Tristen’s First Tea Party

TEA PARTY PICS Several weeks ago Tristen asked me if she could have a tea party for her friends. It seemed like a good idea. I gave her permission as long as she planned it with her mother’s oversight and kept the invite list to about 6 to 8. She was stoked!

Off they went with their plans.

It was a consistent topic of discussion and excitement in our home the past few weeks. It was much joy for me to see her anticipatory smile come across her face last night as she was heading off to bed. Her heart was full. God has blessed my kid with a love for others. She is a social person and loves nothing more than being with her friends.

Today was the big day and all things were ready. The table was pink and frilly. The croissants and teas were prepared. The gift bags looked great and girly.

It was a big hit.

What about Haydn? Great question. Haydn and I made our plans weeks ago as well. Plan number one: we would not be in the house with a bunch of girls, pink and lace. We would have a “Boy’s Day Out.” My son is not egalitarian at all, but it takes work to grow him in biblical manhood. He’s outnumbered.

We went “go-karting” praise God!!

Haydn Got Bike!

On Mother’s Day Haydn got on his bike and took off. He has been riding ever since. He was 4 1/2 at the time. The boy’s got game. I think I was 6 or 7 before I could ride a bike. I thought I was normal, but maybe not. 

The funny thing is that he is so short he can’t get it started and once upon a time he couldn’t stop it. He first learned how to jump off while in full motion. He hasn’t quite learned how to get it going. He’ll ask and I’ll give him a shove and off he goes. It’s sort of weird in that he is so short, but he can reach the pedals.

Yes, I’ve pulled the seat down as far as it will go. And it’s a small bike.

My son is simply impressive.


I looked out the other week and saw Tristen wearing my big, old roller blades, attempting to roller blade in the cul-de-sac. The skates were not exactly sideways, but they were close to it. She was walking, waddling, shuffling along with two ski poles in hand sort of dragging her roller blades along.

We bought the ski poles for a couple of bucks at the Bargain Box in Hilton Head last year. And we bought them for this very purpose. Actually I was planning on using them for this very purpose. We bought the roller blades at the same place for $5.

Tristen doesn’t have her own. She does have a big desire to learn how to skate. So off she went. She has been practicing for weeks now. It appears her feet move an inch or so before her skates move since the skates are so large on her little feet.

But she has done it. She can now roller blade without the ski poles. I’m quite impressed. I’m impressed by her discipline, courage, determination and coordination. This has been real cool to watch.

I’m a bit embarrassed that I can’t do it. My embarrassment is because I’m a proud man.

As for Tristen she will get a special surprise in a few weeks for her birthday. And these will fit.

We Can Now Sleep

The Olympics are over! Praise God! My family can sleep normally. For sixteen days our house has been Olympic-centered. It has been fun. This is the first time for my kids. Three weeks ago they never heard the word Olympics. Today it is part of their vocabulary.

It was fun!

Now we rest.

Happy Birthday, Lucia!

I have been reflecting upon my wife these days. Today is her birthday. She is 30 something. I do not need an anniversary to reflect upon her. I find my thoughts heading in her direction daily and many times throughout the day. I guess that is the grace of God in my life. I don’t know how all that works. I do think about her a lot.

What I do know is that she said, “YES” to my request. It was 7PM on top of the Empire State Building on December 21, 1996. That I remember. THAT I cannot forget. She said “YES”! How cool is that?

I told someone yesterday that when I look in the mirror I am reminded that I would never say yes to such a question. But she did. Apart from God’s active grace in my life there is nothing here to say yes to. But she did. I will, by the grace of God, never get over it. I don’t want to.

She said yes to:

  • Sleeping beside me for the rest of our lives while listening to me snore
  • Enduring my uber-dry sense of humor
  • Washing over 40,000 pounds of my clothes, some of which is my underwear (I’m approximating)
  • Preparing 33,492 meals (approximating)
  • Bearing our three children
  • Moving … again
  • Laying sod in our yard … again
  • Exchanging her “power job” for poopy diapers
  • Wiping 5000 running noses
  • Educating our kids for 39 years!
  • Forgiving the biggest sinner I know … again … again … and again

And this is a very short list. There is much more! My wife is the closest approximation that I have for the Gospel. The Gospel is Christ dying for me. Why would he do that? I’m not worth it. It didn’t matter. He wanted to do it. He did it. I’ll never wane in gratitude for what Christ did for me. The undeserving got what he didn’t deserve. The Deserving got what he didn’t deserve because of me. How can I not be grateful to such unmerited kindness.

Lucia, in her humanness, is my closest gospel-approximation. I don’t deserve her kindness. She wants to give it to me. I don’t deserve her love. It doesn’t matter. It’s her joy to sacrifice, give, pursue, love and endure me. 

Lucia is Christ-like! And to top it off her hair is turning gray. It is incredibly sexy.

Happy birthday, Love

The Boy is Happy!

Learning Math Upside Down

Haydn has completed his fourth day of school. He is four years old in K-5. He is different than his sister in many ways. Lucia has had her concerns about how his education experience would go. Would he get it? Would he be able to pay attention? If he doesn’t pay attention would it be a character issue or a capacity issue? Meaning is it a sin issue or physical limitations or combination of both? I don’t know. We didn’t know. We were unsure how this would work. He is a different kind of boy.

Needless to say we have been impressed by God. We have been humbled by God again. We have found another opportunity to express gratitude to God for his constant kindness to us.

In short, Haydn is doing very well. He is a very quick study. We caught a glimpse of this as he has been sitting beside Tristen for the past six months during her piano lessons. He has picked up several things just by sitting there and he doesn’t seem to mind sitting beside her during her lesson.

On Day Four of his schooling mommy was teaching him his numbers. He asked if he could stand on his head while he did his counting. Mommy paused, thought and then conceded to the request. He stood on his head, feet against the wall and did his numbers. He did them very well by the way. His self-created process of doing math seems to work. 

It’s odd, but it works.

I told Lucia we need to video what he is doing and when he graduates in 13 years we’ll play the video. Mommy will be balling her eyes out as she sees her little boy getting his diploma while reflecting on his first four days of school upside down.

I Didn’t Mean Time-Out

Tristen came out of the wash room tonight and showed me a bag of toys they collected from their room earlier today. We are planning on having a “Kiddie Yard Sale” with the other kids in our care group. I was encouraged they were willing to get rid of some of their toys. It is cool when they resist materialism.

I asked Tristen to put the bag of toys in the corner of the hallway and then I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. About 3 minutes later Lucia asked me to go see what Tristen wanted. She was calling me from the hallway. I went to her and she asked, “Why did you want me to sit in the corner?”

I was so saddened by my miscommunication. The thought she was sitting in the corner while the rest of the family was in my bedroom spending time together saddened me. I asked her to forgive me for my lack of clarity and then encouraged her for her obedience. She was so willing to obey her daddy, though she didn’t understand the request.

I was not only encouraged by her obedience, but I was also encouraged that she would humbly ask me why I asked her to do such an odd thing.

She has been doing so well the past few weeks. Earlier today she took my favorite cup and filled it with ice and water and brought it to me. This was unprovoked, unsolicited kindness. I found even more encouragement in my daughter. Jesus said that he did not come here to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom (Mark 10:45).

My daughter is learning this humble truth.

The Olympics & the American Guy

This is the first year that our kids have watched the Olympics. They were too young in years past. It is interesting in that none of them have shown much interest in sports, but they are virtually eating up whatever we allow them to watch.

This past summer they learned what the American flag is when we put one up in our backyard campground. Now they have learned there are “American Guys” competing in various sporting events. They love the “American Guys.” It matters not what the event is. When the TV puts that American flag super-imposed on the track or the pool my kids watch intently as the American Guy makes his way to the finish line.

I think the events that are short in duration are specially made for our kids. They can’t endure a football or baseball game, but a 100 meter run, dash or swim suits them well. 

This reminds me of our first trip to a Greenville Drive baseball game a couple of years ago. After about two innings Tristen, who was four at the time, looked up at me and asked, “Daddy, when are they going to move?”

BIG SINNERS vs. little sinners


My Wife’s Journal Entry: September 6, 2003 

I can only attribute the glow I am beginning to feel to God’s graciousness and the teaching on what the gospel really is — all Christ’s work, none of mine. It is like spring after a long winter.

I was resigned to being spiritually unmoved forever toward the things of God, but God saw fit to use the teaching from Galatians to break through my heart. God quickened my heart, He drew me to Himself. For the first time, probably in my life, I realized I can contribute nothing to my salvation. That realization, along with seeing how all my wrongs are enough to crucify the Savior, has impacted me.

Rick is thrilled to have a dimension of joy added to our relationship. We have been discussing for some time now how I should have gratitude and joy even if I haven’t done drugs, theft, or “wild” living. Those are “big” sins. I have always seen how a “big” sinner could rejoice — they have been saved from much. I didn’t see myself as being saved from much. I viewed my sins of anger and laziness as acceptable.

Now, I am thrilled that my heart isn’t stone. I have a long way to go in realizing that I sin every day (and many times throughout the day) and even though it isn’t murder, it is enough to warrant hell and thus my need for a Savior. I am glad our local church will help me grow and point out how I can change. God has patiently brought me to a very good place.


Tristen’s Ultrasound

Neither one of us realized the miracle we would see. We were nervous. We were not sure if the baby would be there. Would the baby be healthy? Would it be growing properly? We had seen an ultrasound of our first babies sac but no signs of life and our second babies heartbeat.    

This pregnancy was at sixteen weeks — the day after the home pregnancy test came back positive. When the technician put the image on the screen we were stunned. There was a little fully-formed face staring back at us. Then the tech played the heart-beat, what music to our ears! Rick was on the verge of tears and didn’t want to hold my hand for fear of bursting into tears and missing the rest of the action.

The tech gave us some incredible pictures. All the parts were present and on track. We saw sections of the brain, the four chambers of the heart, the liver, bladder, and so on.  When the tech finished Rick and I embraced and Rick gave a prayer of thanks for God’s miracle and asked for a healthy baby at birth. We were both choked up. 

We told dad and mom the next day. Rick told the church after preaching in the evening service. He put the ultrasound pic on the screen for the church. I called my sisters afterwards and they all were excited.