Sunday, November 22, 2015

We Will Serve The Lord

Last night was one of those nights I'll never forget, and I will always be thankful to my wife, Gina, for capturing it all on video. After the Baptism, Noah asked me why I was crying, and that it made him sad to see me sad. I love his heart, and his sensitivity. I explained to Noah that in life, there are tears of sadness, and then there are tears of joy, and mine were the latter. Let me explain.

When I was very young boy, maybe no more than 4, possibly 5, I knew the Lord God. I looked for him to come riding on the clouds, and distinctly recall laying on the grass in our back yard on Pelletier, thinking I could see Him. I remember talking and mostly yelling at Him when I got in trouble, thinking a loving Father, would surely not subject me to such hurts. BUT, I know now that despite my negativity, and despite how little I understood about God, I was actually in a relationship with Him as far back as my conscious mind could reach. I don't know why He chose me- to call me into a relationship with him at such a young age, but what can I say; other than "Thank-you Jesus." Of course, I am eternally grateful that he used the love of those who have loved me over the years to do the planting, the watering, and the "sun-shining"- to provide me the environment to bring me closer to him. In particular, I thank my Mommy, my Grampie and my Grammie for introducing me to church, for each doing their part to encourage in me a realization and respect for the Holiness of God; I was no angelic child, and so going to church was a chore, and something I deeply disliked, but I thank the Lord for always having a tighter grasp on me than I had on Him. To this day, I thank Him for displaying just that kind of patience, loyalty, and love for me. Skip forward to 2004. I met a lovely woman of God through my work- Patricia Valdez. It was also at that time that the movie, "The Passion of Christ" came out. Both those influences helped change and shape me in ways that I believe can't be undone. In the years leading up to that time in my life, I had long pondered the meaning of life, the question of truth, and the question of how do I become "better", in the absolute, not the relative sense. I had spent some time thumbing through books on various religions, philosophies, and hung on the words of famous people, all mostly musicians from whom I thought I could get wisdom and unlock the secrets of life. Not until I heard for the fist time in the movie where Pilate asks Jesus the Question, "What is truth?", did the Holy Spirit come like a rushing wind into my heart. Now, I can't recall whether it was in the movie, although it is certainly in scripture where Jesus says, "I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through Me." (John 14:6) that I was shaken to my core. It was at that time, I begun to understand that Christ, or the Word who became flesh, is the meaning of life; and, if I want to know that meaning, I had to leave all the former "places" I had gone to find Him.

Jumping ahead to 2014, I had been praying, asking God to find a church for me and my family. My spirit started to weight heavy about the fact that I, as the spiritual leader of my home was derelict in my responsibility to lead my wife, and my children to Christ. I am embarrassed to say that my children had no concept of God, expect in the general sense. I was too much of a coward to say, "Okay gang, we're going to church." I secretly wondered what kind of odd stares I'd get from everyone, not to mention the worry I had about driving my family away from God; and then, just as the Spirit of God has always done in my life, He made an opening. I thank Him for putting His will in Gina's heart, when one day she suggested (without us even having really discussed it), "Why don't we give the Heights church another try? We sit around on Saturday evenings, and have nothing to do." Now, it had been years since we had gone to church- 2007 to be exact, and Gina and I had a very different perspective from one another in those days what church was. In fact, one of our biggest arguments came in 2007 on the heels of us going to a church that simply was not going to be one Gina wanted to attend, and she told me matter of factly after the service, "If you want to go, you go, but I'm not." And to her credit, she was right. The kids were babies , or at least very young, and there was no way we were going to keep 2 very young kids "at bay" through a service that was very, very traditional. I recall both kids acting up, and Gina being the loving and doting mother she's always been, took the kids outside, changed diapers, and then sat in the car fuming, as I spent the next 20 mins. finishing out the service. Nothing wrong with the church or the service, it just wasn't going to be for us. Back to the point of all of this- I thank God once again for such a wonderful wife. He spoke His word through Gina, and basically made my cowardly thinking on the subject a moot issue. Oh, how He loves us!

Skipping ahead since that time, we are all growing in Christ. I am very proud to see my children, developing an awareness, an interest, and a grasp on who this King of Kings is. We do devotionals at dinner, we say Grace; I mostly lead the family in Grace, but stand in awe and deep gratitude to the Lord for putting words of thanksgiving in the little minds and mouths of my children, who will, on occasion, lead our family in prayer. The kids love going to church, or for the most part they do- after all, they are still children, right? A few weeks ago, Emily came home saying there is a new after school program at her school for kids to meet to discuss Christ, to grow in their knowledge of Him, and to do have a good time in the company of each other while so doing. You can't imagine my joy over my daughter, making that choice. I am so proud of her.

And oh yes, lest I forget, in more recent times, a couple months back, Ben and Emily approached Gina and me about wanting to get Baptized. This came clear out of the blue to us, but was really the result of one of the youth ministers talking with the kids at church about baptism, the meaning of baptism, and so forth. Both kids expressed a desire to be baptized, and I would be lying if I didn't say that that was another area (Baptism) that up until that time, had caused me some soul stirring and torment. Keep in mind, as Gina referenced in her post from yesterday, that both of us were baptized in a Catholic church as babies. I had always struggled with the question of whether my baptism as a baby was sufficient. However, everything I've come across in scripture seemed to point to baptism as a conscious act of obedience that follows from believing in Christ as the only One who can wash our sins away, through the blood of his sacrifice, and ultimately renew us and reconcile us to Him in his spotless and blameless perfection. And so I struggled with this question, "Have I been obedient to Him in this regard, or haven't I?" Added to this spiritual dilemma was my father-in-law who I respect, admire, and love for a number of reasons; but, who has really prodded me a handful of times over the past several years to consider getting the kids baptized. I resisted him at every turn, telling him "I want the kids to make that choice on their own," while secretly admitting to myself that I was scared of the very real possibility that even with Gina and I doing everything we can at this stage of their lives to promote Christ to them, they might ultimately reject Him, and have no desire to form or enter into a relationship with Him, let alone take Him as their Lord, Savior, and Redeemer.

And then what do you know? As always, the Lord took this spiritual and mental conundrum of mine and counted it for nothing; He yet again paved the way for 2 of my 3 kids (thus far anyway) to make that decision on their own, and basically said to me in my heart, "David, what excuse have you now? Haven't I paved the way, took what was crooked and made it straight? What obstacle prevents you from getting baptized, as the spiritual leader of your home, as the husband to your wife, and as the father to your children, and as my son?" The 3 of us went to a baptism class last week where we all got "steeped" in what baptism is and is not. Though I initially thought both kids were barely getting the gist of what Baptism is- our death, burial, and resurrection to new life in and with Christ, and taking what we know privately to be true out into the open, and with no shame about our life in Christ and Him in us; they- my children yet again surprised and amazed me. Prior to going through the baptism, the kids and I were each individually and separately interviewed by the pastor to get a gauge on what we understood and believed about baptism. Emily and Ben were both steadfast in their understanding and belief that Christ is their Lord and Savior, that he took away their sins, and baptism is the manifestation of what they believe, made public. Their ability to articulate this idea to the pastor in their own words- well, let me just say, I was brimming with pride.

And so, there you have my answer to Noah's question about the reasons I was crying. I cried not out of fear, not out of sadness, but out of heartfelt gratitude to the Lord my God for everything He has done for me and my family in bringing us as individuals and as a family into an eternal relationship with Him. What could be better than having that kind of life? Life without Christ (not any substitutes) is no life at all- as it is written, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only True God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (John 17:3) And finally, as it also written, "But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve....But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15)


Saturday, November 21, 2015


David and I were both baptized as babies. But, we didn't baptize our kids as babies. We felt it should be their decision to come to Christ and be baptized.

About 6 months ago, Ben and Emily both expressed an interest in being baptized. So, we waited for the church to offer it again and Ben, Emily and David all got baptized tonight.

Noah doesn't want to do it yet. He's still young and doesn't really get its meaning. So, he can do it when he feels it's right for him.

But, tonight, I couldn't have been more proud of Ben and Emily. Ben is hysterical in the video. The pastor told him to kneel and Ben didn't get it. But, that's Ben. He's always different, and that's fine. He always provides a little comic relief. Emily did everything perfectly, as she always does. That's Emily. She rehearses it over and over and always nails exactly what she's supposed to do.

As for David, I couldn't have been more proud to be his wife. He is such a wonderful example of what a husband, father and man of God should be.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Around Our House

The other night our garbage disposal died.  Just a little buzz and then nothing.  David got out his headlamp, a screwdriver and messed with some stuff.  Wa la!  It worked.  I was very impressed.

It was super cold here the past few days.  We had the fireplace going.  But, unless you sit a few feet in front of it, you don't get any of the warmth.  When we bought the house, they offered to put a blower in for like $500 or something crazy.  It basically blows the warm air out.  We were trying to cut corners, so we didn't get it.

David found a youtube video show how to do it and found one on amazon for $38.  We got it today and wa la!  He got it installed!  He's turning into Mr. Home Improvement.  It works, but now that it's warmed up we can't really test it out as we don't want to heat up the room anymore than it already is.  But, next week, our highs are in the low 50's again, so it'll be nice to use it.

Emily posted the picture on Instagram yesterday.  She took over my Instagram account, even renamed it.  So this morning we had this conversation:
Me:  Emily, what were those gang symbols you were throwing down on Instagram.
Emily:  That's the symbol for hashtag.
Me:  Oh.
Emily:  What's a gang?  
Good golly, I have a lot to learn about kids today.

I bought two baguettes.  I was dividing them up and wrapping them for future meals.  Noah saw the wrappers and immediately thought they'd make great robot arms.  I love the mind of a 6 year old.

Halloween came and went and we missed watching half of our favorite movies.  So, we made a list of all of our Christmas movies and we are trying to watch several a week.  We've already knocked off three.  I figure we should get them all in before Christmas.

That's about all that's going on around here.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Good Start

There was some chance of snow last night, but we really never take it seriously. When they say it will snow, it never does and when they say it won't snow, it does.

I got up at 3 AM and 5 AM to pee (thanks to my lovely children, I can't make it through a night). Both times, I looked out the window and nothing. I wake up at 7 and there's a few inches of snow and the school has emailed and called and we are on a 2 hour delay. I know it's only a few inches, but they really look at the fact that they don't want kids standing at bus stops when 2 inches of snow is coming down. It's more for safety.

I let the kids sleep in. Ben was the only one who woke up concerned. "It's 8:02, we are going to be late for school!"

I told him we better hurry up and get play in the snow! He was so happy. He ran and woke up Emily. Noah was already up. He is allergic to sleep.

Most mornings, I have to tell them 5 times to get dressed and it takes them all a good 10-15 minutes. Today, they were all dressed in 60 seconds. It was impressive!  They got busy playing.

Emily always loves to go down the slide first when there is a bunch of snow on it.

I'm pretty sure those gloves are useless at this point.

She does handstands all the time, everywhere.

The boys decided to work on a snowman.

They were so proud of themselves.  It's the world's smallest snowman.

Then, they went out front and I saw our scarecrow and had to laugh.  Poor guy.  It's Monday.  It's Fall.  It's Arizona.  I'm sure he wasn't prepared for snow drift in his face.  

Surprisingly, he looks how I feel most mornings.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

All You Need Is Love

Today is our 12 year wedding anniversary. Twelve years. I can hardly believe it. For our 10 year anniversary, we went to Vegas. It was the first time we did something big for our anniversary. Last year, we went to Chicago. We didn't plan anything big this year after an expensive Fall Break trip to New York City with the kids in October.

David was going to go to work, but decided to take a personal day instead. With the kids all in school now, we can spend the day together. Alone. We decided to go for a hike that we knew would be too hard for the kids, mainly Noah since he's little. And out for some lunch.

I decided to take selfies along the way. I'm not very good at it.  Can you tell?  It was so sunny out that I didn't realize I had a shadow of a cell phone on my face.  That and my walking stick.  And David literally looks like he has a dead tree sprouting out of his head, like some sort of unmagical unicorn.

We had to stop and rest along the way. It was about 1500 feet elevation climb and some parts were mighty steep. So, when we stopped, I'd snap a selfie and try to get some of the pretty scenery in the background.

Then, we got to almost the top and it was such a pretty view of Prescott.

Then, this nice man and women were up there and offered to take a picture of us that had more scenery than our selfies could handle. And no, I will never get a selfie stick. So, he got a pic of us.

We started talking. Sometimes, I am just like my mother. It's a good thing. Evelyn was telling us that she comes up there as her son was killed by a gang years ago on this day. They spread his ashes up there. So, they try to come up there every year. She used to live in Idaho, about 45 minutes from my Dad and Suzy's cabin, but she moved back down her to be near her son and grandkids. And guess what? The son and grandkids live in our neighborhood and we know them pretty well. Small, small world.

Then, we hiked some more and found a memorial for the 19 firefighters who died a few years ago. Who would've though there was a memorial at the top of the mountain?

It had all their ID badges. The top one there is the son of another neighbor. See, that's kind of how small towns work.

We could see this nice tree at the very top of the mountain. That was a separate trail. It looked like The Dreaming Tree from Dave Matthew's and we wanted to head up there. So off we went. What a view!

That's the dreaming tree behind us.

Then, on the advice of a hippie with a giant blood hound dog, we rock climbed almost to the tippity top. Another 20 feet or so. And, I learned one very valuable lesson today. When a blood hound shakes his head, you better prepare to get soaked in his saliva. Holy moly, it was awful, but funny. So, we left our hiking sticks and water as we needed our hands and rock climbed to about 15 feet from the top. We probably could've went all the way, but literally, if you slipped, there was nothing under you, so we stopped. We didn't want to make the kids orphans today.

Then, it was down, down, down and our knees were killing.

Here's a view at the end of what we climbed. It really doesn't look that big in the photo, but it was.

Then, we got Mongollon BBQ for lunch. YUM!

It was a wonderful day and I'm glad we got to spend it together. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would. Exactly the same. Well, I'd stand back when the blood hound shakes his head. I'd redo the past 12 years too, exactly the same.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Nice Hike

The kids and David were off today for Veteran's Day. We took our family photos last weekend, and Ben was disappointed that there wasn't more rocks around to climb. So, we promised him a trip to The Dells, our rocky area here in Prescott. And boy, it did not disappoint. The only thing I regret is that I didn't bring my good camera. I only had my phone.

They didn't waste any time heading off the trail to explore.

Can you find Noah?  David, Emily and Ben are at the top and Noah is down to the right in a green jacket.

A cool staircase to more rocks.

David and the kids headed off the trail again.  I thought they were just going for a minute.  But, they climbed a huge mountain.  I'm taking a selfie.

They are next to that big rock that I was hoping wouldn't fall while I was standing there.

You can't even see them in this picture.  See the big tree, go to your left a little and you'll see a small bush tree.  Then, just to the left of that is David and the kids.

David took these pics from the top of the mountain on his phone.

Time to relax.

And hike some more...

This trail was called Castle Rock because that little area David and Ben are on looks castleish.

The rocks are so cool.

And the trees!  They were just stunning with light and fall colors.

I do have one other regret, that we haven't explored this area sooner.  There is another trail here, so we'll come back soon and check out.