From Cackling to Squealing

Last week I wrote about our Cackling Little Bubby and shared a few clips of Samuel putting us in stitches. Here’s a clip of his newfound capacity for squealing. It reminded me of an article in the UK Independent several years ago in which scientists claimed that dolphins and whales squeal with delight “like children” when they are having fun. Samuel, I think, can laugh with the best of them.

And a couple more, just for fun. 🙂

Nine Months In, Nine Months Out

Samuel has now spent the same amount of time ex utero as he has in utero. Happy 9-month-iversary, dear one! But those nine months have just been chronos time. Every moment we’ve spent together with our little Bubby has been kairos time. (Yes, there’s a beautiful difference between those two Greek words for time.)

What a joy and delight SamJam has been to us since we first laid eyes on him and held him in our arms! (And, yes, his list of nicknames just keeps growing, as does he! Right, Boo?) Here are a few snaps from the recent milestone.

Unrelatedly, our Friday movie night venture is about halfway through season 4 of Stranger Things. Drew and I agree that a marvelous storyline is unfolding, and we’re looking forward to seeing how this arc comes to resolution. I suppose, then, that now is as good a time as any to recommend Michael Heiser’s The World Turned Upside Down: Finding the Gospel in Stranger Things.

ISBN-13: ‎978-1683593225

Dr. Heiser is a top-tier Old Testament scholar who’s been cited a few times already in my second dissertation. I have about eight or nine of his books and listen to his two main podcasts regularly. In addition to specializing in ancient Near Eastern cultures, he devotes a lot of his time to all things supernatural. For him, the stranger the better! But do pray for Dr. Heiser, as he is fighting a nasty battle with pancreatic cancer. So far so good, thank the Lord.

Be blessed and have a great holiday weekend!

Our Cackling Little Bubby

Samuel is such a happy little boy (except, of course, when it’s nap time). Lately he’s been hootin’ and hollerin’ and having a grand ol’ time with his newly discovered capacity for cackling. There’s even a brief clip below of daddy helping him learn how to scat. Maybe he’a a jazz singer in the making. It’s hard to believe he’ll be nine months old in two days. He’s an endless source of joy and laughter, and I love him to pieces! Enjoy a few slices of life through a child’s eyes.

Response to mommy coming home from a wedding shower.
Loving life on daddy’s shoulders.
Watch out, Ella Fitzgerald!

And a few pics…

Helping around the house.
First time in a grocery cart.
Just being adorable! 🙂

The Beach Bubby Is Back!

I missed this little guy so much last week while he was at the Outer Banks. From the pictures we received, it looks like he had a great time on his first trip to the beach. He also tasted ice cream for the first time, and the video below registers his verdict. (I may have given him some myself last night while we were watching him for a few hours. Shhh!!!) Oh, and I’ve made about a dozen “Samuel Sandwiches” since his return. 🙂

Bonus

Thank you, Kirby Keller for the new “squish baseball.” Dr. Keller caught it at a recent Reading Phillies game we attended together and gave it to Samuel. This could be the start of something big!

A Little Bit of This and That

1. We’re praising God that Samuel’s nephrology appointment yesterday resulted in an “all clear” report. He presently has no discernible stones or calcium deposits in his kidneys! The only thing that remains is for him to be tested to see if he has a genetic predisposition toward kidney issues. As a closed-adoption adoptee myself, I have no knowledge of any family medical history that I can add to the discussion, so I’m hoping the genetic test is conclusive. I’m going to miss him over the next 10 days as he took his parents to the Outer Banks for vacation. He promises to FaceTime me once in a while. 🙂

2. My summer camp speaking tour was exhilarating, even if tiring. All told, I had the privilege of sharing 20 messages at 3 different camps over 19 days. These messages included:

  • Three Hearts on Calvary (Luke 23:32-34, 39-43)
  • As Secure as You Can Make It (Matthew 27:62-28:16)
  • Our Father, Who Art Incredible (Isaiah 55:6-9)
  • Bride Life & the Church (Gen 2:18-24; Eph 5:25-33; Rev 21:1-5)
  • Negaholics & Complainiacs (Philippians 2:14-18)
  • The Leading Edge of Love (1 Corinthians 13:4a)
  • David’s Prayer for Mercy (Psalm 51)
  • Abandon Ship (Luke 5:1-11)
  • Yom Kippur, Part 1 (Leviticus 16:21-23)
  • Yom Kippur, Part 2 (Leviticus 16:21-23)
  • A Life That Counts (John 12:26b; 1 Cor 15:58b; Heb 6:10)

As I noted a few days ago, all three camps went well, and I appreciated those who prayed for me, as well as for those to whom I was blessed to speak. God was at work all over the place! As a mostly left-brain kind of guy, I don’t typically emote during messages, but I lost it several times during a 2-part sermon on Yom Kippur at the one camp. All seven feasts powerfully point to Christ and what he has done for us. I may eventually turn that study into a book. I also deeply appreciate the wonderful staff and volunteers I have who kept things running while I was away. What a blessing to serve on this team!

3. I haven’t gotten to spend too much time landscaping this summer, or posting pictures of our efforts, but the yard still looks decent. My new Japanese maple is doing well. So are the geraniums and the marigolds. A little bit of (post-dissertation) shaping and pruning next year will likely make things look even nicer. The older I get, the more I enjoy this kind of cultivation. Alas, the baskets are subpar, and my cherry tree is not healthy for some reason. Win some, lose some.

4. Speaking of dissertation, I had the privilege of chairing a ThD dissertation committee for a student who successfully gave his oral defense on Thursday afternoon. His accomplishment was remarkable in that English is his third language! The title of his dissertation was: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY OF A LONG-LASTING EVANGELISM PRACTICE IN A MULTICULTUAL COMMUNITY. His ministry context is Toronto, Canada, and his research produced some helpful insights for the church at large. He is going to take a well-deserved break and then consider turning his academic work into a popular-level book.

5. My mother-in-law’s geriatrician informed us last week that Lorena is steadily heading toward Stage 7 of Alzheimer’s disease, which is the final stage. She still knows who we are most of the time, but other than that, she’s in a perpetual haze and doesn’t remember that she lives with us. Her cognition and motor skills are declining fast. The only thing she does well anymore is eat. Extra grace will be needed over the next couple years.

6. The winding down of summer always used to be a sad time for me when I was in school—largely because it meant the end of the outdoor pool season, which I loved. Times change, though, and I now look forward to the unfolding of each new season, especially as we start moving into fall, which is just around the corner. The sights, sounds, smells, and tastes are divine.

7. There are many other joys and tidbits to share, but duty calls, and the pile is high. I’m several weeks behind on sermon summaries, so I’ll be trying to catch up next week. Some of the new friends I met at camp this year have said they would like to stop by from time to time and see where we are in the Word. The more the merrier! 😊 

May God richly bless you with an enjoyable weekend!

And the real voice of Jenny Lind in the show…

Eight Months and Counting

My camp speaking schedule has prevented me from posting regularly this week—sorry! And I’m a few days late on Samuel’s 8-month birth anniversary, so I need to get cracking! Happy belated birthday, dear one! You are deeply loved! 💙 💙 💙 Here are a few shots of the SamJam, who now loves to army-crawl, giggle, drool, and “sing.” (He did not want to sit still for this photo shoot!) Oh, and he still loves to play “Samuel Sandwich.” 🙂

Both camps have gone very well, so thanks to all those who have been praying. As a left-brainer, I don’t typically emote during messages, but I lost it three times last week during a 2-part sermon on Yom Kippur. All seven feasts powerfully point to Christ and what he has done for us. 

I’m commuting daily for this third camp gig, so I get lots of time in the car to think, pray, and worship. My playlist is so uplifting! Last night I was worn out after the evening session, so I vegged out to Enya’s Dark Sky Island on the way home. I forgot how much I like this album.

Enjoy the rest of your week…and for those in this neck of the woods…I hope you can endure the sweltering heat!

Poolside with the Aquadorable

It’s too early to tell if SamJam is going to carry on the family business of being a competitive swimmer, but early indications are promising. He loves the pool and is fascinated by water. I suspect his lips and toes would have to be blue before he comes out willingly to get dried off and warmed up. He’s the picture of adorableness while poolside, but, of course, I’m forever biased. 💙 💙 💙

On another note, this past week was “let’s try to take some steps” week. He’s not there yet in terms of balance, but he can support his own weight and move his legs in the right direction. I’m astounded at the progress he’s making. Apparently, so is he. He smiles and giggles every time he realizes we’re enamored with his wiggly, jiggly attempts at forward motion. 

Finally, we can file this picture under the heading, “While My Guitar Gently Sleeps.” 

I cackled a bit when I saw it yesterday for the first time, so Bethany put it on him again today for our Sunday night hangout. Do I really need to mention that I had a blast “strumming” his strings? There might have been some pickin’ and grinnin’, too. Oh, and “tuning” the guitar just above the neck also led to some happy moments.

Maybe he’ll be a musician, too. That would fit the family profile.

Have a great week, everyone. Be blessed.

Bonus: The chatty one zooms in on himself!

The Newest Phillies Fan

Our neighbor across the street got SamJam a Phillie Phanatic doll. That was especially kind of him since he’s a Cardinals fan. At first Samuel was perplexed. Then he was intrigued. Then he smiled. Then he giggled. He was quite captivated by the long red tongue sticking out the long green nose. Best mascot ever.

All Chili Dogs Go to Heaven

1. My poor mother-in-law is prepping today for a colonoscopy on Tuesday, so we decided to have our Independence Day picnic yesterday and join her today in a period of, uhm, deprivation. Yeah, that’s the word for it. Deprivation. Nuff said! She continues to decline cognitively, and sometimes it’s a real challenge to know how best to care for her. Something seems to be wrong digestively, too, so we’re getting her checked out. Of course, it could all be mental. Either way, we’ll know soon enough.

2. Yesterday’s picnic treats included chili dogs (with mustard and onions) and a build-your-own sundae bar. We had three kinds of ice cream and about nine or ten different kinds of toppings. The most interesting topping was waffle cone crumbs, which turned out to be delicious. I’ve never had those before, but I saw them at Dutch-Way last week and wanted to try them. I’m pretty sure I could survive on picnic food! Especially chili dogs. All chili dogs go to heaven, right?

3. Since this past weekend was the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863), we watched the extended version of Gettysburg, the poignant 1993 movie starring Tom Berenger, Jeff Daniels, and Martin Sheen. Just hearing the theme song is enough to get me choked up. Sadly, Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Officially, 7,863 were killed, 27,224 were wounded, and 11,199 went missing. My great-great-grandfather, Michael Link, fought in that battle and nearly died. I wrote about him here last year. 

4. Our current sermon series on the book of Philemon, which I’ve titled “Squeezed,” is meddling with many of our hearts. Paul’s letter to a first-century friend is only 355 words in the original Greek, but it carries a theological weight far beyond its length. It’s all about forgiveness and reconciliation. I keep thinking about Genesis 33:10b: “To see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.” I had the opportunity last week at a wedding to see quite a few folks from a previous era, and it was a delight to reconnect. The divine Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is pure relationship—perfect unity, diversity, and mutuality, so it’s no wonder the Scriptures keep pressing us to be on good terms with each other to the extent that we’re able. God is completely unified within himself, and he wants his people to reflect him in this way by being unified as well. Something to think about before it’s too late.

5. Since I was recently dubbed “Instagramps” by a good friend of the family, I’ll need to live up to my new name and end with a few shots of Samuel. Apparently, he’ll be driving soon. 🙂

EDIT: Bonus Fourth of July Pics:

Seven Pics for Seven Months

Samuel continues to be a great joy and delight to our whole family. Two days ago he turned seven months old. His parents are doing a great job with him, and it’s fun to watch them in action. I treasure every moment I get to be with this little guy—and that’s almost every day. I am supremely blessed. 💙💙💙💙💙💙💙

Toasting Samuel on Father’s Day 2022

I’ve written before about my adorably delicious Samuel Sandwich gig—a fun little game I play with SamJam every time he comes to my house. You might remember that two pillows serve as the top and bottom slices of “bread.” Together they encase the “Samuel meat” and the tickling “condiments” he receives (endures?) from me before I gobble him up.

Well, for Father’s Day this year, I received two pillows that look like bread to give our game a touch of authenticity—one from Micah and Bethany, and one from Sonya. They were the funniest gifts I think I’d ever received, and I couldn’t stop laughing after I opened them. Of course, I had to try them out right away:

Micah and Bethany also got me a whipped cream spoon (long story, maybe for another post), and two beautiful cards that got me seriously choked up. Sonya got me a few polo shirts and a Japanese maple tree, something I’ve always wanted to get but never did. Her card was excessively kind, too.

Andrew took me to see the new Top Gun movie, which was fantastic. He also sprang for snacks at the theater, so he might need to take out a loan to pay for them! 🙂 It was great for just the two of us to hang out for a while. He’s a wonderful young man.

All this was after a great morning at church and family lunch at our favorite local Italian restaurant. Best Father’s Day ever. I am supremely blessed.

‘I Dedicate You to the Lord’

“For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him.” (1 Samuel 1:27)

There’s more to the passage:

“So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:28)

That’s the deep desire of Samuel’s parents, Micah and Bethany, so we dedicated Samuel to the Lord today in church.

Thanks, Pastor Tanner, for your assistance!


The Dedication of Samuel James White
Sunday, June 12, 2022

Twenty-seven hundred years ago, the prophet Jeremiah wrote these words, “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart’” (Jeremiah 1:5). God had a plan and a purpose for Jeremiah—even before he was born. The same is true of you and me today. God has a plan and a purpose for us.

King David wrote, “Lord…you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13, 16). From God’s perspective, no one is here by accident. Before any of us had a place in this world, we had a place in God’s heart. 

We are precious in his sight, and we are valuable to him because we’re made in his image. Young children remind us of that great truth, and that truth is on display here today as we dedicate a child back to the Lord who gave him to us.

The home is God’s chosen instrument for loving and caring for young children, and the primary means by which they learn the sacred truths of Holy Scripture. In other words, discipleship begins at home with believing parents. And so, we dedicate not only our newborn children to the Lord, we dedicate their parents as well, because their responsibilities are great.

In Deuteronomy 6, God said to believing parents through Moses: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). So, learning God’s ways does not begin in Sunday school. It begins in the home. The church can supplement and support the home, but it can never replace the home.

This morning we’re dedicating one child to the Lord—Samuel James White, of whom Jesus would say, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14).

Samuel’s parents will now affirm their intentions by responding to several questions. Micah and Bethany:

Inasmuch as God has given you the gift of Samuel James, will you now consecrate him to God and His service, and will you publicly acknowledge that in so doing, you are submitting yourselves to God’s will for his life, whatever that may involve?

“We will.”

Will you be responsible for bringing Samuel to corporate worship, and teaching him reverence for the Lord and appreciation for his people?

“We will.”

Will you instruct Samuel in the Word of God and encourage him to obey the sacred Scriptures?

“We will.”

Will you endeavor to lead Samuel to know and receive Jesus Christ by faith as his personal Savior and Lord?

“We will.”

Will you teach Samuel, as soon as he is able to understand, the nature and purpose of this dedication?

“We will.”

And finally, will you dedicate yourselves as parents to live godly lives so that Samuel will see Christ in you?

“We will.”

And do you, the family of God here at this church, promise to encourage these parents in godly living and in the rearing of their child in the fear and admonition of the Lord?

“We will.”

Samuel James White, I dedicate you to the Lord in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. May you come to know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior at a young age, and may you grow to love him, serve him, follow him, and enjoy him all the days of your life. Amen.

And now, church, would you help me teach Samuel the most important thing he (or anyone else) could ever learn? [Singing:]

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

Amen.

After the service, the whole family gathered to celebrate at Ozgood’s Neighborhood Grill in Robesonia, PA. 


Bonus: Several parishioners told me they were placing bets on where in the dedication service I would get choked up. They were disappointed when I made it all the way through to the end without incident. What they didn’t see is that Samuel fell asleep in my arms a short time later during the praise and worship time. That’s when the floodgates opened. I suppose it was the only time in church history when a dedication was immediately followed by a baptism of the same person. 🙂 Since I couldn’t sing at that point, I just made the song lyrics my quiet prayer for SamJam:

Spirit of the living God
Spirit of the living God
We’re leaning in to all You are
Everything else can wait

Spirit of the living God
Spirit of the living God
Come now and breathe upon our hearts
Come now and have Your way

’Cause when You speak, and when You move
When You do what only You can do
It changes us
It changes what we see and what we seek

Thank You, Lord…and Thank You to All Who Prayed

Now that the joyful blubbering has subsided, I can see well enough to type out a brief update for those who prayed for our precious little Samuel. Readers of TNL may remember that we were concerned about the health of his kidneys and the “painful pees” he would have from time to time. When those traumatic episodes took place, we could do nothing but cry along with him, begging God to give him some relief.

About a month and a half ago, those awful events just stopped, so we were hopeful. Bethany called about an hour ago to relay the good news she received from the nephrologist: The one kidney is clear, the other kidney is stable, and there are no stones or dangerous debris.

Hallelujah!

Praise the Lord!

Thank you, Jesus!

There are, or course, innumerable things in this world that we often feel the need to lament, so it’s totally uplifting when there’s something wonderful to celebrate. As such, I’m going to “Raise a Hallelujah” right now and rejoice in Jesus Christ, my “Living Hope.” Feel free to join in. The fallen world being what it is, we’ll all get back to lament soon enough.

My sincere thanks to all who prayed.

You, too, are precious.

Thank you, dear Lord, our Great Physician, for watching over little Samuel and healing his kidneys. Protect him as he grows. And grant your healing grace to the children of all parents and grandparents whose dear ones need a miracle touch from your nail-scarred hands. Amen.

A Mini-Milestone for the Munchkin

Our beloved Samuel has been part of the family now for six months (plus nine months in utero). He was born on December 1, 2021, so today is the 6-month anniversary of his birth. I’m incredibly blessed to have him in my life. His smile melts my heart, and his laugh—which is getting longer and louder—adds joy to everyone in the room. 

This round of anniversary pictures includes a Phillies theme, not that they’re worthy of his endorsement. 🙂 In fact, adding SamJam to their lineup could only improve things, as the team is tanking again this year despite some good off-season acquisitions. C’est la vie. We’re lifelong fans, not fair-weather friends. 

Anyway, Samuel is “halfway to first,” as they say, so enjoy these snaps of our little slugger.

Bonus:

I posted this shot a few days ago, but I’m including it today because it’s quintessential Samuel—smiling, pleasant, curious, and enthusiastic. Don’t you just want to kiss him and squeeze him?!