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? 💙
“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
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.
Metaphorically, the headline could refer to me on quite a few occasions. Literally, it could refer to Samuel on some recent occasions. (I missed him so much while I was away this past week!) Enjoy a few brief clips and pics of this precious little boy that I just can’t get enough of.
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. 🙂
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!
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.
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.
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.
Blessings to all—whether you observe Holy Week or not!
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!)
Bethany sent me this little gem of Samuel trying his first bite of solid food. I don’t think he’s convinced yet. 🙂
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.
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. 🙂
Samuel continues to grow in awareness of the people and objects around him. His curiosity is off the charts, and he often sports a laser focus on that which interests him at any given moment. Maybe that’s why he fights sleep so valiantly. He doesn’t want to miss out on anything good. His baby lingo is a delight to hear, too, and his first words can’t be too far behind. Until then, I’ll just enjoy the gurgle-goos and ahhh-goos that fill the air. There’s no sweeter music in all the world.
Medical update: Our last trip to CHOP resulted in some good news and an item to keep in prayer. The dilation in Samuel’s right kidney is completely gone (praise the Lord!), and the dilation in his left kidney has shown good progress (thank you, Lord!). Still, there’s some calcium debris in the left kidney that we need to keep an eye on. It’s such a small thing compared to the other cases we see at that wonderful hospital, but it’s still an issue. Next stop is the pediatric nephrologist.
Below are some recent snaps and a brief video of our beloved SamJam. A couple shots feature his “Cutie on Duty” bib that someone made for him at the baby shower last October.
My apologies for being so delinquent in posting pictures and videos of Samuel lately. Alas, the pile has been exceedingly high this year.
It wasn’t entirely unexpected, but I had to push the pause button on dissertation number two for a couple months to take care of another writing project requiring my attention. Thankfully, it’s almost finished, and I should be getting back to the Second Temple veil soon enough—a subject I find endlessly fascinating.
Anyway, the doctor tells us SamJam will be giggling soon. I don’t doubt it. He makes the most delightful sounds on a regular basis. My favorite is the gurgling riff followed by a high-pitched, “Ahhh goooo.” I think he’s trying to tell us something. 🙂
I am supremely blessed to be able to see him for several hours at a time, five or more times a week. And I’m loving every minute of it! Having him in my life these past (nearly) three months has virtually tripled my joy! Thank you, Lord, for this precious, precious child, and his wonderful parents.
He’s even more fascinating than the Second Temple veil.
(SamJam is off-center only for a few seconds. He’s nearly seven weeks old here.)
Edit: At a particularly difficult time during labor, Bethany looked at Micah and said, “What if he’s uggo?” The question itself is hilarious, but Micah’s reply still has us in stitches: “Then we’ll keep him in the basement. Just keep breathing, honey.” Well, I think we can agree the baby is not uggo! 🙂
Samuel is growing and thriving, but he has a bit of an issue with his kidneys. His mom and dad had him at CHOP earlier this week, and they discovered that both kidneys are slightly dilated. The condition can heal on its own over time, or he could need surgery a couple years down the road. Time will tell.
I had a good cry over the prospect that our little SamJam would need to go under the knife at such a young age, but so many parents (and grandparents) have much bigger medical challenges they must face. We’re blessed that our precious munchkin is otherwise strong and healthy.
And cute. Oh, my word, he is so cute!
That said, for those who pray, we would appreciate any intercession you might be able to undertake on his behalf. We believe in divine healing and the power of God to work miracles.
Micah and Bethany are such good parents. They’re diligent about Samuel’s feeding time, tummy time, play time, reading time, and so much more. It’s fun to watch them grow into their new role as parents. They’re killing it, even though it’s a big adjustment and a lot of hard work! I’m so proud of them!
In this clip, I think SamJam is trying to talk to me. 🙂
* EDIT *
Some bonus shots for SamJam’s 1-month anniversary:
* Ramble Alert! * I tend to get pensive, ponderous, and poetic at the end of the year. So, there’s no need to read further, as you probably have better things to do with your time. I’m just processing my own musings as the calendar gets ready to flip again.
1. I shaved off my December goatee. As I was doing so, I had flashbacks to some hurtful insults I received during my school days. I once was described as having a “beaver chin” and “a weak, unmanly profile.” Because of a “face-plant” fall I had as a young child, I developed an overbite that was only partially corrected by my (terribly uncomfortable) retainer. My classmates in fifth through seventh grade were particularly cruel about how I looked. Only one kind girl out of hundreds my age thought it made me look cute. Even when I was at peak physical condition in college, a photographer doing a local hairstylist’s spread featuring a few of us chiseled swimmers kept telling me to grind my teeth or somehow produce a stronger jawline since mine was too wimpy. (Why, then, did you ask me to be in the picture in the first place?) The good news is that these insults no longer sting like they used to. But I do wonder sometimes why I remember them so vividly. Maybe it’s because they led to so many insecurities that would later cause me to overcompensate in other areas of life (e.g., athletics, academics, etc.). Whatever the psychology behind it, it’s a good reminder for us to speak kindly to one another, especially those who are in their early formative years. Let’s not allow our careless words to do unnecessary damage. Lord knows, I’ve had to repent of many unkind things I’ve said over the years.
2. It’s always been our family tradition for me to read the story of the Magi from Matthew 2:1-12 on Christmas morning before we open our gifts. It’s our way of trying to keep the focus on what the day is all about. Problem is, my family always takes bets as to how far I’ll get in the passage before getting too choked up to read any further. (The Incarnation never gets old, and it wrecks me every time I ponder it.) I knew in advance that there was no way I’d be able to get past the first verse with a newborn in the room this year. Samuel wasn’t even a month old on Christmas Day, so it just wasn’t going to work for me to read the text without brutzing. So, this year I carved up the passage and gave each of us a few verses to read. It went well, and everyone enjoyed doing it that way. I think we’ll do something similar in future years. No more betting against me! 🙂
P.S., I got to take SamJam on a walk in his stroller yesterday. He was curious about the world around him, and I was overwhelmed with delight in watching him! (Yes, we got him the hat. Totally appropriate, right?!)
3. The 20th-century British novelist and poet Robert Graves once said, “There is no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting.” That’s why I find the process to be both exhilarating and exhausting. I’m seldom happy with what I’ve written. “It can always be better, sharper, clearer,” I tell myself. And maybe this perfectionistic tendency is rooted in what I (imperfectly) wrote above in #1. Either way, it’s a great hinderance to finishing an academic dissertation. We’re trained to anticipate objections and opposing views as we write, and the “lawyerly disposition” in me always wants to create an unassailable argument. That’s not humanly possible, so please pray that I get over myself and write something defensible, even if not incontrovertible. The best dissertation is a done dissertation. Thanks!
4. I recently finished my latest binge, How to Get Away with Murder. The story arc spanning six seasons was engaging and unpredictable. The progressively expanding flashbacks—while confusing at first—were intriguing and captivating as the episodes unfolded, serving as teasers to keep watching and assemble the pieces yourself. The screen writing was sharp overall, and the plot twists were uncliched. Moreover, the casting was brilliant, the acting was superb, and the emotional impact was notable. As was the case with Scandal, the scene cuts were a bit hyperactive at times, though they were much more manageable. Ironically, the hyper-talented Kerry Washington from Scandal made a few appearances in Murder, which was a welcome addition. Aja Naomi King made a strong case for being the new generation’s Kerry Washington. Her portrayal of Michaela Pratt, an ambitious and overly confident lawyer in the making, was one of several acting standouts in the production. It will be fun to watch Aja’s career unfold. Unfortunately, some of the moral values promoted in the series were disappointing, and part of the socio-political agenda was executed in selective and prejudicial ways. But that’s what Hollywood does these days in their “ends-justifies-the-means” approach to progress. Create a straw man and then give yourself high fives for ripping it apart with ease. We tend to write fiction to suit ourselves because it’s much easier than honest debate. The West Wing and other shows of that ilk often follow the same playbook. In an attempt to get back to cinematic sanity, where I don’t have to keep fast forwarding past the raunchy parts, I may return to Endeavor next (since I’m a Morse fan, and the series was filmed in charming Oxford), but there will be no more guilty pleasures until the dissertation is finished.
5. C. S. Lewis described pre-Aslan Narnia as “always winter but never Christmas.” That is, a fallen world without a Savior is devoid of hope. It’s just an icy darkness that shatters the soul and renders people zombie-like until they breathe their last. But because there is a Savior in this world—one whose magnificent mane was shaved in humiliation on our behalf, only to grow back in resurrection glory after the stone table cracked—eternal life can now be described as “always Christmas but never winter.” Believers bend but never break in a world where Aslan is on the move. Here is a poem about how this particular image helped me through a difficult time in my life. It’s not great art by any means, but it’s an honest portrayal of what I was feeling at the time. Here’s the context:
On Saturday, July 1, 2000, my father-in-law, Rev. Keith Moore, resigned as pastor of Baker Heights Baptist Church in Martinsburg, West Virginia. He was only six months away from retirement, but he could no longer shepherd the flock. The awful effects of radiation and chemotherapy had rendered him virtually lifeless, nearly brining him to the point of death in order to spare him from it. It was a painful time for the whole family. That same day, Pastor Keith got a haircut. It turned out to be his last one. The clippers came out and the hair came off. “Better to do it myself,” he said, “than to let the chemo do it.” I was present for that awful event, and when it happened, I sobbed. I was no stranger to the humming of the electric razor. In the 1980s I would often shave my head as a high school or collegiate swimmer to prepare for the big meet at the end of the season. But those silly haircuts had a purpose. They helped me swim faster. But this haircut was nothing but shame and humiliation. It had no purpose at all. Or did it?
Razed to Life
Before the chemo waged its war on blood and scalp alike, The ravenous razor snarled away, leaving a head full of spikes. In the other room I lost my nerve and filed a complaint with the Lord; Comforting words I had given to others suddenly felt like a sword.
“Why, dear Lord, this man of God, who faithfully fed your sheep— “The same day losing his pulpit and hair, craving nothing but sleep?” “He’s frail and weak, Lord, wracked in pain; what does the future hold?” “Where is your power, God; where is your love, if I may be so bold?”
And then in my gloom a beacon of hope fastened upon my soul: “Aslan’s razor,” came the reply. “That’s all you need to know.” Aslan’s razor—what could that mean? Where have I heard that before? A gem by Lewis, for children, and me, where a Lion loses his roar.
Where they crop off his mane and stab at his heart and leave him for dead in the mud; Naked, ashamed, and lonely he dies with scoundrels mocking his blood. But why was he captured and horribly killed, and strapped to a table of stone? The witch said, “For justice,” but Aslan, “For love—for a treason not my own.”
Well, the world, like Narnia, has children around with questioning tears in their eyes, Yet the world, like Narnia, has a table that cracked, and a Lion who knows how to rise. So the death of death in the death of Christ laces every trial with hope, And the empty tomb declares to us all that the grave will not be our home.
While some use pain to bludgeon our souls and scratch away at our faith, God in his infinite wisdom and love uses faith to scratch at our pain. So even today a Lion is heard whenever the gospel is shared, Telling the story of Christ and his love, showing that God really cares.
“Come!” says the Lion to children of faith. “Ride on my back, and we’ll soar.” “Come!” says the Lord to children of grace. “Enter my heavenly door.” “I have a surprise especially for you: I’ve built you a grand destination.” “A land of delight with no more tears—and evil’s humiliation.”
“Look at my mane! Touch it again! Only one scar remains; “I keep it around to let people know that death has lost its claims.” “And look at his hair, flowing again; the razor bows to its glory.” “Yes, I let you feel pain, but only on earth, to maximize your eternal story.”
6. Here’s a good word from Jon Acuff to end the year. Let it be a micro-motivation for us all: “If you picked up any bitterness this year, don’t miss your chance to put it down this week. Don’t carry last year’s rocks into next year’s garden. Don’t paint next year’s canvas with last year’s colors. Don’t write next year’s story with last year’s words. You might need to choose it 100 times, but leaving bitterness behind is always worth it.” Amen.
7. Two albums today for me to finish out the year in mellow reflection: John Michael Talbot’sSimple Hearts and Enya’sShepherd Moons. “God Alone is Enough” in the former is a great place to park the soul (as Teresa of Avila captured the best and wisest approach to life), and “Marble Halls” in the latter is a fun place to unleash the imagination (as there’s so much more to this life than riches and material wealth). Love is everything. So, perchance to dream. Also appropriate today is Enya’s “My My! Time Flies!” though we’re way past 2010. 🙂
Stay safe tonight, and Lord willing, we’ll see you in 2022.
Edit: Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem are outstanding as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in Becoming the Ricardos. Watched it last night on Amazon Prime after our company departed and the house got quiet for the first time in a long time.