Allie is doing so much new stuff. She's been off her seizure medicine for about a month and its unbelievable how much more alert she is. She plays all these fun games with us where she yells "hey!" waits for one of us to answer "hey!" back. She answers back even louder while squeezing her eyes shut, and it continues back and forth like that for as long as the grown-up can keep up. It's too cute.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
When I was young in ministry, the highlight of my year was the Pastors' Conference every January at Calvary Chapel Merritt Island. The Worship Band assembled by Pastor Malcom Wilde is amazing. The group is lead by Mary Barrett. She is talented, gifted, and anointed in incredible measures. The only thing that exceeds these is her humility. And you know as well as I that it's rare that a worship leader has humility at the top of his/her list of attributes. It's rare for any of us, in fact. Her humility and giftedness ushers all listeners directly into the presence of God. My favorite song performed by her is the worship anthem Alpha and Omega. I get chills just thinking about as I type.
The word on the street is that her husband has quit his job to care for her. This is an incredible sacrifice for the family so CC Merritt Island has set up a mechanism for receiving donations to carry this couple through this time financially. Gayle said something about a compilation CD being either available or in production. As soon as I find out how to link to that info, I'll put the link here on my blog. I also noticed on Mary' blog that they have a pick-up truck for sale. You know you've been thinking about getting something with some towing power. It's no coincidence this blog post has found it's way onto your computer screen.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
See that. That's where I'm serving the Lord today. I know. Tough gig.
We arrived a conference center on the Nevada side of the California/Nevada border. I have a table representing Shepherd's Staff Missionary Facilitators set up with a handful of other exhibitors including Gayle Erwin, Paul Smith of Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowships, and Samy Tanago. There are a few others exhibitors at this small conference whose names and links I'll post another time. It's kind of cool to be at a small conference to connect with folks with niche ministries within the Body of Christ.
Yesterday, Gayle Erwin kicked off the conference bringing an "others centered" message delivered with his unique and folksy style. Erwin has been a pastor to pastors for so many years. His message is always familiar. Focus on others. Get your eyes off of self. That's the best therapy.
Jack Abeleen is one of the key note speakers here. I've never heard of him, but he brought a great message last night. I googled him and couldn't find a church website for him although I know there's gotta be one. Bear with me and I'll get more info on the guy in a future post.
I took some notes about faith from his message last night:
- Faith that pleases God obeys.
- Faith believes because it obeys God.
- Faith sojourns.
- Faith has an eternal outlook.
- Faith is always optimistic.
- Faith pleases. God.
- Faith is our job.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
This is an extremely common occurrence with little kids in the Middle East. On my first trip to the Arabian Peninsula, I had a chance to visit a hospital in a very rural area. A little boy in that hospital was recovering from head-to-toe second and third degree burns. The stove in his house caught fire.
Most households in the Middle East use propane gas to fuel their stoves. Propane in oil producing countries is fairly cheap since oil products are government subsidized. Convenience and portability has made propane the cooking fuel of choice. Unfortunately, safety standards for use of propane tanks and accessories are not a major priority. Accidents are simply accepted as a fact of life.
One of the craziest I've seen over there is the way kids rolls these tanks down the road. They're sent to fill up the tanks, but the tanks double as a toy as the little ones go about their chore. There is no telling what kind of mishaps these tanks experience on an outing with three or four boys not thinking about avoiding trouble. I'd like to strap a camera to one of these tanks and post the video on You Tube. (A propane tank cam. Has anyone thought of that yet?)
Kudos to our men and women in uniform for taking care of this little guy and making sure he gets the best of care no matter what it takes even if that means a trip to another continent.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
You'd think with all we've gone through that this would be a no-brainer for us. Susan and I pray together sometimes and it's always been something we do in our personal devotional times, but we've never made daily prayer as a couple a habit. Believe it or not, we feel weir praying in front of each other. Maybe the discomfort is because we both know how not-holy the other one is. We both have no problem praying out loud in front of others in other settings (like any good Pharisee), but together, it feels funny. But we're taking up the challenge.
Is your marriage going too smoothly to not take up this challenge? That's what I thought.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Yesterday we had a great meeting with the folks from Blind Babies Foundation. In case you don't know, Allie is legally blind due to her non-accidental head injury. She is working through the effects of optic atrophy and cortical visual impairment.
These folks were incredibly encouraging. They commended Allie's problem solving skills and they want us to start teaching as if she can see, not as if she can't see. They also gave us some tips about how to teach her. It isn't that she doesn't see at all, it may just take longer for her brain to process what she sees. Things may have to be held in her field of sight for longer periods of time so her brain can process what is in front of her eyes.
Here is how we know that physical therapy is done for the day.
Here's how MapMyRun graphs the hills:
run time: 26:24
run dist: 3 miles
avg. pace: 8:48/mi.
best pace: 6:54/mi.
Running Tips from CompleteRunning.com
Tip Two: Cotton socks will only lead to blisters; invest in socks designed for running.
I have special running socks and can vouch that this is a good idea. But I've also been in a couple of situations where, frankly, it didn't matter what kind of socks you gots.
bad example one:
In this photo, no socks could successfully repel water.
bad example two:
Here, my feet got so sweaty in a marathon, I should have brought about five pairs of extra socks to properly care for my feet.
Now that's a tip.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
"Not today," was my honest answer. "Not right now. But I have my moments."
I remember in the past people telling me that they were mad at God. I always thought this was a shallow, spoiled brat attitude to have toward the One that's provided everything you need for life material, spiritual, and eternal. But I feel different now. Actually, I probably always have had disappointment with God over not getting things my way, but I never admitted it for fear of appearing unspiritual. Now I don't care. Through this Allie crisis, I've learned that I'm the most unspiritual guy I know and if you don't like it - well, I don't know what to tell you. My relationship with God is different now. I don't know if it's better or worse, but it's different. I can't rely on all the rules and theology that helped me keep things in order; explainable. I can't figure God out right now and that makes me mad at times. More now than ever. But I think that's what happens in a relationship especially when one of the parties has incomplete understanding, faith or trust. One finds oneself frustrated with the Other.
So my conversation with my buddy turned to the topic of Job. I don't know if it was me or him that took the talk in that direction, but I remember talking about Job questioning God. I told my buddy that I wrote about questioning God a few posts ago. Job asked God a bunch of questions and God answered a bunch of questions that Job didn't ask (see Job 38). And I feel God answered different questions to me, too. I asked why did You let this happen to me, God?
I asked that then and I'm still asking it because I haven't heard the answer yet.
But God decided to answer a questions I never asked. I never asked Him if I could love a baby so much. He's shown me that I can love more than I ever thought I could.
And I never asked Him if I had a strong marriage. Though rocky at times, He's shown me that I'm married to an amazing woman and that our marriage can survive the worse tragedy imaginable.
God showing us these things in the here and now gives us faith for the future.
I told my buddy about another conversation I had with my friend Joyce. Joyce has been a spiritual mother to me for the past fourteen years. She always has something encouraging and loving to say to me no matter what I'm going through or set my mind to do. She also challenges me, when I need it, to think things all the way through. She shared a story about a man she knew that had two amazing boys. They were athletic, smart, godly young men. He felt he had done everything right raising these two guys. Then a third child came. This child was oxygen deprived at birth and suffered major defects. The challenges that came with raising this third child were overwhelming.
One day, the father was out on his patio yelling at God and asking Him why He would bring this on the family. "What did I do wrong?" was the man's angry question for God.
The father sensed in his spirit that God gave him this answer: "You didn't do anything wrong. I gave this little one because I trust you with him."
I trust you.
I can't begin to tell you how much this ministered to me.
I trust you.
I didn't ask any questions that would earn this answer. But I'll take it.
Now I'm praying that I'll live up to the trust He's extended and make Him proud.
distance: 6.25 miles
time: 55:06; 8:49/mile
This is my best time in over a year. I need to keep this pace up if I want to finish my marathon in under four hours which is my goal this year. It was my goal last year, too, but I didn't pull it off. It was too hot and muggy at the 2007 Disney World Marathon.
Running Tips from CompleteRunning.com
Tip One: Wear spandex shorts under your regular running shorts so you don’t chafe "down there."
This was pretty fashionable in the 90's along with man pony tails and grunge. But you don't see it much these days. But it's still a pretty good tip. I usually ignore the chafing. It goes numb after awhile. Or blood lubricates the irritated areas. But then it really burns when you take that first shower. Soap and sweat hit that chafed up area and you find out pretty quickly that you should have not worried so much about the out-of-style fashion statement and went with the spandex.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Allie is definitely feeling better. It's amazing how this little person dictates the mood of the moment with her little teeny tiny disposition.
Pictured above is Allie in her favorite swing at Sequoia Park. One cool thing about Eureka: it has a bunch of really neat neighborhood parks. There are two or three that I can think of within a mile from my house. And they have these little bucket swings that work perfectly for Allie.
She's really losing her baby-ness. She looks less like a baby everyday and more like a little human. Babies, for some reason, don't look like people to me - they're too cute. But now that Allie is getting older and growing some attitude, she seems more like a little human. A cute little human.
She's playing with me here, this little human. She knows I want her to look toward me, but she's being defiant. She thinks it's funny to be defiant.
Dig the sweet leopard print on those pantalones. Those came from Allie's fashion forward Grandma Yolanda down in Florida. Her green hoodie doesn't exactly match. That was picked out by her constantly clashing Pop-pop (i.e., the author of this blog).
Thanks for all your prayers, again you all. They've had an immediate effect.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Sunday, March 09, 2008
First: Allie. The center of the universe for us is this little girl. She's had her first real cold since she's been with us. If you count the time we were with her in the hospital, that's since May 2007. The rough thing about it is the charming and beautiful Susan got sick at the same time leaving the care of the two of them and everything else in the household to me. I know. Scary. Everyone seems to be coming through it, but the combination of the extra Tylenol and Ibuprofen for Allie, in addition to coming off of one of her other meds has made her really stiff and sore. I feel like we've lost some ground and some of the mobility that Allie fought so hard to gain over the past several months seems to have been lost. On top of that, she's started to cut a couple of more teeth.So she's just plain miserable. And if Allie ain't happy, nobody's happy. So pray about that Allie gets back on track.
Second: Charity. Please pray for Charity, too. This ordeal has had an incredible impact on how she functions and interacts with just about everybody. I don't want to say much more than that, but please pray for her to get through this dark and trying time so she can move into a more stable and healthy season of her life. As a dad, my heart breaks for my little girl. When she hurts, I have very little peace and find it hard to praise. I want to praise, but it's such and up hill battle.
Third: Legal issues. Allie's father has decided to not take what the district attorney has offered him and wants to go to trial. This means that Charity will be subpoenaed by his lawyers and put on the witness stand. They have made it clear that it is their intention to shift blame for the charges he faces and make her look like a contributor to the abuse he inflicted. Please pray that Paul will have a change of heart and take the punishment the D.A. offers instead of minimizing the incredible damage he already caused my family.
Fourth: Our marriage. As you can imagine, this is the most trying experience the charming and beautiful Susan and I have ever gone through. Pray that we will continue to bend but not break. Every single day we both wonder if we'll be able to endure this; every single day. We know that God has a plan and a purpose. Help us to know it with our hearts, not just our heads. Pray that our faith is strengthened. We know that there is light at the end of the tunnel, but there seems to be a few turns in the road in between here and the end of the tunnel so we can't see the light.
Friday, March 07, 2008
These are pictures from the Clam Beach Run last month.
The smile on my face is not because I'm happy. I'm delirious. This water is, like, 41 degrees. It's snow melt. And the current, further into the river, took a bunch of people off their feet. Not me. A bunch of other people.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
I was recruited here in my hometown of Eureka, California. I signed up just a few days after my seventeenth birthday in the fall of my senior year at Eureka High School. I went to boot camp the following fall once I had my high school diploma in my hand. My birthday comes late in the year, so I was still seventeen when I went to boot camp. I celebrated (if that's what you call a boot-camp birthday) my eighteenth birthday in basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.
My mom and dad gave their permission and their blessing for me to join. They were proud to do it.
Here in Humboldt County, California, their is a political group, Veterans for Peace, who think we should strip parental authority from moms and dads and sign it over to municipal governments as if government can do a better job of parenting.
The Eureka Youth Protection Act states:
"No person who is employed by or an agent of the United States government shall, within the city of Eureka, in the execution of his or her job duties, recruit, initiate contact with for the purpose of recruiting, or promote the future enlistment of any person under the age of 18 into any branch of the United States Armed Forces."
Eureka’s city attorney is preparing a ballot summary, which is expected to be completed today. The next step requires signatures of 10 percent of registered voters in order to get the measure on the November ballot.
Winfield Sample, a World War II veteran and member of Veterans for Peace, is helping to coordinate the proposed ordinance for Eureka.
Sample questioned putting youth into what he described as "life-threatening operations."
"People under 18 cannot sign a legal contract," he said. "Also, people under 18 cannot vote."
HT: Eureka Reporter
The Veterans for Peace are incredibly disingenuous. They are not pro-youth; they're anti-military. I hope the voting public here in Eureka is smart enough to figure that out.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Here's the deal: a blog is like farmland. A good farmer lets his field rest for a season so that the soil can be re-enriched with nutrients and minerals. The dirt becomes more fertile. And the farmer lays down a layer of manure.
Alot like the b.s. I'm feeding you right now.
Actually, I've been busy taking care of a sick Allie and an under the weather charming and beautiful Susan. Suzie's almost better so things are starting to get back on track.