Sunday, April 12, 2009

He has risen indeed....and left candy!

Rachel is a great mother. Folks tell me that I'm a good dad and I guess I believe them. Yet, we both admit that we struggle in one area...holidays. It seems that most, if not all, of our friends have cute traditions with their kids around the holidays. We just got our Easter decorations out this past Monday. Did we take our kids to see the Easter Bunny? Do we want them to have nightmares? The answer to both is, "no". So, this morning, Junior and Bella came downstairs to see what the Easter Bunny had left for them. After reassuring Junior that this uniquely talented sugar pushing Santa like rabbit had left the room and was not going to get him, the baskets were discovered. We put their card from Grandma in each of the baskets. Filled with candy, fruit, fruit snacks, and froot roll ups (ain't no "fruit" in those) I asked Junior what was his favorite thing in his basket. He replied, "The favorite thing I got from Grandma was...". I replied, "Woooooaaaa, the card is from Grandma, everything else is from the Easter bunny." He picked up a can of Delmonte fruit (that he gets very often from Grandma's) and said, "I know that this came from Grandma." I told him, "No, buddy. The Easter bunny and grandma just shop at the same store. That's why grandma always has carrots on her. They are for the Easter bunny." For the record...
1. Grandma does not always have carrots on her...she better start 'cause a certain 6 and 4 year old will be asking to see them.
2. Junior can read and write. Yet, he buys the "Grandma and the Easter bunny shop at the same store." line.
3. When your children are way too sick for Easter dinner at their aunt's house (but don't know that we are not going yet) and climb into your bed in the morning and the first thing out of their mouth is, "Will we be playing games at the Easter party today?" your heart breaks into a million pieces...twice.
4. A promise of an outdoor and indoor Easter egg hunt, the video of "Toy Story" (which they haven't seen and Bella is already afraid of), some brand new sidewalk chalk, a game of Candyland and Chutes and Ladders, and much love from Daddy and Mommy can get them to forget about the "other Easter party" and excited about having our own.

I suppose that the disciples didn't wake up on Easter Sunday excited either. Yet, He did Rise. He has risen. He rises within us everyday. He rises within us and equips us to help those that are so alone even if they are surrounded by so many. He delights over us. He has risen indeed...but it was the Easter bunny that left the candy... that he bought while shopping with Grandma.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I was supposed to speak at my nephew Tyler's Junior High Bible Club meeting this morning before school. It was going to be awesome. I was to pick him up at 6:30, take him to school, and speak from 7:00 to 7:45. I really love, and like, Tyler. He is way older than his age and when I am with him I forget that he is 25 or so years younger than me. He is very talented and great to be around. I'm sure that one of the things that I like about him is that he likes me, a lot. It's a constant heavy feeling I have for Tyler in that I don't spend much time with him. I would love to be there for him more. He is really special to me and doesn't have much evidence to believe that. That is one of the reasons why this morning was to be so special for me. Another is that I love to speak and looked forward to blessing them with whatever the Lord would bring. I was even excited to take Tyler to school so my brother wouldn't have to. There are many reasons I was excited to be there with and for Tyler this morning.
Yet, I was not there. Car crash? Kids sick? House fire? Did I finally get in the fist fight I've been looking for all these years (read "Wild at Heart"'ll understand)? No, I set my alarm, turned it on, and turned all of the sound off of my phone. Thus, I slept in. When Rachel's alarm went off at the time I should have been walking into the school with Tyler, my heart sank. I called my brother's cell phone and apologized to Tyler and Tommy (my probably know him as Tom).
There is nothing I can do. Could it have been worse? Sure. There could have been a fire, sickness, fights, etc. On a simpler note, I could have simply turned the alarm off after waking up or hit the snooze too many times. That would have been worse I guess. No, I just turned the sound off of my phone like I do every night. I am filled with regret.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Should he stay or should he go?

In a bible study the other evening, we went over 2Cor2: 12-13. Paul writes...

12Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, 13I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by to them and went on to Macedonia.

The point of our lesson was that things in ministry (and in following Christ for that matter) just don't always go the way we feel they should. The side story is that the bible is so amazing in that it is real. Things go wrong. Everything is not perfect. If "man" were fabricating a "holy book" it would seem perfect. I digress.
My question is this. Should Paul have left Troas? Too often, I believe people feel that everything Paul did was perfect. Not true. I see it two ways.
1. Paul should not have left. God opened the door. Paul, looking at earthly things instead of God's provision and plan, was discouraged and bolted. He should have stayed.
2. Paul mentions having no, "peace of mind". This is his explanation of feeling that although the Lord opened the door, that He was now telling him to not continue.
Your thoughts?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Moses moments

Did you ever feel called to something? Hard question, I know. Have you ever wanted to do something? Sure. Have you ever had to do something? Sure. But called? If you don't follow Christ this may even be strange term. Oh, perhaps you are a cat freak and know that owning 12 cats, dressing them like people and giving them children's names is your calling but I believe I'm talking about something different. Have you been called by God to do something for Him?
I think that this is a tough question for two reasons. One, many of us are called by God and yet we are afraid. We don't want to do that which God has called us to do. We say we aren't sure and hem and haw. We make up every practical excuse as to not follow through. These are people who have not had a lot of people support them in life ("I haven't even done the simple things right in life. How could I pull this off?" They worry.) They haven't been accepted much in their world ("What if I fail?" their fear tells them). They lack a good bit of comfort when things go wrong ("It hurts too much to screw up" they realize). They eventually stall long enough and the Lord releases them to ineffectiveness and faith threatening luke warmness. Two, many others of us, and sometimes the same people as the first, get called to something we really want to do. It's a perfect fit with little inherent dangers. Yet, we hesitate. Why would God make it this easy or transparent? I should have to suffer more. This is too perfect of a fit we say. These could be people who haven't had much affection ("How could God make it so easy for me?" they surmise). They, like the first group may have not had much attention growing up and thus feel unworthy of a calling at all ("Who am I to have a calling from God after all?" they think). We all have emotional needs that haven't been met. They hamper our abilities to hear from God in many ways. I'm just guessing at a few here.
I'm in a different place. I know what God wants me to do. I'm clear in His calling. Yet, I wonder (that's a self protective way to say, "I'm scared and lack faith and am full of self doubt."). Yes, I "wonder" how God is going to pull this off? Will He? Sure. Will He use me? Sure. But how? Can I screw it up? What if I'm wrong? What if I don't answer the call with what I am required? Moses did the same thing. God called him to some big time things. If you aren't sure what I'm talking about you can check it out. It's chronicled in a history book called, I believe, the Bible. Check out the first part of the book and it will lead you there.
Moses gave God every excuse. The problem was, he was focusing on himself, not God. I'm doing the same. Should I? No. Do I? Yes. Why? Well, growing up, I lacked a good bit of comfort, didn't always get the support I needed..........hmmmmm, it's easier to point it out in others like I did earlier. I'll just keep moving forward and follow His lead. It worked for Moses.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

If you don't have kids you don't understand...

So I had to discipline Isabella Sunday night. Ok, I yelled at her. She was way too wound up for bed time and wasn't listening. I felt bad so I had a quiet moment with her. I said, "Bella, I want you to know that even though I get angry with you that I love you very much. Nothing will ever change that." She replied, "Really? You will always love me? Even if I put tweezers in your mouth?" Junior chimes in, "Even when we're dead?". Me, "Let's go to bed kids."
Yesterday I was not feeling well. I had some sinus congestion and had a bit of a headache (I never get headaches so any headache bothers me quite a bit). Yes, I engaged my "holistic don't get sick" solution and am better today. Anyhow, let's just say I was a bit "short" with the kids if not downright crabby. So, when Junior was taking a bath I told him, "Junior, daddy didn't feel well today. I'm sorry if I wasn't as fun as normal. I want you to know that I think that you are great and that I love you." As he was putting shamoo in his hands in the shape of a circle he replies, "Hey dad, it looks like a lemon." Well son, I'm glad we could have this talk...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Childhood games...

My good friend Steve Czaban if you dare was talking about his father who is turning 70 this weekend. He went down memory lane and discussed how his dad got him a football at a Redskins game as a kid, sand for a sand trap that Steve had dug in his backyard, and didn't freak out when he built a field goal post out of quarter round (that was supposed to be for their house). It got me to thinking about my lonely childhood. Steve's dad always facilitated his games, and even coached, but like any dad he worked a lot. My father worked a lot as well. The guys on Czaban's show made fun of how he had so many made up games and that he seemed like he had no friends...he didn't argue. Living on a dead end street, having friends come over involved moms and driving and was frankly, pretty rare. Here are some of the ways I passed the time.
1. Like Czaban, I kicked field goals. I would put the seats of the picnic table on end on top of the table at either end. Meticulously balanced, the worked to perfection. I would stand in the other half of the yard (our front yard was separated by a short driveway, thus making two halves...actually 1/3 and 2/3's) and kick every type of football I had (real, good, crappy, nerf, etc.). It would always be the game winning attempt and if I missed there was always a penalty. I would then kick again...until I made it...never a penalty when I made the field goal.
2. I would throw this rubber/cork baseball off of the stone wall in our front yard. Because it was made of several layers of stone the bounce was unpredictable. If I fielded it cleanly I would throw it again and having fielded it cleanly again the "batter" was out. If not, an error. If I didn't field it cleanly in the first place it was a hit. On the ground was a single. In the air and off of the wall of the house, a double. Off of the living room window a triple (and very scary). Off of the roof a home run. I had the entire Pirates and Phillies line ups memorized and I pitched/fielded for both teams. The Pirates always won.
3. I would "pepper" with a volleyball off of the roof. I would serve it into the part that came to a "v". It would roll down and I would forearm pass it back on to the roof, set it onto the roof, then hit a roll shot one more time and repeat with a forearm pass. As long as it didn't go over the roof (which invariably it did) it was a blast.
4. I once stretched a volleyball net from the roof to the fence post of our street (our yard was below street level). I would then throw the ball onto the roof which would then bounce as if it was a set. I would take an approach and swing for a kill. Ingenious but boring as crap chasing the ball into the weeds every didn't last long.
5. I would spend countless hours chipping golf balls from one side of the yard to the other. It was challenging to not hit the elevated driveway wall as the ball would come back flying at midsection level. Further, a hit that would go long would disappear forever down the hill. We also had a flag pole tucked in the further corner of our 1/3rd yard. A true challenge to get it all of the way back there without losing it.
6. Evel Knievel was my hero and very often I would put on my skateboarding helmet (we didn't wear helmets to bike back then) and jump off of the curb into my neighbors yard (also below street level). I'm still not aware how I didn't get broke.
7. There was always "annoy the crap out of my sisters" but they needed to be there to play that and they got wise and rarely showed.
8. As a very young boy I remember playing army against...the wind. I would hide behind things and try not to get hit by...the wind. I lost so much I quit. My imagination had it's limits.

Wow, there should be ten...but there weren't. It clearly was a simpler time back then. I don't remember freaking out about Jimmy Carter and inflation or housing interest rates, let alone the gas shortages. I just needed a game to play. Anyone up for some home run derby?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's advice

Yes, two new posts in 12 about that.

A few quick pointers for this most contrived of all Hallmark Holidays. Some of these are borrowed from my good friend Erik Kuselias of ESPN radio, the rest are figure it out.
1. If she has to work today, you better get something delivered to her there. By four o'clock she will want you dead as others get their gifts and she doesn't.
2. Please make it something she wants, not something you want her to want. Sexy this, or smelly that is not what she's looking for (if she doesn't already like it).
3. If she says it's not important to her, get her something anyhow...just do it.
4. If she says it's not important and really means it, you are blessed. Buy her something anyhow.
5. Make her a card, don't buy one. If you are not creative, just write a note (more than two lines) it will go much farther than a $4 card.
6. Ladies, agree to do something with him that he knows you don't want to do, and enjoy it (sports event, his restaurant, his t.v.).
8. For you married women, hit the Victoria's Secret like it's a pinata and you don't have a blindfold.
9. Ladies, you may buy us something you like us to wear (clothes, perfume). We are not scared or sensitive (this doesn't work the other way around, see #2) and would love to know you like what we look like or smell like.
10. For my unattached readers, when you ask someone out for a first date ask them to go for ice cream at the best place in town. If they say no, it's you. Everyone likes ice cream.