A Repentant Explanation For the Lack of Blog Attention

For those of you who still poke around here, you have noticed that there haven’t been any posts for the last few weeks.  This isn’t for normal reasons of laziness, but lack of time.  Many of you have heard of how sick Leah has been with her second pregancy.  It has been quite a trial for us, but God has been faithful to bring us through, providing a lot of support through our church family.  We were slowly counting down the days until we were able to go to NH for our early Christmas trip.  The intention was to post some more once I was home.  Funny how the best intentions become impossible.

I had been looking forward to the moment when we would get home and I would hand Leah and Micah over to her family and then go and collapse in a bed and sleep for a week.  Between waking up to get Leah something to eat at 2am and waking up to take Micah outside for a walk to loosen up his cough at some point in the night, I hadn’t gotten much sleep.  I was eagerly looking forward to putting ear plugs in, sleeping forever, and working off the fat I had stored up for hibernation.

Well, about two minutes after walking into the in-law’s house in NH, while we were still hugging each other, the power went out.  On top of that, they had just got a new wood pellet stove that needed electricity to run.  So we bundled up and waited for the power to come back on.  We waited… and waited… and waited.  Then we found out that we’d be out at least a week and we all moved to Leah’s grandparents whose house was unused and had gotten power back.  I don’t feel too bad, considering almost a million customers were out and thousands aren’t going to get power back while its still 2008.

Just in time for us to take off for my sister’s house (she never lost power as she lives so far north), their power came back on.  So even on vacation, I haven’t been able to post much.   Not that I think anyone cares.

A Flashback at the LA County Fair

Yesterday, when I mentioned the fact that I was going to be going to the LA County fair, one of my friends not in this area said, “LA has their own fair?  What I wouldn’t give to see that!”  That pretty much sums it up.  As one who was practically raised at New England fairs, you definitely see a different picture when you enter the LA Fair.  When you enter the gate we go in, you see a large section dedicated to Hispanic culture, then large convention buildings full of expo displays.  Unless you want something to polish your silverware or want new insurance, those buildings are largely useless.

You have some displays that celebrate California culture and history, a large building for interactive displays for small children.  Micah had a blast in that area, playing in sand, pushing trains, and looking in a big magnifying window at his dad’s huge head made even bigger.  There is a large animal barn where you can see new borns with their mom’s, whether they are pigs, sheep, goats, or chickens.  We took Micah into a big petting zoo and the small goats converged upon him sniffing him for food.  He laughed one second and nervously raised his hands up to get picked up the next.  We gave him some food and the goats licked it out of his hand.  He wasn’t sure what to think about this.

The highlight of the trip came when we were looking at the big sheep in a pen in the middle of the petting zoo.  Some animals hang out in there to avoid the kids running around, so I took Micah to the fence so he could pet an animal that wasn’t going to freak him out.  That’s when I heard something I haven’t heard in awhile.  I heard the ewe make a deep moaning noise and looked behind it only to see two little feet coming out of the sheep.  The poor thing was well into labor and no one that worked there had noticed.

Someone went over to tell the girl in charge of the zoo that there was a sheep lambing.  I started thinking back to my days raising sheep and thinking of the things that I needed to look for.  I was first of all, concerned that it was lambing in early September.  Normally, sheep of this breed lamb in the winter, Nov-Dec time of the year, but not this early.  Once in awhile you get a fall born sheep, but it isn’t normal because sheep have a certain time of the year where they go into heat.

Anyways, I’m sure my sister or mother could provide more info if you are interested.  The lamb seemed to positioned right.  I checked to see if the front feet and nose were coming out first and they were.  once I saw that, I knew it was good just to let things happen.  I called my mom to get any last minute advice should I need it, as no one had come yet.  Soon, the head started to poke out, and finally someone who knew what they were doing showed up.  He asked everyone to be quiet and the lamb popped out in a couple of minutes.  He cleared the mucus and such out of the lamb’s mouth and nose and the mother came over and started to lick the lamb.

All of this in the petting zoo.  Certainly not what we expected when we entered the pen, and the city folk saw much more than they ever imagined.  Here are some pics of the time!

A happy moment with the goats.

All they had was John Deere tractors.  Micah was clearly disappointed.

You may recognize this from last year’s picture.

Micah is interestingly still a horse…

Notice the David Ortiz jersey in the background!

Micah had a blast shaking the maraca along with the Spanish music.

Tuckered out after a long afternoon.

Pastoring a Family

Now that Micah is getting older, I have found how much of a challenge pastoring my own family is becoming.  I don’t mean to say that the family is becoming difficult, but I find that it is stretching me more and more.  I’ve known that I want to have my home model a Christ-centered, Cross-centered family, but I’m finding that more and difficult to do.  For some things, it just doesn’t come naturally.  For example, when it comes to discipline, the easy thing is to tell Micah no and discipline him.  What needs to happen next, though, is an explanation of how that was displeasing to God and disrespectful to me.

I don’t know if it is the fact that this side of my own personal ministry is much more real and immediate for me, but it seems to be much more intimidating than my pastoral ministry.  I guess I feel a sense of confidence that I have been there and done that to a certain degree with Youth Ministry and have a handle on where things are going, but everything is so different and new when it comes to parenting and spiritual training my own family.  And it seems like the impact is much more long lasting, as I’m completely responsible for how I guide my wife and son.

I’ve had general ideas of what I want to do, but life never allows plans to be simple.  Obviously I know many of the general truths of parenting and have read many books on the subject, but it is sometimes more of an art than science.  You know the truths, but applying them can take wisdom and experience.  I want Micah to learn how to pray, learn to study his Bible, grow a Biblical worldview, and see what it means to be a godly father and husband. Leah and I have been reading through “Shepherding a Child’s Heart”, though we both read it before being parents.  We’ve also begun praying in the morning and including Micah in that.  We also want to get some books for Micah to read through in the evening during our reading time before his bedtime.  Anyone with good suggestions, we’re all ears.

Then today I was blog hopping and found this Piper post.  He was asked how he spiritual guides his family.  Here is what he said.

1. We encouraged our children from the very beginning to be alone with the Lord in the morning. That can start as soon as you can prop a child up with a pillow so that he doesn’t topple over and bonk his head. You can set a tape recorder beside him with a song about “Jesus loves me, this I know” or a Bible story.

So a child can have devotions from age 1 on, as strange as that may sound, if you train him to have a little time alone to be with God. He can’t read yet, obviously, and he won’t read yet for another 4 or 5 years. But he can listen and he can enjoy that time. So we did that, and then it turned into Bible stories. Then it turned into giving them their own Bible that they could read, which went on up through teenage devotions.

2. We were at the table together every morning, and I led devotions at breakfast with the children. And if the child is little he just says “Jesus” and that’s all he says. But we used to work our way through the Global Prayer Digest so that there was a missions component. And then we read a short passage of Scripture, and I would pray. It might not take more than 5 minutes, because of the children being little.

3. Then in the evening we had family devotions, which was a little longer. We read a longer portion of Scripture, and all the children–if they were able–would pray, not just me. Noel would pray, I would pray, and each of the children would pray. And as soon as they could talk, we taught them to pray.

4. And then when we put them to bed, we tucked them in, blessed them with

The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace,
and joy, and hope, and love, and a good night’s rest,
and someday a godly husband. (Talitha will always laugh when I say this last line.)

And then I sing a song for Talitha. And then I give her a big hug. There is a very definite routine that we walk through. And there is a word component even as you tuck the child in bed at night.

That has been the routine for 31 years, basically, though I don’t want to create the impression that it is flawless or that we didn’t miss mornings or evenings. We did, but this was the goal and the routine. And pretty much we have been able to keep with it.

Hope someone might find this helpful!

Randomness…

This is just a compilation of a few things…

Hilarious, Painful Mistake

Check out this video.  hahahaha….

Slamball

Then I heard SlamBall is coming back.  A few years ago I was at a college retreat and became engrossed in this.  I’m happy to hear it is back for all to enjoy:

Red Sox

As most of you know, the Sox are back in Spring Training.  Yesterday, they went to the White House to visit the President as the World Series Champions.  Bush managed to make a joke about Manny not being there because his grandmother must have died again.  The first time they went to the White House after winning in 2004, Manny missed it supposedly because his grandmother was sick.  No one believed him then, and Bush managed to make light of it again.

Then I saw this picture, which is priceless:

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It totally looks photoshopped, but he rode in the side car from the White House to Walter Reed to visit some troops.  Francona apparently rode in it from the Airport to the White House, and challenged Papi to do it, himself.  Then Kyle Snyder rode in it from Walter Reed to the airport, which apparently was longer than the other two.  He said it was so cold, but he wouldn’t get out and go to the bus because he wouldn’t stop hearing it from his friends.  I like this team, and that picture is hilarious.

Celtics

Speaking of Boston sports, on Monday I went to the Celtics game against the Clippers at the Staples Center here in LA.  It was funny how many Boston fans there were.  Everyone around us were Boston fans, and the guys next to us were talking in Boston accents and spent the 4th quarter talking about Spring Training, the Sox, and the Yankees.  The place was full of green jerseys, shirts, and Red Sox hats.  It was just great.  The Celts blew  ’em out by 28, and the 4th quarter was all the young guys playing against each other.  When we walked out into the concourse after the game, it was like we were in the Garden.  I would say by the end of the game that the Celtics fans outnumbered others by 4-1.  EVERYONE was a Celtics fan.

Micah

Micah has been sick this week, but is now apparently getting better.  He was looking pretty bad at some points, with a high fever, but now he is getting better.  He lost a couple pounds, but now appears to be on the rebound.  Leah’s looking forward to getting out of the house, as she’s been trapped there quite a bit, lately.

Pet Peeve

Lately, I’ve been hearing people use the word ‘literally’ a lot, and hardly any of it is really literal.  For example, I’m watching a sporting event and someone says, “He’s literally giving 110% out there.”  That phrase ‘110%’ already is annoying because its impossible, but then you throw literal in there and its literally impossible!  Or someone may say, “It literally killed him.” Well, no.  It didn’t.  It may have brought him great pain, but it didn’t literally kill him.  I’m now going to be the ‘literal’ police, but not literally.  There will be no badge or actual penalties.

Funny Videos   

Here are a couple funny videos that the kids showed me this weekend:

A successful week, but also a tiring one

Its funny how some weeks in ministry can be so successful, but so dramatically draining at the same time.  This past week would be one of those.  Here are some of the highlights:

1. This week was the week that The Master’s College team came out and helped for their Outreach Week.  Projects in the past have consisted of helping remodel a meeting lounge at the church, initially cleaning out my office, then later doing some demo and painting in there, and every few years we have them work on the Shelter, where our Jr High meets across the street.  This year they gave it a good paint job and cleared out the jungle that had grown behind it.

The paint job is great, and it matches the church, now.  It is an off-white with dark green trim on the wood and a dark red, maroon on the metal awnings and such.   It looks great!  We’re going to use the area cleared out in the back to store bottles and cans, so we don’t have to keep them in the kitchen.

2. This week was also a success, as it saw two kids make a profession of faith.  The first was one of our regular Jr Highers.  I have been taking the boys out to eat during the school week, and we walk to the KFC across the street and talk.  I’ve been going after these boys because they haven’t shown the kind of growth we’re used to.  Basically, we started talking, and he was way upfront with his lack of faith.  he said he always just went back on whatever decisions he’s made.  From speaking with him, it was clear that these decisions have been more about avoiding Hell, rather than falling in love with the Lord.  So after speaking for awhile, and me talking to him about what it means to be saved, he said he wanted to get saved.  So we prayed and talked some more.  When we were walking back to church he made sure I knew that he wanted to do this again sometime.

The other one came on Saturday night, during our Battle of the Bands.  Tim, our Student Ministries intern, got into a conversation with someone who had never come before, but was brought by a friend.  He was immediately intrigued, and wanted to learn more.  This turned into a conversation that spanned a couple hours, including a time where he professed salvation.  Please pray for both of these boys, as they are in difficult situations and need to be encouraged and followed up on.
3. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, we also had our Battle of the Bands.  We had about 200 people here for it, and everyone really enjoyed our new additions.  We had an addition to the Battle this year, with a promenade area.  We had some acoustic acts perform before the actual Battle, had an art show where kids displayed their pictures, paintings, sketches, and even an American flag made out of red, white and blue duct tape.  We also had a coffee shop, where everyone got a free drink with admission.  This was a huge hit.  We had caramel and mocha fraps, tea, coffee, slushies, and soda.  We also had cookies available for free.  Our desire was to be gracious and godly hosts who were generous.  We had tables and couches set up, with games out so people could hang out if they didn’t want to watch a band.

It all went very, very well, and we’re already excited about some changes for next year!

4. Another highlight was the Red Sox games.  Thanks to the genius folks at MLB, they didn’t have the games on network TV, but only on TBS. (that’ll change for the LCS and WS)  So we didn’t get to see any of the games.  But the good news is that they were playing the Angels, so we had all the games covered well on the radio.  And plenty of highlights on the news (or low-lights, depending who you were cheering for).  So we pretty much stuck it to ’em.

The funniest thing may have been listening to all the callers on “Angel Talk”.  They were all sad and depressed.  One caller actually blamed the lack of the ‘Rally Monkey’ that the Angels put up on a screen to tell the fans to cheer.  She blamed the fans for not cheering and giving the players the energy they needed.  She said they didn’t perform because the fans didn’t cheer because the Angels didn’t put a stupid monkey jumping up and down on the screen.  That’s why she’s a stupid Angels fan.

The thing that cracks me up is its always the same thing for the Angels.  They need to get a back in the offseason or trading deadline, but never do.  Then the real season starts and they don’t hit and get bounced.  When are they going to learn?

5. As far as a Micah update goes, he’s mostly better.  He is now just not sleeping, meaning that we (and when I say we, I mostly mean Leah) don’t get much sleep.  So the main prayer request is that Micah sleeps well.  Leah is completely drained and needs rest badly.

Opening Day!

I’m not going to be posting a lot of pics of Micah on my blog, but I thought these were appropriate. For those of you who don’t know, and curse you if you don’t, today is Red Sox Opening Day. Apparently someone decided that the first game of the season should be the AAAA league (that’s from Bill Simmons, so I can’t take credit for it). So even though there was a game last night, the league hasn’t really started until the REAL league, the American League, starts.

So in honor of opening day, here are a few pics of the #1 Red Sox Family:

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We’re really looking forward to this season. The starting rotation is great, and there is even an open spot for Clemens. That’s right! i’m calling it now, Clemens returns to the Sox! The line-up is balanced, not as good as a couple years ago, but still very solid. I love having J.D. Drew in the five spot. Say “Hello R.B.I.’s!” And Papelbon is back in the closer spot. They just have to limit his load so as not to overwork his shoulder. But that should be too hard, because we got four work horses in the rotation. Schilling, Beckett, Matsuzaka, and Wakefield can all go late in a game. Then you have Lester coming up, and even Cla Buchholz coming up.

It really looks like we have a better rotation than the Yanks, who still have the better lineup. I like that Sheffield. To me, he was the most feared bat in that lineup. I hated seeing him come up. And I LOVE that Pavano is their opening starter. But while their staff took a step back, I think they’re better off, having gotten a couple great arms from Detroit for Sheffield. They’re getting back to their original game plan, by storing up young talent. Maybe they’ll use them in a trade, or hold on to them and let them play it out.

Whatever happens, this will be a great season, because it’s our first with a new little fan. Go Sox!

Does He Fit In?

Needless to say, the last few days have been unlike any other in my life. I guess that’s what your first child can do. On Sunday evening we came back home and it immediately felt completely natural to have Micah there. I got to take a much anticipated shower, washing ‘hospital’ off of me, and we just relaxed until Grammy B. and Uncle David arrived!

I have to say I don’t know how I would do this if Grammy B was not here. She has been absolutely amazing, helping keep the place clean, doing some cooking, and most importantly, helping Leah learn to take care of Micah. One of the biggest ways she has been a blessing to me is that I don’t have to worry about staying up with Leah and night when Micah is screaming and not wanting to eat. That is absolutely crucial with me finishing school and trying to juggle work.

Leah is doing well. She is less soar than she was a couple days ago, but is still finding it difficult to maneuver. She’s finding it difficult to find sleep, but is adjusting to sleeping between feedings. She was able to get three hours last night, as well as a good nap between 8-9pm. You could pray that the healing continues and that she finds time to sleep.

One thing that we haven’t had a lot of time for is time to just sit and talk. Last night we got a few minutes to sit down and talk and she asked, “Does he fit in?” After thinking about it for a moment, I responded by saying “no.” A new dog fits in. You find room for a Bible study or going to a movie. A baby, I’ve realized, doesn’t fit in. He changes your life.

Before, it was just Leah and I. We could basically do whatever we wanted and when we wanted. If we wanted to do something last minute or on the spur of the moment, we could. But we weren’t really a family. We were two young people that got married and liked hanging out with each other. But now we’re a family. He doesn’t ‘fit in’ because that life is behind us.

This could sound like a very dark and sad reality, but it really isn’t. After all, which would I rather do: go bowling at the last minute or hold my son in my arms? A child changes your life in a good way. he doesn’t fit in, but you change things to make him a part of your life.

In a way, this is almost like our relationship with God. When we come to salvation, we’re not the same. Its still us, but our desires should change. Our desire shouldn’t be to live like we used to and go back to our old lives. It could sound like you are enslaved to a new life, but really, its the freedom to live life in a better way.