Why Fast?–Guest Post by Aaron Gonzalez (aka Gonzo)

January 30, 2012 by cloften  
Filed under Bible, Church and Leadership

During these next two weeks we at The Grove are seeking God in prayer as one church and asking Him to set the course for The Grove in 2012.  Along with prayer we are challenging the church in another spiritual discipline–FASTING! (Sounds scary, huh?) Specifically, we are hoping you will join us in two types of fast.  Let’s look at each of these and discuss the heart behind fasting.

1. The “Lent” fast.  You’ve probably heard of Lent before.  In the season of Lent Christians often choose something that they do or enjoy to “give up” for a period of time as an act of worship to God.  Charlie summed this up for us a couple of days ago.  He said, “The idea behind these kinds of fasts are that during the time that you would normally do the activity, you spend that time connecting with God, praying, reflecting, talking to God, etc…”  People also will fast from certain foods as well.

Let me give you a great example of this.  Over the next two weeks I have decided to give up ESPN.com and SI.com.  (I know what you’re thinking… whoa don’t strain yourself Gonzo!)  Here’s why.  It doesn’t matter whether I am doing homework online or researching for a sermon or using social media, eventually when I am in front of a computer I ALWAYS check the scores of whatever game is going on at the moment on ESPN.com or SI.com.  Call it an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, or just call it what it is…obsession!  I knew I was out of control when I could tell you whether or not Sri Lanka won their cricket tournament.  How does one break this habit?  They submit it to God and put sports in their proper place, far, far, far behind our relationship with God and others.

So I am using these next two weeks to pray and lead my family in prayer.  I am confident that God will be reestablishing priorities in my life that will strengthen my walk with Him and my relationship with my family.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a great relationship with my family, but imagine how much better it could be if God was leading us more and we were in line with what God was doing through us?  That’s what I want.  What about your life?  Your family?  Isn’t that what you want too?

2. The Food Fast. We are challenging everyone that is physically able (no pregnant mothers or children who need to eat for school, etc.) to take Wednesdays for the next two weeks and fast from food all together!  Now before you get all Chris Farley on me (Lay off man, I’m starving!) let me tell you why.

Let’s face it, our minds are focused more on food than any other substance or activity in our lives.  “Where we going for lunch?  What are you cooking for dinner?  I need to pick up some spinach for that salad tonight!”… all said within minutes of each other!  We are constantly thinking about food.  Have you ever wondered why?  I’ll tell you why, because without food we would die!

Yet Jesus fasted during His ministry and He expected His followers to fast as well.  Matthew 6:16 says, “When you fast” not “if you fast.”  He told the religious leaders that after He was gone His followers would fast. (Matthew 9:15)  Jesus nails it on the head when He says “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

You see, even more than we need food, we need God! As Christians we have been born again of God’s Spirit and now we live by the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  When we fast we declare this with our actions.  When we fast we place our physical needs and our physical appetites beneath the need for “spiritual food.”  Instead of feeding our bodies, we spend time in prayer and worship and we “feed our souls.”  We don’t fast to get God to do stuff for us, we fast to give God our undivided attention, to spend time with Him and to worship Him.

So here are some final instructions:

  • Don’t turn fasting into a show. (Matthew 6:17-18)
  • It’s about your heart.  Replace food with prayer and seek after God.
  • You can’t earn God’s love, He already loves you, enjoy that love!

We are praying for you throughout these two weeks.  Shout it out on Twitter (#stcgrove).  We love you Grove.

Setting the Course 2012

January 29, 2012 by cloften  
Filed under Bible, Church and Leadership

Sunday, January 29th begins a two week season of fasting and prayer at The Grove Church.  This last year and a half has been an incredible journey.   God has blessed us tremendously as a church.  We have seen about 20 people put their faith in Jesus Christ.  We have seen attendance at The Grove nearly triple.  Missionaries have been sent out, and God has been moving in and through The Grove all around the world.

God has given as a mission first and foremost to Worship Him.  Then God has called us to Reach those who need Jesus, Grow believers deeper in their relationships with God and Send people into the world.  He has given our church a clear vision, but we have some challenges as well.  The first and most obvious one is overcrowding. If God continues to bless us with more people, where will they sit?  Another challenge is in finances.  We have been behind in what we need to meet our budget all year, and we need to see God bless us in our finances.

Beyond these challenges, we desire God’s blessing on everything that we do.  That is why we are taking these two weeks as a church to pray and to fast.  We as a community are going to seek God and ask Him to continue to lead us and to bless us.  If you are a part of The Grove, we are asking you to join with us these two weeks.

What we are asking everyone to do:

1) Pray everyday for The Grove.  You can go to our website here and download a prayer guide.  Take some time each day throughout the day to pray.

2) Fast from something.  If you are familiar with fasts for Lent, then you will understand this.  Take something that you do a lot and enjoy and make a commitment to not do it for the two weeks.  For example, our family is giving up TV for the two weeks (with one “Super” exception.)  The idea behind these kinds of fasts are that during the time that you would normally do the activity, you spend that time connecting with God, praying, reflecting, talking to God, etc.

3) Food fast on Wednesday.  There are obvious exemptions to this, like nursing moms.  Also despite my kids’ objections, I will not be sending them to school on Wednesday without breakfast.  We will talk more about the power of fasting on the blog later on this week.  In short, the sacrifice of a physical need, leads us to deeper reflection on our spiritual need for God.

4) Tweet/post what you see God doing in your life.  Use #stcgrove on Twitter or post on the Grove’s Facebook page.

This will be a great two weeks for us as a church.  We expect God to do great things in our lives and church during this time, and we want to see Him “Set the Course.”

Bible Stories! Sanitized for Your Protection

January 24, 2012 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

Have you ever read through Genesis?  Have you ever read through Genesis with your kids?  You will see the stories differently, I assure you.  You will recognize that some of these stories are terrible (Explanation:  What the people do is terrible).

My 11 year old daughter came to me the other day, eyes big, shaking her head.  What had she just read?  The story of Lot and his daughters in the cave.  “I’m not sure I know that one.”  Let’s just say it’s about a guy and his two daughters.  The two daughters have a large quantity of alcohol and a plan for carrying on the family name.

My 14 year old after reading the story of Noah has two questions.  What did Noah’s son do that was so wrong and why is that story in the Bible?  “I’m not sure I know that one either.”  This is the end of the story of Noah, where he grows a vineyard, gets drunk and passes out drunk and naked in his tent.  One of his sons sees it, tells the brothers and Noah finds out and gets mad.

If you are not familiar with one or both of those stories, then you are a victim of what I will now call Bible Sanitization.  We pretend certain stories aren’t in there and we take famous stories and clean them up.  Many of you may believe that Jonah was happy when Nineveh repented.  He may still be mad about it for all we know.

Now I’m not suggesting that we put Ehud the left handed assassin who kills the really fat guy in the preschool rotation, but I am suggesting that we do damage when we ignore the “worst” parts of the Bible.  The Bible is not a story of a bunch of perfect heroes that we should idolize.  It is the story of one hero worth idolizing and a bunch of people just like us.  We see the best of them and the worst of them.

If we only know the best, we can believe that God will only use perfect or close to perfect people.  Men like Gideon who bravely fought an army with just 300 guys, trumpets and clay pots.  I mean, giant scaredy cats like Gideon who had to see not one but two miracles before he would do it, destroyed idols at night so no one would know and after his great battle led the people to idol worship.

When you read the Bible, you see an accurate picture of people, imperfect, sinful people, like the adulterer, murderer king who God said was “a man after his own heart.”  You also see an accurate picture of the devastating nature of sin and the effects that it can have on you and your family and ultimately your world.

We don’t need a watered-down Bible or a sanitized view of the world.  We need reality.  We need to have an honest view of ourselves, then we can understand the depths and power of God’s grace.  Then he can use us to do incredible things for him in the world, like Peter the guy who curses at people for accusing him of knowing Jesus.

But, We Are Supposed to CONFRONT People

This is really more of a preemptive post.  You see, the voices in my head, they argue with me.  Sometimes when I hear them aruge, I think, “I’ll be some other people think that.”  (”Other people?  You are talking about voices in your head.  You’re nuts.”  Well, you’re reading it.  What does that make you?)

On Sunday, I talked about Jesus’s attitude toward the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11).  He (his words) did not condemn her.  He did encourage her to leave her life of sin, but all considered, Jesus’s response to her was very soft.  There was barely a rebuke, and no harsh words, just simply “I don’t condemn you and stop.”

My suggestion is that this should be our attitude in the face of other people’s sin, especially those who are not believers.  Holding non-Christians to Christian standards seems a little ridiculous.  I would go so far as to say, that Jesus’s attitude of grace should be carried over into all of our relationships.

This is where the voices kick in.  “God has called us to confront people’s sin.  We don’t coddle people.  Sometimes, folks need a rebuke.”  Can I agree with that and still say that Jesus is the model?  He rebuked her.  He said that she was living a life of sin.  He didn’t say that she had made a simple mistake.  He also told her to stop.  What more is needed?

The problem for us comes a couple of different ways.  First, are we holding ourselves to the same standards that we are enforcing on the rebukee?  Second, are we determining their sin to be worse by some arbitrary rankings of sin?

Most importantly for me, is why are you doing this?  Why do you want to do this? Are you angry? Are you thinking about you or them? Are you more interested in them hearing your angry words or do you want them to turn away from sin because you love them?  Too often we think we are on the side of justice.  We believe we are God’s delegates to let everyone else know where they are wrong.  If other people’s sin is making you angry instead of breaking your heart, then you should reevaluate and come back later.  Love has to be the motivation.

“If you really want to show someone love, you’ll tell them the truth.”  Maybe.  How about this: “If you really want to show someone love, you will offer to do whatever you can to help them.  You will share the sins you struggle with as well and offer to meet with them on a regular basis for prayer and accountability.”

Loftenism: Just because something is true, doesn’t mean it needs to be said.

Furthermore, if it does need to be said, where does it need to be said?  How does it need to be said?  By whom? Why you? Why now?

Confronting people is about, (wait for it) people.  Showing love to people, helping people.  Turn off the so-called “righteous indignation” and turn on some good old-fashioned compassion.

1 Corinthians 13

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

If I rebuke people, confront people, and/or call out sin and do not have love, I’m just mean.

Parenting: A Matter of Will and Work

January 16, 2012 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

I’m not going to lie to you, I’m tired.  It’s a good kind of tired (Worn-out cliche alert).  At the end of the day (Another one), it’s hard work being a parent, but it is completely worth it.  You get back more than you give (Should I keep going?).  But honestly, it is exhausting.  The only way that parenting doesn’t wear you out from time to time, is if you aren’t doing it right.  You see (does that count as one?), children are relentless.  Rebellion, selfishness, their need for discipline is ongoing.

You want a break, but no break comes.  Maybe you get small respites when they sleep or they finally settle in on a parent approved activity.  However, you use that time to clean up the mess from what just happened and/or gather up your hair that you just pulled out. Obviously (?), I exaggerate, but not by much.  I’m also guessing that about 1 in 4 of you are thinking, “No you aren’t.  Keep preaching.”

We have 3 girls in our home now, 14, 11 and 1/6.  This broad range of ages provides us with a lot of different kinds of challenges.  We have one who interacts with teenage boys all day (yikes and yuk), one who has begun the stage where girls begin to create relentless drama (yuk and yikes), and one who poops her pants (just yuk).

There is almost (?) always something going on in our house that requires some parenting.  A “tone” that you hear from a conversation going on between the two oldest, a baby who can’t/won’t take a nap, chores that just won’t get done even though you have asked more than once (that baby just won’t keep her room clean, no matter what we do), or yesterday’s problem–constipated baby.

The question we have to ask is do we have the stomach and the will and the energy to parent.  Too often, parents choose the path of least resistance.  What brings peace and/or quiet the fastest is rarely what is best for the family in the long run.  Ignoring it keeps you in the chair but fixes nothing.  Giving in may make them quiet, but it creates what we call “unsustainable systems” (read kids who think they can always get what they want by whining, yelling, fit-throwing, etc.).  Yelling in anger certainly gets attention, but at what cost?

Kids need consistent, strong parents with even handed discipline.  They need you, working hard.  They need you to be willing to do what other parents won’t or can’t and what you very often don’t feel like doing.  Get up, find out what’s going on, what happened, why did it happen, how can you fix this instance, how can you prevent it in the future, is there a bigger picture issue… (This goes for babies as well.  They need help.  They are just babies.  They don’t always know what they want, much less need.  When they do think they know, sometimes they are wrong.  Remember, they are just babies.  Love them, meet their needs, but don’t forget they need shepherding as well.)

It’s not always easy, but’s it worth it.  Then you can sit down and rest until the next time (read not very long).  Did I mention that it’s worth it?  Hang in there and go for it (You knew one more was coming, right?).

My Way or the…No Just My Way

January 12, 2012 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

When it comes to sports, I have the reputation of being a hater.  Apart from the Razorbacks, the St. Louis Cardinals and Phil Mickelson, I don’t root for anyone.  I spend most of my time rooting against people and teams.  If my daughter Lauren comes in and sees me watching sports, if she doesn’t see one of the three entities mentioned above, she will ask, “Which one of these teams do we not like?”

All that to say, as I use the Cowboys as an illustration, I’m not hating on them.  I’m not a Cowboy hater, mostly because you can’t hate something that’s not any good (That sounded like hating, but it wasn’t).

This interview with Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones caught my attention recently:

“The facts are that I’ve spent 22 years doing this exactly the same way,” Jones said Tuesday on KRLD-FM. “I’ve made a lot of changes from year to year as time goes along, but frankly, I know that when we do not have the kind of success, when we don’t have expectations lived up to, the one that should get the most heat is the one that ultimately makes the decisions, period, with the Dallas Cowboys. And that’s me.”

The owner of the Dallas Cowboys doesn’t want to hire a general manager to run his team.  Why?  Apparently because we’ve always done it this way.  He can see no reason to change.  However, the fact that the team has only won one playoff game in the last 15 years might seem like a good reason, but not to him.

Why?  Apparently, he likes being in charge.  It would seem that being the one in control is more important than success.  I get that, I suppose.  If I were to buy a video game, I would want to play it, and if I wasn’t any good, I wouldn’t hire someone to play for me and register a high score in my name.  I would want to do it. (Way to go, Cloften.  A sports analogy and video game analogy in the same post.  People are loving this)

However, wouldn’t he rather his team has success than have control?  His fans would, but that doesn’t matter.  At least not to him.  Before this post continues, let’s take a moment and judge him.  (Pause)  Well done.

How many areas of our life would we choose control over success?  I see this in churches.  A church would rather do it “their way” than be successful.  (Let’s put aside what your definition of success is.  Regardless of your definition of what makes a church successful, is it being successful based on your definition?)  Rather than even asking the question are we being successful, we determine that we are being successful because we are doing it the right (read my) way.  That’s very similar to what Jerry Jones is doing.  What makes us successful? Me being in charge.  That’s the top priority.  Results are secondary.

This is what bad leaders, church or otherwise, do.  It is better to fail than ask for help.  It is better to fail than read a book.  It is better to fail than to admit to someone that you are failing.

This happens in churches, marriages, parenting, everywhere.  We ignore results and change nothing.  It doesn’t matter if we are winning, because we have “spent 22 years doing this exactly the same way.”

If it’s not working, be humble enough to say something and then do something about it.  God is there for you, wise counsel is there for you, friends, books, even Yahoo answers might could help (Don’t go to Yahoo answers).

Choose success over control.

The Sins of the Father…

If there is any verse/passage/concept that men hope is not true, it is this one:

“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,” Exodus 20:5

We do not want to believe that somehow the consequences of our sins fall to our kids, grandkids, etc.  We know that we are sinners and we bear the weight of our decisions.  We don’t really like the idea of having to bear the burden for our own stupidity, but the idea that someone else, much less our kids, would have to bear the burden is too much.

However, we may not want it to be true, but isn’t it obvious that it is?  Don’t we see it?  The decisions that we make and the consequences get passed down from generation to generation.  Sons say they won’t be like their dad, but they are.  They (we) become what they (we) saw.

Reading through my passage for my Bible in a year plan today, I read the story of Isaac and Rebekah.  Isaac is going through the land of King Abimilek.  He tells the king that his wife is actually his sister.  This is the same lie that his dad, Abraham, told two different kings at two different times.  What a coincidence, a son repeats the exact same sin that his father did.

Thankfully I don’t have any sons (true) so this doesn’t apply to me (not true).  I never see my sins repeated in my daughters (not true).  I’ve never once seen traits of cynicism (not true) or bursts of anger (you get the point).  In fact, it is burned into my memory the time my 8 year old daughter screamed at the car in front of us, “Hey! Move! The light is not getting any greener!”

Our children are and will become what they see, but before we allow that to only discourage us, let’s look at the next verse in Exodus 20:

“But showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:6

It works both ways, so while you should feel challenged, you should be encouraged as well.  Be encouraged to be better, to pursue God more and to show your kids how to be a man (woman) and follower of God.

When Your “Want to” is Broken

January 10, 2012 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

I was pontificating to one of my daughters the other day (I won’t say who, because, well you’ll see).  I was telling her that there are some ways in which I miss the terrible twos.  Before you declare me crazy, allow me to explain.  You see, when you tell a two year old to do (or not do) something and they do not want to, they make it very plain.  They scream “NO!” or they kick and stomp their feet.  It is clear that they disagree with your assessment of what they should spend their time doing and they clearly communicate to you their displeasure.  What it lacks in subtlety, it makes up for in clarity.

Nowadays, rebellion looks a little bit different.  Now when we ask someone to do (or not do) something, there is no screaming fit or tantrum.  There is nothing.  It is as if no one has said anything.  Life continues on.  I told this daughter that I miss the old days when rebellion stared me in the face with defiance than ignored us with passive-agression.

As always, even as I’m talking to my daughter and I am overwhelmingly aware of what a giant hypocrite I am as God whispers in my ear, “Hmm, I don’t know anyone like that.  Someone who just doesn’t want to, so he doesn’t.”  I’m going to confess to you, sometimes my “want to” is broken.  No active rebellion, no anger, just “don’t want to.”

What should I/we do? What do we do when our “want to” is broken?  We’ve all been there.  There are things we know we should do, must do, would be good to do, are right to do, etc.  However, we just don’t want to.

Part of me is tempted to end the post there with a rhetorical question, mostly because I’m not sure I “want to” hear the answer.

I’ve noticed first that my “want to” is tied to how rested I am.  I’m not talking about simply physical rest, but spiritual rest as well.  Usually this is a good indicator that I need to either spend some time in prayer and the word and/or take a nap.  Do not undervalue either of these practices–devotionals and “deep” meditation.

Also, I think it is important that we draw from the “get to” tank before we go to the “have to” tank.  If this is starting to confuse you, I’m sorry.  When we don’t want to do what is right, it’s better for us to remember that it is privilege that we get to serve and honor God with our lives and obedience.  This is significantly better than have to.  We don’t like being reminded that we have to do something any more than our kids do.  Even if it’s true that we have to, I believe it is better to be motivated by gratitude than obligation.

Finally, to invent a phrase never before spoken or written and is certainly not overused in any and all contexts, just do it.  Have you ever truly regretted doing what was right when it was hard, or when you were tired or just didn’t want to?  Maybe we can come up with few random examples, but an overwhelming number of times, we experience a joy from doing what God has called us to that make getting over ourselves worth it, which in turn leads to an increase in “want to.”

So get up and have that conversation you don’t want to have, make that phone call, pick up that Bible and get caught up with your Bible reading plan.  Because you know you want to, even when you don’t want to.

Bible in a Year: Genesis 1-11 Amazing, “Unbelievable” Stories

January 6th.  Who’s still keeping up with their daily reading plan?  I know that most of you are still going strong, at least I hope so.  The Leviticus slump is coming and the summer sleepies.  Let’s hang tough in January, especially during Genesis.  (I know that everyone is not doing the same plan, but just about everyone is reading Genesis right now)

As I finished Genesis 1-11 this week, I was captured again by how fantastic these stories, and if I could use the word “unbelievable” at least momentarily.  For some, we read those stories, we believe them but brush them off as kid’s Sunday School stories.  For others, we dismiss them like fables–cute stories, but no serious person would truly believe them.

Well, I don’t know if I am a serious person, but I believe them.  I believe that God created the world through his words and there are limits as to what science can tell us about what a supernatural God that cannot be observed did or does.  I believe Satan spoke through a snake in a literal Garden of Eden.  Jesus references these stories, Paul references these stories, and both of them as true stories.  They don’t simply reference the lesson, but the history.  It doesn’t bother me that I sound naive.  I’m also just naive enough to believe that a literally dead person literally came back to life after having literally been dead.  He walked around and then was taken to heaven.  If I’m naive enough to believe that, then believing animals walked onto a giant boat to avoid a worldwide flood seems like no big deal.

(I could go on and on.  My belief in these Bible stories is not shallow and pretty well thought out.  However, an apologetic article would be more like a blog series, and these Bible in a Year posts are designed to be more devotional.  If you have some interest in apologetic stuff, let me know.  I could write some stuff and I know some other folks who would love to do it as well.)

However, I don’t want to spend a lot of time on that, because I think by spending a lot of energy trying to decide what fits with science and answering “is it true” questions that we miss some major themes of the Bible that God is wanting to introduce as we start through the Bible.  Here are just a few.

1) The main “character” of the Bible is God.  “In the beginning God…”  That’s where it starts.  We get to people later.  Too often we read the Bible the way we used to read our high school yearbooks.  Hundreds of pages in that book, we don’t notice most of them.  However the 4 or 5 pages (or more if you were some kind of superstar) where your picture is found are dog-eared. The Bible is not an instruction book, and it is not about us.  It was written for us, but it is about God.

2) God loves people and God hates sin.  Seems simple right.  I wonder though.  Do we believe both of those things?  I’m not sure.  Do we believe that God hates sin so much that it must be punished?  Kicked out of the garden, cursing the earth, banishment, a worldwide flood, confusing languages.  In a few chapters we will see the destruction of cities.  Does God hate sin that much?  Still?  We see God’s compassion, through the making of the clothes, sparing Cain, the remnant on the ark.  We see that even more in Jesus Christ.  However, compassion and forgiveness are only truly powerful if God hates sin and sin requires punishment.

3) God loves the whole world and loves diversity.  God wanted people to “fill the earth and multiply.”  He wanted the whole earth to be full.  He knew the result of that would be diversity.  People in different areas would adapt to different customs and languages.  However, people didn’t want that.  They stayed together and wanted to build a giant monument to keep them together.  God did to them what they refused to do themselves.  He made them diverse and spread them out.  Which leads to…

4) God is control.  He is working his plan.  If you are still reading your Bible every day in November and December (and why wouldn’t you be?) you will see God’s plan slowly unfolding over hundreds of years.  We should be both humbled and relieved.  God’s got this.  Whatever “this-es” you are going through, he’s got it.

There is so much more–redemption, forgiveness, the frailty of people, the devastating effects of sin.  The prologue (as some have called it) to the Bible is incredibly deep and powerful and sets the course for the big picture story of the Bible.  The God of the Universe creates a people who rebel.  He loves them and wants relationship with them, but they must be redeemed.

Glad you’re hanging in there.  Let’s keep doing this.

Resolution 2: Blog Again and Why I Stopped aka (One of) The Best Thing That’s Happened to Our Family

January 5, 2012 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

As none of you may have noticed, I quit blogging there for a while.  There are a few of reasons for that.  Some of which are not very interesting.  Most of the stuff that God has been teaching me has to do with how to be a better pastor from an organizational leadership perspective.  Seeing how you are not a pastor, you probably wouldn’t be interested in that.  I blog mostly from what is going on in my life and when I would sit down to write something, I would think “No one would be interested in that.” I know what you must be thinking (the 3 of you who have read this before), “Wait, your posts are supposed to be interesting?”

Honestly, I’ve also felt very stretched in my professional life and blogging got moved to the back.  I thought a couple of times about starting back, but I realized that I didn’t want to be a once every week and a half blogger, which is probably the best I could have done.  Decided it was better to wait until I could do it well.

Random leadership insight implied from previous paragraph:  Don’t do something new, unless you can do it well.  Don’t start something new until you are doing all the other things you’re supposed to be doing well.

Then in November something amazing happened.  God brought a baby into our home.  It was very sudden.  Not in a we didn’t know we were pregnant but still had months to think about it way, but a phone call go pick up a baby kind of way.  This is perhaps the most amazing thing that has happened to our family in a long time.  (I try to avoid superlatives.  When you live with 4, yes now 4 women, you have to be careful about things like, “You’re the best”  “You’re my best girl”  One thing about girls.  They are always listening and quickly and decisively filter what you say in ways that make you want to fake receiving a phone call and run from the room.)

Random Husband/Dad insight implied from that unintentionally sexist statement: Be careful what you say around your wife and daughters.  Your words matter. They are listening.  You can crush and inspire with each statement you make.

This precious baby has been in our home for almost 2 months now and is doing great and has completely and totally captivated each and every one of us.  There is a great chance that she will become part of our “forever family” (cute expression from adoption circles) and we couldn’t be more excited.  For those keeping score, that is a 14 year old, 11 year old and 2 month old.  In the meantime, we have to be discreet about talking about her publicly, showing pictures, etc.  This is a way to honor her and her natural family during a very hard time.

So again, you want to know what I’m thinking about.  Stuff I can’t really talk about with pictures I can’t show.  I would destroy this blog and eat the computer if it meant the safety, protection and honoring of this precious gift.

Random pastoral insight from previous paragraph:  Family first.   Wait, wait. I worry what you just heard was family is important. What I said was: family first.  Do you understand?

(Fans of Ron Swanson should be thinking about bacon and eggs)

So the blog is back.  I will occasionally have coded things to say about the world’s best baby who, by the way, has slept 8 hours 2 of the last 3 nights.

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