• On Family Life

    All You Need for Your Family to Thrive

    My Amazing Idea When I was four years old I had an amazing idea. My mom had bought lemons at the grocery store. As she made fresh-squeezed lemonade, she tossed the rinds and seeds off to the side. I knew that when we planted seeds a new plant grew of the same kind of fruit or vegetable that we got the seeds from. (Although I never understood where one gets banana seeds. But I digress.) So my amazing idea was to take the seeds that my mom was throwing out and plant them. That way our family would have fresh lemons and not have to buy them at the store.…

  • On Family Life

    The 2 Simple Rules for the Fruitful Family

    I’m a terrible gardener. If you garden, I just don’t understand you. You’re probably a well-balanced person full of self-discipline and good old-fashioned gumption. You look at a patch of dirt and see what beautiful plants could be growing there. I look at it and think about how much work it would take. Ain’t nobody got time for that. My wife and I have tried gardening. We head into each spring with grand plans of a vegetable garden teeming with cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, pumpkins, watermelons, and bell peppers. This was the first spring in our new house, so we picked out a plot, tilled, and planted all the vegetables we…

  • On Work Life

    The Only Way to Succeed

    I have a friend who never does things the easy way. I think in a sick, twisted way he enjoys doing things the hard way. I don’t judge though. When I think about it, I’m really not that much different. I was once an engineering major. I had 5 semesters of physics and math under my belt, and I chose to change my major to Philosophy and Religion. The inevitable argument with my mom ensued. “What will you do instead, Chip?” “Well, I really liked my philosophy course, and my religion professor is really great. I’d like to change to Philosophy and Religion.” “What kind of job will you get?…

  • On Christian Life

    Jesus is for losers

    My daughter and I just read Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I highly recommend it for parents and kids alike. It’s a middle grade novel about a boy named August who suffered from birth defects which left his face malformed and inhuman. In the book, August is 11 and is just starting 5th grade in a private school. It is his first school year away from the safe confines of his homeschool life with his mom, and he is understandably worried. When the school year begins, August meets a lot of kids. Most are scared or disturbed by his malformed face. The kids pretend he has a disease they will catch…

  • On Christian Life

    Your Definitive Church Shopping Guide

    I used to be a waiter when I was 16. My first job was working for A&W in my hometown. It had drive-in car service and homemade root beer in chilled glass mugs. We had regulars we loved to serve, but we also had regulars we didn’t like at all. Diet Lady was one of them. She came every week on Tuesday and ordered 1 medium diet root beer and 2 coney dogs (since Tuesday was BOGO). She was nice enough, but she never tipped, that’s never, as in never. We made $2.85 an hour, and we relied on tips to even make the trip to town worth it. Being…

  • On Christian Life

    This Is the Reason Your Life Hasn’t Changed

    Ladders are not my friends. For the most part we get along, but it’s a mutual distrust. We used to be closer, but I was betrayed. I was doing some paint touch-ups in our great room near the skylights. As we prepped our house to sell, our realtor recommended we clean them up and paint around them. It was an ordeal finding a ladder that could reach that high. My step ladder didn’t quite extend high enough, and I respected ladders enough not to stand on the top rung 15 feet in the air. So I improvised. I stacked cinder blocks 2 high as a platform for each ladder foot…

  • On Christian Life

    Dealing with Disappointment

    I’m dealing with a range of emotion right now as I sit down to write. In general my life is really good. I am healthy, my family is flourishing, and I have a good community. I have gainful employment doing meaningful work in the world. I have a solid church family, great in-laws, and friends who love me. So why do I feel such disappointment? Don’t get me wrong. All those things are so important to me. If one of those things becomes off-balance or disappears entirely my life would be much less enjoyable. I would immediately have to rearrange all the other priorities of life to backfill the void…

  • On Christian Life

    The Two Most Life-Changing Words EVER

    Words are powerful. Nothing else has the power to destroy or heal, to build or tear down, to mend or rip apart. In fact, just two words have powerfully changed my life. “I do.” “It’s inoperable.” “She’s dead.” “I’m sorry.” “You’re hired.” I would guess that you’ve heard some of those yourself. Even now, just reading the words on the screen, those two little words bring a flood of emotion and memory. You remember where you were standing, what you were wearing, what day it was when you heard them. A mere two words can have a powerful effect on who we are and who we become. They can shape…

  • On Christian Life

    Should Christians Swear?

    My father was a kind man, but he struggled with anger. There was a battle inside him between his vision for how things should be and how they actually were. That’s what bothered him. It wasn’t the angering thing itself but that it represented a failure on his part to make the situation right, to control the world around him. He never swore at us kids, but my dad was a champion at using swear words when he worked. In fact, when our dad was working on cars or the tractor, my older sister and I would get each other so we could eavesdrop on him while he worked. It…

  • On Christian Life

    5 Ways to Pray

    There’s no way to make an ice cream sundae wrong. Do you like bananas? Throw some in. Do you like chocolate syrup? Pour it on. Do you like sprinkles, cherries, whipped cream, walnuts or pickles? Go ahead and…wait, pickles? Ok, put those on there too. We’re only imagining, right? The point is that we all have different tastes. We all have a different history with ice cream and we know what we like. And unless you’re lactose intolerant, making an ice cream sundae should excite you. The last couple weeks we’ve been talking about how to pray. You can check those out here and here. Both weeks stressed the main…