Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Latest Little Gator

At 4:08 AM Sunday morning, the newest Florida fan entered the world....sweet Emma! I'll be the first to honestly admit that newborns aren't normally the best a baby can look. But, can you blame them? After enduring the trauma of entering the world as most all babies do, I'd not be having my best looking day either.

This picture was taken with her Daddy's phone not long after her birth. When I got it Sunday morning, it brought a tear to my eye. How beautiful she is...really! Those heart-shaped lips are just precious. And, after talking to her via her Mommy's tummy for almost 9 months, I felt like I knew her already.

Emma was born one day after her Mommy and Daddy's 9-month wedding anniversary. She was a honeymoon baby and though not expected so soon, she's been loved and prayed for from the moment we knew she was growing inside of her Mommy. Mommy's poor tummy was rubbed, pushed, caressed, and talked to for the duration as we waited for Emma's public arrival. We all just couldn't wait to get our hands on her.

So many thoughts go through your head when a child is born....what she'll be like as she grows and her personality is revealed, how she'll be like her Mommy, how much of a Daddy's girl she will be, and will she truly embrace the Orange and Blue of Florida? But, one thing I know for sure is she has truly been blessed with a Mommy and Daddy that will raise her in the admonition of the Lord. A Daddy who has been the true spiritual leader of the family - leading, caring, and protecting Mommy, and now Emma. And, a Mommy (who celebrates her birthday today!) that will teach her daughter, laugh with her daughter, and will find, when Emma grows up, will have in her a best friend. May God richly bless them all.

To follow the life of Mommy, Daddy, and their blog for more updates....

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Through the Eyes of a Four Year Old

A couple of weeks ago, I substituted in the four-year-old Sunday School class at my church. The regular teacher was in the Louisiana/Mississippi area helping Katrina relief and asked if I would fill in. I always look forward to working with this age group. They are like a Mastercard commercial...priceless.

My Mom taught 4s and 5s for years at our church and they were always her favorite age. Why? Because they are loving, honest, and like miniature adults. I've known preschoolers that I could have more intelligent conversations with than many men in my own peer group. Preschoolers are refreshing. Vibrant. And completely transparent. And, here are a few examples of why I love them...

...little girls love to giggle...Mr. Daustin (one of their favorite helpers) isn't afraid of sitting down and drawing pictures with them and making them laugh. A young, strapping college guy like Daustin even brings out the flirt in a four-year old. We remind them he is getting married in May, which may break the hearts of many four-year old little girls.

...a complex story that many adults don't believe, preschoolers do....Our story that day was on Creation. None of those sweet ones questioned how God could create the world. They heard me read it from the Bible, they know that's God's Word, and that's all they need to know. Some of their favorite parts of creation? chicken.

...even preschoolers are touched by the latest national news....Ella immediately asked me during storytime where Miss Carolyn was. I explained where she was and what she was doing, when Ella quickly shared that her Daddy's school had broken in two (complete with hand motions). After asking her more specific questions to verify, her Daddy's high school was the school hit by tornadoes in Enterprise, Alabama. Her Mom told me later that they'd been praying for the people of Enterprise all week, so Ella had it on her mind.

...preschool boys have fragile egos...When storytime began and we all got into the circle, Josiah wanted to sit next to Brooke. Well, two other little boys are big friends of Josiah and immediately planted themselves on either side of him. As we herded the group in the circle and settled them down, Josiah began to cry. Not a whiny, 'I want my way' cry, but a sweet, 'I want Brooke to sit by me and like me' cry. Precious. After having Brooke openly confess to the group she was still Josiah's friend, we assured Josiah they could sit together during snack. And they did. Josiah, life with women doesn't get any easier, I'm afraid.

...the prayers of a preschooler are precious...At the end of our storytime, Miss Carolyn always lets each child pray, if they choose. This is one of my most favorite times. Some children passed, others prayed for their parents or siblings, and Ella prayed for the people in Enterprise whose homes fell all the way to the ground (complete with hand motions during prayer). Then there was a little girl who had visited for the first time. When I asked if she wanted to pray, she said yes. She had come with her half brother and I don't think had ever been in a Sunday School class, much less have heard about God. Her Dad is now bringing her to church when he has her on the weekends. She bowed her head and said, "I like chicken...chickens like dirt...I like flowers." It's not a theological dissertation on which came first, the chicken or the egg, but it was her childlike way of expressing herself in prayer. We had learned about God's creation...including dirt, flowers and chickens, and she decided to express her like for chicken and flowers....and the chicken's affection for dirt. You just had to envision God smiling at her bravery to pray.

Life sure is much simpler and sweeter through the eyes of a four-year old.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Robinson Mountain

There are times in my life where I just need a haven of rest. A place to escape to when the drama of work, ministry, and life in general has worn me down. I sometimes feel selfish when I admit that, until I read Scripture where even Jesus went to a quiet place to rest and spend time with His Father.

This past weekend, I had the privilege to go to one of those places - Robinson Mountain - as I've coined it - the home of Mark and Sharon (you can figure out their last name) in Nashville. They sort of reside on the top of a mountain (as moutainous as Nashville can be), but it refers more to the quiet place a mountaintop resembles, and a wonderful place of refreshment and peace.

I met Mark and Sharon about 3 years ago when I went to visit them in their home here in Louisville after they visited my church. They had moved to Louisville for Mark to attend seminary and were looking for a church home. I never realized what a blessing being involved in my church's outreach program would be. I had an immediate connection with Sharon - had to be divine. She shared her testimony of remaining single until the brink of 40 and how she dealt with that while still serving the Lord. After they became members of our church, and God kept smacking me in the face by allowing Sharon to continually cross my path, I approached her about spending time with her as prayer partner and friend.

What a blessing! After spending time with Sharon and then with her and her husband, Mark, I began to realize what a model this couple was for me. They were wise, honest, and not afraid to let you learn from their ups and downs on this journey of life. Their stories wouldn't seemed "charmed" in the eyes of the world, but when you hear how God has woven into their tapestry of life, it's encouraging. From the loss Mark suffered from his previous wife's death to their struggle with infertility, you'd never know all their struggles, because all is to the glory of God.

Last Spring, Sharon informed me she was praying about an awesome job opportunity in Nashville. Although my heart initially sank selfishly, knowing they'd be moving, I was excited about this blessing that came into their life at just the right time. And, only being 3 hours away was a bonus. Since their move, I'd been trying to find a free weekend to go visit, and this past weekend, it finally happened.

Mark and Sharon have a dream to one day own a Christian Bed and Breakfast. I can vouch for the fact that they definitely have the passion and talent for such a venture. My time was precious as they specially prepared my bedroom and all the meals to my liking. And a Saturday night in front of the fireplace making smores was one of the many highlights. This "B&B" offered free shuttle to the local Baptist church, which was a double blessing for me as my former Minister of Music is serving at that church now. And, a blessing to attend a church without any responsibilities in leadership and soak in the whole worship experience.

The part of the weekend that impacted me the most was Mark and Sharon including me in their daily family devotions. As a single person, I "devote" all on my own, which is a necessity, whether married or single, but it was so refreshing to unite with a couple, modeling what a godly couple does to continue to first stay close to God, and second to each other.

As I drove home from Nashville in the beautiful Spring weather, I was thankful for my small retreat down south to Robinson Mountain.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The High Cost of Trust

My continuing study of Proverbs 31 brings me to the next two verses...

"The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. " - Proverbs 31:11-12

When I look at those verses, the part that stands out to me first is "the heart of her husband trusts in her." The word "trust" is thrown around a lot in our society, but in the Hebrew translation of this word, it carries much weight. "Batach" - the Hebrew word used here - stands for "being confident, bold, secure," "feeling safe," and my favorite, "careless." Now, not careless in the way of uncaring and flighty, but described as a man that has so much trust in his godly wife, he can live life careless...and carefree. Now that's some kind of trust. This same Hebrew word was used multiple times by David in the Psalms to describe his trust in the Lord. To be a godly woman that a man can trust much like he trusts God is pretty amazing. Most surveys state that the number one reason for divorce is infidelity. Trust broken. No wonder Bathsheba spoke of that high trust to her son, given her sneaky display on a rooftop to nab her that man after God's own Heart.

Secondly, I am struck by "does him good and not evil all the days of her life." I'm not married, so I'm not living day in and day out with a man under foot. But, I would be the first to admit that "doing him good" would be easy on some days, but "doing evil" might creep in on those bad days. Then, toss "all the days of her life" into the godly woman recipe and I'm convicted of the high bar that is set. It's easy for me to say when I observe other women publicly speaking ill to their husbands, "Believe me, if I had a husband, I'd never do that." Being a sinful human really negates that pious commentary. What a powerful way to honor your godly husband by "doing him good all of your days."

The world around us taunts those of us who believe in the godly submission of a wife to a husband. But, think of the glorious relationship that awaits a woman who fosters complete confidence and trust from her husband and always does him good. Once that husband came to his senses after passing out from sheer joy, his wife would be the most honored being, just below God.

If you are married, be a woman your husband can trust, and ask God daily to help you "do good" to him. God already knows we surely can't do that on our own. And, if you are single, begin today to be a trustworthy woman among the men in your life. Take opportunities to "do good" for them. The practice will be worth it when you make it to the altar. You can then honestly say, not only "I do"...but "I'll do you good all the days of my life."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

TV Meets Comic Book Meets the Internet

Of late, I've been somewhat consumed by the latest TV phenomenon, Heroes. I've blogged about my love of smart TV before, but I believe that TV has gotten even smarter. With the multitude of iPods, iTunes, iWantwhateverIwantnow devices, making a television show engaging, interactive, and sustainable, has to have multiple technology elements.

TV - the longstanding "boob tube" has been the central focus of entertainment in homes for more than 50 years. We've seen it evolve from family sitcoms to heavy dramas to mini-series. But, Heroes brings a theatrical element to the small screen. Its saga format gives it a feel of a well-made movie that never ends. The quality of filming is outstanding - if you even pay attention to that while trying to keep up with the multiple storylines. With the advancements of DVR, TiVO, and the old-fashioned VCR (wow, did I just call that old-fashioned?), you can watch an episode over and over in a short 45 minutes or so. Life is good.

The Heroes story is simply this - ordinary people have extraordinary powers. Now, the storyline is much more complex, but to get you up to speed at our current Episode 17 would take too long - rent the DVD. And, I could write multiple entries on the Biblical references it provides...but I digress. It's evident from creator, Tim Kring, that this story was already developed before the first episode as each week we unfold answers to mysteries, and begin to see new ones. This week's "Company Man" episode screams Emmy award from the opening scene to the credits. I teared up during the final scene of the episode - it's been a long time since I've done that with a TV show. Maybe during a series finale or when Dr. Greene died on ER, but it's a rarity.

But, the excitement doesn't stop at the TV screen. Move to the internet. The great folks at NBC and their eager advertisers (read: Nissan) have developed an interactive experience to bring this show to life. Each week a new graphic comic book novel appears to give you a bit more of the back story that you long to know after the show ends. Each week, the full-length episode can be found online, and for the second half of this season, we've been treated to the choice of watching the episodes online with cast and crew commentary. I don't have to wait for the DVD to find out the backstage secrets of this amazing show. And, after watching the villian, Sylar, do commentary, I've grown quite fond of Zach Quinto. (Some people attribute my love for this psychotic killer to my presidential assasin heritage) And, if that's not enough, one of the director/producers of the show writes a weekly blog for more insight. I don't think I've ever felt this informed about a favorite TV show like I have with Heroes.

If that wasn't enough, Nissan and all their marketing dollars, created the Heroes360 experience. By logging into the Primatech Paper site (the "cover" company for some pivotal characters on the show) and providing your e-mail and cell phone, you can enter into an even deeper world. I've received e-mails that take me to password-protected sites housing sketches and pictures that assist me in understanding the characters of the show. I receive text messages throughout the week alerting me about new posts and new web sites to shed light on our mission of figuring out who everyone is and what their mission may be. As a marketer, I have one word for this - brilliant. They keep this show in front of my face almost everywhere I go. It makes it interactive and irresistable. For someone who loves smart TV, I eat this stuff up.

Many people have felt the internet and "entertainment on demand" will be the death of TV. Everyone should take a lesson from Heroes - internet may be the best thing that ever happened to TV.