Posts Tagged ‘In-Laws’

Distance Token

January 7, 2011 1 comment

Dana’s birthday was the other day.  January 5.  On the day, as is the custom of her father, a package arrived with a gift.  In the box was a small plastic ring with a princess on it.  He meant to drop it in her Christmas stocking while he was at our place, but must have missed it in the confusion of wrapping paper.  Christmas was great and the kids adored having their “Papa” with them.  750 miles is about 12 hours in the car and $300 on the plane, so we don’t see him (or any of our distance family) nearly enough.  We cherish the time we can get.

The kids especially.  Alex and Bis count down the days.  Bis kept saying, “I’m going to be five and Papa’s coming for five days!”  When he was here, she would wake him up early and played his shadow all day long.  He read to them and wrestled and napped (with snoring of incredible decible levels) on the couch while they played nearby.  Something about being his his presence that made them happy and contented.  Something about the tangible love he showed that gave them a more full sense of family and well-being.

The ring was found in the box yesterday and presented to Bis.  She hasn’t taken it off so far.  In the van this morning as we were on our way she dropped it and had to reeeeaaaach for it from her seat.  When she finally got ahold of it, she said, “I love this ring.  When I wear it I feel like I’m holding Papa’s hand.”

As a pastor I am often thinking about the flavor of worship on Sunday morning.  One of my largest desires is that people would feel the tangible presence of God.  Something about being int he presence of God that makes us happy and contented…or at least gives us the opportunity to be near God intentionally.  And there’s a more full sense of family and well-being.  When we walk out the door to be the very presence of Christ in the world I hope what they take from Sunday morning will become like Papa’s ring.  Where they say, “I feel like I”m holding Papa’s hand.”


So this is what this looks like…interesting.

December 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Yesterday was Sunday, December 26.  One day after all the presents are opened.  My kids have been sequestered away from other children because school has been out, and their grandfather (lovingly known as “Papa”) has been at our house since Wednesday – so they’ve been spending time with him.  Now it’s Sunday and they get to see their friends at church and ask and answer the great question that comes to and from every child, “What did you get for Christmas?”

Our church was thin yesterday.  We’ve not had a lot of Christmases as a church, so I didn’t know what to expect.  So, 45 people is just fine with me.  Next year I’m hoping for 90.  There were a few kids there, though.  Josh is in kindergarten and his brother Luke is preschool age.  Last week both my kids went to their house for the weekend.  This week Alex and Josh wanted Josh to come over and try Alex’s new Madden ’08 Football game for the Wii.  Used is new to them, right?

When the decision was made and declared to the children that Josh would come to our house, but Luke would not…Luke was not pleased.  He’s still kind of a handful, and I don’t think we’re up to Luke duty just yet at our house – soon, I’m sure.  Ok, now for the picture I wanted to share with you from the beginning:

I walked past our toybrary (like a library, except people share all their toys in common) at church I heard incredible screaming and crying.  I knew that Luke had gotten the message that he was going to be alone at home with no Bis to play with.  I expected this.  What I didn’t expect was seeing how bis dealt with Luke in such distress.

She’s standing four feet from him.  She’s watching him with more than mild interest.  She’s slowly licking a lollipop.  I can almost hear what’s going through her brain, “So this is what this looks like…interesting.  I wonder if it looks like this when I cry and lose it in public.  Hmmm.  Hey, this lollipop is good.”

I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me to see her do this.  I think I do it all the time, but it sounds a little more mature, until you put it into print, “These people who buy more Christmas presents than they can afford…sheesh, can’t believe them.”  Or, “Why can’t that guy pick a lane to drive in?”  Or, “That lady is obnoxiously loud in the booth next to us.”

Perhaps an appropriate Christmas gift for everybody, including myself, would be a mirror.

Yay, You’re Going To Let Me Be Myself vol. 2

October 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Here's Brian's pic off his church's website. He's gonna hate that this picture is on here. Good lookin' guy, though, right?

It’s my brother-in-law’s birthday today.  I didn’t get him a card or a gift…I never remember that stuff, but I thought I would tell you about him, and one of the things I love about him.  He’s about my size, but thinner and better looking with more hair.  I’ve known him since college, and he’s always been a very popular guy.  He’s the guy you want to be around.  He’s the guy you want to be like.  He’s the guy you want representing you.  He’s the guy who married my sister.

I just want to say that I love my brother-in-law.  I picked him.  You don’t often get to pick your family members, but I got to introduce him to my sister, and it has paid off 100-fold.  He’s everything I could want in a brother-in-law.  We share many of the same interests, we shared two alma maters, we shared a ton of experiences, and we share the same love for Christ and his people.

While we do have a lot in common, we also differ on many things, too.  We’re wired differently, and that’s a good thing.  He’s incredibly intelligent – the scary holy-cow-this-guy-knows-everything kind of intelligent.  He’s always, and I mean always reading.  Not only intelligent, but the strange and rare combination of pastoral intelligence.  His heart is big for people and they are the priority over his books.

We had lunch the other day to encourage one another.  Brian is the pastor of a big church in my town, and understands the whole story of planting a church here – the challenges of fundraising, raising up leaders, equipping people to serve, walking with people as they grow to understand Christ more.

After lunch we walked to the libraries.  He walked to the Seminary library and I walked to the public library.  Brian was carrying an armful of books, and started talking about a lot of authors and theologians I will never read.  I love it when he does talk like that…I get a lot out of it.  On our way we ran into two theological heavy weights – one from Hope College and a visiting scholar who writes in important journals and produces thoughtful, useful books.  I stood by while they talked about books I haven’t and probably won’t read.

Then we kept walking and Brian was able to talk my language, too.  We talked about denominational number mongering and the far greater importance of just walking faithfully and letting God worry about the numbers of people who are reconciled to God.  I felt so encouraged and heard.

So, I say all this to say that if you get the chance to be like anyone today let it be Christ.  If you get the chance to be like anyone else today, be like Brian (You’ll find being like Brian is a good example of being like Christ).  Encourage someone.  Listen to them.  Be yourself, and let the other person be themselves.  Be OK with that, and you will have done a great thing.


September 25, 2010 Leave a comment

There were three men in the movie theater last night to see the movie: You Again.  The rest of the people in the room were women.

Here’s my synopsis of the movie: 3 generations of women have to deal with the drama of famale relationships.  The men in their lives are clueless and baffled.  Everything works out.

It wasn’t that bad.  There were some cute moments, but nothing blew up.  So, I give it a B-.  If you’re reading this, Dana, sorry.  If it makes you feel better, I enjoyed it because I was with you. (insert cheesy grin here)

Categories: Friday Mornings Tags: , ,

This Short Stent of Time

August 7, 2010 2 comments

“Well, there’s a lady coming who will blow you out of the water.  She has had 17, and she’s more active than any of us.  In fact, she’s almost 90.”

This was the game ender.  This was the culmination of competition between people who have had stents put in.  The conversation was a one-upmanship around a table of people in their 60’s at a rehearsal dinner.  I only knew one of the people at the table, and he was out of the game at 4 stents.

Of course, then, the conversation turned to how much each of them follow their Dr.’s orders about what to eat.

“I eat how much of whatever I want whenever I want.  As long as I’m taking my (insert list of about 8 medications here) I can do as I please – at least that’s what I figure.”

Now, I’m 34 and a little overweight.  I tend to eat as I please, too, but the Dr. hasn’t given me a diet to follow.  I’m looking around the table at 4 people who are teetering on the edge of their next heart attack, and here’s the realization I’m coming to:

This is me.  When my daughter gets married…this is me, sitting around a table talking about stents (or whatever is the latest thing that medicine has come up with to keep me alive a little longer.)  And I saw my family tree flash before my eyes.

I didn’t go back to the buffet line for seconds.

To The Foundations

(Today’s blog entry is by a guest blogger: my brother-in-law, Dan Smith of Marshall, MN.  They just bought a house and are beginning to blend a new household.  I’ll be officiating at his wedding to Denise in August.  Dan’s a high school English teacher, baseball enthusiast, and all around theatre nerd.  Enjoy.)

We had a really great weekend with the kids working on the house.  We ripped out all the carpet, and as we expected,Getting to the bottom of things found some odd surprises along the way.  In the kitchen, there were 2 layers of carpet on top of 2 layers of old linoleum that were glued to the old hardwood.  The hardwood itself only covered 1/2 of the kitchen and was ruined from the glue, so we ripped that out too.  Then we took out a little shoulder-height wall that divided the kitchen and dining spaces–it opened up the kitchen WONDERFULLY and created a great space for a dish-washer.  Then we got back to the floor.  We ripped everything out so that we’re back to the original base layer of wood.  Then we reinforced the boards with new decking screws to take away all of the squeaks and today we’ll put in new sub-floor and then new vinyl. 

 A floor upgrade was at first a difficult decision to make.  There is very little glamour in a floor.  Instead, we wanted to get rid of the old yellow countertop, golden fridge and stove, and the kitchen sink that looks worn-out.   We had enough money to make one big repair and really wanted to do the countertop and sink.  However, we decided that the yellow counter replacement was 90% aesthetic, while the floor is foundational work. New appliances and countertop would look pretty and maybe even impressive to early visitors, but the basic floor problem would only have been covered, rather than fixed. 

 So we went to work…and we needed all of the hands we could get.  Besides being a gifted carpenter, Denise’s dad is an amazing grandfather who got the kids ultra-involved in the project.  Ariel was a little bummed that she didn’t get to hang out with friends as much as she’d like, but Dale kept saying to her (not negatively)-“this is a family project and you’re part of the family, so here’s your hammer, my darling little blondie!”

 Then last night a really cool thing happened.  Ariel had gone to a friend’s house after we ate supper at Dale and Flo’s.  She had been there for an hour when I told her that we were going home.  She begged for more time there, but I made her come home with us.  She was (of course) pissed and hung her head low in a classic teen-ager belly-aching pout.  She slammed stuff around as she put away clothes that I had folded and then slammed the door of the computer room to emphasize the fact that she was going to spend some time on facebook…away from us.  Denise and I showered (individually) and then went to bed around 10:00, both tired and sore. 

 A few minutes later, our door creaks open and Ariel walks into the bedroom and sits on the end of our bed and we start talking.  Then Danny gets done watching “The Sandlot” and he shows up on the end of the bed and joins the conversation.  Then Danny invites Beatrice (the dog) up onto the bed and there the 5 of us sit, talking, laughing, telling stories, etc, until 11:00 when I finally say that I need to get to sleep since I have to work in the morning.  But then Danny reminded me that he had wanted to read the story about Samson, because he’s been watching the Veggie Tales episode based on the Samson story.  I started with my Bible, but Danny was a little confused, so I grabbed a copy of “The Message’ and we read the whole story out of Judges.  It was funny because Danny kept interjecting details from the Veggie Tales version–he seemed delighted and even a bit surprised that they lined up!  Then he started asking theological questions.  He says to me…”so, the stories in the Bible, like the one about Passover in the Andrew Peterson song, and the story about Samson…how do we know that they happened?”  That lead to a little conversation (way over his head) about faith and the importance of thinking about what the stories show us about God and our relationship with him instead of worrying about whether they happened exactly like they’re told.  Both kids kept asking really interesting and insightful questions…some of which were designed to postpone bedtime…but others were their minds working to make sense of some of this stuff.  In the end, I told Danny that the most important thing was that he was asking good questions and encouraged him to keep thinking about those questions and keep asking more.  It was really cool. 

 The entire experience reminded me how important it is to invest in the stuff that counts in the long run, even if there isn’t instant gratification.  That’s not easy as a parent in a traditional household and (without complaining), I’ve realized how much more difficult it is to do in a broken home where the kids bounce back and forth.  I live in constant fear that our home will become the anti-fun prison zone.  A couple weeks ago, Ariel said to Denise…”you guys expect so much more out of me and you have so many more rules than mom does.”  Often, I see Ariel’s mind running through this thought process:  “At mom’s we get to watch TV and movies, hang out with friends, play video games, and buy stuff at Wal-Mart whenever we want; at dad’s we have to do chores, go to bed early, and both our computer and TV time are limited.”

I watch this in fear that the former will be much more attractive than the latter and in a couple years, she’ll want to stay out all night at frat parties with her mom (at some point, I know that this will happen–I just hope that Ariel isn’t hurt too badly in the process), but what I experienced yesterday convinced me again that eventually the stuff built on a solid foundation stands.  And even though it might not have amusement park-style attraction, I believe that the kids see that a weekend such as the one we just experienced is authentically good stuff.  Even though Ariel complained “Dad, it’s summer!  Would you relax a little!?!?!” when I made her leave her friend’s house last night, something led her to closedown facebook and walk into the bedroom to talk.  Even she seems to understand the value of those times.


May 31, 2010 1 comment

Recently my Father-in-law paid us a visit.  We had a delightful time and we always look forward to having him.  He’s a lively guy with a lot of pizzazz.  He taught H.S. English and theater for years then retired to become a lay preacher and pastor.  He’s now retired and doing both teaching and preaching on the side.  So, he has time to visit us.

The first full day he was with us, he took our dog, Jack, for a walk.  That was super helpful.  On this walk our dog did what dogs do.  He made a pile.  My conscientious father-in-law did not want to leave the pile on someone’s lawn, but… didn’t bring a baggie.  So…not thinking that he could just return a little later with a baggie…yah.  I know what you’re thinking “no. he didn’t.”  He did.  He carried it home in his bare hands.

This post is a quick reminder that you don’t have to carry around your pile or anyone else’s.  God has made a way to releave us of our dirty mess.  He’s provided an unending supply of baggies for getting rid of all the things that stink about us.  Don’t forget that Christ has made a way and that we can be reconciled through the forgiveness of our sin…even that one thing that you have done or continue to do that you would rather carry yourself than get taken care of properly.

Another important thing to remember is that someone else’s pile isn’t your pile.  We may be called to help carry each other’s burdens, but not to carry around their sin…that’s God’s job, not ours.  Here’s what we can do: point to the baggie.  Hey, we all make piles.  Fortunately for us, God understands this and has made a provision.  But for the sake of yourself and for the sake of all your neighbors please make use of the baggie.