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.

Dodgeball and Common Grace: A shot at long devotion

   I got a call from Lily’s kindergarten teacher asking if I would come in and volunteer at lunchtime as a playground dad. Someone else could not make it and they needed a replacement. It was early September and the year had just begun.  I agreed and showed up the following Friday for duty.

            Somehow, that one afternoon has turned into four years of Friday lunches, countless dodge ball games and amazing opportunities to let kids know they matter.

            More then anything, it has been a chance to be available—available to my daughter, available to her friends. I never show up with an agenda and I don’t really consider it ministry. It is just life. It is my daughter’s life, and I get tobe a part of it in a way that matters to her.

Finding Home Sweet Home

This past weekend, I hosted an open mic/art show at the homestead.  It was an evening the had me enthralled and I didn't want it to end.  A poet, a sculptor, a singer and a spoken word performer, amongst a few more writers and creative geniuses, graced us with their offerings.  It was such a sacred time that ushered summer in with profound, but gentle truth.  I am almost at the end of making a big transition that I announced last week. Thank you to everyone for your support and encouragement in this season.  It has meant so much to me and my husband. 

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Ten ways to make sure you only receive polite, obligatory gestures on Father's Day

  1. Show up only for milestones, but never for the mundane.
  2. Disregard your health.
  3. Lecture your child on the benefits of a clean bedroom.
  4. Drop off your children at church on Sunday and pick them up when they're done.
  5. Take your kids to the movies or give them money when they earn good grades; withhold favors when they don’t. 
  6. Buy a big screen TV and then say you can’t afford piano lessons.
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