Smile….God Loves You!


Sometimes perspective arrives when we stop searching for it.

One of those days…….

Too many hours spent at work (if I can just get caught up on some things, I’ll have more time with my family)

Too many rude and impatient people (“I can be nice to anybody for five minutes.  I can bite my tongue.  I’m not offendable)

Too many things to do.  Not enough help to do it.  The demands and requests keep coming.  (I can’t figure out how to get it all done)

Too many places to be at the same time.  (If this day was 30 hours long, I would still be in trouble).

If one more thing goes wrong, I’m gonna lose it.  (and it always does)

“This too shall pass.”

I don’t believe this is actually in scripture, but I repeat it to myself often when overwhelmed with circumstances.  It does give biblical perspective, but sometimes there is no comfort in simple analytical thinking.  The weariness doesn’t go away.

My day finished with a long church meeting that left me arriving home at 10:30.  Little to no time spent with any family member in an entire day.  Great.  Weary……very.

I mindlessly watched TV for a while before bed.  Kal had fallen asleep in the recliner next to me.  When I picked him up to carry him to bed, perspective came in the most gentle and perfect way.

He had been sick and hadn’t gone to school.  Almost 9 years old now, I struggled to pick him up and carry his sleeping body.  His head rested on my shoulder as I started through the house.  I took just a few steps and felt his fevered cheek against mine.

Weariness, unrest, and anxiety gave way to an amazing feeling of peace.

God loves me.  That’s enough.

“God loves you” sounds terribly cliche’ and empty when tossing it out to others, but it’s powerful enough to bring you to your knees in moments like this.

For just an instant, with my son’s head resting on my shoulder, I was reminded how much I love this precious child (and all four of my children).  And as I gave thanks for this boy and the privilege of being called “daddy”, I saw so clearly my Father’s love for me.

And I saw great purpose again.  Not to survive the day and schedules and get things done……but to love.  To be the best dad I can be.

I may not get to spend as much time as I’d like with my kids tomorrow either.  But if I trust, honor, and obey God with my plans and efforts to do so…….He will provide a way.

In comforting my sick son, I found comfort in my Father.

God loves me.  He loves me enough to make me a daddy.  He loves me enough to send His Son to die on the cross for me.

I carried my son to bed with a smile on my face.


The Empty Life of Knowing It All

maddie auction

Five short years ago I had the honor of baptizing my daughter Maddie.

I remember standing at the front of our church asking our congregation to pray for Maddie and her peers,

“These kids aren’t going to hide in the corners.  They’re gonna make an impact in their schools and their community.”

I really had no idea what that meant at the time, but I’m learning.

Maybe Maddie’s biggest impact has been on her dad, and she’s already making a difference that reaches far beyond her school and community.

While attending Maddie’s recent high school soccer game, I noticed our goalkeeper leaving the field after a flurry of activity near the goal (I assumed she took a ball to the face and had to exit the game because of the presence of blood).

I looked up to see one of Maddie’s good friends putting on the keeper jersey and gloves, and sprint enthusiastically onto the field.

If you happened to be the opponent or simply didn’t know better, you’d think this was her normal position.(it isn’t)

She took to the goal like she owned it.

A smile spread across my face because this was one of “my own kids”, one that I’d coached for three years of middle school basketball and been around the sidelines for many of her youth travel soccer games.

I turned to another parent who also knew her spirit well,

“That’s what I love about Mandy.  She has absolutely no idea what she CAN’T do.”

As adults, we have full awareness of what we can’t do.  We revolve our days and our lives around what we can’t do or what we think can’t happen.

I have faith….or claim to.

I believe in the truths of the Bible.  I believe in God’s promises for this life and for eternity.  I believe in the resurrection of Jesus with all my heart and mind…..but still.

I think I know everything.  I live by sight.  I analyze everything and put too much trust in the mind that I was given.

If logic says it can’t be done, then I most likely won’t take the first step toward doing it.

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
It pains me to admit that Maddie is no longer a little child, but she possesses a trust in God that adults find difficult to find because our brains are crowded with life experiences and our own “answers” to what comes next.

Maddie returned from a Christ In Youth conference this summer with a determination to become involved with a Christian missionary organization called 1Mission.

1Mission assists severely impoverished families in Latin American countries in building safe homes, and in return, asks that those receiving new homes do service projects in their own communities.

$4000 to put a family in safe housing.  Maddie set up her own campaign on their website and was assigned a family.

An ambitious amount for a 15 year-old girl without income.  (Gee Maddie, that’s a lot of money…..I thought it but didn’t say it out loud).

But she was determined to make a change.  And she had faith.

Her main fundraising idea was an arts and crafts auction.

She announced at our church and on social media her desire to collect at least 100 pieces of donated art for a silent auction at our church’s life center building.  (Gee Maddie, 100 donated pieces, that’s a lot, I don’t see you getting that many…….again, I was silent).

As the auction date approached, donations trickled in, one by one at our home, our church, and at my family business.  But still, she seemed to have no more than fifty pieces.

The final day leading up to the auction saw a wave of last minute donations.

The scope of her dream was beginning to take shape Friday night as we set up the gym for Saturday’s activities.  Volunteers showed up to help Maddie decorate and set up tables to display the donated items.

Not only was it clear that she had well over 100 items, it was clear that there were pieces donated that were of great sentimental value to those who gave.  There was something special in the air for sure.

Moments before the scheduled start time, I surveyed the gym with a sense of joy at Maddie’s faith and the display of God’s love by His people.

what if nobody comes

But my own doubts crept in again.

After all her hard work, her great faith and desire to make a difference:

What if nobody shows up?


The events of the night went well.  Maddie was within $1000 of her $4000 goal at the close of the night.

I awoke early this morning, rested and with a bit more clarity in my mind.

And I had an unwelcomed visitor……a burden, that feeling of a need to speak during church…..about raising a generation of true followers of Christ who live by faith…..and adults living with doubts, living by sight.

I cried like a baby on my way to church by myself for a prayer meeting.

I’d been through a 70+ hour work week and battled severe exhaustion along with that poisonous mentality of “nobody better ask me to help with their stuff because I surely can’t even take care of my own.”

And during that drive there was this sudden sense of “when you’re at the end of your rope, God shows up in amazing ways.”

I realized that God’s way of lifting me back up was simply in the pleasure of witnessing Maddie’s faith and the chain reaction of love and kindness that it sparked (and it hit me sorta hard).

When you absolutely can’t take any more…….drop what you’re doing and do something for somebody else.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Our preacher’s sermon today was on David and Goliath.

From beginning to end of Maddie’s vision to build a home for a family, she only saw God.

Each time I doubted ($4,000 is too much, 100 is too many, “what if nobody comes”) I saw Goliath.

She knows how big her God is.

She had faith and her faith grew.

Because of her faith, my faith grew.

She gave me the boldness to speak up in church this morning, and perhaps God helped me find the words.

After church dismissed, our amazing church family picked up the remaining items and the final $1,000 was raised.

God is good.

One more family will have safe housing conditions.  We know that for sure.

And faith grew.  What will happen from this??

I don’t know……as much as I thought I did.

But I know now that if I stop looking at Goliath, I will be reminded that the only thing that matters is how big God is.

1mission house







My Brother’s Keeper


“Mom, Dad never has time to do stuff with me any more”.

Pretty sobering words relayed to me by my wife from my 8 year old son.  I responded in typical male fashion- defense mode, “I know, but I just can’t help it right now.  There’s nothing I can do about it”.

John 10:10

New International Version (NIV)

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Life to the full.  What’s that supposed to look like for a follower of Christ?  Eternity is a long time.  Point our eyes toward heaven and do something while we are here and do it well.  We’re not on this earth long enough to sit still or to wallow in mediocrity.

I can’t offer the perfect formula for balance in life.  Like a training athlete, we have to be willing to push ourselves and to be pushed.  We can take on such an overwhelming load that God’s presence and strength obviously carries us through, and our faith grows.  Or we can fly around wildly, over-promising ourselves and under-including God and littering our world with a whole lotta C- efforts…..just getting by.  Maybe this is the way that many of us truly develep our trust in God, by failing and seeing more clearly our dependence on Him.  It’s the logical next step that comes after “I’m about to have a complete beakdown.  I can’t handle this”.  Either way, we learn of the importance of seeking His will and His strength and trusting Him more each step along the way.

Life to the full.  Wife and four kids.  Demanding job managing a family business.  Involved in church leadership and teaching Sunday school.  Coaching middle school basketball and Upward basketball.  Two daughters in high school track, cross-country, and soccer.   Doing laundry at 2am to make sure everybody has clean uniforms and underwear for the next day.  Certainly not taking advantage of all my opportunities but certainly not sitting still.

BOOM!  A lifetime of suffering with migraine headaches is taken away.  My basketball coaching load is taken away.  I have TIME.  I have prolonged clarity of thought for the first time in my life.  Clarity told me that I’ve been working 40 hours a week at a 65 hour a week job for the last 15 years in an effort to raise children that make a difference in this world (definitely not something I regret, but something that has left a stinky trail of mediocrity in its path).  So I’m not only tackling today’s problems with energy and focus, I’m backtracking and fixing yesterday’s problems, and preventing tomorrow’s problems.  Sure, now is the best time to do this.  It’s ok to work 60-65 hour weeks NOW.

“Dad never has time to do stuff with me now”

“There’s nothing I can do about it”

TRUTH.  When we are where God wants us to be, doing the things that He desires for us to do, He provides a way.  Satan provides excuses and we can’t wait to grab them and use them.  Most likely, the responsible thing for me to do in the short-term is to continue to work extended hours while I have the focus and energy to fix the results of my years of neglect.  But as far as finding time to do things with my youngest son, I can do something about it besides make excuses.  Claiming to be “tired” in the evenings is not an option.   Plan something and do it.  And don’t pawn off “dad duties” on mom or big brother.

And that brings me to the greatest point in this long and winding story.  When we are faithful (and apparently even when we are just somewhat faithful but willing to admit our failure) God provides a way.  When you are living for God, and there just doesn’t seem to be enough of you to go around as a dad (or a mom), He provides a way to fill in the gaps.  Special people……grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, coaches, youth ministers are there to provide that special something.  When that little voice in your head says, “I can’t do it all”, don’t give up.  Do your best and trust Him with the rest.  Obviously I can try harder as a parent, but I can see clearly now how God has filled in the gaps with an awesome mom and older brother.

My 3 great lessons for the week:

1)  It’s not acceptable to make excuses for not having or making time for our kids.  Plan it.  Do it.

2)  Where I have shortcomings as a father, I am so thankful these shortcomings seem to be perfectly offset and overcome by the strengths of my wife.  In the case Kal, our 8 year-old son, I’m thankful the God gave him the best mom in the world to do the exact things that I have failed to do (like teach him to ride a bike).

3)  Kal is truly blessed to have a big brother that takes care of him when the responsibilities of life call mom and dad in other directions.  Saturday, it was truly like seeing up close, the hand of God at work, as Kal’s 14 year-old brother selflessly devoted his entire day (and night) to playing with, entertaining, teaching,  and patiently listening to his little brother.  He takes care of his little brother, not because he’s been instructed to but because he wants to.  That’s not a normal teenage boy thing.   That’s a “what God’s love looks like” thing.  And it’s pretty cool to see when you aren’t really expecting it.

I can’t do it all.  But I don’t have to.  But I still have to try.  And I have to trust.  And mediocrity is not acceptable.



Control Freak 101

Man, life is tough being married to a control freak!
Just kidding.  Some of you kept reading, waiting for the boom.
“Man, is he really gonna blast his wife like that?  She’ll kill him!”
Riding down the highway one day with a friend who shall remain nameless,
he sensed that his driving made a little antsy.
When he asked if his driving made me uncomfortable, my response was,
“I’m not as comfortable as I’d be if I was driving”. 
 control freak
I guess I am more guilty of being a control freak than I realize or want to admit.
Always wanting to control, not only where I’m going, but how fast (or slow in my case) I get there,
and every turn along the way.
Not really a good trait when combined with a perceived possession of a crystal ball and an appetite for instant gratification.  Translation=
I look at situations and think I know exactly what result my involvement will bring,
and I choose to do nothing if that result is not an immediate positive one. 
People who find themselves in a bad place over and over due to bad decisions……..I’m not gonna do anything to help,
they’ll just screw up again.
Or that person who has no interest in church or a relationship with Jesus……
their family has done everything they can and prayed relentlessly for them over the years.
My actions surely won’t make a difference.
But it’s a terrible mistake to act only when we can safely predict an immediate favorable result.
God’s timing is not our timing.
The action that I take or fail to take today may be only the first step or the last in a long process.
My actions could be the beginning of an answered prayer on someone else’s part.
I don’t have to be able to see the end!  I just have to know Who will be there for every step.
God’s intervention can happen whenever His people act in faith and trust Him with the results and the timing of those results
……..instead of playing control freak and fortune teller.
Keep praying, don’t give up, and be ready to move even when it doesn’t make sense.
And stop stomping your foot in search of that passenger side brake…’s not there.

Proverbs 3:5

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;