It’s a Boy!



So it’s been a while, ok a really long while since I have written anything here. I have good reason though.  I’ve been waiting! Which of you ask my wife, is not an easy thing for me to do. 

I’ve been waiting to feel something. Something that is completely mind blowing and pulls at your heart like not much else in this world can do. I’ve been waiting for something that many parents have experienced yet can only experience for a short time in their child’s life. I have been waiting to feel our youngest, yet still in the womb, son to move!!!

To lay on the couch next to my wife and lay my hand on her belly and feel baby Nathaniel kick or move or roll or whatever his little hyperactive self is doing in his little bubble of protection. Wow! It blows me away and each time it happens I look at my wife with amazement like a kid seeing something for the first time. 

What an incredible experience that is, to feel our baby moving inside of his mothers stomach. Yes I said it, BABY! Not fetus, not cells, not embryo or any other strange word that can be used to describe an unborn BABY! 

As I sit there and see th changing stages of my wife and our baby I can see God hard at work in them both. 

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. (‭Psalms‬ ‭139‬:‭13‬ NASB)

Even 3000 years Years ago (and more) it was known that God is the maker of all.  Even babies!  The Psalmist gives credit to God alone for weaving and forming him within his mothers womb.  

That little movement under the soft skin of my wife’s belly is Gods handiwork. He is being formed and woven into the image of God. To feel his little body kick and poke around is to feel life inside the womb. It is to feel proof that our unborn baby is a baby not a lump of cells. He is life! 

Though he is not yet born out of his mother he is still a person a baby. He has personality and he smiles (as we’ve seen on ultrasound) he moves and he sleeps. 

The Psalmist also reminds us that it’s ok, it’s not always meant for us to understand fly Gods ways 

You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
(‭Psalms‬ ‭139‬:‭5-6 NASB)

For the prophet Isaiah also tells us that Gods ways are not our ways. 

Contrary to what the world will tell us, no matter how many days or weeks or months in the womb,  God creates life and is hard at work forming and weaving in the “secret places”. 

“Thank you God for the gift that is our baby Nathaniel!  Thank you for growing him and weaving him in your image. Thank you for your protection of him and his mother. 

God grant us the wisdom to raise him to know you and love you and serve you. Help us to be the parents that you have called us to be. Help us to be an example of you and your love and to speak truth to those in our lives. 

Amen”  

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Sticks and Stones

Ever grab the piece of candy that you thought was going to be sweet and wonderful and you drop it in your mouth and the bitterness and the sourness hits your lips and tongue and send your taste buds into overload?

One day about a year ago I was driving down the road and a local church that always add neat little sayings on their sign out front had this to say. “Always taste your words before you spit them out”. At the time that hit me like one of the great philosophical truths of this world. Unfortunately like every man I am short minded and forgetful. I have to learn my lessons over and over often at the expense of others.

It’s like that old saying that old saying that our parents taught us when we were little. Sticks and stones may break your bones
but words will never hurt us. That sounds like such A strong defense. Unfortunately it’s simply not true.

When I was in third grade my brother assisted me in breaking my arm. Yes we may have been wrestling around after mom told us not to but we did it anyway. I remember that it hurt and I remember having a cast on for several weeks but when I close my eyes I cannot feel that pain still. However it is very easy to close my eyes and feel the pain of a sharp word that was spoken to me years ago.

You can see broken relationships all over the place. Most of them damaged by hurtful word not a physical action or a physical pain. The echoes of words can bring out your entire life. They say two things you cannot get back or the stone after you’ve grown up in the word after you’ve spoken and that is truth.

I have spit out many words that should never have been given a voice. I have carelessly throwing them around throughout my life and they have caused her to many people. Family friends coworkers my wife my children. Not to count forgotten words that may have hurt a complete stranger that I didn’t even know. Why because I am a fallen sinful man. Thankfully my redeemer who has forgiven me had words of his own.

Though my words have been echoing for 33 years my Savior Jesus Christ words have been echoing for thousands. Thankfully His words are true and lovely and pure and holy and full of grace and mercy.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭4‬:‭29‬ NIV)

My words need to modeled after Christ. They do not need to be self seeking selfish or vengeful. It is easy to let emotions dictate your speech but this should not be the case. To act in love and in response to Jesus love for me I should be modeling this way of life. Only speaking words of truth and love that will build up my wife our children and others.

Though sticks and stones can cause physical pain that may last for a time, the hollow voice of words muttered ages ago c an carry a burdensome weight that will last a lifetime. Truly, chew on your words, taste them see if your able to choke them down. Do they need to be salted or coated with honey to be able to swallow? Do they go down smooth with a desire for more? Or do they leave a bad taste that can only be relieved by a cleansing? A cleansing that can only come from the forgiveness and grace that can only come through our Lord Jesus Christ!

“Father
Thank you for your grace and forgiveness. Help me to speak love and words that are useful for building up others. Help me to taste them before I spit them out. Help me Lord to “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. (‭Psalm‬ ‭34‬:‭8‬ NIV)” be my refuge and help my heart to seek you always.

Amen”

Spiritual ADD

Now son look at me in the eye when you’re talking to me

. And 3….2….1…. and his eyes are gone again. Looking at the wall looking at the TV looking at his shoes looking anywhere but my eyes. And it’s not just him but it’s all children for the most part. As parents and even just as adults we require our children to look at us to give us their attention or focus their respect while were speaking to them and when we don’t get it we don’t like that.

It’s something about the connection that we get that sense of paying attention and understanding when someone looks in our eyes while we speak to them. It says I’m listening I hear you and I understand what you’re saying it often gives us a sense that what we’re saying is going to be receptive and followed.

I give teachers all the credit in the world for being able to handle 20+ students on a day-to-day basis. Gaining their attention keeping the focus ahead looking at her or him. For me getting the attention of one is hard enough but a room full of 20 is like herding cats.

When I try to get my children’s attention and get them to focus on me it’s typically in those moments that I have something really important to share with them. A life lesson or a correction or a discipline even A kind word of love. Often those of the times I find it hard to gain attention and focus from them. If this is how I feel I can only imagine how my heavenly father feels about the lack of focus and attention that I keep on him.

Paul said this

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (‭Hebrews‬ ‭12‬:‭2‬ NASB)

No wonder my children have a hard time with this look at the example I am setting. My eyes are constantly wondering looking at other things that work at my bank account at chores list of things to do. Often giving my attention and focus to the day today activities of life.

When I should be fixing my eyes on Jesus. Keeping them focused straightahead not looking at the ground or at the sky or to the right or to the left. Straight ahead on the one who told me not to worry on the one who told me he would meet my needs on the one who went to the cross to die for me. The one who gives me unconditional love and grace and mercy. The one who stands before God justifying me day and night interceding on my behalf.

Every day there are life lessons there are things that God wants me to learn he is trying to shape me and mold me like a good teacher. There is a reason the disciples call Jesus Rabbi. He was their teacher he is my teacher and a lot of times I feel like I am not getting a passing grade. Jesus wants me to focus on him so I can be more like him and as a father and a husband I strongly desired to model Christ’s love to my family. But in order to be like the teacher I need to be looking at the teacher.

Jesus please help me to keep my eyes fixed on you. Show me what it means to be more like you. Help me to overcome my spiritual ADD. Help to make my path straight and keep looking straight ahead on you. Lord let me remember that the date today activities of this life are temporal but that raising my children to know you and to love you is eternal. That modeling your love for my wife and kids has long-lasting effects. Let me not look to the right or to the left or up or down but it Christ the author and perfector of our faith.

Amen

Picture Perfect

Here’s a story, about a man named ……… I better stop there before I get a theme song stuck in my head! We all remember that wonderful show that gave us an inside look into one of Americas favorite “Blended Families”. Six perfect kids with a working dad and a stay at home mom with a full time nanny named Alice. Station wagon with wood panel siding and nobody ever fought in the car even on those long road trips to the Grand Canyon! From the outside looking in, they were perfect!

I had someone ask me last week, if our family was as “perfect” as it appeared to be on Facebook? (Insert long pause here)………………. HAHAHAHAHA Sure, it’s perfect I said. Kids never fuss we always smile and our children are about to pass Dougie Houser in early educational achievements (sorry it just fit since I opened up with a sitcom). It is easy to see the smiles and fun looks in pictures. We all do it, take the picture over and over until it’s “perfect” or at least until mom finally utters those long awaited words of “that’s good enough”. We want smiles and happy faces and perfect memories to think about down the road.

Before I continue let me make certain everyone is clear! Our family is “Perfect”! Perfectly Human! James said this in chapter 3:2 “We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check”. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times I have told one of the kids they better “get themselves in check”. They are human, sinful by nature and in need of a savior. They are our perfect gifts from God and it is our job to lead them back to Him.

The truth is, as much as we joke, we are not the Brady Bunch. We are real, we make mistakes, we have to cut the grass because it’s not AstroTurf and we don’t have Alice to get dinner ready for us (because he moved to Florida). We have good days and bad days, but in each day Ingrid and I strive to show Gods love to each other and our children. We love beyond our faults and we extend grace and mercy. Giving forgiveness openly and even asking for it when we need to. We are prayerfully trying to do what Paul said in Romans 12:10 ” love one another deeply, honor others more than yourselves”.

“Father,
We know we are not “picture perfect”. We are sinners, fallen and broken. We need Jesus every moment of every day. Thank you Lord for providing us forgiveness of sins through your son.
God help us to raise our children to look past the mistakes look past hard times and look toward your love. Help them to show your love and be an example of you to others.
Lord I don’t need our picture to be perfect and for others to think it is, I just ask that all of us would look at each other through your lens. To see us how you see us, redeemed, pure, set apart for you and PERFECT in Christ love.

Amen”

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Man up

It’s been a few weeks since I have sat down to write. I intend on doing this at least once a week and often find that the tooth picks that are supporting 50lb pieces of skin that some refer to as eyelids, seem to snap and I fall quickly to sleep. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Just a week ago my wonderful wife truly humbled me with her amazing writing on my birthday. As I reflect back on the past year and see all that God has done and continues to do in my life I am in awe.
He has given me the most incredible gift in Ingrid. A strong and beautiful woman inside and out, an amazing mother and wonderful wife. I have never seen such an incredible sacrificial love as she has shown me. She is such a great example of Gods love to me and our kids. She inspires me to want to be the man, husband and father that God has called me to be.
Ingrid from the bottom of my heart thank you for your love.
Daily I feel and see why God has put such a calling on fathers. I see the challenge of raising and training kids, making my wife my top priority and juggling the responsibilities of day to day life. It is crucial during these times to step up and be a man.
Just this past week at football practice I have seen the call to “be a man” issued to boys learning this sport. It’s issued in a way that promotes only strong athletic ability and the means to tackle or out run another player. It reminds me of how our world views being a man. Simply to just be strong, out perform or please others.
Oh how I pray that I can show and impress on our kids that being a man is so much more than being able to poke out your chest, lift more weight or run faster than another. To teach them that gentleness is not weakness and that it takes much more strength to do what is right in Gods eyes than in mans.
Paul said this “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (‭Galatians‬ ‭1‬:‭10‬ NIV)”
It takes truly being a man to stand up against the “world” and do what is pleasing to God. This is a great calling that I have as a Dad and Husband and Servant of Christ.
I must be a man for my wife, putting her needs above mine and showing her love, grace, praying for her and serving her. I must be a man for our kids by showing them love, teaching them Gods ways and correcting them in love when they need it.
Almost any man can walk tall and throw his weight around or be confrontational but this man desires to lead by example and to love with Gods example bringing my family closer to Christ.
Thank you God for this great calling. Please walk with me and guide me as I attempt to be a man for You and my family.
“Thank you for wonderful children and for such an incredible wife. Thank you for the opportunity to show your love to them. I pray you will give me wisdom and correct me when I am wrong. Help me to be strong and courageous and to trust in your promises (Joshua 1:9)
Thank you Lord for being my Heavenly Father who loves me
Amen”

A new season

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: (‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3‬:‭1‬ NIV)

It’s that season again! Time for football, cheerleading and school will be starting before you know it. Such a busy time of the year and it always seems that there is no end in sight. But, it is that time of year so ready or not , here we go!

Tyler and Josh have just begun the 2014 football season, Tyler’s first year playing I might add. Emily is on her second year of cheering and Ingrid and I are preparing to buy a small coffee farm in an effort to provide enough of the warm caffeine goodness that keeps us going, sometimes!

I’m reminded that this is a season, a season that is here for a while and then is gone. Just like any season, we need to intentionally take advantage of its perks. It may be challenging to think there are many perks during this hectic time of quick sandwich dinners and making u-turns to fetch helmets and shoulder pads that “mysteriously” got taken out of the back of the car by the infamous “it wasn’t me” monster. Well, there are. Like the perk of needing to spend more time praying for our children, or the benefit of having the opportunity to share and show our faith to so many new people we meet.

We also have the opportunity to spend this extra time with our children, talking supporting, cheering for and encouraging them. This is a season where they will be watching our every move and hearing every word. This is a time where we need to be thankful to God for giving us the ability to let our children enjoy activities like this.

This is also a season where we will need to be watchful, mindful and always prepared to give an answer for the faith we have in Christ.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (‭1 Peter‬ ‭3‬:‭15‬ NIV)

With school starting, our children will be bombarded with many more outside influences than we can even think about. Teachers, friends, team mates even text books and other media. We need to be ready in this season to answer the tough questions they will have. We need to be prepared to set a godly example that shows the benefit of living in Gods will, to the best of our ability.

In this season, we all will grow. Growing as players, as cheerleaders, as parents and most importantly, as disciples of Jesus. Jesus is always growing us, growing us to look like him, love like him and serve like him.

“Heavenly Father,

This season we come to you with grateful hearts. Thanking you for the many blessings you have bestowed on us thank you for my wife and her unfaltering commitment to our children and to me. Thank you for our children and for allowing them to play football and cheerleading. Thank you for this upcoming school year. Lord thank you for the opportunity to show and share our faith with others and to continue growing our kids into disciples of Christ.

Lord we ask for your protection over our children both physically and spiritually. Let them not be influenced by this world but rather be the influencer’s to others for your name sake.

Help Ingrid and I not grow tired or weary during this hectic season. Help us to show love and thoughtfulness and dedication to each other and our children in all things. Please allow our kids to see you in us and help that to permeate our home by the power of your Holy Spirit.

Thank you God for all that you do for us.
In Christ name
Amen”

Not of this world

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (‭1 John‬ ‭3‬:‭1‬ NIV)

Wow! What a busy and exciting few weeks! It has been truly amazing as Ingrid and I have become husband and wife and we have joined our families into one. What an awesome blessing.

It has been a great time of being together and growing, and also a time of new routines and habits. One of these is out dinner time devotions. Anything from just conversation about life and spiritual matters, to reading planned family devotionals. This is really starting to take root in my heart.

I love listening to the children’s responses and questions when we talk about God. It reminds me of how soft they are right now and how that opportunity to shape and mold them is there. It also reminds me that they are watching!

This can be the tough one. Even when their eyes are glued to the tv and they don’t hear me ask them to cut the light off, or pick up their shoes; they see and hear everything we say and do. This is a gift!

If our kids know us, and they know God I am praying that they see Him in us. I pray that we constantly hear them say “but they don’t do that at my friends house” or “but my friend from school doesn’t have to do this or that”. I pray that these are the moments when they see the difference in Ingrid and me. That they see our home is different, that we are not “of the world”.

I pray that we are living in such a way that we are different, that we are not living for us but for Him. I have the most incredible wife, who encourages me daily to walk closer to God and to be an example of Him. The godly love and attitude that permeates in our home is so wonderful.

So even when the tv is on and the dogs are barking and we have to tip toe through the strategically placed mine field of toys on the floor, they are paying attention!

“Father, thank you so much for this family, for my amazing wife and for this life you have given us. Please help to keep our hearts and minds focused on you and your love and grace as we commit to teaching our children to grow in wisdom and knowledge and love of you. Remind us that they are watching and allow us to take advantage of the teachable moments. Let us not focus on the things of this world or the things that they see when they are not inside of our walls, but let us focus on showing them that we “Christ followers” do not live “in this world” but that our citizenship is with you in our eternal home.

Thank you Lord for loving us enough to take our punishment on the cross and giving us freedom in your son.

In Jesus name

Amen”

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, (‭Philippians‬ ‭3‬:‭20‬ NIV)

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