciation for when life was indeed much more simple and times appeared to be more innocent. And I do this not because I am naive or out of touch but rather because I remember what it was like to be child when my brain had yet to be cluttered with all of the junk that this world tries feverishly to pour into it. Long live field day!
 

Lessons from fishing

My son recently decided that he wants to be a fisherman. Living at the coast, this should not be a problem - it seems as if everyone fishes down here. But in reality, the fact that everyone fishes here IS a problem.

Most of his friends who fish have fathers and uncles and brothers who have fished their entire lives. These kids have multiple fishing rods, tackle boxes filled with hooks and lures, and access to different boats that can take them in the marsh or forty miles offshore. For a thirteen year old who has just discovered the joy of fishing, this can create quite a conundrum. In short, my son wants it all and he wants it now!

I am grateful for the friends we have that have taken him out fishing in their boats. You have probably gathered by now that I am not much of an angler. My family vacationed every summer at Long Beach, NC (now known as Oak Island) and my dad did teach my brothers and I how to surf fish. I can remember summers when the pompano were running and we couldn’t reel them in fast enough. Or the times we might get lucky enough to hook a blue that we were convinced gave us a better fight than a tiger shark ever could. Yet fishing was never something that got stuck in our bones or dictated our waking and sleep cycles. It was fun and we fished only when we cared to.

So far my son has enjoyed a couple of jaunts offshore where he caught some sea bass that he proudly filleted and cooked all on his own. At the back of our neighborhood is a winding, tide dependent salt water creek that he has begun to fish, but it is not an ideal location. Still, it gives him a chance to learn and hone his craft.

For his most recent birthday he acquired a couple of new rods and reels and a whole slew of gear that he eagerly crammed into his new tackle box. Since creek fishing was proving to be lame, I suggested that we try surf fishing, a prospect that absolutely thrilled him. He rigged his lines the night before and even slept with those rods in his room, eager to get an early start the next morning. He even rode his bike up to the corner store to buy bait so that we wouldn’t waste precious time on the way to the beach.

His plan was to leave the house at 7:30 a.m. but he was up well before then. In the car on the way, he nervously sipped on his coffee and chattered about how he was convinced that a sand shark might be in his future. All the while I just listened and nodded to this dreamer, not wanting to bring too much reality to the table.

I got his rod holder anchored deep in the sand as he quickly cut a piece of mullet to set on a hook big enough to catch a small whale. After just a cast or two, he was convinced that he needed to bait a second rod so that he could fish double-fisted, if you will. I firmly had to encourage him to take it a rod at a time until he got used to fishing in the surf. I may not be an expert waterman, but I do know that fishing in the surf can be more miss than hit.

After twenty minutes of casting and coming up empty, the blame game began. We picked a bad spot. The waves are too much. We need to go somewhere else. I tried to maintain my composure as I explained that fishing requires patience and sometimes you get shutout and that’s okay. Enjoy the breeze in your face and the waves as they lap at your heels.

Frustrated, he tried his best to stay the course but I could tell it was hard. He switched rods and used artificial bait and suggested that we move locations again. All the while I kept assuring him that the fish were indeed out there, they just might not choose to take what he was offering today.

That day may not have been the best fishing day, but the lessons learned were invaluable. Sure, it would have been nice to have caught at least one fish – heck, it would have been nice to just feel a nibble – but the experience of being out there struggling to make it work is what I was hoping my son will remember. There are lots of guys that we know that are going to help him with the the finer points of all things fishing, but what he learned on days like that day are lessons that no one else can teach.


Top ten road trip takeaways


Our family just returned from a quick weekend road trip to Williamsburg, VA., the primary purpose of our little jaunt was to spend a day at Busch Gardens on Saturday. However, we also threw in a ghost tour of historic Williamsburg on Friday night, which allowed us to take in some of the history even though we did not have enough time to spend a whole day there.



Up and back in 48 hours does not necessarily allow one to take in all there is to see or do, but that does not mean that a lot can’t be seen. Believe me, whenever you find yourself surrounded by hordes of people, there are A LOT of things that you see and some things that wish you could un-see. So, if you will indulge me a few minutes of your time, I would like to replay the top ten high – and low – lights of our little family getaway.



1) Intestate 95 is not a fun highway on which to drive. Lots of tractor trailers, phantom traffic slowdowns, and ridiculously crowded gas stations at almost every exit. But, we did find a pretty sweet Cook Out a few miles down an exit road that was clean and contained friendly people that were not overly stressed out. Bonus.



2) Coffee is essential for life, period. When you do not have good coffee available, then you find yourself embracing desperate measures. Because the hotel coffee was nothing more than heated dirty water, we have no choice but to stop on the way home for a cup of Starbucks, which barely rates it on my quality scale but enters a whole new arena of repulsive when you purchase a cup at one of their locations inside of a rest stop gas station. Again, we were desperate, so please don’t judge.



3) Busch Gardens is an amazing place to take your family. There are boatloads of roller coasters and other rides to choose from and the thrills are pretty easy to come by. We also chose to buy one of those all-you-can-eat passes which allowed us to eat at one of the on-site restaurants every hour and a half, which saved us tons of money at the end of the day. We may or may not have stopped to eat 4 times regardless of whether or not we were hungry.



4) Fanny packs for guys are apparently back in. I don’t even pretend to understand this nor do I condone the practice.



5) Parents who drag their toddler-aged children around a theme park for hours on end in the 90 degree heat look ridiculous when they stop to yell at them for being tired and slowing the rest of the group down. Please, mom and dad, have a heart and take your children home.



6) The excitement level of a ten and a twelve year old child does not wane in spite of twelve straight hours at a hot and crowded theme park. Hearing the awe in their voices because we let them ride that one last roller coaster just as the park let off their fireworks display: Worth every second of it.



7) Buffet lines are a good idea until they are not. Moms and dads, do your kids a favor now and help them to say no to Mt. Everest sized portions from the buffet that you know they have no intention or ability to finish. My family did not get pancakes and bacon this morning at the hotel because you allowed your kid to slap a ridiculous amount on his plate, most of which he never touched. Is that Mrs. Butterworth I heard weeping in the corner?



8) The popularity of tattoos is on the rise. The amount of really crappy tattoos is also apparently on the rise as well.



9) History is really cool, especially when learned in the form of stories. Bravo, Mr. Ghost Tour man, for keeping my kids enraptured for almost two whole hours.



10) Time away with family is a choice I will never regret. Even when it’s just quick trip to a theme park, the memories made will last a lifetime.










Underdog

Steve reached into the kitchen cabinet for a real plate, not one of the cheap paper ones that his family normally used. With a large family, paper plates were the typical go-to for any occasion, but sometimes you need the real thing to get the job done, such as heating up leftovers in the microwave.

As he eyed the stack of mid-sized plates, he paused, not reaching for the one on top. Instead, reaching down to the fourth plate, he lifted it and gently slid the fifth one in line out of its position, careful to not let the stack slam back down when he was done. With his conquest in hand he could now commence with satisfying his hunger with leftover meatloaf from last night’s dinner.

Why grab a plate from the middle of the stack and not the one on top, you may ask? The answer lies in the story of the underdog. Steve considers himself to be a champion of the underdog, that one guy who will cast his bet on the horse with the longest odds or the team that Vegas won’t touch. Okay, so why is a plate considered an underdog? That’s a fair question that Steve is more than happy to answer.

Let’s begin with dishes and how they are washed, dried, and then stacked for future use. Unlike stock that is rotated in a grocery store, dishes are usually placed on top of others in the cabinet. This means that the dishes toward the bottom of the stack might rarely if ever be used, consigning them to a life of uselessness as other kitchen objects get all the love and the glory.

Sound crazy, maybe even a bit neurotic? Steve wouldn’t blame you if you thought he was and honestly, it does seem a little bit wacky to him, too. But to understand his desire to see all people - and kitchen objects - treated as equals requires that you dig a bit deeper into Steve’s background.

Growing up in the 1970’s, there simply wasn’t an easy way to follow sports from across the country. There were no 24-7 sports channels or internet sites that gave real time scores and information. Instead, you had to rely on the newspaper or the occasional Saturday sports broadcast on the national networks. Because of that, local teams gained a much more loyal fan base since they were easily accessible. Steve, naturally, followed his beloved Demon Deacons of Wake Forest University, his hometown team.

If you know anything at all about Wake Forest University then it’s probably because you grew up near the school or you are a fan of ACC sports. With an enrollment that hovers around 4,000 students, it is one of the smallest universities that participates in NCAA Division 1 sports. And with schools such as UNC, Duke, and NC State right up the road, recruiting gifted athletes can be a most difficult prospect, leaving Wake fans to be believe that they often received the leftovers that the other big schools chose not to pursue.

Attending Wake Forest football games on a crisp fall afternoon always gave Steve a thrill, even when it was obvious that the opposing team often had more fans in the stands than Wake Forest did. And then there were the consistent beat downs received on a given Saturday. But these lopsided scores didn’t faze Steve. If anything, they endeared him even more to his beloved Demon Deacons, for with each gut-wrenching effort his boys gave on the field he could see a fierce pride in the eyes peering behind the face masks, even if victory was a far fetched proposition. As a result, Steve never saw the Wake Forest players giving up on the field so why should he give up on them?

Sure, there were those glorious days when victory was achieved and the thrill of it was sweet. Consider the 2006 football season. Picked to finish dead last - again - Wake Forest put together a season that ended with an ACC championship over Georgia Tech and a trip to the Orange Bowl in Miami, FL, which they ultimately lost to Louisville. He vividly remembers looking around at the sea of black and gold in those stands in Miami, not sure that he had ever been prouder. He couldn’t remember exactly where he had heard it, but it was said that there were more Wake Fans assembled at that Orange Bowl game than at any other even in the history of the school. Steve believed it.

Off and on for decades, Steve had experienced the highs and much more often lows of being a Wake Forest fan, and not just in football. Wake Forest basketball had long been considered the calling card for the athletic program, but even then the victories were more often overshadowed by the difficult defeats. Winning back-to-back ACC tournament titles in 1995 and 1996 with the likes of Tim Duncan and Randolph Childress at the helm were some of the most exciting times that Steve could remember, but even then the disappointing early NCAA tournament exits left an even more bitter aftertaste.

Still, Steve was not going to ditch his team in spite of inconsistent performances and years where the rains never seemed to quench the parched land. He had followed the Atlanta Braves during their brutal seasons in the 1980’s for goodness sakes, refusing to jump on the bandwagon of other more successful teams. If it meant that cheering for his beloved Demon Deacons meant that he would be championing a perpetual underdog year after year, then so be it.

Unbeknownst to Steve, this devotion to a team that he knew would have more of its share of losses than wins would cause a shift in how he viewed people as well. The changes were subtle at first but over time they became a habit that never faded away. For instance, there was Edward, the guy in high school who didn’t wear fancy clothes and whose glasses were held together by tape in at least two places. As the other guys mocked and jeered at him, Steve stood up for Edward. He often spoke to him when he saw him in the halls, learning that he was a whiz at math and science and that he had a chance to attend the North Carolina School of Science and Math his junior year. When his acceptance letter came, Edward sought out Steve first to share the good news. While the rest of his crew of friends look on perplexed, Steve was busy giving Edward high fives along with a roar of approval. Here was a guy, one of whom most people thought very little, going off to do great things in his future. Chalk one up for the underdog.

And then there was the softball team at his church that Steve played for. A gifted hitter and fielder who was able to track down almost any ball in the outfield, Steve was a sure lock to play for the gold team, the adult church recreation team that almost always won the coveted county trophy each year. But Steve didn’t want to be just another good player on a team of good players. Instead, Steve chose to play on the youth coed softball team, positioning himself in center field and allowing his female teammate in right field first chance at catching fly balls that came her way. There was no doubt that he could have shagged every fly ball that came within fifty yards, but Steve was more satisfied offering encouragement to his teammates, giving them praise when they made a good play and backing them up when they dropped the ball. Although they didn’t come close to finishing in first place, the coed team was able to win a few games and he saw the flame of confidence burning brighter in several of his teammates. Once again, chalk one up for the underdog.

Where did Steve’s passion for seeing the little guy do big things come from? Perhaps this view was first formed in him from his first days of Sunday School, where he learned about a man named Jesus who gravitated towards those who were less fortunate or whom the world seemed to care little about. Jesus was a man who could have commanded the best seats at any of the most prestigious banquets, yet He preferred to invest Himself and His time in those who had very little if anything to offer to Him.

Hey Jesus, want to join us on the A-list for this weekend’s big party?”

Nah, I’m okay. There’s this widow that I want to visit and then there is this guy who used to be a tax collector who wants me to come to dinner with him and some of his other ex-tax collector buddies. I’ll catch up with you guys later.”

Time and again, Steve heard stories from the pages of the Bible of how Jesus would go to the “least of these” and do whatever He could to not only meet their needs, but also to show them how much worth they had in God’s eyes. These stories fascinated and motivated Steve, causing him to see others in a new light. Suddenly the “dorky” kid at school who nobody wanted to eat lunch with didn’t seem so dorky to him when they were eating a sandwich together. And the girl who always sat in the corner by herself during recess? Steve began to invite her to play four square with the rest of the kids, in the process finding out that she was really good at playing the piano and singing. How cool!

One phrase spoken by Jesus seemed to stick with Steve more than any other. In the New Testament in Matthew 9:12, Jesus was confronted by a group of religious critics who couldn’t understand why He spent to much time hanging around “sinful”people who obviously didn’t have their acts together. His response to them was amazing to Steve: “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” In other words, Jesus came for the underdog, not for those who believed they had it all figured it out.

It was words such as these that led not only to Steve’s own personal faith in Jesus but also to a life of serving all the underdogs that God might put in his path. This is why he chose to volunteer with students in the youth group at his church. Steve’s love of the underdog also prompted him to get more involved in his community, giving his time to his elderly neighbors when they faced challenging household projects as well as serving as a mentor and a tutor to several underprivileged kids at the local elementary school.

Today, everywhere that Steve goes, he looks for those whom the world has stopped having faith in or has simply forgotten altogether. And while this shift didn’t happen overnight, it has taken Steve down a path that has led to more joy and real friendships than he could have ever imagined. This is also why Steve chooses a plate in the middle of the stack instead of the one on top, because he believes that every underdog deserves a champion.

Thank you for your service

Costco Wholesale Warehouse is an absolute gold mine around lunch time. Vendors set up  tables all over the mammoth store, hawking all sor...