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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, 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.

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.