Brotherly Love (and Screeches)

Between working on getting ready for the apologetics conference last week and digging into a few ancient Sumerian and Akkadian words this week, I’ve gotten behind in uploading pictures and videos of the boys as well as posting recent sermon summaries from our Daniel series. Thanks for your patience as I try to get caught up over the next several days. We’ve been having a blast in Daniel, especially its eschatological (end times) dimensions. 

Enjoy these snaps and vids of my beloved munchkins. I’m especially delighted by Samuel’s euphoria when Levi tries to say hi to him. I’m not sure how much more adorableness I can take from these two. 😊

Two Months of Adorableness (Times Two)

Levi turned two months old today. He celebrated by staying at our house from 8 to 4, along with his brother, Samuel. These two together are unbearably cute, and I love them to pieces. Levi and I had a good 20 minutes of just looking and smiling at each other. He’s in the cooing and pooing stage. 🙂 Samuel was his usual delightful self, charming us with his cheerful spirit. I think I read The Little Red Caboose to him four times today. He participates in some way on every single page (i.e., speaking, pointing, laughing, lunging, waving, etc.). Below are just a few scenes from Levi’s milestone.

💙 💚💙 💚💙 💚💙 💚

Levi at two months old.
Wait for it…
Samuel (above) and Levi (below) at the same milestone.


Micah made a special step stool for Samuel so he could help with the dishes. He loves them both (climbing the stool and doing the dishes)!

He knows his colors, too.

I Love a Rainy Night

What? A song about rain, and it’s not from Enya? Yes, and this one goes all the way back to 1980. Sheesh! There’s no real message to this song other than, well, “I love a rainy night.” 😊 That, and maybe the escapist notion of showers washing away the cares of the world, giving way to a sunnier day to come.

What I don’t love about rainy nights is how they sometimes wreak havoc on the neighborhood trees. A blast of wind sheared off the top of a tree in Micah and Bethany’s front yard, and it landed right across their driveway. Drew and I were able to run down and move it out of the way, no problem, before the kids got home.

Speaking of kids… 💙😊🩵😊💙

Levi getting to know his Poppi.
Samuel making homemade pizza with his Mimi and his cousin.

The Boys Are Back in Town

Samuel and Levi are coming to our house tonight so Bethany and Micah can have a date night. We’re so excited to have them. Samuel is staying overnight, but Levi will need to go home for his feedings throughout the evening. Someday Levi will be able to stay overnight, too, which is great because the Friday night pizza/sleepover is becoming a thing, and I love it! Pancakes follow on Saturday morning. 😊

Last night we had a spontaneous rendezvous at the Fairlane Avenue Park here in Myerstown, followed by take-out dinner from Tosco’s, our local Italian restaurant. (Wherever I’ve lived, the Lord has made sure there’s a high-quality Italian place right down the street!) The weather was perfect, and we had a delightful time. I even had a “mush moment” at one point, quietly thanking God that our beautiful munchkins live so close that we get to see them often.

Oh, and fall is in the air. What could be better?

Have a lovely weekend. Be blessed.

💙 💚💙 💚💙 💚💙 💚

Levi has a laser focus, and he’s starting to smile at us.
Such a happy boy.
Samuel loves to pick the garden. Unfortunately, he doesn’t like to eat most of what he picks.
He knows what he’s picking, too. It’s o.k. that he stumbles at okra. No one needs to know what okra is.
Learning to spell one’s name can be hazardous.
When you love your baby brother, you just have to say so.
The song is dated, but the chorus is iconic and has been adapted by several sports teams. Skip the raunch in the later verses.


The Serious Business of Laughter

As the middle child of three, I totally get this!
Samuel comes to mind. He’s always too excited at our house to go to sleep, even when he’s exhausted.
Good one. On the other hand, what do you think all that kicking was about?
Raw carrots, yes. Cooked carrots, meh.

Yeah, these are kind of juvenile, but I needed a good laugh today. We did the best we could this past year during Sara’s heart-wrenching illness, and then we did the best we could to support and resource those on the front lines of both her public and private services. (I was happy to take a behind-the-scenes role and let others use their gifts to lead the memorials.) The healing work goes on, though, so we need some relief points along the road ahead.  

One of my favorite Sara memories is when I was cracking up during a late-night chew-the-fat session at our house last year, and she started narrating the various sounds and gestures of my laugh while I was in the very act of laughing. That just made me laugh all the more. And the memory of it is making me laugh today, too. So, thank you, Sara! 🙂

Does it really need to be said that pastors are just ordinary people like everybody else? We have our own set of struggles while simultaneously serving as the repository of other people’s pain. It can be unrelenting sometimes. And it hurts.

The last time I led a congregation through the path of deep grief after a similar tragic death, I was soon plunged into the dark world panic attacks and depression myself. Thank God in time he “lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40:2). He can do the same for you.  

In the meantime, try to laugh a little. It can be medicine for the soul (Proverbs 17:22).


Get it? 🙂

Then You Also Will Appear with Him in Glory

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3:1-4   

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 
Revelation 21:3-5

Beautiful, Brilliant, and Broken

I’ve lost count of the number of Shakespeare festivals and other productions we attended together over the years, but they were one of the highlights of our friendship—along with rich conversations about theology, art, and literature well into the night (and sometimes well past midnight). The Braveheart Highland Pub in Hellertown was a favorite pre-show dining spot of ours.

In the final ten months of her life, Sara’s mental illness plummeted faster than I had ever seen in anyone else her age. No amount of counseling, encouragement, therapy, medication, prayer, or hospitalization could help. And she received the best available in each case, albeit too late. It wasn’t merely depression that took her from us but schizoaffective disorder in all its ugliness. It was a heartbreaking tragedy we watched unfold before our very eyes.

Yet we are persuaded that God met that tragedy with his abounding grace. We who gathered to discuss her services (and the difficult ministry to those who remain behind to deal with deep grief) concurred that nothing could separate her from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39). Her love for the Lord was genuine and not undermined at all by her aggressive illness. Indeed, the Lord is near the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). He is near to us, too.

Best of all, when you know Christ by faith as your Lord and Savior, what puts you in the grave can’t keep you in the grave.

So, in that spirit, I bid farewell in hope:

“Goodnight sweet prince[ess],
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
Hamlet, Act V, Scene 2

Samuel and the Joys of Onomatopoeia

It’s commonly known that onomatopoeia refers to a word that phonetically imitates or suggests the source of the sound it describes. For example: 

The snake hissed in the grass.  

The fallen leaves rustled in the wind.  

The bees buzzed around the flower. 

The students murmured their dissatisfaction about the upcoming quiz.  

The rooster’s cock-a-doodle-do announced the arrival of a new day.  

“Chitty bang-bang. Chitty-chitty bang-bang.” (Ian Fleming)  

“Plop, plop, fizz, fizz. Oh what a relief it is.” (Paul Margulies & Tom Dawes)  

The Scriptures contain examples of onomatopoeia, too, though it doesn’t always come through in English. For example: 

“Then thundered the horses’ hoofs—galloping, galloping go his mighty steeds” (Judges 5:22). Hebrew: daharoth, daharoth (cf. English: The Lone Ranger: darrrunt, darrrunt). 

“Be silent before the Sovereign LORD . . .” (Zephaniah 1:7a). Hebrew: hass (cf. English: hush). 

“Your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac” (Genesis 17:19b). Hebrew: Yitzhak (cf. English: yuk yuk). 

“Go and buy a clay jar from a potter” (Jeremiah 19:1b). Hebrew: baqbuq (cf. English: glub glub). 

“And some began to spit on him . . .” (Mark 14:65a). Greek: ptuo (cf. English: spit). 

It’s a fun linguistic phenomenon.  

Anyway, Samuel discovered its joys recently when he started imitating the siren of a little firetruck we recently bought him.  


He also displays a bit of rhythm, too, with the bopping head. This little munckin always makes my heart smile. 

Some Bonus Snaps

Fifty Years Ago Today

August 22, 1973

An unknown little girl

in an unknown little church

in an unknown little town 

confessed her need for a Savior.  

Christ Jesus scooped her into His arms, swallowed up her brokenness, and made her a child of His kingdom.

She is known and loved by the God of the universe. 

I am that girl. I will never get over it. I never want to.

    – Sonya

    The World’s Most Impressive Fall Color Destinations

    “As the hot, sticky hug of summer yields to the crisp embrace of autumn, nature embarks on a colorful and captivating transformation. Fall is our favorite.” So write the editors at the captivating Moss and Fog website, and I wholeheartedly concur. Fall is magical. I’ll be linking below to their August 17 post titled, “Exploring the World’s Most Impressive Fall Color Destinations.” First a few snaps and clips of my cherubs.

    Levi cooing to Mama.
    Samuel enjoying the special seat I got him for his new wagon.
    Someone learned how to use the remote to our patio lights.
    Testing. Testing. Testing.
    He pushes a button and then announces the color.
    Bubby always gets worn out after a day of playing with Papa.

    O.k., here’s the link to that Moss and Fog post.

    Little Ones to Him Belong

    Samuel is only 19½ month old, but yesterday he joined his mama on the chorus of “Jesus Loves Me” at bedtime, and it took my breath away. His singing is beyond adorable, and my heart may have melted into a big fat puddle of Papa-love when I heard it. The video clip was shot after the lights went off, so there’s nothing to see. But there’s plenty to hear—pure praise “out of the mouth of babes.” Could there be any sweeter or more important message than: 

    Jesus loves me, this I know, 
    for the Bible tells me so. 
    Little ones to him belong; 
    they are weak, but he is strong. 

    Yes, Jesus loves me.
    Yes, Jesus loves me. 
    Yes, Jesus loves me.

    The Bible tells me so. 

     💙 🙌💙 🙌💙 🙌💙 🙌💙 🙌

    Nothing to see but plenty to hear.
    Samuel picked up all his toys, so he was allowed to watch a little TV.
    Levi is laser focused on those who came to see him.

    Two Little Dino-Mites

    Samuel likes being a big brother to Levi. We had them over to our place a couple times this week, which is always a sheer delight. The last time they were here, they had on matching dinosaur shirts. Of course, I had to get the camera. 😊 Levi had a procedure at CHOP this week, and all went well. He seems rather peaceful, with no lingering effects. 

    This time of year is always thick with course and syllabus preparation, which also comes with added tasks and responsibilities in the digital age. Still, it’s a labor of love, as is the dissertation, which is still in motion. Next month always feels like a changeover at church, too, so the pile is doubly high these days. All the more reason to throw in some silly memes for a few lighthearted moments before getting back to the grind.

    Enjoy. And have a fantastic weekend.

    The cats don’t even try.
    This is never more true than when I try to swim or play softball.
    As long as it’s not a lead pencil.
    A legitimate observation, despite the typo.
    I guess this qualifies as a generation gap.
    Passed the test at school. Flunked the test at home.
    Yes, I am an INTJ, but my N is moving in the F direction these days. In fact, I tend to extrovert my F, which is why I could never be a good poker player.

    A New Red Wagon for the Boys

    Last week I got a new red wagon for the boys that I can hook up to my lawn tractor. It’s our own little Knoebel’s ride—with no tickets necessary (though my next door neighbor offered me two bucks for a ride. Unfortunately, he couldn’t fit)!

    Samuel likes the wagon, though he doesn’t really like the noise that comes from the tractor. We did several laps around the yard, and then I dropped him off at the garden, where he loves to help us pick the ripe stuff. As we love to say around here, “He’s the best Bubby ever.”  

    Levi is becoming more alert and used to our voices. It was fun to feed him for the first time last week and sing him to sleep. He is so precious, and Samuel is (mostly) gentle with him.


    Identity Theft

    We’re thinking that Levi (aka, “Nugget”) bears a striking resemblance to Andrew (aka, “Uncle Tino”). My history in pictures doesn’t begin until I was 13 months old, so we’ll have to wait for those comparisons. All the same, he’s a cutie pie, and I was able to give him a bottle for the first time today. Last night Samuel stayed overnight at our house, and we had a blast. I’m so thrilled he loves coming to our place. We love having him!

    Andrew is on the left. Levi is on the right. I think.
    Samuel loves to pick the vegetables out of our garden.


    I did a double take when I saw this in the grocery store. I once had a demon-possessed Pomeranian.

    ‘When Are the Boys Coming Over?’

    I just got back from church camp where I had the privilege of sharing five evening messages with a responsive and appreciative crowd. Their favorite, by far, was a sermon called “It Is Finished” from John 19:28-30, where Jesus says, “Tetelestai!” from the cross. It’s the gospel in a single word, and I got a bit exuberant preaching it! 

    While I was away, Samuel and Levi kept being cute, and I missed them greatly. I gathered up a few snaps and clips upon my return, and now I have some new ones to share. I may have shown a few of their previous pictures via PowerPoint during one of my sermons. 🙂 Do you remember that picture of Bubby washing the car? And the one where he’s holding a sponge, covered in suds? The camp folks are now smitten, too!  

    Here’s something I’ve been eager to say for the past nine months, and now I can say it: “When are the boys coming over?” Haha! Actually, Samuel was here yesterday (and it was SO good to see him). He’s coming tomorrow, too, so I’m super spoiled. I’m thinking it’s time to establish a Friday night pizza tradition at our house, with them staying overnight and having pancakes for breakfast on Saturday morning. 

    Enjoy a few glimpses of my cherubs. And a song that may send your spirit soaring.

    💙 🩵 💚 💙 💚 🩵 💙 💚 🩵 💙 💚 🩵 💙 💚 🩵



    I made a reference to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast in one of my camp messages: “Barely even friends, then somebody bends unexpectedly.”

    Beautiful, Brilliant, and Broken

    She was one of the best young friends our family could ever have.

    She was one of the brightest and most insightful students I have ever taught.

    She was one of God’s greatest gifts to those who needed a dose of beauty, truth, and goodness in their lives. 

    Sara Elizabeth Gummo
    May 3, 1990 – July 10, 2023 

    Today we laid Sara to rest after a private funeral service in her hometown of Fleetwood, PA. Tomorrow we begin discussing the public celebration of life service at her home church. Someday we will rise together and be forever with the Lord. 

    “She was beautiful. She was brilliant. She was broken. She needed a Savior. And she had one—Jesus Christ. You need a Savior, too.”
    – Rev. Randall Grossman 

    Job 19:25-27a
    I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. I myself will see him with my own eyes. 

    Psalm 27:4
    One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

    Isaiah 42:3
    A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

    John 14:1-3 
    “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” 

    The empty tomb of the risen Christ changes everything. Let it change you, too, and give you hope beyond the grave. Abounding grace will be yours forever.

    Death, Be Not Proud
    By John Donne 

    Death, be not proud, though some have called thee 
    Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; 
    For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow 
    Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me. 
    From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, 
    Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow, 
    And soonest our best men with thee do go, 
    Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery. 
    Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, 
    And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell, 
    And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well 
    And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then? 
    One short sleep past, we wake eternally 
    And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

    Goodnight, dear friend.

    Joy comes in the morning.