Friday

Bacon and how good it is to be married to my wife

While I have a lot of things on my mind, the one most current is that I had a BLT for lunch.

Wheat bread
Mayo.
Bacon.
Tomato.
Lettuce.
Mayo.
Fresh cracked pepper.
Wheat bread.

In that order.

It was really. Really. Really good. And it confirms for me that bacon is, indeed, one of the 7 perfect foods and may indeed be the greatest of the fried meats.

Jenny is feeling much better. Especially after her own BLT. And that reminds me that she is, indeed, the perfect wife and may indeed be the greatest person I have ever known. Without her I am certain that my children and I would survive for a time but would eventually turn feral and pour out into the wilderness to scavenge available food sources. And that's on the good end of what would happen. So for all you hubbys out there who have a wife who knows how to cook bacon (or who does not), make sure you tell them they are the person who helps you be the man God wants you to be. And then make something for them that costs less that $3. Just to see if you can. I bet you...Q100 that they will love it.

Wednesday

Sick day

Although not mine.

Jenny has some horrible cough and chest and sinus congestion crud. She's laid up in bed (mainly on my orders) and I'm taking care of the kiddos. I say "my orders" like I'm some kind of commander. What I mean is that she's sick and if she doesn't rest she'll be sick a lot longer. And sick people are easier to boss because they're weak. That's right. You all know you've bossed sick people around. Not informed or chronically or terminally ill people. Just people who have a bad cold. "Get back in bed" or "What are you doing up?" or "Here, eat this scalding hot chicken soup and drink this hot toddy" Well, maybe not the toddy.

And so I get to pull out the "in sickness and in health" clause today and spend the day with my babies. And take care of the woman who has my heart and for whom I would push the mountains into the sea. Or at least make sure she gets her Zicam on time.

Oh, while I'm thinking about it, are there any topics you all would like to hear about? Missionary life, some theological or social thing, family stuff. Whatever. I'm open for anything. Even if you just want a story about a carrot and a beet's adventures in the produce section.

Saturday

for better or for worse

I was going to write a post about how folks in the US have little if anything to complain about. About how they live in the wealthiest most advanced most comfortable most convenient country in the history of the world. Where there is an entire aisle in every football field sized grocery store just for breakfast cereal. Cold, fresh milk can be purchased - the only decision? Regular or organic. A place where water fountains give you cold, drinkable water. For free. Where the roads are nearly Romanesque masterpieces of engineering. A place where the dire health issue of the impoverished is obesity. Obese poor. Have you ever thought about how amazing that is? Where there is more opportunity for the poor to work hard and get an education and make a great life for themselves than anywhere in history. The electricity stays on. High speed internet has become almost as available as breathable air and cold water fountains. If you can't afford health care, Medicaid will help. If you can't afford food, get food stamps. If you're down on your luck, walk into a church. Where we still won't talk about racism because both sides are too scared to be honest and confront our pride and sin. Where the greatest dividing debate is whether it's murder to abort a baby or just killing some pre-birth tissue and success depends on your ZIP code and square footage more than the "content of your character" as one man who really got it said one spring day.

But then I thought about it and realized that we know what we have experienced and most folks in the US have not experienced the world at large. We can't possibly live in another time and see how fortunate (or blessed, as is often said...although I wonder if folks who don't have all the things we have are less blessed or "unblessed" or maybe even cursed...but we'd never say that). And everyone defaults to thinking that their way of things and of doing life is superior to other's ways of doing. The proof of that is we don't try to change what we're doing. If there were a way that was better (say, eating one big meal at lunch, or eating dinner at 10:00pm) we would do it. But humans default to thinking the way they currently do it is best. We too are affected by inertia - we head in the same direction unless something acts upon us to change it. It's human.

The reality is that people the world over affix moral value to things which have no moral weight. We say "America is better" when what we mean is that it is cleaner or safer or more convenient or easier to succeed in doing so we attach morality to safety, cleanliness, convenience and better engineering. And we miss the point.

God doesn't really care where we live or how convenient or safe or clean it is. All those things are good things, but they are not most important. God wants us to be a certain kind of person, not live in a certain kind of world. And the US world is a really hard place to do that. It's like trying to read a book inside a washing machine or on a roller coaster. Just too many things going on to stop and think.

And that "Itus" be it materialism or prosperity or whatever is spreading. We don't just export democracy. And the world is speeding up, shrinking and homogenizing at an incredible rate.

And I live in both worlds. And love the people in each. And I wonder in what world my children will raise their children and how can I prepare them for what I cannot anticipate. And I realize now that God is the great unchanging One who was and is and is to come. That what I must focus on is not all those things but "seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you." And then I am thankful. That I was born in such an amazing place and time. That there really is a place where you can drink the tap water and drive around after dark. And I complain a little less about everyone else complaining. And see us for what we are - just people in need of our Lord. And I can enjoy it all a little more when I remember that we have a lot more in common than I thought.

Wednesday

Time for something serious

Ha.

So Jenny and I were talking out at dinner the other night (without the kids - fantastic) and we asked each other if you could be an animal on land, sea and air, what would you pick and why.

I chose:

Land - wolverine. pound for pound the angriest mammal. I've always loved them.
Sea - Killer whale. I just think not having predators would be cool.
Air - Red Tailed Hawk. Just a Texas favorite of mine.

You all probably think I'm overly aggressive now.

What would you pick? I guess they can be imaginary. Just thought of that. Hmmmm.

Tuesday

My brother the sober

I'm a little brother. And a proud one. Because my big brother has had a heck of a year.

My childhood has many a memory of being hog-tied or noogied. There were only two of us: my brother and me. So when it came time for memory making on a Saturday sometimes his options were pretty closed.

We raced the go-cart and RC cars. As we got older our friend pools blended and I had the great opportunity to share a lot of cool people with Ian, my big brother. I grew up and moved away and cried because I missed his quirky things. Like how often he brushed his teeth or how much penutbutter he could consume. As teenagers we went through those 5 lb Peter Pan cans like bread at a duck pond. And I loved him.

We became men. Were each other's best men. We had our lives.

Then his fell apart. His marriage. His job. His everything fell to pieces. He called me weeping. He tried to piece things back together. Relationships. Career. Family. Financial. God. You know, the little things in life. I watched as the entirety of who he was collapsed and he went supernova. And I loved him.

Today my brother reaches 1 year of sobriety from sex addiction and co-codependency and maybe something else but good Lord I think that's enough. He has been consumed by what I think all men struggle with: Lust. That terrifying 4 letter word that us fellas are too afraid to talk about. Too afraid to bring into the light. And it conquered him. For a little while.

I read the psalms a lot and they often make me think of my brother. Here's part of 40:

1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.

2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.

4 Blessed is the man
who makes the LORD his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.

And that describes my brother. Whom God has lifted from the crap of sin and shame and grief and pain and given a new life. He has given him a wife who loves him more completely than any other woman could. It's amazing. How you ask? Because Jesus Christ is the Transformer of men and He has made my big brother someone new. He is not the Addict. He is the Blessed man who trusts the Lord. He is not the black sheep. He is a fellow sheep knelt beside me before our Great Shepherd who would not leave him in the slime. Who would not leave him in the pit. Who took my brother, whom I love, and loved him as I never could. Who took him out and lifted him up and set his feet on the rock and gave him a firm place to stand at last.

For I am a little brother. One who is prouder of his big brother than I am of any other man. And I love him. He represents the grace of God to me. Not becasue he is perfect but because he is redeemed. Because he had the courage to bring the darkness to Christ and let Him change it to light. Because he has fought the good fight. Not because he always has but because he did when it was hardest of all. And he has a new song to sing; a hymn of praise to our God who takes men from their darkness and makes them someone new.

I love you Ian. I am proud of you. Happy First year, big brother.

Sunday

refineablity

I would like to tell you that I got up at 5:00 this morning to have devotional time with the Lord. I would like to say I was joyous for the new mercies that come every morning; that I awoke in the dark without an alarm, summoned by the gentle urging of the Holy Spirit.

But I would be lying.

Refining is the process of removing impurities or unwanted material, to improve or perfect by pruning or polishing. The Psalmist tells us that God has refined them as silver is refined. All the junk removed until just silver is left. We sing songs about God being our "refiners fire" with a tender and longing melody urging us toward the crucible of God.

And then there are children.

We have two of the sweetest most beautiful crucibles imaginable. BoyD really loves us. He wants to be around us all the time. Take showers with us. Sleep in our bed. The concept that Jenny and I existed before he did and will remain after he is grown and out of our home is as foreign to him as Quantum Physics. He simply has no concept. BabyM simply does the things that babies do. She wants only what she wants. Her desires are utterly paramount and any effort to thwart them is met with tears of frustration and, on occasion, outright anger.

I thought I was a jerk when I got married. I realized a new depth to my selfishness because there was this other person whom Jesus tells me I am one with and yet we did not always agree. It's a strange thing having to consider another person all the time and something no amount of books or counseling prepared me for. But Jenny is the most capable person I know. She gets herself dressed every single day. Puts her own food in her mouth. She can even make her own food. Actually, if I was not around, she would be doing just fine without me. She'd tell you different but those who know us realize I get the most out of our little arrangement. But God has used that relationship to refine me, to train me, to reveal the depth of my depravity and call me ever more to trust Him to be the man He wants me to be.

Then we had children. One at first. You see, they are takers, little children. They have to learn to give back. They are not born with the desire to serve. They cannot even go to the bathroom without my intimate involvement. I cannot even imagine being in Jenny's place: actually carrying our children in her body and then literally giving them the entirety of their sustenance from her own body. I have it really easy compared to moms. Which just reveals how very unlike Christ I am. How much I want to please myself, to have my way, to sleep when I want, to do what I want when I want to do it.

My son talks constantly. It's like being under a waterfall of words. He wants to hear stories. All day. He asks "why?" to every answer. He thinks my body is his personal toy. He wakes up at 5:00 and though we put him back to bed, eventually its light out and one of us gets up with him. He's whining at this very moment because he wants candy before breakfast. And I get tired and don't want to do those things because I am a selfish, human father. God has taught me patience through my son. He has taught me long suffering. He has taught me that my temper is a horrid thing that reeks of Hell destroys the things that are good. And He's working on me.

My daughter is gentle and tiny and tender. She shrieks and poops at inopportune times. She has my temper. And God has used to her teach me tenderness and kindness and gentleness. She doesn't like to be tossed in the air like her brother. She's delicate and girly. She also has an iron will which is difficult to manage for a 16 pound person. I have realized because of her that my anger is the manifestation of other things. Things that God wants to get rid of. To burn off. To refine away. And He has used my beautiful blue eyed girl to teach me.

God has taught me why it is so important to just obey Him and quit asking for explanations to justify by obedience. He knows what's best even if I don't understand and trusting Him is never blind because He loves me. God has taught me just a little more how much He must love us to call us His children. To deal with us all the time. Our tempers and tantrums and sleepless nights. I look at Him and realize He wants me to be like Jesus and then I realize that He is in the process of doing just that. It's just an ugly process. One that involves poop and crying. But one that involves being loved by a child. Maybe the purest love we have between us humans. And maybe God is using that to transform me as well.

Saturday

Woohoo for real dates

Today I get to take my beautiful and talented bride on a real date. Dinner. Maybe a movie. We have 2 hours planned just for dinner. 2 HOURS! We have a 3 years old and a 1 year old. Eating out is a contact sport.

So we are going to eat at 5:00 (yes, like at at retirement home) so we can be home by 7:00 to put the kiddos down then go back out again. Can you believe it? So we're off to stimulate the Guatemalan economy a little. Normally eating out on Valentines is a horror but 8 or 10 pm is normal here...we should meet the lunch crowd on the way out. I'm not even sure where we're going. It doesn't matter. It will be just the 2 of us and some kind of food and beverages and uninterrupted conversation. I can just listen to Jenny talk for what will seem like decades without having to do anything but listen to and enjoy my beautiful bride.

Quiet conversation. Wow.

So, anyway, I have little of substance to talk about because I'm very excited. But some topics I want to cover in the next week are:

- How God uses my children to refine me
- Why citizens of the USA have almost nothing to complain about
- How much I miss my first car
- My incredible brother and his journey this past year

And probably other random thoughts.

buen provecho!

Wednesday

We're home

We left Lubbock Tuesday and 30 hours later, we're back in our own house. Whew.

BabyM is doing great. Eating and (we hope) gaining weight. We weighed her with a baggage scale but I just really doubt that is a precision instrument.

We're awaiting results on a test for metabolic disorders but the Doc back in Texas doesn't seem too concerned.

So, we'll try to get back to life again. We really enjoyed our time we had with family. It was an unexpected time with them and we made the most of it. But we're glad to be back home. We all sleep in our own beds tonight and wake up home tomorrow.

I have a sort of funny story about our flight to DFW involving Jumbo Corny Dogs, curly fries and turbulance on a prop plane. But I'll just let you imagine that one.

I'll get back to actual blogging in day or so. Sorry to you faithful readers!

Friday

Fun with Old People

I called one of our supporting churches here in Lubbock to ask them if I could serve in any way while we were in town. Dan, the missions pastor (a really fantastic guy) asked if I would like to teach the Foundations Sunday school class. I said sure! Who's in it? He told me it's full of blue hairs. Elderly. Old folks.

I'm so excited!

I get to spend a hour with a group of people who have so much wisdom, who know the Lord and love Him and have been here on planet earth for a lot longer than me. I have so much I can learn from them that I have no idea what in the world I could possibly teach. I'm giving them an overview of our life in Guatemala and talking about Titus 2:1-6...but I have to admit I am humbled and thankful to be so honored to be asked to teach a group of my elders.

So, here's to old folks! I can't wait to see what they have to teach me on Sunday. What a hoot.

Wednesday

random observations

Every time we return to the US we notice a few things.

- It's very clean here. Really very clean.

- Public, cold water drinking fountains are a mark of a truly developed society.

- You folks really need to enjoy the availability of clean greens such as lettuce and spinach in a restaurant. Wow. Salad in a restaurant and no abdominal cramping.

- There really are a lot of obese people in the US. Maybe they should enjoy more of the abundant, clean salads.

- The Super Bowl was more fun to watch here.

- We miss our home a lot.

- Fresh milk. drool. Oh man, it is SO good.

- Food is apparently very important to me.

- Lubbock Texas has a lot of sky.

- Hospitals sort of smell the same no matter where you are. Except here the cafeteria has Chick-Fil-A and not a lady making tortillas on a camp stove.

- The internet just plain works better here. A lot better.

- Our churches need to complain less and do more. We have more than we can even comprehend and yet instead of serving we debate whether or not we should ordain homosexuals.

- Safety is something we should be more thankful for here. We live in a really safe place in the suburbs. It's an enormous blessing and I didn't realize how stressful it is to be constantly thinking about the safety of my family.

- There is a HUGE Hispanic population in Lubbock. I could speak Spanish everyday here if I wanted. Oh - and I met a kid from Guatemala in Braums. His mom lives there still. How cool is that?