Blog Review

Thank you Dear Reader for participating in this little community! In a few weeks, we’ll hit post number 100 here at Abraham Chronicles and I have something special for you. I promise it’ll be something you’ll write home about. Be sure to stick around, okay?

In the meantime, I would like to know a little bit about you, what you like, and how this blog can improve…

1. How did you find this blog?
2. How do you read this blog (RSS reader, mobile device, email, etc.)?
3. What are your favorite types of posts (faith, humor, parenthood, etc.)?
4. What is one “under the radar” blog that we need to check out (not yours!)?
5. If you blog, what serves as inspiration behind your writings?

As always, thank you for being consistent, honest, and vulnerable.

You guys rock!

The Lowest of Lows

Yesterday, I resorted to the lowest of lows. Well, pretty low. Let me explain.

I wasn’t paying attention and I got a speeding ticket on Sunday afternoon. 50 in a 35 zone. Busted. No excuse.

It was just me an Harper in the car. She was hungry and I was trying to meet up with Jen down the road so we could stop and feed her.

The officer walked to my window, asked for my cards, and strolled back to his vehicle. Meanwhile, Harper was crying hysterically in the backseat. I was devestated. Not only did I “get caught”, but my baby was starving and she had to wait.

Photo credit: Kipp Baker (Creative Commons)

A minute later, Harper calmed down and appeared to fall back asleep.

At that moment however, I peered in my rearview mirror to see the officer getting out of his car.

What did I do?

I reached back behind my seat and gently nudged Harper so that she started crying again.

I was in desperation mode. At the minumum, I wanted the officer to at least feel bad for giving me a ticket because of my bawling infant in the backseat–not to mention the screaming might provide an extra sympathy point or two.

No luck.

Mr. Po-Po gave me the spiel and wrote me up.

I resorted to the lowest of lows. I made my baby cry in order to make a police officer feel bad. Not my finest moment, for sure.

Looking back, in that moment I elevated myself over something much more important: the well being of my daughter. Yes, it’s a funny example, but such an important one. Even in the simple and small, God calls us to value others above ourselves. He wants a humble heart that is eager to prefer others.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

This rather embarrassing example reminded me to prefer and serve other people… and pay more attention to road.

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Confession time: tell us about a traffic violation you’ve received?
What is one thing you can do today to prefer someone else?

The One You Need

This new Shane & Shane song has been making it’s rounds over the last week. Ever since seeing it here, I’ve had it on repeat.

As a parent, more than anything else I want to point my children to Christ and His unfailing love. The truth of the matter is that I can try and try, but there can/may be a time when I won’t be there for them. But, He always will.

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What are your plans for the weekend?

The Minivan vs. The Mustang

For those of you who don’t know, we are official now. We are proud owners of a silver Honda Odyssey. Straight stylin’, baby.

To help break the vehicle in the other week, my wife and I decided to take a leisurely cruise down the road.

We pulled up to a stop light. With one hand at ’12’ and the other stretched across the headrest of my wife’s seat, I turn to my left and notice a bright lime colored Ford Mustang pull up next to us.

Photo credit: Kim Trout (Creative Commons)

I chuckled to myself, thinking about how preposterous it was to drive a lime-colored Mustang, and turned to my wife…

“Who in their mind would want to drive a car like that?! He must think he’s too cool for school.”

I revved my van’s engine a little and prepped myself for a little suburban drag racing (okay, maybe not–but I thought about it) in order to show him who was truly the king of the road.

But then something hit me. I turned to my wife and whispered, “Oh wait…. he is probably thinking the same about me: Who on earth would want to drive a minivan!?”

My big head was deflated right then and there. We laugh about the ‘altercation’ now, but in reality my ego and pride took a little hit that afternoon. In a lighthearted way, I judged this dude.

Believe me, I now believe that van owners are an elite posse: a company of selected individuals to usher in the next generation of productive citizens. But, in that moment, I thought I was bigger, more important, and way cooler than this guy could ever be. Thank you, Lord for the small gut check. Humility received.

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When was the last time God ‘deflated your big head’?
If you could drive any vehicle in the world, what would you chose and why?

 

Don’t Tape It Up

While driving to Texas last week, I ran over a tire scrap in the middle of the lane somewhere in southern Alabama. It was at 4:00 in the morning and I didn’t want to think about anything like that at the time! So, out of sight/out of mind.

After we got home from the trip, I noticed the splash guard under the front end of the van hanging down. It was after I got home from a late night trip to the grocery store, so I immediately grabbed some duct tape and did what anyone would do: I taped it up.

Photo credit: Marc Tarlock (Creative Commons)

Truthfully, I tend to do that in my personal life as well sometimes. Rather than address the root cause and fully communicate through the issue, I’ll briefly touch it up with some duct tape and assume everything is back to normal. That is, until the tape’s adhesion wears off.

That process, in my own life, is a way of coping. Rather than addressing the deeper issue, I’d rather brush it aside and chalk it up to “not wanting to cause any conflict”.  Ultimately, I’ve realized that when this happens in my own heart, bitterness settles in and true restoration doesn’t take place.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

He told me to “Don’t tape it up yourself”.

Through this simple illustration, He reminded me that my efforts will always be that: my efforts.

Today, I am thankful that I can rely on my God to restore my heart. He, alone, will do that for me.

(Side note: I paid $40 to get it fixed at the dealership this morning. My wife was happy.)

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What do you tend to “tape up” from time to time?

Live in Your Gifts

A few months back, I read a SCL post that smacked me right in the forehead.

It was quite timely because earlier in the week, my wife and I had been talking about a few things that were heavy on her heart.

Because of our prior conversation, and as a result of that post, I felt led to send her a note of encouragement.

Among others things in the email I sent her, I said this:

I encourage you to live in that gift (the gift of kindness towards others and loving others in extraordinary ways). Remember that the only reason that Satan is attacking you in this area is that it is significant. God has designed you to build up, encourage, and love people. Satan wants to take his “sniper” and specifically knock you down in this area.

Three specific points stuck out:

  • Satan will never attack something that is insignificant.
  • Satan is not a shotgun; he is a sniper rifle.
  • Live in your gifts.

All it took was a simple note. A small measure of intentionality. Sitting in her inbox even now (6 months later), words of encouragement and affirmation are extremely important.

We, as believers, have many gifts to build up and edify others. There also is an Enemy out there that would love for nothing more than to discourage, depress, and demoralize those gifts.

What does it mean/look like to live in your gifts? Keep writing even if you don’t know what to say. Keep investing in your children even if you don’t see “immediate results”. Keep reaching out to your friend even he doesn’t reciprocate. All these things matter… even when discouragement seems to temporarily shadow them every once in a while.

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Who can your encourage today?
What gift do you need to start “living in”?

A Warm Meal and Follow Through

Today I have the honor of guest posting over at Ryan Tate’s blog: The Compelling Parade. Ryan husband, father, writer, and engineer who is living a Story-Formed Life (check his blog for more). Him and his wife have two children, with another on the way in October. I encourage you to check out his other posts–he consistently speaks of compelling encounters with our Father.

I am sharing a brief story on his blog today. Here is an excerpt:

A couple years back, my wife and I came across a homeless man near the mall where we live. He was peddling for money to those in front of a store we were about to go into.

As we walked to the storefront, we noticed customers passing him by without not even a second glance.

As we approached where he was standing, we were compelled to speak to him. While we didn’t give him money, we offered to buy him some food. He was thrilled.

So we got back in the car, drove to the nearby Wendy’s and picked up a value meal.

We thought that this simple act would bless him.

What unfolded next was something we didn’t expect.

Continue reading here.

Click on over to Ryan’s site and give him some comment-love!

High/My Infidelity

Today I have the honor of having Mark Thielbar guest post on Abraham Chronicles. I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with him via the interwebs over the last couple months. He is the master of awesome comments (encouraging and challenging at the same time). He is admitted wine/coffee snob (I’m okay with that). Mark blogs at 3-Fold Cord and tweets @3foldcordcom. Be sure to show him some love in the comments!

My first taste of the bitter fruit of infidelity occurred at the tender age of thirteen. At that time I was “dating” a girl named Buffy; and by dating I mean we met at the local roller rink every Friday night to hold hands, couples skate, and share cheesy nachos. On our three-week anniversary, which is a real milestone for 7th graders, Buffy had to leave the rink early because she was going out of town with her parents. Now I was disappointed of course, but I was there with a couple of my boys and we were known for skating hard and closing down roller rinks. We were pretty intense!

On the last couples skate of the night, some random girl, sporting a scrunchy and multiple glow sticks, asked me to skate. My friends were egging me on and I eventually succumbed to the peer pressure as well as her glowing feminine wiles. All I remember was the girl was a lousy skater, because I had to skate backwards, and the last song was “Open Arms” by Journey (good stuff!) As soon as I exited the floor I was confronted by one of Buffy’s mousy little friends that I had only met once before. She informed me I was a “cheater” and then proceeded to rattle off a string of obscenities where she called me everything but a white boy going through puberty! During her tirade I barley noticed the hulk-like girl standing beside her. After her verbal assault ended, but before I could retort, I felt a powerful blunt force trauma to the left side of my face. You know how they say that the punch that does the most damage is the one you don’t see coming…Well, that was it! Apparently that she-hulk (another friend of Buffy’s) sucker punched me so hard that, according to witnesses, my skates literally went over my head as I was on my way to the floor! When I came to, I was lying on my back next to the Foosball ball table- and the front wheels of my skates were still spinning (along with my head!) Yes, I was knocked the “****-out” by a girl.

Over the past year I have engaged in a more serious infidelity: one that involves trying to rely solely on commonsense and my own abilities. I have come to learn that if a Holy Spirit filled believer puts anyone or anything before God, utter confusion and worry rears its ugly head! Folks, I have to admit, I have spent a good portion of the last year worried and confused. I have put commonsense first and I have treated Jesus like a spiritual appendage to it. Oh what a fool I have been! Have you ever noticed what Jesus said would choke the Word? It was not Satan or his minions…it was the “cares of this world.”

Infidelity begins when we do not believe that God can take care of our needs. Infidelity is magnified when we enthrone commonsense and try to use Jesus Christ like a spiritual Swiss Army knife.

My brothers and sisters- if you are currently experiencing worry and confusion in your life, I can guarantee that you are not putting Jesus Christ on the throne where HE belongs. The cure for infidelity is steadfast obedience to the Spirit of God.

So just remember to put Jesus first; keep your skates on the ground; and don’t let the cares of this world sucker punch you!

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Have you ever been guilty of spiritual infidelity?
Did you go roller skating when you were younger?

An All-Nighter, Trust, and an Epic Road Trip Playlist

We are doing the “impossible” tonight. Okay, maybe not impossible, but pretty close.

This evening we’re making the 12+ hour trek to Houston through the night… with three kids.

You read correctly: we’re pulling an all-nighter… in the van.

We’ve been packing and getting ready for the last two nights in preparation for this day. Everything is just about set. The bags are packed, the vehicle is serviced, the RockStars are ready to drink.

We can formulate a plan, make provisions, and prepare for every scenario, but when it’s all said and done, we cannot anticipate everything.

No mix tape for us, only playlists!

What if the kids actually don’t sleep in the car during the wee hours of the night?
What if the van breaks down off the side of the road in backcountry Louisiana?
What if I don’t feel like listening to my RoadTrip playlist of AC/DC, Guns & Roses, and Journey?

We can go on and on with the “what ifs”. In a weird sense, those things are constant. There will always be uncertainty, guesswork, and contingencies.

How do we move forward when uncertainty can surface at any moment?

As mentioned in Monday’s post, it boils back down to trust–complete reliance on the One who never changes and always provides.

I’ve been meditating on God’s character lately, and it’s as if He has been telling me to just “trust”–complete confidence in His character. Time and time again, in my life and in Scripture, He has proved that I can trust His character.

When I rely on my own abilities, my own preparations, and my own expectations, I place my trust in myself instead of my Father who deserves it.

On a side note, I will never get tired of AC/DC, Guns & Roses, and Journey.

Photo credit: Rakka (Creative Commons)

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What part of God’s nature have you been thinking about lately?
Longest/most favorite road trip you’ve been on? Best “road trip playlist”?

LOST and Trust

It took us about a year, but my wife and I finished the LOST series last night. Late to the game, I know. We borrowed the DVDs from friends last year and started pounding through. It was an exhilarating ride and one that I’m sure we’ll revisit (by re-watching) sometime in the future.

One of the things my wife and I enjoyed about the show was that it caused us to think. Modern Family is great, but LOST had us talking about the characters, plot developments, and “what ifs” when we weren’t watching the show. While there are countless things that I can write about after finishing such an exceptional show, one thing stands out–a reoccuring phrase and theme that kept coming out in the show’s dialogue:

TRUST.

Whether it was Jack, Locke, Ben, Jacob, the Man in Black, that word kept circling back around.

“I give you my word.” – Ben

“…If there’s one person on this island I would put my absolute faith in to save us all it would be John Locke.” – Charlie

“I don’t trust myself. How am I supposed to trust you?” – Jack

Just a few of the numerous examples.

These people had to trust one another. They also didn’t know who to trust, and had to put their faith in many things that that weren’t clear and presented further questions.

My faith in God sometimes looks similar.

I may not “see the big picture”. I may not understand what is happening around me. I may not know which direction to take.

Circumstances change. Life’s paths get re-routed. Modifications happen all the time.

I am grateful that, in spite of those things, we have a Father is sovereign and steadfast.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

He is faithful. That will not change. (1 Corinthians 1:9)
He is holy. That will not change. (Isaiah 6:1-3)
He is eternal. That will not change. (Revelation 1:8)

So, I today will chose to trust in the One who is forever constant.

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How can you celebrate the unchanging nature of God today?
Who was your favorite character on LOST? Why?