Monday, December 20, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Loving Your Husband

Here you are, ready and eager to read another portion of my random thoughts that I dish out on a fairly inconsistent basis. But, before you continue, I have to warn you: This post is not about babies. Or birth control. Or a lack thereof. It's not even about children or parenting! I must give a secondary warning, but this is just for Sean: This post does include some mention of the awesomeness of my husband. Feel free to gag now and get it over with.

As I know that some people reading this probably don't have the same beliefs that I do, I'd like to summarize those. I believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, given to us as His revealed knowledge to all of us, inspired by the Holy Spirit and meant to guide us, primarily, to our understanding of our own sinfulness and knowledge of Jesus Christ as God and faith in Him and His sacrificial love and death on our behalf as the only way of salvation from our sin and from eternal punishment (see Romans 3:23, John 3:16, and Eph. 2:8). This post, though applicable to all, is primarily focused at those who would agree with me in these beliefs.

Given my trust in God, His love, and my high esteem of the Bible, I take literally the concept that men and women have different roles in this life. In marriage, men are called to love their wives and protect them, and women are called to submit to their husbands and respect them.

BUT, given these specified roles, there's something that has struck a raw nerve with me over the last year and a half. I've noticed that men often have a really hard time admitting their weaknesses and mistakes, taking personal responsibility for them, and asking others for forgiveness. (Don't get me wrong, women. We have a hard time with this, too.) If left with this difficulty, they are prone to arrogance, hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and a lack of love and grace for others around them. Not a pretty picture, and certainly not a good position from which to be representing Christ in a marriage -- or to others, for that matter.

David, on the other hand, is pretty darn good (though not perfect, Sean -- no husband worship here!!) at, at least eventually, admitting his sin and repenting for it.

I've seen the weakness described above first-hand, magnified in all its ugliness, a few times over the last year and a half, and I've seen the destruction it has wrought in its path. It's been heart-breaking, to say the least, as these men -- who have so bullishly sought to destroy all who have lovingly reached out to help them -- have been men that are at least professing faith in Christ and lives that have been transformed by Him.

But none of this is at the heart of my ramblings here.

This post is for wives, with a very serious warning for all of us to be diligent in the role God has given to us. You see, at least in two of the situations I have referenced above, the actions of the wives of these men have left me nauseous, physically wanting to puke. A lot. These wives have both watched their husbands be lovingly corrected by godly leadership and refuse to repent for their sinfulness. Yet both these women have, presumably in the name of love, submission, and loyalty, patted their husbands on their backs and "lovingly" supported them in their self-worship. And in doing so, these women have proved themselves to be the epitome of adulteresses, lacking anything close to love and reverence for their husbands or the God they claim for their salvation. And for this, I pity their husbands and them, for they know not the joy and freedom of repentance nor the loving faithfulness of a godly spouse.

Women, we should be prayerfully, humbly, lovingly, and yes, privately exhorting our husbands to godliness. If our husbands are saved by grace, we can have confidence that the same God who saved them will continue to sanctify them. Yet God uses His children as sanctifying agents in each other's lives, and we are to be sanctifying agents in our husbands' lives. A wife is the one person God gives to a husband for him to cleave to and become one with. We can either love him in a way that helps him draw closer to God, or we can hate him in a way that enables him in his love for the idols of his heart. Seriously -- what kind of wife are you?

Most who know me know that I think my husband is about the most amazing husband a gal could have. (Sorry, gals--he's taken!!) And I definitely am very convinced that he's the one that got the short end of this marriage. But David is not perfect. He's in the process of sanctification along with the rest of us. But over the years, I've seen him grow dramatically in the area of being able to more quickly recognize his sin against God and others, repent, and ask forgiveness. Dramatically. And though I'm FAR from perfect and have a long way to grow in this area myself, I can see how God has used me as a sanctifying agent in this area of David's life.

There are many practical angles I could expand on, but this post is too long already. I would like to conclude by noting that saying things like, "I'm sorry if I hurt you" or "I'm sorry that you were offended" don't indicate real repentance. If one is not actually acknowledging sinful behavior and actively, with the grace of God, turning away from it, saying "sorry" in a way that turns the responsibility away from oneself and onto someone else is fake, to say the least. God empowers His people to righteousness through humility expressed in repentance. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

That Infants Are Like This

I love Augustine's perspective on babies--written all the way back in AD 397-98. Some things never change!

For it is from thee, O God, that all good things come--and from my God is all my health. This is what I have since learned, as thou hast made it abundantly clear by all that I have seen thee give, both to me and to those around me. For even at the very first I knew how to suck, to lie quiet when I was full, and to cry when in pain--nothing more.

Afterward I began to laugh--at first in my sleep, then when waking. For this I have been told about myself and I believe it--though I cannot remember it--for I see the same things in other infants. Then, little by little, I realized where I was and wished to tell my wishes to those who might satisfy them, but I could not! For my wants were inside me, and they were outside, and they could not by any power of theirs come into my soul. And so I would fling my arms and legs about and cry, making the few and feeble gestures that I could, though indeed the signs were not much like what I inwardly desired and when I was not satisfied--either from not being understood or because what I got was not good for me--I grew indignant that my elders were not subject to me and that those on whom I actually had no claim did not wait on me as slaves--and I avenged myself on them by crying. That infants are like this, I have myself been able to learn by watching them; and they, though they knew me not, have shown me better what I was like than my own nurses who knew me.

Source: The Confessions of Saint Augustine, Book 1

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My New Blog

I have a new blog that I'd like to invite you to follow. The only problem is that if I shared the web site address here, I'd be violating our blog rules.

So let's try this instead. My new blog is http://www.[insert our last name]

If that doesn't work for you, drop us an e-mail, and we'll send you a link.

Don't worry...we'll continue to post cute photos and videos of the kids here at Diapers4three and other items related to our family. My new blog is only for those items deemed more boring by some of our regular readers here -- topics like economics, politics, technology, etc.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Little Christy, Zanna & Charity

Another blast from the past. Photos courtesy of Jan Freeland.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Danny!

Hey there, Big Eyes! Happy Birthday!!

So you're four now... Let's see. What kind of mushy things can we say about our favorite four-year-old?

You're a doll, Danny. A sweet, affectionate, funny, boisterous BOY!! You're so much fun to be around, but you also have an intensity about you that can be quite touching. And you know how to use those big eyes of yours, for sure!! We pray that this year will bring hidden adventures and delights for you, and that your love and passion for life and others will only be out-weighed by your love for our sweet Saviour.

Love you, Danny! Happy, happy birthday!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Video: Selah Sings Her ABCs

For Auntie Nora

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mikey!

It's been a big week for you, my Mikey. On Tuesday, you became a KINDERGARTENER, and today, you became a five-year-old!! While you're doing a great job of growing us in the fine art of parenting boys, you're also growing and maturing... learning and doing so much these days! We love you, and we're so thankful that God blessed us with you on this very special day.

Mikey, you may not understand yet all that your birthday means to us. You might not understand yet, when you joyfully announce to people that your "'boifday' is September 11th!" why they smile, but have a flash of sadness cross their face or tears come to their eyes. You see, on September 11th, four years before you were born, a very sad thing happened in the United States of America. Much was destroyed that day and many lives were lost, and those of us that remember that day will always remember it with sadness.

But where much was lost, much was also born on that day... For a time, people remembered that life was bigger than what their day held. They hugged and cried with strangers and people looked beyond their shopping needs to encourage the person behind them in their grocery line. Your daddy, who was dating your mommy at the time, was struck by how short and unpredictable life is and on that day started thinking it might be time to ask your mommy to be his wife!

People recognized their mortality and remembered their need for God... for some, this change was fleeting. For others, life was transformed for all of eternity.

So you see, this is what people remember when they hear you say your birthday. This is what brought tears to my eyes those wee hours of the morning when the nurse announced your birth date and time. And this hope, life, and joy that was born on that day in so many people was in some ways symbolized to us when you were born five years ago today. Maybe, in some way that is bigger than my understanding, this is the reason that you were ten days late and quite large when you finally decided to make your appearance!!

But for now, our sweet, joyful, exuberant five-year-old, I hope that you experience all of the joy a boy can on his birthday... you have so much time to understand the weightier aspects of life later. We love you and thank God for you, praying your joy and hope will be found in Him!

Happy, happy birthday, Mikey!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Al Mohler on Greeting Cards

Smokey and I have been listening to Words from the Fire by Dr. R. Albert Mohler on the commute into work. We both couldn't help but laugh when Dr. Mohler shares this story:

A word of confession to those of the female gender. You need to know that we men are not good at the greeting card thing. We are not adept at this for several reasons. First, it is just hard to bring ourselves to pay that much for painted paper. Second, the words on the card don't match our kind of verbal expression—we just don't talk that way. Part of it is just the sheer embarrassment from realizing that we could never quite say all that florid prose with a straight face. Still, greeting cards do express something like what men want to express, and we do pay an unconscionable amount of money for this coated paper, which we then give to our loved one.

A few years ago, just days before the event, I realized I was in serious trouble because I was cardless for one of the major occasions of life—Mother's Day. So I quickly went and bought a card. I was successful in bringing home the card, signing the card, and even adding a personal note to my dear wife, Mary. I commented about her sweetness, fidelity, love, giving, and self-sacrifice, not only as my wife but as the mother of our children. I was even successful in remembering where the card was; and so, with great satisfaction (which is another one of the characteristics of the male of the species; when we actually remember to bring the card, there is inordinate self-satisfaction), I presented it to her. However, as Mary read the card, I noticed that her face did not match my expectation of what her face should betray.

So here are two rules of the greeting card thing I learned that day. Rule number one is remember to get the card. Rule number two is read the card before you give it. That is, read it thoroughly. In the expression of this greeting card I thanked my wife for so successfully blending together our two families—something that heretofore she had not been aware had been done. I had inadvertently chosen a "blended family" card without reading the message. My faux pas has become a part of our family lore. It is a part of my humiliation, and it is a part of my urgent exhortation to other husbands—read the card before you give it!

On a more serious note, Smokey and I have also enjoyed listening to audio recordings of Dr. Mohler's blog, which he started doing periodically in response to a suggestion we submitted. We were disappointed when these recordings ceased, but we are excited about trying out the two new podcasts he is starting this month.

Last but not least, it's worth pointing out that Dr. Mohler has just started teaching verse-by-verse through the Book of Hebrews. I've added his Powerline podcast to my iTunes subscriptions and am hoping I'll find time to keep up.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Eliana!!

Six years... it's amazing. You've come so far, grown so much, and you truly are a treasure, a sweet gift from God, an answer to prayers. We love you, Eliana, and we pray that as you continue to grow in talent and knowledge, that your passion for God would out-weigh all else and that your life would display love for Him and for all that He has created!

Happy, happy birthday!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Photos of Baby Elijah

Elijah Joseph born 11:59 PM, August 2; 7 lbs, 9 oz; 19 1/4 inches. Mom and baby are doing great.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Saturday, July 17, 2010

About Auntie Nora Who Lost Her Dog

Watch Eliana tell this story in her own words.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Poll: Does Sammy Need a Haircut?

Sammy is now nearly 14 months old. He has not had a haircut. Christina and I have diverging viewpoints on this matter. One of us thinks his hair is cute; the other that he is neither a girl, nor a Nazarene Nazarite.

Is it time for a haircut? We report, you decide. Please vote on the sidebar of our blog.


Video: Kids Dancing to Cosby Show

Video: Sammy Dancing

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Birthday, Sammy!

Well, Sammy. It's today. Your first birthday. And I can't tell you what a sweet pleasure it's been to have you around this last year (and 9 months) or so!

Your daddy and I agreed, long before ever having our first child, that four children would be the perfect number for us. All I can say is that I'm so, so, glad... so touched, so blessed, that God used you to so clearly prove us wrong.

You're amazing! You're such a happy, good-natured chap... your big sister thinks that you love everyone and that everyone loves you, and it's easy to see how she'd think that. You're such an engaging, but peaceful, sweet, and full-of-life young lad.

I love how much you love your siblings... and how much they love you. And you definitely have me wrapped around your finger.

We're very blessed to have you, Sammy. We love you bunches. Happy Birthday!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Video: First Words?

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Video: Danny and the Stairs

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Boy or Girl? Vote Now!

Okay -- there's nine days left until our "20 week" ultrasound. (I say "20 week" in quotes because I'll actually be closer to 21 weeks, according to my calendar.)

So, you have nine days to leave a comment with your vote on whether or not this one should be a boy or girl. Not that your vote really counts. But certainly your best guess can either get you kudos or shame. So, leave a comment! Now!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Babies and Doctors...

I had a prenatal check-up at the OB/GYN the other morning. Made me remember why I loved using a midwife with the last two babies.

At my last appointment, I declined the first trimester prenatal screening. Through some miscommunication, I ended up being scheduled for an ultrasound soon after that was part of the first trimester prenatal screening. I didn't realize this until I was already having the ultrasound. Oh well -- free ultrasound! But we didn't end up making it to the lab in time to get the blood work done that was supposed to go with the screening. Probably because I, uh, dropped the lab work in the trashcan once we got home.

That was weeks ago. This morning when I went in for my appointment, the nurse started to give me the lab work for the *second* trimester screening.

"What are you looking for this time?" I asked. Turns out they're looking for the same stuff as they were last time --- mainly, Down's Syndrome.

"I'll pass on the test, thank you."

"You don't want it?" she asked, seemingly perplexed.

"Nope. I wouldn't abort my baby."

She argued for a second or two about the other advantages to the test (she could think of one -- mental preparedness), then happily wrote, "Patient declines screening" on my chart. Easy enough!

Then, I met my doctor's new partner. He was a friendly, respectful sort of chap. Asked me if I had any questions or problems; I didn't. Then he saw the chart. "You're declining the second trimester prenatal screening?"


"Oh. [Long pause] Can I ask why?"

"Sure! I really don't see much use in it. I wouldn't abort my baby either way, and there would be nothing I could do about it to benefit the baby ahead of time."

"Well," he said, adding additional long pauses between his words as if he had never had anyone that wasn't an imbecile decline the screening before, "I'd like to say that it's not just about whether or not one aborts. Some parents like to know ahead of time so they can prepare for it."

"I can understand that. But at least as I see it, it just gives parents time to worry and be anxious over the next several months, which adds no benefit to the baby and pregnancy. And then the baby ends of being just fine, after all." These screenings are definitely not known for their accuracy!

"Well... I can see that if you're going to be the type that gets all worried and anxious about it, maybe the screening is not the right option for you..." Uh, would not be typical for someone that is told that they have a trazillion times greater chance of having a child with Down's Syndrome than the lady in the next room to have some anxiety about this news, huh?

"Let's put it this way, " I said. "If God chooses to bless us with a child with Down's Syndrome, He'll also provide us with the grace that we need to handle that situation. And we'll deal with it if that time comes instead of worrying about it ahead of time."

He cocked his head to the side, looked at me, half nodded, looked down at my chart and asked me how old our oldest child was. He then asked me about my birth control plans for after this baby is born.

Here it is. I was not asking this doctor to cut my head off to cure me of a headache. I wasn't even asking him for his advice in this area. I was just simply declining a service that he is supposed to offer, but isn't medically necessary or beneficial. And he's a doctor. So why does it bug him so much that I don't want that service? And if *this* bugs him, how is he going to respond when I don't want to be induced, or have my membranes stripped or broken, or have an epidural, or an episiotomy, or a c-section?

In my experience, this doctor's views are not atypical of the medical community. Why do my decisions that do not endanger my baby (and might actually benefit him or her!) have to be debated?

Don't get me wrong: I am very thankful for modern medicine. And I don't want to be cynical about doctors -- people who build their lives around helping others. But it would be much easier to trust a doctor in the rare emergency if I knew they were supportive and looking out for my and my children's best interests in the simple mundane choices of pregnancy.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Best Toy Ever

Kids don't really need toys since it seems that everything they find becomes a toy. And our kids certainly have plenty of toys already, so they really don't need more. But with those important caveats out of the way, there really are some pretty cool toys on the market these days.

But which toy is the best? I like toys that are low-hassle, economical, don't break easily, and don't make those loud annoying noises that drive parents crazy. Sadly, many toys fail to meet these simple tests.

We purchased a Doodle Pro some time ago and unlike many other toys, it has has stood the test of time--meaning it has survived use and abuse from all five of our kids. Best of all, our kids still play with it quite regularly.
The Doodle Pro is even environmentally friendly. Prior to our purchase, Eliana was coloring through a ream of paper each day--or so it felt!

A few more caveats: I wouldn't necessarily say this particular model of the Doodle Pro is the best. This just happens to be the one we found at Wal-Mart. The magnet pieces at the top get misplaced quite often, so no need to spend extra for those.

Please note that no one paid me to write this post, nor will I receive a free Doodle Pro. I actually paid real American dollars to buy ours. I'm now even contemplating buying a travel size version like the one I recently saw a Lowery using at church.

Do you have a favorite kids' toy that has stood the test of time? If so, what is it?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dear Parents, Students and Staff: Haiti is the 51st state

A friend of Christina's who lives in New Jersey received a notice this week from her child's school regarding donations for Haiti.

The notice reads (emphasis added):
"Dear Parents, Students and Staff:

Haiti was hit by one of the powerful earthquakes in United States history. In order to raise money for the millions of people who were subject to the widespread destruction and devastation, we would appreciate if you would donate at least $1.00. Donations will be given to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

Please place your donation in an envelope. Have your child give it to their teacher. They will be given a pink hibiscus flower cut-out to place on our Rogers cafeteria wall. The pink flower is symbolic because the hibiscus is the state flower for Haiti.

We will kindly be accepting donations from Monday January 25th - Friday January 29th.
The parent's reaction? "Wow, I did not realize that Haiti was part of the US and became one of our states. I am trusting my children's education to these people?!?!? UGHHHHHHHHH."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, Selah Girl!!

So, you've been practicing for months, and now you've finally made it. You're two. And we couldn't love you more.

You're such a delightful part of our family, Sweet Selah. Your rambunctious personality... your twinkling eyes and mischievous grin. Your generous hugs and kisses... your sweet voice when you joyfully sing and the fact that when asked if you are Daddy's girl, you defiantly respond, "No! Mommy's girl!" (Okay. So Mommy likes that last part more than anyone else.)

And your big sister loves that fact that you are turning into a real girl -- eager to try all your clothes on at the same time. (Layers upon layers upon layers are still in, right?)

We love you and we're so glad that God gave you to us. We pray for you, that you would use all that cuteness for His glory... and that you would delight in Jesus. That He would protect you from the evil one and that you would have wisdom and love beyond your years.

Happy, happy birthday, Selah Joy!

What kind of people worship here?

Food for thought. From the "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" by Martin Luther King, Jr.:

When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leader era; an too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows.

In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.

I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: "Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother." In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious. irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, on Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious-education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?"

Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? l am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great-grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

Friday, January 8, 2010