Sunday, April 29, 2007

Believing and Doing

"Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I'll handle the works department." Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show my faith apart from my works… that seamless unity of believing and doing – what counted with God? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse. (James 2.18, 2.25-26 - The Message)

I often think about doing community just to do community, with no ulterior motive. I still think we need to do community without any overt motive. People can see a motive a mile away and be turned off by it.

But, maybe embracing your motive isn't such a bad thing…

When I walk down the street and make friends with a stranger, there's no motive. It's simple care for the person I am meeting and a desire to get to know them better. Over time we can begin talking about faith, but my purpose is to express the love I have for the person and the love Jesus has for them.

But when I have an Easter Eggstravaganza or a game night or a car wash, people come with an expectation. People are coming, knowing that they are going to a church event. Maybe keeping with the underlying motive isn't bad.

People who show up to a church event have certain expectations. I want to surprise them and let them attend the event very relaxed and without fear of our trying to "convert" them. At the same time though, they do know they are coming to an event sponsored by a church. Maybe it's ok to spend some time talking about the church or about god in some subtle way.

I guess it comes back to the idea that if I'm trying to reach the unchurched, they don't want to hear about a church. But that's a big assumption that I don't think is entirely true.

I think people do want to hear about church and about the saving relationship Jesus can bring. They don't want to hear about how they are messed up and sinners. But I do think they want to hear a message of hope, friendship and love for the person they are, no changes required. They want to hear how they can be better people, and see an example of how a community centered on Christ's love can change the world.

What probably needs to change is out reaction to the people. We don't want to sermonize to them, and, mainly, we don't want them to feel excluded or uncomfortable.

Whenever we have an event we need to have every single parishioner attending that event want to welcome the visitors and spend ½ an hour or more (or whatever's appropriate) getting to know that person. If they don't have anything in common, help plug them into another person who shares their interests (or at least mention that specific person who shares the interest and ask if they'd like to meet them).

Every person in the church is a leader of the church. Every person is an example of Christ's love. Every visitor needs to get so much of that love that they feel completely comfortable and enjoy their visit. The whole society should be centered around caring for each-other and the visitors.

There can be no fear on our side in meeting or approaching a stranger.

In the case of church events, these are people coming into a strange situation and knowing no one. We come in knowing people there, or at least having some history with the church sponsoring the event. Who are we to feel afraid to meet someone new and make them feel welcome? That's ridiculous.

But I also need to be clear that making someone feel welcome doesn't involve saying hello, chatting for 2 minutes, and moving on. It involves (the the extent that it's comfortable for the visitor) spending a LOT of time with the person. Committing half an hour or more to really getting to know that person. To following them and chatting while you do whatever is involved in the event. It involves introducing your family to the person, and having your whole family take on that same role of getting to know the visiting person or family.

Meeting people outside a church event is a little harder, people are scared of approaching a total stranger. With no perceived safety net, they aren't willing to make the leap. I mean, what do you talk about?

Well, people are drawn together by common interest. If you see a stranger at Starbucks, you definitely have something in common. If it's the same time of day (say 8am) it's a good bet you're both getting ready for work. So you can always talk about the coffee or work. If it's really early, say 6am, that n itself is a topic for discussion, like "Wow, you get up as early as I do… Have you got kids too?"

So, back to the safety net idea. If we really call ourselves Christians, and accept Jesus as our partner in life, then we actually have a safety net. We may not be at church and have all the people around us that we know, but we do have one person holding our hand and with us every moment of every day.

I've begun trying to live with God in my life every moment of every day, which I got from the book Practicing His Presence by Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach. I'm beginning to see that keeping God in mind constantly, as a friend I talk to about everything and as that little voice in your head, brings a closer connection with Him. I'm finding that I am more comfortable and secure in my decisions, because I already talked them out with God. It also feels like God is more present, that if something (bad or good) happens, he knows about it and will do something about it.

When I really accept Jesus into my life, I have a safety net. It's easy to miss sometimes, and certainly doesn't feel as safe as having a group of friends next to you. But when you have a group of friends with you it's much harder to make the stranger you're meeting feel comfortable.

All I can really think is that we need to be far more proactive about meeting other people. I need to make my whole life about loving strangers and making them feel comfortable and welcome in my life and God's.

Peace,

+Tom

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Good Gas Mileage

Lately I've been wondering if it's possible to get a used car with incredibly good gas mileage. So far I doubt it. Between my drives to Maryland and back (about 3 hours a day) I have come up with one solid conclusion though. When it comes to companies which consistently report the best real-world miles per gallon from actual drivers, Volvo must lead this list, and not by a little bit.

Bear with me and I'll explain.

I've heard all growing up that by balancing your driving habits you'll get better gas mileage. That if you accelerate and decelerate quickly, you use more gas than if you just pick a speed and stick with it. You can also save gas by driving a little bit slower, with a sweet spot between 50 and 60mph.

From driving for a bunch of years, and so you know it's exacting research which cannot be questioned, I can guaranty you a Volvo driver will be sitting in the middle or left lane of a freeway going 50 or 55mph.

They get out into the road and make a set speed, probably matching the speed limit, I wouldn't know, I'm going past them too quickly to tell. They get out of the right "slow" lane because there you have a lot of merging traffic and would have a higher risk of accident, or needing to change speed. Even the right middle lane isn't good enough, since people use that as a pass-through to the faster lanes.

No, these smart drivers have figured out that you can be safest, most relaxed and, as a side-benefit, get the best gas mileage, by hanging out in the left lanes going the speed limit or less.

If there's some car bottling up the middle of traffic though, 5 to 1 it's a Volvo.

I've heard it said only women drive Volvo's and so maybe that accounts for the bad driving habits. Here I'm, of course, only saying what I've heard. I'd never say that myself, heck, I think 95% of my readers are women (and all good drivers, of course)!

It all comes back to this. If you are looking for a car the absolute best real-world miles per gallon, you've got to go Volvo.

If you want to actually get anywhere in this century or not tick off all of your driving brethren though, you may want to stay away.

I love driving!

Peace,

+Tom

Thursday, April 19, 2007

What Were They Thinking?

Sometimes I just see stuff that brings me out of my own life and gets me thinking. I just have to wonder what was going through their heads. I wish I'd had a camera to really capture those moments.

Going down Rt. 7 in Sterling there's a stretch of grass dividing the lanes. So you have 3 lanes of busy traffic, a grassy stretch, then another 3 lanes of traffic. If you aren't familiar with the area, it's pretty busy with cars whizzing past.

In the middle of all these cars and hustle is one couple, standing in the median, looking at each-other and holding hands. Two people in their own island of tranquility, with the fast life surrounding them in front and behind.

They may have been talking about how great their lives are or one may be telling the other that the relationship has to end. They may be living the rest of their lives together, enjoying the comfort of one-another, or they may be giving up and getting ready to jump in front of traffic together and end it all.

I prefer thinking that this is a couple who has had a few years together and is looking forward to a long future where, every day, they can hold hands and be a spot of peace for one-another in an otherwise hectic life.

Then there were the dog walkers.

On the side of the road I passed a woman in a three piece, immaculate suit walking a small, prim dog and holding one hand across her belly in a very regal form. She was the absolute epitome of middle-aged grace and high living.

Having just past this high class woman was a couple well into retirement. They walked a husky in jeans and sweat shirts.

What was this couple thinking as they passed the up-scale socialite? What was the socialite thinking as she passed the older, contented couple?

Did they nod at each-other in understanding that through their different positions in life they share a common love of dogs? Was the wife reminded of her own youth while the socialite hopeful of what her life will become?

I love days like this.

Peace,

+Tom

Being Inventive for the Right Reason

As I continue going through Hebrews, I came across this line.

"Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out" Hebrews 10.22-25 (The Message)

What struck me is that he didn't say, "Let's see how inventive we can be to convert people" or even "Let's see how inventive we can be to get the word of Jesus out." There's more of a missional focus where we need to encourage others to love one another, and we need to help out, in unique and inventive ways.

Through being inventive and doing things differently from everyone else, with no agenda besides expressing our love for others, people will talk. We can spread His word through our actions. If the church is having a hard time brining in new people, I think it's a good sign that we aren't focusing on the right thing. We may have the best Worship service in the world, or even the best children's program. But unless we are spending out days out in the community, working with people directly, we'll never reach those who need Christ most.

Seriously, those who need Christ aren't going to search through the newspaper to find our church. They won't even know why they should pick ours over someone else's. If we do advertise in the paper, it needs to focus on the hurting person who isn't a Christian, not on informing other Christians that we are "Episcopalian" and our service times. Why should we want to attract other Christians? There are tons of other churches for that.

This is part of why I like some of the billboards people have been talking about. From the "Satan Hates Life" ads to "Church Doesn't Suck" (there was another one, but I can't seem to find it).

If every member of our church was chartered to spend one day a week helping the poor, the hurting and the lost, we'd be able to build relationships and tell them about the change Christ has made in our lives. We can then talk to them about church and Christ. We can then guide them into helping others, sharing unconditional love with them and get them to help out too.

Peace,

+Tom

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Talking vs Living

I came across this quote by Mark Batterson.

Most of us are educated way beyond our level of obedience. We don't need more information. We need more transformation. We need to stop explaining what people already understand. A little less explanation. A lot more exhortation.

I have been reading the New Testament each day one message keeps coming up again and again. Live. Go out into the world and change lives through Christ.

People know about God. People know about Christ. Our primary purpose isn't to educate.

We're here to transform the people around us for the rest of their lives, both here on earth and afterward. Our purpose is to talk about how Christ has changed our lives, and bring his Love to everyone.

Peace,

+Tom

Friday, April 13, 2007

Heard in My Life

Here is one thing I heard tonight at the FCA meeting… From a teenager (and yes, he was talking to me).

Hey kid, what's your name?

I really do still look 16 I guess. Though my body sure doesn't agree right now.

And in our house recently.

Tom: Colin's eyes look like...



Erin: An Alien?



Tom: Haha, they do! But I was going to say that psychotic Betazed on Voyager who was killing people until Tuvok's mind meld and he later saved the ship… Ensign Suitor I think.

As a bit of explanation, when we mean Colin looks like an alien, I don't mean he's all green with a big head. But man, if you look at his eyes, they are just pitch black. That along with the wrinkled eyes and wrinkly face… We definitely have an alien on our hands. Back to the DNA test lab again!

I kind of like these. What seems to be said in my life shows just how ridiculous it is. Man I'm blessed.

Peace,

+Tom

Thursday, April 12, 2007

FCA at Park View

I just got back from an awesome night. I was honored to be asked to come to Park View and speak at their Fellowship of Christian Athletes group. These people are just amazing. Lauren, one of their sponsors is just great. All of the teens who showed up were outgoing and really ready to have fun.

I'll step back for a second. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is a bunch of people who are semi-interested in sports and just get together to huddle, talk, pray and just bond together. Every month they have a big "game" event. They invite people from all around, both Christian and not, to play a game and introduce them to FCA. I really hope they bring in some more people, though the core group seemed pretty amazing on their own.

Apparently they were discussing this meeting and asked me to come speak. I haven't mentioned it before mainly because this is the first time I've talk to people outside of church and didn't want to sound like I was the only person who could talk. Somehow they came down to me though, and I was really honored to put together a talk on friendship.

While I enjoyed the talk, and really pray I connected to at least one or two people, the whole thing was rightly centered on playing a variant to kick ball, and everyone was out to really just have fun. I really hope that some of these guys came away feeling closer to the people there than when they came.

Anyway, I figured for those interested, I'd post what was essentially my talk. I tried something new, memorizing the talk and key points and working through it. While my opening joke bombed (note to self, don't plan opening jokes, I'm enough of one without adding to it), I think the rest was decent. But the way I spoke it definitely changed to meet the audience. It was so fun, I almost died playing games. I'd be honored to, again, to see them again.

If you are in high school, and Sterling, check out the Park View FCA. They have some incredibly welcoming members and great leadership.


Let me tell you something about my experience with sports. I know it'll be hard to believe but I've played golf with Tiger Woods and professional football with the Redskins. Ok, it was on my Wii, but isn't that the same thing?

Seriously, the only thing I know anything about is football. I've gotten the chance to go to a bunch of Redskins games and I've learned a bit from that. I even shocked my wife when I mentioned that the next play would be a pass since they were all lining up in shotgun formation. She was stunned into silence since she didn't think I ever paid that close attention. Yeah, my wife is the football fan and I'm the woman in our marriage (smile).

Heck, it only makes sense. When I was in middle school I was pretty reclusive. I had one friend really, and he didn't go to my school, which meant that I was pretty much on my own. It's not like the kids were mean or anything, but we all tended to have our own lives, and I wasn't a part of theirs. There was even a rumor that I was gay. It lasted all through middle school. That's pretty much popularity suicide. Thank goodness I went to a high school where no one from my middle school ended up going.

What does that have to do with anything? Not much really.

Except for what happened during high school.

During high school one girl came up to me in my first semester during class and became my friend. There was absolutely nothing romantic. Oh, and the whole idea that guys and girls can never be friends really isn't true, they can easily be friends without romance, but anyway.

She was a sophomore and knew, pretty much, everyone. That's not all that hard when you got to a high school of 350 people. Anyway, I met a couple of her friends. While I knew them, what Mariama gave me was much more important than simply meeting some other friends. She showed me that it was possible for a stranger to care about me, to be willing to approach me and make me feel welcome. She taught me how to care about another person even though I know nothing about them. She gave me confidence that I really am interesting and worth something to strangers.

It's still hard for me to come into a new place, knowing no one, and talk to them. But at least I'm willing to do it now. Before you'd never catch me talking to a stranger. Seriously, that makes it downright impossible to meet girls.

So, why do I believe in Christ?

It's because my life has been changed because of my relationship with Him. I feel more comfortable and secure knowing that He is there helping out.

While I was growing up, even when I said I believed in God, I also believed in luck and chance. I know that if I didn't look out for myself no one else would. I saw how we all have connections between each other and the world around us. I've even wondered if there is a God and whether Christ really was the savior.

What if believing in God is more about how we treat each-other than it is about there actually being God?

The way I know God is here is that He has helped lead my life for as long as I can remember. Through the people I've met, like Miriama, through the ways my life has been blessed, and even through the connection I feel to Him during church. It feels right that He's there and is taking part in my life.

I also know that I just need to believe in something and that God makes the most sense.

What's so hard about that though is that it's ALL based on belief. I can't prove to anyone that god exists, not even myself.

If I'm not sure about myself, the things I do and the decisions I make, how can I be sure that I'm right about my belief in God? Yeah… I've been there.

God brings people into our lives who help build up our self-confidence. One of the greatest things that can happen in your life is to recognize that you're an amazing person. Once you recognize that you are amazing just the way you are, it doesn't matter what other people say or do to you.

How many of you know someone who is lonely, sad or hurting? If there's something I know, it's that even the people who seem completely sure of themselves, are the most beautiful or are the most popular hurt just as much as I do. All of us are insecure about something.

What's great though is when we get to go up to that someone and talk them up. We are able to let them know, specifically, how they are special and unique. One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is the promise that no matter what anyone says, they are exactly the person they were made be, even as a total screw-up. Once we accept how amazing we are, the people around us begin to see it too. I changed from a complete recluse into someone who's proud to have an obnoxious laugh that people can hear from one side of the building to the other.

After I made that leap it was much easier to be confident that my beliefs are right. I was finally able to bring God into my life.

The beauty of Jesus is that you have a friend. He's a friend who unconditionally cares about you, no matter what you do. It's about a friend who will hold your hand and stand behind you and even hold you up high when everyone around you is making you feel like crap. My entire life transformed from the inside out, when I was able to accept Christ's friendship.

So, all of this talking leads me to one question.

Are you an unconditional friend? Are you ready to let someone be that sort of friend to you?

Peace,

+Tom

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Parenting is Exhausting

I tell you, this parenting stuff is exhausting. I completely understand why they give even fathers 10 some time off. I mean, just today:

  • I was up in the middle of the night once to change Colin's diaper. Thankfully I could sleep in for about 40 minutes to make up for being up 5 minutes changing his diaper.
  • I ended up playing Zelda for about 4 or 5 hours. I think my eyes are going to fall out of my head.

Sheesh, how do parents handle this? Exhausting I say.

Peace,

+Tom

Monday, April 9, 2007

Life Happens in the Margins

Here's something I've been thinking about a LOT over the past three or four months. I think that life, real life, happens in the margins (though I prefer calling them the fringes). Then I read about The Last to Believe in Easter, again by Willimon. He said:

Here is a God who tends to work the margins rather than the center, who does not limit divine revelation to the "in crowd."

I think this is going to become increasingly evident to the world.

In this quote Willimon is referring to women in ministry, but I think the Margin is about more than just individuals. It applies to the way we live.

When I spend my days following the common path, going along with the norm, the expected happens. Days move on, pretty much the same. Life is safe, you rarely get hurt and you feel comfortable. The problem is that living this way never allows you to grow.

There's a family in our church who recently began spending every Easter morning by going to the sunrise service on the Mall in D.C., then handing out bag lunches to homeless people they met on the street. I've gone and handed out meals myself a couple of times, and I can tell you there is almost nothing more memorable and moving.

One of the absolute hardest things is the first time you'll ever approach a homeless person and offer them a meal. First, you're going up to a stranger. Second, that stranger is living either on the street or in a shelter. Third, that person could be crazy (c'mon, I know you've thought homeless people are crazy or weird, otherwise they wouldn't be homeless, right?) Fourth, what if you get rejected, or worse, attacked?

There really are a bunch of reasons not to take the chance and approach someone on the street ever. Growing up in the city there was an unspoken rule that you didn't make eye contact with people and even if something incredibly unique or interesting happened you looked away and acted like nothing happened.

As a side example, I once saw a dead body on the sidewalk while driving somewhere. I glanced at it, and then continued on. I certainly wasn't the only one; many others were even walking down that street averting their eyes.

The point is that direct contact with a stranger wasn't normal.

Once you break through your own barriers though, meeting these people will change your life. Stepping completely out of your comfort zone and approaching someone to offer food immediately connects you with the person. Some simply accept the meal while others are excited to tell you their stories. How they ended up where they are. It's amazing how many of these people led completely normal lives until they got laid off or something else happened beyond their control and they quickly ended up on the street.

Every time we've handed out meals, most of the people in the group come back different. They'd grown in all kinds of ways. Almost always they came back more outgoing and willing to approach a stranger. They also came back more understanding of others and with a new realization that every person you meet at any level of society is still a person.

Going beyond and outside our comfort zone is where life happens. How will you spend more time in the margins?

Peace,

+Tom

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Easter in One Word

I can only think of one word to describe our Easter service at St. Matthew's today…

RIDICULOUS

I don't mean just a little out there, or even unbelievable. It was crazy ridiculous. Here are a few reasons:

  • The energy of the music was crazy
  • Fireworks during the sermon
  • BUT (ridiculous, especially since the fireworks acted unexpectedly)
  • The quality of the music was at about the same level of a concert
  • 200 people clapping after every song
  • Prayers of salvation and accepting Jesus Christ as our savior (ridiculous for us Episcopalians)
  • Hundreds of Easter eggs hidden around the grounds
  • Did I mention the music?

Seriously, everything came together in what has to be the best church service I've ever attended.

Simply… Ridiculous.

I wish you could have shared it. For those of you who took part, you were absolutely amazing.

HAPPY EASTER! The Lord Is Risen, Alleluia!

+Tom

Being Effective

I've been reading more from William H. Willmon and have found two posts to be particularly moving today. The first is a relation of growth to the age of a church.

Kirk Hadaway suggests that as young churches mature, they tend to "bottom out" and stop growing after about two decades of growth. In other words, even new congregations have a "window of opportunity" for significant growth that may last for 10 or 15 years. Why do new churches tend to grow more rapidly than older churches? It could be, Hadaway notes, that new churches are more flexible and open to change; growth-producing ideas can be put more quickly into practice; innovative leaders are allowed to lead; rapid adjustments can still be made to changing circumstances; and friendship networks have not yet solidified, allowing for easy acceptance of new members.

Keeping this in mind, look at this other post about Maintenance or Mission. Some of the particular items that struck me were:

1. In measuring the effectiveness, the maintenance congregation asks, "How many pastoral visits are being made? The mission congregation asks, "How many disciples are being made?"

Or

5. The pastor in the maintenance congregation says to the newcomer, "I'd like to introduce you to some of our members." In the mission congregation the members say, "We'd like to introduce you to our pastor."

Or one of the ones I personally struggle with a lot

6. When confronted with a legitimate pastoral concern, the pastor in the maintenance congregation asks, "How can I meet this need?" The pastor in the mission congregation asks, "How can this need be met?"

There's a lot more information in both of these posts. But I think I've made the point. For new churches it's understood that they have a focus on mission. As we age we begin to forget that the primary purpose for each one of us is to bring hurting, lost souls into communion with Christ. All else is consequential. We are here to Love one another as He has loved us. Where does the word "I" come into that?

I look around St. Matthew's and I think we are really beginning to gain back a mission focus. We still have a long way to go and, sadly, I can really see some of the Maintenance opinions in our church. That being said, I know there is hope and God's vision leading the way. Man am I glad to be along for the ride!

Peace,

+Tom

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Best Website Ever

I wish I could say the best Website ever was my design. But it's not. Not yet anyway, though Erin is redesigning the church Website sometime, then it'll get awards from all over the globe!

Anyway, I came across Miranda July's Web site, and I have to say, this thing is awesome. She has one thing to promote, and keeps you on a linear path that gives you a personal relationship with her.

I think I WILL buy a yellow and a pink to color-co-ordinate!

It's freakishly long, and somewhat slow loading. At the same time, it's so worth sticking through. And definitely go to the end, past the black page. Her main Web site is nice and clean too.

Peace,

+Tom

God’s Sense of Humor

If you ever wondered whether God had a sense of humor, this past winter makes it clear that he must. I mean, even this past week, we left the hospital one day to find 85 degree weather. Today it's snowing. Seriously, God must know how to mess with someone's mind.

Peace,

+Tom

Friday, April 6, 2007

Great Story

I was finally catching up on reading blogs (can you believe it, 170 posts in 4 days). I came across this story from William H. Willmon.

A story: A man died. He had not lived the most worthy of lives, to tell the truth. In fact, he was somewhat of a scoundrel. He therefore found himself in Hell, after his departure from this life.



His friends, concerned about his sad, though well-deserved fate, went down to Hell, and moved by the man's misery, rattled those iron gates, calling out to whomever might be listening, "Let him out! Let him out!"



Alas, their entreaties accomplished nothing. The great iron doors remained locked shut.



Distinguished dignitaries were summoned, powerful people, academics, intellectuals, prominent personalities. All of them stood at the gates and put forth various reasons why the man should be let out of his place of lonely torment. Some said that due process had not been followed in the man's eternal sentence. Others appealed to Satan's sense of fairplay and compassion.



The great iron gates refused to move.



In desperation, the man's pastor was summoned. The pastor came down to the gates of hell, fully vested as if he were to lead a Sunday service."Let him out! He was not such a bad chap after all. Once he contributed to the church building fund and twice he served meals at a soup kitchen for the homeless. Let him out!"



Still, the gates of Hell stood fast.



Then, after all the friends and well wishers finally departed in dejection, the man's aged mother appeared at the gates of Hell. She stood there, stooped and weak, only able to whisper softly, in maternal love, "Let me in.



And immediately the great gates of Hell swung open and the condemned man was free.



Something akin to that great miracle happened for us on a starry night at Bethlehem

By the way, if you're looking for a good blog with some great insight on what it means to be a Christian, this one's great.

Peace,

+Tom

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Heard in the Leary Family Today

Today we brought Colin home. He's doing great! He's lost a bit of weight and was at 5 lbs. 10 oz. (losing about 8 ounces). They aren't too worried, but we'll be going to the pediatrician a day early. He's eating awesomely now, and I have to say I expect breastfeeding to rock (since I can't do it overnight, I get to sleep…

Anyway, here are some things heard around the house today.

Daddy: Baby Colin is going to come home with us today. He's going to be with us forever.



Rachel: Forever?... … … Oh.

Or, as Rachel was in her rocking chair:

Grandma Candy: Has Rachel ever rocked so hard she's fallen backward?



Erin: Nope.



BANG

Rachel goes falling backward in the chair. Don't worry though, she hopped right back up and rocked so hard she almost did it again.

Then there was:

Daddy: This morning Winnie went into Rachel's room and woke her up at 6:30.



Mom: Ugh.



Daddy: I can't wait until Rachel can turn the knob and leave the room, so we can close it at night and not have this problem.



… 7 hours later …



Erin: Rachel, stop screaming, go have a time out in your room!



Lots of screaming ensues until to door is closed tight.



Erin: Hey, how did you get out of your room? Did you open that door yourself?



Rachel: Nods

All around, be careful what you wish for.

Then my favorite (though it began yesterday instead of today).

Mommy: You've held Colin for a while; can Grandpa Ed have a turn?



Rachel: Ok.



Grandpa Ed: Thank you.



10 seconds (at most) later



Rachel: Ok, my turn again.

I know there were more I missed. But these were certainly the most fun. I have the best daughter EVER!

Peace,

+Tom

P.S. The new blog at www.tlbignerd.com has pictured linked in it. I'm switching the RSS Feed link to the new blog today.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The New Blog

In case you're wondering, I'm moving the blog. For the time being I'm posting to both blogs, since Word makes this so simple. Blogger supports posting images where Wordpress strips something out and doesn't allow me to post images from Word nor let me add my own tracking or RSS feeds. While Wordpress has never been down, all the other limitations irk me enough, since Blogger has a far stronger user following and the new version hasn't been down yet. So, I'm switching back, but doing it intelligently…. I've finally gotten a domain name ( a few really).

Check it out at http://www.tlbignerd.com/.

Peace,

+Tom

Good Days

Today has been one of those incredibly great days you remember for a very long time. This was one of those days where you get to see God working in the details. To be fair, yesterday God was sure working the details. Colin coming into the world was a miracle I'll never forget. Today was an awesome follow-on to that.

Without going into too many details, a friend of my brothers' failed to pay rent, took $4,000 (this goes back to my surprise that you can cancel a certified check months later), neglected to pay back a loan and (possibly) stole from him. Being in the hole a bit we had no idea where help was going to come from. So…

Jim won his court case. A friend of his convinced him to sue Aaron for the money they never paid him in rent and the loan they never paid back. He went onto the show Judge Joe Brown, and apparently Aaron and his girlfriend made complete asses of themselves (thankfully I can finally say asses without Rachel overhearing me). Apparently the judge was laughing derisively at Aaron and his girlfriend, something I knew would make James feel better. They also tried to counter sue him for defamation of character and checks they said Jim received. The judge threw all of that out and they can never again sue James, a HUGE relief all around. Talk about some safe closure to make sure Aaron doesn't try to retaliate in some way.

In any case, I'm reading in Titus about anger and being quarrelsome and how we should turn the other cheek. At the same time I can't tell you how great it is to see justice finally done. Jim finally has some money to pay back the $4,000 and, more important than anything else, he has some happiness and hope. He has hope that he'll get the bill paid off, and happiness that after everything he did for Aaron someone recognized his sacrifices.

I can't wait to TiVo that in a few months.

Above avoiding quarrelsome people though, at the beginning of Titus it mentions, "Remind the people to respect the government and be law-abiding, always ready to lend a helping hand." Jim did lend a helping hand, and it got slapped. He obeyed the law and followed with the procedures, even when most of his body was turned completely to anger and he was ready to retaliate physically.

I know suing wasn't the action Jesus would have taken. But for someone who seems to have nothing but bad luck lately, this is the helping hand Jesus and God have lent him… And I'm so grateful for that. Hope is one of the best gifts we really can give to someone, close on the heels to the ultimate gift of His Love.

On top of it all, Colin began eating today! He wasn't eating at all after the first feeding. I was pretty nervous there, since it was almost a repeat of when we had Rachel (who never did very well breast feeding). Thankfully everything is going well now. Early this afternoon he began eating, and now he's doing much better than Rachel ever did. It was a HUGE weight off of both Erin and my minds.

It's been an awesome day all around.

Peace,

+Tom

Colin Pictures

I promised pictures of Colin, and they're up on Flickr. I hear I have more coming from family, but I can't seem to get at them yet. So here are a couple.

Don't ask why they aren't included in this post, the short answer is that Wordpress is far, far, far too limiting unless you host it yourself and I'll be switching blog providers AGAIN soon.

Peace,

+Tom

Monday, April 2, 2007

Colin’s Here

For real this time!

I have called (almost) everyone on my calling tree. Next on my list was Jess, but then my phone died (sorry Jess, but it keeps with the tradition of learning about the baby from the blog). To make it up to you, we'll give you final naming rights… Well, not really.

So, here are all the details!

  • Born around 4:10 (none of us are completely sure of the exact time.
  • 6 pounds 1 ounce (btw, I won a bet on this, the OBGYN guessed 6 ½ lbs, Erin guessed 6lbs. 11oz. I guessed 6lbs. 6oz. Gutsy I know, guessing a size smaller than the birth mother's guess).
  • 19 inches (no bets in this case, I guess everyone was afraid I'd put them to shame again).

Beyond that, we are all very, very well. Erin was laughing and chatting afterward. Colin is eating semi-well (better than Rachel, but that's not saying much). Rachel came and couldn't get enough of holding Colin. She would "share" and let a family member who hadn't held her yet get Colin. Then, 10 seconds (at most) later would say "ok, my turn!" It was awesome.

Truly, it was a great day. Took longer than expected, but the nurses were great, doctor was great, family was great and Erin was just amazing.

In case you want to send gifts, send chocolate to the nurses' station at Loudoun hospital. They hooked us up with a corner suite after I sheepishly asked for the best room in the place, they changed our rooms. Awesome staff at the Birthing Inn at Loudoun Hospital.

I'm uploading the 115 pictures (I kid you not) of the day. I'll link to them in the morning once all are up and filed accordingly.

Now I'm back to the hospital for a bit to help with feeding.

Peace… And thanks for all your prayers,

+Tom

Colin @ 6:41 a.m.

Today's the day! We are about to head in and induce Colin. I have but one job left, to gather thing together so Erin and the rest of us have stuff to do during labor.

Funniest thing that's already happened today?

Erin mentioned we'll have a lot of family, so we should bring the camping chairs to make sure there are enough seats. I can't even imagine the looks we'll get walking in with camping chairs, but simply the suggestion shows how relaxed Erin is about all this.

Man did I marry good.

Peace,

+Tom