Posted in Uncategorized


Back when we were dating, a song emerged as “ours” in the way songs do as couples travel through life together.  It was by a small band that only existed for a short period of time, but whose CD I borrowed from her all the time.   The title was “You Make Me Smile”, and yes…we often got sappy to it.  But it communicated so much of our early relationship and still today.  I often traveled in a band throughout college, and during the time we spent apart there were many moments where the thought of her, or surprise visit would brighten my face in great ways.  I would’ve never imagined it has now become a bit of a “Family Song”, offering a new perspective when sung/heard by or for our children.  But as any parent knows…..our children have the ability to make us smile.

Often in simple ways…

Our 5 year old, as we’re walking up to the playground, singing “Time is tickin’ away!  Tick Tick Tickin’ away!!”  Granted, we’d just ridden in my car where my incredible cassette-player was pumping out incredibly solid standards of Christian rock.  So she doesn’t know all the words to “Jesus is Still Alright” yet….she’s got time.

Our 8 year old, breaking in on a grown-ups version of charades, grabs a slip of paper to write down a name.  She’s giggling like she’s just written down something hilarious.  I’m thinking a vague cartoon character of some sort.  Maybe a common princess.  But she’s so excited to have that name in the mix, she actually stays and joins the game with us.  So who did she write down?  Pavel Datsuk.  One of the greatest Detroit Redwings to ever perform magically with the puck.  Well, actually she wrote “DASUK”, but we’ll give her time.  Those European names can be tricky.

One of the coolest moments from this past week, however, came from our 6 year old.  It was in the midst of dinner, before we began to carve our pumpkins.  The only night all week where we had no commitments, we had looked forward to a nice relaxing family time together.  Sarah had made a pot roast so tender, you could spread it on bread if you needed.  The whole house smelled of comfort and tranquillity.   We were all sitting down, and just barely keeping the girls reigned in to eat together, as they were so excited to be done and move on to dessert and pumpkin carving.  Sophie gets up and runs into the kitchen, I almost yell but realize she’s refilling her water cup and I calm down.  That’s when it happens.

“OH MAN!!  You guys have GOT to come see this sunset!!  It is soo beautiful!!”   And so, just like that, we all collectively sat our forks down, and followed her call to the kitchen.  Sure enough, it was quite pretty.  Pretty enough that we all went upstairs to get a better view above the neighborhood.  image1(2)

It wasn’t long before we all had breathed in enough of the wonder and beauty of a perfectly pink sunset that could never be captured fully by an iPhone.  We slowly made our way back to the table, and back into the rhythms of a busy fall night.  (did I mention this was also bath night?)   But several times this week, I’ve remembered that moment our 6 year old called our whole family to come and appreciate the beauty of what God was painting on the horizon.  These girls make me smile….

Posted in Different Learning, Different Moments, Uncategorized

gym night.

I have a confession to make – I’m a youth pastor who hasn’t been a big fan of “Gym Night”. The one night each month where I don’t get to talk in depth about scriptures, or spend time in small group conversation, or lead teens in extended moments of prayer.  The purpose is plain: invite your friends, reach out relationally, play together.

But God’s been reminding me of some important aspects of what “Gym Night” can offer.  In a world that increasingly treats our bodies as objects that we’re meant to/encouraged to shape and mold as we see fit.  Where pursuits of beauty and athletic ability make any pain and sacrifice worth the “gain”.  Where we’re encouraged to prove we’re not aging, and our young people are encouraged to prove they can ______ better than ________.bowling

There are very few, if any, places our young people (or older people) can go these days to simply have fun.  Places where it’s safe to fail, and you’re embraced as one who is beloved.  Youth group gym nights at their best can be a safe place for play to happen.  Often providing games/experiences that are either too unique or goofy for anyone to brag about their innate or developed skill at them.  (Sure, they’ll still try to brag they’re the best at smacking your feet with a pool noodle….but just stare at them and smile for a while….they’ll come down from the pedestal.)

In his book “Ethics of Hope”, Jurgen Moltmann reminds us: “People who feel that they are accepted and loved can also accept themselves and their bodies as they are, and as they become as time goes on.  The experience of the divine love makes the believer not only ‘just’ but also beautiful……The incarnation of God has really already given us a counterimage to the modern ‘human being as machine’ and to the artificial products of ‘performance’ and ‘beauty’.  God became human so that we might turn from being proud and unhappy gods into true human beings.”

This hits home also as a parent, watching my daughters learn to play games and dress-up.  They’re so talented and beautiful.  But not because they can do an amazing “grande jete'” or because they share a rich inheritence of physical beauty from their mother. (although both are true)  They are beautiful and valuable because they are loved by God.  To pursue beauty or value from any other source is to participate in a reality we don’t believe exists.  An economy already proven bankrupt in the broken and ugly crucified Christ.

So if you come to one of my gym nights, you’ll probably find more pool noodles, balloons, and nasty foods than basketballs.  If you visit my home you’ll probably find my daughters dressing up like Fancy Nancy more than Barbie.  And if you stick around either, you’ll find people who are learning how to exist genuinely as those Christ has called His “Beloved”…