We are rounding out the two weeks on the calendar that we call “Birthday Season” here. All three of our girls were born within two weeks of each other. (Two weeks and a day during leap years.) Strangely, they also fall chronologically in age order: Kirstie’s first, then Julia, then Emma.
It’s a fun, full, frenetic two weeks!
Do you remember as a kid looking forward to “big” birthdays? Every birthday is fun when you’re very young, but certain ones, like, turning ten were fun, because your age took up two places—double digits!—and of course it was fun to reach thirteen, then being able to claim the title “teenager”. Special years followed quickly with sixteen meaning you can drive (fifteen in some places!), seventeen and eighteen, twenty, twenty-one… they’re all fun!
Of course, strangely enough, as the birthdays keep coming, usually, rather than looking forward to and celebrating the “big” birthdays, most tend to begin downplaying (or completely ignoring) them. You know, the ones that end in “oh”.
This year in the Campbell home, five of the eight people will be celebrating “big” birthdays! Somehow, 2014 is a magic year for us. Perhaps it’s because the year ends in four, Jen’s favorite number?
The first to celebrate was our oldest daughter, Kirsten, who recently joined the double-digit club. Ten years old! She’s quite glad to be the elder statesmen of the female children in the Campbell home.
Next up will be Alex. He will be a teenager this coming October. Teenager?! Crazy. Alex is such a fun person, it’s hard to believe that he’ll be thirteen. He’s much more of a “kid” than his older brother when he entered his teens. But who knows what the next seven months will do to our second son. Deeper voice? Bigger muscles? OR… just the same, fun-loving, fun-making Alex, with a ‘teen’ at the end of his age?
After Alex, the next “big” days belong to Mom & Dad. Both of us being born in a year that ends in four will be celebrating an age that ends in zero this calendar year—40! I think I can recall, perhaps as a teenager myself, looking ahead to the year I would turn forty. It seemed quite distant. Silly, even. Now that time has slowly brought me here, with all that has been part of those decades, I actually embrace the official entry into my fourth decade. (In some ways I already feel like I’m there!) Jen may feel slightly differently, but we’ll both begin checking the 40s demographic boxes by this fall!
Rounding out the “big” year celebrations in 2014 is our oldest son, Ian. Born in 1998, this boy will be giddy on Christmas morning as he’ll wake up a sixteen-year-old! He can’t wait to be a driver, but he’ll have to wait until the 26th, since I’m sure the DMV will not be open on the 25th. I’m excited for Ian. He’s a good kid, and we’ll be celebrating this fun milestone marker in his life for that day and probably the week or so after. (AND, we’ll see what it’s like to RIDE in the car that your son is driving. Yikes? Or, Awesome! … we’ll see!)
So, twenty-fourteen has the markings of a banner year for the Campbell family. Who knows what life will bring along the way, but if God gives us breath through all of these days ahead, we’ll be celebrating the passing of time on all these “big” days.
Some numbers are just more fun than others.
Yesterday, after reading a couple more chapters of the book of Hebrews with our two oldest boys, I was recounting to Jen some of what we had read and discussed. Julia, our seven-year-old was also in the room. From what we are reading, a common theme the author of Hebrews seems to be conveying is the ultimate, unfailing trustworthiness of God, so I used the phrase, “infallible trustworthiness”, and asked Julia if she knew what that meant. She did not, but she did listen when I explained, “It means God can always—always—be trusted.”
Early in the letter called “Hebrews”, it’s stated that God can not lie. It is impossible for him to lie. Jesus’ supremacy is also well established, and his role as our intermediary—our advocate, High Priest—is outlined in great detail. That God is for us, always, seems to be a main theme of the Hebrews.
We are often encouraged, then, to trust him, based on this. Approach the throne of grace with confidence. Come to him in our time of need.
Through the years, various lines and sections from the book of Hebrews have encouraged me about who God is and my relationship to him. I’ve included many of them in songs I’ve written, and recalled them “in my time(s) of need”. So, I’ve enjoyed reading through this letter again, and discuss it with my boys. I love seeing them process and understand grace and the truths of God’s Kingdom.
Most of all, perhaps, is this recurring theme of God’s infallible trustworthiness.
It’s what’s caused all of the people mentioned in chapter eleven, the “by faith” section, to see far beyond their circumstances to something they believed and hoped for. It wasn’t their belief in something, but someOne who spurred them on.
“By faith… Their weakness was turned to strength…” (11:34)
In the end, the whole of our existence depends upon him. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the fullness of God and man. It’s beyond comprehension, and yet it’s the foundation of all that we are.
The list of people who accomplished great things in full reliance upon God’s infallible trustworthiness is summed up by the following:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge cloud of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. (12:1-2)
We’ve heard that before, but it is the essence of what is most important: keeping our eyes on Jesus.
It’s easy to take our eyes off of him. Circumstances can easily distract us. Financial and employment struggles, relational woes within a family or with close friends, chronic health issues, or even diagnoses of terminal illness and death.
And yet, Jesus is with us through all of that. If we clear away the clutter, be it sin, doubt, worry, fear, or anything else distracting us from him, and keep our eyes on him, we will know joy—life in its fullness.
When we’re crushed by sadness, guilt, hopelessness, it’s hard. It feels impossible to “trust”. I know.
…let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him. [...] Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise (10:22-23)
God can be trusted to keep his promise.
Wherever you’re doubting today, worrying, fearing, remember those words: “God can be trusted to keep his promise.” He promises us rest, peace, grace, forgiveness, and his love, from which nothing can separate us.
He is with us. He is for us.
What, or who, can ever be against us?
I highly recommend to you a re-read of the book of Hebrews. We’re enjoying it in larger chunks, which to me helps provide context. Some prefer to go slower, meditating on smaller portions.
However you do it, may the words refresh your trust in our God’s infallible trustworthiness!
And let us, together, keep our eyes on Jesus.
So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27 (AMP)
In my life so far, I’ve always enjoyed creating. Whether it was a song, or a blog post here, or a book of those posts, or even a meal. All the way back to some of my earliest memories of making little books at my Grandma & Grandpa’s house with my craft-loving grandma—I’ve always been a creator.
Lots of times that reminds me of God, the Creator. I know, as the quote from Genesis reminds us above, that we are made in God’s image; we are like him. That probably includes the ability (and desire) to create. We are mini creators.
This can take all sorts of forms. Some create buildings, some create art, some create works of literature, some create new technologies. We are likely all wired, on some level, to create.
I’m guessing there is a hole in this very sweeping premise somewhere, but it does seem like a piece of the core of our being: we are made to create.
Which might be why I feel so restless recently.
For a long while, much of what I’ve been doing with my time is managing the creations of others. Sometimes I do this in my work, managing software and technology created by others, as well as maintaining business accounts and data. Other times it is the current stage of being the father of six incredible mini-creators, which requires much time and energy to sustain them as well as cheering on their creations. And, truthfully, often I find myself managing the dissemination of products that I created at some time in the past. In all of this, I am often neglecting time for my own creating.
(I do still find time for some pretty tasty culinary creations, though.)
Knowing this is good, and knowing that it’s likely only a season is also helpful, but I do think that there is a serious deficiency for me as a “content creator”. A deficiency that I am hoping to find ways to fill.
One is this blog. I love to write out thoughts. It may be that it inspires thinking in others, or hope, or faith, or action, but even if no one reads it, it does help me to write (create) it.
Another is music. I know that music is a part of my being. Intentionally sitting down at the piano or grabbing my guitar and spending time “creating” music is life-giving to my soul.
I’m also trying to be very intentional in writing a book I am working on (actually, a couple books, but I am focusing on one primarily).
However the opportunities present themselves, I really do believe that I need to be creating. I am made to create.
Are you? What is it you’re made to do? Are you doing it?
If you’re not, I’d recommend—from my current personal experience—to pursue it. Intentionally. Fervently.
I believe it’s important to be in the place you were made to be. May your week be full of chances to be who you were made to be and what you were made to do!
It’s almost time to start tapping our maple trees! March is just around the figurative corner. The days are getting a bit longer, the weather a bit warmer—right? It is, isn’t it?—and with all of that comes maple sugaring season!
Last year was our first attempt at the art of maple syrup making. Much was learned—more by error than success—and we are excited to give it another go in 2014.
We are waiting for the temperatures to be above freezing in the daytime, and still below freezing overnight. These are the optimum conditions for good sap flow. Thanks to this very cold winter, we’re pretty late in the calendar year for the first steady string of those type of days to begin.
But it should start soon. The end of next week, maybe?
So we’re gathering supplies (like empty milk jugs to collect the sap, glass containers for the completed product, etc) and we’ll be cleaning the reusable supplies, while also brushing up on the techniques of the process from recommended books and online resources. We have friends “in the business”, so we’ve gathered some tips from them and will be trying a few new things—like not boiling down many dozens of gallons of sap on our kitchen stovetop!—and I am hopeful that this year’s result will be thick, sweet, delicious, golden maple syrup!
As an avid fan of all things winter, it is rather surprising how the prospect of harvesting maple sap to make syrup has actually made me eager for the arrival of spring. (I know, right?! What is WRONG with me?!) I know that really makes me like the other 99% of folks who eagerly await spring’s arrival, but… I do still need (want) it to be below freezing at night. So… I’m not that normal.
Do you have a favorite tradition—new or old—that begins with the advent of spring? Are you a “tapper” like us?
Hang in there! We’re just a few weeks away!
The Winter Olympics are a big deal in the Campbell home. So much of a big deal that we even called up Time Warner Cable and purchased a television package so that we wouldn’t miss any part of it.1
Each of us has a different favorite, but we do watch pretty much every event. (Even things like biathlon and cross country events, and figure skating! OK, that was a low blow… the girls in the Campbell home love figure skating events the most, and didn’t miss any of them, I don’t think!)
We are a hockey family, so we watched almost every minute of almost every game. (It’s true!) And a good friend of mine is a big fan of curling, so that was regularly on our screens as well, both men’s and women’s curling. (Both US teams had a poor showing, but the others were fun to watch.) I remember watching curling matches weekly on the CBC when I was a lad, living just outside Buffalo (and thus, Canada). It’s big all year round in Canada.2
Speaking of our northern neighbors, they ousted our men’s AND women’s hockey teams. They are on our naughty list for sure…
I’m not sure if it’s just because I love cold weather, and snow, and ice, or if I enjoy the Winter Olympics more simply because they are the less popular of the two Olympic games,3 but it’s a fact: I love the Winter Olympics! Already looking forward to the next games!
What’s your favorite Winter Olympic sport? Which was most fun to watch this time around, 2014? Are there any you absolutely detest and refuse to watch?
Time to pack up the cable box again till 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea!
- The TV package will be removed again this coming week, since the Olympics are done. We will probably sign up again in four years! ↩
- Ian wrote a great interview article for our family website this past week. He interviewed the friend mentioned above about his curling experiences. Nice work, Ian! ↩
- It really could be this. I’m kinda weird, and I really, really, REALLY don’t like following the crowd. That could be why curling appeals to me, too? ↩
With today being Presidents’ Day, there has been some presidential talk in the Campbell home recently. Last night at dinner, in fact, one question asked of the children was, “Who is your favorite president?”
The responses, which I clarified again this morning, were as follows:
Cam, age 4
George Washington! (Said with staggering confidence!)
Emma, age 5
“George Washington.” Then, after a very slight pause, “And the president who slept under his horse!” (Ulysses S. Grant, according to Alex and his presidential trivia.)
Julia, age 7
George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. (Washington, because he was the first president, and Lincoln “because he’s the only other one I know!”)
Kirsten, age 9 (almost 10!)
Ronald Reagan, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson. Reagan made her list because, “He’s one of the presidents I know the most about, and because he liked horses.” And Jefferson was a late addition because… we visited his house.
Alex, age 12
Grover Cleveland, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Grover Cleveland. (The reason Cleveland is on the list twice is the reason he’s Alex’s favorite president.)
Ian, age 15
Thomas Jefferson: “He liked gadgets, and the Louisiana Purchase. (That was cool) And he was just smart.”
Dad, age Old
Ronald Reagan, Calvin Coolidge, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington. And, George W. Bush, because he has the BEST quotes/sound bytes.1 He was fantastic. (Really! Are there any better?)
Mom, age Older
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Calvin Coolidge, and Ronald Reagan. (Hmmm… eerily similar to the Dad!) The Mom gave the most thorough reasoning behind her selections: All of them because they were ‘real’, humble Americans, and “George Washington, because he was humble and didn’t even want to be president. Jefferson because he wasn’t a follower. Coolidge because he didn’t need to say much, and Reagan because the further we get from [the founding of the country] the harder it is to have (and live) those principles.”
We celebrate this Monday in February two of the men who held that office that had probably the greatest impact on our nation: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Their birthdays both right around that day. (Lincoln on February 12th, and on Washington February 22nd.) But since we call it “Presidents’ Day”, often we lump in other presidents, worthy of laud.
Now, who is your favorite president?
There are forty-four possibilities (or, forty-three, if you’d prefer not to count Cleveland twice, like Alex). Leave your answers in the comments below, with as much reasoning as you’d like. We’ll add your favorites to tonight’s dinner discussion!
Happy Presidents’ Day!
UPDATE: This sale has ended, but if you’d like to purchase the book, you can find it at Amazon.com
Yesterday’s post, along with the several conversations about the church which I referenced having been party to in the recent past, have me thinking about the book I published on this subject. It you’ll allow me a very quick “commercial” post, I’d like to tell you just a little bit about it, including the currently drastically lowered price. (Who doesn’t like discounts!?)
Many years ago now, our musical travels took us to many different “versions” of churches. There were Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Methodist churches, Presbyterian churches, Episcopal, Seventh Day Adventist, Worldwide Church of God, Pentecostal churches (of many varieties), Baptist churches, Catholic churches… pretty much every kind out there!
Along this journey, God was stirring something in our hearts.
Of course the differences were easy enough to notice. What struck me was the importance of the similarities.
Where one Baptist loved Jesus with all she was, another Presbyterian’s soul reverberated those same sentiments at the deepest core of his being. Whether demonstratively emotive in worship, or suit-and-tie reverent, there were people in each of these places—not all of the people anywhere, but there were some people in all of the places—whose lives were changed and forever united with the Jesus.
There’s only one. And it’s his church.
It began to become abundantly clear to me (many thoughts I’d had for years leading up to this being confirmed) that the church is much greater than a name on a sign, or an hour one weekend, or the person whom the crowds come to hear preach or sing.
There’s nothing wrong with belonging to a community with another name (any name other than simply, “the church”) but First Baptist Church of Your Town, USA is not “the church”. She is much bigger than that. Much more amazing than a building, its staff, or its programs, or anything under its lesser banner.
If you’ve ever had these thoughts… please dig through the archvies here. So much. (Much more since I published the book, actually.)
But I’d like to invite you to purchase this book.
The one at the top of the post. If what I’m saying here resonates with you, I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading through what was essentially a journal of my own journey through the process of understanding a greater, larger, and simpler reality of who the church is.
We recently found several boxes of the book that I didn’t realize we still have here in our home, so I want to get them out to people—to you!
For $4.99 plus shipping (varies by quantity) you can purchase this book to enjoy yourself, pass along to someone else who has a hunger for the simpler church, and at the same time, help buy some food for the Campbell family! It’s a win-win, for sure!
Thanks for taking time to read this, and please share this with whomever you think might be interested.
Another great resource is The God Journey podcast, hosted by Wayne Jacobsen, or also his main website, Lifestream Ministries. Wayne articulates so well his thoughts about a life with Father without the burdens of religious obligations.
Hope you can help us clear out this inventory, and enjoy the greatness of Jesus’ Church at the same time.
One last thing… here’s the back cover of the book. Who doesn’t love more information?! Click for the full-size version.
I’m not sure why, but it’s curious to me that the topic of church attendance has popped up a time or two in recent conversations. It’s sort of different every time, but all of the occasions have been cordial, courteous, and even understanding and affirming of the thoughts we have on how we are part of the church, the body of Christ. I can’t think of any time that I have brought it up, but it’s been part of enough conversations that it merited a post here this mid-February day.
Right in the middle of these instances of “church talk” was an article I happened to spot by author, Donald Miller, on his website StoryLineBlog.com. I am subscribed to his blog and usually scan his posts once a week or so, reading those that catch my eye. Last week I spotted one titled, “Why I Don’t Go To Church Very Often, A Follow Up Blog“. Follow up? I wondered, I don’t remember seeing the first one…
Curious, I clicked and read, then clicked his link to the original and read—and much more surprising than anything Miller shared were the readers’ comments to both of these blog posts.
Miller’s first article was merely an informal, from-the-heart, spur-of-the-moment, observational post about a recent weekend worship service experience. He basically was “confessing” (his word) that he doesn’t connect with God through music, or any element of the traditional worship service. And so he has chosen to not often be part of that gathering, but finds community with other believers (the Church) elsewhere in life.
Seems fairly harmless to me. How about you?
The readers who felt the need to reply were (it seemed to me) mostly distraught at his proclamation. “How could you say it’s OK to not be part of the church!” And, “Church is not about you, or what you get out of it, Don!” And the lambasting continued with comment after comment—at the writing of this post, there are just about 500 comments on the original post—most of them sharply chastising Miller’s flippant attitude towards the sacred.
Hoo-boy… I’ve been there.
The issue is not whether or not we are called to be together, or to live and serve each other and together in community as the body of Christ. That’s a fairly obvious reality of the church from scripture. The issue is what we are calling “church”.
If you mainly see the hour (or two) on a weekend day—some people attend a Saturday service, you know—as “church” then you might be prone to astonishment at someone’s admission that it’s not their favorite thing—AND that they are “OK” with not attending it. That is actually understandable.
But did Jesus really come into this world to share the Good News of the Sunday morning worship service? Is that what we are called to?
I truly do not want to stir the pot here, creating my own flurry of vengeful, protective, defending-the-Kingdom comments. Please don’t respond here, if that’s all you’re feeling. (Because, I think if that’s what you’re feeling, you’re not hearing me correctly.)
I’d be very interested in calm, collected, thoughtful responses to anything I’ve said, or even more, what Donald Miller shared in either post linked above (and I’ll add them below here, too).
It was all so fascinating how vigorously and intensely the weekend worship service was defended by so many voices. The guilt-laden obligation that dripped from many of those same comments was also telling, I think.
Wherever you are with Jesus, I hope you are at peace. If you are not, I hope that it’s his spirit nudging you toward the freedom we are able to have in him—If the son has set you free, you are free indeed.—not toward a life without him, but into a life of rest in his grace and mercy and goodness. Freedom of a life with him.
Here are the links again
AND, if you want to read more on thoughts about what the church is, and what it can be, I did publish a book about that: There’s The Steeple… Here’s The Church! Available at Amazon, and there is also a free (PDF) download. (But it’s nicer to pay for books… if you can.) See below.
I feel like a broken record sometimes.
No matter how many years (or decades) I have traveled the solar circuit… I feel like I keep learning the same lessons.
One of those is this: we have a limited time here—so make the most of it.
This is not a “rah-rah” post intended to inspire you to some unimagined greatness. But I do hope that, like me, you’ll be reminded that somethings are not worth fretting over.
Some things are.
It’s not so much that fretting, worrying, bothering, troubling ever does any good. All of that originates with fear. Fear of losing, fear of changing, fear of any bad that might come.
Not that it’s bad to concern ourselves with some things. Things like your kids who are growing up, your spouse who misses precious time with you, your parents who are aging, close friends with whom you’ve inadvertently lost contact… at least, you think it was inadvertent.
There may even be some dream, begun way back with your earliest memories, that the relentless rush of life and obligations has pushed aside.
We have a limited time. It is certain that one day—we don’t know when—our time here will be done.
Dream. Love. Enjoy. Experience. Now is the time.
What got me thinking about this again was not just our friends who are dealing with stage four cancer, nor any news of sudden, unexpected death of anyone close to me. Nor was it the frustrations of financial finagling that we are caught up in again (for what seems like now far too long).
It was more the words of my daughter, commenting more often lately that “all [you] ever do is work, Dad!” Her heart is longing to connect with mine. (And we do connect, but she wants more.)
It was even thoughts of a life that I have often thought of pursuing, but always turned aside from because of the demands and obligations of life. But I am recently reminded: truly, if you want something to happen… you must simply do it.
And then there’s our son. The first person to transform me from son to father. He’s fifteen, going on twenty-five. We butt heads now and then—a strong Campbell trait—but I admire him more than clash with him. It’s just fun to root him on in his various endeavors: all-star goalie, aspiring novelist, farmer, mechanic, among others.
Sometimes reality knocks loudly enough and I am reminded that this current season is likely ending soon.
Before we blink, our son will be moving on—his adult life is nearer than I can really understand. He’s ready now to do something—anything—with all that he is learning. Then, who knows? Wife… kids… I was only 24 when Ian was born.
But we’re not there yet.
And I’m brought back to where I started. Reminded again of things already learned. Live now, today. Don’t miss it.
Are you missing your life for want of whatever is next, or seems to be missing? Sometimes I focus on those.
This week, I have work to do, and life to balance… but I don’t want to miss my life while I’m doing those things.
Like you, I have a shortage of time. I don’t know when the end will come, but I do know that it will.
Since it has not yet come… Let’s choose to live now, as best as we are able.
Our friends could use your help.
All of a sudden, this January, their life was flipped upside down.
On January 16th, of 2014, Scott was diagnosed with stage 4 Esophogeal cancer. Treatment began almost immediately and treatment is now under way. On January 23rd, Scott completed his first round of Chemo treatment.
Scott is younger than me. They have a son who is not even two years old. (And three more beautiful children.)
You never know what’s coming…
Of course, lots of people deal with cancer.1 But twice?
We met the Shimp family probably somewhere around the year 2007. In 2006 they learned that their 17-month-old daughter had leukemia. For two years they fought the disease with their tough little Autumn, and two years later, she was cancer free. (And still is today!)
But here they are again.
We know the Shimps through our good friends from college, the Velasquezes. We like to call them, “The Vs”. The Vs are really good at meeting and loving people, and I think that God, knowing that, arranged for them to meet the Shimps—quite randomly, by overheard conversation at a library, only to realize that they shared a back yard!—and subsequently walk through those years with Autumn’s cancer together. And through that “chance” connection, we’ve been able to enjoy their friendship through the years since then, too.
There is a website—supportingtheshimps.com—that explains much more about what is going on, and how you can help. If you are able to help, these are good people to help.
And, if you can believe it, they also just started a new business in 2014. I spoke with Scott this past weekend about that, and he said that is still a go. They produce screen printed t-shirts, and embroidered products in any quantity, with really fast turnaround time (according to Scott… he seemed impressed!) and it is a great way to support their family, as well as accomplish something for your organization, business, etc.
If you need “screen printed or embroidered apparel”, please consider using CrossRoads Apparel!
The Shimps are a family whom God has certainly allowed ample opportunity to trust him, in the roughest of times. And they do. Actively, and inspiringly so. (I know this not just from my own thoughts, but from the comments I read on their website, and Facebook pages, etc.)
We don’t know what will come of this, but that’s one of the neat things about them. They are optimistic, trusting, and taking life moment by moment, walking forward with Jesus.
I’m not sure what I’d do in Scott’s position. I think I would face this giant obstacle with similar determination and trust in God’s goodness. But I’ve not had to face anything quite like this. And I’m not sure what I’d do in Susanna’s place, either, if Jen were the one diagnosed with this powerful, terrible, menacing illness. Susanna is incredibly strong in her faith in Father through this, also.
I’m certain you know people who could use help, too. (And if so, please tell me/us about them in the comments here.) If, after reading this, you are able to and prompted to pray, or to give…
May I request that help be directed toward our friends, the Shimps?