Waiting For My Son

When I wake up each morning I immediately wonder how my wife is doing and if she’s gone into labor. I furiously look around for any noticeable signs of such a wonderful event. Then, when I learn all is well, my heart-rate begins its slow return to normalcy. When I get into bed each night I lie there wondering if I’ll make it till morning without being woken up with those words I’ve been dying to hear, “I”m going into labor.” While mulling over this soon-coming joyous moment I reach over and place my hand on her stomach so I can feel him squirm and kick from inside the womb “one last time.” As I slowly doze off I can only imagine how great it will be when those squirms and kicks are performed before my very eyes.

For almost a week now that is how I have started and finished my day. What do I do in between beginning and end?

I prepare.

Once I hear the magic words from my wife there are things I won’t have time to do, so they must be done now. Each day I have a checklist of things I run through to make sure we are as prepared as we can be.

Is the driveway clear of snow so we can easily get the car out of the garage? Am I clean shaven so I don’t look like a ruffian when I see my son for the first time? Do the dogs have plenty of food in their containers for whoever ends up feeding them while we’re at the hospital? Are the relevant gadgets – cell phones, iPods, cameras, video cameras – fully charged and packed? Do my parents have all the information they need to get to the hospital and/or house? Is there cash in my wallet to pay for parking at the hospital?

It can be a bit wearisome to go through this list each and every day, but it’s a wearisome chore that is done with great joy. What makes this waiting for my son unique is that I’m always preparing for something that could come in a moment’s notice (perhaps even before I finish writing this) or could come in a week’s time. There are ‘big days’ in our lives that are exciting and require a lot of preparation. In high school there is the SAT (or for my fellow Oklahomans – the ACT) at university it seems there is always a mid-term or final exam to prepare for, and there is perhaps the biggest day of one’s life  his or her wedding. But for each of these big moments in life there is a specific day on which you know the event will happen.

I’ve been struggling to think of an event that is similar in that you are always preparing for it even though you don’t know when it’s coming. Last night I finally found a comparison. An event that I should’ve thought of a long time ago but didn’t. (Perhaps this lapse shows that I haven’t been preparing for it as diligently as I should.) In the same way I’ve been preparing for the arrival of my son, I should be preparing for the arrival of the Son.

My joyous thoughts of my soon-coming son should be based upon the foundation of the soon-coming King. In fact, my son’s very life is dependent upon God’s gracious gift to my wife and me. So what should I be doing from morning to dawn?

Prepare.

Have I been seeking a more developed relationship with God? Have I sought to know him through studying his word? Am I continually trying to live the life that he intended for me to live? Is the life of Christ exemplified in my daily actions? In how I treat my wife? In how I treat my co-workers? Do I seek to glorify God in all my actions? Is he the center of my academic pursuits? Do my goals and dreams reflect God’s desire that all would come to him and have everlasting life?

I am sure that over the next many years I will learn many things about God through my son. I am truly happy that these lessons are beginning even now.

The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

Matthew 25: 1-13

10 Years Later

This time ten years ago (almost to the day) I was packing my things to move from Oklahoma to Texas so I could begin my educational career at Southwestern Assemblies of God University. I would have never guessed then that ten years later I would be packing my things again to move from Oklahoma to Canada so I could begin my professional career.

I have been reflecting on the type of person I have become in the last ten years and am glad that I have become the person I now am. I think leaving my family and most of my friends was a good thing for me. I still remember lying in my bed at Southwestern that first October wondering how everyone back at Crossfire (my church’s youth group) was doing at the annual Neewollah (Halloween spelled backwards) festival. I remember missing Mother’s & Father’s Day for the first time and not being able to get over the fact that dad’s barbeque chicken and mom’s potato salad was being enjoyed by everyone in the family but me. It was difficult to leave them, but it was good.

I am grateful for the family, friends, and pastors that I had up through high school. Without your guidance, I would have never been able to leave Oklahoma in the first place. I am thankful that as I went through many changes these last ten years that you have been patient with me. To some, I have become a completely different person. To others, you have witnessed these changes gradually and so they are less striking.

While I can never put into words how grateful I am for those that helped me the first eighteen years of my life, I want to take a few minutes to reflect on those that helped me that last ten. I have changed a lot in the last ten years and most of those changes have come through the influence of new friends and new family that has come into my life.

I thought it might be an interesting exercise to list out some of the changes that have taken place since I first moved from Mustang. What I know is interesting is that the group of people that have influenced me the most over the last ten years would disagree about almost every one of the changes listed below! Some of these are trivial, some quite important, and some are somewhere in between. In no particular order…

  • I now think that developing the life of a mind is required to grow spiritually.
  • I am in the process of becoming one with a beautiful woman.
  • I am now more of an OU fan than an OSU fan (though I still pull for the Pokes when they’re not playing OU).
  • I am much more hesitant about saying non-Christians will spend eternity in Hell.
  • I no longer worry too much about cursing on occasion (but do think that cursing often demonstrates a lack of vocabulary and creativity).
  • I now wish American churches were less patriotic on Sunday mornings.
  • I no longer listen to rap.
  • When the radio is on it is probably tuned to a talk radio station, but when I do listen to music, it is most likely classical or jazz.
  • I recognize that Catholics are Christians.
  • I know what eschatology, soteriology, modal realism, epistemology, and “Gettier problem” mean.
  • I went from loving everything Republican, to hating everything Republican, to agreeing with many things Republican, but for different reasons.
  • I think altar calls are more often designed to make the pastor feel good than for the those walking down to the altar.
  • I no longer think consuming alcohol is a sin and thoroughly enjoy fine scotch (or at least as fine a scotch one can buy on a graduate student budget).
  • I used to find no problem with Christians serving in war, then thought it was completely unacceptable, and am now thoroughly undecided because both sides can make a very good case.
  • I began to avoid Wal-Mart because it put the “mom & pop” stores out of business.
  • I now realize that Wal-Mart probably does more good for society than it does bad, but still avoid the place because it is too often overcrowded and staffed by incompetent employees (low prices comes at a cost).
  • I no longer think attending church three times a week is a requisite for being truly devoted to Christ.
  • I think seeker sensitive churches are silly.
  • I think we should be concerned about the environment because it is pretty to look at and not because it is intrinsically valuable.
  • I no longer think homosexuals are the scourge of society, but still think the New Testament calls all homosexual acts sin.
  • I think a decent case can be made for the legalization of marijuana (and no, I don’t smoke it).
  • I no longer think certain events have to happen on earth before Christ can return.
  • I think many, if not most, of the good things in life are not fun.

One of the changes that took place over the last ten years that I am most happy about is that for each position I take above, I can give a good argument supporting that position. We all go through life with beliefs about the world around us. Some of those beliefs are true and some are false. We need to be able to give good arguments for our beliefs, and those that we can’t adequately support, we should seriously consider abandoning.

When I left for university, I was not able to adequately examine my beliefs. I could not give an argument (and when I could, it was not very good) for just about any of the things I believed. God has allowed me to become acquainted with certain people that poked and prodded at me until I realized I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew. They helped me examine the case for and against different positions and taught me to be humble throughout. They taught me that rigorously examining our beliefs is an essential element to growing spiritually. I am who I am now because I have always had people willing to give of themselves to help me grow.

It is late now, and I am sure I will forget someone, but I would like to mention some of the individuals I met after moving away from Mustang that have played a large role in my life. So, to Jeff Magruder, Paul Alexander, Andrew White, Adam Fithen, the Wells family, the Dennis family, the Slover family, my Talbot professors, Dale and Jonalyn Fincher, Adam Stowell, the Tanyag & Tano families, Josh Seachris, Rusty Jones, and of course, my wife Tina Marie, I say thank you for picking up where those before you left off. If, in this new chapter of life, Tina Marie and I can find people half as loving and thoughtful as you, we will be blessed.

What hard work gets you…

I spent this last weekend working with my father in our backyard. You see, about three weeks ago there were a bunch of fires in Mustang, Oklahoma. My parent’s backyard caught fire, but thankfully the firemen were able to save the house and our cabana. Unfortunately, our shed was not saved from the destruction.Thankfully my parents did have the shed and contents insured and will be able to build a new one relatively soon. Actually, because my father knows so many contractors of various sorts, he is going to end up with a much nicer building that he can finally restore old cars in. I knew that he was going to do much of the removal work himself, and he isn’t 25 years old any more, so I volunteered to help out (because, well, I am in fact 25 and have no excuse to not work my butt off for family). We spent almost all day Friday disassembling the shed. It was pretty fun actually. Hard work, but fun. After we were through tearing it down (got it down by lunch, thank you very much), we carefully stacked all the wood pieces in our just delivered dumpster. We knew we had a lot and needed to be conscientious about how things go in to make sure it all fit. It seems that was more work than the actually tearing it down part. As the night wore on, I found myself really enjoying this time with my dad. It’s times like these that I am thankful Tina Marie and I moved to Oklahoma.I was so tired Friday night that Tina Marie and I decided to spend the night. We got up somewhat early on Saturday morning and started helping our neighbor tear down his shed. What was interesting about his shed is that from the outside you couldn’t even tell it was burned. Somehow the fire made it’s way inside the shed and was burning it inside out. This was a bit more fun than tearing down our shed because it involved chain saws and a Bobcat (the tractor, not the animal). We filled our second dumpster by 2:00pm and then it was finally time for me to go home. I had earlier received my first assignment of the semester and needed to go buy The Complete Works of Plato before I could begin.As I was sitting on my couch Saturday night my mother called and asked me a strange question. She said, “Would you rather have an 8-cup or 12-cup coffee maker?” I of course responded that the 12 would be better, still not knowing why she asked. She said thanks and then hung up the phone. You see, my wife and mother went shopping while we were working in the backyard and my parents decided to reward me with a brand new Barista Aroma Grande coffee maker from Starbucks.Needless to say, I was pretty excited about this. You see, we received a really nice coffee maker as a wedding gift that kept causing us lots of problems. First the electronic buttons wouldn’t work correctly, then it started leaking, not stuff that you want to deal with, especially if it costs as much as it did. My wife had taken it back earlier in the day and got a store credit to buy other items that we needed, but we had no coffee maker! Things were going to be really bad the next couple of days. Then, out of nowhere, my parents come through and buy us a coffee maker that is nicer than the one we just returned.So, for those of you that might shy away from lending a helping hand, just remember (but don’t tell Kant!) there is always the possibility that self-satisfaction with a hard days work might not be your only reward.

I’m An Uncle!!!

(Well, not yet but soon.)I just finished visiting with my family and it seems that my brother and sister-in-law are going to have a baby sooner than later. I’m really excited for them and can’t wait to have a lil’ one around all the time.This is really great for TinaMarie and me as well. Now that Greg and Nesa are going to have a kid, my parents won’t be breathing down our necks to have a kid. Before my brother got married, my mother was always harassing both of us to hurry up and get married. Once Greg got married, it was like they forgot I was single….which was great! Hopefully their kid will have the same affect.I’ll be praying for Nesa’s health and Greg’s sanity these next 9 months or so. We all would appreciate your prayers as well.Blessings!

The Rigors of Life

Well things haven’t got much easier since my last post. I finished my paper on the essential nature of God’s perfect will and how it would not have been better for him to create humans with the same type of will. What I didn’t do, was perform successfully on my most recent logic quiz. I had a total brain freeze before class and could not remember any of the rules that allows me to do the types of things I was asked to do. I’m really frustrated to say the least.The last few days I have begun to have a better understanding of one thing though. I am blessed with an awesome wife. TinaMarie has been such an amazing support to me. She encourages me and pushes me on when I don’t feel like I’m cut out for Ph.D. work (which has been more often than not lately). I pray that I’m able to show her how much I appreciate all that she does for me and that there will come a day when it’ll be all worth it.Blessings to all.