Family

Jesus Storybook Bible Sale

Trying Out iPhone 5s Slow Motion Video

This is my first try at using the slo-mo feature on the iPhone 5s. I was out with Elijah (13) and Daniel (10 1/2) and got a short crash video from Danny. Nothing really done but slow motion and quick upload to YouTube before pasting here. I wasn't even thinking about landscaping my phone! Anyway, if you are looking for real world examples of what the 5s slo-mo feature looks like, here you go. I think the results are pretty great.

Goldeneye

I have seen some interesting things while at the doctor before on x-rays, MRIs, etc. I've never seen this. Elijah (13) has something wrong with his eye. Red, irritated, not pink eye. Dye was put in his eye to check for a scratch yesterday. This photo has no filters or adjustments. Dye and a blue light to check it. Awesome.

photo.JPG

Lots-o-Links 10.1.13

Internet1

New books to Note: 

Cheap Kindle Books: 

Jen Thorn, Joe Thorn's wife, has a new website. Bookmark it, Feedly it, read it. She's a gem.

John Wesley on the Discipline of Reading by Brian Hedges

Reading requires discipline. But the investment of time yields great dividends for our personal life and ministry. The depth and breadth that reading will add to our thinking and preaching are surely worth the effort. Fellow pastors, do not neglect reading!

10 Ways to Become a Better Preacher by Justin Buzzard

In my opinion good preaching is something that flows through the heart of a man who is excited about Jesus because he’s personally enjoying the love of Jesus. I think the single most important thing a pastor can do is wake up each day and focus his energy on enjoying Jesus and having as much fun as possible. This is the only thing I know of that will protect you from the burnout most pastors experience from  the relentless strain of preaching and leading a church. I don’t think there’s much power in preaching grace if you yourself are not reveling in grace.

Is a Deacon Just a Servant? by Russell Moore

The question is not whether deacons serve or lead. Leadership, scripturally defined, is servanthood. The question is in what way do deacons lead. Deacons maintain the unity of the Body by giving leadership to the serving of temporal needs. They’re not a corporate board, nor are they a spiritual council of directors. They serve the Body by removing potential obstacles to unity by meeting human needs.

20 Great American Cities for Writers --> Go Chicago!

If you can’t live somewhere that isn’t a big, bustling city and you don’t want to pay New York City or California rent, you can’t beat the Windy City, which boasts great bookstores like Myopic in Wicker Park, Powell’s in Hyde Park, and the best place to get your weird zine/chapbook/comic fix: Quimby’s. There’s plenty of art and architecture to admire, wonderful coffee from local roasters like Metropolis, nice-sized and somewhat affordable places to live, plenty of great bars, schools like the University of Chicago, writers and poets like Adam Levin and Lindsay Hunter calling the place home, the Printers Row Lit Fest … All of which is to say, Chicago plays second literary city to nobody.

The Wedding Vows | 20 Years Later

Wedding cake

Today my wife and I are celebrating 20 years of marriage. I could write the obligatory post or FB update on how amazing she is and how undeserving I am and how I'm glad we get to go on this journey together and I hope we get 20 more years on this journey. I believe those things and could easily say them and mean them.

I could talk about how much joy I still have when I see her or hear her voice. But we've both come to realize that after 10 years those things were easy to say, but after 20 there's a whole lot of other things in our lives that won't allow me to write something trite because 20 years of marriage isn't easy. It's been very hard. The fun of the first 10 years disappeared a bit in the light of other developments. We often say to each other, remember when we used to make up corny songs or give each other silly nicknames? Of course we remember, but we don't do that nearly as much now. We still do some of that, but they have mostly disappeared in the light of other developments.

In the second 10 years of marriage God has made sure we understand things about ourselves we didn't wish to learn. He has brought us into and maybe never-in-this-body out of certain kinds of suffering. He has shown us how fragile life is with our marriage, our kids, our continuing struggle with selfishness and heart idols. So on this our 20th anniversary, we want to share some thoughts about marriage, mostly for my younger married and not yet married readers. We often think about you with a bit of envy that we can't go back to the time when marriage was easy and a daily adventure. It really was easy in comparison with what has come to us. And we know our experience won't be common to all, or the timing of what we have learned, but we hope others find it helpful as we have found it helpful to meditate on our marriage and share these things with you.

What I offer below isn't some well crafted, well edited article. It's my anniversary morning thoughts, unplanned beyond the time it took to write it. We talked as I wrote, and this post accurately relays how we feel. This is what 20 years of marriage vows have meant to us, though we could obviously say much more. And we hope to convey that we aren't complaining. We can't talk about the vows without mentioning the hard part of the vows. It's not pretty or easy, but it's good.

1. To Have And To Hold From This Day Forward

Having and holding each other felt pretty doggone good 20 years ago. I remember as a young unmarried man thinking of how amazing it would be to be married one day and holding a woman who loves me at any moment of any day that I'd like to hold her. And now 20 years later we hold each other less often than we did, but still a lot. Some days, right in the middle of the day, we will go lay in the bed for a bit and hold each other and talk about whatever. It still is a joy, though we find ourselves thinking of something that needs to get done and move on.

In a bigger sense, we 20 years later have still only each other to have, and each other to hold. There is no one else, and we love that. And we are still each other's best friend. What we started in only having and holding each other has continued. And we look forward to more days, weeks, months, and years of only holding one another. 

In the last 10 years, we didn't just get the pleasure of having and holding each other. We had to, often because there was little else in this life given to us by God to cling to. We still had each other. We held each other when under attack from gossips, when Molly had both of her brain surgeries, when horrible things happened to our children, when the things of this world and the messengers of Satan pushed us, we fell into the arms of God and each other. And we're still here.

It isn't good for man to be alone, and at times in ministry and in various times and places, it's been very lonely. I remember many days and nights, from early on to two days ago, where something in me needed to hold someone and she was there. By God's magnificent grace He has provided me with a beautiful, godly, loving wife...to have and to hold. And we move forward.

2. For Better, For Worse

We've had remarkable "better" times. I know a lot of married people who seem to love each other very much. Good on them. But I can't think of anyone who has more fun being married than me and Molly. It's a trip. And "better" times are just grand, when the bills are paid and the basement isn't flooding and the kids are getting good grades and there aren't any cavities. When times are good we sing together and enjoy each other's company. We forgive each other quickly and enjoy each others idiosyncrasies. We make time to hang out and talk, to get alone, to spend time around others. But anyone can endure the better times.

Especially during the last 10 of our 20 years the "worse" times have been pretty bad. Some very bad. Some things we've been through are still too painful to describe in a post like this, so I won't. Many of my readers already know some significant "worse" times through my blogging during and after Molly's brain surgeries. We haven't had it as bad as many others, and we've had it worse than many others. But comparison isn't the point and isn't how we think of our marriage. This is our road. It's our marriage. 

We've had to preach the gospel to each other a lot. In worse times the gospel can get lost. God has given us each other to put someone there day by day to speak of the cross and peace and grace and love and forgiveness when one of us is distracted by the worse of our own sinfulness or the bad things that happen to us. Our stresses tend to bleed into each others lives because we are one, but we endure together. Sometimes the one not suffering gets angry or bitter and the one who is suffering is suffering well and reminds the other of how Jesus suffered for us and the gospel breaks us of our bitterness. 

I had no idea what "worse" would look like in marriage. We were both naive. We thought we took the high and happy road by being fully committed to covenantal love for one another, and that would lead to a ton of better and little worse. Experiencially, it didn't. Though we've never even discussed divorce since we see it as a non-option, it doesn't take the breaking of a marriage apart for a married couple to be broken. Still God, through giving us one another, makes those "worse" time, as bad as they are, really a "better" time because He is there with us, and we are there with each other. 

3. For Richer, For Poorer

We've never appeared on the "richer" side of things for the American middle class context. My income has always been lower than to provide all the things we generally believe we need as Americans. After all this time our kids haven't gotten braces and don't have money for college.  The last 5-6 cars have been free or almost free, by necessity. Our last three homes have been parsonages or missionary housing, free of charge, and we have never owned a home or townhouse. Nearly everyone our age and life stage is driving something newer and better. Everyone's house is bigger. Everyone's retirement account is fuller. Probably not completely fair, but the feeling is there and mostly accurate. 

Mol sad

But 20 years of marriage has taught us that a bigger house doesn't make for a happy home. A nicer car often means a bigger car payment which we don't have. We aren't living for retirement, because we realize real rest is coming on That Day. Sure, we'd like a new BMW or Suburban to drive. Really we would. But being married and having four amazing kids and keeping things simple is a kind of riches to us.

When times have been very tight, we still retell the stories of God providing vans and houses and groceries. Our kids aren't hearing stories of financial achievement, but faith and a God who provides far beyond what we deserve. Our marriage has endured times where we have gone without because we go with God and with each other. We go with the Church who has loved us and given so much for the gospel's sake.

We hope our finances improve and we are able to provide our kids things that we want, and we are working and praying toward that end. But if we can't, we know One who can provide in riches and in poverty. He has proven Himself over and over. And my wife and I remind each other of that as often as we can.

4. In Sickness And Health

In connection to money, we should add here that the plan from early on, like many couples, was to keep Molly home from work during the formative years of our kids until she could work (if she chose to) once they entered school. It was very difficult, but we did it. She was earning almost $30 an hour as a dental hygienist early in our marriage. But we sacrificed for the kids. She worked at home with our kids and I held one or more jobs while full time in school. Then came her diagnosis with Chiari I Malformation resulting in 2 brain surgeries which pretty much eliminated her chance at that career or much of any other career.

She took a job working at a local elementary school with a special needs kid during school hours last year. It messed her up and she had to stop. Still many local friends think she stopped for no particular reason. Truth is, it was devastating to her health. Because she's pretty and always looks happy around others, most don't realize the sickness runs deep and has ongoing effect. Few understand what daily life is like when "health" seems to be a condition that will never describe her adequately again until That Day. 

Molly is "sick," never fully well, always living below the level of those first 20 years of her life and first 10 years of our marriage. Right now, for example, she wakes up every day wondering if she will have that particular headache that puts her down for a full day of vomiting and out of commission for anything else. And it's all a result of something no doctor is able to change. 

Both of us have suffered varying levels of depression and anxiety the last 10 years. The last 10 years both Molly and I have lost our ability to sleep well. Sometimes we can't fall asleep. Sometimes we can't stay asleep. Rarely do either of us feel fully rested. 

The first 10 years of our marriage I was in various stages of health, working hard both mentally and physically. After a few fun years of mountain biking and being in amazing shape, I found I had a few disc problems in my upper back. Often one day of exercise messes me up for weeks. Lifting weights has become nearly impossible. The only trip my family took to Disney World, I couldn't ride any coasters with the kids because of extreme pain when both awake and asleep. 

We've had times of health, and times of "sickness." What we have learned along the way is that we get to endure together and help each other in the sick times. I've told Molly many times that as odd as it seems I have found the times of her greatest fear and deepest sickness, namely right before and during her brain surgeries, to be times of great growth for me. She is helpless and needy and I get to serve her. I learned to take care of her household duties as well as do my own work as a pastor. I learned to have someone lean hard on me in times of incredible need, and I enjoyed being there for her. I learned to lean hard on God because I was forced to live beyond my means...which is what I should have been doing all along. 

Sick times have only begun. Our 20 years of marriage have us both about the age of 40, which is still young. We don't feel that young. Times get so bad that Molly will look at me and say, "I sure wish Jesus would hurry up and come back." She means it. And yet being married in sickness and health means we hold each others' hand while waking up another day and working hard for each other, for our kids, and for the sake of the world hearing the gospel. What a joy to have all this pain and endure it together as husband and wife for all this time.

Me mol

5. To Love And To Cherish 

What love meant to us 20 years ago was ridiculous. It meant a lot of awesome physical things (at least for me) and a general vibe of fun and adventure and playfulness and a general attitude of "What's next? Let's go do it!" For Molly it meant security and companionship. It meant sharing life with a best friend and lover. 

Now, 20 years later, love is so much better though at first it doesn't feel like it is. Love early on was all over the place. It was public displays of affection and big toothy grins in photographs. It was weekend trips and events and discovery of wonderful life stuff. We got to explore the world we inhabited and the pleasures of marriage together, and it was exciting. It hasn't stayed quite that way. 

With the births of our children in particular, the quick, heated, excited kind of love began to shrink. Actually, it didn't shrink so much as it transformed. Now our sharply directed love for one other became spread out. Anyone who tells you that you can experiencially love your spouse the same before having kids and as you are raising your raise kids isn't telling you the truth. It becomes work. Justin Buzzard has had to write a book about how to Date Your Wife because too often we stop. The first years of marriage was a constant date. Since having children, dating has has to become intentional. And those deep conversations into the night have become conversations into the evening after the kids are in bed and the last household chores have been done and "OH MY look at the time, I have to get up early in the morning for MOPS group." Goodness sakes. 

We thank God for those years of racy love and the millions of kisses and endless hours of playful teasing. That's a part of our love for and cherishing of each other. We thank God for the years of settling in to a deep and abiding love through huge mistakes, hurtful arguments, angry comments, putting off forgiving each other, apathetic stretches, and lulls between moments of kissing each other like we really mean it and don't have something better to do. 

Love has lost some of it's glorious youthful bite, but grown into learning I need to listen to her like her voice is living water poured into me. Love has become seeing gifts I am still learning to discover. Cherishing her has grown into a daily job of staring at her once again, like I did before, thanking God for the years on her face because it's those years of knowing each other deeply that gave her mildly aging face character and tells a thousand stories of her love for me, beyond what I have ever deserved. I've learned that loving and cherishing my wife almost never has to do with what sounds good to me, but learning what sounds good to her and letting her have that to her hearts content and being the one to enjoy supplying it for her. And yet I'm so far from doing that like I should. How much I love her, and how much I have yet to really love her.

5. Until Death Do Us Part

To end this briefly, we haven't gotten there yet. We've known for a long time it can end any day. We've never realized that more than right now. We've been given a 20 year gift and hope to enjoy it longer. But 20 years in we have absolute certainty that we have been given to each other less to have fun and more to work for each other toward that common joy of life eternal. We aren't headed toward a more perfect eternal marriage with each other, but with the Bridegroom who will show us what this momentary marriage was always pointing us to. It took us 20 years for this idea to actually sink in, but in many ways we've only scratched the surface of understanding what forever will look like. But considering the massive pain we've endured and the indescribable joy we've found in 20 years together, eternity is going to be a stunner.

I love you, Molly. Keep walking with me in these broken bodies and with these selfish struggles with sin, hold my hand, and let's stay on this narrow path to something far better than what has been so amazingly good.

Lots-o-Links 6.12.13

The links

10 Reasons To Get Married & Have Kids Young

My list would look a little different than this, but Molly and I got married young, had kids young, and we love to encourage others to do the same. 

Tim Keller On How To Get Into Gospel Conversations

A video, but more importantly a nice outline of what Keller says.

Justin Taylor - On Writing Well

Go read more on Justin's four points:

  1. Read Slowly
  2. Read a lot
  3. Write to think
  4. Write and rewrite

Jesus Wants My Heart by Daniel Renstrom

Jwmh

I'm listening to Daniel Renstrom's new album, Jesus Wants My Heart. It's a family worship album of songs that kids and parents will both enjoy. enjoy singing together. I can tell you that right off the bat I was singing along. A wonderful balance of Gospel and theology in song.

Here are five things Daniel hopes this album will do. Go Read more at Daniel's blog. 

  1. I hope that families will have rich theological discussions because of the songs on JWMH.  
  2. I hope that families have fun listening to these songs.
  3. I hope that these songs give your kids good categories to love God and fight sin.
  4. I hope that these songs help parents fulfill Deuteronomy 6:6-7.
  5. I hope these songs will have evangelistic fruit.

There are songs Renstrom wrote and some hymns. I think you will love it.

Kids Taking Notes During Sermons

A few weeks ago I emphasized to one son that it would be good to takes notes during my sermons. Now it seems to be viral. Here's a sample from my two other sons from Sunday. The backs are both covered with notes too. My 12 yr old said how much easier it is to remember what I'm saying and not have his mind wander when he takes notes. They really love letting me see what they wrote. It's a pretty cool thing. Jack (14) now is keeping a notebook of sermon notes. What do your kids do during sermons? Would love to see if any do something like this. (Click the pic to see it bigger & in more detail.)

Kids Doxa Notes 3.3.13 edit

Advice For Parenting Young Kids

Young Kids

There's a lot of parenting advice out there. Some is great. Much of it is lacking. Some is downright harmful. With a 16 girl driving around, two middle school boys (14 & 12 yrs old) and our youngest son in 4th grade (nearly 10 yrs old), we've experienced a lot of success & struggle in our parenting. We've gotten advice from books, other parents, pastors, and our own parents. We've taken courses on parenting and had one pastor/wife and family that we learned much from and watched closely as they did so much right (radically different than most parents we'd ever seen). I wanted to share some advice for things I feel we have learned and that not enough folks are talking about. At its core, this list is a quick mind-dump of the practical advice I want to give parents with young kids after years of doing it. By no means do we do all of this perfectly. I assume you know that already.

This is probably most ideal for parents-to-be, new parents, and parents with kids under 10 years old. This isn't exhaustive, ordered, etc. It's not my top 10. There are some crucial ones that most who read this already believe and do to some extent, so I'll assume them (read Bible, pray, etc). What I will do is give one angle on each of those rather than convince you to do it in general. And while many tips are built on biblical ideas, I'm going to talk very practically and simply and not make this merely a "from-the-Bible" list. Also, I'm not dealing much with rules vs grace, an important topic. There are many things that could be added to this list, including things I failed remember. So your comments are welcome if you'd like to share your advice.

The first handful need some extra explanation so they are understood. The rest need little explanation, but I wanted to at least mention them.

Advice For Parenting Young Kids

Believe Kids Are A Blessing | Our world sees kids as a burden. The Scriptures tell us they are a blessing from the Lord. In your thinking about your children, in all you do as a parent, remember & trust that God has given them to you as a blessing. It will change how you see them and how you parent them. It hopefully will even change how many of them you have. Who wouldn't want MORE blessing? 

Read The Jesus Storybook Bible To Them | A tool we didn't have while the kids were really young, it would have been a staple of their Bible story diet. Honestly, it still was.

Pray With Your Kids Concerning Taking Risks | Yes, pray for needs and give them models of prayer, etc. But pray aloud with them about the kinds of risks God wants them to take. "God if my boys sees someone being bullied at school, give them strength to stop it even if it means they get hurt." Something like that. We also regularly pray that God would use them mightily, even if that means persecution, going far away as a missionary, etc.

Teach *First Time Obedience* | When Dad or Mom says do it, they do it. We are the parents. They are kids. Why is this important? Do you want them to obey God the first time, or to put it off? Also, if they don't obey us there are often major consequences in the future. Sometimes if they don't obey there are major consequences in the very near future. Example: We taught our children to *stop* when we say stop. We didn't chase them around at parties or baseball games or at the park. We say stop, they were taught to stop or face discipline. One of our kids was bad about running through parking lots on the way in to a store. Our *first time obedience* teaching probably saved his life or at least bodily harm more than once. But the everyday, simple things will create disciplined & respectful kids. It will also shock people around you and create opportunities to talk about why your parenting "works."

My pastor once had one child ask for a chip (adults were eating chips) and he said "Ok." Another of his children overheard and came over and asked for a chip. He said "No." The child, without hesitation, said "ok" and walked away. My pastor then told him to return and explained how happy he was that he was willing to trust him and obey even when it seemed unfair, and then gave him a chip. That's the power of this one rule when taught consistently.

ALSO, don't use the counting rule. When you count you are telling your kids they can delay obedience. "Johnny, get your coat on. Johnny! One...twooooo..." Not obeying now is disobedience. Period. Well, almost period...

Give Rules For Respectful Disagreement | Some call this an "appeal." Sometimes the demand of *first time obedience* lacks information that might change our parenting. Example. Me: "Kids, close your books. It's time for bed. Lights out." Daughter: "Dad, can I appeal?" or more simply, "Dad, can I finish this chapter. It's only one more page." Me, to all, "Yes. When Sarah's done, it's time for bed." I'm Dad and what I say goes, but I also realize my call to obedience can be adjusted.

Give Rules For Respectful Interruption | You are at a party or with your small group and kids are constantly saying "Dad! Dad! Dad!" You are teaching them to be the center of the universe. We tell our kids that when we are in a conversation with someone, they aren't allowed to interrupt rudely. The rule is, put your hand on my arm and I'll tell you when it's ok to interrupt. Sometimes I keep talking with someone for 45-60 seconds before I say to my son, "What do you need, buddy?" Don't let your kids interrupt rudely. You are the parent. Teach your kids to respect your conversation and the conversation of others. This will shock people too.

ALSO, when on the phone DO NOT allow your kids to interrupt you. It's very disrespectful when on the phone with someone talking about something important (or not) and their kids have no category that Mom or Dad is doing something important that shouldn't be interrupted. 

Give Rules For Being Respectful in Public | My kids were not allowed to be loud or run around restaurants while people are eating. It's disrespectful. Climbing on the booth next to me and annoying those around me while I tune them out is not ok. If my kid disobeys in public, I don't discipline in public. I take them to the car and when we get back inside the restaurant (or wherever) they have changed their tune. We have had humbling and amazing comments about our parenting in restaurants. Especially older adults, grandparents, can't believe how well behaved our kids were, sitting, eating, talking in acceptable levels of loudness, not being a spectacle. The spectacle was how respectful they were to others.

The Five Minute Rule (Warning) | One of the GREAT pieces of advice was using a 5 minute rule for preparing your kids to transition. Example: Kids are playing at McDonald's Playland. We don't just say "Let's go." We give them a 5 minute warning. This, to them, is permission to play longer as well as preparation that the end is near. That way when expecting *first time obedience* we aren't creating frustrated kids who were having a blast and then had parents drop the bomb on fun time. We almost never had an issue leaving something fun while other parents struggled and yelled. Such a helpful rule. This rule also works for bedtime, before leaving for something, etc.

ALSO, after doing this for a bit all I would have to do when one of the kids would look at me from the playground is hold up my hand with 5 fingers and they would call out to each other "FIVE MINUTES!" So, so helpful.

Pre-Event Preparation/Conversation | When going to meet with other people, go to a party with other families, go to a movie, whatever, we would have a short talk in the car. It was our way of preparing the kids for what was coming as well as setting our expectations for how they would act when they arrived. Example: Heading to a small group Bible study. We'd tell the kids where we were going, to remember to say "Yes Mam" or "No Mam" when asked something, to be quiet during prayer time, to be generous and let other kids play with toys, and so on. Set them up for success by reminding them just before an event of your expectations.

Titles of Respect for Adults (No First Names) | Never, EVER, let them call an adult merely by their first name. If an adult insists, you tell them (in front of your kids is fine) that's not how you are parenting them. Don't allow others to change your parenting. This is more obvious for family (Aunt Jennifer or Grandpa), but will show much fruit for everyday interaction. A member of our church will be called "Miss Gail" or "Mr. Ryan."

Use Timers | This may be what you use as a parent or what the kids are taught to use on their own depending on age. There is no "Go watch TV" for an undetermined amount of time. You get 30 minutes (or whatever). 

Sharing Is Not Requested, It's Essential | My kids would always share. That was the rule. If another kid is throwing a fit, you give it up. You take the hit. You make the peace. This wasn't about bullying, but about making it easy for the adults teaching Sunday School, babysitting, whatever. 

Boys Treat Girls Differently Than Boys | Boys are to be tough and rough and playful with boys. Treat girls with a kind of respect. Hard to describe this one, but talk to your boys about how to treat girls with honor.

Play Rough & Teach Kids To Get Over It | This one has done wonders for us. I played rough with the kids. Not hurtful or harmful, but lots of wrestling, throwing kids on beds playfully, etc. I still do it, even now that they are big enough to play rough back! When you do this and then someone at church or school is a little rough with your kids they won't whine, cry, tattle. They won't act hurt for attention. Teach them to handle rough play.

ALSO, my kids were taught that they were never as hurt as they thought they were. It was almost always true. "Get up." "You're fine." "Be tough." Many parents gasp and run to their kid on the ground who really isn't hurt all that bad but loves attention. My kids were taught to get up and keep going. Elijah got hit by a very fast pitch and it hurt him bad, but he tossed his bat aside and ran to first base. Later he told me how bad it hurt, but he had learned to be tough and get over it. 

Kids Sit With You In Church | Some will disagree, but we taught our kids to sit with us in church from birth onward. Some will think it impossible. It isn't. We saw others do it and we did it. They were minimal distractions at their worst and often no distraction at all. I could give you a lot of tips on this, but the main one is to demand *first time obedience*, which means disobedience draws consequences. That's also why you prepare them on the car ride before church of how they will sit quietly, etc.

Ask Your Kids To Forgive You | You will fail. Often. Tell your kids that you do, when you do, and ask their forgiveness. We've asked our kids several times to forgive us for not requiring *first time obedience* (when we've grown slack), for example.

Kiss Your Spouse In Front Of Them | It blesses your kids beyond measure to know their parents love each other and want to show it. Comforting. Brings a confidence in your marriage when many of their friends' parents are getting divorced.

Talking Back To Mom Is Talking Back To My Wife | I tell my kids that if/when they talk back to Mom, they are talking back to my wife (not merely their Mom). She was my wife before she became their Mom, and that means something. 

Hugs & Kisses To Friends | Teach your kids to be affectionate with others. Just this Sunday I told my youngest two to give Miss Deb a hug before we left church. No questions, they did. We don't just hug Mom and Dad, but a lot of people. 

Disagree In Front Of Your Kids | You will have to ask their forgiveness when you do it sinfully, and there are times to separate & talk when we are struggling as a couple, but it teaches your kids that no disagreement will separate us from each other. It prepares them to get married one day and see what a marriage really looks like. Messy.

Keep/Give Away | Our kids have been taught to regularly do a keep/give away day. They go through all their toys and decide what to keep and what to give away. It de-clutters things as well as teaches them how to move on, how to be generous, how to not hoard, etc.

Teach Your Kids To Sing | Music has always filled our house, and we aren't musicians or singers by any artistic standard. But singing is a part of worship and so we make it a part of life. Doesn't mean it's always worship music. Hardly. But we are singing. It's common to be working in my home office and have a child start belting out a song at the top of their lungs upstairs. It teaches them to be loud in public worship singing too.

Teach Your Kids God Loves Them More Than You | It doesn't mean I love them less than I should, but that God's love is beyond comparison.

Get In The Pool | Play with your kids. Don't just watch them play. They want it! While on vacation last summer I got in the pool and would throw a ball as the kids would leap into the pool while trying to catch the ball. Kinda like a dog. :) Another family we met there saw us doing that and became our best friends while there. Every day the kids played with us as if I was their Dad. Their kids wanted to play. Their Dad eventually decided to stop reading and join us in the pool. His kids kept nagging him until he did! Playing teaches your kids they are important to you. It's fun. It has helped us to befriend others and bless families who don't have Dads and Moms in the pool.

-----

I cut out some as this is already too long. Hope it helps. Would love your interaction on my advice and to hear some of your own.

Groundhog Day & My Life in Woodstock, IL

Funny-groundhog-day-0

Groundhog Day was filmed almost completely in Woodstock, Illinois, where I live. Here are a few fun movie facts as they merge with my life.

1. The Starbucks I frequent is right next to "The Pennsylvanian Hotel." In real life the hotel is the Opera House in which my kids have been in summer plays, I've seen Alejandro Escovedo play, I've heard Billy Collins read poetry, etc. 

2. I've taken photographs from the tower at the top of the hotel (Opera House) Bill Murray jumps from in one of his moments of despair.

3. When our church used to meet outside of our church building a few years ago, we met in a ballroom in the building along the alley where Bill Murray tries to revive the "old man." It's right across from the "Alpine Theater" which is really the Woodstock Theater.

4. "Gobbler's Knob," where the prognostication happens, is the place on the Woodstock Square where my boys and I usually play "hot box" or "pickle" between two trees.

5. The Bed & Breakfast Bill Murray stayed in is a real Bed & Breakfast in Woodstock. Or at least it has been. I think they had some issues in the last few years.

6. I've stood where Bill Murray stood as he stepped in the puddle. You can too. There's a plaque. There are actually many plaques around Woodstock at all the main sites.

7. The restaurant & bar where Bill & Andie McDowell drink to world peace is now closed, though it was open when we moved here. You could (and we did) actually eat in a jail cell, as it's part of the Old Courthouse in Woodstock. 

8. Molly & I have danced where Bill Murray and Andie McDowell danced. It's a Moose Lodge. Our dancing was way cooler.

9. The "Tip Top Cafe" has been many things since the movie. It's now a Mexican restaurant. A few years ago it was a family favorite place to go for gelato.

10. Woodstock has a yearly Groundhog Day event with our own groundhog, Woodstock Willie. He said winter is ending soon and announced it at 7:07am today.

Chronic Suffering & Christian Hope

This is outstanding on "Longing for Wholeness." It's spot on for what my family is experiencing at the moment, and has been experiencing the last few years. Mark Talbot is apparently writing a book on profound suffering titled When the Stars Disappear. I look forward to buying that book, that has been his labor for years now, in light of this excellent teaching from Talbot at the Desiring God's Works of God Conference. Please watch or go listen to/download the audio. (via JT)

Longing for Wholeness: Chronic Suffering and Christian Hope from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Lots-o-Links 11.14.12

Web link

How To Create A Disciple-Making Culture In Your Church | Justin Buzzard

Six months ago, when our church plant was eight months old, I realized I had made a big mistake in church planting. I kept talking about discipleship and I was coaching others in how to make disciples, but I hadn’t done enough face-to-face modeling of what I meant when I told our church to make disciples. Thus, our church didn’t yet have the discipleship culture I wanted it to have.

So, I confessed my mistake and then prayerfully selected twelve men to disciple for six months in order to inject a strong disciple-making culture into our church. I created a discipleship process and then spent the last six months investing in these twelve men. It wasn’t perfect, but it was my best. I gave these men my heart, my best training, my time, my love, my prayers, my energy, etc.

12 Social Media Tips for Church Leaders

I'd like to tweak a few of Steve Fogg's points, but a lot of good stuff to think about as we engage in social media. 

When Biography Shapes Theology | Greg Thornbury

This is at the very heart of faith, to marvel at that great cloud of witnesses who "were stoned, sawn in two, and killed with the sword...who went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated...of whom the world was not worthy, wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth" (Heb. 11:37-38).

Grace Filled Parenting | 3 Videos with Jeff Vanderstelt

Sarah's Sweet Sixteen

Sarah leg 16

Sixteen years ago today Bob Dole was trying to defeat Bill Clinton and become President of the United States. He failed. And I didn't vote. Why?

Sixteen years ago today my wife succeeded in giving birth to our firstborn, a sweet little girl. We named her Sarah Elizabeth McCoy. We were living in Lakewood, Colorado, a western suburb of Denver, right along the foothills. When Molly went into labor on the night of November 4th, we knew it would be a long night. She went through more than a half a day of labor before our little Sarah was born.

That little doll of a daughter is now sixteen, getting her driver's license, stressing over grades, making works of art, and bringing her parents great joy. We are very proud of her. She is a great gift from God.