15 May 2016 - the advantage of the disadvantage

with our street under construction we haven't been able to park or drive on it... but it did mean my son and i finally had a big space in which to play soccer while waiting for it to be paved. while it's not always the case, it is possible for for our disadvantages to turn into advantages. there are soccer stars who grew up without a real ball to use and basketball legends who for sure had no driveway hoop.
and today looking at the end of the gospel of mark. like the women in the story, sometimes all we have left to go on is His Word, and you have to go on it first. if you are looking at the empty tomb of your life and saying where's Jesus, maybe He's asking you - where are you? are you going to where Jesus calls us? because if we want to see Jesus that's where we need to go.
who is strong enough to roll away the stone?

14 May 2016 - what do we do about abandoned children?

got to watch The Drop Box with wifey! shows a great example of not letting excuses stop you from doing something about problems right around you, making the most of what you have to serve others, laying down life so others might truly live. . .

08 May 2016 - grandmothers, mothers and mothers to be

a chance to celebrate mother's day with virginia family as well, teaming up to treat all the mothers to a nice day.
"For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." from Psalm 100

1 May 2016 - the one who knows

the gospel of mark is the first and also the darkest of the gospel accounts. the hope that is there is mostly an underlying hope, needing to be discovered. but the ending is not the end. God will reveal Himself, the only God who knows deep sorrow like this.
Just as Jesus chose into submission, we need to choose into as well. in our marriages, submitting to one another, but also speaking up, sharing on how it is, what's not working but could be better.

29 April 2016 - grief and loss

adoption training on grief and loss. if the loss is acknowledged you can integrate it going forward. it was compared to forest fires. they can be devastating. but fire can also be good and cleansing. sometimes there are even controlled burns, preventing worse losses and allowing for new growth and life to come.

15 April 2016 - making the most with your schedule in mind

there may be a season where you most consistent time of prayer takes place in community. it may be sad to reflect on what once was, and how things don't come as easily now, but you can try to make the most of what you do have with family. and another way prayer may better intersect your life could be to connect new habits to existing habits. in this season, how can you make lasting memories of family worship?

10 April 2016 - on asking for the things we want the most

prepping for the last group discussion on TK on prayer. "One way petitionary prayer can actually do us harm is if we see it as a means to say to God, '_My_ will be done.'" Yet, we can also be too timid. He talks about laying before God in prayer the reasons why we think what we ask for is the best thing, in light of what we know of God's own goals. This takes us beyond, "if it is your will". What are the three biggest desires you want to pray for? How can we really cast these burdens on God?
"We should ask God for things with boldness and specificity, with ardor, honesty, and diligence, yet with patient submission to God's will and wise love."

8 April 2016 - returning to say thanks

after the moment has passed, the urgency has lifted it is easy to not pray like we prayed before. but to hold on, to return with thanksgiving, is the path to the life overflowing with thankfulness which is our charge.

05 April 2016 - a good, good Baba

buoyed by prayer, emerged singing, "You're a good, good, Father. It's who You are, it's who You are, it's who You are. . ."
You are perfect in all of Your ways. and You call me deeper still, into love, love, love...

31 March 2016 - king's dominion

had the chance to share one of the wonders of my youth with my family, a park with a great name. it was a good vacation day. but also a call about work including the phrase "not april fool's day". at the park seeing how some things have changed, some have stayed the same gradually over the many years i'm sure. meanwhile wondering what changes will i find when i return to work in a much different time frame - sudden and abrupt.

27 March 2016 - He of the many crowns

easter weekend! from a Good Friday service at home well understood to Sunday worship on drums with everyone gathered. from family visiting to the cherry blossoms of spring. and how many times do you find something only when you've stopped looking for it?
Crown Him with many crowns - the Lamb upon His throne. . . Crown Him the Lord of life who triumphed o'er the grave... who died eternal life to bring and lives that death may die.

24 March 2016 - beneficiaries of grace

in baptism, children are effectively coming 'under the roof', joining a household of faith whose doorpost is marked. and they are marked as a member of a community of faith, beneficiaries of grace.
also from rev. min - "you can't kill people who have already died"

13 March 2016 - a place because of You

coming back from road trip weekend on the way to birthday celebrate, good time for more on psalm 103, this time epic TK.
the sermon spoke of the parental love of God, an incredibly visceral love, with the compassion like that of the baby saving mother in King Solomon's court. and the safety of a father's love, emotionally involved, loving us just because we're His child.
and he even went IAWL, recalling George Bailey's return to a home and family that no longer knew him. oh how we long for that sense of belonging that so often eludes us! and yet... though the grass withers, the flower fades... "from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear Him" because of Jesus. He came and His place knew Him no more, so we could have a place.

11 March 2016 - not treated as our sins deserve

the verdict of mercy is much different if you have been waiting in jail for the decision to made, if you have no idea what the judge will announce, if you doubt you could actually be declared not guilty... tears would be understandable. the chance to live freely with your family, the chance to live as one who has known mercy... and He does not repay us according to our iniquities. The evidence no longer leads to us.

10 March 2016 - forget not all His benefits

days of jury duty means extra reading time, also trying to meditate on psalm 103. "Praise the LORD, my soul... who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things. . .Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in His dominion."

28 February 2016 - on pursuing contentment

Jesus, content in God's pleasure in Him. Led into the wilderness, Scripture was enough for Him. Showing us if we're sure of God, we shouldn't have to doubt God's love, safety, hungering for other things. It is enough to rest in His promises.

27 February 2016 - all about trees

retreat Bible study starting in genesis with clear simple instructions that they could eat any tree of the garden but one specific tree. they could have eaten of the tree of life but they ate from the one from which they would surely die. they knew good and now they knew evil. and yet...there was another tree. on a hill far away. Another, who didn't listen to twisted words and temptations to flee that tree, created a way back to the garden. and in revelation we see the tree of life surrounding the river, the leaves bringing healing to the nations. and because Someone else took it, there will no longer be any curse.

16 February 2016 - on praying with submissive trust and confident hope

"God will not give us anything contrary to His will, and that will always include what is best for us in the long run. We can, therefore, pray confidently *because* He won't give us everything we want." TK on prayer

14 February 2016 - family love

holiday fun on a sunday and all star weekend. lots of red drinks, red clothes, special dessert, deep dish pizza and a homemade car ramp...

12 February 2016 - pink flowers and heart cupcake

and a full cycle has come around. another friday, another scavenger hunt but this one two minutes rather than two hours. notes leading to cupcakes, flowers and the best find of all.

10 February 2016 - let peak cuteness commence

nice to be able to celebrate 4 over the weekend with extended family and have some more celebrations day of, working it out to be there for all 3 meals, presents, and yes, the ice cream cake too.

30 January 2016 - milkshakes and more

celebrating the end of the busiest work month ever with a nifty time with the fam.
"But You, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high... I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me." from psalm 3

29 January 2016 - nothing great that is also easy

back to TK and prayer, this time with a group. the book starts with personal reflections. for his wife, the illustration of having a lethal condition that you needed medicine for every day leading to the - well, if we don't pay together to God, we're not going to make it because of all we are facing. meanwhile, TK's prayer changes were studying then praying the psalms regularly, meditating between Bible reading and prayer, praying morning and evening as opposed to one or the other, and praying with greater expectation.
finally on Paul's prayers for others - we do not find them full of appeals for changes in circumstances. he did not think that was the most important thing God could give them. far more often he prayed that others may know Him better..."that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe."

28 January 2016 - don't waste your life

an upside to blizzards is the trolley reading. revisiting 'don't waste your life' and the contrast of what many americans spend their time on vs. those who have given their live in one way or another for others, and the myth of safety vs. the call of Christ. but i'll focus here on the work chapter. to be strategic, living for His glory at work. Taking thankfulness and His promises with us, being creative and industrious, working well and enhancing the gospel, earning money for good, creating gospel sharing relationships, being in a place ready to help others.

10 January 2016 - the old fca t-shirt

the call of Jesus is to lose our lives for His sake. how often do we want our lives to just be easier? reminded of the need to sacrifice for the sake of others. some of the needs others have in our midst can be met by what we have. the mark 8:34 beacon - deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Him.

01 January 2016 - new

new year's day is a great time to make korean food. this year, finally unmitigated kimchichigue success, thanks to a recipe find by wifey.
new year's is also a good day to start adoptions. here we go again, ready for a new adventure...

31 December 2015 - in retrospect

looking back on 2015. first full year of parenting, and 5 month part time schedule for bonding (walking everywhere sans car). visiting 22 philly playgrounds. library trips and books. bike rides, sidewalk soccer, PTM, zoos, dancing, trains, racetrack, first birthday parties, tayo haircuts, car carts, museums, aquarium, parks, first snow and first beach trip...in same month. learning to deal with short sleeves. heart checkups. memorable tantrums. first sixers game free. first koja trip... before it was no more. baba son fun on work trips. meeting family and cousins.
rough start of the year for our house - no hot water, no heat and basement flood. now providing memories of the support from our community, as we showered at three different houses.
a year where there start to be more big decisions, from work, to family and preschool.
trips to ocean city, retreat, NoVA x3, MD, LA, Seattle x2, ATL, SoVA and beach-a. visitors of family from Cali, NoVA, Seattle and friends from MD, NY and NC. and an uncle moving out our way.
year in food: dolce with others, rainbow cookies, kogi truck, swedish pancakes, dumplings, la kbbq, pb marshmallow ritas, mello finds, mand. orange cake, special dews.
reading hundreds of books, but only 10 "really long" ones. ten dates. finishing story #3. baptism and adoption party. birthdays and holidays.
and now for some free flow. . .running in place, blue thunder, white collar conclusion, the start of OT, the head injury, snow day with no snow, lost journal, gold cup, street construction, pizza throwdown, ear infection, allergic reaction, fun photo shoot, lza finals, epic photobook, family drama, wns, walking to work, soccer fail, losing photos, the big retirement, proverbs, gardens, praise, installing thermostat, sad days, big package, pi day, college ministry, friends moving, church events, holiday party, preschool begins, music, TK books, riding my bike and ice cream.

29 December 2015 - a good return

perhaps it was the conflux of many things - being on a plane, coming off a good vacation, new year approaching, the pizza hut mello yello dinner find... that helped me think many thoughts of plans endowed with hope. home late, but nice to be home.

27 December 2015 - auld lang syne, seattle style

Should nothing of our efforts stand * No legacy survive * Unless the Lord does raise the house * In vain its builders strive
To you who boast tomorrow’s gain * Tell me what is your life * A mist that vanishes at dawn * All glory be to Christ!

All glory be to Christ our king! * All glory be to Christ! * His rule and reign will ever sing, * All glory be to Christ!

His will be done * His kingdom come * On earth as is above* Who is Himself our daily bread * Praise Him the Lord of love
Let living water satisfy * The thirsty without price * We’ll take a cup of kindness yet * All glory be to Christ!

25 December 2015 - incarnate

amidst the sadness, hope. out of the book pages and into our lives. actually coming in person. and we too travel, to be with our families in person, not just on a screen. to eat, play, drink, enjoy time together again, to sing, explore, watch. "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

12 December 2015 - trying to live a good story - and invite others into it

happening upon a favorite book to re-read on the porch on a beautiful day with friends. in the words of the book, trying to live a good story. "when we live a story, we are telling people around us what we think is important." d. miller imagines a movie about a guy who wants a volvo and worked for years to get it. nobody is crying at the end of that movie... and yet "we spend years actually living these stories, and expect our lives to be meaningful." what would it take for you to live a meaningful life, to write yourself into a beautiful story? avoiding the comfort and stability we naturally seek? overcoming fear, persevering through the resistance that comes when pursuing something good?

08 December 2015 - prolonged grumpy in a friend desert

after suffering the worst earache i've ever had, the following ear infection has made it hard not to be a little grumpy at times. every sound is magnified, ringing constant. often it's these times where something is not working right where we realize again just how amazing God made our bodies.
concurrently, realizing that this time in my life has left me in a friend desert. hard for old friends to have time to connect, limited opportunities for new friends to arise, trying to subsist in a culture of "fast food" friendship...

29 November 2015 - thanksgiving weekend

thankful for holiday breaks, trips to see family... another year of great WNS, followed by a morning trot... glass bottle dew and 20 oz. mello... making dinner for others, and watching a movie together... a starbucks date, and winning the first ever family pizza throwdown with our bulgogi bacon scallion spinach pie!

14 November 2015 - though our throats be dry

worship night and how encouraging it was to see the college kids bringing the praise. losing my voice.
"in the midst of the congregation i will praise You. . .all the families of the nations shall worship before You. . .it shall be told to the coming generation...that He has done it." psalm 22

13 November 2015 - a song you remember

"Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; [near] [all day] . . . He will keep your life."

08 November 2015 - prayers of the people

orphan sunday, this day. praying for those who've felt the stomach punch and for those who haven't. . .that all may see God's heart as a Father, a Defender, a Provider. enjoyed a 20 oz mello brought back from wifey's trip!

18 October 2015 - a mastodon shadow divided by zero

the thrill of listening to new mwY. enjoying the music while attempting to peel back layers of meaning a little at a time. difficult to pick a few lines to quote. but here i go, "Behold the snake of brass, the wind was blowing backwards. Behold a golden calf, blighted leaves of law. O for the land we knew before the frogs withdrew in the fragrant pomegranate blooms where the tender locust flew..."

12 October 2015 - the real treasures do not vanish

But Not Forgotten by l. shaw

Whether or not I find the missing thing
it will always be
more than my thought of it.
Silver-heavy, somewhere it winks
in its own small privacy
playing
the waiting game with me.

And the real treasures do not vanish.
The precious loses no value
in the spending.
A piece of hope spins out
bright, along the dark, and is not
lost in space;
verity is a burning boomerang;
love is out orbiting and will
come home.

10 October 2015 - now with mello yello

anniversary trip and wifey & i got to go to the much improved world of coke museum. they tried to capture the essence of what it means for something to be with you through life's moments. mello yello was there, not only in exhibits, but in free flow. and we even found some later that night. the road we travel is not all joy and not all sorrow. but how good for a friend to walk with and c-stores to find along the way.

29 September 2015 - known and loved

i've always enjoyed birthdays and my family helped make this year's celebration nice. beautiful calla lilies, purple cupcakes, scrumptious szechuan, amazing card or two, even a balloon, among other things...

20 September 2015 - You are our song from age to age

ahhh... worship.
"Oh God of all of history
Enthroned in realms of light
What eyes of faith have strained to see
Will one day fill our sight
With all the saints we’ll lay our crowns
Before the Savior’s feet. . ."

18 September 2015 - food and drinks, friends and family

on our first anniversary as a family of three we all celebrated by going to the 5 guys that we didn't actually make it to on our wedding day, followed by enjoying some brown betty cupcakes, which would should have grabbed more of at the wedding. later we kept up the celebrating with other people by bringing our wedding drinks, strawberry lemonade and mello yello to our kickoff small group meal.

3 September 2015 - my heart will sing

"when only love could make a way, You gave Your life in a beautiful exchange"

24 August 2015 - what it takes to see the stars

in reading a lot more children's books than i used to, there are plenty of lessons to be found. this is especially true as the shorter the book, the easier to read multiple times. pictures help too. take the star filled night stared at by elephant and piggie. all the intolerable waiting was worth it. in fact, not just worth it, but essential, for the conditions to be right. the wow moment came as elephant stuck it out the end.

16 August 2015 - on how to pray well

i still remember passages we read and prayed through in my men's prayer group, sophomore year of college. it is hard for me to think of Daniel 9 without thinking of Daniel's prayer, "We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

15 August 2015 - off to visit the edge of the ocean

ocean water covers 71% of the earth's surface. the total volume of water is around 1.35 billion cubic kilometers. and yet only less than 5% of these waters have been explored.
"O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures. Here is the ocean, vast and wide, teeming with life of every kind, both large and small." psalm 104
"Who else has held the ocean in His hands?" Isaiah 40:12

02 August 2015 - the family extended

a welcome party in a seattle park - so thankful to be part of a large family like this. lots of great-uncles and great-aunts, cousins once removed, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and even great grandparents all on hand extending their welcome to my son like they did for me. His tree brimming with branches full of colorful leaves.

28 July 2015 - heard while working

sermon ponderables:
"if Satan wanted to take you out of ministry, what would he do?"
"what we actually do reflects our highest priorities."

26 July 2015 - can you see the writing on the wall?

there is a chronological snobbery in assuming that we are only continuing to progress. it is the faults of our own age that are hardest to see. we learn from the generation before and they learn from the one before that, but all of them are flawed. are we humbly learning from the past in ways that are helpful? in the Book of Daniel, we read how Belshazzar saw quite the humbling process his father went through and yet he did not humble his own heart. he was weighed on the balances and found wanting.
what is our writing on the wall, to see, and take heed of?

22 July 2015 - on soft heads

still reading d. miller in bookstores after all these years. thinking about what it would be like to be a CEO, yet transferring that to leading a home... striving to be excellent across the board, yet having the difficult task of focusing on and trying to balance five components and their interplay.
all this while not always successfully avoiding falling globes. life is a fragile gift that is to be treasured and maximized.

19 July 2015 - our burden bearer

blessed be the LORD who daily bears us up; day after day He carries us along.

12 July 2015 - on different ways to be used by God

back in the book of Daniel, seeing powers of this world through the perspective of God's sovereignty and how even evil kings bringing judgment can be brought to repentance, the king's heart in the hand of the LORD.
meanwhile, Daniel practicing the habit of listening, both by making time three times a day and also through his obedience.

05 July 2015 - sermon highlights

Jesus was so not status quo that keepers of the status quo were so threatened... they killed Him.
there are 2 times to worship God - when we feel like it and when we don't.

28 June 2015 - on bowing to a greater King

Daniel sermon series, chapter 3. the Israelites were in exile because they had become just like the nations around them. Daniel and his friends stood out as they remembered who they were, that they belonged to a much greater King. 4 times the list of instruments is repeated - we simply stop thinking about them. how easy to bow down and not hear them any more! avoiding the mesmerizing rhythm of the culture is like living in exile. we must remember who our true King is, who enables us to take a stand and accept the consequences of living according to God's Word, who is with us even through the trials.

24 June 2015 - end of an era

hard to believe it's the last week of work for someone who i've worked with and for for almost 16 years. realizing you can learn a lot from someone, even with faults. he was there through so many eras and i'll fondly remember our stromboli laden lunches. thankful for his new much needed era of retirement.

21 June 2015 - blessed with everything... but pizza

really good first Father's day, reminding me how much i've been given, both wrapped and otherwise.

15 June 2015 - you never know where a trip might take you

after talking and praying and talking, another big decision made while traveling. but this not just any trip, rather a long awaited trip to LA for a wedding of different spheres colliding into one. eating lots of good korean food (including at the airport) without ever making it to ktown. despite an unexpected cancelled flight, making it home over night. read the drop box while waiting - it was in the documenting of a faithful life lived that the impact was far greater than ever imagined, touching lives near and far.

3 June 2015 - sorrow turns to gladness when our God is near

"You're amazing God, You're amazing God... You can heal the pain, You can clean the stain, You can turn our tears into songs of praise. You're amazing God." B. Brown

31 May 2015 - but He was waving His rights

full weekend to end the month. looking back-
"Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love." 1 Cor. 16:13-14
The sting of death is sin. . .but there is grace. There is a spring where the flowers don't just last weeks, but all year.

18 May 2015 - 6 months

enjoying some weekdays home and on this one, celebrating six months all the more, biking Cobbs Creek. rainbow cookies, taking a walk, eating noodles, looking at old pictures. seeing how God has brought our family this far and looking forward to the days He'll bring ahead.

15 May 2015 - a meeting and a farewell

seeing friends as they prepare to go and plow an untilled field and not look back, seeking first His kingdom. meanwhile, they got to see the result of our calling to the land. oh, for rich harvests all around...

11 May 2015 - on careening near cliffs

helpful reminder that not being ultimately in control is a good thing. having our own way can leave us careening off the cliff... but oh the Master's loving hand that pulls us back. disciplining us for our good. treating us as children rather than leaving us to go our own way.

10 May 2015 - on working holidays

mother's day weekend and while some celebrations didn't quite go as hoped others were better than expected. some things are worth multiple celebrations. first trip as a family upstairs at the bookstore, replete with free dinner and even mello yello...

5 May 2015 - interesting to think on

what are the top moments of your life? what makes them so? do they change?
then, what are your top 5 moments that happen each day on a regular day?

30 April 2015 - gifts of the human experience

watched the giver. you can have precision of language but commensurate feeling is important too. is it not a gift? love, memories, emotions. . .as was said - knowing what something is is not the same as knowing how something feels. memories from the past can help guide our future.

29 April 2015 - reading selection

"come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree ripens its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance..."

19 April 2015 - people > stuff

lessons do come, moving us through our own sadness into insightful reminders as life rolls on. stuff is bound to fail. whether it be melting, molding, rusting, breaking, losing, being stolen... and even while it is here it is still just stuff. people are so much more worth investing in, and even more basic than that - better to even just be mindful of, in our world of so much stuff.

17 April 2015 - missing camera fog

it was last night that i lost our camera. a short family walk to see the best of spring. and it slipped away amidst moving us all in the right direction. there are only so many times you can retrace your steps. only so much that can be done to provide a venue in case it is found by the right person. and of course it is not so much the camera itself, though we did like it, as the photos taken but not yet saved, precious documentation of the last two months, now lost to the void. from time with friends, to baba-son outings, family vacation, birthday celebrations, dates, party weekend and guests from out of town, sixers midcourt, to the every day magic, a boy blowing bubbles on the porch that inevitably fall to the ground... and pop.

05 April 2015 - all creation joins to say

Easter, and the perfect day to have our first bike ride using the bike trailer. down bike lanes to bike paths, spring sunshine lighting our way.
"Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!"

01 April 2015 - on the appreciation of other aspects

reading d. miller book where he mentions a famous comedian whose wife does not think he is funny. the image others see of us is not what a spouse sees. not only does a spouse know more aspects, but also a deeper, seeing beyond in the parts others can see. and in many ways this different view helps ground us.

29 March 2015 - baptism day

a day to claim God's covenant provisions on our son's behalf. another big life moment where our friend helped frame things well. though our son likely didn't know what was going on when we signed the certificate becoming his parents, it didn't make him any less part of our family. the same is true, as he became part of our church family. glimpsing a part of the bigger picture, "all clean", he said later, recreating the moment. water poured out on his head... "may God's blessings be richly poured out upon you".

28 March 2015 - a lot to celebrate

God puts us in families. and they are even bigger than they seem. family from near and far and friends all converged to join with the green and purple balloons, chick-fil-a nuggets, pizza wheels, new racetrack and much more. thumbprints up to make up the tree covering us in love.

13 March 2015 - amuse-bouche

my most successful surprise yet! home early, babysitter from our church fam on her way, and birthday rezzys at wifey's favorite restaurant... allowing us a much needed retreat from our still new world of parenting amidst the delicious food.

5 March 2015 - the safe way

snowed out of work early. Trolley reading, TK on prayer, "[Prayer] is also the main way we experience deep change-- the reordering of our loves. Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable things he has for us. Indeed, prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things we most desire. It is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God as God. Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life."

28 February 2015 - spring is coming

"my heart's heavy now but i'm not letting go of this hope i have that tells me - spring is coming, spring is coming and all we've been hoping and longing for soon will appear. Spring is coming. . .it won't be long now, it's just about here."

22 February 2015 - on speaking much without a lot of words

one of the most interesting thoughts from retreat was - what are you projecting to the people around you? there so much nonverbally spoken that is easy for us not to be thinking about. too often, my message might be - "leave me alone, i'm busy". the other thing - who are the people you see every day? i have a friend who definitely knows all the people he sees on a regular basis but it's hard for me to expand my circle. still, everyone has those they constantly interact with.
the speaker contended that it is in the context of normal relations that we can do what is essentially the act of counseling, patiently pastoring people to Christ. listening, loving, knowing and then speaking.

21 February 2015 - a medley of three

annual church retreat. here's three nuggets:
* the first christians were called christians because what else could you call them? some were rich, some were poor, some were Jew, some were Greek, all together united by one thing.
* why does it make sense to sow seed everywhere? it's not so much bad farming strategy as that the seed is -that- powerful. it could grow in a crack. it grew in you!
* how would you rescue someone from a mudpit? would you take a stick and try to pull them out? alert the local mud authorities? Jesus went down, in.

19 February 2015 - on moving past obstacles

a flooded basement the night before, waiting to get the pipe fixed, a freezing cold trolley wait, already encroaching on nap time, but we would not be denied our late lunch xiao long bao and scallion pancake feast - happy new year!

14 February 2015 - red day

a day not diminished, but expanded. now featuring family dessert, wonderful pizza card, homemade car wash and more.

10 February 2015 - birth and life

don't know anything about it, but definitely something to celebrate. first trip to a car wash and going out for pizza the celebrations of the moment, along with birthday greetings from around the US...

1 February 2015 - arguing back against the heart's hopeless cry

from D.M. Lloyd-Jones via TK, "We must talk to ourselves instead of allowing 'ourselves' to talk to us. In spiritual depression we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self. . .Have you realized that so much of the unhappiness in your life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?... you must go on to remind yourself of who God is, and what God is and what God has done and what God has pledged Himself to do.... then end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world and say with the man, 'I shall yet praise Him... for He is my God.'"

26 January 2015 - believing all the way down to God

first day home alone with my son on my part-time leave. and the heater is broken in a cold January. how about more thoughts from TK on suffering?
he talks about those times we pray so hard for a certain thing, not getting it, and feeling let down by God. Feeling let down because our deepest hope was based on our agenda, our wisdom, with God just an assumed means to that end. But for Daniel's three friends facing a blazing furnace, "their confidence was actually in God, not in their limited understanding of what they thought He would do... that included trust that He knew better than they what should happen. . .they really believed 'all the way down' to God... They knew God would deliver them -from- death or -through- death."

11 January 2015 - suffering and glory

after a really, really cold week, losing hot water, while having family visit.
thankful that even small trials like this are not meaningless. i have read a lot of books on suffering. One thing I appreciate about TK's recent books is how they offer enhanced perspectives, having surveyed all the different types of pre-existing works that are out there and then providing something that goes further. I like his book on suffering, particularly after he moves past historical responses, into practical thoughts.
"One of the purposes of suffering is to glorify God by simply treating him as the infinite, sovereign, all-wise, and yet incarnate and suffering God that he is." There is a rest not based on circumstances when we trust God's wisdom, remembering the glory and meaning of the cross. "No suffering is for nothing." God is using it for His glory, in the lives of others, and in us - a glory that far outweighs them all.

1 January 2015 - look back at 2014

it was a year of two parts, though who would've known... a lot of vacation time spent on three trips just to have the last trip be the start of looking forward to yet another trip, this one to china to adopt our son. and so it was a year of last just-the-two-of-us activities. and a second half of the year of preparation and life change.
part 1 included a lot of studying but surprise of still not passing. a lot of prayer writing, at least until may. hard night. job hiring harangue. ultimate valentine's weekend including family life conference. church membership. world cup.
part 2 included a sad abrupt friends farewell, a lot of finally's, house fixing and arranging, adoption shower and item gathering, finishing another children's book.
travels and travelers. to alaska at last, nc, utah, victoria, hershey, seattle, b'more, beijing, zhengzhou, guangzhou, princeton, dc. seeing bears, arches, stars, hoodoos, smog, gardens, beaches, glaciers, canyons, waterfalls. rather amazing. visitors from nova, seattle, CA, omaha and (ny).
year in food ibnlt: taeji quesadilla, galco sodas, baked alaska, nc ice cream, the cookies, korean food wknd, customized b&b breakfasts, chinese mountain dew, three good anniversary meals and just a lot of the usual favorites including the year in pizza concluding. for son: jook.
and now the freeflow: first christmas tree, red pandas at last, cheechas, stuff swap, mah jongg, hammock, soccer so close, surrey, dc uniterrr, snow days, retreat, worship team, babysitting, work mtgs, YL night, moses, new yogurtland, no sofa, hotels, smith, meals from others including dominos, putting together furniture, handyman for a day, dates, mello yello, generous gifts from others, wifey trips, CRO, minimal lg, falls, HC wed, cherry blossoms, friends, playground, zoo, sad days, birthdays, adoption month indeed, valley forge, longest flight ever ... after hard night, the smiles of our son, him pointing to our house upon first arriving, his firsts like first christmas, christmas cars, walks in china. and the parenting lessons begin.

24 December 2014 - God with us

having just survived the first month of bonding, which is the hardest with so many yeses for each no. to then have dear friends moving away. and unexpected falls. but buoyed by the body of so many hands. meals and support in many forms. and welcomed home to family tradition. and the story of God with us.
"O come, Thou Dayspring, from on high,
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice ! Rejoice ! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel."

14 December 2014 - first time for everything

one of the things i was most looking forward to before our son arrived was the 'first times', including first visits to all sorts of places. and while some won't be memorable in retrospect, some definitely will. this day, dairy queen. and perhaps we shared a wee bit too much of our blizzards. you learn as you go...

7 December 2014 - when it comes...

nice to have a week off after returning to philly to adjust on so many levels. used our new zoo membership, got to go to Smith playhouse at last, bought and decorated our first family Christmas tree.
thinking about how some things get richer in the waiting. even finally making it china years after first thinking of going. now sharing the moments with others. thinking that deferred dreams don't always diminish, but sometimes expand in realization.

29 November 2014 - it's all relative

for a flight whose official times made it less than 1 hour from traveling back in time, it was pretty long. The actual 15 hours that elapsed followed the most difficult night of our parenting lives, included very little sleeping by all, and numerous attempts and advice by all those around us to soothe a screaming child. but one thing that such a trip did (what the complimentary pink princess puzzle could not do)... is make all future flights seem easy by comparison.

27 November 2014 - pizza thanksgiving

thankful for a unique thanksgiving... on our first thanksgiving outside the country, got to go to a safari park with friends and see all sorts of animals - including red pandas - and then stop for a pizza dinner (as well as McDonald's ice cream).

18 November 2014 - you have no idea

adoption day - our son having so much fun at play with his baba that when the time came for the official pronouncement he had to be dragged crying over to the circle, little knowing the countless hours of play and more the moment would bring about.
and are there not bunches of moments like this in our lives? whether it be railing against or crying in the face of times where things don't go our way, while at the same time we are being cared and loved by a Father who ordains our steps. we can so often see only what is right in front of our face, little knowing the bigger picture, the master plan, for those who have been called into his purpose, to become a son of God.

2 November 2014 - loved into the family

kicked off national adoption month with an adoption party of our friends, followed by Orphan Sunday the next morning. was asked to share a little at the party about adoption in general, quite a task. "adopted" should not be seen as a definer but more as the process by which someone becomes a child. also, borrowed some of Piper's thoughts on why part of the reason the process is so wonderful is that it mimics how God loves us. The great cost he went to to bring us out of where we were and bring us to a place of full rights and responsibilities of being part of the family of God. and in his case it wasn't just a mountain of paperwork and all sorts of fees... but oh how great a love the Father bestowed on us that we might be called children of God.

31 October 2014 - its time

two years to the day since our initial info session with our agency, our flights are booked, headed to China soon!

25 October 2014 - adoption shower

the world's first showers were made to mimic waterfalls. and if you've ever stood under a waterfall you know how refreshing it can feel and how the water keeps coming and coming. and so have we felt the support cascading down on us, from an adoption shower of books, prayers and friends with food to a car seat showing up at our door, to parents visiting helping to get our house all ready and more.

11 October 2015 - the rough with the smooth

"It is we who must labour to bring our daily life into even closer accordance with what the glimpses have revealed. . .and all good Christian lovers know that this programme, modest as it sounds will not be carried out except by humility, charity and divine grace" cs lewis
a work in progress, but we made it back to Roy's. another celebration, another city... the journey continues together, with some delicious breakfasts along the way.

30 September 2014 - the meddles yield a medley

computer problems preclude access to notes and such. but God's Word stands forever. and so for this entry, a medley of sermon notes from the last few months...
prayer is meant to be transformational more than conversational * our habits form our hearts * a peacemaker is not a peace seeker * light testifies to itself, there's no need to announce it

18 September 2014 - adventure of a lifetime

i love special days to celebrate, delicious meals to eat. . . but part of the reason is it's on those days that we recall the 'ordinary' usual every days that make up most of the adventure of a lifetime - that is delightful with a best friend.

14 September 2014 - stuff swapping

one of my favorite things about my church is an event called the "stuff swap". how Acts 2 is that? we even gave away some furniture and meanwhile got things like a baby carrier! all big help as we make preparations to be ready to welcome our son soon.

4 September 2014 - lots of chances to die (while calculating the odds of doing so)

my friend at work does a much better job of this than me - living the quiet life, working hard and so earning the respect of others that way. so many little things threaten to disquiet or even jar one's temper. but whether it is the ridiculous or inconvenient is that really cause to react loudly? Or can I "s.i.i.a.c.t.d" as my post-it at work says?
"O the wonderful cross bids me come and die and find that I may truly live, O the wonderful cross, all who gather here by grace draw near and bless Your name."

18 August 2014 - to every generation

"You have been a shelter, Lord, to every generation, to every generation...a sanctuary from the storm, to every generation, to every generation..."

11 August 2014 - visited state #42

in some ways alaska is not different from other states, just much harder to get to. . .in other ways the isolation and the so far northness make it a unique land of beauty. we saw so little of the state this time around, hard to imagine what it would be like to experience the vast wilderness or to come in a different season.

8 August 2014 - the last frontier

the timing, while not necessarily ideal, was sort of fitting. making phone calls to my family, while about to set sail, about the prospects of us becoming a family of three, and then joining every single member of wifey's mom's extended family (39!) for a cruise vacation, destination: the last frontier. ready or not, here we come!

29 July 2014 - an appropriate time for everything

so often what we're looking for comes in the moments we are not looking.
we can't see even a few days ahead, but He can. Like the phone call that just might change everything.

26 July 2014 - an old mwY day

"My Lord, how long to sing this song? And my Lord, how much more of this pretending to be strong? . . ."You brought me here, now take me home"."
"Jesus have mercy on us."

17 July 2014 - bears and family and flying

while seeing bears was unsurprisingly a highlight of our trip to NC, the exceeds expectations award went to when we visited the kitty hawk memorial with my dad. it is amazing that no one had ever flown for so many years and then within 70 years it went from basically someone gliding in the wind with big wings to my dad flying jets around the world. it is a testament to the ideas of "don't give up", "dream big" and "sometimes you need to just take a couple of steps before you can run. . . or even fly".

30 June 2014 - the melting pot

"when will the sun rise close enough to MELT me?" as the old poem goes. while we're still waiting on that answer, if the question is - where will the sun rise close enough to melt my stuff? the answer is utah. 107 degrees and multiple items actually melted.

26 June 2015 - canyonlands

we didn't make it to brazil, but we did make it out west for a national parks trip for the third round of the WC group stage and the nba draft. beauty all around.

12 June 2014 - world cup time

my world cup viewing experiences have changed over the years based on available means. thinking back on those times the epic world-sized event also serves as a memorable marker for seasons in life 4 years apart. and now, my first world cup while being married kicks off!

8 June 2014 - if God answered the phone using song lyrics?

"This is - amazing grace. This is unfailing love. . ."

7 June 2014 - we beat

after seeing all of moses's life unfold and his role in the quest to free the israelites from slavery the climactic moment is when moses is told by God to turn back and wait by the sea. common sense would make this seem like a bad plan. it seemed even worse when the people could see the Egyptians coming toward them. but Moses said don't be afraid, be still. The LORD fought for them, and it left them singing. everyone knew then that there was no one like this God.
"In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling." Exodus 15:13

31 May 2014 - first world problems

we had given our futon away. lined up people all day to help bring in the new heavy sofa whenever it might arrive. shopped, finally selected and purchased the sofa. had it delivered to our front door. and then... it would not fit. well, it would not fit in a way to the movers liking. as my friend would say - first world problems. -having- brings its own set of difficulties. perspective helps thankfulness tarry in the face of disappointment.

20 May 2014 - news

got the news that the cosi that was once an ihop had closed. but one good news did not portend another. instant exam results left a little shock. another round of studying yielding no fruit. some things we don't get to see with our own eyes. other things are signs that the brokenness is only temporary. there is a vineyard to eat of that you did not plant. there is a toiling that is not in vain.

15 May 2014 - cupcake giving

"sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything." 2 Corinthians 6:10

13 May 2014 - on streets of glass not yet gold

a flat tire can really deflate you if you were not expecting to ever get one. but if you realize you'll probably get a few each year, when they come they are more 'due course' than 'unforeseen hardship'. home owners tend to learn this as well, you may not know what problem will arise, but there will probably something that breaks and needs fixing every so often. while these troubles are still inconvenient and have a cost, the added shadow of suffering of thinking about 'why am i suffering?' does not have to weigh so heavy. those in other countries tend to know this much better than americans. but we are all born to trouble. so instead of letting it knock us down we can remember the natural tendency of things is to fall apart. and praise God for the days when things work right, when the broken is restored, and we glimpse the God who is making all things new.

12 May 2014 - and a helper

"And the river runs deep Passing gracefully by Beautiful to behold Still there's more than meets the eye"

8 May 2014 - the roaring of the seas

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." Psalm 46

"...Though the seas should roar with all the heartache, Though our hearts should pound, Though our throats be dry, We will lift Your Name on high. You have been a shelter Lord to every generation, to every generation."

29 April 2014 - love carries burdens not our own

the merit of actions can't always be measured on a standalone basis. there can be a time and place to love in one way that most other times would not be most loving. love wants to see growth in the other. but love also stoops and carries loads others will not. His wounded hands speak love to us.

20 April 2014 - Eastertide

"the greatest day in history, death is beaten You have rescued me."
"He rose and conquered the grave, Jesus conquered the grave."

18 April 2014 - but the grave was borrowed

"I know Your love has won it all, You took the fall to embrace my sorrows. I know You took the fight, You came and died, but the grave was borrowed. I know You stood again So I can stand with a life to follow..."

16 April 2014 - your problem

"your problem is you thought I was a hard man"...i've written about this sinclair sermon before. it's worth visiting again - often the problem is not God, but rather our view of how we think God operates. when it doesn't meet our expectations it can lead to disappointment. He doesn't work how we would work. In actuality He is far more loving and far more gracious. And our perception of His nature impacts our actions far more than we think.

07 April 2014 - winning on so many levels

it's like the man who gave away free ice cream cones to kids, i thought, as i made a pie for my coworkers. not only will they enjoy the pie but it will help me out... in addition to what i will gain by giving. and how many more scenarios are there with this potential? giving where there is such desire enhances the experience all the more.

1 April 2014 - april come she will

for whatever reason, the month of april tends to provide an extra boost i often need towards good things. in this case consistently writing out prayers (in excel)... whatever it takes to take hold of the life that is truly life.

28 March 2014 - on baking done well

deliciousness is still a love language of mine. and how much better when the fam's all here to share cookies and a korean feast...

23 March 2014 - falling into a roll

amazed by my dad. after all this time, still playing sports with us, and playing more soccer than me on his own. i haven't always seen the inherent challenges in this, but i have seen the grace with which he's been able to roll with the game moving onward.

13 March 2014 - two to the fifth

a day of celebration and love, special meals and treats... looking forward to a surprise present bequeathment. and still making pi together after all these years.

9 March 2014 - waking thoughts

a good weekend, where wifey and i were able to get down to VA early to see my brother in his domain and hear stories of how God is at work in young lives. meanwhile, waking thoughts, whether from dreams or prayers, lead to redoubled efforts and determination for the days ahead.

5 March 2014 - meden merimnate

what robs you of joy? we studied philippians 4, written by Paul from prison, which was just one of his many stresses. undoubtedly there are things which would distract us as well. but the sovereign antidote is constant prayer. The LORD is near! with thanksgiving, we must make our desires known to God. not everything is so important when in the correct perspective. but how often do we take the time to pray, to read, to meditate and let what is true and lovely sink into our heart?
from the psalms: "I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD."

23 February 2014 - Christ in the storm

another good getaway with our church for a weekend in maryland. for one part we studied the mark 4/5 passage that is partially captured by Rembrandt's famous painting, Christ in the Storm. there's a big question in these side by side stories - don't you care we will drown? the disciples were worried that He didn't care, He wasn't able. But it wasn't true. and on the other side they meet a man howling like a windstorm... one who noone could restrain. But everything submits to Jesus. and Jesus left him calm, the demons from the man sending 2000 pigs into the sea. Jesus saw him as worth far more. and the man was left to tell of the mercy the Lord had shown him. We should have a practice of looking for each day's mercies.

20 February 2014 - our best kitchen item in retrospect

around the time we got married wifey and i were deciding on what items we needed for our new home. it was then that we came across a white plastic colander for $4 at bbb. somehow i expressed some initial hesitation since we already had two to three items that provided similar functions. little did i know that the item we procured that day would provide such value and come into use oh so often. who knew my life would be so much more full of clean, washed vegetables and of calmly waiting pasta? while it is good to not have too many things i'm thankful that my wife knows many things that i do not and helps our home be a better place.

15 February 2014 - ultimate valentine's day weekend

neat to be back in hershey again as well as to have the opportunity to go to this conference. it was very good to listen to the speakers, not just for insights but even more for stories which make knowledge come to life. and then it is also helpful to be able to try and put things in practice as we go, from writing letters to more and more. so good to make a memory with the only one i'd be willing to miss most of all star weekend for. i hope we can remember and revisit the things we learned and the times we had.

14 February 2014 - off we go

what are the odds of a double snow day sending us off early on our weekend trip to the familylife conference, leaving us enough time to go to starbucks and still catch a quick pizza hut dinner before the evening session? there's a time for everything and this time it was time to enjoy together the valentine's day meal of my youth while looking forward to the weekend ahead.

11 February 2014 - sonship

when reading the Bible it is important to consider the context of when it was written. when the Bible speaks of men and women as brothers or sons there is something lost if you try to include daughters. in an age and culture when women did not inherit property rights, referring to both men and women as sons lifted their status in Christ. Trying to translate into our context can miss the weight of the point. In a related manner, we are all the bride of Christ, because that is how he sees his church that He gave himself for.

10 February 2014 - on singing in the car

it was quite fitting that on my way to a meeting where we discussed why we sing i had a particularly good time in the car singing along to katy, wondering about best albums ever made. there are some things songs can do that mere words cannot. in some ways it is strange that we sing every week at church. (i mean we never sing at work.) and yet in other ways it is not strange at all. what better to way to express such deep truths...
"spring came and brought about a longing. Tasted just enough to want some more. . .And I get so nostalgic for what's to come. We will shake off the tragic and we'll go home..."

5 February 2014 - marriage three ways

listened to a trio of sermons on marriage today by 3 different pastors from one church and they offered some surprisingly fresh takes on the subject, as well as many practical applications. oneness itself should not be the goal. ananias and sapphira were one, but in their misdeed. priscilla and aquila meanwhile, were one in doing good. another sermon talked about what it looks like to be most forgiving even by what is not brought up or held against another. the third sermon talked about finding your vision as a couple or family as well as ways to intentionally seek connection and growth including dialogue to help get you there.

23 January 2014 - Julian

"No I am not this misshaped body, and I'm not long for this world. Wooden dimes and quiet fears, come curl your lips at me
but all perceptions are as mirrors, it's your own reflections that you see. So hide behind your laughs a while, look handsome though you may, oh, do enjoy that saccharine smile, as there comes for you a day."

20 January 2014 - not standing up for nothing

working for justice has a cost. even when things aren't fair, there was an injustice that was just as unfair, and more. and so we can step out and pay the cost. and remember that working towards the best things is worth it.

16 January 2014 - what marvelous power

there are such a variety of deterrents to prayer that i think we do good to recall with frequency the power of prayer. to remember how God does come to our aid. from psalm 116, "I love the LORD because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear unto me, therefore I will call on Him as long as i live."

01 January 2014 - year in review: 2013

'twas a year of adoption preparation, from application to acceptance and all the hard work and (very) specifics in between. enjoyed many trips, though the summer was quite a whirlwind of travel. weddings in omaha (via KS), nj and oakland, time with family in VA, NY, seattle and sunriver, trips with friends to MD retreat, DC and NC and getaways to hershey, wilmington and maine! our first trip to maine together was quite a highlight. meanwhile, wifey had a few short work trips of her own. i wrote a children's book. read many books, including till we have faces and 5 little peppers. signs of the brokenness ibnlt: hiring saga, inopportune sicknesses, crazy rash, huge bite, accidents, dislocation and tears, fam. health, and back pains. gospel of john part 2 as our sg wrapped up, preparing for Easter, reading OT in mornings, survey analysis for re:vision, another year with the worship team, more Bible study preps even with new group, and a cheesesteak tour and beverage concierge all for supporting missions! year in food: grilled cheese & fig sandwich, siracha burgers, maine blueberry pie and mello yellos, smores, dominos, good chinese food outings, bday pizza. year in drinks: root beer store, drinks from SA, and finding mello and more on vacations. SOTM: Made Alive. biking 1477 miles. falling just short in lza and fall championship. soccer lessons. enjoying bike given to me and wns. nba fun: all star, finals, draft and more. spending time with brothers before their graduation, the coldest yet. still learning to love better. enjoying time with my best friend from biking the crescent to the rodin, making fig ice cream to monthly pizza outings, gardens and flowers to walks in the neighborhood, as well as all the moments in between. and now for some free flow: seeing a whole lot of amazing wildlife (but still no red pandas), painting, storyline, flying kites on the beach, farewell to dobby, enjoying visitors, an intervention, sweltering settlers, you my sister mom?, flying lanterns, paramus library, beautiful sunrise, too big fig, yogurtland tour, birthday celebrations including 60, 65 and 90, missing friends, making more of less, summer movies, no alaska road trip but then trip planned! (despite 1 vote), serving with work, sermons, progress discouragement and hope, phil. 2, wows come at unexpected times, and the gardens of life take quite a bit of work but the end result is worth it.

31 December 2013 - on friendship

we celebrated new year's with philly fireworks, pizza and then a movie, fittingly the rare movie that highlights friendship, as we finished the LOTR trilogy. the series made more sense to me watching the second time around, in closer proximity... to see the epic quest unfold to destroy the ring that was destroying the earth and the ridiculously hard path to do so. great to see the friend that made a promise not to leave, who stuck with it no matter the cost, be it rejection or hardship. the self-sacrificing companion who would even carry his friend if that is what it took. and the one who pointed his friend to truth and helped him not give up.

25 December 2013 - Your love is relentless

Merry Christmas! - from Seattle.
"The time is up for chasing shadows. You gave the world a light to follow. A hope that shines beyond tomorrow. Your love goes on, Your love goes on..."

20 December 2013 - most productive day of the year

you know a day is productive when... you publish a book before work! after that, worked a full day then flew all the way across the country. also read a book on fatherhood, wrote some Christmas cards, journaled, etc., etc. . .

16 December 2013 - on how we spend our time

a magazine article furthered what i have thought of several times this year, the average amount of daily tv watching going on is very high. what i have a hard time grasping is - really, how do people watch so much tv? i wish the magazine covered what they are leaving out of their schedule (that i am doing sans tv) to make this possible.

13 December 2013 - what kind of King is this?

led a study on a not-as-popular Christmas passage, Philippians 2, where we see Jesus as a different kind of king. He was a giver not a grabber, a server not a taker. Rather than conscripting others and killing those in His way, He made Himself nothing, humbled Himself, and died on a cross. That's why He's the King of Kings. In view of His example and His mercy, we can look to the interests of others. Until we are stunned that we were owed hell and got heaven at the cost of the Son of God, a sense of entitlement can sneak in. Paul called himself a bondslave of Christ - no rights. He knew the One who was rich who made Himself poor so that we could be so rich.

06 December 2013 - to kickstart

reading a book on prayer and immediately encouraged to pray. for often it is remembering the benefits of prayer that help us pray more. while the book had an impact, sustaining prayer could have even more impacts.

27 November 2013 - celebrating God's goodness in the face of hardships

on the way to WNS, listening to the story of Thanksgiving's origins in America. and how people seeking to do what was right in the face of many hardships celebrated the goodness of God. They were helped by others in a time where even survival was a difficult task.
It was Abraham Lincoln who made the day a annual national holiday, "a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father". In the midst of another difficult time, he also called on people to "commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans".
a day that was meant to be one of fasting and feasting is so often these days one of feasting alone.

22 November 2013 - i love to tell the story

recently had multiple chances to hear and tell good stories; from the recounting of an adoption to miraculous provisions for my old church to a night where we stacked up such stones for each other to remind us - this is our God.

19 November 2013 - when normal is great

as you probably know, being sick is no fun. but... it sure is nice the day after when you start to feel better.

11 November 2013 - how you win well

as a competitive person i have a high value for winning. but victory itself is not the highest value. how you win is important so it should be kept in mind not just afterwards but along the way as well.

7 November 2013 - better not to steal anything

mars hill sermon series on the 10 commandments. stealing is often less obvious than the other commandments, especially these days. but that doesn't mean it is less serious... restitution was to be made 5x. some things are clearly wrong even if not treated as such. others are just for our good, like the Sabbath. all not meant to be weights that pull us down but helps that lift us to the good life.

1 November 2013 - give Him no rest

Bible study is back and we're talking persistent widow, a parable of how much more where the contrasts stand out. the widow was a stranger to the judge, we are family. the widow was one person, we are many. she had no friend to speak for her, but we have an Advocate, who ever lives to make intercession for us. she had no encouragement to ask, but we have God's promises. she could only access the judge sometimes, we can cry out to God any time, day or night. her asking was provoking the judge, our asking is pleasing. He wants us to pray and not give up.

30 October 2013 - loving those not like us

second early morning trip to NY but in the end a finish line to adoption paperwork finally in sight! also got to finish reading a book about what it looks like to be a liquid church. just like water takes the shape of the container how do we adopt to the changing culture around us, while giving the same living water out? the book quoted Kierkegaard, "The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly." The challenge is to love people not like us at all, outside our comfort zone. who are the most underresourced people in our community? what is in our hand that we can use to serve?

27 October 2013 - bacon butternut love

learning to love is a process that can take quite a long time. so it is all the more encouraging to see signs of progress. it is one thing to feel you are making strides on your own. but even better in moments when you can tell the other person feels loved. and are able to cap it off with a beautiful fall walk.

16 October 2013 - on living the normal christian life

listening to sermons of an old friend talking about the normal christian life. how would you define normal? by those you read about in the Bible, like the church in Antioch, like those around the world or something else? what some see as extreme others see as normal. every man dies... not every man truly lives. "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."

10 October 2013 - relative value

the darker it gets, the more powerful the smallest of lights is

8 October 2013 - on the grace of faith that transforms

started listening to a sermon series with an interesting idea - "the best sermon ever", where guest preachers to mars hill gave their personal takes on that. paul tripp spoke on mark 6 and how the disciples hadn't understood about the loaves and the fishes. they were amazed but that was not the same as having faith. so Jesus sends them into a storm and then walks on water to them, showing them He was indeed the I AM.

29 September 2013 - topped with mandarin oranges

first sunday birthday in 11 years. so, definitely enjoying it more, from praise on drums to special pizza to more, a good birthday weekend. older, but hopefully wiser.

26 September 2013 - to see them for the beauty God intended

you've probably done it with a friend... gradually revealing some things you've put together one by one, but saving the best for last. so it was in creation, ultimately ending with woman. in all of what was created, God saw that it was beautiful. and such a beauty that it causes us to stop and if we really stop and are still, to know there is a God. but with woman there was something of a unique endowment, where the beauty was not only given but craved. desiring only a fleeting beauty is sad. but there's an unfading beauty to pursue which is of great worth.

25 September 2013 - hope for figuring things out

it's always taken me a long time to learn how to do things, whether it was 10 years to learn how to swim to the time it took me to learn how to tie a tie. which was why it was so nice today to not only put back in pesky window screens but to also finally get successful test runs of all our wedding videos to play. looking forward to seeing more than the snippets i heard. . .out of death, greater life. twoness replaced by oneness.

24 September 2013 - counting others as more significant

"use your freedom to serve one another in love" galatians 5, the message. it would be one thing to be a servant of a famous author or a beautiful princess and do things for them. doing their laundry or making them muffins would be nice, but it would actually be expected. the same acts would be different in the context of friendship. one of the reasons marriage is beautiful is it provides so many opportunities to serve one another because you have the freedom to do so, while all the while having a relationship of equals. and as christians, how much more does the gospel beauty of marriage shine through when we live philippians 2 lives.

18 September 2013 - purple sparkly hearts

celebrated together eating good food out in old city followed by franklin fountain where we shared some ice cream

16 September 2013 - rash judgment

i could be a dermatologist at this point

13 September 2013 - to be loved

apparently pizza is one of my love languages

28 August 2013 - currently singing

"You have bought me back with the riches of, Your amazing grace and relentless love. I'm made alive forever, with You, life forever, by Your grace I'm saved!"

25 August 2013 - when isaiah meets deuteronomy

a people formed for Himself, created for His glory to proclaim His praise. and yet living for things that reap ruin. enveloped in consuming flames yet not understanding, not taking it to heart. He will not yield His glory to another, or His praise to idols. Apart from Him there is no savior.

19 August 2013 - on frame of reference

we went ocean kayaking, and we didn't capsize! not even close this time, instead more marveling at creation, seeing seals pop up right in front of us. most people don't get dumped into the ocean, but do we measure against others or ourselves? sometimes it is more helpful to see progress we have made.
and how would i compare this trip to one of my favorite trips of all time... can they be different without one being better? of course. but there is also something to be said for greater heights. there's maine. and there's maine with $0.59 mello yellos. it's all the more sweeter to share with the one you love.

17 August 2013 - even more epic

first full day in maine was a doozy. not only did we see the sunrise from a top a mountain but we went to a choice spot to see the sunset as well. did the famed ocean loop trail, had the best blueberry pie i've ever had and we got to see starfish up close, among other things...

16 August 2013 - the One who rescues

on the way to maine together, 5 years later. driving and thinking, little notes and TK. listening to gospel according to moses sermons, a Christmas gift that has become a favorite series. too much to cover, but overall we see the book of exodus starts in slavery but ends in worship. let my people go...that they may worship me. where salvation is rescue from the misery and slavery of serving anything in your life that's more important than God.
then we see the plagues, an undoing of genesis 1-2 in one sense. in another a great picture of the natural progression of the chaos and disorder unleashed when you disobey the Creator God. His directives, intended to give us a life of flourishing, yet unheeded... things begin to unravel. when Jesus came on the scene it was to bring the restoration, to turn water not into blood but into wine. and then to take the plagues Himself, like the darkness that covered the land, so that we wouldn't have to receive them.

08 August 2013 - how can they meet us face to face till we have faces?

the good thing about flight delays is the chance to more easily read whole books, in this case lewis' 'till we have faces' (finally), which did lead to some audible woah's along the way.
"those we love best- those are the very ones you'll pick out. . .It would be far better for us if you were foul and ravening. we'd rather you drank their blood than stole their hearts. we'd rather they were ours and dead than yours and made immortal."
"Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back. All my life the god of the Mountain has been wooing me. Oh, look up at least once before the end and wish me joy. I am going to my lover."

29 July 2013 - family vacay

today was an epic vacation day. amidst our whirlwind summer, nice to have time with family in central oregon. got to play tennis with wifey as well as a family bike ride, ping pong, jacuzzi, summer movie night and more.

24 July 2013 - what you do with what you have

friendship with others is more difficult in marriage (and with kids). journaling is not as voluminous. which is why it is all the more great to be at least be able to make the most of available pockets with the wonder of alone time. today included unexpected soccer, much enjoyed pizza and a surprising movie find where passion on behalf of the poor and undervalued is indeed something to be loved. and hope that one day all will be made well, wrongs will be made right. God cannot be mocked. you will reap what you sow. there was a King who laid down His majesty to make a no-people his bride.

17 July 2013 - on undercover jobs

neices and nephew are visiting!
meanwhile, when i first started working (many years ago) i seriously thought about sending out a support letter, like some people doing full-time missions do, because even though i was doing a "normal" job and not something considered full-time ministry it, and the rest of my life, was not less of a mission in my mind and could use the prayer (if not the finances). it was my way of seeking God's kingdom with the gifts i've been given. now, if you've ever seen shows involving fbi cases what you see all the time is fbi agents posing as workers in other fields for the sake of the greater cause. while i've fallen a long way from when i had a list of everyone on the company on my apartment wall to pray for them, of late i do want to more and more reprise my undercover role. to be in the position to seize chances for the greater good.

13 July 2013 - on parenting wonderings

it was interesting to be able to watch some of my friends parent from close up recently on our road trip to NC. meanwhile at today's wedding, my crazy lil' sis told me i will like parenting (this was before throwing her kid up in the air while on the dance floor). i don't know what to expect. with marriage experiences so different, will parenting be the same. . .or will we find ourselves somewhere in the middle of the spectrum?

12 July 2013 - new wine

drank last of my old mello yellos on a day where we celebrated a wedding weekend with friends and i got to wear my new kurta. there is something to be said for the need of "new wineskins" for new wine. even old mello yello cans can lose their purpose after too long. God moves us on and we need to be open to the new things He is doing.

30 June 2013 - the music of the great celebration

back from state 41 and neighboring nebraska. reading again tales of the resistance... "what he loved most in the world was the King and to be a King's man and to do the King's work. . .To the King! To the Restoration!"

15 June 2013 - poem written on a garden trip

you are not abandoned
any more.
I will bring my hammer
and some nails
and go at those floorboards.
I'll mend the walls
that look so worn down.
I'll do my best to repair
what has become so broken.
Rotten wood will have to go
but gentle hands will keep the frame intact.
I'll install new windows
so that light can fill the dark places.
I'll make it so the roof won't want to leak no more
but will rather be a joyful recipient of the sun's rays.
Those passing by will see and marvel at what some Love has done.
You were bought at quite a cost
but you are worth
far more than that.
You may have once been an abandoned house
but you will one day be a dwelling
that a family will call:
home.

13 June 2013 - turn back before it's too late

reading through the OT in the mornings. Leviticus is full of guidelines for living as a people set apart. and then at the end: the stakes. if you refuse to obey and despise my decrees, then this. if none of this works in getting your attention, then that. and if even this, then... and if this, even this, then [ ] and at that point it is hard to read further. it is far far better to repent now. to not have a hard heart to all the things that should cause us to wake up. to see as sweet mercy the beckoning to run in the paths that can set our hearts free.

08 June 2013 - the necessary gardener

imagine you were bequeathed a great garden, not only beautiful flowers and fountains but also rows of fruits and vegetables as well. wouldn't you do what you could to take care of it, to be good stewards of the gift? had a meal with a friend who reminded me how marriage is like a garden. it takes an enormous amount of work and constant attention, regardless of the weather.

18 May 2013 - a work he could never finish

made use of free museum day to finally visit the Rodin museum, one of Philly's many connections with Paris. got to see "the Gates of Hell" from which many of his more famous works actually came from, including "the Thinker", looking out over it all wondering what to make of it.

15 May 2013 - parakletos

hard week, but got to have one of our last sg Bible studies on John 16. where it would be better for the disciples to have God dwell in them than next to them. their sorrow would turn to joy. "no one will take your joy from you". and that greater joy was having Him. because He gave away a joy and suffered pain for the joy set before Him.

08 May 2013 - prayer lives on

lead my last regular bible study of the year on the parting prayer of Jesus. Jesus teaches us what to aim at in our prayers - the honor and glory of God. He even prayed for me. He also prayed for unity. There are many christians, but only one Holy Spirit.
"God shapes the world by prayers. Prayers are deathless. . .That man is most immortal who has done the most and best praying."

06 May 2013 - the glory and the shame

to grasp glory there is the risk of shame. while this does not mean not to pursue glory, it does mean you should heed what you are pursuing. Mary had the courage to say yes to God, despite the shame, the unknown. . .and through it - Jesus, and what glory. "Oh, the glory of it all is He came here for the rescue of us all"

5 May 2013 - to a unknown God

family's in town and we got to enjoy a quick trip to new york. heard TK speak on Acts 17. the people in Athens Paul talked to knew there was a God there they didn't know. many people today believe in some sort of higher being. and we all worship something. Paul was proclaiming to them what they were trying to grasp but couldn't see clearly. and the proof was the resurrection of Jesus. which always draws a line. if it's not true, go on and live however you please. if it is true... why that changes everything.

29 April 2013 - on today's mello

the purpose of a vineyard is to make wine (the purpose of a good soda plant is to make mello yello). keeping in mind that the Vinedresser knows this gives us hope. even pruning something we loved is purposeful, to bear more fruit.

24 April 2013 - as i abide in you

walking around praying during lunch before we studied this greatly important subject - abiding in His love. there are so many hinderances to abiding. the Word will not abide in us if we are in a hurry. beware the barrenness of a busy life. we get more and more busy as we get older. which is why we need to be more and more intentional. leverage personal routines first. think about specific ways you connect with God. i stopped by a favorite park on the way home. how does a branch bear fruit? by abiding in the vine. by this the Father is glorified. You make my joy complete, as i abide in You.

21 April 2013 - you're my way

one part of sermons i find helpful is stories done well. when preaching on john 14 jason told the story of a time at an airport where he asked kristen if she knew where she was going. she said, "you're my way". she did not need to know the terminal or gate, she trusted her husband to lead her there. and the disciples had yet to know just how Jesus was preparing a place for them, but they trusted and followed Him. Jesus is the way: truth + life.

17 April 2013 - that where I am you may also be

He went about homeless, giving us a home. He prepared a place, since this world is not our home. He will not leave us as orphans, He will come and take us to Himself. In a world of trouble, there's a peace that's better than what the world gives.

14 April 2013 - injustice and grace

able to experience such opposites because of the One whose utter injustice enabled us to taste such grace.

13 April 2013 - some days are bigger than others

in a sense it was a luke15ish day, a tale of three searches. first up, the long awaited warehouse sale of a favorite purveyor of dresses. it was probably the closest i'll come to the running of the brides, women everywhere frantically trying to find dresses of their size and liking. thankfully we were successful without too much crazy. then we ended up buying our first car together. we had taken out Dobby for one last DQ run the night before, just in case. and God provided us a car quickly in person after many months of searching and prep online. finally, friends called and we were off in search of the northern lights. the odds were low, and it meant staying up late and driving to the country but if you have the rare chance to see the nothern lights in PA (rather than say... alaska) you go for it. we saw nothing but clouds. but i realize the thing about searching is that it changes based on what you are searching for. so how do we find God? the methodology given - you will find the Lord your God, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. some searches can be casual, but searching for God needs to be wholehearted to be really effective.

10 April 2013 - to love is to serve

"All things were made through Him and without Him was not anything made that was made". . .and yet, Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many". When Jesus washed the feet of the disciples one of the reasons was to set for them an example. May we be servants to whom nothing is below us except sin. from MH (i think), "Our love to one another must be free and ready, laborious and expensive, constant and persevering. This was what their Master was famous for; all that ever heard of him have heard of his love, his great love; and therefore, if you see any people more affectionate one to another than what is common, say, 'Certainly these are the followers of Christ, they have been with Jesus."

31 March 2013 - risen today

"Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia! Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia! . . . Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia! Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!" and the crashes were a plenty as i helped lead worship on this day of days.
in keeping with the theme of happy surprises, had brothers over for some kfc and mac & cheese!

30 March 2013 - singing today

what other King left his glory to die...

29 March 2013 - my mocking voice

always good to meditate on isaiah 53. but i also got to read from john 19 for the good friday service. . ."They came up to him, saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews!' and struck him with their hands."
and we sang, "Ashamed I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers."

27 March 2013 - the mistaken gardener

studying John 20, where we get to see what the disciples saw that wonderful morning. a rolled away stone and linen cloths. the linen cloths are a big deal because of Lazarus... he couldn't get out, someone had to unbind him. not here. they saw the face cloth and angels. and then a gardener. except, it was not a gardener as you might expect. the garden, a place of joy to a place of sorrow to a place of greater joy when they saw Jesus. they would see the nails in his hands and his side and believe.

20 March 2013 - mighty to save

Palm Sunday where Jesus, a wanted man, comes waltzing in to town. actually somehow riding a baby donkey. and a crowd shouting "Save! Save now!" and the crowd was there because others were bearing witness, telling the stories of what Jesus had done. He raised Lazarus and He can raise you too. He moved my mom to pray for me at the same time when across the town a tree totaled the car i was being driven home in but smashed none of us. He is mighty to save.

13 March 2013 - i won't give up, He loved me to the end

celebrated b-day at sg with lots of good kinds of ice cream. then feasted on the Word. where we studied the last supper where the disciples didn't know who was going to betray Jesus and didn't know what Judas was going to do when he left. "Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me." and from Psalm 55, "If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God." Jesus is a better friend to us than we are to Him. He loved us to the end.

09 March 2013 - see in it a chance to die

took a trip with best friend for mexican food and orchid extravaganza! at sg earlier this week one of the things we studied was john 12:24 - unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. this process takes time. just like with a garden, we need to be patient w. the process of transformation. but what hopeful news is this, that death is not the end, but transformation to a new beginning. we can be bold seekers of God's kingdom because to live is Christ and to die is gain.

08 March 2013 - not one, not two, not three. . .

Abraham didn't just have 1 child in his old age. . . perhaps to show how much the virtue of the promise exceeds the power of nature, he had 7 sons after the laugh of 'and can it be'...

07 March 2013 - a wonderful gospel picture

piper on similarities between God's adoption of us and our adoption of children. . .adoption was for God and is for us costly. the legal transactions precede and undergird the growth of family feelings. adoption was blessed and is blessed with God pouring out a spirit of sonship..."Abba". adoption was and is seriously planned. it brings the rights of being heirs. marked by moral transformation. adoption was for God and often is now for us from very bad situations. adoption meant and means that we suffer now and experience glory later. it will be worth it all.

03 March 2013 - when we can't see the Sun

notes from Jason's sermon on John 11-12: the moon is smaller than the sun and has no radiance of its own but it can eclipse the sun because it is closer. what are the small things that are coming the way for us? the pharisees and chief priests in Jesus day had idols of security. they thought it better if one man die for the people than "the Romans [come] and take away both our place and our nation." So they had Jesus killed. and yet, in 70 AD Rome still came, and tore down the temple. They loved their life and still lost it.

27 February 2013 - now is not the time to rest

while definitely a subject i've dwelled on before, it was pictured quite well as i biked fast before a pending rainstorm. in tire