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The anecdote says that when Spurgeon was robbed while away from home that he came home and expressed thankfulness that a) his life was spared, b) the robber didn’t get much and c) “I’m thankful to God that I was not the robber.”

Last Wednesday, the third day of this year, I was working at my desk at school when Christie called me on my cell. She said a jumble of things [in my mind] but also something close to, “some men just came into our house…they put a gun to Karsten’s head….and put him in the closet.” She was also able to confirm that at least one item was missing and they had attempted to take the TV. I was her first call, so I ran to the car, raced home and talked to 911 the whole way there. I beat the police, and as I entered home, Karsten obviously had a jumbled dread of emotions on his face.

Karsten is our oldest. He is 10, and he was enjoying his last morning of Christmas break by playing with Legos on the living room floor when a knock came to the door. Christie was heading up the stairs to tend to the running water (a tub being filled for Bear’s bath), and she told him he could answer it. We live in a busy house with many guests and neighbors at our door throughout the week; sometimes even when I come home, I knock and wait at the front door. When the door was opened, a man with a gun presented himself and asked Karsten who was home. There were two masked and gloved men with him. Karsten told him that his mom was upstairs. He covered Karsten’s mouth, put the gun to his temple and marched him about 12-15 paces to a closet and deposited him inside. For 3-5 minutes, the three men (ages 17-20) went through the downstairs of our home trying to disconnect the TV, taking our iPod, and turning the radio on the docking station to a rap station.

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Karsten’s heart was pounding in the closet. He couldn’t hear the intruders, but he expressed very high concern that they would head upstairs where his siblings (ages 9, 7, 4, 3) and mama were. His emotions were racing. He described that time, not as primarily fearful for himself, but a strong sense of “I can’t believe this is happening here, happening to us.”

The men left with a slam of the door and raced to the car where a waiting 15-year old was in the rear seat of their car. The gunman drove away and out of our subdivision.

Just after I arrived home, the police descended on our subdivision. It was a harrowing time of details and shock, reporting and telling, fingerprinting and rehashing. And the police were great. Metro Nashville Police were highly esteemed in our eyes, but now much more so. They were kind and thorough and were gracious with our whole family.

Because of Karsten’s very detailed description of the men and a neighbor’s very exact description of the car, the four were caught within an hour, the iPod and gun (with a 33-bullet clip) were recovered, and have all admitted to being involved in some way. The DA is seeking a whole host of charges, perhaps including aggravated kidnapping for each of the four involved (TN law does not exclude the one who didn’t come in the house).

There is a definite gravity to this event in our lives. We were immediately and intensely thankful. We were thankful that God had spared Karsten’s life; our precious son still lives! God had kept our other little ones upstairs. He had kept the bad guys downstairs. He had allowed the bad guys to be consternated and leave sooner than they had to (they said they were not in the house that they meant to be in). We appreciate what sort of tragedy may have come last week and how different our lives almost were. We appreciate that there was a quarter of inch pull between life and death and that God controlled even that quarter-inch of space.

At the same time, we have slept well every night since. We have resolved together that God is King, even outside of church. In the moments after the police left, Karsten found his shoulders in my squeezing hands, and we were face to face with me telling him plainly and slowly that, “No one can hurt you. No one in this world can touch or harm you without God’s permission.” I quoted Spurgeon to him, saying, “The God who has been sufficient until now can be trusted to the end.”

We have been so loved this week. We have received encouragements and prayers and Scripture and texts and calls from the world over. In the midst of the trauma, we have received this very special dispensation of overt love that have made all the creaky pains seem lighter. Karsten has been fantastic. He has met two very competent, professional and compassionate District Attorneys, a wonderful victim advocate, an amazing arresting officer, a hilarious CSI, two of Nashville’s finest detectives, and a whole precinct (practically) of caring officers and sergeants. He has been prepped and sworn in for two different hearings already but has not been called to testify, though we are pretty certain he will need to do so in the future, perhaps many times. He has been interviewed on TV, and I’ve turned down two other interviews because that one was hard enough for him.

Today’s hearing was especially hard since it was a packed courtroom with the oldest two defendants present, many family members of the defendants, a news team, a whole gaggle of court crew and 15+ police officers waiting to testify. We were told he wouldn’t be needed and then were told in the middle of it that he would be brought in. He was calm (and a little bemused about the loose tooth that was hanging from his gums that he wasn’t ready to pull out today), but I was trembling for him today. In the end, the D.A. said she didn’t need him.

It has been a whirlwind, though, mostly of happy graciousness. That man did not pull the trigger. Those men did not go upstairs where our other three boys and little girl were. We are safe. We are warm in our home together. We can sleep in peace.

We are lucky. We live in this corner of the world where we can live softly with high birth rates, heated blankets, electronic amenities, soft-serve yogurt on every corner…. We live in a part of the world where crime still shocks us and calls us to the realities of a fragile and desperate world. I don’t deserve five healthy kids. They are a grace. I don’t deserve the Gospel love I’m shown each day either, but we have a good God with a perfect Son who made a perfect atonement for my trouble. He solved and healed my woes. And now I can’t look on these other things as my own. I’ve written this before, but Christie and I will recite on occasion what we know is true: “These kids are not ours; they are God’s. He gave them; He can take them. Nothing is too good or should be too close for our God to take.”

My sympathy for Vaughn, Birdsong, Kelly and Spears is high. While I want the judicial system to do its work on them and want them penalized, I want them to know the freedom that I feel. And the freedom is not a result of my lack of leg irons and handcuffs and steel bars. My freedom comes because I know the truth of the Gospel, and I believe the plain truths of Ecclesiastes, that you can have nothing in this world–no freedom, no people, no things–and life can still be rich.

I am fortunate; I have my child and my family is whole. The four defendants are fortunate–I was shopping for home defense shotguns 22 hours before they intruded my home; and, if I were home, I would have been steps away from a pistol. For this, I am thankful that I was not home. I want the gun, but the stories are so much uglier when the guns are used.

Unapologetically, this trauma has been good for our family. It’s not that we wish it on others, are glad it happened or want it to happen again. But it allows all of us to see God’s steady, close protection and care of this family. One day, every knee will bow and every tongue will declare His Lordship; and the excess and bounty will drip from our mouths and saturate our sight. May He preserve us to better declare His story to others.

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But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house.

I will bow down toward your holy temple
in the fear of you.

Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.

For there is no truth in their mouth;
their inmost self is destruction;
their throat is an open grave;
they flatter with their tongue.

Make them bear their guilt, O God;
let them fall by their own counsels;
because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against you.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may exult in you.

For you bless the righteous, O LORD;
you cover him with favor as with a shield.
(Psalm 5:7-12)

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Karsten will be 10 next week. As a first-born, as a boy, as a son, he is a treasure to us. As much as Christie and I love kids, adore babies, and intensely love those early years, I am eager to watch Karsten begin tackling some of life’s issues and taking on more of life’s load. I think he’s ready.

He has an immensely thankful and thoughtful heart. He loves his siblings actively. He considers the lilies. He is becoming quite the proficient soccer and chess player. He is an astute student who loves the act of learning.

As we learn to honor and promote ceremony and milestone, Christie and I decided last summer to honor our children on their 10th birthday with an event to remember. I read Raising a Modern Day Knight to help with some ideas. Beyond the back story, Lewis had a lot of good ideas for making much out of the stages of life by acknowledging them and honoring them. We believe that our sons will never become men by accident. We need to purpose to actively and artfully teach them.

One of my favorite lessons learned from the book was the value of adding community to the event. We remember because of ceremony/pomp/surprise/magnitude. The act of enlisting community adds a whole synergism of values, sobriety, and depth. It takes lessons beyond, “that’s just dad talking.” It adds a depth of friendship that the lonely never know. It expands his spiritual and moral resources.

So Christie and I resolved that each of the kids will get a trip away on their tenth birthday, and we will do something else to honor them largely at their 18th birthday, perhaps. The goal of this event isn’t to be a vacation or a release. It’s a sort of initiation trip, not into adulthood or even into teenager-hood, but more of an initiation into higher expectations and capacities.

Karsten is turning 10 on May 4th, and we look forward to a simple party with him then. He doesn’t know the dates but we have tickets to fly to Boston and spend most of one week there together this summer. We arrived on Boston as a destination together over months of discussion (the second runner-up was Denver/the Rockies). We will be able to see a great storehouse of spiritual and historical sites in a small geographical area and will be able to even take in a Tigers/Sox day game at Fenway on Memorial Day! I’ve led tours in that area four times and am eager to show him what is there. He loves the Revolution, has learned much more about it this year in school, and he is eager to see so many of these things firsthand. As an honor and benefit, my dad will be joining us, too. [A super-added bonus is that we have free airfare and housing.]

As a way of adding community to the trip, I have asked Karsten’s uncles, Grandpas, pastor, and a couple of special friends who love Karsten to participate by writing a letter to him. I’ve assigned those twelve men topics to address, such as, A Man Works Hard, A Man Plays Well, A Man Serves, A Man is Pure, A Man Worships, A Man Treasures the Word, and A Man Does Hard Things.

My goal will be to disperse these letters for Karsten to find in NH and MA as we visit the sites. I am pretty sure that I can make it happen for him to find a letter in the steeple we will climb of Old South Presbyterian Church on the banks of the Merrimack River in Newburyport, MA (George Whitfield’s church). I think I can get a pilgrim or two to hand him a letter at Plimoth Plantation, that we can find one hidden in the grate at the monument at Dorchester Heights overlooking Boston from the South, one on his pillow every night when we return to the house and, well….I have lots of ideas and am fearless about enlisting help (I will even try to get the Governor’s Office to help). The surprise of finding them will heighten the effect.

I’m sure this collection is something that Karsten will treasure for life. I hope that the experiences of the trip as I craft them and encounters with these letters will give Karsten a keen vision of his life and especially that, from this point forward, life is going to be different!
Dostoevsky’s writes toward the end of The Brother’s Karamazov:

“I want you to understand, then, that there is nothing nobler, stronger, and healthier, and more helpful in life than a good remembrance from our childhood, when we still lived in our parents’ house. You often hear people speak about upbringing and education, but I feel that a beautiful, holy memory preserved from childhood can be the most important single thing in our development. And if a person succeeds, in the course of his life, in collecting many such memories, he will be saved for the rest of his life. And even if we have only one such memory, it is possible that it will be enough to save us some day.”

You and I will insert the Gospel into this and then, I think, agree wholly. Karsten has accepted the truth of the Gospel and is still learning about its power and reality. There is much that we can do together to influence and encourage the man he is becoming and add to his reservoir a history of happy and holy realities, remembrances and encouragements.

When we come home from the trip, Karsten will be presented with an album of the original letters from these men (he will be finding copies along the way). If you, reader, would like to include a letter of advice to a 10 year old, Christie and I would be happy to add it to the album. Karsten is young, but he has a keen understanding. I hope that these letters on the whole will not be over-simplified, but written to Karsten and the man is he becoming, not the boy he now is.  If you have no idea what to write, I have a list of topics that you could peruse. The soft deadline for these is May 20th.

Purposeful, Gospel-centered parenting is a hard plowing. Christie and I are still toddlers at it, but we do hope that by doing some planning (and sometimes some saving) we can well lead our four little boys and one little girl gracefully through the stages of life.

The big deal is that our children are not ours. They are God’s. Christie and I look each other in the eye and say this out loud from time to time. We get to oversee them for some time and then give them over to His service. If that time is 16, 18, 21 or whatever, we need to work to have them ready. If Jesus wants them now, we want to be ready for that, too. So we will keep reading, praying, planning and weeping over them, getting to know them better, seeking to hook their hearts to the glorious hope in Christ. The work is laborious [have you met Knox?], rapturous [if your little girl greets you when you get home like my little girl does when I walk in the door each time, you get it], intense, serious and rewarding. We are wholly inadequate and hopeless out of Christ.

So, we get back to it now…back to our counting stars and sand, little feet and little hands…counting joys.

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Merry Christmas, TBAP Family!

December 2010

 

“This baby would be like that bright star shining in the sky that night. A Light to light up the whole world. Chasing away darkness. Helping people to see. And the darker the night got, the brighter the star would shine.” — The Jesus Storybook Bible

December marks the beginning of our third winter in Nashville. After 2½ years, the newness and luster of the city is starting to wane as it gets explored and known, and we are getting down to the business of plodding along. Happily and joyfully, we are getting in stride and enjoying the pace and noise and excitement that comes with a healthy growing church, a still-new school, a household with 5 kids ages 8 and under, and a steady stream of friends and pilgrims. Just like this season last year, there has been hardly a day without day or overnight guests in the past month.

Karsten (8) is in 3rd grade and is our studious and responsible leader. Haddon (7) is a thoughtful and pro-active helper, often cheerfully going above and beyond his required load. Lincoln just turned 5 and is sweetly assuming a place among the big boys. He really digs having learned to ride his bike last month. Knox is almost 3 and is hilarious and chatty and is often quick to consider others. Claire (or Bear as she is almost always called) is 15 months and is fleeing infancy fast; she is running fast-forward toward girlhood as she dons the accessories, vocabulary, sweetness and obedience of a little girl. She is highly adored.

This has been a year in which we have consciously strived to know, understand and implement the Gospel better in our own lives and in our own home. Through thoughtful and truthful preaching, the helps of Scripture-soaked reading (especially The Gospel Primer) and other means of sharpening, we are better realizing our clear state of deeply and continually needing a Redeemer.  Our lives are hid in Christ on high, and they are full only in Him.

Feel free to swing by on your way through. We bid you a Merry Christmas.

Ryan and Christie

 

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We’ve had the joy of heaps of time in our home over the past three weeks with some of our favorite people. We have 4 boys and a girl. They have 4 girls and a boy. The oldest kid is 8. Eight of the kids are 5 and under. The 14 of us have a raucous time, punctuated by tickles, baby laughs and bumps/bruises and “when are we going to eat?”

When quiet adult talk can happen in the very late hours of the night, it’s easy to spend the time speaking of parenting issues, analyzing and examining issues we are facing, seeking sharpening, and reflecting on the labor and joys of our tasks and preparing for what is coming. Privately we perhaps are free to especially speak of the difficulties [read as: "overwhelming exhaustion"] of raising so many young children (all at once).

These words from John Piper are a balm to us. Here is an impromptu response to the common, secular “kids will kill the planet” talk that is common in the world,

“The kids I’m going to raise are going to lift a million burdens. Christian, you’ve got to believe that bringing kids into the world and being brought up in the Lord, makes them burden-lifters not burden-adders. They are in the world to lift the world, to save the world, to love the world. You’re not just adding dead weight to the world when you bring a child up in the Kingdom. You’re bringing up lovers of people and servants of the world.”

Source video

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Waking Up in Glory [Repost]

Tomorrow is the 2nd year anniversary of the death of Clair R. Hayward, my grandpa. I would have mentioned it here tomorrow, but since I’m getting such a positive pounding today of links from Challies’ recommendation, I would like to post my whole tribute again in hopes that more will be encouraged by the stature of a quiet, steady leader.

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Thursday morning my Grandpa woke up with new good legs, new strong arms, a new full voice, and newfound joys. He sees God in His glory. He’s singing again today and adjusting to his eternal home. His joy is beginning to bud and will always increase.

“But just think of stepping on shore and finding it Heaven,

of touching a hand and finding it God’s,

of breathing new air and finding it celestial,

of waking up in glory and finding it home.”

He was a wonderful, warm, generous, loving, gentle man of real, lively faith. He was a real example of “love with shoes on” in that he lived what he believed and it affected everything.

God laid him low three autumns ago with a stroke that limited his speech and slowed his body. Those days were arduous for us and him. In the hours after that first stroke, when his speech was starting to slur, he was offering me instructions for the moment and for life. I wish I could have understood all of his words. His clearest speech that day was the mandate to take care of grandma. I spent several nights with him in ICU, and he shocked the doctors and his family by surviving. He was mostly silent for the last three years, but we loved birthdays when we knew that grandpa would sing Happy Birthday along with the rest of us [singing and talking are generated in different parts of the brain]. In the waning years, as my boys were growing up, I cherished the way that he cherished them. Through his physical want, he always put on a happy, loving smile and gentle hands when my boys walked through the door. He lost his physical capabilities, but not his cheery, loving heart.

He was a teacher of the best sorts of things. He taught me how to read a map and be his navigator. From the backseat, I learned to give the best sorts of directions and location declarations. I think I traveled with grandma and him to Florida probably six times, Colorado twice and Grand Marais bunches.

He taught me how to spit like a man when I was very young sitting in the back seat of their Dodge Omni tooling down to Florida. Whenever he rolled down his window to spit, I was sure to do the same. I learned that to avoid a wet face, you had to spit hard from the back of your mouth when you were traveling 65 miles an hour.

He taught me to be faithful, steady and quiet. You always knew where he was going to be on Sunday. No questions. I always knew he would be working hard on every job he was given or that he gave himself. He was a first-rate mechanic, wise deacon, knowledgeable Sunday School teacher. He was always in his place. Grandma remembers that he only ever missed one day of work (the road was blocked both ways during a snowstorm). He was always where he should be. I knew to look for him in the barn when we arrived every Friday evening for spaghetti, Pepsi, popcorn and fudge.

One sunny Saturday, grandpa opened the barn doors and brought out the old ’73 Charger. He told me to get in. I remember the feel of the white vinyl and the stale smell of having been sitting in storage. He showed me she could still move fast. I remember holding on for dear life as we flew through the countryside. He looked over at me, saw my expression and slowed way down. He said, “We should put on our seatbelts. It would be really embarrassing if we were killed in an accident.” We did, and he was off again.

“A faithful man shall abound with blessings.”

He could be stern and calm at the same time. I found that out every time I was foolish with the motorbike, go-kart or BB gun.

One of the coolest days of my life was when, as a 12 year old, I flew from Kalamazoo to Chicago to Jacksonville all by myself. It was a ton of fun and part of the enjoyment was that on every leg of the journey, the stewardesses and the airport hosts were calling me Clair Hayward. I was using his ticket.

“No man was ever shot by a woman while he was washing dishes.” — Grandpa had this motto hanging at eye level by the kitchen sink

Some would travel the world for him. Grandma did. At 17 years old, she took a ship to England to marry him (he was stationed at Ipswich in the Air Force). Grandma was his faithful and dear wife who cared for him gently and respectfully in all his travails. She was a wonderful example of a sweet, patient helpmeet. They made a wonderful pair for 56 years.

Today was a wonderful day. Nearly 500 people gathered together and shared wonderful memories that made us roar with love. We sang heartily. We wept real sorrow. We belly-laughed. We were thankful together to have known him.

And now I live happy with my memories of him, glad that my oldest boys will remember him and that he was a man who loved his God, family and church entirely. I can unashamedly seek to emulate him and point my boys to his example and, like him, strive to be faithful to the end.

UPDATE: On 9/3/09, after four boys, Christie and I welcomed a little girl into our home. She is a sweet and precious gift. We named her Claire.

[Original post - with tribute comments]

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Cute is Costly

Getting a little girl dressed in the morning is not for the faint-of-heart or the lackadaisical. After a year of practice, it is hardly less intimidating or taxing.

Wide-ranging protocol must be considered. Sequencing procedures must be observed (tights do not go under onesies, for example). OSHA regs must be consulted (especially for policies concerning the navigation of the tiny digits as they pass through fabric sleeves and legging tunnels). Counsel must be sought betimes from the administrative departments. Certifications must be procured.

Abruptness is taboo. So is gruffness.

And…if all goes well…

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Linc’s Video Is Now Posted

…and did you see Had’s birthday video last Friday?

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Happy Birthday, Lincoln!

Yup. Two birthdays in three days at our house. Lincoln Gabriel seems to be our most athletic boy. He is an affectionate-warrior (if you can imagine…not sure how that works in war). He loves swords, broccoli-cheese soup, and the Titans. Linc is eager for school to begin next Fall. We are eager to see him grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.

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Happy 7th Birthday, Haddon

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Another Happy Day

Having 5 kids means the joys of celebrating 7 birthdays in our house each year. Today is the birthday of our second born, and he is celebrating his 7th birthday. Haddon Elliot is a sweet joy in our home, and we are thankful for these precious years to know him, love him, learn from him, bandage him, and rear Him to obey and serve God.

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Young mother, it seems like everyone wants something from you. And you’re probably already giving way more than you ever thought you could give. But even with all your giving, you might struggle with guilt—lingering, joy-drenching, energy-sapping guilt—that you should be doing more, giving more, accomplishing more.

Read the rest of Missional Mothering by Jami Ortlund.

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Here is an outline of Randy Alcorn’s article on ways that parents can help their kids learn to think biblically about money.

1. Give your children something greater than money—your time.

2. Use life’s teachable moments to train your children.

3. Take a field trip to a junkyard.

4. Teach your children to link money with labor.

5. Teach your children how to save.

6. Get your children started on the lifetime adventure of giving.

7. Provide your children with financial planning tools.

8. Teach your children how to say “No.”

9. Show your children how family finances work.

10. Never underestimate the power of your example.

Read the whole thing for an explanation of each of the points.

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A Tale of Two Girls

One little girl was sleepy because she was just born and took the long ride home from the hospital.

 

Bear at 2 Days Old

 

 

Another girl was sleepy because she took the long ride home from church.

 

Bear at 13 Months

 

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In the past few months I have been trying to be a little bit more intentional about spending time with the children, trying to grab the moments that exist and trying to create memories. Mostly I’m just trying to know them and to be known by them. And I know that one of the best ways I can do this is by spending time individually with each one of them.

Tim Challies lists some practical tips to building relationships with his children: On Being a Dad.

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CCEF is a great resource all around. Parents of young kids will hopefully find these few principles helpful.

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Bear’s birthday is Friday. We are enjoying her to the hilt this week (especially) as we celebrate God’s favor in allowing us to rear her for Him.

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Our Sweet Little Girl

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Starting when we had three very little kids we noticed the looks. It increased quite a bit with four boys and so did the many opportunities to talk to people. Now that there is a girl in the mix, too, it’s even greater. When my family goes in public, we get stares, we get people visibly counting our kids with their lips, we are a conversation starter of our own. We get to talk to lots of people about it. Sometimes their looks even warrant me starting the conversation with something like: “Yes, we have a lot of fun; Yes, we’re really tired.”

We don’t experience contempt like this story below accounts, and I think he is too harsh. But we do cause people to wonder and stare, usually in happy awe, usually with compliments.

But still, much of this article below is too true…deplorably so. God didn’t dictate a universally-applicable number of children each family should have. But the proud desire for more ease , the condition of the world, and even probably finances are not reasons to stop having kids.

How strange to live in a world where loving children casts one in infamy. Having a family with many children implies a backwardness and primitivism that is deemed unbecoming in the developed countries of the West. Large families, it is thought, exist only among religious weirdoes or the teeming hovels of the Third World.

Read the whole article: The Contempt Shown to Parents of Large Families

HT: Dennis and Mistin Wilkinson

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Allowance

I’ve had a couple of conversations in the past few weeks with other parents about allowances for kids. Tell me what you do and/or recommend. You know…please.

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The Godly Home was written by Richard Baxter in 1673 as a sort of “sum of practical theology…directing Christians how to use their knowledge and faith.” This updated and edited version by Randall J. Pederson is a sort of summary of just one of the many facets of that original work: Christian economics (family duties). It was released by Crossway on 1/31/10.

Even though the book has been updated and edited, maybe significantly in parts, the weight and flow and vocabulary is decidedly in the Puritan style. It is weighty language taking on weighty matters. It takes good and steady practice in concentration and patience to read the Puritans. The book is presented by chapters dealing with instructions for marriage, family worship, motives, duties of the different parts of the families.

Chapters 4-5 were the primary selling points to my betterment. “Motives to Persuade Men to the Holy Government of Their Families” and “Motives for a Holy and Careful Education of the Children” were chock full of solid gold. They were words of poignant, classic, timeless clarity that should ring in the ears of the men of the church, warning them for example that, “It is more comfortable to have no children than to beget and breed children for the Devil.”

“[Children] have an everlasting happiness to attain, and it is that for which you must bring them up.  They have an endless misery to escape, and it is that which you must diligently teach them. If you do not teach them to escape the flames of hell, what thanks do they owe you for teaching them to speak and do? If you do not teach them the way to heaven and how they may make sure of their salvation, what thanks do they owe you for teaching them how to get their living a little while in a miserable world? If you do not teach them to know God and how to serve him and be saved, you teach them nothing, or worse than nothing.”

I commend almost the whole of the book to you. Baxter’s name and works have stood the test of time because of his careful, meticulous attention to the details and spirit of Scripture. This portion of his ultimate work will give you richness abounding. God will give you grace and diligence to receive it well, for His sake.

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Sex Education

That point is well made in the previous post about Corrie ten Boom. Let it reign in your thinking that many of your burdens are too heavy for your children.

As a related aside, let me state that I think that the topic of sex information, which was too much for Corrie ten Boom to bear in the early part of the last century, is not too much for our 10-12 year olds to bear. In his popular book for Christian men, Point Man: How a Man Can Lead His Family, Steve Farrar suggests that overt sex education should begin at home at about age 7. Seven! That seems very early, but in this culture it isn’t–no matter how sheltered many of us think our homes may be.

A good number of my friends with young children read this blog, and I’m not suggesting the whole scope and all the details and a wall of charts on the topic need to be laid out for our children, but some details need to be given, and the information needs to be presented from your vantage point, before it’s exposed grossly from someone else’s vantage point. In this polluted culture, Christian parents must proactively build a biblical, beautiful framework in our kids of sex, just as we strive to do for math, music and history.

Proverbs is a father’s letter of wisdom to his son. It can make a great springboard because it says so much about the topic. Also, Farrar’s book offers very, very helpful advice about speaking to your children about sex, and I strongly recommend it if you think you don’t know where to begin.

Perhaps we should discuss this more.

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In her book The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom tells of an event that took place when she was 10 or 12 years old as she traveled with her father on a train from Amsterdam to Haarlem. She had stumbled upon a poem that had the words “sex sin” among its lines:

And so, seated next to Father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, “Father, what is sex sin?”

He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but, to my surprise, he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor. “Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he asked.

I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.

“It’s too heavy,” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”

And I was satisfied. More than satisfied—wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions; for now, I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.

(Italics mine)

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On January, 29, 1950, Roger and Yuvon Boomershine were married in Grand Rapids, MI. The fallout has been great. Today we gather together to recognize their faithfulness.

January 29, 2010

Dear Grandpa and Grandma Boomershine,

Sixty years is no trifle!

And no one should pretend it is. Nor should they think it was easy either.

Kingdoms have been conquered, rebuilt and then lost in less time! Alexander annexed the whole known world in only half that time. You could have walked around the earth 84 times in 60 years! You’ve been married through 12 U.S. Presidents. But then, some things are worth waiting for. Some species of oak don’t begin producing acorns until their 60th year. The pyramids took 60 years to build by hand. It takes a lot of gumption and grace to stay put.

Roger and Yuvon - January 29, 1950

In 1950, the world was vastly different (wasn’t everything still black and white then?). The big wars were over and rebuilding was in full swing. The moon was still unlittered. Sheep were still uncloned. Telephones were anchored to walls. You went to work offering service to the community, showing them how to make a living with the labor of their hands, having turned their swords into printing presses. You were part of what was maybe that last generation of Americans that didn’t have that permanent swath of skepticism slathered all over their faces, the last generation that did not invariably question authority. And you did it all without Google, iPhones, blogs and Facebook which our generation thinks is really impressive.

You dabbled in many, many, many entrepreneurial ventures together. We’ve only been around about one-half your married life, but the first few that come to mind are beauty salons, cookbooks, house renovations, house-flipping, and a retirement community. Who knows how varied it got back when you were young and impulsive!

You two became eight and from eight there are just over 100 of us now (103 at last count)–all carrying your name and likeness in some way. Thank you for handing us a heritage that is not about violence, corruption, and broken paroles. But instead…we like to explore, we love taking drives to nowhere, we enjoy first-rate food at out-of-the-way locations, a lot of us enjoy singing, we enjoying sitting through classes as well as standing in front of them, we are enormously funny, we are far too sarcastic, we put cottage cheese in our chili for goodness sake!, and, most importantly, almost all of us are faithful believers and worshipers of God. We are not perfect, we are quirky, we mess up, but we have found the Gospel true, and we seek to live it and be approved by it.

Thank you for being the doers of it. Thank you for being so welcoming and excited to see us when we walk through the door, even if we just sit and don’t have much to say. Thank you for always being generous and available. Thank you for adoring our kids. It always feels like Grandpa and Grandma’s house when we walk in the door.

Thank you for showing us–showing all of us–what a steady, quiet, day-upon-day, permanent, loving relationship looks like in humble action. We admire and love you for doing it like you’ve been doing it for so many years. We, too, aspire to the joy of a full and happy 60 married years.

We thank God upon our every remembrance of you,

Ryan and Christie Boomershine
Nashville, TN

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But God has it all scripted. For those who know Him, we are standing here on a brink of this great opportunity and joy, safe in Christ. A pilgrim is a person who lives for another time and another place. Go be valiant as you go onward.

The Things That Haven’t Been Done Before

by Edgar Guest

The things that haven’t been done before,
Those are the things to try;
Columbus dreamed of an unknown shore
At the rim of the far-flung sky,
And his heart was bold and his faith was strong
As he ventured in dangers new,
And he paid no heed to the jeering throng
Or the fears of the doubting crew.

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Merry Christmas From Us

The mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children.”

If 2007 was the year of the surprise (We are moving?!!?), and 2008 was the transition year, then 2009 has been a year of settling-in and standing in wonder at God’s provision.

Tennessee is fast becoming home. We love exploring Nashville and the surrounding areas and are endearing ourselves to our wonderful new family at church and school. We have been inundated with visitors too, which suits us just fine; we had seven nights in November with no overnight guests.

Thankfully, we moved in June to a larger house in Whites Creek. It’s closer to church, school and the city and it gives us a more flexibility to be hospitable. It was providential that God provided it for us. It was also a blessing to us that Andrew and Dana Blondo moved here in June; it’s good to have family nearby.

We have been amazed at how God has blessed JECA this first year. We have had something like four amazing miracles (spread from January through December) that have demonstrated to us that God is in it and He is the Doer and Sustainer of it. It is crystal clear that this school exists because He allowed/made it to be so and maintains it only with his grace. We could not have done this without His help. It is a joy and a benefit to be involved in this wonderful work with a wonderful bunch of people.

We were pleased to have a little girl added to our home in September. Claire Danielle is all that a baby girl ought to be. She is much-adored by her larger and more cantankerous brothers. We look forward to showing her our homeland when we go north for Christmas.

Karsten, Haddon, Lincoln and Knox are well. The older two are graced with wonderful classroom teachers who are improving them to good degrees. The younger two are faced with the rigors of dragon-slaying and have shifts of Queen-and-princess-protection-duties throughout the day.

We are blessed greatly. But there is nothing mundane or regular about it. God upholds us each day and gives us strength and provision for all of our trials, needs, doubts and tumbles. “Every hour is a precious boon. Every breath is a mercy.” We are, very imperfectly but sincerely, trying Him, finding Him faithful and wonderfully good, and we are grateful for tongues and keyboards and strength to live and tell others (especially our children) how He is always good and always faithful and always true.

And while we trek toward our final home, while we face the rigors of our own imperfections, we still give thanks and we enjoy the parts of Creation that were gifted to us here: baby giggles, bananas, adventure stories with horned hounds, loose teeth, Facebook, the Natchez Trace, The Dog of Nashville, Narnia, MoonPies, the Food Network, and the 100 cute little fingers and toes attached to the 5 cutest little kids anywhere.

May God find us faithful,

Ryan and Christie

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To Delay is to Disobey

This is a portion of a daily devotional that Elizabeth Elliot writes. It addresses an important point about obedience.

To make a habit of repeating commands is to train the child to believe you never mean what you say the first time. If the first lesson in obedience is carried out as above, the child learns quickly that you mean exactly what you say. I know it works–my parents taught us this way, and I watched them train my younger sister and brothers. I found that it worked with my daughter Valerie.

If you run after the child and physically force him to do what you say (e.g. grab him when he doesn’t come, take something away when he touches it), you are training him not to pay attention to your words. He knows he can get away with anything until forcibly restrained.

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Here is a good summary of an incessantly ridiculous habit our culture has taken on. It exists in and out of the church…and sometimes in my head. This is the cover of Time magazine’s November 20th edition.

Helicopter Parents: The Backlash Against Overparenting

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One Year Later

Grandpa Hayward died one year ago today. I found these pictures in the last few months. Read here what I wrote last year after the funeral.

Circa 1982

1982 - Grand Marais or therabouts

Ryan and Gpa - 1982

1984 - At the Piper wedding

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Some of you have never heard of Tim Challies. He is a one of a small handful of the Christian uber-bloggers (and of them, he’s the only one I read with any sort of regularity). He does his work here (Challies). He inspires me to read more, to consider more, to encourage more with my gifts as he does his. For a living he designs websites, reviews books, blogs, and more. In 2010, he has challenged himself to read ALL of the NY Times non-fiction, hardcover bestsellers. He is chronicling the feat at 10 Million Words. He has posted daily since October 1, 2003.

Besides the crowds who actually go to his website every day, over 6,000 people are subscribed to receive his feed through Google Reader alone (which is how I see his posts). He posts one article and one very short best-of-the-web type of post per day (called A-La-Carte). I’m glad to introduce you if you haven’t met.

Challies is a gift to the church-at-large. He is cogent, concise and is careful with his readers time. He just finished a gem of a series for men and young men (Sexual Detox). His wife entered the writing realm to craft a follow-up message for wives (False Messages). I strongly recommend that ALL of my readers take time to read ALL these messages (at least the ones directed to your gender) that affect us all deeply.

While it will take a little time to get through all the messages, they are immensely important and well-written summaries of the truths of Scripture related to the topics of pornography and sex. These topics are far too easily shunned in public because of the obvious discomfort that it takes to discuss these things out of private. Praise God for Tim and Aileen’s courage; they are spot-on. Thank God for His wonderful gifts.

Sexual Detox I: Pornifying the Marriage Bed

Sexual Detox II: Breaking Free

Sexual Detox III: A Theology of Sex

Sexual Detox IV: Detoxification

Sexual Detox V: Freedom

________________________
False Messages I: What He Really Wants

False Messages II: The Heart of Rejection

False Messages III: Desiring Him

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on-the-edge-cover-195x300Let me not be a brow-beater. Let me just state plainly that you should buy your child, nay yourself, a copy of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness for Christmas. Andrew Peterson has started his book-writing career with a full-tilt, high-charge adventure.

Let me go back a bit. I’m a fan of Lord of the Rings, but this is not that. I’m a much bigger fan of The Chronicles of Narnia, but this is not that either. Although it’s a fantasy adventure, it stands alone and different than either of those. It in no way pretends to be either of them either. It’s not a classic…but I think it might have the trappings to be one. It’s got a steady and sure plot, heaps of suspense, liberal doses of humor, adventurous and curious boys, a sweet and compassionate little girl, a stalwart mother, and really hideous bad guys.

Andrew Peterson was built by God for storytelling. He has a solid background (“All the Way Home”), cohesive overview of reality (“the world was good; the wandrew-peterson-2-300orld is fallen; the world will be redeemed”), has the God of Heaven as his center (“Far Country”), and the beauties of redemption in his sights (“every breath is a mercy”). He feeds his family by traveling the country singing stories about those things. Andrew lives with his wife, two boys and a girl in Nashville, TN…where his house is.

The Story

Janner Igiby lives in the sleepy little town of Glipwood. Sleepy that is, except for the smelly and dangerous Fangs who wave the strong hand of control over the Glipfolk. Janner along with his younger brother Tink and their little sister Leeli live with their mother Nia and their grandfather Podo Helmer quiet, simple lives. Quiet and simple that is until we meet them. The quiet ease is disrupted when the Igiby children beginning discovering clues and truths about the real history of their country, their dead father, and the life that their family used to live before the domination by the Fangs and their evil ruler Gnag the Nameless. [I appreciate how unfair it is to summarize a story so succintly. Buy the book to promote justice.]

Prerequisites

You must be willing to read the story with the spirit of a child. That is, you must not be put-off to be immersed in a world where live Fangs (from Dang), thwaps who infest gardens, and toothy cows who are immensely dangerous and drooly. In new worlds are new places, games, names and creatures. Some, like horned hounds, are dreadful, and some are very pleasant, like sugarberries and gooeyballs, along with rhythmical ancient tunes, the beauty and grace of an upright mother, and the power of a common purpose and pull.

What to Notice Throughout

All throughout, Peterson is nudging from the background, trying to spread hints than the Igibys have weight and depth and import. They aren’t simpletons. They aren’t followers. They aren’t common. We can see it in the education that Nia is giving her children, the tugging at their hearts when the bard sings, the hazy memories of memories, and the way that bravado and pluck come to the surface when called on.

You Should Know

Each character is very well-developed. Janner wants to know and understand. Tink wants to see and experience. Leeli is just, plain sweet and compassionate. You will love each of them.

Peterson is a wordsmith and his metaphors and similes are top-notch at pulling you further into the story, except when he intentionally pulls your leg by makes comparisons between two things that are both fictional.

The footnotes are practically worth the price of the book as they reference you further in and further back into the world in which you are delved, making it all the more real.

You Must Know

While the story is entertaining, it’s also serious. In every good story, good must be good and then treated like good. Bad must be bad and then dealt with in the end as bad. And sometimes that fact is a little hard to stomach…just like in real life.

Building a world like Skree (Glipwood is just one town) and beyond is a process. Just as a table must be set and the food prepared before the eating takes place, so doth the story go. The setting takes a few chapters and is good.  Be patient; don’t blink; the goods are coming. You will want more when it’s over.

But It Gets Even Better

When you get to the end of this book, and your heart is racing, and your spirit is soaring, and the answers have been made plain(er), it will seem as if things have only begun. And they have. This book is “merely” the first installment. And……hang on……you’re going to love this……Book Two is already written and ready for purchase. I haven’t read it yet. I have my signed copy all ready to zip through, but…well, it will happen quite northsoon. The reviews I have read have said that Book Two, called North! Or Be Eaten!, is a little darker but even better than the first book is. I can hardly wait.

You should also know that this series (formally called the Wingfeather Saga) has it’s own official website that will give you lots of interesting background, maps, encyclopedia, beautiful illustrations, and more. You can find it here: Wingfeather Saga Online. It’s a great feature. C.S. Lewis would have used it if he could have.

Now, you absolutely must leave here to read this letter that Andrew wrote to you.

Then, you can come back here to spring over to Amazon to do what you know you should do.

Oh, and I would love to hear from you if you decide to purchase the book.

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