Saturday, December 29, 2012

Spiritual Adoption, Human Adoption, and Russia's Anti-Adoption Policy

As a Foster Parent, who is hoping to adopt four foster children, God has taught me a lot about spritual adoption.  It is truly amazing that God would choose to adopt me, especially when I was an enemy of God.  He did not choose to adopt me because of any merit that I had.  He simply chose to love me and make me a part of His family.  He loves me unconditionally.  By making me a part of His family, I have all of the rights and benefits of being a child of the King.  i have an incredible inheritance, heaven, ahead of us.  I can call the Supreme Being, "Daddy".

Adoption by human parents is a similar way to show God's love.  The children I hope to adopt were not chosen, because of merit.  Often, they misbehave and are not very lovely.  One has even been called "rotten"; I was not even offended because too often the child merits that description.  Yet, I love them anyway, unconditionally.  They get all of the rights and benefits of being a part of my family.  They even get to call me "Daddy".

As I have learned the significance of spiritual adoption, I have gained a greater passion for human adoption.  I love it when people share God's love through adoption.

With this background, my heart is broken to hear that Russia has stopped all Americans from adopting Russian children.  From a human perspective, it is terrible that these children will now remain in orphanages, with very poor care.  Some are disabled and will get very little care in a society that has limited resources for orphans and little interest in disabled children.  My heart breaks for adoptive parents, especially those who were in the the process of adopting.  Many had already visited Russia, met their future child(ren), exchanged pictures, and would finalize the adoption after a waiting period.  Now, these adoptions will not happen.

More importantly, many of these children would have been adopted into Christian homes, heard the gospel in these homes, and accepted Christ as Savior.  Now, many of these children will not get this chance.  I know God is sovereign and He can reach these souls in other ways, but my heart breaks knowing that these children will not be in Christian homes.

I am praying, and urging you to pray, that Russia will change its plans.  I know there are many different causes to pray for; it is impossible to be interested in every cause.  I know my passion should not necessarily become your passion.  But, part of me thinks that God has a special interest in human adoption because the Bible talks so much about spiritual adoption.  In addition, Jesus paid special attention to the little children and the Bible speaks often of caring for orphans.  For these reasons, I hope you will at least pray for these orphans and adopting parents.

For those unfamilar with the adoption situation in Russia, Russia recently stopped all Americans from adopting Russian children.  As I understand it, they claim to have taken this action because some Russian born children have suffered after being adopted by Americans.  I do not know any details, but have read claims that a couple of children died and one child was returned to Russia, alone, on an airplane.  If such things happened, these are tragedies and efforts should be made to proect these children.  In reality, it appears that this is only an excuse for Russia's actions.   Russia's anti-american adoption policy is really political.  I understand the US is going to label Russia a violator human rights.  Russia is responding with this policy.  Meanwhile,  thousands of children are being harmed as Russia uses them as pawns.

I pray that soon the orphans will stop being pawns, can be adopted by Americans who can provide for their physical needs, and share the gospel with them.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Best Books I Read in 2012

I thought I would take some time to highlight some of the best books I read in 2012.   These are in no particular order.

The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller.  Keller is becoming one of my favorite authors and this is one of the best books on marriage that I have read.  It seems like many marriage books contain similar material and very little original thought.  This book takes a unique approach, which is probably why I liked it a lot.  As the title implies, Keller explains the biblical foundation of marriage.  Understanding the foundation on of marriage helps with the practical day to day aspects of marriage.  I highly recommend it for singles - yes a marriage book for singles.  Keller preaches to many singles in his church and he specifically addresses singles in this book. For example, he explains why marriage is better than living together.  Again, understanding the foundation of marriage helps singles find a spouse and have a godly marriage.

Weird:  Because Normal Isn't Working by Craig Groeschel.  Groeschel is also becoming one of my favorite authors.  Here, he explains that most Christians live normal, ordinary,  mundane lives and this is not what God intended.  Instead, God intends for Christians to live extraordinary lives of faith.  This is a great challenge and a must read for everyone.

Sun Stand Still by Furtick.  In some ways, this book is similar to Weird, but it is a challenging in its own right.  Using the example of Joshua asking God to make the sun stand still, Furtick challenges Christians to look for God to do extraordinary things in their lives.  He says we should pray for, and expect, God to do seemingly impossible things in, and through, our lives.  How many of us actually expect God to do the impossible in, and through us?  This book is a faith builder.

A Tale of Two Sons by John MacArthur.  Here, MacArthur provides an in depth understanding of the Prodigal Son.  As I said before, Timothy Keller has become a popular author and many have read his book, Prodigal God, which examines the Prodigal Son.  While Prodigal God is good, I think MacArthur's book is better.  I think MacArthur includes everything that Keller included, but MacArthur includes a lot more, which should not be surprising since MacArthur's book is more than twice as long.  This book caused me to see the Prodigal Son in a whole new light and how it applies to everyone, even to Christians.  We can really see ourselves in the life of the Prodigal and the older son.  I especially like his "tragic" ending of the story, which I had never heard before, even in Keller's book.

Bonhoeffer by Metatexas.  This is a good biography of someone that I had heard of, but knew very little about.  It is fascinating how he, early on, saw the dangers of Hitler and Hitler's influence on the church.  Then, how he tried to combat Hitler, even to the point of being part of a plot to kill Hitler.  I have some questions about how accurately Metatexas portrays Bonhoeffer's theology, but the book is very good.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  Fascinating biography of Zamperini, who was a wild child, ran in the 1936 Olympics, survived an airplane crash in the Pacific in World II and weeks on a raft, was a POW tortured by the Japanese, returned home a broken man, and accepted Christ at a Billy Graham crusade.  It gives a good understanding of World War II in the Pacific - heartbreaking. A little long, but that probably helps the reader understand the torture that Zamperini lived through.

What reading recommendations do you have?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Faith and Expectations (a personal struggle with faith)

To understand this post, please read my prior post about Praying For a Miracle.

I am writing this the night before the court conducts a mediation for my foster children. The purpose of the mediation is to convince the mother of my foster children to allow us to adopt her four children, which would also terminate her parental rights.  From a human standpoint, the mediation will be a waste of time and nothing will change.  But I am praying for a miracle, praying that God will change the mother's mind and it will be obvious to everyone that God performed a miracle.

Now my dilemma.  Can God perform this miracle?  Absolutely yes.  I have absolute faith and confidence that He can perform this miracle.

But, I do not know if He will perform the miracle. 

Do I have faith or not? 

Since I know He can do the miracle, should I expect Him to do the miracle?  Since I don't know if He will perform the miracle, how can I expect Him to perform the miracle?  If I know He can do the miracle, but do not expect Him to do the miracle, do I have faith? 

Your thoughts . . .

Praying For a Miracle

God has been teaching me that He wants Christians to do great works of faith for Him.  I recently studied the life of Joshua and saw God do many miracles when Joshua and the people lived by faith, rather than fear.  Unfortunately, most Christians are satisfied to live a normal, mundane, average life that does not require them faith or a reliance on God.  Instead, they are content to rely on their own strength and talent.  My family has chosen to live a life of faith that stretches us and requires us to rely on God.  For us, this life of faith led us to raising four foster children, currently ages 8, 3, 2, and 1, and has required us to look for His mighty acts. 

Again, we are looking for God to act in a mighty, miraculous way.  For several months, the status of the foster children has been at an impasse.  The State wants to terminate parental rights and have us adopt the children. The Mom wants her children back. If the Mom does not give in, there will be a trial and the matter is heading toward a trial, with lawyers obtaining experts and preparing.  Prior to trial, the Court is making a last ditch effort to reach a resolution; a mediation will be conducted tomorrow, Friday.  At mediation, a strong attempt will be made to have the Mom agree to allow us to adopt the kids. From a human standpoint, it seems impossible for the Mom to consent. The Mom is, understandably, very bitter and angry.  While she is happy that they are in our home, she will not cooperate because she wants her children returned to her.  Apparently, mediation will be in vain.

God is greater.  God wants to do things that are beyond us.  He wants to do things that we cannot do.  He wants to do things that no one can do.  He wants to do things that are so outrageous that all who see it will admit that only God could have done it.  Joshua saw the Red Sea divide and collapse on the
Egyptian army, saw water come from a rock, saw God daily provide manna and quail for food, saw God's presence spare him for being stoned when he opposed the ten spies, saw the Jordan River divide, saw the great walls of Jericho fall, saw God rain down hail to kill enemy soldiers, and saw the sun stand still so that his army could complete a victory.  Every one of these events was clearly a miraculous act of God.  I believe God wants to continue to do such miracles, both in my life and in the life of other Christians. 

So, I am praying for a miracle.  I want to see, and have others see, God perform a miracle.  From a human perspective, tomorrow will be a stalemate.  Nothing will change.  Everyone will continue to walk down the road to a trial.  But, God can change the heart of the mother.  I pray that this will happen.  I pray that He will perform a miracle tomorrow.  This miracle will allow us to forever raise four young, needy, unsaved children with the goal of having them accept Jesus as their personal Savior and grow to be godly adults.  This miracle will be good for the children. 

More than that, this miracle will be a witness to many.  Several social workers and attorneys are involved in this case.  They all believe the mediation will be hopeless. But, we have continually told them God is working.  They wonder why we would be so crazy that we would take four difficult foster children.  They wonder why we would obtain waivers to accept two children more than we should have according to state rules.  They wonder why the children are growing so well in our home.  They wonder how my wife does so much, raising the four foster children and home schooling her own four children, etc., etc., while maintaining such peace.  We openly tell everyone that this is a work of God.  Even though we tell them, I don't think they really get it.  Tomorrow, I pray that they will get it.  Tomorrow, I pray that God will work such a miracle (Mom will consent to the adoption) that everyone will know that God acted.

I am looking forward to seeing God act.

Monday, June 18, 2012


About 10 days ago, a young boy moved into my house.  I don't believe he has ever known his father.  During his young life, the State removed him from his mother on two occasions.  He has spent over one-third of his life in foster care.  Even while in foster care, I don't think he ever had a strong relationship with a man.  Almost immediately after moving into our home, he started calling me "Daddy".  In fact, he does not just call me "Daddy", he calls it over and over.  It is to the point where he almost over uses the term.  He says it so often that it almost gets annoying. The fact that he started calling me "Daddy" so quickly and says it so often indicates, I think, that he likes to call me "Daddy".

He has never really been given the chance to call anyone "Daddy".  As he called it out yesterday, Father's Day, I thought that this boy really needs a dad; this is my chance to be a dad for him.  This was my 19th Father's Day as a dad, but this one had a little different meaning as I thought about this boy needing a father and calling me "Daddy".  God has given me a chance to be a father, not just to my children, but to the fatherless.  I will resist getting annoyed when he calls it out over and over because I know that, during his entire life, he has not had many opportunities to say it.  I pray that I will have a meaningful impact on his life and that, for many years to come, he will still be able to call me "Daddy".

Monday, April 9, 2012

Impact of The Blind Side

In 2006, long before the movie, I picked up an interesting book called the Blind Side. Being a football fan, I enjoyed the chapters describing the evolution of the Left Tackle position. More compelling was the story of Michael Oher. While you have probably seen the movie and know the story, I was reading the book when it first came out and I did not know the story.When the Touhys brought Oher into their family, they did not know he would eventually be a highly recruited football player. They saw a needy child and took him into their home. He had nothing he could give them and had a bleak future. This was about the Touhys helping a poor child. I am sure that raising this boy was very difficult. At the very least, taking in a very large, black boy had to have caused a lot of problems in their white social circles. On top of that, this boy had severe academic issues. Raising him was difficult and scary.Yet, despite these difficulties, I thought of the significant impact the Touhys had on Oher. And, I thought many Christians could follow this example and take needy children into their homes. A lot of Christians have houses with empty bedrooms. Many have children who have left for college leaving an empty nest. They are experienced parents who have a lot to give. While they might not be rich, God has richly blessed them and they could share these physical blessings with a needy child.More importantly, Christians, by housing needy children, could bless them spiritually. The child would live with the Christian family 24/7. What an opportunity. Christians could read the Bible to the child, sing Christian songs, pray with them, take them to church, share the love of God, and share the gospel. They could take a child who probably would have very little exposure to the gospel and share it with them around the clock. I could not think of a better opportunity. While someone may teach kids at church, they are only around the kids two or three hours a week. If the child lives with you, you have them all of the time.I thought of past ministries my wife and I have had. We had taken in a single teenage mom and her son. They lived with us for several months as we taught her how to care for her child and for herself. We had a foreign exchange student live with us. We had already done some of the things I saw in the Blind Side. I knew first hand that Christians could have a big impact in the lives of others if they would just open their homes. I really hoped to see Christians take advantage of such opportunities.Little did I know that God would tell our family to take in a couple of children. In early 2011, our youngest child was six years old, so we felt that we were in a position to open our home to some needy children. We decided to pursue Foster Care. Ideally, we would have two foster children, around the ages of five to eight, so that they would be near the ages of our youngest children. God has a sense of humor. In August, we had an 18 month old boy and a 9 month old girl. Eleven months later, we had their newborn baby brother. That is three children under the age of three - all in diapers. While our world changed dramatically, God gave us numerous opportunities to witness to others. Obviously, we share a great deal with the kids. At this point, they love to go to church, sing Christian songs, and are even starting to pray. Beyond the kids, we have a larger opportunity. My wife has developed a relationship with the natural mother and has consistently shared the love of God with her. My wife has become close enough to her that when she gave birth to a baby, she invited my wife into the delivery room. We have met her for extra visiting opportunities with her kids. We have given her pictures and videos of her kids. We have given her a Bible. We have had numerous chances to tell social workers and doctors that we are taking care of these children because God wants us to share his love with them. The ministry opportunities are numerous.While I know that God has not called every Christian family to become a foster parent, to adopt a children, or have children live with them, I think many have ignored God's calling in this area. Many Christians could take a child into their home but have not even considered whether God wants them to do it. I encourage everyone who reads this blog to get the movie, enjoy the show, and see if they can envision themselves helping out a child. Ask God if He wants you to open your home to a child. I know God has not called everyone to this ministry, but He has called some and they are not listening to Him. Many have the ability to minister in this way, but have never even considered it. Start asking the question. See what God has for you.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Swimsuit Edition

Now, I have your attention. I sipped my Earl Grey tea while sitting at a Barnes and Noble table across from my wife. While reading, I occasionally looked up as Sandy spoke to me or I initiated conversation with her. Every time I looked at her, a magazine, displayed on a rack behind her, vied for my attention. Filling the cover was a woman in a very small bikini; it was the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. This magazine has no right to my attention. My beautiful wife has my attention. This magazine is invading my life. It is Satan's way of trying to interfere with my relationship with my wife.

As I talked with my wife and looked at her, I became annoyed that the woman from this magazine is trying to distract me. Even though just a picture, the words of Proverbs apply to this woman, "Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes [or other body parts]" (6:25). The remedy is "keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house" (Prov. 5:8).

It may seem like just a small thing. It is just a picture on a magazine across the room. It is not like I was looking through the magazine. It was not a real woman there. But, it is more than just a smalkil thing. First, it is still an invasion in my life and my relationship with my wife. Second, it is the first step of an attack by Satan. In his book Wierd, Craig Groeschel says, "No one sets out a plan with the express goal to have an affair." Most affairs happen with one small step. We need to understand, "We have an enemy whose only mission is to steal, kill, and destroy everything that matters to God" and he "has us take baby steps". I decided to do something. I am going to stop this attack.

I get up from the table, walk over to the magazine and turn it around. Now, the back of the magazine is showing. And, the back of the magazine is beautiful. There is an M & M advertisement on the back. Now, that is worth looking at.

This incident gets me thinking bigger picture, which is the purpose of this blog. Our Christian values are constantly under attack. My 11 year old son is exposed to this same cover when he walks into the bookstore. While this issue of Sports Illustrated only comes out once year, various other magazines have similar covers every month. These pictures are calling out to him, and all other males, every day.

These covers are also attacking women. Are girls supposed to look like this? Do they need to look like this to be considered beautiful? Do they have to dress like this for a boy to like them? Is this normal? My daughters are under attack.

This has to stop. While I am not naive enough to think that I can stop these magazine covers, I think people can take a small practical step to limit the exposure of these magazines. Turn the magazines over. When you are in a store, any store, not just a bookstore, and you see an offensive magazine, whether a men's magazine or a women's magazine, turn it over. Yeah, the store will turn them back, but it is still a step, a statement. Before they get a chance to turn the magazine back over, you may be keeping a boy or girl from seeing the cover. You may be keeping an adult from flipping through the pages. If I do it, it is a small step. If you do it, it is a small step. But, if everyone who is offended by these covers turned them over, it would big step, so big that stores may have trouble keeping the covers visible. And, more M & M's might be sold.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Enemy of Marriage: SELFISHNESS

As an attorney who handles divorces, I see a lot of broken marriages. While a number of things cause such breakdowns, such as alcohol and finances, my experience is that selfishness is the root of most problems.  First, we all have a sin problem. The sin problem only grows when two sinners marry each other and live together. Second, there is an expectation that marriage is going to make me happy and I will be happy when my spouse meets all of my needs.

Recently, I saw tremendous selfishness in a couple as they are going through a divorce. The husband and wife have a custody agreement in which the kids live with the wife and they visit the father every other weekend. While the agreement says the husband will pick up the children after work, no specific time is stated in the written agreement.  The husband usually gets off work early to get them. Conflict arose when the husband realized he was going to have to work late and could not get them until later. The wife, instead of trying to resolve the issue with her husband, called her lawyer to make the husband pick up the children early because her babysitter could not watch the kids that late. The lawyer then sent me a letter demanding that the husband comply with the custody agreement and pick the children up at the usual time. Instead of being unselfish and trying to accommodate the husband's schedule, she ran to her attorney, asserting her rights.
I contacted the husband to work something out. He correctly pointed out that the agreement does not specify a time for him to pick up the kids; rather it requires him to pick them up after work. On this particular Friday, he planned to get them after work, as required, but the time would be later because he was required to work late. He refused to accommodate his wife in any way, even though her babysitter could not watch the kids that late. His selfishness is evident in his final words, "It is her problem, not mine."

Timothy Keller in his book The Meaning of Marriage says, "Self-centeredness is a havoc-wreaking problem in many marriages, and it is the ever-present enemy of every marriage." Based upon Philippians 2, he explains that all Christians are "to consider and count the interests of others as more important than our own."  He continues, "now we are like servants - but to one another."  And "a servant puts someone else's needs ahead of his or her own."

I have heard Pastor Mark Driscoll say that studies show it takes the parties in a marriage 9 years to stop being selfish.  While I don't know how a study can determine this, it sounds good.  As people wait longer to get married, it seems to me that selfishness will only increase.  The longer someone lives single, I think they will become more selfish because they have spent a greater amount of time only thinking of himself or herself.

According to Keller, a marriage thrives only when both spouses serve each other with joy.  Ideally, both spouses are trying to serve the other.  While my wife and I have plenty of faults, we recently experienced a moment when our desires to serve the other ran into each other.  On a Sunday afternoon, I knew that Sandy had something to do, but she could not if she was watching the foster children.  So, I wanted to watch the children and let her do her thing.  At the same time, Sandy knew I wanted to do something, but I could not do it if I was watching the foster children.  So, Sandy wanted to watch the kids so I could do my thing.  We actually had competing desires to serve each other.  We worked it out; I quickly did my thing and then watched the kids so she could do her thing.  On this occasion, we were doing a good job of serving each other. 

One of the many things I love about my wife is how much she loves me and shows it by serving me and trying to make me happy.  I wish I was that good at serving her.  I will keep trying to serve her better.  While we have a great marriage, I know that as we continue to serve each other, our marriage will continue to get better.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sports Blog

I love sports but rarely blog about them. Today, several thoughts came to mind, so I decided to share them.

The Flyers retired Mark Howe's number. It is about time. He is the best Flyer's defenseman I have ever seen. I will always remember watching him play in the 80's. Finally, he is Forever a Flyer.

Drexel lost in the conference tournament championship game. It is a shame. They had a great season. A conference championship would have guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, schools like Drexel normally do not get in the tournament unless they win their conference tournament. The tournament should invite Drexel to the tournament anyway. They are 27-6 and lost to VCU, a team from last year's Final Four, by 3 points in an arena near VCU. I predict that Drexel will be in the NCAA tournament.

Looks like the real Sixers finally showed up for the season. I thought they were over-achieving and kept expecting the mirage to end. But, I kept holding out hope that this team was for real. Unfortunately, their lack of overall talent has caught up to them.  Pre-season, I hoped they would finish with 36 wins, which would put them 6 games over .500.  It looks like that may be a realistic goal.

Still talking 76ers, the #2 overall pick in last year's NBA draft, Evan Turner, finally made his first start of the season. He showed he deserved the start, and being picked #2, by scoring 2 whole points. Nevertheless, I am not ready to give up on him yet, but I am close. He should keep starting and we can evaluate him at the end of the year. At this point, the early returns are not good.

Speaking of under-achieving players, it appears that Holiday has regressed. I was never impressed with him. I hope he can turn it around, but I am not optimistic.

Still talking 76ers, there is no quick solution to their problems. Considering their good start, I think they need to stay the course for the rest of this season. They should not trade any young players for an older veteran. Such a move may provide a short term benefit, but no long term gain. Instead, let this group play, including Turner and Holiday, and evaluate them at the end of the year. During the off-season, they can use amnesty on Brand, which will free his money up from the salary cap, and they can use his money to find sign a free agent. They should do everything they can to trade Iguodala. I think he is having his best season yet, but he is not good enough to take the Sixers over the hump. Plus, he makes way too much money for what he provides. Get rid of him and free up that salary cap money. Since he is having his best season, I would hope they could trade him without having to accept a bad contract player in return. The plan should be to build for the future and they should continue with that plan.

One last thought on the Sixers - at least they finally have a good coach.

I saw that the Eagles signed a linebacker, their biggest position of need. They guy they got was on the 49ers practice squad last year. Really? They need significant changes.

It looks like the Colts will release Peyton Manning. The Eagles should try to sign him. If he can play, he would immediately make the team better. Imagine Manning throwing to Jackson and Maclin, with McCoy in the backfield.  Plus, it would keep another NFC team from getting him.  Of course, the Eagles will make no attempt to get him.  Can you imagine Andy Reid allowing Manning to run the offense?  It will never happen.

Finally, my bold baseball prediction.  After winning 5 straight division titles, the Phillies will not win their division this year.  Teams do not win that many titles in a row.  Eventually, things catch up to them, such as injuries, age, and complatency.  Other Eastern Division teams have improved.  While they have the most talent, I do not have a good feel.  I hope I am wrong, but I don't think they win the division.  However, they will make the playoffs by getting a wildcard spot.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Should Children Be Sheltered?

A common criticism of home schooled children, and sometimes Christian schooled children, is that they are too sheltered - they do not know enough about the world around them.  When they get out from under their parent's roof, they are more likely to fall prey to the temptations of alcohol, drugs, and sex because they were sheltered from the world rather than exposed to it.  Since these temptations are new to them, they are more likely to give into the temptations.  I think that such thinking is wrong and unbibilical.

In Romans 16:19, Paul expresses one of his goals for the Believers.  He wants them to be "wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil."  Our children will not be innocent as to what is evil if we expose them evil.  I have heard of Christian parents who encourage their children to drink alcohol, even when they are underage, so they can learn how to handle it.  Some parents purposefully expose their children to immoral music videos so they will know what is out there.  They allow their children to be exposed to immoral lifestyles on t.v., music, magazines, and books because everyone else is doing it.  Such exposure is contradictory to Romans 16:19 and keeping children innocent.  Instead of exposing children to such evil, a parent's duty is to protect them from such evil.

This protection aligns with Philippians 4:8, where we are instructed to think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise.  We should be replacing evil influences with godly influences as described in Philippians 4:8.  By doing so, you are protecting your child's innocence from evil.  At the same time, focusing on the good described in Philippians 4:8 helps satisfy the first part of Romans 16:19, "be wise as to what is good."  We should fill ourselves up with things that are good and avoid evil.  That is the Biblical command.

Some claim that being innocent as to what is evil results in being naive.  This is not necessarily true.  Paul even notes, in verse 18, that false teachers deceive those who are naive.  You can prevent your children from being naive by warning them of the dangers of this world and explaining how Satan is like a roaring lion seeking to devour them.  In Romans 16, the people would not be deceived if they had a strong foundation in truth.  A good tactic is to warn against sin, but overload children with goodness.

I do not apologize for "sheltering" my children.  They are better off by not being exposed to all of the evil in this world.  Instead, we have emphasized the good and try to keep then immersed in goodness.  At the same time, we have taught them about evil, warned them about sin, and discuss temptation.  Then we return to filing their lives with goodness.  If their lives are filled with goodness, then, hopefully, there is little room left for sin.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Celebrating Children We Never Met

We expected to celebrated February 20th, but not in this way.  We expected our daughter Julia to be born on February 20. 2010.  Instead, we lost her before she was born.  We never got to meet her, hold her, hug her, or kiss her.  We were devastated by the loss, just as we were when we lost three prior babies. 

Continuing life after the miscarriages has been difficult.  We experienced great sorrow over losing the children.  However, life goes on.  We cannot allow our grief to paralyze us from living life and doing what God wants.  On the other hand, continuing to live life makes it seem like we have forgotten these unborn children.  The challenge is figuring out how to live an abundant life that God provides without forgetting these children.

To meet this challenge we created our own holiday, Family Day, which is celebrated every February 20th.  It is a day to remember the four children we never held, to celebrate the brief life they had with us,  and to look forward to seeing them in heaven.  We also celebrate the four children God has allowed us to raise, along with the three foster children He placed with us.  We try to make the day special for our children, although it differs every year.  This year, the kids did not have school because it is President's Day.  My wife made a special breakfast of a baked French toast with cream cheese.  She also did a special photo project with the kids.  We ate a favorite meal of pulled pork sandwiches.  I gave small gifts to everyone, after all this is a celebration.  Alyson made special cupcakes that look like baby ducks - seriously, they looked like baby ducks.  After dessert, Matthew played the piano and played a song that he wrote about missing Julia.  In Matthew's words, "This is a fun day."

Family Day helps us remember the lives of these four children.  This way, we do not forget about them.  But, it also helps us to celebrate our children without being stuck in despair.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fixing the Washing Machine

While I am not the most inept person at fixing things, I am far from a handy man.  So, I hate it when I receive a call from my wife like the one I got on Friday - the one where she says that something is broken.  This means one of two things, or both.  Either, I will spend a lot of frustrating time trying to fix the item, or I will spend too much money to have it repaired or replaced.  Or, I will spend too much frustrating time trying to fix the item and then have to spend more money to fix or replace it.

My wife let me know that the washing machine stopped working; it was running and suddenly stopped spinning.  She had several loads to do and we continually have to use it because there are nine people, including a baby who is constantly spitting up on everyone's clothes, in the house.  It needed to be fixed ASAP.

Since I do not know what I am doing, I decide to go online for help.  Using Yahoo, I start my search.  As I am typing in the kind of machine, the drop down menu suggests that I am asking about this machine not spinning.  When Yahoo knows my question before I even finish it, then this must be a widespread problem.  Why does there have to be a widespread problem?  Well, at least there may be several people offering help.

From reading the articles, it looks like the "coupler" is bad and some other husbands have fixed it.  Good - I have a chance. Now, if I only knew what a coupler looked like. 

That can wait.  Surely, I have to open the machine to get to the coupler.  I look in the machine and there is no water in it.  Again, good - I don't have to drain anything.  I disconnect the hoses and water shoots everywhere.  Perhaps, I should have shut the water off first.  At least I knew to unplug the electric before I started working on it.  I yell for towels and clean up the water.

Now, for opening up the machine.  I unscrew the screws in the back.  After getting every visible screw out, the back will not come off.  Back to online help.  Oh, apparently, the back does not come off.  Instead, the front slides off.  I find diagrams for removing the front.  That was not too hard.

I look inside and nothing is labeled as a coupler.  I go back online.  Now, I find a video.  This is great.  I follow the video.  I turn the machine on its side and remove some screws and a bracket.  Two part should now separate and the coupler should be in between.  No such luck.  It looks like more screws need to be removed.  Which ones?  I could remove everything I see like I did on the back.  That did not work, so I will try something different.  Back online.  Oh, the guy on the video skipped a step.  Three bolts have to be removed, but he did not show that.  All right - the pieces separated and I can see the coupler.

The guy on the video said that you can tell if the coupler is the problem because you can visibly see that it is broken.  I look.  It does not appear to be broken.  I pull it out and YES, YES, YES it is broken.  Out loud, I yell, "All right!"  Did I just cheer because something was broken?  Yes, but that is because I hope that it really is the problem.

Now, I need a new coupler.  It is too late on Friday to get the part.  Hopefully, I can find it on Saturday.  I don't want to order online, because that will take too long to get.  We need the washer now.

On Saturday, I go to a parts store near my house.  The lady behind the counter is on the phone.  She looks grumpy.  It sounds like the customer on the phone is giving her a hard time.  I hope she will be nicer to me; I am a novice.  She slams down the phone.  It is my turn.  I think, "She will be nice to me because I will be nice.  I will smile.  I have a simple problem, after all Yahoo says couplers commonly break.  This will be easy for her."  I tell her that I need a coupler for a Kenmore washing machine, model series 80.  She is very annoyed with me.  She wants to know what the model number is.  I thought I just told her, it is a model series 80.  Apparently, that is not good enough for her.  I explain that I think this is a pretty common part and fairly standard on all wash machines.  She disagrees but can give me what she will guess I need - but it cannot be returned if it is the wrong part, after all, I did not know the exact model number.  I still think it is a common part, so, fine, I will buy it for $28.  In the car, I look at the bag.  It says that it fits nearly every washing machine ever made.  So, I am exaggerating, but it did say it fits most Kenmore, Maytag, Whirlpool, etc. washers.  I knew it was a common part.

At home, the part fits perfectly.  The pieces go back together.  There are no left over screws.  The hoses are back on.  The machine runs.  It spins.  It does not leak. Mission accomplished.  And now I can proudly tell the world that I fixed a washing machine.