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 - seeing God's provision

another one of those times where God's provision is just so evident. as we marvel at the ways God has worked in terms of timing for our adoptions, expenses and more, we are humbled and thankful as the stories pile up. wifey has captured this well, as we begin to share the news. God is with us and He provides for us. He equips us to do the work He calls us to do. God answers prayer.

22 July 2017 - rare opportunity

"the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel" - proverbs. so thankful for a long walk today with an old friend.

16 July 2017 - the promise Giver

in Abram's faith journey, God's commitment to the promise was so much greater. He was willing to covenant and pass through the pieces... knowing Abram would continue to question just where his children would come from. in his own pursuits, Abram still got a form of what God promised, but not as a blessing. but later still, God kept His word, in His way, no matter what. we too, struggle with faith, with waiting, with extended silences. but we too are heirs of staggering promises, purchased at a great cost.

9 July 2017 - work heartily now

back from vacation that included listening to a sermon on sheep and their need for rough care. and so it is too with the troubles and trials, sickness and uncertainty -- these are gifts if they allow me to put my focus back on the most important things. to avoid the pitfalls of apathy. to reconsider: am i making the most of the gifts and all i've been given to live for the glory of God? "You've been given a great gift. . .Don't see you what a mistake it would be to just throw it away?"

24 June 2017 - more James 1 thoughts

Let the Word be a mirror showing ourselves who we really our rather than our perception, showing our need for a Saviour. We cannot forget what we look like...
Doing isn't the opposite of hearing, it encompasses it.

18 June 2017 - sent to be blessed and to be a blessing

and on this father's day, the sermon was about Abram and the rewards of going forward by faith into a difficult journey. amidst the day's celebrations, deep dish pizza love, and a long time coming song completion, praying together about going forward by faith into a difficult journey.

13 June 2017 - two are better than one

two weeks. two matches. two dreams come true. too crazy! too wonderful.

31 May 2017 - on getting a phone call

"But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands...
How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you" from Psalm 31

21 May 2017 - all kinds of prayers

sermon today on ephesians 6:18-20. there are all kinds of prayers. and many occasions to pray for others. sometimes what we need the most is need. often prayerlessness shows our unbelief. our answered prayers can encourage us to pray more.

17 May 2017 - a poverty of thankfulness

recent inputs have me thinking about the difference growing up poor vs. growing up rich. how do you cultivate a thankfulness for what you have been given? James implies that poverty and wealth are both trials that may be sent our way. reading of countries where children walk miles each way to bring daily water to their families. living in a country where everything is brought to us and complaining comes over far less. oh for the awareness to be better stewards of what we've been given...

15 May 2017 - another big red letter day for the Baileys

because timing is everything

13 May 2017 - the cross before the crown

and James lg Bible study is here. "The devil endeavours by sufferings and crosses to draw men to sin and to deter them from duty, or unfit them for it; but, as our afflictions are in God’s hand, they are intended for the trial and improvement of our graces.
we only bear the cross for a while but we shall bear the crown to eternity." MH

"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." James 1:12

11 May 2017 - on starting good habits

the power of habits is such that they allow us to do easily what might not otherwise be done consistently.

30 April 2017 - the yielding of our best

sermon on romans 12 has me on the topic of firstfruits. think of the faith required for firstfruits. in gardening. with our time. the first and best belong to Him.
and james likens us as well as firstfruits of all He created. and we are to offer ourselves. if someone tells you that you have a gift - cultivate it. have a party, let your worlds collide. the harvest is plentiful.

29 April 2017 - times and places

watched lion. the profound significance of that one moment. the moment of loss that altered the course of his life. and yet / and then he would end up near a Tasmanian beach, with a family who loved him. there is a Helper who sees. and not one of them is forgotten by God.

16 April 2017 - and then on the third at break of dawn. . .

"the ground began to shake, the stone was rolled away, His perfect love could not be overcome. Now death where is your sting? Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated.
Forever He is glorifed, Forever He is lifted high, Forever He is risen! He is alive, He is alive!"

14 April 2017 - O praise the name

"I cast my mind to Calvary
Where Jesus bled and died for me
I see His wounds, His hands, His feet
My Saviour on that cursed tree.
His body bound and drenched in tears
They laid Him down in Joseph's tomb
The entrance sealed by heavy stone
Messiah still and all alone...
O praise the name of the Lord our God
O praise His name forevermore"

7 April 2017 - on finding ways to engage with our kids

we were able to attend the empowered to connect conference along with some friends where we heard a lot of helpful information and things to think more about, especially in the context of adoption, but also any situation where kids come from hard places with unmet needs and the correlated lasting impact, and also what it looks like to meet needs, relate on their level, understand where they are coming from and help them come to a place where they can regulate their feelings and see the view of themselves transform.
in one exercise, without our partner knowing it, we were told to listen to them 55% one time and 95% another, as they were telling is a story about their lives. it was hard to actively not listen to a spouse in this context, because of precisely the point the speaker was making - what is communicated about themselves to the storyteller (in both instances). she shared that the things that mattered to her growing up were that her parents listened when she talked and they were there when she needed them. while it may be hard to find extra times in the day there were many every day situations they were able to leverage to communicate together - car rides, doing the dishes, bed times. what makes a pot useful is the space that it creates.

1 April 2017 - isaiah just brings it.

and april begins.
"your sacrifices - what are they to Me?... I have more than enough... who has asked this of you? ...stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow."

29 March 2017 - a time to see trees

spring break trip to cali! we got to see lots of family and friends, enjoy memorable meals and drinks and see several sights as well. some hoped for nature sights didn't work out logistically or were inaccessible due to road conditions. . .so we saw other places instead. but we did make it to Muir Woods this time. there is a time for everything and He has made everything beautiful in its time. And we enjoyed gazing on God's creation together.
"All things work for good, You make... all things beautiful."

19 March 2017 - He will have compassion

Lamentations was written with certain structures to make things stand out. The acrostics may be hard to see in English, but at the center of them we find the well known call to return to our heart "the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." And if you look at the interesting chiasm verse structure of the book in the center of the center of the center of all the afflictions and wanderings, bitterness and gall, we find these verses, "For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men."

13 March 2017 - pepperoni dumplings

we had the last birthday celebration meal at a food hall which means overall we managed to celebrate with indian, thai, korean fried chicken, italian and asian fusion in various family celebrations, as well as the homemade cake food group. so glad to be able to enjoy many of wifey's favorite foods with her this month and that our friendship so often includes enjoying food together.

5 March 2017 - a collection of scars

sermon series on lamentations at church... life is a collection of scars. each scar has a story. what is so remarkable about Jesus is that He didn't avoid the suffering, the sorrow. Our Saviour is a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. the risen Jesus, still with scars. He can heal our wounds without erasing what's contained in them.

18 February 2017 - what practices form you

turned out to be all star retreat weekend all in one. a big theme of the retreat was everyday life. part of that was a prayer of daily examen, bringing the highs and the lows of the day to God, emerging with gratitude, processing with hope. "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives" AD. Reminded again of the importance to live our lives - all of it - in the presence of God.

14 February 2017 - upside to the downside

son sick, but that meant home for valentine's day with the chance to finish up a homemade car ferry for him. as well as to start listening to one of my v-day gifts, TK series on James.
"suffering equips you to do virtually everything you do much better." including being useful in the lives of others.

12 February 2017 - roses and home

"the essence of marriage is a promise" TK marriage series

29 January 2017 - better to end well

it had been a looong time coming. soccer champion drought. and not yet with this team, despite all the playoff runs. so how sweet it was to win, in golden goal, as my playing days approach their end, even with in-season injury trouble. the first season chance given up, gained back years later, all the more fun with my son predicting my exact stat line and loving my new shiny medal.

17 January 2017 - brighter daze

let the cassette tape era begin. . .
"i'm in the shadow of the Big House more and more each day..." dighayzoose
"we lose hope, we mumble our prayers... [do we] believe your reach can pass through stone... can make the dead start blinking" newsboys

8 January 2017 - on going

bookstore reading... “Very rarely in the Bible does God come to someone and say, “Stay.” Almost never does God interrupt someone and ask them to remain in comfort, safety, and familiarity. He opens a door and calls them to come through it.” Ortberg
Sometimes you need to leave the comfort and go on to greater things.

31 December 2016 - looking back - 2016

looked through new photo album together with fam on the last day of the year, what better time to recap the year that was. nine month adoption paperwork process, my company suddenly sold while i was on vacation and i managed to listen to 50 books on cd. lots of elementary school research, going through basement boxes and writing book 4 of the callowhill chronicles. traveling to olympic peninsula, williamsburg, seattle, new haven & mass., ashland, DC and NY getaways, road trip crew MD weekend, retreat, and multiple trips to nova, princeton, dc and ny. kimchichigue, cherry and peach mello yello, all my favorite pizzas, don tot ice cream, blueberry crumble gelati, lotte, that broccoli rabe pasta, wawa rewards and more. thankful for visitors, parents and several siblings leading the way, and even 3 cousins and friends from ny and cali. free flow: consider others better than yourself, wednesday walks, longest work month ever, 'tell me more about work', ok - farewells, transitions, meeting ramp up and long awaited review, multicultural united, international united, national park flower show, cstore finds, fam lunches, used bookstores, new libraries, dragon shirt, dare to be a daniel, hot tub pool, the block room and house with slides, biking ny, running with dad, college trips, thomasland, 17 minutes, hurricane ridge, that soccer goal, championship loss with fans, advent, lg and lg men's, women's group and cbs, tree pavilion, sad nights, physicals, car issues, knee pain, customer service woes, hard words, getting rid of stuff, olympic golds, no exhaust fan, new oven, family bike, cuse, times with uncle, nba dramatics, x baptism, laughing, fun at home, loving by praying, DQ, redeemer, ways to improve, wissahickon, ten dates again, h party, afternoon pto, stuff already covered in this space, and special moments filling a year full.

25 December 2016 - gift wrap

Christmas on a Sunday! and there are many types of gifts. gifts of experience. gifts of words. ones that thoughtfully say i know you and i love you. and plenty of ways to celebrate w/o gifts even in a culture that spends so much. it was the best gift of all that came wrapped in swaddling cloths.

22 December 2016 - on what brings us to God

one reason cs lewis resonates with me is how things like the dentist also make me think on the things of God. thinking again of the good surgeon who keeps on cutting. and wondering why in the world small things impact us the way they do while big things go by with no impact. yet grateful for the things that bring us to God.

14 December 2016 - amidst the silence

Zechariah's faith grew as the baby grew.

18 November 2016 - memories will be our souvenirs

celebrated two years with good buffalo hot dog mac & cheese and legend of the lost treasure first viewing! with more yet to come.
then later, feeling weary over all the stuff i have gathered over the years... knowing full well, a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.

13 November 2016 - I am sending you out like lambs among wolves

on this mission sunday and orphan sunday, reminded by a friend's message that too often are hearts are not on mission. how much easier to be more akin to a hibernating animal than the call to be a lamb among wolves. opposition is to be expected when we go. many seeds are sown that are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life. but the 3/4 "waste" of seed is more than made up for by the 30, 60, 100 fold return produced by the seed falling on good soil.

8 November 2016 - in God we trust

"We will follow where You go
We will trust through the unknown. . .
Now in God we trust
In His Name we hope
I know God will not be shaken
God is here with us
He’s already won
I know God will not be shaken"

07 November 2016 - the election and the gospel

read a helpful article on many of the issues this election season has raised and what the gospel message would say in light of it all - from corruption, to hiding, to exposure and justice. in our warped image bearing we love to hold others accountable, but distance ourselves from the same accountability. nothing we do is really hidden before God and we too will give account for our words. where is the hope in all the mess? hope is only as good as its object. "Our true and lasting hope is not in a politician (thank God), but in the God who became a man. We are hoping in King Jesus. Amid the tumultuous season of political elections Christians are sailing in the indestructible and unsinkable ark of Christ. As long as Jesus is in the helm the church will not topple. Our captain is a skillful mariner who guides us to port in the Heavenly Jerusalem. We shall anchor there and forever be with him. Like Noah in the days of old, we are those who hold wide the door of the ark open and bid others to come in. There is still room."

16 October 2016 - praise on drums

"Oh God, who surely guides our steps
Through tempests and through trials
Our Shepherd King, Your way is best
Though tears now veil our eyes
Your steadfast love, our perfect hope
Our eyes are fixed on grace
We have no doubt You’ll lead us home
To finally see Your face -
You are our song from age to age
Our voices unite to recount your praise
again and again..."

04 October 2016 - night of the mosquitos

hot water showers is one of the things i appreciate most about living in the country i do. but another aspect i should be more thankful for is living in a house where there is no need of a mosquito net. this became clear when the world's deadliest animal managed to not only get inside our house, but find its way to my room. i generally could not see the enemy only hear it when it buzzed close enough, swooping in to bite me, or even worse, my wife. and so it went, long into the night, until i finally found victory over my foe. only to hear more buzzing. and thus it was a night of weak sleep. but at last, the mosquitoes were vanquished. in the end, the night of struggle became a night to remember.

30 September 2016 - on eating well

enjoyed the chance to birthday celebrate with others, thankful for the meals out together and good food.

recent sermon raised the question metaphorically - where are you feasting? imagine a banquet table full of food and you take but a pittance. is that all you want? there's more food. are we hungry for the best things?
blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied

19 September 2016 - Did Christ over sinners weep. . .

"He wept that we might weep, might weep over sin and shame. He wept to show his love for us and bid us love the same. . .
Then tender be our hearts, our eyes in sorrow dim, til every tear from every eye, be wiped away by Him."

and the long paperwork process for dossier #2 is completed!

18 September 2016 - cherry mello yello

big, big day and we were back at chima six years later, thanks to friends having our son over. eating bacon wrapped chicken and talking about what's to come. then snagging free snickers ice cream bar in our waning moments and getting an amazing card to wrap up a great sunday anniversary.

11 September 2016 - on the metrics we use

recent inputs have been questioning, what measure do you use in your life with God? is it - did you pray at this time or read at that, or are you loving God and loving people? and - maybe you're not learning new things about God, but is your faith growing?

4 September 2016 - fellowship sweet

sundays are the best. and this one full of good food and drink, friendship and... the stuff swap strikes again. how great it is to live in community. to give to others what they might find useful and to get what can be a blessing to you.

23 August 2016 - His hand the wonders wrought

it's been a good vacation month. and this day - taking in a national park. "this is my Father's world. and to my listening ears, all nature sings and around me rings the music of the spheres. . ."

15 August 2016 - on listening to listen

surely you know the impulse - to try and wait for someone to finish talking (or dare i say even interrupt) so you can respond autobiographically. but how much better to seek first to understand, to rephrase rather than re-point to our own stories and miss theirs. and with kids especially, to listen with empathy and try to understand what they are really saying. and consider what we are _really_ communicating, with how we respond.

11 August 2016 - what you haven't seen yet

i like non-fiction books on cd, too. quoted quote from 'what the dog saw', "No amount of observations of white swans can allow the inference that all swans are white, but the observation of a single black swan was sufficient to refute that conclusion."

21 July 2016 - He must increase, i must decrease

"as long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don't notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God." lewis, letters to malcolm

19 July 2016 - what fades, what remains

the basement cleaning/unpacking continues. you obviously can't keep everything... but you can at least store some treasures away in a box. but even the treasure box can rot! don't store your treasures in the basement of this world... i can't say i haven't been warned -- thieves do break in and steal, moth & rust destroy. the treasures in heaven keep so much better.

11 July 2016 - when tears water your path

i've long thought that tears are good. but they are best when they don't stop the work. but instead are a sign that the work is in progress. sow your tears. you will reap a harvest if you do not give up.

1 July 2016 - on dying every day and living for Christ

"I was going to say I wished we'd never come. But I don't, I don't, I don't. Even if we _are_ killed. I'd rather be killed fighting for Narnia than grow old and stupid at home and perhaps go about in a bath-chair and then die in the end just the same." from The Last Battle

30 June 2016 - to be loved

"To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us." TK

29 June 2016 - the steps we take

a person may plan his own journey, but the LORD directs his steps. on road trips, some stops are usually intentional (where to eat), other stops not as much so (when you need gas, etc.). coming back from extended family vacay in Virginia, all the stops were good, all the more so when we happened to find peach and cherry mello yello at last. wondering how all the turns led us to stop just the right place to emerge with armloads full of mello yello goodness.

23 June 2016 - The swallower of cities and realms

from Silver Chair -- "Will you promise not to-- do anything to me, if I do come?" said Jill. "I make no promise," said the Lion. Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer. "Do you eat girls?" she said. "I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms," said the Lion. It didn't say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it. "I daren't come and drink," said Jill. "Then you will die of thirst," said the Lion. "Oh dear!" said Jill, coming another step nearer. "I suppose I must go and look for another stream then." "There is no other stream," said the Lion.

19 June 2016 - because past failures are not the end

great father's day, from praise on drums beginning to amazing nba final's culmination end and all the yumminess and celebration in between! and sermon thoughts too... daniel & his friends must have had some degree of assimilation, speaking the language of the land, but whenever it mattered the most, they took a stand. esther, meanwhile, could have done better, but past failures do not write us out of God's future. God still wrote her into His story.

2 June 2016 - I was the lion

from The Horse and His Boy:
"Don't you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?" said Shasta.
"There was only one lion," said the Voice.
"What on earth do you mean? I've just told you there were at least two the first night, and--"
"There was only one: but he was swift of foot."
"How do you know?"
"I was the lion." And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. "I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you don't remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it might come to shore..."

1 June 2016 - on eating that apple

magician's nephew on cd. "and he began to see that there might be some sense in that last line about getting your heart's desire and getting despair along with it." and later, "Things always work according to their nature. She has won her heart's desire; she has unwearying strength and endless days like a goddess. But length of days with an evil heart is only length of misery and already she begins to know it. All get what they want; they do not always like it."

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
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 w