Thursday, February 26, 2009

Jack Jack on Valentine's Day!!

Anna had PJ day at school... they ate french toast and pancakes for lunch!

Goal Line Defense

When you become a homeowner, you are immediately thrown into a world of things you have never dealt with. There is a huge learning curve in the areas of terminology, technology and even biology! When I rented an apartment, I was blissfully ignorant of things like lawn maintenance, paint swatches, crown molding and plumbing repair. When something broke or got old, overgrown or worn out, a magical person came in and made everything all better. When I bought a house, I learned about all sorts of things I had never even heard of before like plumbers strap, luan and flux. Before I owned a house, I had never used a reciprocating saw or a calk gun. Before I owned a house I never worried about really heavy rainfall that lasts for days and days on end, and I never even thought about or worried about mold...

When we first walked through new our house with the realtor, we loved it! It was everything we needed in a house and everything we really wanted as well. We prayed and prayed about all of the details and after two weeks, our old house sold for list price and our offer on the new house was accepted! Everything was moving forward like clockwork… and then we had the home inspection. After being down in the crawl space for about thirty minutes, our home inspector said there was some mold on the floor joists… I’ve seen the commercials enough to know that this was a big deal. Our realtor said that dealing with bad, spreading mold is a long, painful and expensive process involving chemists, environmentalists and tons of reports. After reading online, I discovered that being super careful about mold is a relatively new thing for homeownership… as in, the last thirty years or so. Before that, people apparently weren’t too concerned about it… that is, unless you count the Israelites.

Thousands and thousands of years ago (way before anyone knew anything about germs, bacteria and toxic spores) God told His people to be take mold and mildew very seriously. In Leviticus 14 He told them that it is corrosive, insidious and destructive. He told them that mold must not be ignored, but must be quarantined, washed, scraped off or cut out. He told them that if it won’t stop spreading, the only thing left to do is to tear down the whole house and burn the materials, brick by brick and rafter by rafter. Now, I’ve read these verses a bunch of times before, but this week I noticed something strange while reading them again. Leviticus 14:34-35 says, “When you enter the land of Canaan, which I am giving you as your possession, and I put a spreading mildew in a house in that land, the owner of the house must go and tell the priest, “I have seen something that looks like mildew in my house.”

The mold came from Him! God was sending the spreading mildew! He was planting those messed up little replicating destroyers in people’s houses… but why? I thought about it for a long time and came to the conclusion that everything God did with the Israelites was designed to teach them stuff… stuff about Him and stuff about themselves. Like the way thousands of years of animal sacrifices were getting them ready for what Jesus would accomplish on the cross… I think that warning the people about what mildew and mold are like and can do and then telling them how fiercely they had to respond in order to save their houses was a picture of what sin can do to our hearts. I think it was His way of saying that sin is violent and ruthless and when you find it in your life, you have to be decisive and aggressive to get rid of it or it will destroy you. Then He sent them mold as a way to practice responding… like a fire drill in school or like when a football team practices their goal line defense… In the best circumstances, you hope you don’t have to do it, but at some point, you’re going to have to, so you’d better be ready.

Friday, February 20, 2009

HAIRCUTS! Chris cut the girls' hair which makes for a lot of cute...

The Holiest Thing

A couple of weeks ago I was up at church trying to get some stuff done and it wasn’t working out. For one thing, I had a deadline, which was stressing me out. For another thing, everything I started, I threw out… it was all garbage. Not only that, but I was physically drained and draining all the more! My stress was mounting by the second and people kept walking in with questions or calling with problems! I felt myself getting darker and more volatile on the inside with every passing heartbeat. I looked forward in time to the rest of my jam-packed week and despaired because this was going to be my only chance to accomplish this thing, but how was I supposed to do that with depleted energy, repeated failures and constant interruptions?!

Whoa… I was about to tear my own head off with my bare hands when I remembered Norah. You see, being a dad has taught me a few things and one of them is this: There are very few problems that can’t be cured by a big, fat nap. Having a three-year-old is like playing basketball 24/7, but you’re always on defense, and it’s always a full court press. They fall off of couches, tables and major appliances and scream as if being tortured. They trip over thresholds, rugs and toys and scream as if being tortured. They throw stuff, hit themselves with stuff and break stuff and again with the screaming… They get happy and excited really quickly, but they also get scared and really upset with record-breaking speed. Sometimes Norah is just having one of those really weepy days where everything is drama and at some point Christy and I just look at each other and say, “That girl just needs to go to sleep.” And you know what? It works… she slams a big ole nap and usually wakes up cheerful and back to her bouncy little self.

I know, it sounds like something that works great on toddlers but has little to do with you in the middle of your real life, but I don’t think that’s actually true… in fact, this idea that a nap can cure you is Biblical! In 1 Kings 19 Elijah was on the run. He had just defeated and killed the 450 prophets of Baal after the Lord sent fire down to his soggy altar on Mount Carmel. It was the high-point of Elijah's career. He outran a horse-drawn chariot to Jezreel to tell Jezebel that God was in charge and that her days were done, but she was as mean and determined as ever. She told Elijah she would kill him before the sun came up again and filled with fear, he fled. He was traveling 80 miles south through the hot desert and after a while, he just lost heart. He was broken, tired, famished and wound up suicidal, praying for death: AKA, naptime.

He slept a while and woke up to see an angel making him some breakfast. The angel told him to eat, which he did and then he slept again. He woke up again to the same angel cooking it up once more. Again he ate and this time he was strengthened to journey on for 40 days to Sinai, where God Himself whispered to him. I have never personally had an angel cook me breakfast, but I know that when I get to the very end and I’m about to lose my wits, my patience and possibly my friends, the holiest thing I can do is stop everything and take a nap. We are spirit and flesh. Psalm 103 says, “He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.” In other words, He knows us and knows that sometimes, we just need a little sleep.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Anna playing at the park with Sam and Garrett... thanks Kristin!

Theme Songs

Okay, so I was with the kids at Wal-Mart again when something happened that made Norah start freaking out like crazy, which in turn caused every one shopping for every-day low prices to stare me down… What had I done to this child to make her lose control? Well, Anna and Norah were chewing gum, but Norah dropped hers on the floor. She bent down to pick it up and when she was about to shove it back into her mouth, I deftly swiped it out of her hand… thus, the screaming. As a hundred pairs of eyeballs burned holes in me, I tried to explain to Norah (above her screams) that we don’t eat anything off of the ground, especially at Wal-Mart! She just didn’t seem to understand that there are things we can’t see that are very, very important and have a huge impact on our lives. All she saw was moist, delicious gum, but I was thinking about microscopic landfills of virus-ridden germs collected from the shoes of three surrounding counties… a bacterial nightmare just waiting for that salivary highway.

Our lives are full of stuff we can’t see that we ought to think about a whole lot more than we do. There are spiritual realities all around us that we can’t measure or hold on to, but are real and that matter. Now, usually when people talk about this sort of thing they focus on angels and demons… you know, the spiritual forces that are battling it out in unseen realms. I know, those guys seem really cool and scary super interesting, but that’s not really what I want to talk about… because, while there are beings out there and in here and frankly all over the place waging an invisible war, there is other stuff too. There is heaven, there are those who have gone before us and have rested from their labors, there is God Himself and… there is music!

Psalm 32:7 says, “You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Have you ever been watching a great movie and been brought to tears by the music? Have you ever known something bad was about to happen in the movie just because of the way the music changed? You know how certain characters have theme music and when it comes on it just makes you feel certain things… like Darth Vader, Rocky Balboa and Samwise Gamgee? When you see their faces and hear their music, you’re filled with whatever they want you to feel! Well, what if there was a theme song for you?

You see, I believe that when we are in something we shouldn’t be in, or when we go somewhere we shouldn’t go… when we say stuff we should never say or think things we regret like crazy, it’s usually because we forgot that the invisible God is with us and always watching. What if every single time you overcame a temptation or loved your neighbor or opened your heart to Jesus there was a triumphant and beautiful melody that played in heaven? And what if… what if it was your song… only yours? He surrounds you with songs of deliverance. If you could hear that royal tune, you’d never fall again. Strain your ears for it! He’s alive, He’s here and He’s singing! Let the knowledge of the song fill you and strengthen you to stand. One day I’m going to hear my song, and I want it to be familiar!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Trusty and her little dude after dinner last night...

You Haven’t Tried It Yet

Anna has this fixation with being scared lately… as in, she thinks she loves scary stories. She thinks she loves being scared, or being brave while others are scared. Anytime she hangs out with someone she asks them to tell her a scary story. When they say, “A scary story? Why do you want to hear a scary story?” she tells them, “Because I love scary stories!” The truth is, she’s never really experienced anything very scary yet. She’s never heard a really scary story at all. Basically she’s watched a couple of intense scenes in Disney movies that we used to fast forward and so now she believes herself to be un-scare-able. Let’s be honest: Ursula and Scar are not that big of a deal. If she were to come face to face with something that is really bone-chillingly scary, she would freak out… she just hasn’t actually tried it yet.

I think there are tons of things like that in our lives that we write off because we just don’t know and we don’t know because we haven’t actually tried them out. Like the idea that being humble, contrite and sorry when you’re wrong is actually more fun than being right…

On Monday morning I took our three kids to Wal-Mart by myself for a little grocery trip. We take this adventure surprisingly often, so I knew I could do it, but there were several things on that particular morning that made it difficult. For one thing, the girls woke up on the wrong side of the bed. By the way, I used to hear people talk about ‘waking up on the wrong side of the bed’ and scoff, but it’s totally a thing! Some days they are just grumps, and this was one of them. They complained about their breakfast and then didn’t eat it. They complained about their shoes and the fact that they had to wear coats and hoods (it was cold and rainy). They complained about the music in the car and Anna kept dropping something she was playing with and whining about how she couldn’t reach down to retrieve it while buckled up. I was cold and soaking wet from fastening seatbelts in the rain. It was a nine-minute drive so completely packed with huffs, puffs and grumbles that by the time we got to the store, I was at the boiling point!

Somebody said something ridiculous and I lost it. I just lost it. I went off on them and told them what a terrible day it was shaping up to be. My heart was pounding in my chest and I felt like I was going to ‘hulk out’ at any moment… The car was totally silent except for the twenty-seven-pound raindrops hitting the glass and that’s when it hit me: a choice. I had a choice. It was as clear as it was preposterous, but in those moments of silence I knew that I could either stay mad, and ruin that whole morning, or I could apologize to my kids and redeem it. It was right there in front of me, but something held me back…

In Ephesians 4 Paul said, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” I was going to have to humble myself before my five-year-old, before my three-year-old, and before my three-month-old! People don’t really do this kind of thing easily. We would rather be right. We’re embarrassed to be wrong… to need forgiveness… to humble ourselves, especially before little kids, but the problem is that we just haven’t tried it yet. You see, I went for it. I turned around and looked at those little sad faces and said, “Guys, I’m really sorry. I was wrong to get so mad. I really love you. Will you forgive me?” Their joy was instantaneous! They forgave me and returned my love and we had a great shopping trip. By the time we came out of the store even the rain had turned to snow! It felt like my heart had done the same thing: the dreary wet became light and beautiful and I was happy… it really works. You should try it sometime!

Cluster Map