Monday, May 28, 2012

Kindergarten Theologian

"Raise a child in the way he should go..." Actually, the truth is, I had nothing to do with this. It came completely out of left field. We're eating dinner, me and the kids, and all of the sudden Brennan starts talking about the Trinity. I had to ask him to stop and start over twice, just so I could get my phone out to film it. But obviously, SOME ONE taught this to him, I mean, he didn't come up with this complex analogy on his own, right? I mean, we've TALKED about it before, talked about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit being all one God, but never like this. So, it just goes to show you that as much as you teach your child, and as much as you think they're getting it or they're NOT getting it, there are tons of other people and things at work too, and hopefully, God at work. So we can trust that they're getting it, and getting MORE than we're giving them...\

Friday, October 28, 2011

A year and a month...

I hadn't realized it's been over a year since I posted to this blog, wow. Now, I know I posted to my other blog... where is it again... but not much at all in that time. So, here's a quick photo and note to all of those people who'd check here - which are the same people who know us anyway.

Reflecting on this past year - it was one year ago that we were eagerly expecting our beautiful little Bria-girl to be born. By now, Bridgette was looking quite pregnant and the questions were coming in daily - how long? She was due... I can't even remember the date now, but with 2 boys coming early (3 1/2 weeks and a few days) respectively, we figured she'd be early too. Not so fast. Bridgette was induced a couple days afterward, and on a Monday Bria was born. Since then, "upside down" doesn't completely describe our lives.

Nearly a year into being out-numbered though, and we're starting to get the hang of it. It seems we go to bed with a LITTLE less laundry piled up and dishes in the sink, we're USUALLY sleeping through the night (provided no ear-infections or runny noses or "accidents" require attention) and the boys are being a bit more self-sufficient and Bria is able to hold her own when they "play" with her now. My-oh-my, how life has been changing.

But it seems like life continues to change outside of our control, doesn't it? "We plan, God laughs?!" Being open to God's plans is tricky. Two months ago, I thought one thing. Today, I don't know. They key to it all is being grounded in God. No matter what happens, no matter where it happens, no matter to whom it happens, being solidly founded in our relationship with God is key. Because at the end of the day, when we look back, we'll see God's hand guiding and we'll be much more joyful and content if we were open to that guiding...

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Ready, Set... GO!!

In North America, it's safe to say, the "New Year" doesn't begin January 1. The only thing that happens on that day, other than a whole lot of College Football being watched and the pitching of "old" calendars, is that people all of the sudden start back-dating charitable contributions so that they can pay less on their taxes. Nothing really NEW happens when the calendar flips in January. No, the true "New Year" in North America is a "rough" date, sometime in late August or early September, depending on your age and location. It coincides with starting, or returning to school. And that's what's happening here.

Last night, Bridgette & I attended the open-house/parent night at the Church's pre-school (Old Liberty Early Education Center). Today, Brennan has a 20min visit with Bridgette at the school. Tomorrow, he has his 1hour visit without Bridgette and Monday, he REALLY begins with his 2.5hr afternoon Pre-Kindergarten class, four days a week.

Whether you've got kids of your own, you're still in school, or you simply follow a college sports team that begins in the Fall, this time of year is when we "start" again. So, here goes for another "new" year!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Can I borrow some Pink?

Finally, the long awaited day arrived. It was last Wednesday, exactly a week ago today (as I write this). Ever since we’d discovered we were expecting our third, and final child back in March, nearly everyone we’ve shared the news with has asked us, “So, do you know what you’re having?” The answer, until Wednesday, was always – “not yet.” We had to await the results of that 20 week ultrasound. The ultrasound that would determine, as I kept saying, whether we’d simply toss another boy down the chute, or would have our world blown up by a baby girl. A healthy baby is always the goal. And with each healthy birth I’ve witnessed, and every tragic story I’ve observed, I’m reminded of how miraculous a healthy baby truly is. So, above all, as we awaited that 20 week ultrasound, we hoped and prayed for a healthy baby. And yet, secretly (for Bridgette) and not-so-secretly (for me), we hoped that we could add a baby girl to round out our family. Well, on Wednesday, both our prayers for a healthy baby, and our hopes for a girl were answered. Little “baby Bria” as her big brothers are learning to call her, looks healthy and whole, and plans to crash our world in the Fall.

As I share this exciting news, I also feel a pang of guilt. Some people try for years for that “elusive” child of the opposite gender (whether boy or girl) and their hopes are never fulfilled. (I have a good friend with 4 girls, who desperately wanted a little boy to play catch with, but 4 girls is what he got). Others try for years just to conceive a child of any gender, but for one reason or another, it never happens. And yet others conceive, yet before or after their child is born, tragedy strikes, and their hearts are broken. Our joy and blessings in the face of real disappointments and tragedies for others cause me to wonder “Why me?”

To that question, I have no answer. I know it is not by anything that I have done. I know, I’m no more pious or righteous or faithful than many others, following Christ in this world. If anything, I’m sure there are many more qualified for God’s blessings than me. Yet, that’s not how God works. God’s economy is built, not on good deeds, but on God’s gracious gift of mercy. How that is dispensed, on whom, and at what time, is not possible for us to understand, on this side of eternity. And so, my response to God’s gracious blessings, particularly the news of a healthy baby girl, due this November, can be nothing more than thankfulness. Just as, my response to any tragedy in my life, in addition to feeling sorrow and grief, can ultimately be nothing more than thankfulness – not for the tragedy itself, but for the fact that in everything, whether blessings or tragedies, God is present. And if I trust God, I can discover in every event, the gracious gift of God’s mercy.

I pray that you too, wherever you may be during this very hot Summer season, can experience God’s mercy and grace in your life – as we are in ours!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lamenting Love Lost

Two days ago, I preached a sermon at Liberty from Song of Songs, part of a four part series on the Wisdom Literature in the Bible. Two things kept going through my mind as I prepared the sermon: 1) I need to be careful not to open too many cans in this that I'll have to go back and deal with later. With kids in the congregation, older adults who might feel uncomfortable, and visitors, I need to be careful. 2) There are many couples going through marital struggles, divorcing, thinking of divorce - how can I share a word of hope to them in the midst of that?

Interestingly, as I came to the end of the sermon, recent events make a perfect "case-in-point" - LeBron James. Here's what I said toward the end of my sermon:

"On Thursday night, Lebron James just broke up with his basketball bride of 7 years. He announced on national television, that he’s found a new love. He’s going to play for the Miami Heat, alongside two of his friends. Whatever you think of James, or the spectacle that has been his free agency experience, you can see the negative affects of love in the fan and ownership reaction to Lebron’s move. Fans loved him, but now they hate him. Their love was spurned, they got burned, and now they’re angry. If they didn’t love him, they wouldn’t have cared when he left. So, be careful when you love, be careful what, and who you love.

We could appropriate that final admonition in 2:7, like this:
“I charge you, by everything good and holy – be careful in love! Don’t seek it where it doesn’t belong. Don’t force it on another. Don’t use it out of context. It’s like fire, you will get burned, and you will burn others.”

In the end, when it comes to beauty, physical intimacy, eros love, we tend to either be Puritans, ignoring it entirely, or Hedonists, selfishly seeking it out of context. But we see in this Song that neither way is God’s wisdom. The Song of Songs, reminds us that passion and physical intimacy DOES have its place in our human experience and in the Christian life. It belongs in relationship – the covenant of marriage, and requires us to be extremely careful HOW we experience it. If we follow God’s wisdom, instead of being burned in love, our hearts might actually be strangely warmed and properly fulfilled."

I think it was a good sermon, but lives aren't changed by good sermons. Lives are changed by the power of God in the Holy Spirit. Here's hoping some lives are being changed right now, as people are dealing with the pain of "losing" love...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Open Letter to Moms - a Dad's Perspective

A couple weeks ago, I spoke to our church's MOPS group. They wanted me to talk about life from a Man's perspective, particularly a father of pre-schoolers. At first, I thought "easy!" - but as I contemplated sitting in a room with 25 women, I became more and more intimidated. How could I speak for their husbands? How could I keep from them going home and saying "you need to act more like Bridgette's husband" - or more likely, the opposite. How could I keep them from simply writing me off, because I'm a pastor? So, I hit on an idea. Instead of speaking about myself directly, I'd speak indirectly and try to "peel back the layer" on men just a bit for them. Put enough me in it to be honest, but not specific enough that they couldn't see their husbands in it. And then, use it as a spring board for further discussion. I think it worked. So, I'm posting it here. Enjoy!

A Dad's Perspective
I’m a man. I’m a husband. I’m a dad. And somewhere inside, I’m also a little boy who thinks he’s his mom’s favourite, looks up to his dad – whether I admit it or not, grew up thinking he had a realistic shot of being a professional athlete or James Bond, got those dreams crushed at some point around age 27, but secretly hopes at some point in life he’s going to have one last shot…

In the meantime, I’ve put together a “nice” life for myself. I’m married to you, we have 2 wonderful children and one on the way, we’ve got a nice house, and a decent car – we go on fun vacations and I’m working my way up in my field, so that some day, when I get called up to the Majors… I’ll have a difficult decision, because then I’ll really love my job and feel it’s meaningful, and I’ll have to turn down the offer. But secretly, I’m worried that at some point, something’s going to happen, and it’s all going to come crashing down…

So… I put that thought in a box. In a very similar spot to the box that contains my dreams of being a pro-ball player, right next to my dream of being a rockstar, and not too far from my fears about losing my job, my fears that I’m not good enough at my job, the box that’s labeled “family of origin” and the box that’s labeled “junior high” – or in some cases “middle school.” Because, let’s face it. If I had to think about all of those things, all at once, I’d never get anything done. So, I compartmentalize everything, nice and orderly, which allows me to sit on this couch and watch the game, despite the fact that the dishes are piling up, the laundry is piling up, the baby won’t seem to fall asleep and you’re trying to tell me about that conversation you had with your friend from college…

Did I mention that I was feeling in the mood…?

Anyway, I know exactly what you’re thinking. You’re thinking – “how in the world can he just sit there? How in the world can he ignore all of the things that are going on around us? How can he ignore me?” And if the truth is told, I’m not ignoring you, it’s just that I’ve gotten so good at this box-thing, that sometimes I forget to transfer a thought I had while working in 1 box, to it’s rightful place. And sometimes, I get so good at being in the box I’m in, that I forget there are other boxes out there. I mean, just the other day, I was thinking about getting you flowers, a baby-sitter and taking you out for dinner – and not just on Mother’s Day. But, then I had to turn my attention to the proposal that was due in an hour, and I haven’t thought about it again until just now. And I know we need to spend more time together, and I want to spend a little more time with you and the kids, but I’m just so exhausted – emotionally, that when I get home, all of those nice thoughts get left in the “car-ride-home” box, and all I want to do is veg out.

Now, let me be clear on a few things. Whether you’ve ever heard this from my lips or not, I do love you. And I do love our kids. And I do want to grow old with you – although I’m really hoping that you don’t end up looking like your mom when you’re her age… But in some ways, I ticked you all off my life to-do list a few years ago, and things are on cruise control a bit right now, ‘cause I still haven’t been able to check off “pro athlete,” “James Bond – International Spy,” and “Top Dog” at the company. So, here’s the deal:

I need your help.

Now, I’m probably not going to say this to you. I mean, despite the whole “equality” thing, there’s still something about asking for help that makes me feel like a little boy again, and not the kind of little boy who’s having fun, playing ball. I mean, when’s the last time I stopped and asked for directions?

But, I do need your help.

This whole parenting toddlers & pre-schoolers has totally thrown me for a loop. I thought they were tough those first few months when we weren’t sleeping – or, when you weren’t sleeping. But now, they’re talking back, they’re disobeying, and it feels like with each passing day, there’s more of them! Now, I love them, but sometimes, I come home in the evening and I look at them and I go – “I’ve got no idea what I’m supposed to say to them, let alone do with them.” You’re such a good mom, and I only see them a couple hours a day, if that, and I’m a little intimidated. Can you… help me? Can you give me some suggestions – not nagging, over-and-over, beating me over the head with something. Just ideas – that way, I can feel like I’m figuring it out on my own, but not feel like I am alone.

Which leads me to the other thing I need help with… you. Honestly, I don’t completely get you. I love you. But sometimes, that love gets buried really deep by the stress of our busy lives, the hurts that pile up, the lack of sleep… and I think I’ve forgotten all that dating stuff. I mean, I checked off “married” – and I kinda figured things would take care of themselves. But I’m realizing, not just because you keep bringing it up, that I think I need to do some things for you to help you understand that I love you. But I’m not entirely sure I know what that looks like. So, I need your help. I know that’s not sexy or romantic for you to tell me – but it’s probably the only way I’m going to figure it out again. You used to tell me – again, not nag, you used to tell me – or maybe I just paid more attention to your subtle signals – but with the kids and everything, it’s getting harder for me – so can you spell it out for me?

And speaking of spelling it out… here’s what I really need from you. I kinda get, that I’m never going to get called up to the big leagues, and I’m not going to be the next James Bond… so I need you to make me feel like my job’s that important. I need you to make me feel like I’m special, like I make a difference when I’m gone all day – and all week. If you could do that for me… If you could let me know that you appreciate me, that you value what I do, that you… admire me. Man, that will go along way. Oooh, the game’s back on… do you want to sit and watch it with me?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

the Horse

Getting back on the horse is harder than you think - especially if you never lift a leg.

That just came to me, you can call me Solomon if you want. The truth is, (man, I say that a lot) - the above saying goes for so many different things and areas of our lives. Often we think about things and just don't do them. We figure out ways not to bother trying - we're too busy, we're too tired, we're too... you fill in the blank. The Arbinger Institute, in their book Leadership and Self-Deception, call this self-betrayal. I think that's fair. Most of the book is all about relationships, relating to people and being "in the box" to someone or "out of the box" to someone. But I think the concept of self-betrayal works in many ways. I think you could also call it "sin" - and when we decide that we're not going to do something that we got an inkling we should - yeah, that's probably sin.

I guess you could say, with regard to this blog, I've been betraying myself by not updating. Not because there's a huge host of people, waiting with baited breath to hear from me. But because this blog is also meant as a spiritual discipline, for me. So, once again, (I know, I know, I've said THAT before many times), I'm getting back on the horse...