Category Archives: Family

Grandbabies, More Food, and Politics (Sort of…)

My day today began with my grandson. A perk of my sabbatical is that I’m able to spend more time with my family – especially my grandbabies. Romeo is grandbaby #3 (of 4 with Danae due in May), and his mama had an appointment, so she brought him to me. I don’t think there’s anything better than grandbabies, and Romeo is a really good one!  We had a great time together.

 
I did some more cooking today, and this dish was better than the one I did on Monday. Garlic parmesan chicken was my next experiment, and Michelle agreed – it was really good! Here’s the recipe, but even more important…here’s the picture!

 
I plan to do a lot of reading on my sabbatical, and I decided to begin with one of my favorite pastors – a mentor of mine from the late 1800’s, Charles Spurgeon. I’m reading An All-Around Ministry, which is a book of the chapel addresses he gave to his pastoral students at the college he founded for future pastors in England. Ironically, I read this on the day that I watched Donald Trump give his first press conference as President-elect. I have no plans of getting political on you, but Spurgeon’s words to pastors back then hit a resounding cord with me today.

“Politically, we have come back to a condition in which there will be a respect for righteousness, justice, and truth rather than for self-assertion, national gain, and conquest. We shall, I trust, no longer be steered by a false idea of British interests, and the policy which comes of it; but by the great principles of righteousness, justice, and humanity. This is all I want to see: parties, as such, are nothing to us nor individual statesmen, except so far as they represent right principles. We are for those who are on the side of justice, peace, and love.”

Yes!

My day ended with a bit of an emotional hit…and a victory. First, the emotional hit.

 
My dad passed away in 2013. He was unexpectedly diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in the fall of 2012 and was gone by early 2013. I still feel the pain and the loss to this day. My sister posted this picture on Facebook this evening – a picture I hadn’t seen in years – and it sent me down memory lane. I don’t remember this specific day, but I vividly remember the night before. It was Christmas Eve 1975 (I think), and I was 5 years old. I must have been pretty excited about Christmas, because I remember waking up and walking out to the family room to discover my mom putting presents under the tree. I remember seeing the Yogi the Bear doll under the tree before my mom frustratingly sent me back to bed. I don’t remember if I was upset or if my mom was upset about the way she sent me back to bed. All I remember is that she came into my room a bit later and gave me Yogi to sleep with that night. I slept with him every night for many years after that.

And this is the victory…

 
Max and newcomer Vido sleeping together on the same pallet! Vido arrived a month ago as a birthday gift for Michelle from me and the kids, and Max was none too happy. However, over the last few weeks, Max has warmed up a bit, and for the first time tonight, he allowed Vido to share his coveted pallet next to my desk in my home office. I think this is going to work!

Christmas Tree Hunt 2015

Our annual Christmas tree hunt tradition continued this year with a trip to the Jemez Mountains with the Smith family.  This tradition started in the early 2000’s when our kids were little, but now our kids bring their kids along.  Here are some pictures from this year’s adventure. You can click on each picture to make them larger.

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NCAA Regional Cross Country Championship

Here are pictures from Taylor’s first home cross country meet of his collegiate career.  He’s already run at Notre Dame and Wisconsin, but this was his first race at New Mexico.  He finished 5th on the team – which is a scoring position.  Not bad for a red shirt freshman! By the way (and mostly for my family!), you can click on each photo to make it larger if you’d like.

Pre-race

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The Race

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The Real Truth About Marriage and Divorce

50% of all marriages will end in divorce. This is the stat that I’ve come to believe because that’s what “they” say (whomever “they” are). The same “theys” also say that this number is not much different among Christians – 50% of Christian marriages will experience divorce as well. Not good news for the institution of marriage.

However, I can happily say that the “theys” are wrong! Recent studies show that the divorce rate in our culture is not nearly as high as “they” say it is, and that Christian marriages are actually faring even better. Here is the real truth about marriage today:

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 72% of those who have ever been married are still married to their first spouse. And the 28% who aren’t includes everyone who was married for many years until a spouse died. No one knows what the average 1st-marriage divorce rate actually is, but based on the rate of widowhood and other factors, it is probably closer to 20–25%. For all marriages (including 2nd marriages and so on), it is in the 31–35% range, depending on the study. Regular church attendance lowers the divorce rate anywhere from 25–50%. (The Good News About Marriage, Shaunti Feldhahn, Multnomah, 2014)

According to Glenn T. Stanton, the director for family formation studies at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colo., many people who seriously practice a traditional religious faith – be it Christian or other – have a divorce rate markedly lower than the general population. The factor making the most difference is religious commitment and practice. Couples who regularly practice any combination of serious religious behaviors and attitudes — attend church nearly every week, read their Bibles and spiritual materials regularly; pray privately and together; generally take their faith seriously, living not as perfect disciples, but serious disciples — enjoy significantly lower divorce rates than mere church members, the general public and unbelievers.

W. Bradford Wilcox, a leading sociologist at the University of Virginia and director of the National Marriage Project, finds from his own analysis that “active conservative Protestants” who regularly attend church are 35 percent less likely to divorce compared to those who have no affiliation. Nominally attending conservative Protestants are 20 percent more likely to divorce, compared to secular Americans.

Professor Scott Stanley from the University of Denver, working with an absolute all-star team of leading sociologists on the Oklahoma Marriage Study, explains that couples with a vibrant religious faith had more and higher levels of the qualities couples need to avoid divorce: “Whether young or old, male or female, low-income or not, those who said that they were more religious reported higher average levels of commitment to their partners, higher levels of marital satisfaction, less thinking and talking about divorce and lower levels of negative interaction. These patterns held true when controlling for such important variables as income, education, and age at first marriage.”

This is all good news! Contrary to popular belief (and contrary to what “they” say), marriage is not a dying institution in our culture, and the marriages that are most vibrant and secure are those where God is central.

21 Years Ago Today

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21 years ago today, I married the love of my life.  We haven’t changed much, have we?

Michelle is my best friend, my fellow adventure seeker, the one who laughs at my humor (most of the time), my soul-mate, the mother of my children, the grandmother of my grandchildren, my sounding board, my lifelong companion, the beauty I never grow tired of looking at, my joy, and definitely my better half.  I love living life with her, and I really do thank God for her every day.

Life and Death – All in the Same Day

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I am a proud grandfather once again as Melody Rose was born on Tuesday to my daughter Alexis.  What an incredible blessing she is to our family.

But Tuesday was a weird day.

The day started off early as I accompanied a family to Santa Fe to bury their mother at the Santa Fe National Cemetery.  I performed a short committal service, said good-bye to the family, and hopped in the hearse for the one-hour ride back to Albuquerque.

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While in the hearse – a vehicle that one can not think about death when riding in – I received a phone call that Alexis was in labor and being admitted to the hospital. The hearse dropped me off at my car, and I quickly made my way to the hospital – wearing the clothes I had just buried someone in.

Within 2 hours of my arrival, Melody Rose was born.  I mentioned the extremes of my day to someone at the hospital, and he said, “Wow. Kind of a sobering day for you, huh?” It was.

All I could think about that day were the words from the Old Testament book of Job: “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

One family was mourning that day, and my family was rejoicing.  The Lord took one away from one family, and the Lord gave one to my family. I’ve experienced both death and new life in my family over the past year, and I can say that I agree with Job. Regardless of whether the Lord gives or takes away, I will still say, “Blessed be His name.”