Monday, November 27, 2006

Ikea

Walked the new Ikea in Round Rock tonight with my beautiful bride. We had our date night tonight, and since we figured we would never make it through the whole store with all three kids, we decided to go tonight and enjoy ourselves. The place is really something to see - I especially enjoyed seeing the small apartments that said "living in 536 sq ft" and showed how you could really live in a small amount of space if you didn't mind sitting on the toilet and being able to touch the refrigerator in the kitchen.

Overall impressions: there is a novelty about the place since you really won't find many other large home furnishing stores with a Swedish cafeteria in the middle of them (by the way, meatballs are good, salmon is bad). They really do have more stuff than I have ever seen under one roof. There is stuff there you would never know you needed until you visited and took a walk through the store.

On the flip side, however, the place is not built for people who shop like I do. My wife loved walking through all the model rooms and seeing everything for sale. She said it sparked creative ideas that she would use later. When I shop, on the other hand, I always go in knowing what I need to get and on a mission to get it. I very rarely browse through a store just looking at stuff. But Ikea is built to do just that. If you went in knowing that you wanted something specific and asked an Ikea employee where you could find that, you might get a blank stare or at best, a general area of the store. I'm much more a Home Depot kind of guy - you know, "yes, sir, you can find that 6 foot ladder on sale on aisle 15b." That's what I'm talking about.

Anyway, neat place - won't go back anytime soon unless I'm just craving one of their fresh cinnamon roles. ;)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Parenting

Like I said in my previous post, Barie and I had a great time this week getting away to talk about life, marriage, and parenting, and to review passages of Scripture that have to do with each. We learned a lot and discussed passionately what God is teaching us in the area of parenting. On that front, I want to highly recommend Tedd Tripp's book Shepherding a Child's Heart for everyone who is trying to raise kids who love God and have an abiding faith in the Lord Jesus. Tripp's material is so refreshing in how he places the gospel at the center of parenting and not just behavior correction. His book is saturated with Scripture (especially the Proverbs) as he tries to speak to parenting with biblical wisdom. His main premise is that most parenting today deals with behavior modification without ever addressing the root causes in the heart. His little book is easy to read and completely challenging to think about - he even does a good job addressing the heart of the parent and how that impacts the way we relate to our kids. I encourage every parent to get a copy.

Also - Cowboys win in style on Thanksgiving, A&M beats Texas for the first time in seven years, and the Mavs beat the Spurs in San Antonio to stretch their streak to eight in a row...could this weekend get any better? ;)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Barie and I have wrapped up a wonderful couple of days alone without the kids and are feeling rejuvenated and refocused in our marriage and our parenting. I have much to celebrate and be thankful for in 2006. I am most thankful this year for...

...a wife who knows me and continues to love me well.
...three healthy, awesome boys who are growing up so quickly and teaching me tons about the love of my Father.
...an awesome church family and a group of elders, pastors, and leaders who are calling me to go deeper with Christ every day.
...generous grandparents who love their grandchildren deeply.
...God's grace at work in my life.
...times of gut-busting laughter with my friends and family.
...God's bountiful provision for all of my needs.
...the sacrifice of our soldiers to keep us safe.
...turkey and dressing and broccoli-rice casserole.
...not having much to do today besides watch the Cowboy game at 3:00pm.

Have a great Holiday!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Wild Weekend

On Saturday morning, we had our second prayer walk for the church plant in Round Rock. You can read more about the prayer walk & read testimonies of those who were there on the RR-N blog HERE.

On Saturday night, our church hosted our Thanksgiving Back service where we enjoy a turkey and dressing dinner with our church family and take up a benevolence offering to fund the benevolence ministry of the church all year. It was an exciting time to give back from the many blessings God has given us all year.

On Sunday, we had to drive into Dallas because a friend of the family passed away in East Texas and she requested that I perform her funeral. She had been close friends with my grandmother for over 60 years. It was an honor to do her graveside service in Gilmer, TX yesterday with all of her friends and family there. She was an African-American lady, and the funeral had a different cultural feel than I am used to, but it was really awesome. Everyone shared deeply from their hearts about how Mrs. Hattie Camp had impacted them and lived out the love of Jesus for 94 years. Rest in peace with Jesus, Mrs. Hattie.

Other exciting news from this weekend - our good friends from Houston, Nick and Jada, had their new baby last night at 4:30 AM. And after having two girls, they finally got a boy. Congrats go out to the happy parents of a new healthy baby boy!

Life and death in the same weekend; life is precious. Let's enjoy every day that God gives us!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New Devotional Blog & $66 Hotel

I've got some new devotional thoughts on my other site (& I've committed myself to be more diligent in posting there what God is teaching me in His Word).

Also, if you haven't checked out Hotwire (www.hotwire.com) for booking travel stuff, you are missing out. Barie and I are spending two nights away soon and we booked our hotel through Hotwire. We got a 4-star hotel for $66 a night. Not bad, huh? You can't tell what hotel you're getting when you sign up, but you can select a certain region. We wanted to be close to the Dallas area (because we're taking the kids to the grandparents), but we didn't really care about where we stayed & we got a sweet deal.

We are using our two nights away to do our "getting away to get it together" trip. Bill Wellons published a book by that title that talks about getting away every once in a while (maybe once a year) to pray and think strategically about what you're doing as a family and where you are headed. Barie and I are super excited to have some special time carved out just to talk and think about what God wants us to do with our family over the next year (and spend some romantic time together without the kids). :)

Monday, November 13, 2006

6 kids?

So - we had a weird night tonight. We have started swapping kids with another family from our church every week so that they can go on a date one week and we can go on a date the other week. It really is a great set-up and we are enjoying the time with the kids and the free date nights. But, tonight was special - the other couple (Bret & Tomi) was dropping off their two boys and we were getting ready to handle five kids for a few hours while they went out for the evening. Considering the fact that we have three boys, we really have the better side of this agreement. Anyway, a few minutes after they arrived with their two boys, one of our new neighbors shows up at our front door with her two-year old girl. The mom speaks very little English and is trying to communicate to us (we think) that dad had to work late and she had to go take a test at her school & needs to leave the daughter with us. Now, remember this is not our next-door neighbor - they live across the street and down about three houses and we have met them only once before at the neighborhood cook-out. So, long story short, we had six kids in our house for about two and a half hours tonight. And you know what I'm thinking? Three is a good number.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Good Press

Our work for the Lord is not dependent on good press, but it is good to see our movement praised for the work we do in the world that rarely gets noticed (not at the rate of our scandals anyway). Read it here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Too Funny...

Ouch

Jon Stewart tore up Haggard last night on The Daily Show. The clip from the Jesus Camp movie is unbelievable. To me, Stewart is typical of how many young people see Christianity today. Check it out here.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Voting Tomorrow

SO - tomorrow is finally election day. I'm glad to vote & I hope every one of you take your responsibility seriously & go vote. I have had more heartburn over my voting choices this year than most previous years, but I've finally made up my mind. Off to the polls tomorrow. And thanks to God's mercy, we will not have to watch any more political ads starting tomorrow night! For some challenging thoughts on how biblical values impact the whole spectrum of political issues, check out Jim Wallis' post on his blog here. I don't agree with everything that Jim writes, but his views have definitely stretched my thinking lately. Have a great election day

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Heavy Heart

I always struggle with disillusionment whenever it is revealed that a major Christian leader has been living a double life. The last few months have just brought on more of that than I am used to. The latest, of course, has been highly-publicized (all over national news) because Pastor Ted Haggard was the president of a national evangelical organization. You can read Haggard's statement that was read to his congregation this morning on New Life Church's website here. I am thankful that the church's leadership has dealt with Haggard's moral failure quickly and graciously, but it still weighs heavily on my heart for two reasons. One, I am scared that too many of our spiritual shepherds have become isolated because they believe (rightly or wrongly) that people will not respect their leadership if they know what really goes on in their hearts and minds. Barie and I have had many conversations over the last few days about this very thing - is there someone in each of our lives that we can be totally transparent with? Is there someone who can get to know the depths of our depravity and still show us grace and love? I think very few of us have those type of relationships, and the Enemy uses that to his advantage.

The second reason that my heart is heavy over this whole deal is the realization that we can become so deceived in our sin to believe 1) that we'll never get caught, 2) that what we are doing is not really that bad, and 3) that we can continue to teach and read God's Word while living in open sin. I know that Jeremiah 17:9 that the heart is deceitful above all else, but I still don't think I realize how deceived I can become. I hope and pray for all those in Christian leadership that they have men and women around them who can help them see their deception, and that they have soft hearts to hear correction and repent. I also pray for my own heart, that God will change it and redeem my desires. I'm realizing all over again that changing behavior is empty if the heart is not transformed as well.

Friday, November 03, 2006

So Sad, But...

My Mavs threw it away last night & couldn't keep their winning streak against the Spurs going from the playoffs last year. To say the least, I was humbled at elder meeting this morning by having to face our defeat. Actually, I didn't get to watch much of the game last night because I sat down to view the game & my wife decided it was time for us to have a heart-to-heart. We rarely find time to have deep, soul-searching conversations anymore with three little kids, so Barie decided last night was the night. During the Mavs game.

But before you feel too sad for me, my wife did comment after our hour-long conversation that I am always more attractive to her after we have long talks. I don't think I will ever understand the female brain, but if that is all it takes to help her find me more attractive, I've got think of some more stuff for us to talk about when I get home from work today.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

NBA season starts

While I'm having a hard time getting excited about the Cowboys this year (though I was really impressed with Romo's opening performance) & my Rangers never seem to get their act together over the course of a long season, I have to tell you that I'm feeling good about basketball season this year. The Heat took it in the teeth last night from a young Bulls team (welcome back from the off-season, champions, with a 42 point loss). I'm already ready to call their season over - how old is Shaq now? ;)

I've got a friendly wager going with an elder at our church who loves the Spurs about the opening game tomorrow night. We've agreed to wear the other team's jersey if our team looses. With everyone back for the Mavs, Avery in the driver's seat, and the team looking good, I'm confident he'll be buying a Mavs jersey very soon. You with me?