Sick children and frustration

Sickness is one of the many challenges in life we face. I know, as a Christian, that they are designed to bring us closer to our creator as we rely on him. They reveal our own weaknesses and shortcomings, thereby revealing our need for a savior. It can be a beautiful thing when challenges like illnesses drive us into the arms of our great King.

But what does it usually look like in my house?

I’m human. Sickness is something I have zero power over. If it can’t be cured with NyQuil (or at least have the symptoms masked by it), I can’t help you. So when my kids are sick, I get very frustrated. I want nothing more than to see them happy and healthy. I want them well. When they aren’t, it reveals my powerlessness. Being a man, you can imagine how much I love feeling powerless.

Instead of first turning to God and laying all this at his feet, I get mad. My frustration turns into general crankiness. This usually ends when, for the hundredth time in a day, my sick kid comes and tells me they are sick.

“I know you are sick. You have a doctor’s appointment. I can’t do anything else.” Delivered with my usual “Dad’s-in-a-crappy-mood” voice, I end up sounding more than a little mean to a sick child who just wants to be told it’s going to be okay.

That’s the point when I finally take the time to stop, acknowledge I can’t do anything (and that the anger isn’t really helping anyone) and ask God to help. I know these truths, and yet every time it plays out the same. Put one of my kids in the hospital and it’s even worse. It’s no less beautiful when I finally turn to God than if I’d done it from the beginning. In fact it’s probably more so because it reveals even deeper levels of his grace and mercy. But even with that said, it would be nice to get it right the first time for once.

Tying Twitter to Facebook

Today I linked my Twitter account to Facebook, so all my Twitter posts automatically show up on Facebook.

Why do you care?

In truth, you don’t. This is just a public service announcement in case you would like to do the same thing. Just go to Twitter.com/widgets/facebook.

It’s just part of my ongoing efforts to simplify things. Plus, it’s never been a big secret that I really don’t like Facebook. It’s just one more thing to update, has a terrible user experience and, consequently, I never really update it with anything other than links.

I used to have the two accounts tied together, but I update Twitter a lot and that caused a flood of inconsequential updates to Facebook. Although, now that I think about it, is there really another kind of update that’s ever posted to Facebook? I digress.

Community looking out

I spend most of my time looking in.

I focus on my problems, issues and fears.

One of the primary benefits of gospel community is the opportunity to be surrounded by people who look beyond themselves. People who look out.

Being with people who look out convicts me of how much of my life is dominated by looking in.

20,000 words

20,000 Words

That stack of pages represents almost 20,000 words. It’s a story I started about three years ago. As is usually the case I wrote a short synopsis, then about 1,000 words of the actual story, then just looked at it for a few years. Over the Christmas break I decided to really get after it and actually finish something.

First draft is done. Now for endless rewrites to find out if there is actually a decent story there.

No More Circuses!

Ever since I was 10 or 11, I’ve wanted to write books. It’s taken a back seat to a lot of other things in my life but over the last few years I’ve actually written quiet a bit of fiction that no one has ever read. I like it that way. It allows me to write and I don’t have to fear finding out I’m no good at it.

The other side effect is, I’ll never find out if I’m good enough at it to actually make a go of it for anything beyond a hobby. So it’s time for someone to see a few words I’ve strung together into semi-coherent sentences. I’m putting together a book with three or four short stories that I like. I’ve been working on it for a while and I’m just about through with most of it.

But, something happened at 2AM last night. I couldn’t sleep. My brain, as it often does, began churning out a story idea instead of pursuing sleep. That story is No More Circuses! It’s very short, I think a little humorous, and I’d be honored if you read it.

Just click the cover below.

Infinite Parachute

I hereby claim the name Infinite Parachute as the name of my band. Considering my complete lack of musical talent, I’ll never start a band.

But if I had any talent I would start one.

And it would be called Infinite Parachute.

So keep your musically-talented fingers away from my name.

Why yes, yes these are the things that my brain is busy thinking at 2AM, instead of, you know, sleeping.

Stepping Back: Forging Friendships

The first in a series of posts on what I’m learning by temporarily stepping away from ministry.

A little over three months ago we decided to step back from ministry for a while. I had felt for quite a while like God was telling me to take some time off, work on my own faith and work on leading my family better. After the last half of 2010 kicked us around quite handily, I decided it was time. It wasn’t easy but we really needed some time.

So how has it been? So far, just like the rest of life — crazy. Out of the last three-ish months we’ve been in Austin and well enough to attend church maybe four times. It has been nice, however, to be able to attend church and just be there to worship. It’s not something I was really wired for, but I’m trying to get used to it for however long God has us on this path.

One of the big things I’ve discovered is that I need to be much more intentional about forging friendships. I did a terrible job in my three years at Legacy making friends. There was a small group of maybe six people that I was in regular contact with outside of Sunday mornings. I’m still in semi-regular contact with those same people. The rest of the church? I talk to them the same amount I used to, which is to say, almost never.

In working on the church, I forgot to actually be a part of it. For whatever reason, I have never been able to really open up to people. This is Rebecca’s number one complaint about our relationship (well, she’s also not too fond of my inability to put dirty clothes somewhere other than my side of the bed), I just don’t open up well. Working in the churches for the last ten years has allowed me to be part of them without actually having to be a part of them. It’s a crutch and I think one of the primary reasons God wanted to pull it out from under me. Now my lack of deep friendships shows. The fact that I’m no longer serving as a pastor has left a glaring hole that should be filled by genuine relationships. The fact that I haven’t fostered those well in the past has caught up with me.

This is really true of anyone in life. My situation is unique to me, but really if we don’t take the time to grow these relationships, there will come a time when we need them and they aren’t there. No matter what the future holds for us, this is one of the things I have got to work on.

“It’s not a bracelet!”

Conner dropped the small, butterfly-shaped piece of rubber in Rebecca’s hand. “It’s a butterfly Silly Band, Mom. I’m giving it to you,” he said.

He smiled expectantly up at her. She smiled back and said thank you, causing his grin to grow even wider.

“And I’m giving you this one, Dad,” he said, turning to me and offering a purple shape I couldn’t recognize. “It’s a purple ninja.”

He waiting for me to take the small ninja. I held up my left hand, indicating my wedding ring. “That’s the only jewelry I wear,” I said.

His face fell and his lower lip jutted out in a cute approximation of a pout. “But Dad…it’s a purple ninja…for you,” he said sadly, driving home just how big of a jerk I was.

“All right, thanks,” I said finally, taking it from him and putting it on my wrist.

“Yeah!” he exclaimed.

Rebecca looked at the purple piece of rubber on my wrist. “Look at Daddy,” she said, taunting me, “He’s wearing a purple bracelet!”

“Shut up! It’s not a bracelet!” I said, “It’s a deadly ninja. A very tiny one. But still deadly.”

Major Dick Winters, 1918 – 2011

I just found out Major Dick Winters, leader of the famed “Band of Brothers” in World War II passed away January 2nd. He was, without a doubt, one of the true heroes of history. Though from everything I’ve read, he wouldn’t really want to be remembered that way.

A lot of people have read or seen Band of Brothers, but I would also highly recommend his personal memoir of the time period, Beyond Band of Brothers.

Winters was on a short list of people I would have loved to meet and photograph. The world has lost a truly great man.

Ready for the cold

“Ok, Dad,” Conner said, “I’m wearing my long-sleeve shirt, Old Navy sweater, light jacket and heavy coat.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him looked like the kid from A Christmas Story who couldn’t put his arms down. But my boy wasn’t going to freeze to death.

For my fellow grocery shopping nerds


I’m not sure if I’ve ever written about it before but I do all the grocery shopping for my family. Rebecca has always hated it and I like getting out of the house and having some peace and quiet. You’ll usually find me wandering the aisles of my local HEB Plus (which happens to be the greatest store on Earth), headphones in, listening to an audiobook.

To assist in my grocery shopping duties, I downloaded the Grocery IQ app for my iPhone. It’s a convenient grocery list that is organized by aisle, which has all but eliminated the fifteen trips around the store it normally takes me to get everything. While I enjoy grocery shopping, I don’t want it to be the only thing I do in a day.

To make it even better, they launched a website that allows you to create your lists online and then sync them with your iPhone or iPad. The site is incredibly easy to use and makes entering long lists a snap. There’s even a nice “favorites” section where you can save items you purchase frequently.

For people without any iDevices, you can still build lists online and email them to yourself or print them and check things off the old-fashioned way.

I realize you have to be a pretty big grocery shopping nerd to care at all about an app like this, but I can’t be the only one out there. Right? Right?