My little singer

Almost every parent I’ve ever talked to harbors some hope that their child will adopt at least one of their interests or passions. J and I both come from musical backgrounds so naturally we get excited any time little C shows any sort of musical interest. Watching her grow in her ability to sing has been a marvel to me. She surprised us when she started because she had all of the words to her song memorized, we had just never heard her sing.ย Initially, she would literally sing one note the entire song. After a few months we noticed her attempting to match the pitches that we would sing to her. About a month ago we noticed that she could get most of the melody to a given song. It is so cool to watch her develop. My hope is that her voice sounds more like her moms. ๐Ÿ™‚

Just last week C started watching a few episodes of Little Einsteins. For those not familiar with the show, it is a standard solve-the-puzzle/help-a-friend adventure cartoon with an interesting twist. Each episode’s musical score is based on a theme from Classical music and the theme provides the clues the characters use to solve their puzzle. As a music major I love the idea.

One thing that C has picked up from me is my tendency to make up little songs about mundane daily activities. I have a fake opera voice that I use to sing about what we might have for breakfast or taking out the trash. C regularly makes up her own songs about the games she is playing or what she wants to do for the day. This is important to the story because earlier this week, she watched an episode of Little Einsteins based on Stravinsky’s The Firebird. (In college I had to take a graduate seminar on Stravinsky’s music and have been a fan of his early and some middle period compositions ever since.) Later that day, I heard C singing about something trivial but about halfway through I noticed she was using the Firebird melody for her song. I’ve heard her do it three or four times over the past few days as she has sung about various things.

It blows me away that an almost-three-year-old can have that kind of musical memory. It also makes her daddy proud. I pray that she grows up to enjoy music as much as J and I do.


Too much SciFi…?

It is possible that I have finally seen/read too much science fiction…or seen too much CSI:Miami…or both. I had sushi at Hy-Vee for lunch today (which is a post in and of itself – no judging please). When I finished I just naturally rounded up all my trash and started looking for a trash can.

When I couldn’t find one I realized that they wanted me to leave my trash on the table and someone would take care of it for me. The very next thought I had, as I looked at my chopsticks was, “My DNA is on those chopsticks. I’m not sure I want just anyone having access to that – especially if they ever start trying to clone people.”

I almost laughed out loud! Did I really just think that? That’s silly! It’s a good thing that there is a ton of basketball on this week. It may be time for a break. ๐Ÿ™‚

On a related note, I just discovered It’s the official production blog for the two-part screen adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit that just began filming. Check it out. It is completely safe and I don’t think Orcs would have any use for DNA. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Bread and the Cup

The bread and the cup, the body and the blood

Last night I went to the Good Friday service at our church. I probably wouldn’t have gone if one of my responsibilities as a newly appointed elder wasn’t to serve communion at the service. I would likely have stayed home with my wife and sleeping daughter. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve served communion in different settings before so I wasn’t really thinking too much about it. The service itself was enjoyable – a little more forward-looking than I’m used to from a Good Friday service, but refreshingly so. Anyway, we observed communion differently last night than we usually do. Normally we pass silver trays filled with bits of bread or little cups of grape juice down each row until everyone has the element and then we partake together. Last night, we had two elders at the head of each isle – one with a loaf of bread and one with a cup of juice – and had people come up individually and take the bread and dip it into the juice and then eat. (As an aside, I learned a few weeks ago that the technical term for this method is intinction, which means “to dip into” in Latin.)

As I served the cup to people, I was to say, “The blood of Christ, shed for you” to each person as they partook. The sanctuary holds roughly 320 people, so I knew I was in for saying that phrase roughly 150 times. About ten people in, I realized that I didn’t want to just repeat the words like a mantra so I started to make a point of looking at each person as they came up. As I spoke the words to each person, I started to have a sense that what I was offering them in the cup and the words that went with it was very personal.

Then, a couple of minutes later, people I knew started coming through the line. As I looked them in the eye and spoke of what Christ had done for each of them, I was nearly overwhelmed. I could barely hold back tears. It hit me in a fresh way that Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t only for a group of people (those who call themselves His followers though faith) but for individual people, for my friends, and consequently for me. Eventually, I noticed that people were responding to my looking at them as I spoke. Some paused and waited for me to finish before they dipped their bread. Others actually spoke back saying things like, “thank you,” – some even using my name. Still others stood in silence as I spoke but I could tell that they were experiencing some internal emotion as well. It was very moving.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a communion experience that was that personal or intimate. I realized at one point what an honor it was to offer such good news to people. I could have stood there all night saying the same glorious words over and over. I was actually a little disappointed when it was over. I know that not all communion experiences will be like that, but it was really refreshing to connect anew with the wonder of what Jesus did on the cross for me, for my friends and, if you embrace Him by faith, for you too.

Easter Thoughts – hope for us all

The Betrayal of Jesus

I’ve been meaning to read part of the Easter narrative all week and finally got around to it today. I was intending to read the entire thing but got stopped short before Jesus’ arrest. Two things struck me as I read and both have to do with Jesus’ kindness. The first is how gracious Jesus was towards His disciples and how much He trusted the Father for their growth even when they let Him down. In Matthew 6:31-35, Jesus predicts Peter’s denial of Him and His desertion by the rest of His followers. Mildly offended (maybe more) Peter pronounces that he would die with Jesus before he would deny Him and the others heartily add their, “me too!” But a short time later, we find these same gung-ho disciples asleep in the garden of Gethsemane when they should be praying as Jesus had asked them to. It is so humbling to think that not only would Jesus die willingly for these sleepy followers of His, but He would actually turn over leadership of His kingdom on earth to them. If He is that kind and patient with His disciples, then there is great hope that He can use even the likes of me (and you) in building His kingdom.

The second thing that struck me was not entirely new (see previous post) but hit me afresh today. When Judas arrives to betray Him, Jesus says, “Friend, do what you have come to do.” In an amazing act of kindness, Jesus calls Judas His friend. When I read this previously, I was reminded that only a friend or ally can betray someone. Today, I realized that, even knowing how Judas would treat Him, Jesus offered him genuine friendship. If Jesus can do that for the one who would ultimately betray Him, then surely He is serious when He tells His followers (and presumably us), “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15) I often find it hard to receive Jesus love for me because I am usually fairly aware of my own sin and short-comings. But in calling Judas His friend, Jesus reminds me that (because of His work at the cross) He still considers me His friend despite my laziness or unfaithfulness to Him. And as usual, His kindness leads to repentance. I really want to be less like the sleepy disciples and more like Jesus. His words to Judas give me hope that, even if my transformation takes a long time, Jesus is patient with me and still calls me friend. ๐Ÿ™‚

Second Blog

A friend recently suggested that I try and blog about my passion for Apple computers and their media devices. After thinking for a bit, not long actually, I realized that I had a few things to say about the topic. So…I’m trying it out for a while. I don’t know how long it will last, but we’ll see. Feel free to check it out over at and feel free to add questions or leave comments in the comment section. Enjoy!

The value of a good question (or two)

This afternoon I was at a local coffee shop doing some reading and couldn’t help but overhear the conversation at the table next to me. A young (college-aged) guy and gal were sitting at a small table trying to enjoy what seemed like an afternoon coffee date. At first I though, “Oh that’s nice.” ย But after listening (unintentionally, of course) I started to really feel for the girl. The guy was talking endlessly about himself and the stuff he did or liked.

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

But as the conversation progressed, I realized that she was doing the same thing. There was very little actual conversation going on. It was mostly a series of statements by one person followed by somewhat related statements by the other person. It was really painful to listen to. A part of me can’t imagine that there will be a second date for those two, but if most of their interactions are like that, I suppose there probably will be.

I kept thinking as I listened that if just one of them would ask the other a question it would change everything. They might begin to learn something about each other. They might actually connect on a deeper level than just what kind of computers they used and how much they saw people drink before the basketball game last weekend. They might even learn enough to know whether or not they wanted to have another date.

It made me wonder if they even knew how to be curious about another person. I know that I’m not always the most curious person about others and I have to work at it at times, but I also know how rewarding it is when I do. It also reminded me why J and I want to do the kind of work that we have been trained for. We want others to learn how to connect deeply with one another and God. And, if nothing else, have more enjoyable dates.

A taste of heaven

Good food, better friends, Halo, catching up with a friend, coffee, guitar gear, more catching up with good friends, college basketball, more good food, connecting with good friends and sunshine. These were the things that filled the past weekend for me, and they were wonderful. So wonderful that at one point I feared the sky would come crashing down to compensate for all the goodness.

A life-friend was in town this weekend to celebrate his 40th birthday and a group of us had dinner together followed by a couple hours of four-person Halo. Yes, a bunch of 40-year-olds were playing Halo (not very well, I should add) until 11:00pm on a Friday night. It felt like I was 30 again. Endless thanks to my wonderful wife and my friends’ wives for making it happen.

Grenade launcher ๐Ÿ™‚

Saturday morning I spent time with a really good buddy and our daughters, drinking coffee, talking about life and God and generally catching up. He lives in town but we hadn’t really seen each other for four weeks, which was entirely too long. We are both in similar stages of life (despite a 12-year age difference), work transition, lack of community and a desire to serve God by serving others. The time together was refreshing for the soul.

Later that afternoon, J and I caught up with my birthday friend and his family and again, it was a life-giving time. We have both learned some lessons about loneliness in ministry in the past year and it was comforting to know that we weren’t alone in those lessons. It would take very little to convince me to work with him again if the opportunity presented itself.

Saturday night, I watched my alma mater win a very tight overtime game against their in-state rival. Despite the nervous stomach I had most of the game, it was great to watch. Knowing that they can handle close situations like that means that National Championship hopes are still alive.

Sunday after church J, C and I had lunch with the same friend and his family at one of our favorite restaurants. C was a little grumpy and I’m not sure J ate all that much, but I was still very encouraged. We haven’t been out to eat much with C (at least not the sit-down kind) lately as she has gotten more active, so it was nice to be able to do that again – even if it took a little work.

To top it off, the sun was shining most of the weekend. The older I get, the more convinced I am that I suffer from a mild form of Seasonal Affective Disorder and it has been gray way too much lately. The sunshine and resultant vitamin D in my system was a welcome reprieve and reminded me that spring will come eventually.

Times like this past weekend are times that I really want to remember better than I do. I am convinced that God gives us tastes of eternity more often than we are aware of and that we do a pretty terrible job of remembering them in the midst of our daily struggles. My prayer is that I would remember these expressions of His kindness and blessing to me and my family for more than just a day or two and that I would be moved to continue to offer myself as a blessing to others. Thanks, Lord.