Archive for ‘Holidays’

December 16, 2010

Letter To Santa

I think this might be our first letter to Santa.

June 18, 2010

Father’s Day for Dummies

Loooovvveee Father’s Day! Don’t you? Breakfast in bed. Cards from smiling ladies as we shuffle out to church. Come home to find a little lady bringing me my slippers. Watch something sporty – even if the only thing on is NASCAR. Fall asleep in my lazy boy recliner while someone tucks me in as another someone lifts my head and gently puts a pillow underneath. Wake up two hours later to discover four wrapped presents right there before my eyes. I tear up as I rip through the first one and discover a miter saw hidden below. I turn to the second one, which is a box of Romeo y Julieta Reserve Maduros. I flick a match and puff on its wonderful earthiness as billowing smoke envelopes everyone in the room. I shred the third one to discover a collection  of my most coveted books on my wish list. As I sigh in great pleasure a nice toasty cup of chicory coffee is placed in my hand (that’s the fourth present) as I begin to read. Not a peep I hear until “I love you” is gently whispered in my ear as the call to dinner. Beef tenderloin and cheesecake wrap up a delightful evening with the children tucking themselves into bed as they blow kisses to me from down the hall. Soooo relaxing.

Does this sound like your kind of Father’s Day? Well, then…WAKE UP! Men, here is your pep talk going into the weekend. This may come as a shocker to you but Father’s Day is not for you. Well, at least, it shouldn’t be for you. It is for your children. This Sunday is another chance for you to reevaluate the way you spend your time with your children. They need you. I’m not talking about “they need you at work bringing home money” or “they need to know you’re in the same building as them.” No, what I’m talking about is that they need to know that you care about them in a way they understand love and affection from their daddy as it is weaved into their identity. This means undistracted time doing things with them that they want to do.

Think about two possible scenarios:

Scenario #1: You have been selfish as a dad every Father’s Day as described in my opening paragraph. Twenty years from now you look back and will remember how many of them? How many gifts? How many dinners? My guess – none.

Scenario #2: You have spent real unadulterated quality time with your children. You look back in 20 years and you remember details of giggles, smiles, laughs, hugs and kisses that blur into a wholesome memory. Better yet, you realize that by changing your focus on Father’s Day you began a habit of working at communicating love to your children in a way they understood. Your relationship with them is decidedly better for it.

Now consider these two scenarios from another perspective:

Scenario #1: Your children look back after 20 years of Father’s Day with disdain. No fond memories. No real reason to celebrate having a daddy. A day when daddy took full advantage of what he did every day the rest of the year – tell them how unimportant they were by the way that he spent his free time. Specifically, they weren’t worth his time or energy. If he did spend time with them it was only doing things he wanted to do; never what they wanted to do.  They swear that when they have kids they will never make the same mistake.

Scenario #2: Your children look back with fond memories of detailed adventures and ice cream escipades where the world was conquered in a day by them and their daddy. They share stories of joy to the smallest details to their children on future Father’s Day as they relive in their own heart how their daddy loved them deeply. How thankful they are for those constant messages of affirmation.

How many children this weekend will be looking for their daddy’s love and he will be too self-absorbed to notice. Don’t be that guy.

So, come up with a plan. Figure out a way to spend the day with your children that communicates what a prize they are to you.  If you need an idea, here is what I do: I take each girl out separately during the day. They each get to pick something special that we do alone for at least an hour. This year one has asked to go to breakfast with me. We will be eating at IHOP before church. Another has requested that we go to Appleby’s for fries and ice cream – that sounds like a yummy snack. The third is still deliberating. My ladies know my stomach and heart are attached! But these things are just a medium. I have a plan on our outings. I have specific statements I’m going to make during our time together. I will tell them

  • “I love your personality” – and I will mention something about their personality I want to encourage.
  • “You are so beautiful” – and I will focus on their image.
  • “You bring joy to my life” – and I will tell them how.

and I have specific questions for them to:

  • “What makes you happy?”
  • “What do you like to think about?”
  • “What is your favorite thing about your sisters and mommy?”

and then I say to them:

  • “Don’t ever forget that daddy loves you. I’m not perfect. You know that. How many times have I said sorry to you? Too many times. But God is the perfect Daddy. I hope you take days like this and it helps you think about how God is.”

These questions are meant to take us into all sorts of interesting places. I never know where we are going to go with these questions and statements because I don’t know what they are thinking. That is why I ask and state the things I do – so I can hear how they process and where they are coming from. You are the only expert your children need when it comes to a daddy’s love. Just give it a shot.

June 1, 2010

Hallowed Grounds | PBS

A day late, but worth watching! Not sure when PBS will be showing this again, but it a great 1 hour history reminder of the heroes we should be toasting on Memorial Day. This holiday we take for granted is a testimony in itself to those who have made the greatest of sacrifices for freedom, both here and abroad.  I might have to make this part of our annual memorial day celebrations. Just a thought. Check out the trailer.

May 23, 2010

Today is Pentecost

The second most important day to commemorate in early Christianity after Resurrection Sunday was Pentecost. How I lament the loss of this celebration of the giving of the Holy Spirit to every individual believer in contemporary times. But there is nothing to stop us in our families to celebrate this day.

Here are two resources that perhaps get you thinking about the Holy Spirit.

An article on the Holy Spirit by R.C. Sproul

More developed thoughts on the Holy Spirit by John Owen.

May 8, 2010

For The Sweet Mother In My Life On This Joyous and Momentous Mother’s Day

Dear cherished lovely Lady of whose value the world cannot esteem or estimate for you are truly beyond being some mundane mathematical equation (such as 2+2=4)  but rather are more like an esoteric mathematical investigation that promises to carry on into oblivion (like Fermat’s Last Theorem, only that was solved after 300 years so maybe more like the Navier-Stokes Equation(s)),

I am glad for another Mother’s Day to be  upon us. It forces me, yet again,  to pause as I consider this stupendous day that annually commemorates your impact on my life as well as the life of others. Not that I mind taking a break of thinking about me .  You, my  dear, are such a prized treasure of great worth that the word that comes to mind is…overpriced? No, that’s not it. You know how bad with words I am. So funny.  I do have an equation I’m working on to determine your value. Basically the way it works is I subtract a little of my worth (just a bit) and viola – there you go! The problem is I can’t seem to figure out a precise value to myself since I’m so unique and precious. (Sigh) It is so hard not to talk about me, but back to you. I want to linger on that word “impact” for once second. Impact does not equate to bruising. No more – please.  Just try to take a break today; after all, it is Mother’s Day. You need to give your five favorite knuckles a rest.

I’m so glad to be celebrating your day today. It’s not as though the rest of the year isn’t dedicated to you. What’s that? Oh, right. The rest of the year IS  dedicated to you. Why am I even bothering with this crummy letter?  You’re the lucky one. Consider the evidence. (Ahem, over hear…a little farther…there! Stop.) Me – I’m talking about me.  I am the bomb. It is so hard being this good. Now that I have your attention let me tell you – Not sure how I stay humble. Did I tell you the Social Security Office contacted me to change my first name legally to Bomb kinda like what Miley Cyrus did or how all tissue paper is now called Kleenex. When being the bomb is so synonymous with your entire existence it is hard to understand why it took Social Security so long to request a hearing from my honorable presence. They even passed a law for when I go out into public. Notice how it is  against the law to proclaim my entering any location by exclaiming “Bomb!” No one wants a stampede of pandemonium as the common people push each other aside to rub shoulders with me or wipe the sweat off my brow or get a signature on a Michael Jordan Jersey (cause I’m the best – that’s why). To the Bourgeoisie, I’m here for you…and you…and you (Yes, I’m actually pointing to my imaginary fans). I love you all. You all have been so great! (Blowing kisses).

The more I think about myself the more I realize how lucky you are this mothers day.  In fact, I am such a blessing I HAVE TO broaden the scope of this lllooovvveee  letter. I’m so good, and there is too much goodness here for any  one person  so clearly my adoration is too much for one person to handle. My care and sensitivity for you prevents me from allowing the radiance of my love for you to overwhelm you or you will  lose yourself in me. The only way to prevent this danger  is for me to share me. It is the hard, but sacrificial thing.  So to all the lovely ladies in my life…What?!? I was thinking of my mother and OUR children. How could …never mind.  Just more proof that all you ladies are so lucky to have me in your life. Yes, my dear, you did well.

Now, a prize like myself has a myriad of ways to communicate my appreciation, love and affection for a precious jewel like you but there is no better present than myself. So I’ve determined this Mother’s Day we are going to celebrate your special day with a theme that constantly reminds you of me. Just think “the bomb.” I think I’ll start in the kitchen…

You are welcome to have married me my dear,

The Bomb

P.S. I’ve left a map at the bottom of the sink for you. With luck you will find your way out.

April 3, 2010

Saturdays are for Stories…Easter Style

March 17, 2010

A Toast to Friends

I originally posted this blog on December 21, 2009 in my tradition series. Join in this sweet  tradition which  celebrates a father’s life .

ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY, DRINK A TOAST TO ALL: FRIENDSHIPS GOOD AND GREAT

Originally published on Sunday March 14, 1999 in the St. Louis Post Dispatch

read more »

December 31, 2009

The End of a Decade?

It may be the most innocuous of all arguments within the last two centuries. That is if you forget the argument I had with my brother as a child when he told me to name one thing in life that didn’t have political implications. My answer: lint. It was the one and only argument where my opponent admitted defeat…sort of. This is why I have this compulsion to join this fray. New Year’s Eve is about being carefree. We look at regrets, disappointments, and short fallings from last year. We look toward our unattainable goals next year. We ignore the definition of crazy that says doing the same thing but expecting different results. All for a day we can be merry and free. Uh-huh.

When does the decade end? Does it end tonight or does it end on December 31, 2010? It is like asking about my first sentence: Are you referring to the last two hundred years that run consecutively or are you referring to the whole of the 20th century and the portion of the 21st century elapsed? Hmmm….I won’t tell.

Here are the arguments:

2000-2009: If the decade ends tonight, (that is December 31, 2009 for all of us who just woke from a self-inflicted coma in order to get through the year) then you would argue that the decade to which we are referring runs from 2000-2009. Ten Years. Just like 1985-1994 was a decade (and a great one for TV shows). Or just like 1898-1907 was a decade, but not one any of us remember (Dad?).

If the decade ends tonight, then the argument to the 2010ers is to get of your high horse of ordinal records and let the cardinals rule. So what if the calendar begins in 1 AD or is it CE or CFE or what ever ridiculous abbreviations we want to satisfy our euphemistic hearts. I have an idea for this camp – stick to AD and you win the argument.

Strength: Any ten years stringed together is technically a decade. Additionally, no one says that the sixties ran from 1961-1970. When we refer to them we say they ran from 1960-1969. Actually, if accurate history reports the 60’s were too incoherent to do any running at all. Have you tried to run when inebriated? Make sure it’s towards the emergency room.

Weakness: 2000 as a year goes with the last century. Umm or supposedly it does. If this is true it is a little awkward to be celebrating one year from last century with nine from this century. Of course, peeps in this camp can’t be brought down by such technically absurd things. Then again, how do we know if 2000 goes with the last century? Isn’t that up for debate too?  

2001-2010: Starting out, I find it surprising where the two camps stand. Engineers and NASA scientists categorically are the make-up of this camp. Everyone else who breaths goes in the last camp. Survival packs for this camp come with a compasses (not the navigational type), pocket protectors and star maps. Their hero is a combination of Lt. Spock and Lt. Data – and yes they need both. If you don’t know – never mind. But that’s just the point. These are number nerds. Maybe we should call it the Number Nerd Herd.  You would think they want as many numbers in their corner as possible. How many do they get if they are of this camp? Three (0,1,2). But how many would they get if they were of the prior camp? Three (0,2,9). Uh….That didn’t work. But consider this 0+2+9 = 011, which is way more that 0+1+2 = 03. See my point? Unless you then add the 0+1+1 = 2, which is less than 0+3= 3. Well, that settles it folks – the engineers have it. I should have known. Never mess with an engineer and her calendar…or calculator…or brain.

The Time Crunchers argue that since decades are ordinal there is no point for a discussion. Actually they are just miming. I’m guessing that is what they mean. They keep pointing  to the calendar with deep sighs of exasperation more than actually stooping to our level. Yes, it is beneath them. They tried to tell me that but it took a while to figure out since they only speak in binary language (I’m still having trouble with the last sentence if any one can help me – 0111010001001011110100010101000 100101010111111111010010001001 00000000101010  010010001110100010110110101110010101000101110010).

Their point is that if you had to choose when the calendar begins it is either with a 1 or 0. Of course, it had to be between those two options. They are always trying to force feed their “way of reality” down all our throats. We can determine the order of numbers ourselves thank you very much. If we believe that the order of numbers is 9,4,7,5,8,6,2,1,3,0 what business is it of yours? What is true for us is reality. Please! These peeps think they are so intellectually superior. Psssfft!

Okay, if we admit (with this camp) that the calendar started in 1 AD then perhaps technically they are correct. Of course, technicalities are all they care about. Everyone knows engineers have love affairs with their computers. They don’t know how to relate to non-binary language speaking folks. This makes you wonder how they ever procreate. I for one am of the opinion that survival of the fittest would have bashed (too violent?) their heads in long ago.

Technically (I’m reading one of their textbooks as they all have stop talking to me now) a decade consists of 1-10. So I’m inferring (since they won’t even look at me) that they would argue 2001-2010 based off that model. Can’t be sure I’m right here since my math professor is now sending me hate mail. I think that is what he is doing anyway.

Strength: No one is going to be giving anyone in this camp a colonoscopy without their permission.

Weakness: You can still beat up the engineer. Just think if you mob them at the right time they will even be paying for your celebration tonight! And next year! And the year after.

My answer: If you multiply instead of add then both sides equal 0, (0 x 2 x 9 = 0; 0 x 1 x 2 = 0; keep up) so in the end they are both right. Oh, wait….some IRS agents showed up. Their mad I didn’t list them with the second group since they like numbers too. They are taking out pens…now they are taking out calculators…they have my tax returns!!! Quick, call 911! They’re doing something with my earnings! Okay, okay, okay!! Okay. (Sigh) The second group is right, the second group wins. Well, at least this explains survival of the fittest. Secret weapon: tax collectors.

December 29, 2009

Our Nativity Scene

Part of our annual Christmas tradition is to build the manger scene with our little ladies. We add a different part each night beginning Dec 1st and ending Christmas morning with Baby Jesus. Each night we read from the related Scripture and talk about what it means – imagining ourselves in that time and place.

The first picture is this year’s nativity scene (my little helper took the picture); the second is last year’s scene. My favorite part is King Herod; although you may not be able to see him. He is a red dot that is by the temple (orange). He looks really mad. It was Naomi’s idea to add him. Then she had another idea: “Let’s put a pig with its butt facing King Herod because he is a meanie and pigs aren’t kosher.” So we did.

 

December 23, 2009

Traditions are Mores Than Meet the Eye

I had lofty plans – sixteen points in a week. As my quip at the top of my blog proclaims I am pleonastic. A very gracious friend describes me as his verbose friend. It is the preacha in me trying to break out. (Taking a deep sigh) Sad to realize today that I will not be able to cover all sixteen points this year. There is always next year; might be a worthy New Year’s resolution. Still, most of the points in our discussion of traditions are so closely related that the other points not mentioned can be inferred from what already has been discussed. Perhaps the greatest inference in our dialogue is what I will end with today.

 8. We need to take ownership of our traditions:

This point in many ways is what this whole discussion has been about. Traditions mishandled can be dead and devoid of joy. Traditions that we own and recognize their value are time redeemers and relation builders with joy abounding in overwhelming quantities and of the purest quality. It is for this reason that in general I do not say you should observe this day or that day nor do I say you should observe it this way or that. This discovery of what traditions to observe and how to observe it is part of the joy of learning to live life to its fullest. You must discover what events are worth emphasizing and how they should be emphasized.

There is a freedom when you realize that traditions are done correctly by a myriad of ways. For example, perhaps you have gathered that my family is very intentional during the Christmas season with nightly devotions and repetitious activities that we do year after year. This is one way to do a Christmas tradition. Maybe your Christmas tradition is to discover a new way every year to commemorate and remember. Perhaps your repetition is one of discovery and challenge in seeking new ideas to signify the importance of Christ’s birth.  In my experience there is a tradition that we typically approach this way – The Lord’s Supper. We look for new and innovative ways to remember this most holy of acts so as to not lose the significance to mere external acts which do not reflect the inward person. Doing so can be Christ honoring.

In this way, then, owning a tradition is very much about seeing the value in the way you do something. It must be yours. It is one thing to appreciate a tradition passed down from one generation to another like a prized family recipe. It is another to accept it out of duty and not delight. We will find ourselves begrudging the source that should be the center of our affections. This turns traditions upside down. We should fight against such a lazy approach to life. There is no shame in putting your personality into your traditions. This act highlights the unity that occurs between you and your object of affection. Even more so, it reveals your investment and brings your heart’s hope into a culmination of acceptance. This is when we know we have ownership, when we have accepted our traditions into the deepest marrow of our whole being – heart, mind, body, strength, soul.

But ownership is not merely deciding how you want to do a tradition, but also deciding on what traditions to observe. As I said before, in a broad sense ownership puts the onus of responsibility in picking which events are worth commemorating on you. Still, from a biblical standpoint there are certain traditions that  are commanded in Scripture such as the Lord’s Supper, and meeting with your Lord through prayer and God’s Word on a daily basis. I take this for granted and assume you do to. Outside of these there are the two obvious ones that most Christians have some kind of biblical anchor within their practiced traditions – that being Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are two if I dared to suggest we need to really work on from a biblical worldview – they are Easter and Pentecost. My personal experience has been that Easter is simply a family gorgefest and not much else. It is a commentary that should pierce us to the core if this is true of us for there is no more important day that we commemorate as Christians than the historically grounded bodily resurrection of Jesus the Christ. From my perspective, after the two holidays that celebrate the giving of Jesus (Christmas and Easter) there is no greater day worth commemorating than the giving of the Holy Spirit. These then would be where I would encourage you to consider in the building of your traditions. But I am trying not to be pleonastic here so I will move on.

Examples of ownership then can take countless forms as wide as your imagination and experience. For example, why do we not have Happy Rebirthdays as Christians? Is not our spiritual birth more important than our physical one? But you can also do things that tie into your ethnic heritage or the heritage of those people groups who do not know Christ. Maybe your Christmas tradition is to imagine what these people groups Christmas traditions would look like if some blessed missionary graced them with the great and joyful gospel. Now that would be a tradition worthy of investigation. The point is that our lives are begging for this simple practice. God engineered us to be changed by traditions. The onus is then on us to take this reality and make it a part of our life.

Have a Very Joyful and Christ Exalting Christmas!