Thirty years ago today.
Feels like the blink of an eye some times.
Given the journey together up to now, the next 30 years should be interesting to say the least! Love you, Kelly!
Since the fall of 1991, when my fiancée-now-wife and I got a black kitten with lottery winnings, there has not been a night in our home without a pet in it. Until now.
Since early 1992—with the exception of an approximately one-month window—when we purchased a Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy from a local breeder, there has not been a night in our home without a dog in it. Until now.
Today we said good-bye to our sweet Winston. The slow kidney failure that had plagued him for nearly a year finally caught up, and it was time to let him go.
This one hits our family a little differently than the other two dogs we've had. With our first, Linus, it was just me and my wife, no kids, and we were quite devastated when his time with us was cut short from a tumor on his stomach. Our rebound dog, a Shar-Pei/Pit bull/couple-of-other-breeds mutt, Clancy, was equally sweet, and very protective of our firstborn when we brought him home from the hospital. But Winston was the first dog who truly had his boy. And our oldest was the first of us to truly have his dog.
Winston joined our family when our oldest was four. A friend who fostered dogs for the local humane society, and lived in the same neighborhood as us, knew of our love of Corgis from Linus. She called us one day to say, "I have a Corgi at my house." She was informed we'd be over shortly. The first day was our meeting Winston; the name was one given to him by the humane society, and we liked it so we kept it. The second day was Winston meeting Clancy on neutral ground there in the neighborhood. That went well enough that the next day Winston spent the night at our house to see how he'd get along with the two cats and the general goings-on of our household. That was a Friday, and Saturday was going to be his first day of availability to be adopted from the humane society. They were having a big event at our local pet store. Winston did not make an appearance.
I will not forget the look on the humane society volunteer's face when we told her we were there to adopt a dog, she asked which one, we told her, and she got confused that we didn't have a dog with us. "Where is he?" she asked.
"At our house," I replied with a smile. And then she got the above story, we got paperwork to fill out, the humane society got a check, and we had a second dog in the house.
When it was time for this ultimate decision to be made for Winston, there were many tears from all the humans in the household, but especially from our oldest. In my wife's words, he and Winston were "two peas in a pod". Bad day at school? Go lie down with Winston for some puppy therapy. Bad game on the ice? Go lie down with Winston for some puppy therapy. Mad at your parents because you're a teenager who's trying to figure out who he is and you're bumping up against the boundaries of authority? Go lie down with Winston for some puppy therapy.
I was with Linus and Clancy each when their time came, and there was no hesitation on my part that I would do the same for Winston. I left the decision on whether he wanted to be there as well to my oldest. There was no hesitation on his part, either.
Winston rode in his boy's lap on the drive from our house to the vet's office. He stuck his nose out the window a few times to sniff the air. He got lots of love and was talked to constantly.
It took both of us to gingerly get him down from his perch on his boy's lap to the ground. He had developed arthritis in his left back leg on top of all the internal turmoil he was enduring. He had to be helped over the curb from the parking lot to the grass surrounding the office. But he spent his last moments before being led inside by a tech sniffing the ground, exploring a relatively unknown space, and dutifully doing his business and making his mark.
When the moment came, there were many tears from me and my son. There was also a new pain and sadness to consider, one I hadn't experienced with our other two dogs: the pain a parent feels seeing such sadness of loss from his child. Sadly, I know this will not be the last time for that, but such is life.
We thanked God for bringing Winston into our home. We thanked Him for the love that poured forth between this sweet little, teddy-bear puppy and the humans he shared an abode with. We offered our hope to Him that we be reunited some day.
Until that day, I will miss you, sweet Winston. I love you.
Man Honors Late Wife by Walking 645 Miles to San Diego Comic-Con Dressed as a Stormtrooper
TODAY IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY…
I have always loved this story.
Beautiful Feet: Let's Be Real. Really.
“Abby and I sat back and marveled, recounting how Jesus also went through lots of difficult moments in his life. How he chose to become human and experience a world full of harshness. He didn’t remain aloof, or skirt over touchy issues. He dug into people’s messy, broken, dirty lives and loved them with a perfect heart. And when his friend Lazarus died, Jesus wept. Jesus was real.
"Abby and I talked of the blessings God has given each of us.
"God loved us enough to become a man and ultimately conquer sin and death in order for us to be with him forever. (Hello, Good News!)”
We are not much different than burdened travelers, are we? We roll in the mud of self-pity in the very shadow of the cross. We piously ask for his will and then have the audacity to pout if everything doesn’t go our way. If we would just remember the heavenly body that awaits us, we'd stop complaining that he hasn't healed this earthly one.
Our problem is not so much that God doesn't give us what we hope for as it is that we don't know the right thing for which to hope. (You may want to read that sentence again.)
Andrew Farley, The Naked Gospel:
Sometimes we see ourselves as sinners in the loving arms of a God who is pretending not to see us as we really are. In our minds, maybe God is wearing a pair of "Jesus glasses" that hides our true state from his vision. We find it difficult to grasp the idea that God calls us righteous because we actually are righteous. It feels more humble to believe that we're filthy worms awaiting a future change into beautiful butterflies.
Jesus stated it best. He said that our righteousness must surpass that of the Pharisees in order to enter the kingdom (Matthew 5:20). So if we Christians don't claim to possess perfect righteousness, we're lowering God's standard. We're watering down the gospel. We insinuate that Jesus can unite himself with sin. And we insult the perfection of God.
Only perfection will do. This is precisely why God had to make us perfectly righteous in our human spirits through our own death, burial, and resurrection. With its apparent humility, this filthy worm theology appeals to the flesh. But God certainly doesn't condone our wallowing in poor self-image.
The risen Christ doesn't join himself to filthy worms. The Holy Spirit doesn't dwell in dirty sinners. Christ only unites himself with those who are like him in spirit. The Holy Spirit doesn't reside in someone who remains even 1 percent flawed by sin.
But we've been perfectly cleansed. And we've been made perfectly righteous at our core through spiritual surgery. This is the only way we can enjoy even a moment of relationship with Jesus Christ. I have often used the same analogy Farley mentions above, of God looking at us through "Jesus-colored glasses," and I realize I may have been incomplete in my explanation in the past. Not to be repetitive with Farley's own elaboration, but my meaning has always been that when God sees a believer, he sees perfection, as when he sees Jesus. As when he sees himself. This is who we are, fellow Christians. We have no need to add to it. It's impossible for us to do so. There is no magic checklist we can look at to see how our perfecting is going. At the same time it is ongoing, it's also already done. Why can we not accept that? What are we afraid of? Knowing who we are, righteous before a perfect and holy God, should fill us with hope. A hope we should be passing on to our fellow man. Know who you are. Be who you are. Not to lord it over others, as the Church has too often been wont to do for years, but to show God's love to the world. He has chosen to work through us, and we should joyfully allow Him to do so.
No offense to ebooks and Kindle, which have their place, but there's no substitute for a book that has an actual history, that takes up space on a shelf, that has been somewhere, strapped to the back of a bike, that was being read in a British boys' school library while Lewis was still teaching at Oxford.
Thank you, Lord, for books. Not just the words, but actual physical books you can hold in your hand and touch and smell, and ponder where they have been and what lives they may have touched.
It's a good thing, I believe, to remember the dead -- especially in a culture that trivializes death. We shunt it aside to the fantastic realms of video games and movies, and call it by other names when we do it to old people and unborn infants, and all of this is a way, I think, of grasping life in the wrong way, in a way that reveals the underlying belief, for many of us, that our lives are about our gratification.
That's such a big word for an experience that is so very small. Gratification is as far removed from joy as hunger is from a great feast, and yet we forsake the latter in pursuit of the former because joy, like a feast, requires sacrifice.
So it's a good thing to remember those who gave their lives in sacrifice for others. Think on them, and if you like you can light a candle or mutter a prayer, a prayer that you and I and the rest of the world will, if only for a slender day, give ourselves over to loving someone other than ourselves, which means the great sacrifice of setting down our hurts and lusts and grievances and entitlements, all of which are chains with heavy anchors, but which we gather to us like treasures. But today, if only for today, what say we lay them down?
This spring, Davis started playing baseball. At the six and under level (6U), it's coach-pitch. He did pretty well, and we saw improvements in his fielding from that first practice to the last game this past Saturday (May 22d). Hitting wise, he did awesome, going seven for eight in the first half of the season. He hit a slump, but rebounded for the last two games.
To see more photos, including a couple from the game, check out the rest of the set.
From back in March. While I was getting myself ready, the boys watched Sesame Street in Mom and Dad's room.
Andrew Farley, The Naked Gospel:
Grace is the system that the Holy Spirit uses to counsel and teach us on a daily basis. Grace is in place, whether or not we've sinned recently. We worry that an absence of law will result in a lifestyle that is out of control. This concern is natural. But is contradicts what the Scriptures say about the effects of grace. grace isn't just a treatment for sin; it's actually the cure for sin!
When we question the function of grace in our lives, we're insulting God's intelligence. Would he users in a New Covenant that not only allows but actually promotes sin? Is God foolish to think that grace really motivates us to live godly lives?
The secret is that grace deactivates our pride. Removing the law from our lives means our self-effort is no longer prodded to control behavior. The law excites human effort. It encourages us to depend on resources outside of Christ. But unconditional acceptance deactivates human effort and allows the Holy Spirit to be all that he wants to be through us.
Our greatest fear is that we'll be out of control. But we were never made to be in control. Self-control has always been a natural attribute of the Holy Spirit. The reason he lives within us is to produce the self-control that we're afraid we'll lack under grace.
Matthew Paul Turner: Today, America's Jesus is more of a brand name than anything else, a money-making commodity that churches and large "non-profits" manage using basic business-type practices like strategy development, viral marketing, and publicity and public relations.
In the book, one of the chapter titles was called "JESUS is a Registered Trademark." In that chapter, I discussed the differences between the JESUS™ people have created and the Jesus we read about in the gospels. JESUS™ can be manipulated or branded into almost anything we want him to be, from a wealth-and-prosperity-providing genie to a hateful Messiah who will one day return with an eternal axe to grind. It's difficult to do that with the Jesus of the four gospels.
This has been sitting in my NetNewsWire sidebar for two and a half years. So better late than never, I suppose. Tony Woodlief:
The best inoculation, I think, to a wrong perception that Christianity is equivalent to conservatism is the mercy work of many good churches. For every politico a non-Christian sees claiming the Christian label, we want him to see a hundred Christians in his community, quietly, humbly doing the work of our Father. The more we can accomplish that, the harder it will be for people to identify Christianity with whatever happens to be popular among politicians who claim to act on Christ’s behalf. "You will know them," Christ said of the good and the bad, "by their fruits." My prayer, in the current political season and the decades to follow, is that more non-Christians will come to know us in that way, by lifechanging encounters with loving Christians.
God doesn’t give us solutions, he gives us a savior.
A lot of the time, I wish it was the other way around. To be honest with you, sometimes a solution feels more manageable. I can control and understand a solution. I can bend and tweak a formula to my own needs. Christ on the other hand, our savior, isn’t like that at all.
He’s messy. And counterintuitive and uncontrollable. Grace and mercy are two of the most puzzling things on the planet. They’re raw and unbridled and out of control and intertwined with love we can’t possibly understand or earn.
I remind him to watch the cars, to look the drivers in the eye and make sure they see him. His brothers and I sit in the minivan while he goes to the curb and waits for a chance to walk out to the girl. Finally a car stops to let him pass. The girl’s face is turned down; she sees nothing but the ground. I watch my son’s narrow shoulders as he crosses the drive, and I am praying that no harm will come to him, not now or ever, that someone who is this loving will be spared the pain of the world, which is when I remember that it is Christmas, the time when we celebrate precisely the opposite, the coming of pure love to suffer for all we who sit with faces turned down, not even knowing what to ask for, knowing only in our crusted-over hearts that anything will help.
Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Seeker's ABC:
Unfermented grape juice is a bland and pleasant drink, especially on a warm afternoon mixed half-and-half with ginger ale. It is a ghastly symbol of the life blood of Jesus Christ, especially when served in individual antiseptic, thimble-sized glasses.
Wine is booze, which means it is dangerous and drunk-making. It makes the timid brave and the reserved amorous. It loosens the tongue and breaks the ice, especially when served in a loving cup. It kills germs. As symbols go, it is a rather splendid one. [Totally ripped off from Michael Hyatt.]
Brian "Head" Welch, Save Me From Myself:
All of the man-made religion crap in this world has to die. Whether it's Christian man-made religion crap or some other man-made religion crap, it all has to die. It must grieve God's heart when he sees Christians fighting about whose doctrine is right; he doesn't see denominations, he sees one big glorious bride. When Christians argue about doctrinal issues, all he sees is carnal people acting like children. All that prideful, controlling religious crap is what drives young people away from churches, and it has to go. Much of the world's population is under the age of eighteen, and we have to bring the love of Christ to them without all this controlling crap going on. Because, where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."
Forgiveness is the thing I ask for the most. In my head maybe I know that God’s forgiveness is eternal and inexhaustible but in my heart I feel like he’s going to run out of them. That he’s got a limited supply. And I’m burning them up, one by one, sin by sin. Boy, have I felt this way, too. (Yes, I know the blog post is over a year old, but I just put the feed into my RSS reader and am reading the old entries still in the feed.)
Tony Woodlief (yes, again):
Isaiah loves books. He loves to read them, loves it when people read them to him, loves to hit his brother Isaac upside the head with them. The boy hearts books. I hope he never stops loving them, even as the world around him transitions into a post-modern funk of hyper-links and text messages and overstimulating audio-visual mind sludge. Then one day he can visit me wherever he and his brothers have finally put me out to pasture, and maybe read to me there. Davis is getting to this point, too. At times he will decide that he's had enough playing with his Star Wars Galactic Heroes™ figures, or pretending to duel a dragon, or building with Lincoln Logs™ or LEGO™ pieces, and he'll plop down in the play room and "read". My parents instilled a deep love of reading in my sister and I when we were growing up. Weekly visits to the local library (which was about as big as the downstairs area of our current home, minus the garage) were the norm. While we're not going weekly, Kelly and I have both taken Davis to our local library (which is larger than the downstairs area of our house, including the garage), and he loves it. Davis will often ask for a second or even third book to be read before going to bed, although I suspect this is as much about staying up as late as possible as it is about loving books. I'd hoped to pass on this love of reading to both our boys, and so far, it's looking pretty good.
I spent a good portion of my time in a small chapel, learning prayers that preceded the Roman Catholic Church. I came with a great weight on my bones, a weight that overwhelmed me in that tiny chapel. I fell to my knees there, and prayed with quivering shoulders and trembling hands, done in by grief over the past, fear of the future, the knowing that this present ground is sand, that my feet must soon move forward or backward. Each way bears a cost; one of the great lies of men is that the path can be traveled without suffering. Another great lie is that we can stand still and read books and let our paltry knowledge carry us into the arms of God. We have to walk, with heavy, stumbling feet.
It’s easy to see why so many of us -- Christians and pagans alike -- spend lifetimes running from the living God, our hands stopping our ears, our mouths babbling prayers or blasphemies, all in an effort to avoid the great silence where God speaks to man. That silence is a fearful place, but there is love there, the great love of a parent. There is mercy too, and strength for the uncompleted race.
Davis has lost his first tooth! It came from the middle bottom, and was kind of a surprise, especially for Mom! Thankfully, the tooth wasn't lost, though for a little while, we thought it might be. It had fallen out during dinner, and was still in the dinette, sitting on Davis's chair. We cleaned it up, and Mom helped him ready it for the Tooth Fairy that evening.
This looks good.
"Brothers at War is an intimate portrait of an American family during a turbulent time. Jake Rademacher sets out to understand the experience, sacrifice, and motivation of his two brothers serving in Iraq. The film follows Jake's exploits as he risks everything--including his life--to tell his brothers' story. "Often humorous, but sometimes downright lethal, Brothers at War is a remarkable journey where Jake embeds with four combat units in Iraq. Unprecedented access to US and Iraqi combat units take him behind the camouflage curtain with secret reconnaissance troops on the Syrian border, into sniper 'hide sites' in the Sunni Triangle, through raging machine gun battles with the Iraqi Army. "Ultimately, the film follows his brothers home where separations and life-threatening work ripple through their parents, siblings, wives, and children. Brothers at War is a rare look at the bonds and service of our soldiers on the frontlines and the profound effects their service has on the loved ones they leave behind. For more information please visit - www.brothersatwarmovie.com." The film is executive produced by Gary Sinise (CSI: New York, "Lt. Dan" in Forrest Gump), who said, "The media took the 15 people of Abu Ghraib and made them the face of the military. This [movie] is a true portrait of our military and their families."