Thursday, September 21, 2006

Fun Times

Here is a photo of Braden and Cara-Lee that I took summer of '05 when were on vacation at Lake Texoma. This was a fun trip for our family. We really did not do that much - hung out at the pool mostly, cooked most of our meals in the condo, and watched movies late at night. It was probably the most relaxing vacation we have ever had.

A few days ago Cara-Lee asked if we could go back there sometime. Braden agreed with that request. I am amazed at what sticks with my kids about vacations and fun times. We really didn't "do" anything while at Texoma. I like to think that the simple things are what stays with them. Maybe it was just having time to hang out with each other that was so appealing. Maybe it was being in the pool all day for a week. Who knows. It sounds good now, though.

Be good.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

9/11 Tribute

As many other bloggers have done, I have signed up with 2,996 to honor the victims of 9/11. Please check out this website to read about some truly amazing people.

I am honoring Syed Abdul Fatha. The following are two articles I found about him. Join me in honoring this man.

A Gentle Man Who Loved Children and the Elderly
November 28, 2001
They were bound by their religion, both devout Muslims faithfully attending the mosque near their Newark, N.J., home.
So it was a cruel irony when Nauzatool Umarally had to fear searching for Syed Abdul Fatha in the aftermath of Sept. 11's terrorist attacks.
"We were scared to go outside," said Umarally, 43. "We had to be accompanied by males. It's not the right thing ... because that's not Islam. Islam doesn't teach you to do that, to kill others."
Fatha, 54, who worked as a copy machine operator at Pitney Bowes on the 101st floor of Tower Two, is among the missing.
Though married under Islamic law, Fatha and Umarally were not legally married because he was separated and waiting to become officially divorced from his wife.
The couple lived together for three years with Umarally's two sons from her former husband, who died in 1988.
Fatha had six children from a wife in India whom he had divorced. He remained close with his children, ages 12 to 18, sending them money every month and frequently calling them on the phone.
In 1995, Fatha moved to the United States, marrying an American citizen from whom he later separated. He intended to divorce her when he became a naturalized citizen on Sept. 20, Umarally said.
Umarally and Fatha's friendship and subsequent romance began in an unlikely place: Penn Station. Five years ago they crossed paths. She noticed him, thinking he was from Guyana, her native country. He noticed her, asking her if she was from India.
Yes and no, she said, explaining that she grew up in Guyana but her parents are of Indian descent.
Both were Muslims, a connection that brought them together. Initially, he wanted to get married, and she resisted.
"I wasn't thinking about getting married again," she said. "But we got real close and I got to love him very much. Now, after 10 years I had found a man that I wanted."
He was a gentle man, who loved children and elderly people and treated Umarally's sons like his own, she said.
He was also a pious Muslim, frequently talking about Islam and religion.
"He educated me," Umarally said. "He taught me things I did not know. He taught me something new every day.
"I had a wonderful life with him. Very wonderful. I can never forget that."
-- Sumathi Reddy (Newsday)

Devout Muslim Found Office Convenient to Nearby Mosque
Nov. 6, 2001

Syed Abdul Fatha was a devout Muslim who observed the customary practice of praying five times each day. It was one reason he liked working at the World Trade Center.
Two blocks away was a mosque where he would go each day at lunch time.
"He was very devoted to his religion," said Nauzatool Umarally, whose husband of five years was a gentle, bearded man who was born and raised in Bangalore, India.
"Many times I asked him to leave and work over here, rather than in the city. He just didn't want that. There was a mosque on Warren Street, two blocks from the World Trade Center. Every day, he would go there. He would bring his lunch, and pray."
Fatha, 54, who lived in Newark, worked for Pitney Bowes on the 101st floor of the south tower. He was a Xerox operator in customer service. He had worked for the company for two and a half years. He also was active in the National Islamic Organization.
One of 10 siblings, Fatha was the father of six children, ages 11 to 17, all of whom live in India. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1995.
"He was very kind to old people, and he loved kids very much," Umarally said.
On Sept. 11, Fatha left the house at 7 a.m. Umarally was at her office in Newark when she heard the hijacked plane had struck the north tower. She called Fatha at work, but no one answered.
"I never got to hear his voice again."
Since then, Umarally, who is from Guyana, has felt the sting of American anger along with her grief.
"Me and my husband are both practicing Muslims. I wear the hijab. I'm being targeted a lot. I'm afraid, but I'm not going to drop my faith. People look at you and make remarks. They don't have any idea what I'm going through. We are victims. We are suffering, too."
--Kathleen Kernicky (The Sun-Sentinel)

Always remember.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

God's Man

This is taken from Every Day for Every Man by Stephen Arterburn, et al. It is great stuff.

Your next step as God's man is to understand the person of the Holy Spirit and get to know Him intimately. Then you can willingly partner with Him to reach new spiritual heights. Listen to what the Holy Spirit is ready to do in our lives right now:

change our hearts (Ezekiel 36:26)

move us into greater obedience of God's Word (Ezekiel 36:27)

remind us about what God has asked us to do (John 14:26)

guide us into the truth and teach us (John 16:13)

give us power to share our faith (Acts 1:8)

turn us away from evil deeds (Romans 8:13)

remind us that we are God's children (Romans 8:16)

help us in our distress and pray for us (Romans 8:26)

give us spiritual gifts to use for God (I Corinthians 12:11)

lead us to victory over the cravings of our sinful nature (Galatians 5:16)

Father, I want to know You more intimately. Send Your Holy Spirit to speak directly to me. Use me.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Back Seat Fun

We took a road trip to North Carolina back during Spring Break. How things have changed since my parents took my family on similar trips. The entertainment factor alone is enough to make such a trip tolerable for a kid. Look at this pic. Braden and Cara-Lee watching a DVD. I think they watched "School of Rock" about 4 times. Some things you don't see in this pic are the MP3 players and Game Boy's that both kids used along the way. What comforts these kids have - their seats will also slightly recline. I remember fighting with my brother over who got to lie in the back of the car up above the back seat, and who could lie in the back floor board. Obviously that was before seat belt laws or common sense. My kids get to fight over who gets to SIT on the right, left, or middle. I guess they don't have it so good after all!

By the way, what do you think Braden is thinking here?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Prayers Needed!

It has been a while since I have posted. Things have been so busy for me and our family for the last several weeks. I barely have time to read personal email. I have found a good number of good people through blogging. If you are reading this please take the time to utter a brief prayer for some things that are heavy on my heart right now. Here goes...

Thanksgiving for God's provision since Holly's layoff.

Wisdom and discernment for Holly in her job search.

That I will continue to be supportive to Holly in this process.

Wisdom for me as I lead our family.

That our house will sell.

For my brother's new baby.

For some good friends whose marriage is under attack. (This one is especially heavy on my heart)

Thanks to everyone who reads this. There is power in prayer.

Be good.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Happy 10th, Braden!

Braden turned 10 today. Impossible. It is hard to believe that we have been blessed by his sweet life for ten years already. I believe that he had a great day. We have a tradition in my family that we celebrate by going to lunch or dinner together. Today we had a picnic after church with the family - Holly, the kids and me, along with my parents and brothers and my sister-in-law. Braden commented later that it was nice to be able to go to the park and not have to feel rushed in a restaurant, and that it was nice to be able to talk to everyone and be able to hear. He has such a sweet spirit.

We usually talk throughout the day about the birthday person and what a blessing he or she is, and especially include them in prayers at meal times and bedtime. Tonight after dinner Braden didn't feel like eating a piece of birthday cake, and just wanted to go and take his shower and get ready for bed. He came back into the kitchen after his shower. I could tell something was up. I asked him what was wrong and with a shaky voice he said something like, "well, I'm just getting older, and pretty soon I will be going to college and getting a job and paying taxes." I assured him that he would learn all about those things over the course of the next few years, and that he would continue to learn throughout his life. He asked if he would learn everything he needed to know in college. I said "no," and that I was still learning stuff and that when I needed help with something that sometimes I call Grampie (my dad) to help. I further assured him that he could call on mommy and me when he was older if he ever needed help. I sure hope he does.

So, here's to me son. He is my delight.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Report From Boot Camp #2

Christianity is more than forgiveness. It is strength and masculinity - given by God. Genesis 1:1 introduces a strong god who created the heavens and the earth. Exodus 15:3 tells us that “The LORD is a warrior.” Yet which man reminds you more of men in church: William Wallace, as portrayed in Braveheart, or Mister Rogers? Most of us go through our church experience as Mister Rogers, when there is a William Wallace within us. The world has emasculated most men, but our core desires do not go away. They simply go underground and manifest themselves in some unhealthy way. And men become "posers". They pose as someone else in situations in which they feel threatened. Or they hide behind their title. And this is most of the time. Go to a dinner party and you will know what I mean. “Oh, I am a (fill in the blank) and am responsible for…blah blah blah.” Why can we not find our identity in Christ?

Why don’t we get what Jesus came to do? He came to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). He came to preach Good News to the poor…to proclaim the captives will be released…that the downtrodden will be freed from their oppressors (Luke 4:18-19). We have lost our heart. It is the mission of Christ to restore and release us. The heart is not emotions and feelings, but the wellspring of life within us. The place that holds desire, belief, worship, faith, hope, love – the man inside – the core of the soul.

We have been wounded in our hearts. I thought that it was interesting that Eldredge said that he had never met a man that had not been wounded. Some wounds are obvious, others are not. Boys need to know that they have what it takes to be a man. Eldredge related a story about one of his sons in which he and his boys were wrestling. He casually told one of the boys that he was a wild man out there. Later in the day this son asked him if he really thought he was a wild man. It stuck with him. His dad had told him that he had what it takes to be a man. All boys need this validation from their dads. The father gives his son delight. “I love being with you.” “You have what it takes.” “You are the apple of my eye.” Notice that God did this to his son in Mark 1:11 just after Jesus’ baptism: “You are my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with you.” We have to entrust them with things, invite them into the fellowship of men, spend time with them, and teach them how to fight. As fathers we must pursue the hearts of our children, giving them freedom and life. Little girls dance between their daddies and the television, essentially asking, “Do you see me, Daddy?” We need to see them and validate them, because if we do not, there is a man (or men) out there who will. Physical affection is crucial for both boys and girls. They need to know that we believe their hearts matter. It’s one thing to be told that you have what it takes. It’s another to experience it. We will inevitably wound our children. The severity depends on us, and we must seek their forgiveness. Admit your failures - don’t try to defend yourself or explain things. Do this for their heart.

So, how does God view me? Psalm 139 says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Romans 6 says I have died to sin. Colossians 2 tells me that I am alive. Ephesians 4 calls me a new man. Hebrews 10 says I have been made perfect forever. Romans 15 says I am loved and accepted. He is saying that I have what it takes.

Pretty cool.