New Blog

In case you have stumbled upon this blog....

I quit blogging for a couple of years, but I have started back with a broader spectrum of topics/posts.

New blog is here: http://helpmyunbelief.wordpress.com



Parenting Resource

In between seminary and Norfolk, we lived with my in-laws in Raleigh, NC. The local newspaper, The News & Observer, carried a syndicated column by John Rosemond. Rosemond writes on parenting topics of all sorts. I appreciate his column and his insight. Check out his website here. Rosemond has also many books to his credit as well.


Reflections from Vacation

It's good to get away.

We have just returned home on Labor Day, having been out of town for a good week and a half. We traveled nearly 2000 miles on this trip, thankfully on the last leg during the recent hike in gas prices (which is really a small concern in comparison to the tragedy of Katrina and the aftermath). I pretty drained at the beginning of our vacation time which started on August 24th. It's not really vacation, which makes me think of a trip to Disney world or the beach, but time off and away. This came after not having a secretary for about a month and a half, followed by three weeks of vacation by the Sr. Pastor. So, I was glad for the time off and away.

Our first leg was from Norfolk to Knoxville, the longest single drive (9 hours), on Thursday. The kids did very well in the car, maybe the best of all of the drives. Driving can be a real challenge with the two little ones, particularly when they both get going. They don't know to ask "are we there yet?" at this point, but we certainly here from them when they want or need something. We had a very nice stay in Knoxville, enjoying the company of family (my dad's side). We attended a family reunion/brunch on Saturday morning. I also found a great used bookstore in Knoxville buying several books and 3 cd's. A great way to spend some birthday money. Here is what I bought:
--> Walking the Bible, Bruce Feiler, hb ($4)
--> Looking for God in Harry Potter, John Granger, hb ($3). I wouldn't have bought this one without the recommendation of my friend Willy. I started reading this last night.
--> Being Human, Ranald MacAuley& Jerram Barrs, pb ($3). Jerram was a professor of mine at Covenant Theological Seminary.
-->Churches that Make A Difference, Ronald Sider, et al,pb ($5).
-->Parenting the Strong-Willed Child, Forehand & Long ,pb ($.75). If your curious, we are pretty sure we have one of these.
-->2 more books that I can't t remeber the titles of...one by Peter Kreeft and one by Henri Nouwen. Both were small paperbacks and cost around $1.
-->Dive & Fly, Jennifer Daniels, cd ($.68). The cost is so low because the disc is suppose to be scratched, but I had no problems the first time through. Singer-songwriter.
-->Flower of Avalon, Tracy Grammer, cd ($3.95). I was excited to find this, as I had just recently listened to some of this disc at a Borders.
-->Knife Edge, Brooks Williams, cd ($4.95). Folky blues; bluesy folk. I have another CD by him.

Saturday afternoon we headed for Athens, GA. The car ride could have been worse, but it could have been better. It's hard to avoid traffic when you have to go through Atlanta to get somewhere. In Athens, we wanted to see old friends and attend church at the church I worked at while finishing college and a few years after. We were able to stay with Lydia's brother and spend a little time with him as well. It was fun to be back in "Athenstown". The last part of my birthday from Lydia was to replace my UGA shirt. Done. I'm ready for a new football year.

Monday afternoon we drove to Dahlonega, GA to stay with my father and stepmother. We spent the most of our time there, which was a blessing. I get tired of the unload/reload part of traveling when we go on these type trips to see family. We've always packed a lot of stuff, but it is ten times as much with the children (strollers, clothes, pack-n-plays, diapers & wipes, high chairs/seats, etc...). I did buy another book during the week at a book outlet near where my dad and stepmother. I found Dorothy Sayer's Letters to a Diminished Church ($5, pb). Began reading a little...she is such a strong and passionate writer...a very talented lady indeed. Helped my dad around the house during the week and mostly relaxed. My niece who is between our kids in age seemed a little scared by our children, especially when they wrestle with each other on the floor. It can be pretty funny to watch, but she wasn't sure what to think of their shenanigans. It was fun to see them all together.

On Friday went to a Braves game with my brother. We had a great time as we got to see the Braves win. A couple of things struck me while we were there:
1) The world's largest High-Definition screen at Turner Field (72' by 51'). It is incredible to see this thing and I found myself distracted by it to some degree because of its size and clarity.
2) I was saddened that we find it so easy to pay $4.50 for water (or coke in my case) at baseball games, when people were literally dying of thirst in New Orleans or other areas. Our consumerism knows no bounds and I am guilty as much as the next guy.

On Saturday, my love for college football was renewed with a full slate of games, including Georgia beating up Boise State.

We left for home on Sunday morning, stopping in Raleigh to break up our drive time a little bit (Dahlonega to Norfolk is around 10 hours). We also enjoyed seeing Lydia's family and had a good time there. I got to play frisbee golf on Labor Day with Lydia's sister's boyfriend. First time I had played in a long time and the first time with real frisbee golf disc ever. That was fun even if I was sore the next day. We drove home Monday afternoon the short three hour trip (feels longer with the children). I'm glad that we had Tuesday to take care of some much needed errands (groceries) and work (laundry, mowing lawn, etc) and I was glad to get back to work today.

It's good to be home.


The power of words (Sayings from La Casa)

Heard recently:

Mother to daughter: "Stop...we do not pull the rug out from underneath the kitty"

Mother to daughter or Father to daughter: "Stop...we do not eat _______ (fill in the blank with any of the following: things from the trash can, our shoes, the kitty's tail, or diapers).

Son to stuffed bear: "Sit down, bear! Sit down, bear!"

Son (repeatedly throughout each day): "No, no, no, no, no."
"My turn, my turn, my turn"


You know you are a parent when...

...you say "you'll poke someone's eye out." For the record, I didn't say it, but it did make me laugh.


High Expectations

While listening to NPR yesterday afternoon, specifically All Things Considered, a story caught my attention as related to our youth. You can read a little and listen here. This story is about about the Mosaic Youth Theatre in Detroit, MI. When this group puts on a performance, it is entirely produced and put on by the youth. There are no adults hovering or controlling. The role of the adult leaders is to prepare the youth for such events. As a result, there are high expectations for the work that must be done. The kids come from all parts of Detroit, from suburbs and the inner city, but they all labor under the same demands and dreams. Many of these teens receive college scholarships in part for their participation and experience at Mosaic. This reminds me of being a part of the first Goldrush Summer Youth Conference at Perimeter Church in Atlanta as a graduated senior in 1994. Under the direction of the Youth Leadership team we put on the entire youth conference. There were a lot of behind the scenes stuff that we had little do with, but overall we were as involved as you can get. Like Mosaic and Goldrush we need to have high expectations for our youth and encourage them to take ownership of their dreams and passions. I am not talking about trying to live through our children or trying to force them into something, but looking for, inculcating, and encouraging their vocation and avocation. Too many youth are giving a free pass to waste their adolescence. Whether that be because they have too much freedom or too little. We do our youth no service when we treat them as monsters to satiated or hormones to be squashed. Creating and maintaining high expectations must always be tempered with freedom to fail and freedom to keep working towards those things that have value. There is too much that is wasted on and by youth, and we are largely to blame.


Parenting Reflections

1) Parenting is one of the hardest things that you have to do in life. I said something to this effect to my new neighbors and their friends. One problem: they are in the Marines. None of them have children themselves, some have possibly seen war firsthand, and I didn't realize what I was saying until after the words were out of my mouth. Didn't get much of a response from them -maybe a few brief "are you crazy" looks. As I have thought about it after the fact, I feel it is still true. I didn't mean to compare what they do as soldiers to parenting in anyway - you can't really. The reality of parenting is that it is constant (24/7). There is no slack. There is no time in which you aren't thinking and/or aware of the situations and dangers. That is what makes it so hard. I am sure there are other things that would compare to this in some way...I just find myself challenged at this particular time.

2) It is easy to feel like you are not doing a good job as a parent. I see this with other parents and this is one of the main reasons that I created this blog. We all need encouragement in this area of life. We can compare ourselves to those we see as being "super-parents" or compare our childrens poor behavior or competance with "super-kids". Ultimately this is a fruitless endeavor. In keeping with Reflection #1, I think one of the ways that you succeed as a parent is showing up everyday for "work." Being the constant that children of all ages need. We all need encouragement...keep this in mind as you interact with parents (that doesn't mean you lie to someone who needs to be spurred on or who is truly neglecting their responsibility).

3) Parenting is fun. So many of the things that get us laughing are the fun and funny things said and done by our children. Ethan is done with his speech therapy and is talking all the time now. I continue to be amazed by the things that he has to say. Like her father, Kara craves onions. Anytime we are chopping onions, Kara makes her way to request/beg/scream for some onion. Amazing! These things, more than anything, are what keep us going. It is a joy to see our children grow. To see how they learn from us as we teach them to pray, to share, to love, to laugh and sing. Some of it comes naturally...some of it has to be nurtured.