It's in the Simple Things; Or is it?

How clearly the sky reveals God's glory!
    How plainly it shows what he has done!–Psalm 19:1

It’s not uncommon for my son Justice, to wake up from his nightly slumber, clapping his hands and grinning at the start of a new day. From his crib, his baby browns scan his room, his whole face smiles as he glances from his toys to his pictures and room décor.

Throughout each day, he’s likely to dance with gusto to his favorite Motown hits playing in our home. While running around outside, he waves to helicopters flying overhead and behaves as a mocking bird when the crows perch themselves in the tree above, caw-cawing along with them. He flails his arms with excitement at the sight of food he so enjoys to eat. And he gets the giggles when it rains.

Recently I said to a friend, “It’s in the simple, everyday things Justice finds his greatest joy.”

And then it struck me like an Easter bonnet on a church lady.

Simple.

Are the birds, rain, the sun and moon, all creation, not to mention huge, heavy, metal objects that defy gravity and fly through the sky, simple? Or could it be I have lost the awe in such wonderful things?

I’ve come to realize it’s officially a sad day the moment I consider it simple the moon perfectly hanging in space or water falling from the sky in all shapes and forms.

Job also lost awe in the day-to-day acts of God. Granted, Job was in a much different situation than in my life, however, Gods response to Job is a response to us all. 

Read what God once upon a time told Job:

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.

Tags | Family | About God

Learning to Delight in the One who Delights in Me

"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." Psalm 37: 3-6

I used to read this passage and only have eyes for, "the Lord will give you the desires of your heart."  How wonderful I thought. God wants to give me the desires of my heart! I seemed to subconsciously ignore the part about delighting in the Lord and trusting him. Details...details.

Before I had my son, I delighted in things like

  • a good sandwich
  • a well brewed cup of coffee
  • a leisurely walk on the beach
  • a pistachio chocolate bar
  • a mason jar full of freshly made juice
  • the feel of the southern California sun on my face
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Tags | Family | Delights | God | love

Resting in His Arms

Of all of the things that come with being with a mom – the mommy brain, sleepless nights, cuddles and snuggles, drool, poop and oh so much more – one of my absolute favorites is when my 13 month old Justice, crawls up into my lap, tucks his arms in against his one-pack-Buddha-belly and falls asleep resting on me.

Justice has a sleepy song he sings to himself just before he fads into slumber. Well, calling it a song is a bit of stretch; he sounds more like a creaking door, in need of a serious douse of WD-40. He creaks and creaks until at last he relaxes and settles in for a good nap on his momma.

And I love it! I often wonder what he’s thinking as he sings his creaky song and zero’s in on sleep.

If you’ve been in Christian circles long enough, you may be familiar with those who admit guilt over falling asleep while praying, especially at night. Maybe you’ve experienced this. This is bad theology.

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Your Children Don't Belong to You

There used to be a time when kids couldn’t wait to leave home. And we’re not talking about getting out of the house on Friday night for a date. In the not-too-distant past, when a son or daughter reached 18, it was goodbye mom and dad and hello world.

Plenty of kids do leave home for college, but increasingly they return once they graduate because they know mom will do the laundry and dad will pay the rent. Okay, so it’s not as simple as that. There are economic factors and a tight job market and all of that. We understand that sometimes a kid doesn’t have a choice but to once again come under mom and dad’s umbrella. But we often wonder if this tendency for children to return to the nest isn’t aided and abetted in some way by one or both parents.

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My Two Dads

I’ve got two dads. Or rather, I’ve had two dads, one my biological father and one my adopted father. One gave me my life, the other my living. Both contributed to me in immeasurable ways. I’ve never written about my two dads aside from my own personal journaling. Now seems like a good time to talk about the two of them.

My mother married Harold Stoesz on May 31, 1951. They went to the same high school, fell in love and decided to marry while my dad was a student at St. Paul Bible College in Minnesota. After finishing St. Paul the following year, my dad decided to continue his education at Wheaton College. The summer before they moved to Wheaton, Harold and my mom moved to Shell Lake, Wisconsin, where my dad filled in for the pastor of a little church, and where I was born.

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Experiencing the Grace of God Through Children

A couple of weeks ago I spent three days in the hospital.  I was not there for any pain I was in, nor illness, but to accompany my wife as she gave birth to our baby girl Hannah.  The timing of Hannah’s birth, born February 26, could not have been more perfect for God to shower us with this blessing, as Hannah is actually the birth of our second child, the first being stillborn at twenty two weeks on March 1, 2012.

When we lost Samantha Grace on March 1 of last year it didn’t take us by surprise, as my wife’s water prematurely broke at 18 weeks, without any conceivable reason why.  Dr.’s could not explain it, and we were advised of the most likely outcome, the death of our first child.  Yet we held out hope that a miraculous God could put his healing hands in the womb to bring Samantha’s body to a point of being strong enough to be born outside the womb, and then hopefully survive on modern technology.  However, those prayers went unanswered, or at least answered in a way that didn’t meet our deepest heart’s desire.

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What Death Taught Me Once Again

A friend I knew as Papa, Bob Moore, left a legacy today: God is big and suffering like Christ is how we show Him to others.

Both of my grandfathers passed away before I was born, so Bob Moore was the closest thing to a local grandfather I ever knew. I don’t think he intended to become my grandfather, but he became it anyways. By the time he joined Christ in heaven, his body was badly beaten from disease and a few falls along the way. I mention this because it’s in his suffering that I learned the most from him.

People teach us in different ways: Bob Moore taught me what it meant to suffer like Christ. I never heard him complain as a disease moved like a freight train through his body. Instead, he embraced Jesus in it all. For all the study I did of God’s suffering servant (Isaiah 52:13–53:12), Papa Moore showed me what it meant to really embrace what that servant, being Jesus, requires of us.

Happy Birthday, Josiah!

Today my second son, Josiah, turns 17 years old.  Let me tell you a little about him:

Josiah is a very smart, witty, and charismatic man. He spent a long time fighting the best in himself, but about two years ago turned a major corner. When he was young, I used to joke that given his personality he would either be President of the United States or the greatest criminal mastermind the world has ever known. 

I was wrong.

I now think Josiah has the potential to launch a movement that can really change the status quo.

He has a deep love of music, and I think resonates with lyrics in a very deep way. On his wall in his bedroom is a painted tree, and for leaves, Josiah posts meaningful lyrics from songs he loves. He's not a "reader" like the rest of us. I think he's a lot more like his Oma than he realizes. He can be stubborn (like me) or playful (like his mom). And he's got two brothers who love him to pieces.

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For Parents of College Freshman, From a Former RD

Let’s get it out there – I am not the most “in shape” of individuals to ever hit the streets.  Sad thing is, I used to be.  When working at Pepperdine University as a Resident Director, I started to run…and run I did.  What started off as 1 mile quickly turned into 4 and 5 mile jogs that slowly began to melt off the pounds.  But it didn’t start that way.  The first mile is the hardest.

In many ways, going to college is like running lap 1 of a 4 lap mile after having not ran in years.  Each lap represents the general development of the college student.  In lap 1 (Freshman), runners tend to “sprint” around the track, feeling like the run is easy.  In lap 2 (Sophmore), they realize that sprinting isn’t an effective way to maintain pace, and they begin to “struggle.”  Lap 3 (Junior) is about “sustaining” from laps 1 and 2 with a focus on the end of the race.  Lap 4 (Senior) is about “succeeding” or as my Father calls it – finishing wel.

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Does Your Marriage Matter?

            Almost twenty-three years ago, my friend Torry pulled me out of a Tijuana gutter. It would be the last gutter I would lay in. The next day was the first in a continuing two-decade journey into my sobriety. I spent that final night of intoxication sleeping at Torry’s parents. It was a place I had been inebriated many times before.

            Even as a self-focused, addicted teen, I knew something was different about Dick and Connie’s place. Whenever there, my life seemed to find more ballast. There was just something about the spirit of their home. There was something special about them together.

            More then anything, when I was there, I knew I was accepted. Conversations were never started with an ulterior motive.

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