Wednesday, May 29, 2013

More Than a Song

We were on our way home from a family camping trip.  The windows were down and we were all singing along, as joyfully noisy as possible, with Casting Crowns' Jesus, Friend of Sinners.  And as I let the line "A plank-eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided" roll from my lips, I stopped in my tracks.  Had I noticed that specific reference before...about the plank-eyed saint?  I immediately tied it to Jesus's teaching from Matthew 7:3-5 about judging others about the speck in their eye while we carry around planks in our own.  Then I wondered...do my kids process it the same?  Are they aware of that teaching from God Himself?  If so, do they make the connection to the song lyrics?  When we are singing Christian music, do they hear the lines pulled from King David's Psalms?

The world will throw plenty of music about its loves and treasures at them throughout their lives...so I need to make sure that I fill up as much of that mental real estate as possible with the Truth...with songs that they can sing in thanksgiving and praise...with songs that they can find solace in when heartbreak comes.  We have often talked about some of the classic hymns that we sing in church...but I had not spent much time on the tunes we drive around to or turn on loud while we clean house together.  So, for the summer, I decided to shift gears a little with our regular Bible study time.  Each week, one of the girls will propose one of our favorite contemporary Christian songs and we will take the song apart...looking for Biblical references...application...how it is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And my hope, as we tackle some of these songs, our discoveries will firm up the foundation of their faith and they will develop the skills of considering the lyrics of songs as they sing them, weighing their message and whether they are worthy of their time and personal hard drive space.

Today, we started with the 7-year-old's choice...Matthew West's Hello, My Name is.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Psalm 23...A Psalm for the Living

My three girls and I begin our school day together, reading from the Bible.  We read a chapter discussing the history, timeless principles evidenced, how it applies to us and our modern lives and how that particular selection is important to the overall purpose of the Bible, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We will also read a verse from the chapter in Proverbs that corresponds to the current date (e.g. we read from Proverb 18 today because it is January 18) and discuss what we can learn from these verses of wisdom.  Finally, we read a Psalm as an act of praise, thanks and worship of the Creator...our Creator.  Today, we read Psalm 23.


As we read through the verses, we noticed that the verbs were present tense..."The Lord IS my shepherd...he LEADS me beside quiet waters...he RESTORES my soul...He GUIDES me in paths of righteousness...you ARE with me...your rod and your staff, they COMFORT me."  Now, this portion of Scripture is often read during funerals, providing comfort for those left behind,  because the focus is usually about walking through the valley of death.  But, as we studied these words, it became obvious to us that this a Psalm for the living.  It can provide comfort throughout life if you rely on the Good Shepherd...if you let him lead you...restore your soul...guide you in paths of righteousness.

As we wrapped up our discussion, my 15-year-old remarked, "It seems that it would be more appropriate to read that when a child is born than when someone dies...I think I'll do that when my children are born." What a wonderful tradition using this beautiful piece of Scripture that will be!  But...rest assured...I can wait to experience it.  :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

7 Lessons (or Reminders) from the Film, LINCOLN


  1. Politics have always been contentious.
  2. My memory betrays me.  I know that I have memorized Lincoln's Gettysburg Address at some point in my life.  And beyond the first few words, I can recall none of it.  I realized this as I was watching three young Union soldiers recite it on the big screen.  The frustrating part is that I could thrill you with a full delivery of many theme songs from the 1970s and 1980s, but can't recall something as moving as Lincoln's brief speech.  I think it is time to re-commit it to memory.  My last resort will be setting it to music.
  3. I would prefer countless YouTube videos of people reciting the Gettysburg Address over those featuring lip-syncing performances of "Call Me Maybe".
  4. Daniel Day-Lewis is an excellent actor. I completely felt like I was watching the living, breathing 16th President of the United States of America...even better than Disney's Hall of Presidents.
  5. As the carnage of the Civil War covered the screen, I am reminded that I am not persistent enough in my thankfulness for the sacrifices made for this wonderful country and its freedoms.
  6. This movie was based upon only 4 months of Lincoln's presidency.  I need to read more about him.
  7. Having a teenager is cool!  We sent the three kids off, with the teenager in charge, to a kids' movie while we feasted on this flick...complete with our very own bucket of popcorn.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Air Mail


This past Sunday night...long after the kids had been put to bed...I hear a door click open.  This is followed by some scurrying sounds that you know are trying to be kept covert, though unsuccessful.  Suddenly, on the couch next to me, lands a paper airplane...followed by a noisy retreat and a door clicking closed.  I opened the message to read the following..."DAD and MOM...My mom and dad are good...are very very big good."  Or she said we were "very very big goob" because her last letter was turned around.  But we prefer to believe that she meant the former.  Though it was well past the 7-year-old's bedtime, I was touched by her sweetness that capped the day.  We quietly sneaked into her room and kissed her head.

The next night...long after the kids had been put to bed...and just as we were getting ready to crash ourselves...our bedroom door opened and another plane sailed into our realm, followed by another noisy retreat.  This message said the following:  "MY MOM and DAD 2...My mom lets me play on her nook...My dad is fun...by Marrin".

Now I could get all wrapped up in how she was being so disobedient by not staying in bed...about how she was up too late on a "school night"...but it just wasn't in me.  I was blinded by this sweet act...that she could not rest her weary head until she had made her feelings of love and appreciation known.  And as time marches on rapidly, I know that I need to enjoy these moments.

I also learned a lesson from her...if it is on my heart to pour out my love to someone...do it...don't wait until tomorrow...don't wait until it's convenient...don't put it off because you are worried about the consequences. Perhaps they need to hear it.  When asked about the greatest commandments, Jesus first taught to love God with all your heart, soul and mind.  He followed this up with the instruction to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:34-40).  This instruction does not mean to just refrain from treating someone poorly (e.g. impatiently, critically, etc.) because we don't care to be treated that way.  It also means to treat others as well as we like to be treated.  If we enjoy it when someone heaps love and praise on us...then others will enjoy it when we heap love and praise on them.

Truth be told...I'm hoping that a "DAD and MOM 3" appears tonight.

Update 11/14/12: We did receive another note labeled "3 MOM and DAD" last night.  This one did have a slightly different tone that made us both laugh.

The night before, the 7 year old had taken the initiative to cut her own bangs, surprising me with them in the morning.  Prior to going to bed last night, her dad was teasing her with the moniker "Inigo Montoya" of Princess Bride fame because of the way her curly new hairdo looks.  Well, she had the last word.

The note said, "My mom is fun...my dad is not.  My mom lets me play on her nook.  Ha Ha for Dad.  I love my mom...my dad not so much...by Marrin."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

All God's Children Singing

That morning when we had all crawled out of bed, we had been a gathering of strangers...though Joel Juarez, our mission coordinator at Forever Changed International had reminded the group that God had ordained each of us, out of the entire world's population, to be there together at that specific time. By the end of the week, we had shared laughs, tears, hugs, worries over gastrointestinal issues, prayers, perspective and dish washing duties.  And our experience would kick off that morning in church...offering praise and worship to Jesus Christ...our common ground.

The church could fit into any city in the United States.  The lights...musicians...camera crews to broadcast online...children's programs.  And we found ourselves singing familiar songs...though in Spanish (thank goodness for projected lyrics!).  And I was reminded of a song by the Newsboys.




 The pastors at my churchRobert Dickie and Eric Stewart, often include petitions in their pastoral prayer that the sounds of worship rise to heaven as the earth rotates into the sun's light each day.  And as we began worship in Guatemala City...two hours after my own church had begun their service back in Michigan...I felt like I was living that prayer out...I was struck by the unity of the Body of Christ.  I listened to a message that could have been taught in my own church...taught from the same Scripture that I open up daily to teach my own children...I felt at home...3000 miles away from home.  It felt like a little peek of what the throne room of heaven will be like...with praise rising from many.  And now, I will always remember that...though sometimes it seems like our culture can drown out the message of the Gospel...I am not alone.  There is a body of believers spread throughout the Creation, offering praise, and living out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20 each and every day.

This entire memory came rushing back to me yesterday...exactly one month after that morning in church...as I darted around in my busy life back at home.  I was in the car with kids and Chris Tomlin's song "Our God" came pouring out of the speakers.  It was one of those "familiar" songs that we had sang.  And I was transported  back to Guatemala City... worshiping Jesus with my new friends from the States and my Guatemalan brothers and sisters in Christ.



Friday, November 2, 2012

Happy Campers

Well...put a bow on it...say good night...the fat lady has sung.  Summer 2012 is officially over.  On November 2, this may not come as a surprise to many of you.  But I have been a holdout...still digging out my capris and flip-flops if the temperature is over 60 and not raining.  Today, though, I must concede since we officially swaddled our camper for the coming winter weather.

We spent a total of 25 nights in our mobile vacation home, starting on Memorial Day weekend and wrapping up the last weekend of September.  Almost the equivalent of an entire month.  And we loved it.  We are grateful for that time as a family.  With our eldest approaching the age of 15, we know this time is waning.  So we treasure it and will cling to it for as long as we can.  Here's just a few of our special  moments.


We kicked off the summer with a rainbow...a beautiful reminder of just one of the Creator's promises.


We roasted strawberries, wrapped in marshmallow fluff, over the fire.


We were awakened one morning by hot air balloons soaring right over our site.


We celebrated America's Independence Day with fireworks on a beach along the Straits of Mackinac.


We painted rocks to leave on a beach along Lake Huron.



We climbed the great sand dunes resting between Lake Michigan and Silver Lake...by foot and by car.


We visited six lighthouses.


We watched a rainstorm across Thunder Bay.



We camped with a 24/7 view of the mighty Mackinac Bridge.

And we saw countless sunsets (no sunrises, though, because those occur too early in the day)...and splashed with cousins and friends...and explored with grandparents.

And now...with a rough winter predicted...we will keep our eyes on Summer 2013...counting the days until we can plan each new adventure ahead of us.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Lessons from Guatemala

It has been my pleasure and privilege to be visiting Dorie's Promise Orphanage, operated by Forever Changed International, in Guatemala this past week.  As my trip begins to wrap up, I wanted to share some lessons learned or refreshed.


  1. I take a roof that doesn't leak for granted.
  2. I take a roof that doesn't fall for granted.
  3. I take water that I can drink directly from our tap for granted.
  4. I take the privilege of being born in the United States for granted.
  5. I take space for granted...as I saw large family members crowded into one room   homes...and one room homes stacked nearly on top of one another.
  6. The list of life's blessings that I take for granted is long.
  7. Just because I can't see the poor and their communities...it doesn't mean that they cease to        exist.
  8. Our culture may "over mother" a bit, as compared to barefoot babies running among the dump community and toddlers given entire pieces of chicken (i.e. with the bones)...I'm just saying.
  9. A smile can bridge any communication gap.
  10. My high school Spanish FINALLY paid off.
  11. Even a little time invested into a life makes an impact.
  12. Praying for others is a blessing.
  13. The fatherless will find mercy in God (Hosea 14:3).
  14. For the Lord has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted (Isaiah 49:13).