5 July 2021 - listen, the knock of love

a simple way to show love can be to give your full attention. but how hard the simple can be.
and yet thankful for the way God's spirit moves. How God's Word is powerful, living, active and yes, sharp. And a chance to be there and pray. Thankful for big moments flowing from little ones.

30 June 2021 - how long, O Lord, how long. . .

those not doing anything are not the ones the enemy needs to do much about. but those greatly used by God often face being assailed by the enemy. and on top of everything else how hard to see those wounds.
and for now we pray and wait, wait and pray... and listen to sermons muse - what will the shout be on Jesus return? "Enough!"

11 June 2021 - I'm on my way home

"I know I've grown, but I can't wait to go home. I'm on my way . . ." ed s.

8 June 2021 - the truth that rings

the book of Hosea has a lot in it to help capture depth of sin. which helps make the call to repentance and the return of God's love all the more remarkable. "I will heal... I will love freely. . .he shall blossom... they shall flourish." Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? The questions of Hosea definitively answered later in 1 Corinthians. . ."then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"

And this too a good reminder in helping our kids understand our nature and the beauty of the Savior. To be able to say, "I'm a (you could add - dirty, rotten) sinner just like you." but what a Wonderful Savior.

3 June 2021 - round two

"No more tears of pain, in your eyes. . .No more fear or shame, For we will be with You, Yes we will be with You" vineyard

15 May 2021 - lift up your eyes and see

"Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these?
He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name;
by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing." from Isaiah 40

Whether learning about stars or experiencing an amazing sunset, so many reasons to praise God.
He knows them by name and He knows us by name. Amazing that He wants us to enjoy Him and good things.

05 May 2021 - my life for yours

impeccable timing for the big three seconds awaiting. listening to a TK sermon where even TOTC and Sydney Carton was quoted.
the essence of sin is - me first. the cause of all misery - i want to be God. but what is the essence of being a Christian? of trying to be like Jesus? it's the opposite of sin. sin says - your life for mine. Christianity says - my life for yours.

03 May 2021 - towards heart giving

small actions can have big impact when multiplied. when you prioritize making use of your current schedule to inject good into structure already in place it can help sustain regularity in much needed heart giving moments. what is life giving to you? when is there a chance for you to praise? what is the next thing you can do that is right? it may seem hard to make a big change but today and the next day there are chances to choose what is good.

29 April 2021 - invitations further up and further in

finished going through years of work e-mails before most disappear. the oldest ones telling of life long ago, when praying was food, when friends were around and combined in many different ways, and even Bible reading was a chance to invite others to a chance to grow. and it is good to consider how now we can stir one another up to love and good works, to meet together and to encourage one another.

26 April 2021 - on chances to not forget to turn to God

continuing with the minor prophets... " 'I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not return to me' declares the LORD." haggai
"when I fed them they were satisfied; when they were satisfied they became proud; then they forgot Me." hosea

17 April 2021 - away with your noise

songs this week on the songs we sing not speaking like the actions we carry out. including this..."i hate all your show and pretense, the hypocrisy of your praise...instead let there be a flood of justice, an endless procession of righteous living. . .your eyes are closed when you're praying, you sing right along with the band... Quit playing religion games There's blood on your hands... Quit fooling around, Give love to the ones who can't love at all, Give hope to the ones who got no hope at all, Stand up for the ones who can't stand at all" jon f.

4 April 2021 - His glories now we sing

"Who brings our chaos back into order? . . .The King of glory, The King of glory"
so good to be back worshipping together, and outside at that, on this most glorious of holidays...
"His glories now we sing, who died, and rose on high, Who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die."

21 March 2021 - Princess Amanda and the Dragon

"Just for a little while, she thought" . . .and the egg became a baby dragon, that became a small dragon, that led to lies, scorched walls, then the loss of a laugh, the distancing from others and the Great Celebrations...
"Suddenly, she knew. Great harm could come from one small dragon. Small tame things grow into big wild beasts." And at that point, it was too late. It would become a fight for her life. and not just impacting her but causing fire in Great Park. But it was not too late to do the right thing!
And with careful aim. . ."'For the King!' she screamed. 'For the Restoration!'. . .She let the hatchet fly."

13 March 2021 - the beautiful giver

in malachi, it talks of useless fires, wasted on blemished offerings... that is not something to present to a great King. rather, it should be an "utter yielding of our best".
from Parables of the Cross, "Measure thy life by loss and not by gain, Not by the wine drunk, but by the wine poured forth, For love's strength standeth in love's sacrifice, And he who suffers most has most to give." "A flower that stops short at its flowering misses its purpose."
"and so you sit on the ground next to me. . .and so He made Himself nothing to take us into the family."

10 March 2021 - new york city

"pack your bags for a big surprise... can't wait to see the look in your eyes... tickets for two, the two of me and you... your favorite show on Broadway. . ."
how great to find some somehow forgotten Wonder Tribe songs the same week of remembering the epic surprise trip to new york when we saw my favourite show and more.

23 February 2021 - symbols and styles and other means

listening to Sinclair sermons from the book of Zechariah today. God speaks in many different ways. the Bible is full of pairs of very different individuals, both used by God, that together by God's grace accomplish something they wouldn't be able to on their own. Similarly, there can be pictures and symbols that can communicate something that will help us have a greater understanding we wouldn't otherwise have.
it's when you understand the immense piles of sin that you understand the depths of grace.

16 February 2021 - still need You

"it's not like you're a piece of bread, i don't knead you that you. it's not like you're in physical discomfort if i kneed you then you'd say. . ." classic intro to life bread, Wonder Tribe

"yes You know. yes You care. You are here. And You are there." everywhere, Wonder Tribe

14 February 2021 - putting your heart into it

Valentine's Day on a Sunday, to cap off quite a celebratory weekend. i do really enjoy getting gifts, it is one way that i feel loved. but of course, it is even better to give than receive. and so, after the late nights of preparation have been completed, and the moment of revealing this year's gift has arrived, it is gratifying for me to watch the airplane zoom around, regardless of how many flights it ultimately takes.

7 February 2021 - strength to stand

studying Ephesians. our struggle is not against flesh and blood. the armor is prepared for us but we must put it on... we must use the grace given to us. there is none for the back, if we turn our back we are exposed. we should keep constant times of prayer and be constant to them. in the warfare of life, He helps us to stand firm. "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might."

27 January 2021 - God's key provision

when Jonah was thrown into the swirling water with waves crashing there was not much for him to do but to sink down into the depths. but Jonah prayed. how far down must he have gone to say, "seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down"? but the LORD provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah. And in that provision Jonah sat. And prayed again.

17 January 2021 - return to Him

reading: "empty stomachs... yet you have not returned to me. . . withheld rain... yet you have not returned to me. . .struck gardens... yet you have not returned to me. . .plagues... stench... yet you have not returned to me. . .'you were like a burning stick snatched from the fire, yet you have not returned to me,' declares the Lord" from Amos 4
singing: "Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow" Great is Thy faithfulness.

9 January 2021 - how the cattle moan

studying the minor prophets this year. "Alas for that day! For the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. . . “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity." from Joel 1 & 2. "God brings us into straits, that He may bring us to repentance and so bring us to Himself." MH

31 December 2020 - year in review: 2020

it was a year of two parts, as you might imagine. with good timing of getting laptops for the first time at work, not long before some hoped for time at home... that kept growing and going, resulting in family time galore. a year with some cancelled trips, but another enhanced. driving cross country to seattle via yellowstone, montana and more. as well as VA trips, retreat and Charleston. visitors from VA, CA, NY and WA... then none the rest of the year. year in food: pink macarons, nashville hot chicken, wifey's garlic naan and indian, bananas foster creations, deep dish, hami melon, holiday sweet potatoes, special desserts and chicken sandwiches...A stretch, but ten dates nonetheless. new schools. health unknowns. exam proceeding.
and now for some free flow: fireball, online any church era, hoopla, more bday confetti, 310+, crying week, phone alerts week, glasses, hearing, overbrook ride, tp hunt, things breaking, family exercise, my crazy great idea, outside church, Friday lunch hiatus and change, fun attire change, family walks, recycling woes, grocery delivery, game challenge, zoom opps, zumba, hb amazing, ETC, porch hangouts, porch work, covid news, near misses, megging, funny charades, summer lists, writing lessons, speech therapy, phone issues, vineyard praying, mello stockpiles, excitement, stuff swap online, on good neighboring, beach convo, loud convos, rainbows, melo and portland, domino's, more b.bakes, cd era ends, interesting meeting spots, steps record, scans, cards and gifts, saturday cleans, no stockings, workstation, s. deluxe, green room, free books, dunking, billings, searching, waiting, working, driving, researching, living, surviving, bday bball, all star wknd, crazy week to be sick, if not here..., and extra specials.
"I'll sing to You, Lord, a hymn of love for Your faithfulness to me. I'm carried in everlasting arms, You'll never let me go through it all."

29 December 2020 - on our concerns

more from the Keller's on Proverbs. "The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern" Proverbs 29:7
"the wicked have no such concern"!
"to even simply have no concern for the poor or fail to pay attention to their needs is wicked. are you too concerned with your own affairs... or are you researching for ways to lift up the poor...?" Do you know specific kinds of problems and needs of the poor? Or opportunities for them?
"if a group of people in a city are truly living "righteously" as Proverbs defines it they will be such a benefit to the public good of the whole city that the entire populace will exult"
to shut our ears, to turn our backs, to isolate and avoid is wrong... but to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, to defend the weak, to give the poor your time and attention is what we are called to do.

25 December 2020 - One rich beyond all splendour, for love's sake became poor

poverty is complicated. it is not just caused by one thing or another. "a poor person's farm may produce much food but injustice sweeps it away." Prov. 13:23

but what is more straight forward, is the call to care for the poor. "All believers should be deeply concerned for the poor because God is..." TK

and He Himself became poor. . .so that you by His poverty might become rich.

23 December 2021 - how much more... good gifts of the Father

"Is this the strange feeling Of you working all to good...
When I asked for and deserved a stone You broke and gave your body as bread... When I asked for and deserved a serpent You gave a net full of fish...
There you go working good from my bad
There you go making robes from my rags" Caedmon's

and once again seeing God provide in big ways beyond what we could expect.

03 December 2020 - to fumigate, medicate, isolate and serve our neighbor

reading Luther's thoughts on what it means to live in the midst of an epidemic both with faith and faithfully. he mentions that a God-fearing faith is not brash nor foolhardy. we should do all we can - pray, take precautions... and yet if it is God's will, our precautions will not help us. And yet, God can also preserve us in our efforts to love our neighbor. "act like a man who wants to put out the burning city". not harming others by our negligence. but also going freely in pursuit of caring for the needs of others.

"if You left the grave behind you, so will I." hillsong united

09 November 2020 - the Faithful Provider

"The restoration is always the purpose of God's providential governing of his children's lives. We may think that such severity is inconsistent with what we know of God's gentleness and compassion. But that is because we do not appreciate how seriously God loves us, and how determined he is that we should have His best, even if it means pain." Sinclair on God's providence.
"All along, You were beside me even when I couldn't tell. Through the years, You showed me more of You, more of You." hillsong

08 November 2020 - for those left

what a day to pray for those left, for those who have no voice. the LORD will take them up.
pour out your hearts to Him. our God is a refuge.

03 November 2020 - today

there is something to be said for long awaited days when they finally come. but the same day can have different meaning for different people. and clearly results are out of our hands, you do not know what that day will be like when it comes.
and so there is even more to be said about today. not today as in this day specifically now. but the day you find yourself in. tomorrow's not promised today. but today can be the day you start. the day you do the right thing. the day you find redemption. the day you find a way to stop what's dragging you down. and put on something good. the day you decide to live.

26 October 2020 - many sins, more mercy

"Praise the Lord, His mercy is more
Stronger than darkness, new every morn
Our sins they are many, His mercy is more..."

25 October 2020 - the process of getting there

the book of 1 Samuel starts out with great anguish and prayer for Hannah. but yet out of that anguish and prayer, great good comes. she was heard by God and Samuel is born. and then he was dedicated to God and would go on to do much for the kingdom as a result. and God was gracious to Hannah, she had three more sons and two daughters. And it all started with Hannah sitting in the deep anguish and then turning it into prayer.

9 October 2020 - so chariot come, swing low

"and if you have a place where you belong, you're a lucky one. . .i'll be home soon. . . 'cause this place tries so hard To break a man and I've tried to stand But I'm drowning in its sorrows, need to catch my breath But I'll be home soon, I'll be home soon." the normals

3 October 2020 - cast your cares

Our burdens at times can feel very heavy. but we are given the call to cast them. with such weight, it seems to me that this is necessarily a very active process, thrusting them off.
"Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you." Ps. 55:22
"Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you." I Peter 5:7
there is One who can bear the weight.

1 October 2020 - old school kirk

"Oh! I know that I can make it I know that I can stand No matter what may come my way My life is in your hands. With Jesus I can take it, with Him I know I can stand No matter what may come my way My life is in your hands."

29 September 2020 - to the restoration

thankful for many ways to celebrate starting with a family outing, days of amazing food, exploring with the kids, time off, and more. even getting to pick up trash, for volunteer time on my own, with a very well timed present. working to restore a place of beauty. and while some times are easier than others, it becomes clear that every day choices can bring beauty... or just add to the mess.

26 September 2020 - do justice now

"only the losers win. . .they'll leave the world with nothing to lose" switchfoot

and more from TK on Proverbs. the good we must give our neighbor is practical aid - for their due. "If you have things your neighbor doesn't have, share them, because he or she has a right to the part of the world over which God has made you a temporary steward."

"if I haven't already given it away... I've got a plan to lose it all."

18 September 2020 - ten with ten

Many equations can hide inside of a number. Is 10 five plus five or nine plus one? Or 3653, different units altogether... No big trip possible, but celebrating nonetheless. Everyone to the city together and my first time back to the office. Wedding drinks and snacks. Former things in present day form. Good food and images of life lived together, one day at a time. And on to what is next.

17 August 2020 - on weighty gifts

back on the topic of gifts. what about gifts not as tangible? when the weight of a gift far outweighs the paper it comes on... one that portrays hopes and dreams. a gift to be treasured, but also one that comes with a call. i may not be good at giving gifts, but oh to be a gift myself, a blessing to those around me, especially those nearest. not just something that takes up space or wears out quickly but rather to be lasting good where needed.

12 August 2020 - punk rock

"Never I know what tomorrow brings with it
Never I know what's in store
But all I know is my faith to never lose
No never, no never" ghoti hook

31 July 2020 - floating holiday

so good to reach our destination and be able to spend time with family. right in time for the nba restart and the return of skinny melo. how you spend your time waiting matters. some journeys may be very long but so worth it when you reach your goal. oh there will be setbacks. the call may seem too hard. but how much more - "it will be worth it all, when we see Jesus."

29 July 2020 - an epic road trip

if you ever get the chance, i recommend driving across the country with your family. it is quite an amazing experience seeing so many sights, experiencing different parts of the country and creating memories together. whenever i drive across the country there are always so many animals seen from the road at various junctures that i can't help but think of the cattle on a thousand hills. "for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine." from psalm 50.
we didn't have time this trip for many additional stops, but in addition to hitting some yet unvisited states, we did get to go to one national park. but we were amazed even before we got there, driving up a mountain, seeing God's creation.
"The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets." _This_ is my Father's world.

9 July 2020 - He's strong for the weight of the world

"This is no load for one person to bear Just one is able, just one anywhere Only Lord Jesus His back strong and square Can carry the weight of the world. . .
I’ll take it all to King Jesus in prayer He’s strong for the weight of the world." katy

5 July 2020 - life and health

from Proverbs 4, "The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. . .[Your words] are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."

22 June 2020 - on what you owe your neighbor

"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act." Proverbs 3:27
in the Keller's book on the Proverbs they mention that the word good refers to tangible material goods and to whom it is due means the owners. our call to be good stewards is in contrast with the message our culture shares that what we have is all ours. the world is God's and He loves its people.
"The bread which you keep belongs to the hungry; the coats in your closet, to the naked; those shoes. . .to the shoeless; the gold you have hidden. . .to the needy. Therefore, as often as you were able to help others, and refused, so often did you do them wrong." Basil the Great

14 June 2020 - our days ordained by God

came across a blog post from someone i used to be in sg with that was quite the entry for an actuary to read. "We don’t live by probabilities and chance. We live under the loving, wise, and sovereign rule of our Creator and Redeemer God." It should not be surprising that our mortality assumptions never come out right at work. Not even the sparrow falls apart from Him. Our days ordained. "All things, in fact, come to us not by chance but from his fatherly hand."

23 May 2020 - not the time to sleep

oh the glorious news of the gospel... "God has -not- destined us for wrath" I Thess. 5. suffering, yes. but because of Christ we know God has not destined us to bear wrath. Jesus, the great sin bearer, already took the wrath of God for us.
"Christ died for us, that, living and dying, we might be his; that we might live to him while we are here, and live with him when we go hence."

15 May 2020 - double wave

various passages from a book we sometimes read.
"God never changes. Our friends change. Some have to move away to other places. But God never changes... God never changes. Flowers change. They are bright and colourful but then they wither. God never changes... God never changes, but we do... God never changes. He is the same yesterday and today and forever. God never changes."

9 May 2020 - remembering our refuge and strength

it is easy to think of psalm 46 when trials loom large...
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.
-Therefore- we will not fear, though the earth gives way,
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea"
remember what He has done. This God is our fortress. Kingdoms fall. But He is unchanging. He will be exalted in the earth.

5 May 2020 - a sad verse

"The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk," Revelation 9:20

29 April 2020 - precious pains

it appears that i've already quoted all of my favorite lewis poems here in their entirety. but i haven't quoted pieces of two separate poems together. so here we are.
"Out little spear that stabs! ... Thou gav'st man The tether and pang of the particular,"
"I see the chasm. And everything you are was making My heart into a bridge by which I might get back From exile, and grow man. And now the bridge is breaking.
For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains You give me are more precious than all other gains."

27 April 2020 - little bits

from a happened upon library book read in small doses while waiting on the kids... "what you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while." some projects seem too daunting to even start tackling, but can still be accomplished in consistent little bits. sleep. the act of acknowledging a child's frustration about what they can't have at the moment/their present difficulty goes a long way. "the days are long but the years are short."

24 April 2020 - my every good thing

"When all these starts Start feeling like these ends, Like the world is unraveling And I'm bound to come undone, There is a Shepherd, a Priest, There is a Comforter who comforts me. And my soul finds rest Where it makes no sense. . .

Lay your burden down upon Down upon Him
Lay your burden down..." hillsong united

12 April 2020 - resurrection trade-ins

singing out, "Someday I'll trade in this guitar For a city of golden praise Someday I won't be here any longer Someday, yeah
But this is what I have been given And I will make the best I can There's a joy we find in living And a love that's in Your hand"

if you have traded in a car you know how difficult it can be to get much value for it. when my old, broken down, first car got towed away they were going to charge me to to pick it up. i said - what if i don't pick it up? they said - no charge. of course i got nothing on that trade. on my last trade-in i had to walk away in negotiations just to get blue book value for it... which still of course, left quite a lot remaining to pay for my used, but less old vehicle that i was getting. but the resurrection trade-ins... when we trade in our old, broken down, pained bodies for our glorious new ones. and it's like our present sufferings cannot even compare to the glory to be revealed. man. . .

10 April 2020 - that Head

listening to - "O sacred Head, now wounded, With grief and shame weighed down; Now scornfully surrounded With thorns, thine only crown..."

"the Head that once was crowned with thorns, is crowned with glory now. . ."

4 April 2020 - let it happen

"i don't hold what the future holds but i know You hold my future" switchfoot

22 March 2020 - that we might not rely on ourselves but on God

pastor steve bringing it, like in the wayback.
preaching 2 Cor. 1 - "We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened so that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted to us in answer to the prayers of many."

13 March 2020 - 32 + 38 =

not the usual birthday week, but thankful for a chance to double celebrate with the birthday buddies on the other side of the fam.

11 March 2020 - in the face of death, live

nba season suddenly suspended.

Lewis on living in an era of fear... "‘How are we to live in an atomic age?’ I am tempted to reply: ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.’
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. . .
The first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb, when it comes, find us doing sensible and human things -- praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts -- not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs."

5 March 2020 - on looking forward

from pj, "a pastor once said, 'I'm not looking forward to death because I'm tired of living but because I'm tired of dying and looking forward to finally living.'"

27 February 2020 - Man of Sorrows

our family started off Lent singing this one, "Man of Sorrows! what a name For the Son of God, who came Ruined sinners to reclaim: Hallelujah! What a Saviour!"

21 February 2020 - on where to store your extra stuff

it was good to hear Sinclair preach on Luke 12, the lesser read parallel passage of the second half of Matthew 6. what struck me this time was that this passage comes right after the Foolish Farmer passage (of Read Aloud Bible story fame). guess who doesn't have a barn? the birds!
there is a contrast between those storing things up for themselves but who are not rich toward God and the call to sell your possessions and give to the poor, creating treasures for yourself that will never fail.

he also said - any Australian can tell you not to worry ("no worries, mate"). the implication being that the power in this passage doesn't come from just the words, but from Who is telling you not to worry about your life, your body. it is the same Father God who knows every hair on your head.

19 February 2020 - preaching to ourselves

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that have come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they are talking to you. They bring back the problems of yesterday when someone is talking. Who is talking to you? Yourself is talking to you... Now, this man’s treatment in Psalm 42 was this – instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul that had been depressing him, crushing him. So, he stands up and says, ‘Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.’” D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

8 February 2020 - love like how/who

quick hits from ephesians 5 study - it is the head that directs. Easier to submit to someone when you know you are loved.

6 February 2020 - coming to life

"...and all these years I spent in the graveyard weeping but i feel blood pouring through these veins after all and I feel blood washing through these stains after all and I am coming to life. . .
You are the breath I breathe you hold me to belief You died so I could be alive and free from me and I am coming to life" more from The Normals

3 February 2020 - all joy and no fun

took a lot of notes from this recent library read. but what stood out the most were the insights on why children act the way they do and how so very different they are than me (in more ways than i would have suspected). suddenly a lot of things made more sense. the highly distracted unfocused attention is a brain development thing that explains why putting on shoes to leave is no easy matter. they are emotion not logic, they are right now not later. and they do not like my hurry, that i have already seen. learning through questions... and messes. and i also read about what we have to look forward to - adolescence. when the brain overestimates risk but assigns greater value to reward without long-term consequences. a time to feel so much. . .and learn from experiences. hoping to learn how to provide safe venues for risk and experience in this time of excesses. the growing happens in so many more ways than what i can tell from my measuring tape. as i watch them learn, hopefully i will too. and entrust them to the Redeemer of stories.

31 January 2020 - SOTM

"and your answer to my questions is be still and know...that I Am and I Am Love"

24 January 2020 - on learning how to love in the deepest of ways

"It is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms: with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes." Lewis describes well the difference between kindness and love. And for me, it is much easier to be kind rather than do the hard work of love. Soft love comes easier such that we even try to pin it on our view of God. But God is "not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist's love for his work and despotic as a man's love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father's love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes." a consolation amidst my soft love, God's perfect love.

16 January 2020 - working, walking and taking solace

studying Proverbs this year. here are three:
"ill-gotten treasures are of no value but righteousness delivers from death."
"He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son."
"Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm."

1 January 2020 - 2019: year in review

it was a year where twenty loomed large, not just work but college too. but the new jobs were not mine, God providing in unexpected ways for us once again. finished writing book seven in seven years and then on to the even bigger challenge of back to studying for one more go at exams. a mostly successful return to gardens year. preschool starts, worship team return, an uncle moving back home and reading through the entire purple Bible. ten dates once more, including surprise, getaways, party and some really good food.
year in trips: maine with fam and friends, seattle, annapolis, NoVA visits, strathmere, retreat, WV (stars just never work out there), NJ, lancaster, hotel getaways, DC, and long island.
year in food: sweet lightning dew, jello hearts, pigs in a blanket, bainbridge ice cream flavors, pb reeses pb cookies, chorizo burger, pizza hut trips, SLK, toasted marshmallow sodas, and you know i could keep going about other pizzas, korean food, or wattamelon roll, etc., etc.
all of wifey's siblings visiting at least once. Our faithful parents, too. CA, NY and even a Hawaiian surprise.
free flow time: golden gardens, picking strawberries, cadillac mountain, awesome sauce, vehicle game, back pain, action chugger, praying together, my first cave, well named access card, rahul, new bike, trellis, sick taxi day, a first tooth lost, parents 50 yrs & plans, friday lunches, thinking back, rainy sundays, stuff swap bday, finding mello, overdue first meetings, astros soccer and coach, earphones, more libraries, my super cool watch, study benefits, yee banner, a soccer fail, do not eat bad kimchi, hb crown, munchkins <> bulletins, stolen, long preschool transition, couch time, absurd pick 12, school process, music thinking, woozy doozy, hkrs, researching options, bball watching, rittenhouse, textable connection, busycrazyness, annual traditions, spanish club, life group, voting elsewhere, triennial check, concerns, surprise and specials, kid's first fireworks to end the year.
so much happens in a year. hands so full of gifts i can't hold them all. His love reaches to the heavens, His faithfulness to the skies.

29 December 2019 - call and response

Do you feel the world is broken?
(We do)
Do you feel the shadows deepen?
(We do)
But do you know that all the dark won't stop the light from getting through?
(We do)
Do you wish that you could see it all made new?
(We do) . . .
Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
Of all blessing and honor and glory
He is!

27 December 2019 - we need to love everybody, always

from vacation reading while in virginia, "There's no school to learn how to love your neighbor, just the house next door. No one expects us to love them flawlessly, but we can love them fearlessly, furiously, and unreasonably."
the call to love is well known, but what i appreciated about this book is all the pictures it showed of what that could look like. medals, balloons, as well as providing for the most practical of needs, telling others who they are, and so much more. does it seem too challenging? start with those in front of you. consider what delights you, use your imagination, and realize what doors are already open. love is a long road to walk. but you don't do it all at once. try to love now. then do it again.

14 December 2019 - always singing

the singing of hymns and spiritual songs is a gospel ordinance. and it is with good reason. amidst so many other things to be filled with, we should not be satisfied with just a little of the Spirit. songs have a unique way of bringing words to life as well as making them easily accessible for others. what a way to fill souls with great joy, strength, and courage...

6 December 2019 - here i raise my Ebenezer; here by Thy great help I’ve come

false memories existing is crazy enough... but even more so that our certainty of what happened is not the best indicator of knowing what actually happened. you may have seen this when you confidently remember the same thing differently from someone else just as confident.
and yet, our memories are a gift. we may not get all the details right, but we remember the story. my story has been one of God's faithfulness. and i'm thankful for all the chances i've had to document life over the years. when i read what i wrote of what actually happened, how God was working in the midst of everything, it is always so encouraging. and so we should all the more set up stones of remembrance so we do not forget. O to remember not for days, or even years, but for generations... how God has been our great Help.

27 November 2019 - on singing into others' lives

"ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for _them_."

"A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper He, amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing. . .
Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right Man on our side,
the Man of God's own choosing."

17 November 2019 - the biggest bottle there is

could it be? we finally finished animal sprinkles from an era when i still had birthday parties. i have many of these not-very-perishable items that seem to last an exceptionally long time to the point i can't help but wonder for some of them - do they somehow have some special property that helps them never run out? but one by one, they do.
but i have read of something that doesn't run out. no matter how much is poured out, even if you spill the bottle. as it says in the JSB - No matter what, in spite of everything, God loves His children with a Never-Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.

15 November 2019 - but You know me

finally reached the stage of life where realization sinks in of how little others might care even about your really interesting things. times of not being known well make the words of Psalm 139 stand out all the more.
"You have searched me, Lord, and You know me. . .You are familiar with all my ways. . .How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!"

14 November 2019 - another timely return

of course the news would come today. melo is back. after how many google searches hoping for news? because as i realized again i saw his last game 11/8/18. and his return comes at the end of a double adoption day full of celebration where i got to be home. "waiting does not diminish us." enlarged in the waiting. right timing feels so good.

09 November 2019 - living as dearly loved

a good way to end our Bible study... "Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that."

8 November 2019 - a blessing in the storm

"You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you." a take on Matthew 5:4

31 October 2019 - if love does, what do we do?

bookstore reading, trying to gain more insight...
see what interests your heart, and do that thing. you may not even realize most others don't care about that subject as much as you do. you may have heard this quote, "The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done. ... The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet" F. Buechner
Consider the secret thread (mentioned by Lewis) that ties together the things you love, your deep desires...And as TK put - everyone has something that moves them so that they long for heaven or the future kingdom of God.

20 October 2019 - what's in your hand?

God asked Moses, "What is that in your hand?" And as we consider what it means for us to be on mission with God, wherever we are, that is also a good question to ask. What's in your hand. . . that you can use for the glory of God? What is it about where God has you now that can be a venue for others to see the wonders of His love?

12 October 2019 - i put on...

have you ever gotten really sweaty and dirty, and then had the nice to glorious feeling of taking a shower and cleaning up? would you then put back on your old wet clothes?? sometimes we work to put off some behavior of our old life, but we are called to both put off misdeeds as well as to put on the new self. put off grabbing and hoarding put on giving and sharing. put off lies and tearing down and put on truth and building up, words of grace. put off a self seeking way of life and put on a kingdom seeking, others loving, quest for His righteousness.

18 September 2019 - music to my ears

in some ways, we exchange gifts all the time, sharing our different dispositions and talents for the sake of each other and the family. But on this day, there were actual gifts for each other of various kinds - the beautiful to the practical, the symbolic to the tasty dinner for all. thoughtful words to the ability to listen and sing along as i run or wash dishes. friendship and love.

14 September 2019 - ephesians 4 - we are the body, growing up in every way

different gifts, different views, different maturity levels, different callings, different trials, different ways to worship.
one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.
like rods bound together, not all the same, but stronger together.
He conquered those who had conquered us - sin, devil, death. Christ led captivity captive. . .and He gave gifts to men.

08 September 2019 - our lives are better to left to God

sorting all music on my computer... including a find from long, long ago, when my home town was country.
"And now, I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain, but I'da had to miss the dance"

01 September 2019 - love does

in Virginia, an exciting book find helped me to think about what it looks like to love. in my life i've seen it the most in actions of others. an unexpected car delivery, verses for my wall, coming over to pray, packing a bag and staying over, calling every single day. . . and i, too, learned to love as i went along, the importance of being there, going, making yourself available. it can be going to a game or going on a plane, sitting on a couch or finding someone at a bookstore, rearranging important plans or planes, trains and automobiles. as that song goes that i sang once upon a time. . . i will be here. perhaps the most up close translation of - i will be there.

28 August 2019 - ecclesiastes quite fitting for 8.28

there's a right time for everything ibnlt birth .. death, cry .. laugh, search .. count losses, hold on .. let go.
and later - God arranges for both kinds of days so that we won’t take anything for granted.

27 August 2019 - you can pick my book

rather than each picking their own book, my kids recently started telling me that i could pick which book i read for them before bed. of course, part of me is glad in the freedom knowing it is now much less likely we will be reading a long not-so-great book that we have read many times before. but it is also a task i have had to grow into. "you can pick my book, but pick a really, really good one" - the saying has come to be. i now have to know my children well and consider a great many factors to find a set of books that will please everyone. and it's on the best days, with multiple comments of - "i like the book you picked for me" that it is easiest to consider the 'how much more'. how so much more is God's love for us, grounded in his perfect knowledge, able to provide for us when we let Him "pick our book". even if we are doubtful upon glancing the cover, He is not limited by three bookshelves and whatever library books are on hand but rather He can draw from vast resources and provide just what we need in the moment. It is good to turn to Him and not just be constrained to our own perceptions.

4 August 2019 - on who you are becoming

ps 135 - those who make and trust [gods] become like them.
pr 1 - when you grab all you can get, that's what happens: the more you get, the less you are

3 August 2019 - upon finding similar quotes in different books around the same time

"crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do." silver chair

"a person can only cry so long and then he has to do something else with his time." a tree grows in brooklyn

2 August 2019 - on reaching a big milestone

made it to 20 years at work. . .fitting time for a first real show of appreciation at the office. yet, managed to be outdone by the fam, who already enables me to enjoy this career, and yet still knows how to celebrate well with me.
thankful for the friends, still thankful for the opportunity, the sticking with me in those early years, and thankful to have a job like this.
trusting God will continue to show His faithfulness in the days ahead, wherever the road may lead.

24 July 2019 - while enjoying vacation

"When you put us through the fire... our dearest idols go up in smoke."
"We make our pile, and then we leave it."
"Yet in His largeness nothing gets lost."
"God is great - everything works together for his servant."
"His love is the wonder of the world."
from various Psalms, The Message

21 July 2019 - on how to really talk to God

it can be a challenge teaching children about prayer. there are thank you prayers, help prayers, sorry prayers, and praise prayers - yes. but prayers are closer to songs or poems than math equations. the psalms can be helpful in the ways that they give voice to honest feelings. we can pray the prayers of others and grow in honestly and thoroughly sharing our hearts with a holy God.

14 July 2019 - Name above all names

"You have no rival
You have no equal
Now and forever God You reign. . ."

11 July 2019 - on singing on a mountain by the ocean

made it to acadia with the whole family.
"How could I say there is no God - when all around creation calls. A singing bird, a mighty tree, the vast expanse of open sea..."
"You're the rock of the ages, You're the balm of Gilead. Make us strong and courageous, heal the wounds that we've had..."

4 July 2019 - marching on

we had our own parade. "America! America! [May] God shed His grace on thee, and crown they good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!"
"As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, while God is marching on. Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on."

16 June 2019 - who through life has been my Guide

Inordinate anxiety may visit, but He gives me grace for every trial. Feeds me with the living Bread. Thankful for a very nice Father's day weekend, culminating with how nice a good meal feels.

11 June 2019 - what He went through, in my place

"'Send a couple rats, ' said Julia. I'd have done the same thing to you." mwY
upon understanding the reference, i think about how Jesus amazingly had the opposite reaction in the face of betrayal and facing something extremely hard to go through. instead of selling out, or taking an easy way out when facing his biggest fear, He gave Himself in our place.

05 June 2019 - timing is not everything

listened to a book musing on the origins of time keeping. in our culture we probably don't even realize how much of what we do is tied to what time it is. the first time i ever left the country was on a visit to jamaica, and it was memorable seeing how stores and restaurants there were clearly not tied to opening and closing times like they were where i was from. of course, having more set times has some value, mostly from an efficiency standpoint. but there is also value to putting people and love first. being on time is a good value, but that doesn't make it always the best. Jesus was not focused on hurrying from one thing to the next. He lived a purposeful life full of love, powered by solitude. our society has grown in efficiencies but some of these have made it harder for us to take the long time needed to love well.
"there is a reason God limits our days... to make each one precious." the book also touched on the topic of how long we live and people's attempts to change the timing. this sense of time does not have to be a burden on us, our lives our in His hands. there is a time for everything. let us be joyful, do good, work hard and enjoy God's gifts to us.

20 May 2019 - on kids from hard places

"9 times out of 10 the story behind the misbehaviour won't make you angry; it will break your heart."

15 May 2019 - on long lost prayers

"I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant." Joshua 24:13
There is a tree grown from the smallest of seeds that becomes so large that the birds of the air come and makes nests in its branches.

9 May 2019 - i have a gentle Shepherd who carries me everywhere

one way David was a good king was how often he asked God for guidance. David prayed, and God led him. but one particular time in 1 Samuel 23, he prays about what specific people will do. based on the response he gets - they will do thus and so, he took action. and then based on his action the aforementioned people did not do thus and so.
this passage blows me away as i try and ponder about what this means about prayer and guidance. we don't have the same vantage point as God, but we still communicate and he speaks to us at a specific moment in time. we pray about things down the road but that in turn impacts what happens right now. but isn't that how we're lead? step by step. "A man's steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way?" we're in relationship with a really good, wise, gentle Shepherd who gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart.

4 May 2019 - the manifold wisdom of God

the greek word for mystery does not mean what we think of when we hear the word 'mystery' today. what Paul is talking about in ephesians 3 is something revealed by God because we would never discover it. the gospel is an astonishing counter intuitive wonder. the more you look into it, the more wisdom and grace you see in it. the more you live by it, the more freeing it is.
it is through christian community that the world can most readily see what God has intended for mankind. all of Paul's churches were riddled with trouble and yet he's saying it is indispensable to have the church for the world to understand the brilliance of the gospel.

29 April 2019 - till we see the other side

"i've got a feeling the darkness won't last very long. We will sing... till the earth echoes the heavens. Sing His praise till we see the other side."

21 April 2019 - the shadow of death

TK quotes a Barnhouse story - he was driving his children on the day of the funeral service of their mother when a large truck passed by, casting a noticeable shadow on the car. He said something like this, "Would you rather be hit by the truck or by its shadow?" "By the shadow of course. That can't hurt us at all", his daughter replied.
Dr. Barnhouse replied, "Right. If the truck doesn't hit you, but only its shadow, then you are fine. Well, it was only the shadow of death that went over your mother. She's actually alive ⎯ more alive than we are. And that's because two thousand years ago, the real truck of death hit Jesus. And because death crushed Jesus, and we believe in him, now the only thing that can come over us is the shadow of death, and the shadow of death is but my entrance into glory."

19 April 2019 - good good friday

morning sermons included pastor paul beckoning back to his philly days, "They don't know! It's only Friday. But Sunday's coming..."

7 April 2019 - i give Thee back the life i owe

after a particularly long day, i got to watch a movie with some beautiful pictures of the gospel. the movie is about a lone survivor of a car crash, which was his fault, dealing with the weight of that, including the what did i do to deserve this and the giving back the life i owe. the protagonist checked into people's lives to see who was deserving of getting a gift that could really help them. and yet, for us, if someone could see our no one looking moments, or inside our hearts, we are not deserving. and yet, we were lavished with such grace. my favorite scene of the movie was when a mom with two kids who had just been removed from a very difficult situation were given a beachfront house; while hard to portray well, the faces upon entering the house, jumping on the bed and running to the beach painted quite a picture of grace.
the imperfect main character gave his actual heart so that another might live. there was a greater Life laid down, whose heart was pierced. the movie showed the impact loving one person can make. oh to really know the One who said - greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for his friends. to love even just one person with _that_. every day is a gift - let us strive to love well.

16 March 2019 - on being outside of community

when is a time in your life you've felt like an outsider? how did it feel? in the second half of Ephesians 2, Paul describes what has happened when the outsiders were no longer on the outside looking in. in Christ, Jews and Gentiles were made one. two divisions of men, who were wont to malign, to hate, and to reproach each other before, were reconciled. The call is a call to remember. We were not let in to keep the door closed. But to welcome, to open wide. . .

14 March 2019 - bananas foster pi

"love is like pi, natural, irrational, and very important."

13 March 2019 - on help that is good

everybody off this year for the centerpiece celebrations of birthday month. a fitting time to revisit some old sermon notes... no one needs help doing nothing. you don't need a helper unless you have something to do. you gotta know how you're going to wear the love for God you have.
thankful for a good helper. needing to remember the challenging call, that it is selfish to let your spouse live a selfish life. as opposed to ministering and doing the work and giving the necessary attention to be a good steward.
it is i who've been given a wonderful gift.

23 February 2019 - a work of art

what do you think of when you think of a great work of art? tonight we discussed this from several points of view. great art points to the artist. but an artist sees the value of all of his art. in Ephesians it says - we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works... We don't always see the value of other people, but all are God's creation. a call to see not only the art in others, but to see all we're intended to be, what we were designed for.

17 February 2019 - arranging our lives towards growth

Sunday capped off a great weekend. One of the opening activities of the church retreat was to think about things you do every day, every week, every month, every year. . .what are yours? It's likely that there may be more of these than you realize. But as the weekend went on we thought about how building in even more framework through intentionality can be helpful to a spiritual life. Some things tend to not happen often without a designated time for them.

14 February 2019 - Love has a name

"there's an answer to every question mark. there's a Name. . .
Love has a Name. Love has a Name. Jesus."

8 February 2019 - when popcorn is huge

i am very curious about how kids come to like the things they like, what interests them in the long term. i do remember watching basketball with my dad when i was young and the chance we had to go to a few nba games (and bring popcorn with us). my oldest son got to go to his third sixers game with me and we had the biggest popcorn i've ever seen. it can be hard to predict which interests will stay and grow and which will never really develop. but, while the basketball (and popcorn) has changed over the years, the relationship building through special time together stays the same.

16 January 2019 - the bill has been paid

answered prayer, after many many phone calls, finding the bill, that is my responsibility, has finally been paid by someone else (as it should have been based on my son's coverage). such relief. and of course, in another sense, quite a picture of the christian life. a bill that had come due. final notice. but i had no ability to make the payment. all i could do was ask and ask that the payment be made for me. and it was. oh yes, "all my bills have been paid. thank You so much for all the wonderful".

6 January 2019 - Bible reading meets busy season

Genesis 3 and the very ground is cursed. The pain of work, the ground sprouting thorns and weeds. . .sweating in the fields from dawn to dusk. a fitting time for this passage, amidst the busiest time of the year at work. but also, as we say often at work - "Nothing is easy." It's not really a coincidence all the things at work that just don't go right at all.

31 December 2018 - year in review: 2018

it was a year of transition, still adjusting as a family of five. and helped greatly in the first half of the year, having an aunt live with us. actually finally having more dates, though several were short. made it through many sicknesses, which can't be catalogued here, 2 surgeries - one expected, one not, and the youngest kids slowly learning how to be dropped off at class. lots and lots of doctors visits and related bills, yet also seeing God's great provision in getting them taken care of. a season of Wednesdays at home to help with the transition and some memorable outings. a return to Bible in a year, finishing today.
two baptisms. and writing children's book #6.
year in travel held visiting family trips: seattle x3, VA x4 incl. KD, princeton x 3.5, work meetings: long island, allentown, dc. shore getaway. annual retreat. fam trip to columbus via WV. and road trip crew to DC/VA.
friends and family visiting from: seattle, cali, va, nova, hawaii, ny, nj and the harvest fields of undisclosed locations across the world.
year in food ibnlt: moon grapes, stuffed crust, guanabana mandarin juice, the return of broccoli rabe pasta, holiday brew, grilled taeji and pink reese hearts.
and by now, you know how we do. . .freeflow: best friend, the return of ddr, sloth cake, home alone, parent - teacher bball, unfortunate medicine, galaxy champions! WC watching, ER visit, NK books, bike lock freeing, juggling win, collection angst, pizza from siblings, new phone excitement, holiday and other traditions, melodrama, respite care, bear hat, yee picnic, parasites, lots of speech therapy, free end of jan. celebration, smile cookies, exploring new philly places, cedar planks, four different zoos including local membership yr, praise-er-cise, family park lunches, dq, new washer, 2 long hikes, losing client, mello shortage, more libraries, nice cancellations, hockey, loving contest, another job transition, pests, working through snow, dislocation, old friends, old post-its, confetti to start and not much beyond, narnia next generation, crashing waves, sk and lots of family time. despite challenges, carried along. a short recap, but loads of grace.

28 December 2018 - small but wise ants

"You must learn of the little ants to take thought about time to come. . .You each have within you a soul that will live forever. Your body will die some time; your soul never will. And your soul needs thought and care as much as your body. It needs to have its sins pardoned; it needs grace to make it please God; it needs power to be good; it needs to have God for its best Friend in order to be happy.
And, dear children, the best time for seeking pardon, grace, and the friendship of God is the time of youth. Youth and childhood are your summer. Now you are strong and well; now you have plenty of time; now you have few cares and troubles to distract you. Now is the best time for laying up food for your souls.
Ah, my beloved children, you must remember that winter is before you! Old age is your winter. Your frost, snow, rain, and storms are all yet to come. Sorrow, pain, sickness, death, and judgment will all come with old age. Happy are those who get ready for it quickly. Happy are those who, like the ants, take thoughts for things to come!" from 'Boys and girls playing' by J.C. Ryle

24 December 2018 - on the best gifts ever

what is your favorite gift (tangible) you have ever been given?
for me, this is a difficult question. i realize there are many factors that cause me to appreciate a gift. obviously there are gifts i like because the item itself is something i enjoy. but the 'love me' in me also likes items more from my favorite people and is touched by fitting gifts from others when unexpected and they thought of me. i also like it when a gift shows that the person knows me. some gifts have sentimental value. while others are practical but appreciated thusly. one gift was something i always wanted, but i have found it hard to use as much as i thought i would (this contrasts vs. another gift i long wanted that i have used so much over the years in so many ways). there are also gifts valued for how they made me feel included.
often the best gifts are those that hit several of these criteria. despite this analysis, i myself am still not a good gift giver. it can be hard, gifts themselves hold different value for different people. but i am thankful to have received so many good gifts over the years.

20 December 2018 - early present opening

"there's power in the blood, wonderworking power [in the blood]"

13 December 2018 - come Thou long expected

"come to earth to taste our sadness, He whose glories knew no end; By His life He brings us gladness, our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend."

30 November 2018 - can't stop don't stop

it's the moments of obedience and trust that beget the question - why can't it be like this all the time? why is it so often some stimulus is needed to do what we should already be doing? suffering is one of those things that brings such clarity. at least it has that going for it. the plus side for one of those days...

"They try to shut us down, and it ain't gon' slide
Only thing I fear is God and He on my side
That's the confidence of God, 'cause He got me
That's why I really feel like
You can't stop me!"

14 November 2018 - one thing at a time

it's the time of the year where my attention can't help but turn to the global orphan crisis. and it's also a time of great celebration for our family as we celebrate the ways our family has been touched by adoption.
we are not called to do everything but we all can do something. there is power just in loving one person. what is the one prayer you can pray? the one friend to encourage? the one way you can serve? how can you learn more and take up the cause of those who cannot support themselves?

08 November 2018 - while singing

"and everything works for my good in the end.
i've got the V-I-C-T-O-R"
"isn't there a day of redemption coming?" scc

31 October 2018 - the anti-Easter

holidays have a way of changing as they make their way through culture. the day that is statistically the most dangerous day of the year for kids is my least favorite holiday. in some ways it has become the anti-Easter. not just treats, but tricks too. instead of an exciting surprise, my kids have been left scared. instead of death will be swallowed in victory it has become you will be swallowed by death everywhere you go.

30 October 2018 - for all the saints

learning more about All Saints Day this year. a good time of the year to reflect on Hebrews 11, where the Bible describes those, "who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth."
remembering not just those from the Bible, but relatives who have gone before.
"O may thy soldiers faithful, true, and bold, fight as the saints who nobly fought of old, and win with them the victor's crown of gold."

28 October 2018 - pineapple buns for all

so glad to have lots of family travel to join us for double baptism day, a day to claim God's promises for our children. good to remember we are not alone in the Christian nurture of our children, as the congregation stands around us, pledging their help. but most of the questions posed were for us, including this one - "Do you now unreservedly dedicate your children to God, and promise, in humble reliance upon divine grace, that you will endeavor to set before them a godly example, that you will pray with them and for them, that you will teach them the truths of our sacred faith, and that you will strive, using all the means that God has given us, to bring them up in the nurture and obedience of the Lord?"

30 September 2018 - a grilled taeji kind of day

it was a great end of September... ending a mello hiatus. celebrating birthdays well. the timing of our trip did cause us to miss one event we were hoping not to miss. . .but then ended up causing us to happen upon another quite unexpectedly. and it -really- almost didn't happen. but then, oh how sweet it was! and still back in time for a grilled feast to end the month.

18 September 2018 - bearing each others burdens

despite sickness all around, still trying to celebrate our anniversary the best we were able to.
our call is not to lay unnecessary burdens on each other, but to rather follow the law of love, and to bear one another's burdens. just like Christ bears with us under our follies and weaknesses and knows our infirmities.

16 September 2018 - there was Someone keenly aware of time

there is a time for everything (still trying to remember there is a time to keep _and_ a time to throw away). there is a season when this happens and another with that. but we don't control our times. always the difficult question - why isn't it the time i want it to be? Jesus, too, wrestled with this limitation. so we too should commit ourselves to the One who makes all things beautiful in its time.

5 September 2018 - no carry on policy

You can have differently beneficial experiences of meditating on short passages of the Bible and reading a whole book of the Bible all at once. Read Ecclesiastes today. so many words related to how you can't take it with you (when you die). "They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands." "and even their name is forgotten." and on top of that, there is no control of what comes after they are gone. storing up things for others but you don't even know if they will be foolish or wise.

24 August 2018 - from a book i was reading

"In Him we see qualities and virtues we would ordinarily consider incompatible in the same person. We would never think they could be combined but, because they are, they are strikingly beautiful. Jesus combines high majesty with the greatest humility, he joins the strongest commitment to justice with astonishing mercy and grace, and he reveals a transcendent self-sufficiency and yet entire trust in and reliance upon His heavenly Father. We are surprised to see tenderness without any weakness, boldness without harshness, humility without any uncertainty, indeed, accompanied by a towering confidence. Readers can discover for themselves his unbending convictions but complete approachability, his insistence on truth but always bathed in love, his power without insensitivity, integrity without rigidity, passion without prejudice." TK

13 August 2018 - on one of the 'all things'

parenting is quite challenging. and that's not even considering what might lay ahead further up this mountain climb. yet, so thankful to have a friend sharing in the journey. and encouraged to realize that in this, even in this who-knew-this-would-be-part-of-the-process moment, that God is working all things together for the good for those called according to His purpose.

9 August 2018 - i don't even judge myself

relishing some very rare extended time alone. reading in Fitler Square after work.
"I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God." 1 Corinthians 4:3-5
"A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart." Proverbs 21:2

15 July 2018 - peach bunny cake

birthday celebrating with pizza together. and perhaps fittingly france was winning the world cup in the background. David wrote, "I say to the Lord, 'You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.'" and it was Joseph who named his second son Ephraim saying, "It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering."

12 July 2018 - upon returning to old places

"does what you put into the water come back to you-
or does the bottle that washes ashore come from someone else
does the current always flow in one direction
does a ship once departed always reach a destination
even shipwrecks turn up eventually
and so i wait, watching the water, little knowing
how i'm supposed to know when it is my ship that comes" 10 yrs ago @ Bartram's

"if the cereal box is vast then empty handfuls prove nothing.
but if the prize is so outlined as on the box, then with all earnestness proceed.
i'm earnest - if i'm anything.
but what i want is not the point!
i seek clarity. well, i'll make you like Me.
but i seek clarity! I said i'll make you like Me.
but how, just show me the way. -I- am the way. . ." 9 yrs ago @ Clark Park

27 June 2018 - o come to the fountain

a famous man once wrote, "he who can go to the fountain does not go to the water jar."

17 June 2018 - on a day with lots of nice

during the last world cup i had 0 kids. for this world cup, there are 3! first chance to share the experience today, watching brazil on father's day.

05 June 2018 - on caring with wisdom and love

able to make good use of soccer parent waiting time to read much of a parenting book that offered practical advice, some of which i look forward to applying soon. thinking of ways to offer my kids more choices that are safe, hoping to remember to have empathy in the midst of bringing swift consequences, and trying to understand the reasons behind difficulties my children may be having and offering them help in ways that will perhaps help us all.

3 June 2018 - the glory of the garden

found out there is a Kipling poem called the Glory of the Garden. so much more goes into a garden than what you see. behind the flowers and the views there was dirt and work and tools. and it was Adam first placed in a garden to work. and there is work, meaningful work, for all, whether grand or small. but the garden doesn't thrive by just sitting or mere talk. but by work with thankfulness, so many jobs to be done, and to partner on our knees, that His glory may be seen.

24 May 2018 - is this the world you want? you're making it...

"i'm trying out adhesives, i'm trying to fix a place that feels broken. . .
is this the world you want? is this the world you want? You're making it, every day you're alive...
what you say - is your religion
how you say - it's your religion
who you love - is your religion
how you love - is your religion...
every breath is your religion, yea" Switchfoot

15 May 2018 - solid rock

biking home just in time to avoid the storm that would encompass most of the evening.
"When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil."
a night for rainbow cookies inside.

11 May 2018 - if the house burns down

catching up with Switchfoot...
"there's a fire coming that we all will go through
You possess your possessions or they possess you
And if the house burns down tonight
I got everything I need when I got you by my side
And let the rest burn"

"Cause with one heartbeat and two hands to give
I got one shot and one life to live. . .
Life is short; I wanna live it well"

29 April 2018 - held together

"some things grow bigger until they're only parody. Some are distilled and now I have a little clarity. Some hold me like a lover, some leave like I'm a leper. Some tear me all to pieces and some, they hold me together. This is my story, this is my history. I'm learning from what I have known." from Hindsight by K. Bowser

21 April 2018 - lemon hill

back at lemon hill. actually the first park land formally acquired by the city for the creation of Fairmount park. this time, gazebo photos with the kids as well...
speaking of children, sometimes when one of my children does wrong and i turn to address the matter with them, they break out wailing (before any discipline mind you) and the natural thought is - wait a minute, you're the one who did something wrong! (while the offended sibling is not crying). but the verse that often comes to mind is, "the way of the unfaithful is hard." because regardless of the reason for the cries, wandering from God's paths will bring troubles. and yet, Hebrews 12, and God treating us as children. No discipline seems pleasant at the time. . .but later on it produces a harvest. And this is the love, to be pushed to me more like Him, and less like the lie whisperer, that enemy of our souls, who steals our joy away with sparkly paths of mire.

01 April 2018 - what a name to praise

April, and Easter is here!

the songs of Friday still ring true...
“Man of Sorrows,” what a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah! what a Savior!
When He comes, our glorious King,
To His kingdom us to bring,
Then anew this song we’ll sing
Hallelujah! what a Savior!

and even more good songs of praise today!

30 March 2018 - and i will sing my songs of love

"How can a sinner know such joy?
Because of Jesus.
The wounds of love are in His hands,
The price is paid for sinful man;
Accepted child, forgiven son,
Because of Jesus. . ."

28 March 2018 - cosmic disillusionment

lewis - "most people, if they have really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise. the longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that excites us, are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can really satisfy. i am not now speaking of what would be ordinarily called unsuccessful marriages, or holidays, or learned careers. i am speaking of the best possible ones. there was something we have grasped at, in that first moment of longing, which just fades away in reality. i think everyone knows what i mean. the wife may be a good wife, and the hotels and scenery may have been excellent, and chemistry may be a very interesting job: but something has evaded us."

13 March 2018 - hb hb

here's to another year of amazing... because each year i see more and more. even on her birthday, wifey deftly balanced one event per kid, and that just the morning. don't even get me started about earlier this year when the heat broke on discount rate day or the day before our youngest's surgery when she helped our family so much. "Her worth is far above rubies."

17 February 2018 - and now we sit on the ground next to them

the retreat takeaway moment came during a reflection time, laughing at my concurrent tears as i wrote a poem.
"the sit on the ground moment next to me came with us on the couch of that apartment as i read isaiah and cried. It was as if you wanted to take my sadness and hold it together with me so i would no longer bear it alone. . ."

14 February 2018 - february love

february love is growing. no longer just valentine's day and all star weekend. engagement anniversary and now two family birthdays as well. loving this season of wednesdays at home... especially with it extending the incredible streak of 5 years in a row of being home for valentine's day. this year's creation, a flintstone's type car, a big success and fun for all the kids!

1 February 2018 - on being terrified

reading through Bible-in-a-year Bible. Before the Israelites turned around and camped in front of the Red Sea, God told them what would happen. The Egyptians would pursue them. And God would deliver them and get glory. But they were still terrified. Yet this was God's plan. But "when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in Him."

22 January 2018 - you're standing in it

back to TK and proverbs. sometimes you have to be shown, not told. in joseph's story it wasn't by being told that flaws were learned or God's love was understood. what does it do to be put in positions where you are absolutely sure God abandoned you and then to find out you were wrong? never think that God's not working no matter how much it seems like He's absent. guidance is as much something God does as God gives. so many times we say - i need God's guidance, i've got to figure out His will. You're standing in it. You're in the middle of the current, you're being navigated.

19 January 2018 - the lost found again

almost losing something can be a valuable experience. there are a lot of some things and of others there are only one. some things have more value beyond what they are in themselves and more meaning for one person than any other. and in each story the refrain - rejoice with me, what was lost is found.

31 December 2017 - year in review: 2017

it was a year of provision. with paperwork expiration looming, matched at just the right time for us. then a second match went through just 3 days before adoption law changed, we were just in time. going from a family of 3 to a family of 5 was one of biggest parts of the year. related uncertainty with work situations. finding a vehicle to fit 3 car seats. retiring from soccer but not without a long awaited championship. everybody turning 40. health issues and multiple dr's visits. promotion at last, new manager too. the weighty elementary school process, winning the lottery and kindergarten starting. and somehow finishing story 5 of 7. the year in trips: cali spring break, ithaca via ricketts glen and boden, memorable first trip to long island, yummy first trip to vancouver, shenandoah getaway, monmouth, beijing, zhengzhou, guangzhou, ny show, winterthur, OC MD, lancaster bday, and the usual suspects: VA, seattle, and princeton trips, retreat. year in eats: smashed cucs and n yrs feast, bo ssam oh my, pepsi spire, caramel kiss ice cream, the hut returns, swedish pancakes with raspberries on christmas, beiler's salted caramel, rocket fizz, sardi's, korean goodness and a lot of the other usual suspects. we love visitors - 5 3 times each (or more)! and friends and fam from: SEA, Cali, SoVa, NoVa, MD, and NJ. let's do some free flow: sloth, cheer bear, work craziness and the BABA sign, a new sg, 2 flu seasons and 2 kids with the flu, house prep - new bedroom, new porch, 70 with Union and confetti, thunder melo & 3OT, cousin basketball, biking Vancouver, winning free retreats, family history, nice Galaxy win it all, the fridge saga, benefits drama, the motherload, adoption grants and support, eating over heads at rice noodle, double stroller, praise and drums and then a break, wfh weds, cars 3, softball fairchild throwback, alone time, the craziness of the world, ten dates of various lengths & styles, first christmas, first snow, first report card, 152, west philly libraries, recycling clothes, donating lots, swapping stuff, soccer coaching, family soccer, bartram's mile, naval yard, and heinz, basement readiness and drums downstairs, sleeping in once, the valley times, the strideful times, praying, times with family, 3 scores and 1 pass to a friend, work travel, nice, triple hugs. . .much that was already covered and much more that wasn't. Through it all, God was faithful to lead, provide and pour out so much grace.

21 December 2017 - i'm talkin' about joy

it's been a month strewn with difficulty, where at one point the trials were coming once a day, buoyed by gracious meals from friends. and yet, we celebrate the birth of that wonderful Child. and it seems like every Christmas season now I can't help but to bring out at least once the music from that epic children's production I was a part of over 10 years ago. not so much for the lyrical depth but how the music along with the words (and thinking of the motions we practiced so much), all expressed by kids, helped bring the joy of the season alive. "melt the clouds of sin and sadness, drive the dark of doubt away. . .Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day."

5 December 2017 - on being part of a body

the stress scale lists many life events but perhaps doesn't account for some things because they are too rare. and in addition does not treat lack of sleep as a scaling factor but rather just another stress to add on. and for some reason makes no mention of prolonged jetlag of newly adopted children who wake up multiple times in the night screaming and where the ideas on how to comfort them quickly run out. so, it should not have been that surprising to have a hard day. and yet how fitting it was to have the church arrive the next day, with prayer and food and support. and that very night - the first that the kids slept through without screaming.

29 November 2017 - glad to be home

after a long and challenging trip, so glad to be back home and now at the start of a string of extended family visitors who are caring for us so well. even being back in the same cities at the same time of year, and seeing many of the same people, the trip was of course different. from sickness to grieving to even glass shattering in our hotel room in the middle of the last night, we had to take the challenges as they came. but we felt the weight of many others praying for us while we were away. even literally, as my son slept on my lap as we flew across oceans.
after traveling back in time on a trip where even no dew was to be found how nice it was to have those who went out to make sure and have some mello yello waiting.

14 November 2017 - a King's guerdon

it's inconceivable that such a treasure would be left. . .without a 'X' to mark the spot.

8 November 2017 - a good start

we had considered going to Fairbanks in the past. Manitoba was discussed. and of the course there was that ambitious trip to the exurbs, just on the small chance of a sighting. and then it comes, when we weren't really looking for it at all. . .dancing over the Minnesota skies on our way to Seattle, we saw the NORTHERN LIGHTS! seeing God's wonder such a great start to our trip. love that our 28 hour journey begins today.

6 November 2017 - another adventure awaits

our long trip preparation to do list almost complete, it's craziness on our last full day before the trip that will take us to our trip to china. skimming whatever i can of 'bringing up girls' and finishing TOTC audiobook at work, insights and inspiration from the last library materials needed to return. and we're off...

21 October 2017 - the call to stewardship

back in James, studying God's Word with friends. the end of chapter 4 and beginning of chapter 5 has echoes of many other passages. i think of the foolish farmer... what became of his life of luxury, gone in a night? and here James issues a warning to the rich who have hoarded wealth in the last days, living on earth in luxury and self-indulgence - the corrosion of your gold and silver will testify against you.
and yet there are other ways we can be overconfident in how life will work out as well. we need humility to realize we don't even know what will happen tomorrow. a mist that appears for a little while. and what we have comes from God. how much more do we need to steward this great gift, making the most of every day while recognizing all we have as coming from the Father of lights?

08 October 2017 - the compelling power of prayer

we don't know what the church was praying for peter when he was released from jail. but sometimes the act of prayer can be just as important as the content. God is sovereign, but He also chooses to use our prayers. So we shouldn't be passive, we don't have to be fearful, the important thing is to pray. The sovereign God hears our prayers and uses them in the way that is best.

7 October 2017 - can you pass the test?

in luke 16, the manager was generous with his master's money and shrewdly made friends for himself through it, hoping to have a place to stay when he lost his job.
are we generous with our Master's money? that we may be welcomed into eternal dwellings?
"If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? ... No servant can serve two masters."
"For where your treasure is there your heart will be also."

29 September 2017 - a present seating 8

it was a good birthday with an unexpected present i bought myself. after months of searching, test drives, research and failed leads, ended up hearing back from someone and finding the mini-van we've been looking for, right on time! all that and got help a friend move, too.

18 September 2017 - french glassware

and we've reached the impact resistant glassware stage. the glasses are molded at a high heat and cooled very quickly making them twice as hard to break. amidst our days of celebrating seven years, i packed up the old glasses and brought out the new. looking forward to more days of refreshing beverages.

13 September 2017 - the tower could fall on you

listened to a TK sermon about the falling tower passage from Luke. though there are many passages written to those going through hard times, this is actually not one of them. it's written to those not in hard times. we are not God. the most dangerous place to be is when everything is fine. repent or you too will perish.

09 September 2017 - seven

"she who was barren has borne seven children". my son overcame a particularly hard morning... to have the best soccer game of his life.

23 August 2017 - beacha beacha

on way to free beach vacation via three trains but with books soon there in no time. the most helpful of the rereads provided insights on the differences between men and women, which given how different they are can be very important to think about and understand in a relationship. an ocean can be calm or have mighty waves and yet it's all the same water. you can learn tides from just standing on a beach, there's a time the water will crash against you and there's a time it will recede altogether. but it's better to face waves together.

20 August 2017 - on parallels

more Genesis. Isaac was not the only one who was laid down as if to die. Ishmael too. but God hears. He too would be a great nation. the boy receiving some of the promise through Abraham. and the ultimate promised Son was Jesus. because He was not spared. . .we too receive some of the promises through Jesus.

25 July 2017 - seein