My Ultimate Dad Moment

Jack and His Monster Truck Obstacle Course

It was Father Heaven for me yesterday. I came back to Enid after a wonderful Feast of Pentecost Eucharist at Grace and was in the backyard getting the grill ready for some kabobs. Jack came out, grabbed a tennis ball, and said, “Hey Dad! Want to play catch with me?”

Excellent. We threw the ball back and forth for a while. Jack was throwing and catching really well, but every once in a while threw a wild one. We were having fun, and then it got better.

“Dad, we should talk about stuff.”

I smiled. “What do you want to talk about? Girls?”

“Girls? Really?”

“Yep. Really.” He caught the ball with two hands and tossed it back to me. “You like girls, don’t you?”

I think he blushed a little and missed the ball. He ran to pick it up and tossed it back over my head. “Sure. I like girls. You know. I like Mommy. And Erin.” Jack smiled again. Erin is his friend from Church. Her brother is our godsend. He is going to marry Erin someday, he had told us. He’d told that to Erin too, and she agreed.

“That’s good,” I said. I tossed the ball back and he caught it again.

“Maybe we can talk about stuff like we did that one day. About cars and motors and stuff.”

“You want to talk about motors? Transmissions?”

“Yeah. About cars and how they work. Like how they turn, Dad.”

He had started asking questions about cars one day on the way to school, and I described how the internal combustion engine worked, how the pistons moved, turning the shaft and all that. It had been weeks ago, but he remembered. So did I.

We didn’t get much of a chance to talk about power trains and transfer cases. Nor head gaskets or cams. Not long after that our friends arrived and the grill was ready, and the car-talk had to wait.

But I have a boy who played catch with his dad, who wanted to talk guy talk, and it was heaven. Simply heaven

Weekend Report

We had a wonderful weekend in Tulsa. We arrived Friday night and had a nice visit with our friends who moved from Enid a few months ago. Saturday held the Winter Guard Competition at Union High School. They have quite an impressive campus–more on par with a small private College than a public high school. Amazing. The Winter Guard competition was fun. Enid HS had probably their best performance ever, and was awarded with First Place in their division–by several points too! All the teams performed we saw performed well and were very entertaining. Saturday evening ended with the awards presentation and burgers at our friend’s house.

Sunday I woke early and attended worship at Grace Ev. Lutheran Church in Tulsa. Another amazing facility! Pastor Tiews conducted the liturgy with grace and reverence and proclaimed a fine sermon. The family joined me for their coffee and fellowship time and then once again we attended Divine Service as a family. I can’t remember the last time we were able to do that! After liturgy, some members of Grace gave us a tour of the facility and then took us to lunch afterward. Our trip ended with a visit at the Tiews home, where Mrs. Tiews gave me a long-missed taste of authentic German hospitality. Yes, such a thing exists, and the Germans entertain graciously. We returned to our friend’s house, packed up and drove home, exhausted from a long weekend.

It’s good to be home again too.

A Generation Gone

I find it sad when I meet the children of faithful members and I ask them where they live and they say, “Oh, I live here in Enid.” Then I find out they are going to a church of another denomination.

As a parent I know that we only have so much influence on our children. But I look at my congregation and see an entire generation missing from our pews. Seriously. There are exceptions, to be sure. But I wonder what happened then, and what happens now, and what I can do as a parent and pastor to prevent that in the future.

Any ideas?

When is it Time to Quit?

My wife had yet another set back in her goal to get her degree finished. I won’t get into the hairy details, but she has had so many blows and denials and refusals and Resistance, it’s not even funny anymore. She really is beating her head against the wall.

She wonders why God is not opening doors…or windows…or anything. She is wondering why every turn seems blocked. It really feels like a sign to her. I can certainly see that.But on the other hand, teaching music is her gift. I see it, others all around her see it and tell her this. And furthermore, we believe that God works through suffering, that tentatio forms us and makes the theologian, as Luther would say. “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away.” (Matthew 11:12 Douay). God gives us our vocations, but they do not come without struggle. And the struggle is often the important thing.

Of course there is struggle and work…and then there is what she is going through, and this is ridiculous.

So, is there a time to throw in the towel? Is there a time there is so much resistance and so many obstacles that it becomes time to re-evaluate? What do you think?

From Your Side

Photo: Kriss Szkurlatowski

Last Sunday I attended church by sitting in a pew instead of standing up there where I usually worship. It was a joy to sit and stand next to my family: my aunt behind me, my sisters and parents down the pew and in front. If I cannot be with my church family here, then being with my relatives is the best. It was good to help my son remember to stand and pray, to help my sister with a hymnal as she held my goddaughter, to stop listening to the sermon because I had to attend a fidgeting child. Yep–if you’re going to ignore something in church, make sure it’s worth it. It’s God-pleasing to be distracted when you serve others or work in your vocation. Other times, though, pay attention!

Some things were not-so-good. The organist, while a fine musician who played some rockin’ preludes, postludes and offertories, played the hymns and liturgy at molasses speed compared to what I am used to. And I missed speaking the Eucharistic Prayer. I didn’t mind not preaching, leading the Kyrie reading the lessons. That was a nice break. But I found myself wanting, longing to pray what comes after the Sanctus in our liturgy. I’m looking forward to next Sunday just for that, I think.

All in all, it was a nice break, a joyful time, and it’s good to be back.


The Absent-Minded Pastor

My youngest wandered into our bedroom this morning as I was ignoring the alarm and asked me to pray that he “not be sick anymore.” I mumbled yes and he went downstairs to see his sisters as they were getting ready for school.

I didn’t realize he was sick. I mean, he had a cold a week or so ago, but didn’t seem to be snorting around anymore. I could be allergies. Mine have been crazy, Marjorie–who doesn’t have allergies–has been sneezing and wandering around with red, itchy eyes, and the cedar and juniper pollen levels are in fine form. Could be that.

Or it could be I need to investigate a little after school.

The irony of all this is that for the past three days I have been trying to be more intentional and present and engaged with life and my surroundings. I have a tendency to drift off and think about everything but what’s in front of me, I’ve noticed, and it is not good for remembering things or getting things done or for much of anything but solving whatever problem I am thinking about.

So it is time to wake up again and look around. As Ferris once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you might miss it.”

Parenthood and Passions

I am still thinking about the article from Fr. Tobias that I read (and posted to FB a little while ago).Controlling the passions is not something Lutherans talk much about, but it is definetaly a Scriptural way of talk ingy about our sinful natures. But most importantly his post addressed the importance of modeling our behavior to our children. They respond the way we seem the respond.

I’ve seen the same thing with myself…not as a kid, but now as I relate to my own kids and hear myself sounding just like my dad. Sometimes this is good, and sometimes I wince as I hear myself adopting the same tone he did. We’ve all been through that, anyway, if you’re old enough.

What is harder to see is how your current behavior is modeled by your kids, how your impatience makes them impatient, how your disdain for chores makes them disdain them, how we unconsciously do the things we hate and see the kids doing what we hate.

The cross is the only solution to this, in crucifying ourselves, our passions, our sins and selfish conniption fits. The cross, and prayer, of course, in seeking help from the Rock of all strength.

The Spirit of Christmas from a Four-year-old

On my day off yesterday I had to go to Walmart. Jack got all excited about spending some of his allowance money on some Star Wars men. I explained to him that this time of year he should spend his money on presents, not on himself.

I suggested buying something for Mommy, and finally he decided that yes, he would buy a present. But he wanted to buy a present for Mikayla…maybe a Star Wars mens that he didn’t already have? And maybe he would play with it?

Getting frustrated, I mumbled, “Buying presents for someone that you want to play with is not the Christmas spirit.”

A few minutes later Jack calls up from the backseat, “Dad, if I buy Mikki a Star Wars mens and then she shares with me. Dad, is sharing in the Christmas Spirit?”

Trapped. We decided that Mommy really needed something from her list, and as God’s grace would have it, Jack picked out a nice present and was content to just look at the Star Wars toys for a few minutes.

He’s a good kid. Too smart for his own good, though

Saturday Night Oops

Sometimes on Saturday night about this time your pastor will take a look at his sermon and think, “This is really not very good.”

It happened to me about fifteen minutes ago, and I am stewing a bit. I really wanted this one to be good, and I’m afraid I tried too hard. Tried to be subtle instead of saying what a I want to say.

But it’s late, and I have family in town, staying at our home, and Sunday morning is is already beating its way around the Earth.

So I will look at the sermon a few more times and try not to gag, and go tomorrow and preach it. Just preach it.

The difference ten years makes is I will not re-write it, at least much. I will not let it keep me up tonight. I will go and proclaim the Word of our living God Jesus Christ and get over my own self.

I’m not there to impress people. I’m not there to inspire and awe them. I did my best this week in writing it, and I will do my best in proclaiming it, and I will leave the rest to God.