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Monday, August 31, 2009

Holding Caden's Hand

My little man! I know you have no idea how Daddy was feeling today. But I have to say, as we walked across the parking lot, it felt so good having your hand in mine as we walked toward the door together. I couldn't help but wonder how much longer you'll be ok with your Daddy holding your hand in public.

As we made our way down the long crowded hallway full of other mommies and daddies with their little ones, you were walking in front of me, and I had my hand on your back, directing you to your classroom. I realize now just how appropriate that was. You walking out front now, me behind you, giving you guidance to where you needed to go. You were a bit hesitant as you walked, but more than anything, son, there was a palpable sense of excitement in you.

I got you settled into your seat and we stowed away your new backpack (loaded with school supplies) and your new Star Wars lunch box. You sat down at your desk. I leaned down to give you a hug and told you that I loved you. And it was clear what had to come next: It was time for me to leave you.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, Caden – whether you’d be nervous and a bit clingy or not...

You weren’t.

And daddy wasn’t so prepared for that. I guess a part of me wanted you to not be ok with me leaving. Because in some ways, Daddy wants you to stay my little guy and not grow up.

That's pretty silly, isn't it Caden? We teach you to be independent, and remind you to be strong and brave and to trust God and that there's no reason to cry. And today, you did just that. You were strong. You were brave. You trusted God. You didn't cry.

But guess what, buddy? I did. At least I made it back to the car before I started.

I am crying still as I write this, Caden. Not because I'm scared for you -but because you're growing up and becoming just who you're supposed to be. You're really doing it! You’re moving on into the future God has for you. It’s wonderful but different to realize that you still need us, but not the same way you did when you were really little! You can do SO much on your own now!

Son, how you handled this moment in your life made me unbelievably proud. But a little sad too.

Proud because I realize this is a new chapter for you, Caden. I know that you're ready for this. Ready to move on and learn what it means to forge your own path, without Mommy and Daddy right beside you.

Sad because whenever a new chapter opens, it means the old one is closing. And that brings with it an element of pain. It's hard for mommy & daddy when we realize just how much you’ve grown, and how quickly it’s come upon us.

The Bible teaches us to "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he's older he won't depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)

That truth becomes more evident in your life every day. It was obvious when we were driving to school this morning and I prayed for your day - for God to guide, protect, and use you. And when I was done, you said you wanted to pray too. You prayed by faith for all the new friends God was going to give you. And amazingly, you even thought to pray that God would bring your daddy a new job today. Wow! That shows character, Caden. You were moving into a new and (somewhat) scary adventure, but in the middle of all that, you thought not only of yourself, but even to pray for your daddy. I wasn’t expecting that.


Caden, your daddy is SO incredibly proud of the little man you’re becoming. I want you to always know that!
Did you know just how ready you were for this new adventure? I suspect you've sensed it for a while but today it really hit me:

Even though Mommy and I don't feel completely ready to let our little guy go out into the world, you are ready!

You’re going to learn some great things, Caden, but you'll also encounter some of the evil in this world. We'll do our best to shield you from it, but we won't be able to forever. Right now you’re innocent and have a genuinely sweet spirit - you love others and it shows. It's part of what makes you who you are, and something we don’t ever want to change.

Mommy and I pray you would continue with your strong, simple faith in Jesus, even as you encounter the tough truth that sometimes people will be cruel and will hurt you.
We trust in our gracious God to not throw things at you too quickly. And to give you (and us) the grace to handle whatever comes your way. And we’ll take everything – the good and the bad – one day at a time.

You are an amazing boy, Caden, and God has incredible plans for your life. Mommy & I will always love you unconditionally–no matter what!

When you make great choices, we’ll be proud of who you are and we’ll love you. And when you
make poor choices, we’ll still be proud of who you are and we’ll love you.

Nothing you do can ever change how we love you – Jesus loves us with unending love and that’s the way we will love you. We promise.

It’s funny - you were here at home with me, being my sidekick, for the last three weeks before your new school started. Some days you got on my nerves a bit and made it tough to focus on getting work done. But this morning, you're not here and the house feels empty. I'm missing you already, and part of me is wishing you were still here, with your silly wild screaming, your Game-Boy playing, and your way-too-much-Star-Wars-watching!
But you can't be here, of course. You need to be exactly where you are - out there, growing up. I know you're going to have a great day full of surprises, find a plethora of new friends ready to be made, and learn many new things.
Still right now I can't help feeling that pickup time at 4:00 feels an eternity away. Caden, know that when that time comes, I'll be right there waiting when you come out. I can’t wait to hear every last detail of how your day went and all the new experiences you had today. I know you won’t be stingy with the details! (Like father, like son!)

But just a warning for ya, buddy – when I get there and walk you back to the car, whether you want me to or not, your daddy’s gonna hold your hand!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cranium's Ark - Review

David Hames, owner of Red Balloon Entertainment, has just released a new animated Christian children's video series, called "Cranium's Ark".

I had the chance to watch the first episode, and it's excellent! In my opinion, it's similar in production values to shows such as "Dora the Explorer" and "Blue's Clue's", but more educational - plus it incorporates our faith and teaches kids about God's love! My favorite element is the music. The songs are super fun, very catchy and there's a great stylistic variety - from Caribbean to big band to hip-hop! The show is targeted at preschoolers, age 1-5 and the first episode is called "I Can Count to 20!".

I was also really encouraged to hear the owner's behind-the-scenes backstory on how the show came about - while watching "Blue's Clues" one day with his son, David thought how great it would be if there was a preschool show that was not only educational, but also taught kids faith-based principles to inspire them in their personal walk with God. Soon after, David sensed God calling him to make just such a show. So he did.

It's such a quality production that you'd never know from watching the show that a dad of two young sons created this in his own basement!! Our kids, Caden & Aubrey (6 & 4) loved it when we showed it to them this morning, and I know it's going to be repeatedly played in our house for many weeks and months to come.

This is a great find for families with preschoolers. There's nothing else quite like it. And priced at just $9.99, "Cranium's Ark" is a bargain compared to many children's videos which sell for $15 or more.

Check out the clip of the show in the post below for more info or head on over to http://www.craniumsark.com, where you can pick up the show, as well as an EP of all the catchy tunes featured throughout the first episode.

Sneak Peek of Preschool Video: Cranium's Ark, Episode One

Sneak Peek of Preschool Video: Cranium's Ark, Episode One from Red Balloon Entertainment on Vimeo.


Red Balloon Entertainment, an independent production company, is proud to present "Cranium's Ark", a faith-based, Christian video series for toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergartners that offers the academic focus needed for success in school and combines it with faith-based principles that will inspire children in their personal walk with God. In episode one, Wesley the Lion wants to count his bouncy balls, so the Captain and crew hurry to help before Devious and Musty can stop them.

THE MISSION OF CRANIUM’S ARK:
Our mission is to create an outrageously creative and fun Christian Video Series that’s “Monkey Bars for the Brain. Juice Box for the Soul.™” What does that mean? It means each "Cranium’s Ark" video is designed to help prepare toddlers and preschoolers for the academic requirements of school and inspire them to be the amazing boys and girls God has created them to be.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Get Up Off Your Belly!

The other night, our four year old daughter, Aubrey, had disobeyed several things Joy & I had asked her to do. As we were tucking her in, we reminded her that bedtime was bedtime, not a time to repeatedly get out of her bed to play (her specialty of late!). We let her know if she chose to get out of bed and disobey, she would have a consequence.

A few short minutes later, to our surprise, we witnessed Aubrey, creeping ever so slooooowly out of her room on her belly, and she crawled like this all the way to the bathroom. A couple minutes later, she emerged and immediately returned to her belly and crawled all the way back into her bedroom. Now, Aubrey knows she is allowed to get out of bed to use the bathroom at night, but in her four year-old mind, she wasn't taking any chances on getting into trouble again, hence the army crawl. She didn't realize that we were upstairs and could see her, much to our amusement!

I was thinking about that this morning and smiling at Aubrey's silly behavior when God reminded me how often adults do the same thing. We choose to run in a direction that God has clearly asked us not to go, and try to convince ourselves that He can't see us. The enemy certainly helps by whispering to us that "What can't be seen surely won't be punished. It can just be our little secret..." And more often than we'd like to admit, we take that bait.

What foolishness! God, who loves and adores his children, promises in Hebrews 13:5, that He'll never leave us. Moreover, Luke 8:17 says, "For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open."

God loves us and wants us to make good choices. Not because we could ever do anything to earn or deserve eternal life and forgiveness - we can't! But because He desires for us to walk in freedom, in purity, in holiness. The grace He offers us is not only grace to forgive us when we've sinned, but also the grace to not commit that sin in the first place! It's grace that enables us to stay close by His side, to run to Him, embrace Him and seek His strength to overcome whatever temptation our flesh, the world, or the devil is dangling in front of our faces at any given moment.

The truth is, many times we lose the battle simply because we don't believe we're strong enough to overcome whatever is tempting us. We forget the truth that once we've accepted Christ, sin no longer owns us. Our old self has been crucified in Him and we are a NEW creation! Romans 6:17-18 offers this sweet truth: "Thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin...You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. "

So the next time you find yourself crawling on your belly in the wrong direction, remember: You are not alone. God sees you. He loves you. And He offers you freedom from sin and the grace to choose life - all you have to do is get back on your feet and run to Him.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ruminations on Michael Jackson

So a friend of mine who rarely watches TV and is not really into popular culture asked me recently who Michael Jackson was and why everyone was making such a big deal about him dying.

I was saddened by just how many nuggets of wonderment my friend has missed out on and gave him the following list so he'd be up to speed on all that made MJ the King of Pop. Now, for your reading pleasure, I present said list to you:

1. Michael was the first man ever to walk on the moon. Later he incorporated this experience into his dance moves.

2. MJ's father, Joe Jackson, was a popular singer in the 70's and 80's with such hits as "Steppin' Out" and "Breakin' Us in Two".

3. The Gloved One (and only one) wrote the sequel to "Alice in Wonderland", which he called Neverland.

4. Michael Jackson was a child star on 70's TV show "The Jeffersons". He was just "Dyn-o-mite!"

5. MJ was the cousin of hockey great Bo Jackson, the nephew of that girl Victoria Jackson (who used to be on Mad TV), and the brother of Randy Jackson from American Idol (he's the mean British one).

6. Michael's first band, the Beatles, broke up after Lisa Presley and he married. She alienated Michael from other band members, and most of his writing during the period of their marriage did not live up to his previous work. Michael and the Beatles finally patched things up after Michael dueted with Paul McCartney on "The Girl Is Mine", a song about Madonna, who they were both in love with.

7. In the 90's, Michael was fond of smashing car windows while simultaneously, uhhh (how to put this delicately?), "treating his body like it was an amusement park". (See Neverland)

8. He was the inventor of the Commodore 64 computer. Or wait - scratch that. I think he was an original member of the Commodores. Yeah, that's it.

9. More recently, MJ got in trouble when in Europe he decided to dangle a blanket over the railing of his hotel room balcony. It's still not clear to me why this was such a big deal. Rock stars trash their hotel rooms all the time, so why can't MJ throw his bedsheets around, even if OFF the balcony? The media is so weird.

10. In 2005, while performing "Walk This Way" with Britney Spears at the Super Bowl, there was a wardrobe malfunction when Britney accidentally ripped of Michael's pants, revealing MJ's "Man in the Mirror" to an international television audience, for a few brief seconds. Multiple obscenity complaints and legal battles between ABC and the FCC followed.

As I explained to my friend, those are just a few of the myriad reasons why his passing is of such tremendous import to America.

***To ensure accuracy, all facts verified via Wikipedia.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Challenge for the Guys

Guys,

1 Peter 3:7 says "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers."

If you're anything like me, you don't always live up to the high calling of that verse. It is unbelievably hard, often times, to overcome our own selfishness, pride, etc. and sacrificially love and serve the wife God has blessed us with. And if we're honest with ourselves, we likely haven't taken seriously enough the responsibility of serving our wives and children as Christ served the church (Ephesians 5:25).

A good friend shared this sermon (by Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle) with me on this very subject that has challenged me in a major way. It is not easy, but I admit it's a message I needed to hear (and continue to!). And now I want to share it with you.

I am writing this because I am thankful my friend shared it with me and challenged me to not just be an OK husband, but to work on being the type of husband Jesus calls us to be. I believe change only happens when we challenge one another in life, and as we seek God's strength and power to be more like Christ ("iron sharpening iron"). Single guys - there is incredible teaching and biblical truth here - stuff I wish I had been privileged to hear before I got married - so this is for you as well!

Here's the sermon description from the website: Jesus is the only perfect man to ever live. Because most men fail to look to Him as our example, there exists 2 extremes in men: chauvinism and cowardice. Pastor Mark Driscoll preaches to men about being real men who love God and serve their family well in this sermon from the "Trial" series.

Here's the link:
http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/trial/marriage-and-men

You can watch it online, but since it's long (over 70 minutes), I recommend you download the video or audio (both are available on this page under the tab that says "Downloads") to your computer or ipod to watch/listen to later.

And if you get into this (or all the way through it even) and don't believe it applies to you, I challenge you to ask your wife to check it out and lovingly tell you your blind spots - we're all in need of continual improvement in how we love our wives and if you don't take anything out of it, I am pretty darn sure your wife will have some suggestions for how you can better love her!
; )

I've listened to it a few times in the last couple of months and will continue to revisit it every so often, so I don't forget the lessons here.

Thanks to all the men in my life who challenge me to be better - you know who you are!

Ladies - please pass it on to any guys in your life who could benefit from hearing it...

I'd love to hear any ways this message challenges and encourages you, as I believe it will, if you are willing to put your pride and defensiveness aside (as I had to) and really hear what Mark is saying.

May God bless you and your marriage and may we all have a hunger to grow closer to Christ and be a little more like Him at the end of every day!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"All My Tears" by Jars of Clay

I was listening to this song this morning and reflecting on how powerful the lyrics are. I'm guessing the premise for the song comes from Revelation 21:4: "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

We truly are only here for a short time, like a mist in the wind, and then our lives will be over. In light of that, what could matter more than getting to know Jesus better every day? Those who have accepted Christ will spend eternity in His presence and all the troubles of this world will be done. All the pain, all the suffering, all the misery, all the tears - wiped away!

We'll have eternity in paradise - what an amazing gift grace is!

Here are the lyrics - check the song out if you don't know it - from the excellent album "Good Monsters":

"All My Tears"

When I go, don't cry for me
In my Father's arms I'll be
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed and I'll be whole
Sun and moon will be replaced
With the light of Jesus' face
And I will not be ashamed
For my Savior knows my name

It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away

Gold and silver blind the eye
Temporary riches lie
Come and eat from Heaven's store
Come and drink and thirst no more

So weep not for me, my friends
When my time below does end
For my life belongs to Him
Who will raise the dead again

What joy we have to look forward to - praise Jesus for His mercy on our wretched souls. Amen?!

Friday, May 01, 2009

There's This Cricket...

There's this cricket
It lives upstairs
I can't find it
When I go there

Now it's chirping
Chirping lots
I go up there
Then it stops

I will smash it
If I find it
It must know this
And would mind it

So I'm dealing
With the racket
When I see it
I'll attack it

It knows I lurk scarily
Yet chirps on merrily
Without a care in the world

With crushing destiny
It soon will have a date
But hey, it got to star
In this blog update

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An Up-Down Conspiracy? or Reflections On How English Is A Really Weird Language

Follow me DOWN the proverbial rabbit hole, if you feel UP to it...

This is a verbal checkUP - I'd offer a checkDOWN but it just can't happen.

Once you pick this UP it's hard to put it DOWN.

We can sit UP or DOWN, but only listen UP.

You can be beat UP or suffer from a beat DOWN but can only jot things DOWN and only look things UP.

We can calm or settle DOWN but not UP.

I can be DOWN in the dumps, but never UP in them.

We could hook UP for coffee later but could never hook DOWN, whether we wanted to or not.

What's UP with that?

I can be DOWN for the cause, but only UP to the challenge.

I can only straighten UP but not in both directions.

Why do touch DOWNs and touch-UPs have so very little in common?

I could move DOWN under but not UP it.

It would be quite chaotic to be dressed DOWN while being dressed UP.

You wanna get DOWN with some more or have you had it UP to here with this?

Just thought I'd break it DOWN for you.

I was UP to my neck in deadlines writing this so it came DOWN to the wire & I was UP all night finishing it.

Ultimately, it all boils DOWN to this:

It's UP to you to decide if you're DOWN with what I'm saying.

And for the record, I did just DOWN some 7-UP, but no, I'm not Catholic - why do you ask?!

I'm OUT.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Wacko Sales Manager Spot


This one is quite ridiculous and would probably annoy me if I were to start seeing it on TV  - but then again, most car commercials are that way, especially local ones.  So I will spin it that I was just paying homage to the genre. That sounds artistic, sorta, doncha think?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sunday, March 01, 2009

My Super Bowl commercial debut

Isn't it awesome to discover obscure commercials done overseas by megastars like George Clooney & Brad Pitt?!  Wouldn't you love to watch one of their obscure cheesefest commercials and laugh at it right now? Well, too bad.  You're on my blog, not theirs, so you'll just have to settle for me in my much sought-after, little-seen, now finally available Super Bowl commercial debut. 

Try to contain yourselves.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Obsessed With FaceBook Friends?

Like many folks, my wife and I had resisted the urge to join in the whole facebook trend. But a couple of months ago, we finally gave in and decided to join, mainly to see what all the fuss was about. Overall, we're glad we did - we both rather enjoy being able to reconnect with old friends we'd lost touch with and the sense of community that comes from being more connected on a day-to-day basis with people we otherwise wouldn't hear from very frequently, as, let's face it, life is just BUSY, especially when you both work and have young kiddos, like we do.

One thing I've noticed that disturbs me about facebook though is the way some folks seem a bit obsessed with having more and more "friends". Now, we all have real needs for love and to feel that we belong - there's certainly nothing wrong with that.

But I've seen enough facebook status's along the lines of "only 40 more friends and I'll have 1000!" that I'm starting to wonder if some of the pursuit of greater and greater numbers of "friends" isn't perhaps more symptomatic of a larger trend going on in our culture - that being, the busier we get, and the more technology we have in our lives that supposedly make things easier and more convenient, the less real meaningful social interaction we may be having with REAL people in REAL (i.e. non-internet) life.

Is this pursuit of more and more virtual 'friends' perhaps covering up the fact that we don't have true friendships and community in our lives? When I speak of community, I mean people who are available, both emotionally, and time-wise, to us, who are able and willing to share the joys and sorrows of life along-side us. People who will be there when the inevitable crises of life crop up. People who will challenge us, encourage us, and celebrate our victories with us. People who will invest both their time, trust, and love with us, and who we invest back those same valuable commodities with.

Joy & I have been searching for that kind of community in our own lives. We haven't found it yet since moving a couple years ago to AZ, so we can certainly understand feeling lonely and isolated at times. But we're not giving up - we're continuing to trust that God can and will bring that into our lives, as we believe He desires us to live and grow our faith in just such a community.

But back to this phenomenon of facebook - if you're one of those folks with hundreds and hundreds of friends in your virtual community, I hope and pray that you're blessed to have at least one or two people in your life you can call true friends. But if those types of relationships are lacking for you, I challenge you not to substitute quantity for quality when it come to friendships - don't give up!

Risk being vulnerable with other people.

Risk being a true friend to others, even if you're not quite sure they consider you a true friend yet.

Risk opening up and being honest about an area you're struggling with in life.

Risk the pain of possible rejection.

If you aren't willing to do that, you may end up spending way more lonely nights talking to your "friends" online and missing out on the better way God has in mind for you.

I think He has a greater plan for your life - one where you live in community with people who love and encourage you to be all God created you to be and where likewise you do the same for others. If you can be honest with yourself, I think you will agree that you want that as well.

Don't settle for anything less than God's best for you!

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." - John 15:13

Friday, February 06, 2009

Why "You Can Do It. We Can Help." Should Also Apply To Homework


After this was graded and the child brought it home, she returned to school the next day with the following note:

Dear Ms. Davis, I want to be very clear on my child's illustration. It is NOT of me on a dance pole on a stage in a strip joint. I work at Home Depot and had commented to my daughter how much money we made in the recent snowstorm. This drawing is of me.... selling a shovel.

Mrs. Harrington

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Ultimate Disclaimer for Every Occasion!

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