Saturday, June 29, 2019

I have a house!

I wasn't so sure it was going to happen this week (or maybe at all), but I officially have a house!

After spotty communication with my lender, getting insane last minute documents submitted, two different closing dates, and two different closing times yesterday, I finally signed all my paperwork.

There was very little pomp and circumstance. There were no real estate agents involved, my lender wasn't local and the seller lives out of town. It was just me and the attorney I have known since I was in fifth grade sitting at a table going through the forms.

Not that I wanted it, but there wasn't even a picture with the big house photo frame that sat in the office.

The seller's sister gave me the code to get in the house and my keys were in the kitchen drawer.

After finally getting my papers signed, I picked up some Sonic because I was hungry and it was after 2:00. I went to the new house because it felt like I should, so I ate my first meal at the house standing up at the kitchen counter. Mom and Dad came over because they could.

My first non-parental visitors were my next door neighbors -- my preacher and his family. He came with a cup asking for sugar. I told him he was out of luck unless he wanted a bite of hamburger. That's probably true of my pantry after I move too.

I'll post some pictures soon. I forgot to take pictures the past couple of days. Just absent-mindedly forgot.

After the going-ons of the past month, I'm just glad to have a house!

Friday, June 28, 2019

It’s never too early to teach that bad choices lead to bad consequences


Part 2 of an interview with Marty Machowski,
Author of Don’t Blame the Mud


For young readers and families, Don’t Blame the Mud (New Growth Press) paints a vivid and accurate picture of sin and God’s plan of redemption. Written by best-selling children’s author Marty Machowski, this beautifully illustrated picture book teaches children how to recognize the lure of temptation and the truth that bad choices lead to bad consequences.

One day, Max takes the muddy path along the creek home, disregarding his mother’s reminder to keep his school clothes clean. After crashing into a mud puddle, he tries to hide his mistake and discovers the stain of his sin goes deeper than the mud he can wash away. In this lovable, relatable, and heartwarming tale, Max learns his heart needs to be cleaned, and Jesus is the only one who can wash away his sin.

By clearly articulating the gospel, Don’t Blame the Mud helps parents create an environment of confession so kids can own up to their own mistakes—in the freedom of Christ—rather than place the blame elsewhere. Parents, teachers, and caretakers can help children identify with the real-life draw of temptation and the real-life consequences of sin, understanding the value of God’s salvation through the cross. Instead of teaching kids how to deal with a problem, Machowski uncovers the real issue of sin and provides a gospel answer.

Q: Why did you choose to personify sin and temptation as the character Mud?

I wanted a situation that would work for all kids, all around the world, no matter what culture they came from. From my experience, just about every kid in the world has heard his or her mom or dad say, “Don’t get your clothes dirty,” and all kids have faced the decision as to whether or not they are going to obey that command. I remember times as a kid where I chose to play football in a muddy field, telling myself I could keep my good school clothes clean, only to end up getting them muddy. That’s where the idea for the story came from. In fact, in the first draft, I had Max playing football in a muddy field—a picture of me as a kid.

I wanted a fun character that would bring interest to the story and help children identify with the real-life draw of temptation and the real-life consequences of sin. The Mud character does both of those things.

Q: Why is it important to teach young children about sin?

Without an understanding of sin and the holiness of God, our children won’t understand the value of God’s salvation through the cross. Unless you see that you have a problem, you don’t think you need a solution.

Q: How should parents use the story with their children?

I think Don’t Blame the Mud is a story families can read again and again. The theological explanations at the end of the story are designed to help children understand the underlying biblical truths presented by the story. So, reading Don’t Blame the Mud again and again will help children learn those underlying truths.

Q: What advice would you give parents who desperately want to see their children become Christians and follow Jesus, but their children aren’t responding like Max in your story?

I wanted Max to become a Christian in the story as a part of the gospel presentation to teach children how the gospel is meant to affect us. But yes, you are correct to point out life is rarely that simple. I would reassure parents with the words of the Apostle Paul, who encouraged the Galatians, “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9 ESV).

For parents with struggling children, I wrote a devotional book to encourage them called Parenting First Aid. In it I share my own personal parenting stories and tales of folks I’ve met along the way. I connect the stories to scriptures in a way that’s designed to blow a fresh wind of faith into the struggling parent’s heart.

Q: Don’t Blame the Mud is your first venture into writing a short picture book. How was the experience different than the other books you have written?

Even though there are far fewer words in Don’t Blame the Mud than any of my other books, it took me ten times as much time per word to write. I took the better part of six months and hundreds of hours writing Don’t Blame the Mud. I have more than twenty rewrites in my working files. It started out as a rhyming book similar to Dr. Seuss since it’s a book for that audience, an early reader book for the younger elementary grades.

However, I later changed it back to prose as I didn’t want to have to force the important sections to rhyme. I left a few of the rhyming lines in the book as I think they help those lines to stand out.

Learn more at www.martymachowski.com. He can also be found on Twitter (@MartyMachowski).

Click here to order your copy!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Leaning on God in the Midst of Life’s Great Difficulties


Carlos and Rosemarie Evans share their
inspiring story of standing together

Sustaining a military marriage is hard work, especially when deployments keep a family separated for prolonged periods of time. The strain is intensified when the serving spouse is injured in the field. According to the PTSD Foundation of America, an estimated two out of three marriages fail for troops suffering from combat trauma. Carlos R. Evans and Rosemarie Evans are well aware of the difficulties, having experienced them personally. In Standing Together: The Inspirational Story of a Wounded Warrior and Enduring Love (written with Cecil Murphey/ Kregel Publications/June 25, 2019/ISBN: 9780825444975/$17.99), they share their inspirational story of facing severe injury, rehabilitation, post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction. Theirs is a true story of hope and courage in the face of astonishing challenges.

Carlos Evans grew up in a family where many of his family members had served in the military over the years. Like many others, after 9/11, Carlos had a deep yearning to do his part to serve his country, so in 2004, he joined the Marine Corps. “During my deployments, I don’t think I ever considered that anything was going to happen to me. I personally knew others who had died and some who were badly wounded, but as a Christian, I figured God was with me and would protect me from every kind of harm. On my various furloughs, I said to friends and family members, ‘I’m not going to die in Iraq or Afghanistan. God has a bigger purpose for my life,’” he shares.

However, during his fourth deployment, on May 16, 2010, Carlos stepped on an IED. As a result, he lost use of both legs and his left hand. As his fellow Marines attended to him outside of camp in Afghanistan, Carlos’ fight for his life was just beginning. For the next two years, he and his wife, Rosemarie, went through the rehabilitation process together. As a nurse and mother of two young children, Rosemarie was used to caring for people, but the task of taking care of her triple-amputee husband brought new challenges every day.

“I had the knowledge of what should I expect to see when I met Carlos at the hospital. Being a nurse helped me understand procedures and prognosis, but I felt the same uncertainty, desperation, sadness and helplessness any other family member feels when a love one is going through a difficult time,” explains Rosemarie. “Before leaving to go to Afghanistan, Carlos and I talked about what should I expect if I saw the Marines at the front door, but we never talked about him coming back home seriously injured. We didn’t expect that and weren’t aware of how many service members were injured in the war. When I stepped into Bethesda Hospital, it was eye opening to see how many wounded service members came back and how many families were affected.”

At first, family and friends needed to take care of Carlos and Rosemarie’s two young daughters, and Rosemarie felt pulled between her responsibilities as a wife and mother. She knew they needed to come together to face their new normal as a family of four as quickly as possible. In addition to his limb loss, Carlos faced PTSD and developed an addiction to painkillers. He was sure Rosemarie’s life would be better without him—and that it might have been better if he hadn’t survived at all. But unlike the majority of marriages put under similar strain, Carlos and Rosemarie stayed together. With the help of family, friends, and—most importantly—a strong faith, they’ve built a solid marriage and discovered a ministry they never expected.

By the hand of God, their story, which began in devastation, has turned into one that draws in and lifts up more people than
either of them would ever have dreamed. Not only will disabled veterans and their loved ones find help in reading Standing Together, Carlos and Rosemarie’s captivating journey also speaks to those who long for stronger marriages, care for loved ones with disabilities, or are facing a new normal in their own lives, small or large. It is a powerful resource for leaning on God in the midst of life’s great difficulties—and for finding ways that, through faith, profound loss can bring incredible blessing.

“One day I was trying to put on my prosthetic hand and legs. I was struggling and getting frustrated. I wanted to look like I used to,” writes Carlos. “I believe the Holy Spirit touched my heart, and I received this message: ‘I am touching more people with one hand then when I had two. Today, I am leaving more footprints than when I had feet because all you need to touch someone is heart.’”



Advance Praise

“This is a tremendous story of resilience and hope. Carlos and Rosemarie Evans tell a powerful personal account of overcoming trauma and tragedy. In so doing, they give hope to all who have experienced and are experiencing the wounds of war.”
~ Timothy J. Demy, ThD, PhD, professor of military ethics, US Naval War College, and retired chaplain, US Navy

“Carlos and Rosemarie will bring you to tears—and cheers—with their frank story of hardship—and victory—after major trauma. Their vivid narrative of tough times, tough love, and God’s grace shows the way through both terrible circumstances and struggles of the soul. They don’t give you a feelgood formula or how-to tale. They do share how they beat the odds against survival and recovery by leaning on God and all the good people in their lives. You don’t have to love God or love marines to be enriched here, but you cannot read their story without coming to love Carlos and Rosemarie and being grateful for this time spent with them. You’ll learn from them that with Christ all things are possible!”
~ Mark A. Jumper, PhD, director of Chaplaincy & Military Affairs and assistant professor, Regent Univ. School of Divinity

About the Authors

Sgt. (Ret.) Carlos R. Evans is a minister with the Assemblies of God USA, a Wounded Warrior spokesman, and a motivational speaker. Born in Puerto Rico, Carlos was an avid athlete through his high school and college years.  At university, he studied Theology and was very active in his church. When the tragic events of September 11th occurred, he felt compelled to join the family legacy of service in the US Marine Corps, and originally planned to join as a Chaplain.

Carlos served three tours of duty in Iraq and was assigned to Afghanistan for his fourth deployment. In May 2010, he was the squad leader on foot patrol when he stepped on an improvised explosive device. The blast took both of his legs and his left hand. Medically discharged after his rehab at Walter Reed, Carlos served in the Marine Corps for eight years.

Rosemarie Evans, also a native of Puerto Rico, is an experienced nurse. She is now a full-time caregiver and student working toward a master’s degree in marriage and family from Liberty University. Carlos and Rosemarie live in Orlando, Florida with their two daughters.

Learn more about Carlos and Rosemarie Evans at CREvans.org as well as on Facebook (CR Evans), Instagram (@crevans923) and Twitter (@crevans923).


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Boldly Yet Humbly Declaring the Truth

Part 1 of an interview with Steve Brown,
Author of Talk the Walk:
How to Be Right without Being Insufferable

It can be difficult to be a Christian in today’s culture. Not only is the outside world hostile to Christians and their faith but the voices that speak loudest don’t always speak for the masses. There are a lot of assumptions out there about what Christians do and don’t believe. With all this hostility, speaking up about issues related to faith can be intimidating. However, in his new book Talk the Walk: How to Be Right without Being Insufferable (New Growth Press), Key Life Network founder Steve Brown calls Christians to step out and speak up about what they know to be true.

This attitude-altering book invites Christians to cultivate both boldness and humility in communicating gospel truth. By uncovering self-righteousness and spiritual arrogance, Talk the Walk shatters stereotypes and helps believers consider how they present the good news without watering it down.

Q: When did the culture shift to dismiss what Christians have to say as nonsense at best and outright lies at worst start, or has it actually always been this way to an extent?

To some extent, unbelief has always been with us and is nothing new. However, at least in America, for most of our history, the Christian faith has been the “favored” religion with money, power and leverage. Almost without exception, no politician could be elected without at least nodding in God’s direction. I’m an old guy, and I can remember when major newspapers often published the sermons of prominent clergy in their city. (Not only has that changed, those newspapers are now struggling to stay viable.) In those days, church membership was a prerequisite for achieving “standing” in the community and, it should be said, making a good living. The place to get social acceptance was the church. That has obviously changed. My friend David Zahl in his book Seculosity says religion is hard to destroy but easy to rebrand. He says hardly anyone in America is “not” in church . . . just a different kind of church with a different kind of religion.

Someone once said when people no longer believe in the real God they don’t then believe in nothing . . . they believe in anything. That’s true, but it’s also true they are quite dismissive of the old God and anything to do with the old God. The difference is in a culture of social media, everybody now has a microphone. Everybody can say anything, express any view, hurt as many people, and disrespect, disvalue, and dismiss any belief system held by others they want. Not only that, they can do it anonymously without paying a price. There’s a lusty, materialistic paganism afoot, and it’s having a field day.

Then as a part of the obvious culture shift (sometimes called “postmodernism”), Christians have far less money, power and leverage than we once had. Add to that the fact that we Christians have given unbelievers a lot of ammunition. Christians are characterized (not without reason) as condemning, uptight, and angry judges of those who aren’t Christians. Between that, social media and pop culture, it’s a perfect storm, one that has profound implications for the Christian faith. 

Q: You write that some of the meanest, most condemning and arrogant people on the face of the earth are Christians. What truths are we missing out on regarding humility, love and forgiveness?

There is something about religion that can make us weird. I’m an expert given I’ve been (and sometimes continue to be) one of the most arrogant and condemning people I know, and I’ve so little about which to be arrogant and so much in me that needs condemning. What’s with that? I’m not sure, but I think it has to do with self-justification, our human need to be accepted and acceptable and the desire to be seen as one of the “cool kids.” If you are into self-justification and self-righteousness (and we all are), there’s probably no better place to go than to religion—with politics running a close second. Someone has said the tighter one makes what C. S. Lewis calls the “the inner ring,” the greater the outer ring. In other words, when it’s an “us/them” paradigm, the natural manifestation of that is arrogance and condemnation.

There’s enough teaching in Scripture (misinterpreted with a shallow exegesis) about the elect and the non-elect, the saved and the lost, the twice born and the once born, that Christianity can easily become a place where we can say, “I may not be wonderful and good, but I’m certainly more wonderful and better than they are.” Add to that the clear moral teaching of Scripture and the fact that religious people are given to seeing their religion as a “moral improvement society,” and you have a platform for condemnation and arrogance. And if we have no reason to be arrogant, it’s a platform where we’re required to fake it.  

When we’re “standing for God” there’s no limit to the damage we’re willing to inflict on others who aren’t. Only God knows the pain caused by Christians in their efforts to be on God’s side. God doesn’t need our help, and he was doing fine before we came along. That doesn’t mean Christians should keep quiet about truth. Truth is the “coinage” of the kingdom. But it does mean (and Scripture is clear on the subject) the truth includes and starts with our failure to really believe it and to live it. If Christians don’t lead with humility (genuine humility reflecting the truth of our own failure and sin), we will never get a hearing from those who are already predisposed to reject our truth.
Q: Christians are often accused of self-righteousness, hypocrisy and “selectivity.” In what ways are these things so destructive?

They’re destructive because they’re all efforts of self-justification and based in the denial of reality. People who are justified by God (forgiven, valued, loved and acceptable) don’t have to practice self-justification. In fact, a part of the “shock value” of the Christian witness is the public declaration of one’s own sins and failures, authenticity and a lack of condemnation of others. And speaking of shock value, unbelievers are rarely shocked by Christians. They already have us figured and expect that we will be nice . . . and boring. Frankly, they’re right. We hardly ever create questions.

I remember when President Clinton’s sexual sins and indiscretions became public. Most Christians had a field day. A lot of sermons were preached on the importance of character in our leaders and the shocking moral failure of our president. During those days I would often say from the pulpit that Clinton had given Christians a great platform for our own self-righteousness when it should have been a platform for our witness to the world. What a gift if we had said, “It could have been me. Let me tell you about Jesus, a great Savior for great sinners like me.” I missed several opportunities in those days to gain a hearing. I’ll bet you did too.

The reason Christians are often accused of self-righteousness, hypocrisy and selectivity (making some sins acceptable and others not) is because the accusations are often accurate. A friend of mine says you see a lot of fat preachers yelling at gay people, but few gay people yelling at fat preachers. That, of course, has changed, and those on the outside do as much yelling as those on the inside. Christians don’t have the corner on self-righteousness, hypocrisy and selective offense outrage. It’s part of the human DNA and an unbelievable opportunity for Christians to be different. We generally aren’t good enough to be better than they are, but we can be honest about our hypocrisy in thinking we are. Again, that’s a part of the shock value of our witness.

Q: Being politically/religiously correct is a big issue today. Can you talk about the problems that arise from political correctness?

Political correctness is a tool to abolish free speech, and religious correctness is a tool to sand-down the power of the gospel. My friend Norm Evans (who retired from the NFL) told me one time about a college lineman who went to his coach during a game complaining about the opposing lineman pulling his helmet down over his face. He asked the coach what to do. “Son,” the coach said, “don’t let him do it.” Political and religious correctness is living, speaking and acting within a box someone else has created. Sometimes we need to decide we’re simply not going to let others do that to us. If it offends, it’s time it did.

I believe Christians have lost the shock value of our witness. We read Christian books, go to Christian movies, eat Christian cookies and wear Christian underwear. Sometimes speaking truth, confessing our sins, being human, cutting slack and showing in places Christians don’t frequent can be the very un-political and un-religious platform from which we can speak and receive a hearing.

We have let the pagans and religious people define who we are. Only Jesus can do that.


Q: How are we just like everyone else? Why is identification so important?

At the very heart of the Christian faith is identification. In fact, it’s unique in the world of religions. God identified with his creatures. The Word became flesh. Jesus wasn’t lonely, afraid and weak so we wouldn’t be lonely, afraid and weak—but because we are. He didn’t die just to keep us from dying; he died as we must die. The astounding truth is he was “us,” and it wasn’t a game.

Jesus identifying with us was a lot harder for him than it is and will be for us. That’s because we really are like “them.” The power of the Christian witness isn’t in our purity, faithfulness and goodness. There is probably nothing that hurts our witness more. I know of few people who came to Christ because of Christians’ righteousness, but I know of so many people who came to Christ because of Christians’ honesty. When an unbeliever exclaims, “You too?!” he or she isn’t far from the kingdom.

Q: Why is being the “world’s mother” so bad? Isn’t that what we’re called to be as Christians?

Good heavens, no! We’re not that smart, and we’re too screwed up to be playing that role. I love my church where I’m a member, but I can’t be in leadership. Do you know why? Because what I do (teaching in a seminary, writing books like this one and doing religious media, etc.) causes people who don’t know me to think I know more than I do, and I could cause some real damage. Christians are sometimes like the actor who plays a doctor on television and then opens a surgery practice. 

But there is more to it than that. The “mother complex” can degenerate into moralism, manipulation and an inappropriate use of power. It’s so easy to major in minors and to become what we’re not called to be as Christians. That would be a social critic of the world. Again, it’s important we discover the hills on which we will fight and die. There are very few.

Q: What should we never do? And how do those things get us into trouble?

In the book I give as a kind of wrap-up a list of “nevers.” We should never compromise the truth, shout, hide, duck, manipulate, assume, etc. The list is not exhaustive, but hopefully it is helpful. Actually, the list is the natural result of hanging out with Jesus who models very clearly how we should live. It’s a dangerous way to live, and it got him crucified—but it also got him a strong and powerful hearing.

We, of course, probably won’t be crucified, but we will probably get hurt, laughed at and marginalized in plenty of ways. But then there is the hearing we’ll get too. We are here for “them,” and it’s worth the effort.

Learn more at www.keylife.org and follow him on Facebook (@Dr.SteveBrown) and Twitter (@DrSteveWBrown).


Monday, June 24, 2019

The Bachelorette: Hannah B. - Week 7

As usual, I'm running a bit late getting started with my post because I was fixing something to eat, waiting for my computer to start back up, then needed to forward an email I just got to someone.

I'm going to have to eat during commercials because I didn't want to burn my tongue. Warning from the previews: I may do some slut shaming. I don't know what else to call it.

But we'll jump on in. They are in Latvia where Hannah hopes she gets a fresh start and reminds her why she is here: To find love and be romanced by these men.

She wants these things in a man: Goes on adventures with her and makes her feel loved.

In regards to her fresh start, it sure as heck would have helped if she had gotten rid of Luke.

Oh to be young and stupid, and think you are in love. (Like I would know, but I digress.)

The men are chomping at the bit to see Hannah. Once they gather around the room and start chatting, Luke talks about not getting to spend enough time with Hannah last week. That's his fault. He had a one-on-one and still didn't make the most of it.

There's a knock at the door. The date card.

"Garrett -- Can I trust our love? -- Hannah"

Luke says that Garrett getting this date card is the first time he legitimately felt jealous. He knows for a fact that no one feels for Hannah the way that he does.

They meet out in the middle of nowhere. It's cold and there are no leaves on the trees. I don't know why they are walking through the leafless woods.

Soon they see a cable card where a couple has bungee jumped out naked. She wants to know why they are naked. She knew they were bungee jumping. She didn't know about the naked part. The couple gets down off the cord and talk to them. There's a lot of black box action going on since they are only wearing harnesses. They free themselves from the harnesses and frolic off into the woods.

Hannah just decides, "While in Latvia..." She keeps telling herself to be courageous. They snuggle up in their robes as the cable car gets out over the river. She's freezing. They get their cords around their feet. Her last step is to take off her bra. They huddle up and finally jump.

Once they are back on land, she decides it was freeing. The people in the cable car toss her bra out in the river. They hang out by a fire in their robes. Hannah calls Garrett strong. Garrett says he is glad to see Hannah happy, especially after the other night. Her crying pulled on his heartstrings.

Later that night when finally completely dressed again, they are warmer. After the adrenaline, she hopes they are able to have a more serious conversation.

Except, how serious you can be starting the conversation talking about "a ding-dong," I don't know. You can figure out what that was about as she recapped out their date started off.

She blathers on talking about having the weapons for the fight.

Meanwhile, at the hotel, the next date card arrives.

"Mike, Jed, Tyler, Dustin, Luke, Connor, Dylan - Let's discover Riga. - Love, Hannah"

That leaves Peter for the other one-on-one. Mike reminds Dustin and Dylan that there are two one-on-ones next week, and that might be their week. 

On the date, Garrett talks about his football family and going into playing golf. After comparing their relationship to the leap they took earlier, Garrett says, "I'm falling in love FOR you." Awkwardly worded, yes.

She felt so free falling today, and when falling in love, sometimes you have to take that leap. He gets the rose.

Their conversation was so shallow, by the way. Their makeout soundtrack on the street is courtesy of a violin player.

The next morning, the guys ask Garrett about his date. He says that his fear was correct... it involved heights. He then goes into the story of the naked bungee jump. Luke refuses to believe Garrett's story. He thinks there's no way Hannah would do that.

Hannah is cautiously optimistic about her group date with the seven men. They have some moonshine and pickles at the local market. Tyler buys her some flowers.

They head out to the street and do a street dance with the locals in costume. From there they arm wrestle in a pub. On the bus ride to their next location, Hannah tells about yesterday's activity.

Luke is deflated when Hannah confirms the naked bungee jumping thing. Luke is pissed. He considered it a slap in HIS face that she got naked with another man. Luke believes Hannah is HIS future wife.

Now, let me insert here, from the standpoint of Luke's religious beliefs about her body being a temple and intended for her future husband. Yep. I agree. However, he has no control over her. She is not his. If she's the kind of person who is going to get naked on the nude beach (which she says she would do), then he has to figure out if SHE is the kind of girl he wants. If not, he needs to ease on down the road.

If she didn't want to do it, she could have refused.

Moving along, that night, they head off to a palatial room for the cocktail party. She feels like the day has been a reset. She's proud they all put everything aside and had a good day. She's hopeful for tonight and the rest of the journey. After the toast, Tyler jumps in to be the first one to pull her away. He tells her about a moment he had seeing her stand up for herself. They go after it pretty hot and heavy. Think lap dance. Luke would have died if he walked in.

Jed plays the piano for her. They don't do it on the top of the piano, thank goodness.

Luke talks to the other guys about how he did not approve about the getting naked thing. Tyler defends her.

When it's Luke's turn to talk, he warns her that she isn't going to like this conversation. Luke asks if she's ever felt cheated on. He says that Garrett blurted out a lot of stuff about their date. He tells her it pissed him off to think about being bare chested with Garrett. He says it made him sick. Luke goes into taking her home to meet his family right into he will support her in whatever she does, even if it is making a bone-headed mistake. Luke says regardless, they will get through anything. Hannah's expression is pretty interesting the whole time.

When it comes time to give out the rose, Hannah gives it to Tyler. Luke is steaming because he was honest with her. His reasoning though is he will be getting the final rose, and that's all that matters.

The next day, it's Peter's turn. Hannah can see Peter pushing the stroller. 

Their date is going to be a Latvian spa day. The couple that serves as their hosts in their broken English awkwardly explain what they will be doing. It's a chance for them to get closer. Hannah and Peter just thought the woman's song was over and thank her, but she's not finished. She sings the next verse. They mix some honey for their bodies. The language thing makes it all really bizarre. https://twitter.com/BacheloretteABC/status/1143322730185367553 They finish their cleansing ceremony and head into a sauna. They make a wish as a part of the sauna ceremony. After the other couple finally leaves, it gets even steamier as if that were possible.

After all that, they head out to the hot tub and talk. None of the conversations are interesting.

At 8:05, I have now caught up through the commercials.

Over dinner, it's time for more less than stimulating conversation. She knows there is chemistry, but she wants to know if there is substance there. Hannah tells Peter she is the most introverted person in her family.

Hannah asks Peter how his flying around the country for work has impacted his dating life. It hasn't worked out well for him. It has also been hard for him to take his guard down after his last relationship. Ok, this conversation seems a little deeper than some of the others, I must admit.

Hannah has been engaged twice already. Maybe she falls for guys too quick. Time to head outside for a fireworks show.

The guys talk around the hotel, and we learn from Garrett that it was hard for him to read Peter's date card last night that said something about heating things up. As Peter shares about his date, Jed puts on his ugly coat and gets ready to go find Hannah.

He takes his guitar and sings his song (that he sang at the drag show the first group date) underneath her balcony. He gets an invite in. She's impressed.

They sit on the bed as he sings more for her. After another song, she makes out hot and heavy with the fourth guy of the night. They better watch or they are going to crush his guitar.

Maybe I have short term memory issues, but I don't think one woman has ever been all over so many men like this. Maybe one or two, but not four or five or six.

And here, I have to take an hour break from blogging because of house closing disclosures I need to sign to start the three day clock. I'm a nervous wreck, y'all!

Because some people can't keep their traps shut, Garrett confronts Luke about Luke going to Hannah with his (Luke's) disapproval of his (Garrett's) date. They get in a conversation about going into each other's lanes. Luke tells Garrett he should not bring this conversation here into the rose ceremony tomorrow. Send them all home!

Luke kicks Garrett out of the room so he can go to sleep, then tells Garrett if he doesn't want Luke talking about what Garrett does, then to not talk about it. Ok, I have no clue if you could just follow that sentence, but there are too many hes involved.

The guys are sitting around the next day and as usual, Luke is yammering along. Hannah shows up and asks to talk to Luke. He jumps up and heads out. She isn't peppy when she arrives, so everyone suspects this isn't good.

Hannah has been thinking about the conversation with Luke when he brought up his disapproval over the jump. She appreciates him coming to her with a real conversation and sharing concerns. However, the talk didn't sit well with her, especially the language he used. Hannah tells Luke the naked thing wasn't a sexual thing. (Not sure how it wasn't, all things considered.) Even if it was, Luke isn't her husband and doesn't own her body. He tries to explain himself better, but seems to dig a deeper hole. He doesn't want to know anything about her and the other guys. He then accuses her of twisting her words.

He feels like their train is on the tracks. She's not so sure. Luke tells Hannah that she misunderstood some of what he said. She's still trying to figure out how she feels about him and everything.

Luke would be so controlling to any woman. At least that is what it seems like.

Hannah needs to know who the true Luke is. "Why is it so hard with us?" He grows more and more unattractive.

Let him go! Let him go! Leave him out in the snow!

Sorry. I have a thing about singing randomness.

Garrett tells the guys about talking to Luke the night before. All the men talk about the inability to drive in your own lane when you are looking out the side at other cars.

Luke walks back in and shares that he and Hannah talked about something that was just between he and Hannah. It's no one's business and he's not talking about it. He tells Garrett none of this would have happened if Garrett had not shared details about his date. Luke says Hannah needs everyone to stay in their own lanes.

Then Luke gets into it with Tyler. I can't even tell you all the ya-ya going on. They are worse than a bunch of high school girls.

Enter Chris Harrison. He just saw Hannah who was a little emotional. There will be no cocktail party. Only a rose ceremony because she knows what she wants to do. Chris tells everyone to get dressed.

We see the men walking through the streets on their way to the ceremony. Lots of men in loafers without socks.

Garrett, Tyler and Peter have roses. There are four roses left and two going home.

Hannah arrives and says it really was a great week. She is starting to believe her husband is there.
  1. Jed
  2. Mike
  3. Connor
  4. Luke
Hannah whispers to Luke, "There is goodness in you. I see it."

That sends Dylan and Dustin home. I thought his name was Devin. Did Chris Harrison call him the wrong thing? Has Hannah been calling him the wrong name all this time? I don't see how they got this far, especially since neither I nor Chris Harrison know who they are. There was a Devin at one time. I did Dustin's name right above on the date card. That's just because I was typing as he was saying it. 

All the guys are annoyed with Luke still being there. Chris Harrison, in hushed tones, even asks Hannah what she likes about Luke. Her answer? "I'm either falling in love with Luke or Luke is making me go crazy. I'm not sure which one."

Oh, it's quite obvious to me. 

The best part of the whole episode was the scene during the closing credits that included this:


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Ring of Fire

This week's video comes from VBS this past week. I taught about Elisha where an army of fire surrounded and protected God's people from the Syrians. Cue my idea to re-write the words of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." 

It's in middle of the video here. 


RING OF FIRE


Fear is awful thing,

You can be scared of most anything.
Fear is a big fat liar,
Throw that fear in a ring of fire.


Throw your fears in a burnin’ ring of fire.

Send them down, down, down,
As your prayers go higher.
Let them burn, burn, burn,
In the ring of fire, in the ring of fire.


Throw your fears in a burnin’ ring of fire.

Send them down, down, down,
As your prayers go higher.
Let them burn, burn, burn,
In the ring of fire, in the ring of fire.


Elisha’s servant was really scared,

But he served a God who really cared.
Elisha said, close your eyes,
Open and see the good guys.


Syrians went down in a burnin’ ring of fire.

They went down, down, down,
As Elisha’s prayer went higher.
Horses and chariots all ‘round,
In a ring of fire, in a ring of fire.


Syrians went down in a burnin’ ring of fire.

They went down, down, down,
As Elisha’s prayer went higher.
Horses and chariots all ‘round,
In a ring of fire, in a ring of fire.


Throw your fears, fears, fears,

In the ring of fire, the ring of fire.
The ring of fire, the ring of fire,
The ring of fire. 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

900 pounds of kitty litter vs. 25 boxes of Readers Digest books

Knowing I had posted about needing boxes, a Facebook friend from church called me a couple of days ago saying that one of her friends had posted that she had boxes available. Thirty boxes in fact. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

The woman with the boxes had ordered 30 packages of 30 pounds of kitty litter. Each package came in it's own box (yes, if you are doing the math, that is 900 pounds of kitty litter) with a lot of brown paper packaging to fill the rest of the box. Boxes all the same size makes for stackable and brown paper is better than newsprint that gets everywhere (Mom has been saving newspapers).

So, today, we started packing all of said boxes. Twenty-five of them were filled with Readers Digest books. I have too many books for crafting purposes. Let me also add that I had started packing some other boxes BEFORE those 25.

We loaded them all in the Crafty trailer along with the boxes of cut books that I still had here at my house.

We overloaded trailer. Dad had to drive halfway around town to get home just to avoid getting the trailer hung at a railroad track. To get into his driveway, we had to unload a good portion of what we packed into his garage, defeating the purpose of filling the trailer as a storage unit for a week or two until I close on the house.

Mom isn't exactly happy that with all the craft stuff that was already in the trailer and all the other stuff filling her garage. She's afraid her car may not fit before long.

I honestly feel like I don't have much more of the house to pack now. I think that was the hard part.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Before I pack up

I'm about to start packing, especially since I got word that I should be able to close on my house next week. So, before I started dismantling, I took some pictures to remember this house. It has served it's purpose well, but it's time to move on.

It's time to leave the carpet in the kitchen and old school 1960s paneling behind. I'm not going to miss the pink bathtub either.












Tuesday, June 18, 2019

How do you know when it’s time to have certain conversations with your son?



Part 2 of an interview with Joel Fitzpatrick,
Author of Between Us Guys



Dads are given an incredible opportunity to be one of the primary influences in their children’s lives for the gospel. By inviting conversations in every arena of life, fathers pass down the message of Christ to the next generation. As a youth and family pastor and father to a young boy who’s entered into many of these conversations, Joel Fitzpatrick knows it’s important not to shy away from difficult subjects.

Between Us Guys (New Growth Press) is an easy-to-use, life-changing book for fathers and sons gives readers the tools to have important conversations with boys about life, faith, and being a man. With a conversational and captivating tone, fathers and other caregivers are guided into having gospel-focused conversations with boys ages six to ten about a wide range of topics from social justice and friendships to money, anger, and more.

In a world where television, the internet, social media, and gaming culture have taken away from quality time spent between fathers and sons, Between Us Guys urges readers to lean in to important conversations with the grace and knowledge of Christ.

Q: How would you encourage fathers to carve out time with their sons in light of the many distractions and forms of entertainment around them (social media, gaming culture, etc.)?

Fathers should be involved in their sons lives. They should learn what their son likes to do, then start to do that with them. This takes sacrifice and intentionality—it may take learning to play a video game or teaching your son how to fish or wood work. The key is to know your son, then start to invite him out to talk.

One word of caution though: Don’t only go out with your son to have a serious talk. Take and interest and participate in what he likes to do. Also, figure out how to do things that will stretch your son to serve other people by getting his eyes off of entertainment and helping him see how fulfilling it is to serve others. Then connect him with the gospel by showing him how Jesus served us.

To this end, I have included activities, service projects or even just frozen yogurt runs with each chapter helps prompt dads to spend time with their kids.

Q: Why is the book designed for the conversations to take place around various activities?

Most boys are busy, they want to do things, they want to learn new things or try new activities. Most deep lasting relationships are built with fun somewhere in the mix. And most men feel more comfortable talking to their sons when they are able to use an activity to help spur the conversation.

This is one of the reasons why activities are so important. I can remember being on a fishing boat with my son, riding out to fish in the kelp beds near where I live. We were with one of the elders from the church who also fishes. The three of us had six hours to talk about life, God’s creation, the fun of fishing, serious problems my son was facing and how Jesus through the work of the gospel heals our lives. The activity of fishing provided the context for relaxed, free flowing conversation that was so valuable in my son’s life.

Q: How do you know when it’s time to have certain conversations with your son?

I get this question all the time, most of those times its concerning sex and sexuality. I am a firm believer in the work of the Holy Spirit giving us wisdom for not only the how but also the when to have conversations. As our friendship with our sons grow and we are spending time with them, we will become aware of when to have difficult conversations.

I think the key is to understand that our sons are humans and not formulas. They need fathers who are involved in their lives and know them well. So, we don’t just have one conversation, we have a lifetime of conversations covering a wide range of topics from God to man and from sex to work. We are constantly telling them how the good news of the gospel changes every area of our lives.

Q: What would you say is the biggest hurdle or blind spot for fathers interested in beginning gospel-centered conversations?

There are three that come to mind immediately: fear, lack of knowledge and complacency. Most dads want to be good dads and help their sons learn how to be men who love and are loved by Jesus. However, in my experience of talking to dads about having conversations with their sons, they are afraid of messing their sons up. Here is the beauty of the gospel though, it is not up to us as dads to conform our sons into the image of Jesus—Philippians 1:6 tells us that is God’s work. We will mess up these conversations, we will say the wrong thing, we will be unfaithful, but the beauty is God is always faithful.

Second, a lot of dads don’t know how to start the conversations because their dads never had these kinds of talks with them. They don’t know what to say, how to say it or when they should talk to their sons. To the dads who struggle with this, we can have hope that over a lifetime of conversations, God will use your weak words to help your son grow in his knowledge and understanding of the life altering truths of the gospel.

To the last group, there are some men who struggle with complacency. They think their sons will learn how to live just by living life. Dads, if you are not going to talk with your sons, others will. Whether it is TV, the internet, their friends or other men in their life, people will be talking to them about what it means to be a man. God gives you the opportunity and the calling to help your son understand what it means to have their lives saved, shaped and changed by the good news of the gospel. 

Q: What can a mother’s role be in encouraging her son toward understanding biblical masculinity?

A mother’s encouragement, support and care are vital in a boy’s growth into maturity. Mom’s love for their sons provide them a safe place for them to grow into the man God has made them to be. Also, mothers can help their son learn how to relate to and serve the women in their lives.

Single mothers have the opportunity to love and support their sons in a very special way. They are the primary source of teaching, training, support, love and encouragement for their sons and this book can be used as a helpful guide for these conversations.

Q: If there isn’t a dad involved in the life of a young boy, could Between Us Guys be used by a grandfather, uncle, or another mentor?

Absolutely. This book was written so that anyone a grandfather, uncle, mentor, elder or deacon could work through it with a young boy who does not have a father. In that way, these older men act as a stand in father and point this young boy to the best Father they could ever have, God the Father.

I also think that with a bit of thoughtfulness a mom or grandmother could take their son or grandson through this book. These are topics boys need to hear from women on as well. So many strong women have helped me process how to think about these topics, and I am eternally indebted to them.

Q: You talk about the dangers of the moralistic “try hard, do better” message. How can fathers avoid this when starting conversations with their sons?

It is easy to just focus in on behavior modification because that is what most people focus in on. But to be clear, there will be plenty of morally upstanding people who are not saved. We don’t need to teach our sons that God’s love and care for them is based on how good they are, we need to bring them to Jesus who can truly save them.

This means Dads must be convinced of the power of Christ. When dads are grounded in the gospel for themselves, they can start to help their sons see how the gospel changes their lives. Dads can tell their sons the stories of how the gospel has changed their life and encourage their sons that God can work in them.

Then, dads can lead their sons to Christ when their sons fail to live the way that God has called him to. This is the joy of having these conversations saturated with the gospel dads get to be a conduit of God’s grace to their son.

Learn more at www.joelfitzpatrick.co and follow him on Twitter (@JoelDFitz).

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Bachelorette: Hannah B. - Week 6

I'm getting a late start tonight because VBS is this week at church. After getting home and a bite to eat, it's after 9:30 PM, so let's see how quick I can get this knocked out. Hopefully, I won't start nodding off.

Last week, the show ended with Stalker Luke being told by Hannah that she could not give him the rose.

I don't see how she could have been so a flutter for him given how many red flags there seem to be. He simply cannot reveal anything about himself when given chance after chance. When she asked him time after time the simplest of questions.

The guys are sitting around talking about him. I seriously am not 100% sure who one of these under the radar guys is. 

Back to the dumping of Luke. Hannah says she can't give him the rose. Luke says he is very confused. She has a hard time using her words in telling him what she wants. This day has frustrated him too. They had all day to try to make it something it wasn't. He wants her to think about every little detail since day one. He wants to take ownership and move on. She says giving him a rose doesn't make since. He asks if this means this is it and he goes home tonight. Hannah confirms that. He leaves.

It never crossed Luke's mind that he was going to go home. Ah, to be young and stupid. His eyebrows do weird things. He claims that Hannah is right and that he has tried to be too perfect. He had to get his act together. He thinks he's going to win her over and get to stay. Luke comes back in. Hannah wants to know why he is back. He knows it's his fault. He decides to scream and yell and try to communicate, but he makes no sense. It sounds kind of like Charlie Brown's teacher for the sense he makes.

Had to pause to finish uploading some pictures. There goes the "Let's see how fast I can do this while FFWDing through commercials" challenge.

Back at the hotel/castle/whatever, the men are sitting around waiting for Luke to not come home. Unfortunately, for all of them, he shows back up. Luke announces that Hannah said it was the worst one-on-one date. She didn't give him a rose, but she wants him to stay to contend at the rose ceremony with everyone else.

Hannah thinks the men have to trust her and what's good for her heaaarrrt because keeping Luke was what was right for her. However, if Luke goes back to being a robot tomorrow, he won't get a rose.

The next day, Luke goes to a church to pray because he is pursuing his future wife and trying not to mess it up.

That evening, it's time for the cocktail party. She comes in and talks about how her faith means a lot to her and a verse God has put on her heart about focusing on the seen, not the unseen. I think I'm lost. She gives a toast and Garrett pulls her away first.

They chat a bit. Garrett shares that he told Luke to leave everyone out of his date (not talk about everyone), and he wanted to follow-up and see if Luke kept his word on keeping his mouth shut. Hannah does confirm he did EXCEPT when Hannah brought up something that prompted it. Their kiss is interrupted by Connor.

Garrett comes back in and tries to start something by saying that Hannah said he named names. Well, this isn't presented like it really happened. All the men want to know what he said.

Hannah wants to talk to Connor, but there is such a loud commotion going on among the men. She listens in to find out what is being said. She comes in, tells them to stop because she is fed up of fights. She tells the men to ask whatever they want. Someone starts, and Luke interrupts. Hannah tells, she can ask what she wants and was trying to find out about a situation. That's why names came up. This is really all so immature. He said this about me. He said that about whatever.

Garrett's point is that Luke lied last night when he said nothing about anyone. Hannah finally signals for Luke to zip it. She tells them all to stay in their freaking lane. She leaves the room.

Peter asks them to pay attention to how upset Hannah was and to please stop all this. Luke starts back up with Garrett again. Hannah is still listening and drinking the last of her sanity away.

Garrett needs to shut up. She comes back in and tells Luke he needs to stop making excuses. He's already been warned. She tells the rest of the guys to stop focusing on Luke and start focusing on her. She says she has concerns with Luke, but has concerns with all of them too. Shut up and pay attention to me. "You all make me feel psycho." She wanted to share with them about who she is and how she feels. Instead, they all talk about crap. She's defeated and tells them all off. She says she doesn't want to do this and leaves.

Tyler points out how they are all messing this up.

Hannah is bawling and Chris Harrison finally goes to check on her. She uses the word "like" a lot. She's frustrated that they are hung on Luke. He says it is because they care. They all care about her and are upset that she likes Luke. While Chris tries and actually is logical, she's had enough. Party over.

Garrett hopes she can forgive him for ruining an evening. Luke says it's 100% Garrett's fault.

Rose time. Mike and Jed already have roses.

  1. Connor
  2. Tyler
  3. Dustin
  4. Peter
  5. Dylan (How is this guy still here? Something about him looks creepy to me.)
  6. Garrett
  7. Luke (WHY THE HECK?)
This means the three going home are people I basically have to refer back to a list to figure out their names because they have gotten so little screen time. Devin (who we really don't know anything about), Grant (I don't know anything about him either), and Kevin (I know his name rhymes with Devin). 

After those three men go off, they all exit off saying they don't see what she sees in Luke.

She scolds all the men one last time as she leaves for the night. 

The remnants of men and Hannah head off to Latvia. 

While the men have drinks, Hannah talks to Chris Harrison. She wants to know if she can have one cocktail party that doesn't go to crap. 

Hannah isn't trusting the relationships like she wants to. She doesn't feel like the men want to be in a relationship with her. She hasn't felt led to share anything about herself. She's trying to stay hopeful, but can't quite figure out how people find love in this process. She feels like she is flailing. 

This is the most hopeless conversation with Chris Harrison that has ever happened on this series ever. That's me saying that, not CH. 

That conversation was in a casual setting. We then move to a more formal sit down discussing the process from the get-go, and how she doesn't think she's going to be able to where she needs to be.

They recap the season from night one when Scott was sent home because he had a girlfriend. Then we get a series of clips from Cam and all his drama. Oh, my word, it has been a long six weeks. I don't know if I'm losing my mind or memory--or just have more important things to think about--but I forgot about Cam. Seriously. 

They move on to all things Luke. Luke S. and Luke P. Just Luke P. She's hoping he can get past this so they can continue. 

I don't know why we are having a mid-season recap in middle of tonight's episode, but they go over some of the better moments of the season thus far. 

Before The Bachelorette, she had only kissed five guys. Chris Harrison asked her who the best kisser is. Her answer: Luke. Sigh.

There's a blooper reel of awkward moments. Like a random dog in the park eating all of Jed's ice cream. Jonathan trying to go in for a kiss. Other clips.

I'm seriously getting ready to not off in boredom. I don't know why this is necessary. 

The episode ends with clips from the rest of the season which appears to be a lot of Luke drama and sluttin' it up. I don't think she is mature enough for all of this. She doesn't seem too mentally stable.