You really never know what is coming next in life. That makes it difficult to plan out what you might do in a year, or even a month. (Sometimes the next week!)

But it’s not a bad thing to have a plan. A “if-everything-works-out”, best-case scenario.

In mine, I will read at least 24 new books in the coming year. (Not counting the Bible, and/or books of the Bible, which I do plan to read again in 2012, too.)

Typing that makes it sound less impressive (and less insurmountable) than it usually feels.

My goal is to finish at least a couple books a month. The issue is, many of the books on my current reading (or “to read”) list are the 800-1200 page variety.

Yes, I am slightly crazy. But mostly, I just love learning about people, events, history, places, things. And I do just love to read.

Here’s a look at what’s currently on my reading radar screen:

  1. *Being George Washington – Glenn Beck
  2. *Original Argument (a modern translation of the Federalist Papers)
  3. Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson
  4. Never Give In! The Best of Winston Churchill Speeches – Winston S. Churchill
  5. Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism – Ronald J. Pestritto
  6. Choosing to SEE – Mary Beth Chapman
  7. The First Commandment – Brad Thor
  8. Spilled Milk – Michael J. Scott
  9. *The Introvert Advantage – Marti Olsen Laney
  10. *One Thousand Gifts – Ann Voskamp
  11. 7 Tipping Points That Saved The World – Chris and Ted Stewart
  12. Sacred Fire – Peter A. Lillback
  13. For You They Signed – Marilyn Boyer
  14. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy – Eric Metaxas
  15. Several C.S. Lewis books

I am realizing as I make this list that such a list would be far too exhaustive. I have way more than 24 books in mind but I think those above are the next dozen or so in the queue, even if they are not entirely in the order I plan to read them in. I am also very good at fitting other stuff in along the way! For example, I’ll probably pick up the next book in the Brad Thor/Scot Harvath series. (I’m reading through his older stuff after reading Full Black this past fall.) And I am also planning to complete the Lord of the Rings trilogy with my boys in 2012.

Basically, it’s going to be a very well-read year, if things go according to plan!

If you’d like to see more books I am reading, plan to read, have read, you can sit and watch the little changing book image in the right sidebar (each one is clickable). Or, you can just visit the page(s) created by the Now Reading plugin for WordPress that I use to organize all this stuff.

I’d love for anyone reading, this to read along with me on some or even all of these books. (It would be a bit strange if you liked all the same books as me…) 🙂 And, if you have any that you’d recommend I add, please suggest them in the comments.

May 2012 bring you many blessings from God (true blessings may not always seem to be blessings at the time) and many great moments along the way, from books and otherwise.

Project: Backyard Ice Rink (Part 1)

We’ve got a project underway here at the Campbell home. We’re trying to freeze a large portion of our back yard. (Well, more accurately, a large quantity of water, covering our back yard…)

One thing is for sure: we’ve learned quite a bit of what not to do along the way!

It all started with a slight modification of the original plans.

When we first thought we’d attempt to make an ice rink in our back yard, we thought we’d follow my brother-in-law’s simple rectangular model. But then, being one to investigate online, I found a post with (very loose) instructions for setting up more of an oval rink, so pucks won’t get trapped as easily in the corners. It looked straightforward enough. All you do is add another board, cut in two, on the corners. Easy!

First mistake. 🙂

We determined the amount of wood needed. Even divided it up in the 2 x 8, 2 x 10, and 2 x 12s, according to where they would be placed in relation to the grade of the land. (Which, is probably a tad too steep for an ice rink!) We had it all nicely planned out, and even laid out.

And that’s when I discovered I hadn’t really though far enough ahead…

See, not only did we not account for the different angles needed (two boards cut to make a “corner” of an oval are not cut at 45º angles… it’s true! They’re not!) we—or rather, I?—did not remember that the length of the boards was also an important factor!

So that meant breaking out old algebraic formulas (and some very handy angle calculators on the internets…) to figure out that we needed cuts of 22.5º to but up against the long flat boards, and cuts of 11.25º in the middle of the two cut boards. Nice! The fun part there was trying to set the saw to an angle of 11.25º!

Once we had cut all the boards, we had to fit them all together. Sadly, we did not measure the length of the angled boards very meticulously. What we did was just push the boards out as far as the angled boards “forced” us to go. (This will come into play just a bit later in the story. Stay tuned.) Once we had made our oval based upon that, we discovered that we had about an 8-to-10″ gap left! HA! NOT what we were expecting, but we knew we could fix it later.

Now all we needed was to get the plastic liner.

A few calls to various local hardware stores (and a trip to big-box Lowe’s) revealed that this was not actually an easy part of the process. Not many places have a plastic sheet big enough to fill a rink area of approximately 24′ x 32′. My brother-in-law had gotten a piece big enough for his rink last year at a local store in Buffalo, so I figured I’d give them a call. Bingo! They had it, I purchased it right there on the phone, planning to either make the trip all the way over there, or meet brother-in-law in the middle somewhere.

The biggest issue we were facing at this point, early December, was that the weather was NOT cooperating! No sign of freezing temperatures anywhere in the near future!

This meant that we didn’t make getting that plastic liner a priority. And that would turn into several snafus later down the line.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s the next spot things went south. (Why is the south equal to “bad”?)

Being the generous sort (and quick with numbers), my brother-in-law had a proposal. Once he used what he needed for his rink, the remaining liner would be enough (according to our stated dimensions) for our smaller rink! This is quite generous because the plastic we bought ran just slightly over $100, and that was the cheapest option out there!

I hesitated slightly—no, more than slightly—because I wondered if the dimensions of his rink were wrong, or the plastic might be cut wrong, or we might have the wrong dimensions… so many things could possibly go wrong here, and we’d be out of luck as the place we got our liner would be out of stock by the time we figured it out. But, after much thought, I decided to go with the generous offer, since it sure seemed that we’d have more than enough.

ALWAYS trust your gut. Always.

Once we got the plastic upon a post-Christmas visit with family in Buffalo, we were eager to get it installed in our rink. We had to wait a day, due to inclement weather. (That was slightly encouraging though, as we knew the cold was on its way!)

Two days post acquisition of the liner remnants, the boys and I headed out to Lowe’s to get another board and the remaining stakes needed for the frame. (Unfortunately, it took us three trips to correctly acquire all we needed!)

We cut the board, placed it, and hammered in the remaining stakes. Now it was time to lay out the plastic liner! Whoohoo!

But, huh… is that really going to fit???

Though that small piece of plastic, well-rolled, did surprise us with its coverage area, we were definitely short. By probably about three feet on either side, length-wise.

“I knew it!!” were the only words I could say. I knew this would happen… I should have trusted my gut!

Now, before you go blaming my brother-in-law, read on.

Since it was clearly short, I wanted to know if he had been shorted on what he purchased, or, well, just what in the world went wrong. We broke out the measuring tape and walked it off. “Huh. Look at that…” 40.5 feet long? Weird. Measured the width. 28.5″ wide. Strange!

We had forgotten to measure again, once we resized the frame according to the angled/cut boards (as I mentioned earlier).

Now what?!?!

Sadly, it was unlikely that the 30′ x 100′ plastic we had purchased previously and returned were still available, so we went with Plan B: tape!

(Yes… tape.)

… to be continued tomorrow!

Project: Backyard Ice Rink (Part 2)

(continued from yesterday’s post)

We had heard that some people do just fine by stitching two sheets together with waterproof tape. I did a bit more research online and found waterproofing repair tape was indeed a real product, and might actually work.

And it might have, had the weather cooperated. And, had the second piece of plastic been at least close to the quality of the first.

Once we had pieced our liner together, we placed the seam and the poorer-quality plastic at the top of the grade, where the least water would be on it. (Unfortunately for us, this meant that it would also take way too long to get ANY water on it, to hold it down.)

Before the water, though, we had to paint!

The boys had the fun idea of painting all the hockey lines on their rink. They even had a name (and logo) for their rink! This was probably the most fun part of the entire project! Sadly, the day we were installing the liner and painting, was a very rainy, wet day. So, not much of their art was left the next morning when we began the “Big Fill”.

And I do mean B-I-G.

Forty-five minutes into the “Big Fill”, I went to check on the progress, and it looked like a heavy rain had collected on our liner. Just a small puddle in the deepest end. Wow! Guess I’ll give it a lot more time!

Four hours later… only about a third of the rink had water in it! Deepest part was at most four inches deep. Holy smokes!

Twenty-four hours later of almost constant water flow (we had to stop it a few times because it was reducing water pressure to other things in our house like dish washer, washing machine and toilet!) it was about 10″ deep at the deepest spot, and about three quarters of the rink was covered. Nice! But really? Still not done???

I must back up one more time and explain what I think is the biggest reason.

The day we were doing the Big Fill, was also a very windy day. VERY windy. Like sustained 30 mph winds.

You’ve gotta be kidding me!

The plastic had already been blown off a few times, so I secured it to the frame with staples. All seemed good except wind can get into very tiny places. (And thin, flimsy plastic—like the Plan B plastic we used—likes to blow around!)

Unfortunately, the slow-rising water, and the high-velocity winds (and the poor-quality plastic) were a major setback for our rink. The wind kept whipping the plastic around, so much so that it tore apart the seem we had created with the waterproof tape. (Guess it’s not windproof.) Now there are very obvious holes in a couple spots in the seem, and being slightly submerged, we can no longer apply the tape (it needs a dry surface).

Our last attempt to make this work is to let the very cold air tonight and tomorrow freeze what’s in there (including some over part of the seem) and perhaps let the ice be enough of a seal as we add more water, little by little? The problem with this plan is that the ice will very likely melt in the next week or so (at least a little) … so, will our crazy ice-seam be enough to hold?

No idea. But we are going to be experts on this by next year! 🙂

  1. Get accurate measurements: angles, board lengths, full rink dimensions
  2. Get one, high-quality sheet of plastic liner!!! (Even MORE than you think you’ll need!)
  3. Only apply paint on dry, warmer days…
  4. Allow about THREE DAYS to fill the rink!!! Preferably NOT windy days!

I’m thinking the lessons are not done just yet … but that’s what we’ve learned so far. I’m pretty sure we’ll get to skate on this rink, even if it hasn’t worked out entirely as planned. And without a doubt, it has been a super fun family project the whole time. Unexpected turns of events and all!

What Matters Most: The Story of Jayden

Every day we have stuff to do. Things that are “on our plate”. At the time, they weigh on us, at the end of the day (or during the day) exhaust our energy, and they may or may not also leave us feeling fulfilled.

You know what I’m talking about. It’s work, it’s the kids, it’s bills, it’s errands, it’s house cleaning, home repair, auto repair, insurance squabbles, kids’ daily and weekly activities, your family’s social calendar, community and neighborhood events and/or responsibilities. Then there are all your relationships: family, close friends, neighbors, friends who need support, good friends who are far away, and so on. And don’t forget all the books you want to read, the shows you like to watch, the hobbies you don’t have time for, and plans for the next holiday’s activities and gatherings.

These things fill our days, and our weeks, and our years. And mostly they are good. They are the stuff of life.

But for the most part, they all completely fall away when death or serious illness makes its macabre appearance.

Last year seemed to be full of serious illness and death all around us. (And you can throw in divorce and other of life’s hardships, if you’d like.) And somehow, when the reality of the most certain thing in life came front and center, the rest seemed so silly. So trivial. So superfluous.

What did it matter if I was having trouble getting a certain plugin to work with a complex shopping cart installation? So what if I can’t really figure out how to get our family out of this current financial pinch? Who cares if the van has fourteen different things wrong with it at once? Why does my kids’ incessant refusal to keep their living space neat and tidy bother me so much?

None of it matters when someone we know and love is either already gone, or soon will be.

We have some friends who just recently lost their four-month-old baby boy. I wish I could tell you the full story here, but not only would it be long enough to fill a week’s worth of posts, I’m not sure I could do it justice. I do hope that someday they will be able to write it out for more people to hear and see God’s every great gift to them.

The video above is their story. Hopefully you already watched it. If not, please do. What was most inspiring and encouraging to me is that through a difficult pregnancy where they were told early on that their baby would probably have some severe problems when—if—he was born, they trusted God, and asked him for a healing miracle… and they watched him DO it! Baby Jayden was born perfectly healthy, with no sign of the expected difficulties. (And, they even got to watch them be removed through the long months of the pregnancy.)

But then, things again took a turn for the worse.

Instead of being angry with God, though, who had given them hope and then (it would seem) had taken it away again, they loved their little boy (their gift from God) and they moved forward completely trusting Father to take care of him and them, however that turned out.

Their complete trust in God’s goodness through all of the physically and emotionally tiring, exhausting, draining experiences of Jayden’s four months was what gave them a deep peace that was palpable when you were with them, and it has buoyed them still, in the few weeks after his absence from their family.

And during the time he was sick—gravely sick—other things faded away. Family became important, work less important. Daily “things” were pushed to the background, and life and relationships took their place. I know because I saw it, watched it, and I have lived it.

We have experienced loss, too. Far too many times, actually. We did not get to experience both the joy of knowing our babies for four short months, nor the pain of losing someone we knew outside the womb. But we’ve also known loss.

And every time, what the reality of that brings to the front is that nothing matters more than how you love, and being/living loved. Knowing that your Father loves you, adores you. And then loving other people because you know he adores them, too. Cherishing the other Image-Bearers that he has put in your life, and you in theirs.

That’s really it.


Thank you, Jayden, for the reminder. Thank you Jesus for giving us some time to be around him, to know him, and to be reminded of what you really made us for. What really matters.

Tradition, Tradition!

Traditional New Year's Day meal, pork, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, corn bread

As far back as I can remember, my family has always celebrated New Year’s Day with a big meal featuring pork, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and corn bread. My dad enjoys throwing in some baked clams, but I’ve chosen to leave those out of our version of the family tradition… 🙂

This year was no different. Even though we’d been packing a bunch in between Christmas and Ian’s 13th birthday celebrations, and despite the fact that I had been feeling pretty sick the night before, I still managed to get the pork loin in the oven to slow roast overnight and we had a delicious meal for a late lunch the next day.

It’s said that having this meal on New Year’s Day leads to a prosperous year, but I’m really just glad for the fun of making it and the tastiness of eating it! Plus it’s a favorite of just about everyone in our family (and friends we’ve gotten to share the meal with, too!)

A slightly more odd tradition that we keep in the Campbell household is celebrating Three Kings Day, which we’ll be doing tomorrow morning! This is because of the few years of my childhood that were spent in Caracas, Venezuela. Three Kings Day is celebrated in many hispanic countries, including Venezuela! Our version may be a bit modified, but it suits us, and is mostly in the same spirit, I’d say.

Every January 5th, we leave our shoes out by the front door, ready to be filled by the three wise men. They leave us gifts, just like they did for Jesus. We can leave straw for their camels to eat, but usually don’t do that. 🙂 In the morning, we come down to find a small gift and usually some candy left in everyone’s shoes. Fun!

And, every once in a while, we’ll bake an oven-safe trinket into a cake and then whoever gets the piece of cake with that item in it gets to be KING for the day! We’ve modified this a bit, too, in that we know the King of kings, we try to be a king in the way he was: serving, not being served. (And yes, the kids still want to do it!)

Speaking of knowing the King of kings…

After reading many of her favorite mom/big-family blogs this Christmas season, Jen thought it might finally be the year to “do Christmas differently”. We’ve had a pretty typical Christmas tradition of lots of gifts, and the big family Christmas at Grandma & Grandpa’s, and so on. This year she thought we could focus more on the reason we’re celebrating: it’s Jesus’ birthday! (At least, the day that is celebrated.)

We’ve tossed some of these ideas around for the past several years, but we decided to really do it this year. First, we each drew a name of someone else in the family, and got just one meaningful gift for that person. (So, still gifts, but much less about gifts for us.) We spent as much or more money giving gifts to Jesus. How, you ask? Matthew 25 says, “Whatever you do for the least of these, you are doing for me” (my paraphrase), so we did that! We bought (via World Vision this time) 13 small farm animals for people who could use them for daily sustenance. It was really cool to see the kids excited to do it! And it was so nice to have the focus much less on the gifts (and the getting) and much more on Jesus, and the incredible Gift of his becoming a man that “…all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

We also made a birthday cake, of course, and had a great time celebrating Jesus’ birthday! (We’re pretty good at celebrating birthdays around here!) Hoping that this becomes our family tradition as the years go on. And I’m sure there will be some great modifications along the way.

Born 4 BC? 2015 in 2011!

Note: we based the “age” upon a birth year of 4 BC… thus the 2015. (Though, if you count the year 0, wouldn’t he be 2016?) 🙂

Do you have family traditions from your childhood that you have continued with your family? Any new ones you’ve begun with your own family? Comment below!


We’re definitely in a season of transition here. I am beginning to understand that life itself is a season of transition. But there is a more specific area of transition I’m talking about.

We have a teenager. (Da-da-dum…)

And so, things are different. I don’t just mean that our food bills are (MUCH) higher, or that we seem to have to repeat ourselves even more these days, or that the Teenager sleeps too much. All of that it true, but only of a very secondary or tertiary concern.

There are more complex matters that arise as one moves from childhood to adulthood. Most of us who have passed through those years remember what it was like as you began to think more and more of yourself, becoming more independent, “spreading your wings”.

(And many of us also remember a decade or more later realizing how little we really knew and understood then… and now!)

Heavy on my mind and heart have been moments, thoughts, questions about freedoms that Ian deserves as he makes this transition. It is, after all, much more his than mine.

What a strange transition it was thirteen years ago when we went from being responsible for our own actions and choices, to being fully responsible for another’s life, their entire being. Ian relied on us for everything. It starts with simple sustenance and taking care of his physical needs. Then it progresses to introducing him to the world around him, starting with relationships: Mom, Dad, Grandmas & Grandpas, eventually siblings. Even that is in a way “simple”.

But there are moments when I realize now that I may be overstepping my role as a parent. Perhaps that’s the wrong word, as it implies a set role. I do believe there is a transition that must happen from the full responsibility we have for the very life of our infant children to their later training, disciplining, and eventually… their releasing.

We’re certainly not there yet, but I see glimpses of it.

In a few conversations with friends recently I’ve been reminded that the struggle to parent through this stage is definitely not just my own. Talking with a friend recently who also have a teenager in the home, I was reminded of the careful (perhaps blurry) line we walk as we guide them, walk with them toward adulthood. She was thinking of some events she wasn’t that thrilled for her daughter to be part of (not because they were a bad thing for her daughter, but presumably that her participation was another sign of her too quickly growing up.) Then she said something about remembering how it was when she was that age, and it wasn’t that bad.

And the way she worded it struck me. It reminded me vividly of the fact that our kids are really very much not ours. They do not belong to us. For a time, perhaps shorter than most of us realize, there is an appearance of that “belonging” but it’s a great privilege that we could fulfill that role for another Image Bearer. Parents, the Creator has made our children just as he has made us: fully responsible to him alone.

Don’t get me wrong here. One, you may have already figured this out way before me. I know I’m not sharing any great revelation that I have had or God has given first to me. Second, I really don’t have any rock-solid conclusions on any of this yet. I think that’s an amazing thing about parenting: we really don’t know what we’re doing, at any stage of the game! (Am I right, Mom & Dad?)

And so we love. And we learn to step back (extremely difficult though that may be) and view our older children as the individuals that they are. Yes, they live “under our roof, by our rules” … sure. But the greatest thing we can give to our children is an example of grace and freedom akin to the way Jesus treats us.

I’m currently working through what things actually have value, and at what cost for Ian. At this point I am beginning to feel much more like a mentor to him than the Rule Giver that I have been, and still am for his younger siblings. I think I even notice chances to be that mentor for our ten-year-old son, Alex. Much more so for Ian though. It still seems very prudent to have clear boundaries for what is good and what is just not good for his heart. But there are very clearly evidences of yearnings for greater freedom.

At some point, my boundaries will be gone. This current season of transition is the time where I begin to love Ian more and more as an individual with likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and with a freedom granted him by his very existence.

Oh boy. I just had no idea the journey alongside my kids could be this challenging … and we have a long way to go!

It’s such a beautiful thing. I look forward to God gently showing me ways that I can lift up Ian and his freedoms, and point him more to Father than to me. Eventually to walk alongside him as a brother, rather than a father. I know I will always be his Dad, and I cherish that. But I also know that he is not mine to hold on to. I’m just the hired help, for a season.

And the seasons are pretty quickly changing.

I’m thankful that they aren’t ever too quick. If I’m tuned into him, and to Jesus, they are just right. (And even when I’m not, Jesus has grace enough for me in that.)

So we move forward, transitioning. I would be untruthful if I didn’t admit to some anxiety of the unknown years ahead, and how they will turn out. But I do know for sure that those feelings are my own overstepping of my role. While I can pour all my heart, love, knowledge, wisdom, caring into my kids … eventually, and even now, they get to choose. It’s that built-in freedom that we all have. I can do a bit more about it while they are younger, but in reality, I am never “in control” of them. Only they are. Their actions and choices are their own. That’s scary when I think I’m responsible for them. Or even, if I think their actions reflect badly on me, and my parenting.

But I want my mark to be the way that I love them, not how well they comply. I want my measuring stick to be my relationship with them, how much they trust my love for them. They are going to fall, to fail. Definitely. They are just as much a slave to our sinful nature as I am.

What I want them to know, through all the transitions we will traverse in this life, is that they are loved: by both of their Dads.

That’s one thing that will never change.

Project: Backyard Ice Rink (Part 3)

Who knew that this project would have so many hurdles and barriers and pitfalls? I knew it would be work, but aside from our being novices in building an ice rink in our back yard, we have also faced plenty of challenges from the weather!

Check out the forecast: 50º right now, and not a freezing temp in sight!

When are we gonna catch a break?!

The good news is, the kids are still having a blast with it, and what I wrote in Part 2 of this saga will still greatly improve next year’s rink, if we do get to do that. For now, we are happy with our little less-than-perfect ice rink.

We finally got usable ice after about a day and a half of super-freezing temps (10s). And then it was only “usable” by the lightest in our family. The heavier boys (who coincidentally also love using the rink the most) were a bit too much for the weaker ice, and it cracked in a few places under their weight. Still, they would not be deterred and have even set up a makeshift hockey goal for when the cold weather finally does arrive.

For now, we once again gaze out our window at a green lawn, and a surprisingly quickly melting “ice” rink, yearning for much more seasonal temperatures.

We are glad for those who like warmer weather, but not-so-secretly, anxiously awaiting the arrival of real Western NY winter weather!

Bring it on Old Man Winter!

Our still quite imperfect ice, close up

Two Spaces, Or One?

Being one who has loved writing for as much of his life as he can remember, you’d think that the basics of grammar and punctuation would be the proverbial “old hat” by now, right? Well, sadly, I must admit to a(n incorrect) habit that I just CAN NOT break.

ONE space, Greg… NOT TWO!

It’s not something I made up. I was definitely instructed to do so. TWO spaces after a sentence. That’s how you do it.

But apparently, it’s not.

One day I needed to get to the bottom of this conundrum, so I turned to trusty Google for the answers. And of course, it did not disappoint.

I found an article published about one year ago now cleverly titled, Space Invaders The author not only unequivocally states that the proper spacing is ONE space, he also points out some of the reasons we have used—and were taught to use—two spaces.

For example, he explains:

Every modern typographer agrees on the one-space rule. It’s one of the canonical rules of the profession, in the same way that waiters know that the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork and fashion designers know to put men’s shirt buttons on the right and women’s on the left. Every major style guide—including the Modern Language Association Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style—prescribes a single space after a period. (The Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association, used widely in the social sciences, allows for two spaces in draft manuscripts but recommends one space in published work.) Most ordinary people would know the one-space rule, too, if it weren’t for a quirk of history. In the middle of the last century, a now-outmoded technology—the manual typewriter—invaded the American workplace. To accommodate that machine’s shortcomings, everyone began to type wrong. And even though we no longer use typewriters, we all still type like we do. (Also see the persistence of the dreaded Caps Lock key.)

I miss my typewriter … but I guess it got me into this bad habit!

The problem with typewriters was that they used monospaced type—that is, every character occupied an equal amount of horizontal space. This bucked a long tradition of proportional typesetting, in which skinny characters (like I or 1) were given less space than fat ones (like W or M). Monospaced type gives you text that looks “loose” and uneven; there’s a lot of white space between characters and words, so it’s more difficult to spot the spaces between sentences immediately. Hence the adoption of the two-space rule—on a typewriter, an extra space after a sentence makes text easier to read. Here’s the thing, though: Monospaced fonts went out in the 1970s. First electric typewriters and then computers began to offer people ways to create text using proportional fonts. Today nearly every font on your PC is proportional. (Courier is the one major exception.) Because we’ve all switched to modern fonts, adding two spaces after a period no longer enhances readability, typographers say. It diminishes it.

So there you have it, folks. From now on I will aspire to present my elocutions in properly punctuated form: one space, not two.

I thank you in advance for a good measure of grace while I form my new habit. 😉


There is a rhythm to life that I think most of us ignore. The natural rhythm of the seasons. The new beginning, the freshness of life in the spring. The vibrance of life through the long days of summer. The harvest of the fruits of summer’s sun in the fall, and the reminder that rest is coming in the dark, cold days of winter.

Then there is the length of days of each season. Fall and Spring offer balance of day and night, while Summer brings full, long days with plenty of light and warmth for the early and later part of the days, and an abundance of heat in the middle of the day to remind us to stop, rest. Winter’s cold days of limited light give us a whole season of rest while the land waits to renew the cycle again in Spring.

But instead of following creation’s cues, we try to circumvent the process.

Electricity means we can have light-as-good-as-day as long as we want, whenever we want. We also have as many ways to control the climate as we’d like, so we aren’t too hot in the long summer days, or too cold in the bitter days of winter. And so, neither causes or reminds us to take the rest that nature would seem to be encouraging us toward.

And so we press on. We don’t stop. We do what we have to. We don’t rest. We don’t listen. We ignore the natural rhythms of life that all the rest of creation are obedient to, subject to.

Does that make us masters of our universe, or jesters?

Not really sure it’s either. (Since, in my opinion, we do not really have “mastery” of anything… control of our environment is often, mostly just illusion.) But it is interesting to watch how God’s crown of creation (people) don’t follow the patterns of the rest of his creation, which clearly allow for more rest. More quiet. More reflection, refueling, more living.

That might seem oxymoronic. How can you do more “living” if you are slowing down, doing less.

Well, perhaps that is the point of the seasons.

If there were no winter, the ground would grow weary from too much work. If there were no slow awakening of spring, no abundant warmth of summer, no coolness of fall… all of these work together to bring the fullness of life the Creator intended.

But we resist. We grow weary. We fight back with every means at our disposal: technology, medicines, and more. When all we need to do is follow the simple rhythms of creation. The seasons.

To everything there is a season. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

That’s how I want to live. I think God is reminding me of that. Perhaps, since you’re reading this, he’s doing the same for you.

Enjoy the season you are in. Fresh and new like spring, full and fruitful like summer and fall, or a season of rest like the winter. All are necessary to an abundant life.

For further reading, I suggest In Season by Wayne Jacobsen. I have not gotten to read it yet, but it sounds a lot like what I’m writing about here. The subtitle is, “Embracing the Father’s Process of Fruitfulness”. It’s definitely on my planned books list!

Tim Tebow: The Power of Belief

Tim Tebow is really not that good. At quarterback. Have you noticed?

Before his 80-yard TD pass on the first play of overtime in his first NFL playoff game, Tebow was a “magical” 9 for 20 for 236 yards and 1 TD. (That yardage total is actually pretty impressive on only 9 completions!) The best part about his 300-yard, two-touchdown game was that there were no turnovers. When he played against my Buffalo Bills he was nearly the sole reason that Denver was blown out by the Bills second and third string replacement players. (Yes, it was that kind of a season for Bills fans… but we did celebrate a win that game!)

To be fair, I only watched maybe 10 game-minutes of the game, but what I saw was Denver’s defense making it almost impossible for a hobbled Ben Roethlisberger to do anything on nearly every down, and I saw Tim Tebow throwing the ball off-target, or even in the dirt more times than not.

So what gives with this Tebowmania?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I really do think he’s a great kid. And if you listen to anything he says in interviews, it’s top-notch. He’s not some crazy cliche-spouting Christian who just likes to say, “Thank you, Jesus!” and “Praise the Lord!” any chance he gets. Yes, he might say stuff about Jesus a bit too much for the liking of some, but he’s really not obnoxious about it.

AND, the best part is, he never gives Jesus the “credit” for the win. Nor does he imply that God wanted him and his team to win more than the other. I believe he’s said the opposite. (That God doesn’t really care who wins the game.)

He’s a super team player, always crediting his teammates, and you can tell he just loves playing football.

But why the Tebowmania?

The one thing that Tim Tebow brings to his NFL team is… no, it’s not just “winning”. If we’re crediting just him—one player—with wins and losses, he did lose some games this year. (Again, to be fair, he was actually 7-2 this season, after taking over full time for whoever Denver had starting ahead of him at the beginning of the season. So he did win many more times than he lost. Except against the Bills.)

What he brings is his attitude. Not only a never-say-die, competitive attitude. It’s a positive attitude. And the part that matters is, it doesn’t just affect him and his play. His teammates believe in him, and somehow, his positive attitude—his belief in himself—is so infectious that they believe more in themselves.

The Denver Broncos players believe that they have a better chance to win games because Tim Tebow is their QB. Not necessarily because he’s going to Drew Brees someone with a 500-yard, 6 TD game. (They probably know that is not going to happen.) And not just because they know his will to win never quits. No matter the score, they’re never out of it. (Except in that game in Buffalo! Ha!) 🙂

Tim Tebow is a positive person. He gets his strength from his belief and trust that Jesus is who he said he is, and that that is the most important thing in life. So from his core, he exudes a confidence and a positive, others-oriented attitude. That is something that his teammates pick up on, and start to think inside themselves.

When 53 guys are thinking that way on game day … a win is a very likely outcome.

So it’s really not what Tebow does on the field. (Though you can’t deny that he usually doesn’t hurt their chances… except against Buffalo! Sorry… that was the last time.) 😉

It very much is who he is off the field. Good for you, Mr. Tebow. My boys definitely look up to him (as aspiring football players themselves) and I’d say he’s certainly worth looking up to.

Even if he is a pretty awful NFL quarterback. 🙂