Category Archives: Faith

100 Things – A Beginning

Lately, I have been weighted down by stuff… stuff and things. These things revolve around me like objects orbiting a planet. Occasionally, one thing grows to an enormous mass, causing me and all of my other stuff to revolve around it.  I then find myself swirling through space, hopping from thing to thing, dragging my stuff in my wake of despair.

Physics analogies aside, we all have that room full of things that we don’t need, or that we think we need, but we only use once or twice a year.  Am I making any sense?  Well, Shari and I are going to get rid of it.  We are starting a new journey in our house that we hope parallels our other ambitions (fostering, faith, father/mother-hood)

We are going to write down 100 things that we think we should keep, and then get rid of the rest.  The inspiration comes from a guy named dave, who wrote about his 100 thing challenge and became famous for it.  If you’ve had your ear to the ground for a while, you probably already know about this and have an opinion.  My opinion is that there is no better ambition than uncluttering your life with the intention of filling that hole with God.

You see, God is the gospel, not all that stuff in your garage.

I’ll let you know how it all goes.  Good and bad.

I might even let you see my list.

Maybe.

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Family Worship

I occasionally pull out the guitar and sing a few songs with my family.  I think it is a healthy practice, and I love that quality time.  The other day, I was playing around on the guitar and I pulled out my new portable audio recorder so that I could catch Caleb singing with me.  He was sitting on my lap, grabbing the strings, and trying to copy what I was singing.

Even though he doesn’t understand volume or tone, I appreciate the effort.  There will come a day when he won’t sit on my lap and sing at the top of his lungs, so I will take all the chances I can get.  Forgive the raw quality of the recording.  A professional I am not.  To God be the glory.

 

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Sunset in Aptos

Sunset in Aptos

There can be no words to describe the glories of God’s creation. I am currently hunkered down at a beach house in Aptos, California. My wife is a photographer, my sister is a photographer, my mom is a painter, and my dad is a musician. There is no lack of creative talent in this house, and yet there has been one common theme when we talk about the sunsets here: there is no way we can ever replicate that kind of beauty in our media, no matter how hard we try. Our cameras can’t capture what our eyes can see, and our paintbrush can’t recreate the ever-changing colors as the sun sets. This picture was one of my many frantic attempts at capturing just some of the beauty that takes our breath away out here.

To God be all the glory.

Psalms 136:1-9

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

the sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

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The Elephant in the Womb

The following story is not light-hearted.  I don’t have a fun video to watch, and I can’t expect most people to understand.  It will also be wordy, so don’t feel guilty if you don’t read it all.

Most of all, I am not writing this for pity.  You don’t need to feel sorry for us.  It’s okay if you cry, or if you pray for us, but God heals all wounds and if we are broken, it is to draw us closer to him.  We are strongly grounded in our hope in Christ Jesus.  I truly believe that everything that happens on this earth leads to glorifying our God, the creator of the universe.  I hope this story helps someone.  I know it helps me to write it.

I was almost a father… again

On November 30th, my wife texted me while I was at work.  The text simply said, “Call me please”.  Of course, I obliged to call as quickly as possible and when I did, she floored me with the news that we were pregnant for the second time.  She had taken a pregnancy test on a whim.  There had been no indication that she was pregnant, she just got curious I guess.  A new baby wasn’t even on our radar, except through adoption/fostering.

Nothing could have made me happier.  I was both floating on clouds and getting crushed by the weight of a completely different reality simultaneously. We have been avoiding pregnancy for a while because we are training to be foster parents, so this changed everything.  I immediately started thinking about maternity gifts for Christmas. I started rearranging the house in my head to make room for the new love of our life.  I even started thinking about names.

It might be a girl;  A little sister for Caleb to look after and protect.  It might be a little boy; a little brother for Caleb to play with and share with.  Either way, I was ready.  You know my motto:

Bring it on.

I don’t pretend to understand how a woman’s body works, but I have learned a few things after being married for 3+ years.  For one, there is a huge difference between bleeding and “spotting”.  My sweet wife patiently told me as much when I made that mistake last week.  It started on December 7th, just 1 short week after finding out we were pregnant.  We were already emotional, having to switch gears from fostering to having a bio-kid.  Now, we were trying to ready ourselves for the worst.

Spotting doesn’t have to bee a bad sign during pregnancy, but it can be.  In my mind, my wife was bleeding profusely and needed to be rushed to the ER.  My wife, sister, brother-in-law, and our good friend Kelley calmed me down and said we just needed to wait a little while.

First, there was a chance that it was just normal spotting.  Nothing to worry about.  The doctor still needed to check it out, but there are good reasons for that process that are a mystery to us, and a glory to God.  Second, if this really was a sign of a miscarriage, there isn’t much anyone can do at that point.

There was nothing we could do…

You mean I can’t fix it?

I stood in our house, helpless, wanting to cry.  And then an amazing thing happened.  Joel–my brother-in-law–decided to pray for us.  We all circled up, heads together, and just prayed.  I think there was a puddle of tears in the middle of our little group by the end.  Like I said, God works everything to his glory.  Even though praying didn’t make the situation less painful or sad, it helped us shed the worry, knowing that God was and is in control.

The next day, Shari went to the doctor with my sister and they did a sonogram to make sure there really was something to worry about.  Of course, there was something there but they couldn’t determine whether she was having a miscarriage or not.  At this point, they say that it was only the size of a small orange seed.  It might as well have been Caleb in there, and I felt like I was losing him.

The weekend dragged by with a lot of sorrow and comforting.  By the end of it, we knew without a doubt that we had lost our second baby.  Shari and I felt at a loss of words, but only for a short while.

As I said before, we put our hope in the saving grace of our Lord.  There is no use mourning for something that has gone away.  We can’t do anything about it, but strive to glorify God until we meet Him again.  I really feel like this has been a blessing because it has made our little family closer and more away of the fragility of our lives.  We are so blessed to be where we are today and I am so blessed to have such a strong a courageous wife.

For the other half of the story (which is a bit more light-hearted), you should read the latest post of i have mom brain.

Thanks for listening.

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Defiance

Our son is showing signs of defiance.  We have all seen it.  There are the classic cases of the kid throwing a fit in Wal-Mart over a toy he can’t have.  Usually, they’re flat out sprawled on the floor or limp in the basked bawling their eyes out and screaming about something.  I pray that we never get there.  I don’t think I could handle the embarrassment.  Actually, compared to those cases, Caleb is a complete angel.  Here is an example:

Making dinner each night is quite the ordeal for our little guy.  He is okay to play by himself for a little while when we are just sitting on the couch, but all the movement in the kitchen seems to stimulate him and he joins in on the hustle-and-bustle.  One night, I was grilling some chicken in the backyard so I was going in and out of the back door constantly.  As I was stepping outside to put the chicken on, Caleb thought it would be fun to come outside with me.  With my hands full and the grill waiting, all I could do was repeatedly ask him to close the door.  He didn’t have shoes on and he still hasn’t mastered the use of porch steps.  Of course, he wasn’t too excited about the idea, but he finally complied.

I only wish you could have seen the look on his face as he pushed the door closed.  One would think that we had told him Elmo had died and Sesame Street was canceled.  As the door finally shut (he pushed it shut and made sure it latched like we taught him), he clapped.  He was still very upset, but managed to eek out a “yay!” between his sniffles and sobs.

That was not an isolated incident either.  It has become the norm as Caleb learns the balance between obedience and pleasure.  My wife and I have learned so much from him about our own relationship to our heavenly father.  We have learned to trust Him, but we still scream and cry as we carry out His plan.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

Ephesians 6:1 (ESV)

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Foster Training

History

When Shari and I first met, there was an immediate flood of information that flowed between us easily and freely.  As with most couples, it’s a good sign that you’re compatible when you can’t stop chatting about anything and everything.  One of those things we talked about was kids: how many, boys or girls, and adoption.  We both agreed that we wanted at least two kids.  We also agreed that adoption wasn’t a bad idea, but we were too young–and too unmarried–to make a definite decision about it.

Money-To-Mouth

Here we are about 7 years later, and we have decided that talk is cheap.  Enough people talk about how great it would be to love an unwanted child, but not enough people actually go through with it.  Shari and I had some long conversations with each other and with some friend’s from church who are already foster parents.  We landed on the idea that our best course of action would be to foster with the goal of adoption.  God has totally changed our hearts from being lukewarm about adoption to being red-hot passionate about fostering.

Foster vs. Adoption

Shari and I just finished the first week of training with our chosen organization (Covenant Kids), and we are still ruminating on the loads of information they dumped on us.  One thing we learned before we even started the process was the difference between fostering and adoption.

When you foster, the goal is to reunify the child/sibling set with the parents.  That can be a hard line to walk if all you want is to play the loving, protective parent.  If you’re not prepared (and Covenant Kids is preparing us for this in a big way), you start to look at the parents as the enemy.  They are drug addicts, abusive, neglectful, and careless with their kid’s lives.  However, they are not all bad.  As a matter of fact, most of them are trying to do good, they are just damaged people like the rest of us.

There comes a time when the state decides that the parents are not fit to parent their child.  At that time, the child becomes available for adoption and the foster parents are given the opportunity to keep that kid forever.  Shari and I are driving for this goal, but God is changing our hearts towards fostering.  The opportunity to show these kids love and give their parents a chance to turn their life around is one that we just can’t turn down.

Some Promises Should Never Be Broken

We are not sure when we will “go active” and start fostering, but we know that we will request babies Caleb’s age and younger.  Now that we have started the process, we are not turning back.  The state of Texas is in need of foster parents and we feel that God calls all Christians to lay down their life for others.  We appreciate any and all prayers on our behalf.  We have a long road ahead of us.

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Wobble: Balance and Faith

He looks in the direction he wants to go.  One foot leaves the ground and hangs for a second while his weight shifts.  The foot returns to the ground and he stumbles forward.  Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot.

Wobble.

The whole world is constantly shifting under my son’s feet.  His perambulating can be called rocky, unstable, and haphazard.  I have noticed that while he is standing I can easily push him and he will easily fall.  No, I don’t push my kid around regularly, but a man has to know his son’s abilities and limits.  The point is, standing and walking unaided is a brand new skill that requires quite a bit of practice to get right.  We weren’t born riding a surfboard, nor did we come out of the womb ready to hike up a mountain.  Balance comes naturally, but not immediately.

The most useful part about Caleb’s new ability is that we don’t have to carry him everywhere.  What a relief for both of us.  He is such a big boy now, and my arms get pretty tired after just a few minutes of holding him.  His unstable nature makes it easy for us to send him in the direction we want him to go.  However, he is learning to pull away and resist our loving guidance.  He is learning that he doesn’t like it when we tell him not to see what’s in the street.  He realizes that he has a fighting chance, and he’s gonna take it to see what’s around the corner.

I am so afraid that Caleb is going to push away from us in his later years.  I want him to think on his own and make his own decisions about God and his faith, but I fear that the world will influence him to turn away from God.  I am powerless to do anything about it, so I pray that God will call Caleb to Him.  I also pray that I will learn to discipline Caleb lovingly and wisely so that he respects me, even when he dislikes me.

For now, we will work on his walking skill.  He will need it for the rest of his life.

When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants,
it is I who keep steady its pillars. Selah

Psalm 75:3 (ESV)

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