Wednesday, September 9, 2009

There is a family in our church that is going through it. Their son is 6 (like mine) and they have discovered an "inoperable" brain tumor. They are out of state in treatment right now, trying to do everything they can for their son.
This hits really close to home because my boys know Jackson really well. When they stay for a second service on Sundays, they go to a place called The Camp, and they have been talking and trading Bakugan now for a year with Jackson. So, the news of his struggle has hit them hard. We've been following their family blog and praying for them every night and many times throughout the day.
The other night, on their blog, his mom wrote from a place of real despair. She was so honest about her doubt and questions; it was a very real look into what she was experiencing. It made me remember Paul's experience. A little different than Jackson's mom's, but the truth is the same:
1 Cor 12:7 "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
The point in this passage that I have missed many times before, is not just the platitude that "God will be with you and be your strength." It goes beyond that. Paul says that he intentionally admits and makes himself weak, so that he might receive the power of Christ. Does this mean that we don't operate fully in the power of God until we recognize that we are "65 lb. 7th grader" total weaklings?
Truly, it's a paradox. When I am weak, then I am strong. Because when I freely admit my ineptitude, then, and only then, can the power of God freely exist in my life. And by the way, His purpose is not to make me look strong, but to reveal His strength through me, thereby bringing glory to Himself.
I was listening to John Piper last night on the way home from work, and he summed it up: "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."

Saturday, August 1, 2009

1,051 Friends

I have 1,051 friends.  No, I didn't sit down and write down all the people I've hung out with over the years.  It's just my tally on Facebook.  (In fact, a certain friend of mine, who will remain anonymous, but whose name rhymes with Yenni Yutchins called me out the other day and accused me of being some sort of Facebook Creeper Stalker guy who pads his "friends list" just to look like a big shot.)  Thus, the blog entry.

1,051.  Sounds like a lot, but it's not that hard to get there when you've lived in 4 different states and served in 5 different churches over the years.  You tend to accumulate a lot of "friends," especially when everyone and their grandmother is on Facebook these days (literally).  It may seem like I might feel like I have all of the friends I could ever have, that my relationship tank continues to stay at the overflow mark.  With all those friends, how could it not?

But here's the deal.  There is an innate need in all of us for relationship and community.  And this need can not be met through social networking.  As much as I enjoy connecting with current and former students and old friends, nothing compares to sitting down face to face over a cup of coffee or a great sandwich and sharing life together.

Angie and I are on the tail end of the '09 Parkhurst Family Truckster Vacation Tour of Mid-America.  We've spent two weeks reconnecting with so many old friends and our awesome Oklahoma family.  It's reminded me of how blessed we are to have the relationships that we do in Ok, Tx, and La, and am encouraged to continue doing everything we can to invest our lives into the Georgia friendships we've been given.  

(Guess I better get back to trolling the deep waters of Facebook, so I can trick some more people into being my friend, Zenni Zutchins.) 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

He's a Character

Every morning at 6:55AM, the bus comes. To pick up my 9 and 6-yr olds. Yeah - at 6:55. Anyway, every morning, we join up and pray before the boys hit the bus, and this year I have found myself praying for the boys to be safe, be good, not cause trouble, etc. But I've also been praying that God would make them (and us) more like Jesus every day. Just been on my mind alot and has come out in my prayers for them.
Cameron just finished 4th grade. That's enough right there to make you stop and take a deep breath. I am one year away from having a middle schooler in my family. That means I have one final year to pretend like I'm a "Parenting Teens" expert!
Angie and I went to his end-of-year awards ceremony for his class. His teacher gave out a lot of awards - Presidential Fitness (remember those? Never got one.), academic awards, etc. Cameron got a couple of those - he's a pretty bright kid. I was proud of him!
Then Mrs. Bentley came to the point where she was going to present the "most important" awards to one girl and one boy who showed exemplary character during the year. These awards were nominated and voted upon by the class. The class had talked at length about what good character is, and then had a chance to nominate one of their own for that award. She read some excerpts from some of the nomination forms, and they mentioned that the boy was "generous and kind", "never got angry", "always did his work", "treated people right", etc. Then she called Cameron's name.
Talk about being proud and humbled all at the same time. It's been a tough year for him - not feeling like he's fit in all the time, trying to find friends, etc. So this was a big deal - a confirmation that he is well-liked and well-respected.
But it was more than that. As I sat there, I realized that God had been answering my prayer all along. He WAS making him more like Jesus - generous, kind, slow to anger, diligent, caring, etc. Pretty cool that his classmates picked up on that and gave him the award.
The kid's obviously not perfect, but he's a great kid with a great mind and a huge heart for God. He mentioned to me later that out of all the awards he'd received, the character one was the one he was most proud of. "Why?" I asked. To which he replied, "Because it's laminated."
Can't win 'em all.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Makes sense to him.

(That's a very old pic - but one of my faves.)

Continuing my Carson-says-the-darndest-things stream (below)...Last week, when Carson was deciding what he wanted to do for his birthday, he said, "Dad, I'm not sure what I want to do for my birthday. Go to Bounce U, or go to Oklahoma."

I have no insight gained from this one - it was just funny how he sees those things as equal.

Look up!

Avery has started to understand what it means to "look up." When we wash her hair, we take a cup and dump water on her head - and up until now, we have done our best to simply cover her face with our hands, so the water runs mostly around her face, instead of down it. But, she wiggles and inevitably ends up with a face-full of H2O. She gasps and chokes and looks at you like, "what was that?"
Well, I decided to try to teach her to look up, so the water will run down her back. This is not as easy as it sounds. Teaching a two yr old who's stubborn and distracted by toys and bubbles a concept like UP is tough. She'll look at the ceiling when I ask her to, but then in mid-pour, she'll look down. Or vice-versa, and that's when the face-full thing with the gasping happens again. She just won't look up and STAY looking up - even in spite of the consequences.
I think you can probably see where I'm going here. We get so stubborn and distracted with all of the piddly, self-serving stuff that takes our focus, that we refuse to just look up and see God ready to make us clean and keep us from getting a face-full. If God would just hold our complete attention all the time, we'd be less stressed and way more fulfilled.
Every time I wash her now, I'll be reminded of making a conscious effort to "look up" in my own life.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Obey. Now.

You've got to go watch this video:
(sorry, I can't figure out how to embed it)

One of the coolest things happened yesterday that I have ever experienced in Student Ministry. Nick (our MS Pastor) and I were set to baptize 4 guys between services downstairs in "the coffin," as it's affectionately known (It's a portable baptistery, but watch the video and see hwat I mean). This was going to be very cool - it's always a raucous event, with people crammed in the room screaming their heads off. We make it a big party for these people that are obeying God by taking the next step with Him in baptism.
Well, we get through two of the guys and have to pause and wait for the other guys' parents to get there, and I ask (as I always do), "Anyone else?" I usually get a few laughs, but no one takes me seriously. Until today, when one of our Sophomore girls stepped forward and says, "I think God is asking me to obey. Now." She had to be on stage, leading worship in 10 minutes, and she had all of her normal clothes on with nothing to change into, but she felt God's Spirit prompting her to oeby, no matter what. So she jumps in and the crowd went nuts! She told me later that what happened was huge for her, because she needed to be reminded that she was "precious and honored in [His] sight" (Is. 43:4) even if she looked silly on the outside. Deep stuff from a 10th grader.
It could have stopped there, and that would have been amazing. But what followed was phenomenal (yes, there is a big difference between "amazing" and "phenomenal" - I looked it up). After her example, seven more kids jumped in that pool fully clothed! How cool is that? Nick and I were so overwhelmed by these students intense desire to obey God on the spot.
This whole experience reminded me that when God speaks, we just have to listen and obey. Period. No questions, no stalling, just obey. Now.
Watch the video, if you haven't yet. Go God.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Head of the House

Our mornings always start way too early. Alarm goes off at 6:25 AM (and my alarm only gets one radio station, an OLD country station that always has some obnoxious twangy old singer yowling about heartbreak), and our feet hit the floor in a mad dash to get our Kindergartener and 4th grader out the door to catch the bus at 6:55 AM! I will never understand why Georgia makes the Elem kids start at 8:00, and the older kids at 9. Makes no sense, but, oh well!
The most difficult part of the morning is keeping our aforementioned "squirrely" middle child from waking his sister up (She'll sleep til after 8:00 if she isn't rudely awakened by loud-talking, ball-bouncing, wall-crashing-into, stomp-running, door slamming, or other general noise-making squirrely-ness. And the thing is, he's trying to be quiet! He just can't seem to keep the ants out of his proverbial pants.).
Angie and I, as often as we can, read a devotional together after the tornado leaves the house. This morning, we got into a discussion about what it means to be the "Head of the Household." Many guys just think that it means imposing your will on all who dwell inside your mini-kingdom. That all your minions must respond to your every beck and call. That high-falootin' idea may make you feel a little powerful, but it doesn't get you very far, especially when it's "business time" (Search on YouTube).
As with all leadership psitions, we guys have to follow the model of Christ and his leadership. He, of all people, had the right to dispel commands to all under his authority, but instead, he chose to serve. Always. As head of my house, then, I should be the greatest servant. It's ok to change diapers, help with homework, wash some dishes, clean up constantly after the tornado, and most importantly, serve my wife mostly by listening and giving her some adult convo at the beginning and end of each day. That's what she needs, so that's what I need to do.
I guess the early alarm isn't all bad after all. Maybe I should remember to welcome the sound of that annoying radio station as a call to rise and serve my family. It may help my perspective for the rest of the day.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sprite and Toes

Carson, my squirrely middle child, who still runs every where he goes (he's almost 6), is the kid that says anything that comes to his mind. To him, everything makes sense.
Today, I gave the boys some Sprite with their dinner. This never happens (not dinner, the Sprite), as we RARELY give our kids sugar (in that form at least). Whenever the boys get anything carbonated, they respond as if they have just found out that there will be a movie that combines Transformers, Ninja Turtles, Bakugan, and ice cream. (And it will be rated G, so they can actually see it.)
Anyway, Carson polishes off his Sprite, and says, "Wow! When I was finishing my Sprite, my little toe started hurting. But then, I stopped drinking, and it went away!"
Ang and I just started at him blankly for a second, my mind racing, trying feverishly to somehow connect those oh-so-distant dots. But, oh, not so. There were no connections (for my primitive mind, anway) to be made. So I just said, "Alright!"
Here's the point. I love the way Carson connects things, even when there seems to be no rational connection, and we could all learn something from him. So many times, we pray and ask God for something, He answers, and we never connect the answer back to the prayer. If we did make the connections, wouldn't we pray more often, and more fervently? If we just took the time to stop and realize all that God answers, even down to things as simple as protection and wisdom, our relationship with God would be different. We'd depend on Him more, we'd look to Him more, and we show that by our actions.
So, the next time Carson says something so completely off the wall, I'm going to remember what he taught me today. But I'll still probably just say, "Alright!"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Super Speller

My oldest son, Cameron, just made it to the all-school spelling bee at his school. He's in 4th grade, and so he would be competing against 4th and 5th graders in front of a full cafeteria of every 4th and 5th grader at his school, plus teachers and a ton of parents. Pretty nerve-wracking for an otherwise pretty shy kid.
The night before, during our prayer time, he said, "Dad, I don't think I want to do this. And I definitely don't want to win, because then everyone will be looking at me." I feel like God gave me an opportunity to talk to Him about complete dependence on God. I almost talked to him about visualizing everyone in their underwear, but thought that was a little creepy for a 4th grader. I said, "Buddy, just take some deep breaths, and just before your name is called, pray and ask Jesus to give you the strength to get up there and do your best. It's just you and the word-giver up there. Ignore everyone else."
Ang and I went up to the school the next day to watch him, and I just have to say, whomever asked the word-reader lady to be the word-reader lady should be taken out back to the woodshed. Her thick Georgia-sticks accent totally made several kids miss. Words like ACORN and WILLING were pronounced AKERN and WILLIN. Cameron got up on his turn and nailed "nightmare" or NAHTMAYER, as word-reader lady said. He made it until there were only about 10 kids left and misspelled THORNY, THORNEY. Tricky little buggar of a word...
Anyway, I'm really proud of him. He does so much really good. He's super smart and creative and kind and tender-hearted, and most people say he's just like his dad. :) He's a great kid, and I'm proud to be his dad.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


This afternoon, Angie was out with a friend, so I was playing Dad.  I was being responsible, sitting on the couch with the boys watching Clone Wars with them.  Engaged in their lives.  Not really.  I was actually just in the room looking at old Young Continentals pictures on Facebook.  
Avery (almost 2) walks in the room saying "Peese, Peese" and pointing out of the room.  So, I pull myself away from the very important surfing I was doing, and follow her to the coat closet.  She continues to "Peese" me until I lift her up to see what she's talking about.  She's looking for her coat.  To go outside.  It's like 39 degrees.  And she has a leopard print top and orange pants on (comfy nap pants).  So we add her brown jacket to the ensemble and head outside.
She heads straight for their playground, and, more specifically, the slide.  She first tries to climb UP the slide, which doesn't work.  She's not big/coordinated enough to climb the steps to the slide platform, so I lift her up to the top of the slide.  She's a daredevil, and promptly shoots down the slide, laughing hysterically.  As you can guess, she pops right up and wants another turn.  I comply. 359 more times, at least.  It's not getting old for her, but getting very cold for her (but not for me, of course.  I'm tough.).
I finally give her the "one more time" shpeal, and put her on the slide. She comes down, and apparently forgot that we were going inside.  So I grab her up and head toward the house, with her going ballistic all over me.  So I let her down, thinking she'd forget about the slide and play on the porch while I drummed up some cereal for dinner.  She didn't forget about it, and instead, she stared at me through the glass door.  Every time I took a step toward her, she'd hightail it toward the slide.  I finally got her inside by enticing her with the wafting smell of Honeycomb. 
This whole ordeal got me thinking.  Do we treat God like this?  We love it when He is pouring blessings on us, and we keep saying "More!  More!"  But then, when He allows something in our lives that we don't especially like, we throw a fit.  Then, we just "stare" at Him, waiting for Him to "relent" and bless us again, when really, He just wants us to follow Him.  Not where we want Him to take us, or where will be most fun for us, but wherever.
The kids are successfully in bed, albeit crying because they were still hungry (I don't know why).  I can't wait for the next slide time, and I hope she's still little enough for me to have to lift her up there.