Today’s Lament | 05.25.2022

Some days it just seems inappropriate to laugh.

In aftermath of gunman killing 19 Texas elementary students officials, lawmakers look for answers

https://justthenews.com/nation/crime/many-14-dead-texas-elementary-school-shooting-report

If chance be the Father of all flesh,
Disaster is his rainbow in the sky,
And when you hear

State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Whites Go Looting!
Bomb Blasts School!
It is but the sound of man worshiping his maker.

– Steve Turner

A Little Bit of This and That

Below are a few “snippets” (i.e., thoughts, quotes, and stats) in no particular order, and arranged around no particular theme. Of course, there are also a few recent snaps of SamJam, along with a video clip of him sitting up for the first time unassisted. What a milestone—from spitting up to sitting up in five short months. Have I mentioned lately how much I love this little guy? 💙

Enjoy!


“When you realize how much you’re worth, you’ll stop giving people discounts.”
– Karen Salmansohn

“I love to go to Washington—if only to be near my money.” 
– Bob Hope

“Orwell’s 1984 was a warning, not a ‘how to’ manual.”
– David Shafer

There are probably some good and compelling reasons for this trend of parents taking their children out of government-run schools:

  • 1970s – 13,000 homeschoolers 
  • 1980s – 200,000 homeschoolers 
  • 1990s – 850,000 homeschoolers 
  • 2000s – 1,500,000 homeschoolers 
  • 2010s – 1,700,000 homeschoolers 
  • 2020s – 5,000,000 homeschoolers

A recent Babylon Bee headline: “Parents baffled that 1 hour of youth group a week not effectively combating teen’s 30 hours on TikTok.”

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
– Jimi Hendrix

“Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.”
– George S. Patton 

“My pain may be the reason for somebody’s laugh. But my laugh must never be the reason for somebody’s pain.”
– Charlie Chaplin

“The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.”
– Jean-Paul Sartre

“My heart is both my greatest weakness and my superpower.”
– J. Iron Word

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
– Maya Angelou

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.”
– Ernest Hemingway

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” 
– Paulo Coelho

“God has infinite attention to spare for each one of us. You are as much alone with him as if you were the only being he had ever created.”
– C. S. Lewis

What a busy little boy!
I’m not sure that’s how it works. 🙂
Father and son sharing a smile.
Mrs. Mosby used to despise SamJam. “Why did you bring this little crying machine home with you? All he does is steal attention away from me.” Nowadays, they’re learning how to peacefully coexist.

It sounds like mommy may think time is flying by too quickly. I’m sure I don’t want to be around when SamJam goes off to kindergarten for the first time. 🙂

In addition to which…

This year we’re trying red and white geraniums and yellow marigolds in the front flower beds. The petunias were a bust last year. The red, white, and yellow zinnias were great, but the nursery didn’t have any left. Ugh! Maybe next year.

The garden has also been launched. So far we’ve planted squash, zucchini, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes. Food prices being what they are these days, this can only help.

Celebrating Five Months of Samuel with a ‘Samuel Sandwich’

Our little SamJam turned five months old yesterday. I celebrated by eating a whole bunch of “Samuel Sandwiches.” Each one was adorably delicious!

Samuel Sandwich Recipe

Slam one pillow onto the middle of the bed. This is the bottom piece of bread.

Air butter the bread with your hand.

Scoop up the Samuel meat and place him gently on the buttered bread.

Air spurt some ketchup onto the Samuel meat, making sure it tickles.

Air spurt some mustard onto the Samuel meat, making sure it tickles.

Air place some slices of lettuce onto the Samuel meat, making sure it tickles.

Air place some slices of cheese onto the Samuel meat, making sure it tickles.

Air drop some slices of tomato onto the Samuel meat, making sure it tickles.

Air drop some slices of pickle onto the Samuel meat, making sure it tickles.

Air sprinkle some salt onto the Samuel meat, making sure it tickles.

Air sprinkle some pepper onto the Samuel meat, making sure it tickles.

Air crunch some potato chips onto the Samuel meat, making sure it tickles.

Slam another pillow onto the Samuel meat, making sure it tickles.

Air cut the sandwich in half with your right forearm, directly across the belly region of the Samuel meat, making sure it tickles.

Hug the Samuel sandwich and air chew it by rolling around on the bed, saying, “Nom! Nom! Nom! Nom! Nom! Nom! Nom! Nom!”

Remove the top pillow. Remove the Samuel meat.

Say with great enthusiasm, “Again?”

Repeat the process when a smile emerges.

Here are five snaps from the 5-month mark:

Micah and Bethany are such good parents. Their sweet baby is largely happy and contented most of the time. Periods of fussiness do come each day, but they’re not too severe.

One thing SamJam loves is the “Hey Bear Sensory” series, though mom and dad are careful to limit his screen time. He really gets into this particular episode, kicking and cackling through most of it:

Beauty from the Dirt

After my sour little “chuckle” from earlier today, I thought I should say something happy—if for no other reason than to let everyone know I’m not despairing (or going apoplectic) over the absurdities of our day. Better to be a happy warrior than a curmudgeon. Besides, believers are people of hope and resurrection.

Nothing conveys that great truth better than spring flowers. Up from the dark dirt come the bright beauties of the plant kingdom. Red and yellow tulips in combination are among my favorites, though I have many others, too.

I adore my cherry tree, but it didn’t keep its color very long this year because of the late frost. Maybe next year it will do better. The large addition we put on the back of our house a couple years ago necessitated the sacrifice of a glorious hydrangea bush, which needs to be remedied soon. And then there’s that Japanese maple I’ve been wanting to get…

Anyway, here are a few snaps from the front part of our house. May they brighten your day a bit like they did mine.

A Whole Lot of Adorableness

I got to spend part of the day with Samuel—his first Easter. It was a bit of a challenge to get through the second verse of our closing hymn this morning. How could I not think of this beloved child, and the good God who gave him to us?

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

Refrain
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

Below are a couple video clips and a picture of SamJam in his Maundy Thursday outfit. He’s getting so chatty! Yes, it’s a whole lot of adorableness for one post. But, hey, today is a holiday. Thanks for indulging me. 🙂

Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed.

Deeper Magic from before the Dawn of Time

“Though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.”

– C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Image Credits: narnia.fandom.com; geeksundergrace.com.

Where Is the ‘Good’ in Good Friday?

A high school senior in our area died this morning from a horrible motorcycle accident last night. His family and friends are in deep grief right now, and they will mourn to some extent for the rest of their lives. 

A man in our town with no health insurance just broke his hand and needs a complicated surgery to get three pins in his bones. His wife and children depend on his income to survive. 

An old friend recently got a shocking diagnosis for a kind of cancer that often defies successful treatment. His family watches and prays, not knowing what the coming weeks will bring.

Life is not only devastating sometimes, it can be deadly, too. That’s why we need to worship, as worship meets death with life. Especially today—Good Friday 2022 A.D.

We learn in Psalm 22:3 that God inhabits the praise of his people—a comforting truth from a Davidic composition often associated with the cross since Jesus cited its opening line during his crucifixion. Jesus knows firsthand that life can be as tough as nails. He’s no stranger to the ravages of this world. He knows what it means to be in pain.

In his book The Cross of ChristJohn Stott (1921-2011) writes, “I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as ‘God on the cross.’ In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?” In similar fashion, Edward Shillito (1872-1948) wrote in his poem “Jesus of the Scars”:

The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,

Good Friday worship offers a unique spiritual experience for Christian believers around the world. In many communities of faith, it weaves together three vital strands of reflection that aim to deepen our gratitude and devotion to Christ for all he has done for us.

First, Good Friday worship is part historical reconstruction. We remember the words, actions, faith, and promises of Jesus as he suffered in Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate and the religious leaders of the first century.

Second, Good Friday worship is part biblical-theological exposition. We consider what it means that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and why the cross was God’s chosen instrument of redemption for the world.

Third, Good Friday worship is part spiritual lamentation. We gather to confess and renounce the sins we commit—all of which necessitated the cross—finding hope in the great truth Jesus himself declared: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Good Friday is the second movement of the historic Triduum—the three great days—in which the church gathers to remember the passion (i.e., the sufferings) of Christ. The tradition at our church is to gather in a bare sanctuary, stripped of all its symbols but the cross. We read the Scriptures, pray silently, worship a cappella, hear a “message of the cross,” and depart in silence, responding in faith and obedience to the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts and minds. 

Why do we call it “Good” Friday? Because Jesus said, “Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The Apostle Paul wrote, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). The Apostle Peter wrote, “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Pet 3:18).

The cross, then, is good news for humanity. A great transaction took place there that God the Father accepted. He planned it, authorized it, carried it out, and honored it. That transaction is simply this: God treated Jesus as we deserved so that he could treat us as Jesus deserved. As the old hymn by Phillip Bliss (1838-1876) puts it:

Bearing shame and mocking rude,
In my place condemned he stood.

Or as Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) wrote in his famous hymn “It Is Well with My Soul”:

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Jesus tasted death for all. Therefore, all can live again.

That is why Good Friday is truly good.

Kneels in Humility and Washes Our Feet

May we never get over the shock that our God does feet.

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him” (John 13:3-5).

“Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos.”

“A new command I give you: Love one another just as I have loved you” (John 13:34).

Meekness and majesty,
Manhood and Deity,
In perfect harmony,
The Man who is God.
Lord of eternity
Dwells in humanity,
Kneels in humility
And washes our feet.

O what a mystery,
Meekness and majesty.
Bow down and worship
For this is your God,
This is your God.

Father’s pure radiance,
Perfect in innocence,
Yet learns obedience
To death on a cross.
Suffering to give us life,
Conquering through sacrifice,
And as they crucify
Prays, “Father forgive.”

O what a mystery,
Meekness and majesty.
Bow down and worship
For this is your God,
This is your God.

Wisdom unsearchable,
God the invisible,
Love indestructible
In frailty appears.
Lord of infinity,
Stooping so tenderly,
Lifts our humanity
To the heights of His throne. 

O what a mystery,
Meekness and majesty.
Bow down and worship
For this is your God,
This is your God.

The Holy City: Lift Up Your Gates and Sing!

Palm Sunday worship is a glorious experience. As is often the case, I had trouble this morning getting through the opening hymn, “All Glory, Laud, and Honor,” without tears. It was doubly difficult this year because my pre-service playlist included “The Holy City,” which captures a glimpse of our glorious King and all that awaits the people of God. I can’t stop thinking about the message of this song, which started the waterworks, so here it is (in several different versions) for your encouragement.

(And, while I’m not a Mormon, I sympathize wholeheartedly with the soloist in the second version below trying to make it through this powerful piece without completely losing it.)

The Holy City

Stephen Adams, Frederick E. Weatherly

Last night I lay asleeping
There came a dream so fair
I stood in old Jerusalem
Beside the temple there
I heard the children singing
And ever as they sang
I thought the voice of angels
From heaven in answer rang
I thought the voice of angels
From heaven in answer rang
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem!
Lift up you gates and sing
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna to your King!”

And then I thought my dream was changed
The streets no longer rang
Hushed were the glad hosannas
The little children sang
The sun grew dark with mystery
The morn was cold and chill
As the shadow of a cross arose
Upon a lonely hill
As the shadow of a cross arose
Upon a lonely hill
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem!
Hark! How the angels sing
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna to your King!”

And once again the scene was changed
New earth there seemed to be
I saw the Holy City
Beside the tideless sea
The light of God was on its streets
The gates were open wide
And all who would might enter
And no one was denied
No need of moon or stars by night
Or sun to shine by day
It was the new Jerusalem
That would not pass away
It was the new Jerusalem
That would not pass away
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem!
Sing for the night is o’er
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna for evermore”

God’s Love in Slow Motion: A Few Odds & Ends before Holy Week Begins

Holy Week can be one of the most significant times in a believer’s worship year. During these days, we clear our calendar to focus exclusively on the events of Jesus’s suffering, death, and resurrection, which are at the heart of our faith. Our attention during this special week is directed toward the person and work of Christ as:

  • the triumphant yet humble King (Palm Sunday);
  • the servant of God and mediator of the new covenant (Maundy Thursday);
  • the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Good Friday); and
  • Christus Victor—the risen Savior of the human race (Easter Sunday).

Holy Week itself grew out of the simple observation that 28 of the 89 chapters in the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)—32 percent—are devoted to the period of time between the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and his ascension into heaven. Yet this period is less than 1 percent of Jesus’ entire three and a half years of public ministry. 

In terms of literary style, then, such space allocation suggests that while the birth, life, teachings, and miracles of Jesus were important to the authors, it was the passion of Christ and his resurrection from the dead that were centrally important to their purpose in writing. It’s almost as if each of the four Gospels is a Passion Narrative with an extended introduction!

By way of analogy, modern writers and filmmakers often arrange for the action of their stories to slow down when they reach their most critical moments, using techniques such as freeze frame, slow motion, and extended coverage. The technique of slow motion is used, for example, in the important race scenes in the movie Chariots of Fire, where the director captures and accentuates each runner’s agonized expression before the finish line. The impact is significant. 

The amount of application of such techniques in storytelling is proportional to the importance of any given scene to the larger work. It’s no exaggeration, then, to say that the Passion Narratives present to us the incomparable love of God in slow motion. Believers seek to revel in that love during Holy Week, changing up our routines and realigning our schedules to Gospel-centered considerations.

As such, I won’t be posting chuckles and other items along those lines during the coming week. Anything appearing here will be topics and themes associated with Holy Week. Therefore, below are a few odds and ends before I sign off for a bit.

First, Samuel’s nephrology appointment is this coming Tuesday. Hopefully, we’ll get to see if his kidneys are improving and learn if any advanced treatments will be necessary. Thanks for praying!

Samuel at 4.5 months.
A piano player in the making?

Second, we found out earlier today the gender of Samuel’s new cousin. There’s a little girl on the way! My nephew’s wife is scheduled to have her baby in August, and we’re all over the moon.

SamJam and Aunt Rachel, who will give him a cousin in August.
Bethany and Samuel; Rachel and ?; and Amy and Jamie.

Third, I had a blast at the Phillies’ game yesterday. I went with a theology prof who loves the game of baseball as much as I do (even as we lament the politicizing of professional sports in this country). Neither of us had ever been to Opening Day before, so that was a real treat for both of us, especially since the weather was perfect and the Phillies won. Below are some snaps of the opening ceremonies.

Opening Day 2022 at Citizens Bank Park.
My baseball and theology buddy, Ken.
Batting practice comes to an end.
A paratrooper descends into the ballpark.
Thankfully, a safe landing.
Even the Phillie Phanatic parachuted into the park!
The staff and players are introduced for the new MLB season.
The massive flag for the national anthem.

Finally, the Dutch Apple’s production of Singing in the Rain was very well done and well worth seeing. We went today with a family friend who likewise loves the arts. 

The Dutch Apple dinner theater in Lancaster.

Blessings to all—whether you observe Holy Week or not!

SamJam at Four Months

Samuel turned four months old yesterday, and he was all smiles. I look forward to seeing him each weekday, and I miss him terribly when he’s not here on the weekends. We always have a blast together. His favorite games are, “Go See,” “Cheek Thing,” “Belly Zerbits,” and “Samuel Sandwich.” This last game should probably be the subject of its own post someday!

I made the mistake of trying to sing “The Blessing” over him this past Thursday, which was my birthday. I say “mistake” because I wound up blubbering all over him when I got to this part of the song:

May His favor be upon you
And a thousand generations
And Your family and your children
And their children, and their children

I didn’t feel too bad about snotting on him because he’s anointed many of my shirts with his own spit-up. We’re hardly even yet! 🙂

Enjoy a few pics of my wonderful little bubby. (The mark on his forehead is a little scab from a self-inflicted bonk!)

Bonus

Bethany sent me this little gem of Samuel trying his first bite of solid food. I don’t think he’s convinced yet. 🙂

In a Jeep! Beep! Beep! Beep!

Samuel’s daddy drives a Jeep SUV, so it’s only natural that he should have his own Jeep, too. In fact, somewhere in his wardrobe is probably a onesie that says, “Crawl. Walk. Jeep.” Like father, like son.

That’s why we were thrilled to find a baby book called, Jesus Is with Me, the words of which can be sung to the tune of “Jingle Bells.” One of the lines in it says, “In a jeep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Jesus is with me!” That one reference made it a must-purchase. It reinforces the simple truth that Jesus loves and cares for children, and he is always with us.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
(2 Timothy 3:14-15)

Below are a few recent snaps of this little cuddle bug I adore so much. I may be brave and post a video someday of this silly “cheek thing” I do that he gets a kick out of. He’s on the verge of giggling every time I do it, especially when I combine it with bare belly zerbits. (His bare belly, not mine.)

Thanks for your continued prayers for his one kidney. About once every two weeks he has a really painful pee because of the calcium debris. It’s heart-wrenching when that happens, and we all just cry along with him. His appointment with the nephrologist is scheduled for mid-April, and we’re hoping to get some answers at that time.

Be blessed, and have a great week! 

The New Snow Patrol Is Here

No, not the rock band’s lockdown single, but little SamJam slowing down neighborhood traffic with his innate charm. Today he had his first encounter with the white stuff, and his adorableness was on full display. Pennsylvania weather is notoriously schizophrenic, and today we got a few inches of accumulation, right on the doorstep of spring. Oh, and a whole lot of wind, too.

Samuel is still trying to figure out if he likes this kind of weather. He’s intrigued by the snow itself, but he doesn’t seem to be a fan of the cold. Yes, he’s definitely related to me. 🙂