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February 15, 2007

Great minds...

Fourth_of_the_july_2_lr Wendy and I have been laughing a lot lately. We seem to have this thing where we think the same thing at the same time or say the same thing at the same time. The other night at play rehearsal I was sitting at the back of the auditorium watching the actors, who were all jammed up on the stage so you couldn't see the people in the back. All of a sudden I saw Wendy pop-up at the front of the auditorium and make the trek back to where I was sitting. She sat down next to me and before she could open her mouth I said, "I know, I know - we have to move Marty or Carlyn up on those steps - they're all bunched up and the sight lines are horrible." Wendy looked at me all bug-eyed and started laughing to think I knew what she was going to say before she said it.

So, maybe yesterday shouldn't come as any surprise.

We bought each other the exact same Valentine's card!

Note: photo was taken in warmer days of yore.

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 9

These are the three sons of Noah; from these three the whole Earth was populated. Genesis 9:19

We all come from the same place. We're all part of the same family.

Chill.

Love your cuz.

February 14, 2007

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 8

For as long as Earth lasts, planting and harvest, cold and heat, Summer and winter, day and night will never stop." Genesis 8:22 (TM)

God is a God of detail and order. There is a symmetry to this universe He's created and the life we live in it. Last semester Taylor was struggling with math and was trying to decide whether or not she should drop the class. Part of her reasoning was that she's planning to study "art" and "you don't need math for that." Nice try, Slick. Math is like the story of Jonah - no matter how hard you try to run from it you are going to run into it. Math is everywhere - even in art. God is a God of order and math is understanding the order and design of His universe (admittedly, I didn't get it at her age either).

Even though I'm a right-brained creative type like Taylor, I've come to appreciate the need for order and symmetry in my life. I need a consistent schedule so my body has rest, my mind has some order, and my spirit doesn't feel so chaotic. I need to understand the changing of the seasons and how it affects my body, my mind, my mood - and how it affects those around me. I need a list. I need a chapter-a-day and a call from my friend, Kevin. The symmetry, the consistency, the order - bring me into harmony with God's creation.

February 13, 2007

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 7

The flood continued forty days and the waters rose and lifted the ship high over the Earth. The waters kept rising, the flood deepened on the Earth, the ship floated on the surface. The flood got worse until all the highest mountains were covered—the high-water mark reached twenty feet above the crest of the mountains. Everything died. Anything that moved—dead. Birds, farm animals, wild animals, the entire teeming exuberance of life—dead. And all people—dead. Every living, breathing creature that lived on dry land died; he wiped out the whole works—people and animals, crawling creatures and flying birds, every last one of them, gone. Only Noah and his company on the ship lived. Genesis 7:17-23 (TM)

I had written a post a while back while going through Romans that I believe baptism is a metaphor (something which symbolizes something else without using "like" or "as") for the spiritual reality of dying to self, our sins buried with Jesus and then raised to new life with Him - our sins washed away.

Today's  passage, along with I Peter 3:20-21 reminded me once again of the powerful metaphor and the connection between the baptism and Noah's flood - everything dead and buried - submerged in the water.

February 12, 2007

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 6

Noah walked with God. Genesis 6:9b (TM)

When I take a walk with someone it's a conscious act. It requires planning and preparation to figure out when, where and how long we're going to walk. It also requires some communication and accountability to make sure I remember and show up.

I find that walking with God is similar. It's doesn't just happen on its own. If I'm going to walk with Him, then I need to make a conscious decision to do so - plan when I'm going to do it - put it on the schedule - figure out what course we're going to take - then talk to Him about it.

You know those people that you always talk about getting together with, but then never do? There are people to whom I always find myself saying, "Hey, we should get together sometime - you know, go for a walk or something." You say it as a courtesy and maybe you're sincere about it at that moment, but it never happens.

I don't want God to be one of those people.

February 11, 2007

Daddy Daughter Time

I spent some one-on-one time with Taylor and Madison over the past couple of weeks. Being teenagers, the opportunity to spend quality time with them is rare. Teens have plenty of pressing priorities including, but not limited to, texting friends, school, boys, calling friends, work, listening to the iPod, boys, getting together with friends, extra-curriculars, church, surfing MySpace, boys, instant messaging friends...oh yeah, and boys. Granted, that list requires intense amounts of time, and good ol' dad usually ranks pretty low on the priority meter - below all of the items I've just listed and just above "chores" and "getting mono".

That's why I was shocked when Taylor actually asked for "Daddy-Daughter" time the other week. It was sort of like winning the parental powerball. I was so bolstered by my wave of good fortune that I asked Madison if she'd like some "Daddy-Daughter" time too. She said she'd be happy to spend some quality time with me on Saturday...forgetting that she was scheduled to be out of town with the show choir all day. So, at the last minute we had to move the schedule around spend some time together on Friday night.

"Daddy-Daughter time" started when the girls were very young. I have vivid memories of taking giggling girls hand-in-hand to Chuck E. Cheese, Discovery Zone, and Disney - though Madison said she most fondly remembers early morning runs to Mr. Donut. The girls and I would go to the playground or go to an I-Cubs game and have a really fun time together.

Those days are gone.

It's not that time with the girls isn't fun anymore - not exactly. It's just that Daddy-daughter time with teenagers is much different. Somewhere along the line it stopped being about playing and started being more about shopping. So it was that  Friday night Madison and I headed to Des Moines for some quality Daddy-Daughter time at the mall.

Both the mall and the parking lot were unexpectedly packed for a Friday night. I knew that Madison wanted to go to Hollister* to look for some jeans, so I figured I'd save us both some time and her a long walk in the chilly Iowa wind. I pulled up to the front of the mall and dropped her off at the entrance, telling her that I'd come find her in Hollister after I finished parking the car in Northern Ontario.

"Um, Dad? If you want, you can just wait outside Hollister and call me. It's really crowded in there and it's hard to move around. It's not set up very well. You don't need to come into the store."

[sigh] Dad. Leper. Ebola virus. I get it.

She called me a bit later after she'd purchased her jeans and we met up near the food court and had dinner together.

I'm being fairly tongue-in-cheek, of course. The reality is that I cherish every moment I have with both of my girls - even taking them to the mall and waiting outside the lastest, greatest money-pit-posing-as-a-clothing-store. Most parents would kill to have their teens say one civil and/or coherent word to them. I'm blessed to have two beautiful, intelligent, articulate girls who will - on occasion - talk to me about their friends, their faith, and even about boys (well - sometimes - I'm not sure I always get the complete story there, but it's better than no story at all).

Daddy-Daughter time happens less frequently these days. It gets sandwiched in-between much higher priorities on the teen schedule - but it does happen.

Thank you, God.

*For you old people, Hollister is one of the current really "awesome" places for teens to shop - where you pay just less than the gross national income of Togo for clothes of questionable quality sold in a mock surf-hut in the middle of Iowa.

February 09, 2007

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 4

Time passed. Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm. Abel also brought an offering, but from the firstborn animals of his herd, choice cuts of meat. God liked Abel and his offering, but Cain and his offering didn't get his approval. Cain lost his temper and went into a sulk. Genesis 4:3-5 (TM)

I'm currently directing a show for the local community theatre. I've been telling the actors that, when it comes to performance, it's not the lines that make a great show - it's the thoughts, motivations, emotions and relationships underneath the lines. It's the quality of the subtext that makes a great show.

There's a parallel there to the story of Cain and Abel. The offerings aren't the issue. It's the subtext of the offerings.

We see Abel's heart in the giving of the first-fruits of his herd - the best - right-off-the-top. That's a sign-post of his gratitude, his understanding that everything he had came from God, and how much he honored God for being good to him.

We see Cain's priorities when he didn't give the first-fruits - the best - right-off-the-top of his crop. That is the sub-text of selfishness - giving what's easiest and most convenient - what he thought he could afford. It's a metaphor of how much he honored himself and the subservient position God held in his heart.

Am I Abel or am I Cain?

Ouch.

February 08, 2007

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 3

When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she'd know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate. Genesis 3:6 (TM)

Appetites.

Possession - acquisition - things - stuff..."she saw" and desired - the lust of the eyes.
Hunger - craving - physical pleasure..."good eating" - lust of the flesh.
Power - control - to be just like God..."know everything" - pride.

Appetites. Natural desires out of control..."she ate" - sin.

Yep. Me, too.

There is nothing new under the sun. Ecc 1:9

February 07, 2007

Taylor in State Speech Contest

Wendy and I made the cold trek to Grinnell this past weekend to see Taylor perform as part of an ensemble acting group in the district speech contest for Pella High. She did a GREAT job (I'm not saying that just because I'm her father!) - she was very funny and very believable in her character. She was in a one-act called "In God's Country". Her team got two one ratings and a two rating (One is the best) from the judges. Way to go, Taylor!! :)

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 2

God took the Man and set him down in the Garden of Eden to work... Genesis 2:15a (TM)

I get a kick out of people who picture eternity as ever-lasting retirement - floating around on clouds and doing nothing but eating, sleeping and playing our harps. The reality is that God is a worker. He spent six days working before He rested. Then He creates man to work the garden. Work - being productive - is part of our Christlikeness. The difference is that after sin - after Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit - the consequence for man is an awful marring of the original design. Productive, efficient, balanced work becomes painful toil (3:17-18).

Work, action, production & rest are part of God's nature - and a part of ours. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.