Friday, February 29, 2008

Parenting a cyber-generation.


Just e-mailed the parents of our teenagers, and I thought it was worth posting something. I'm a young parent, so I don't know a ton. But if there's one thing I've learned so far, is that parenting does NOT just happen. It takes an active effort, and a life change motivated by love and hope for what lies ahead, etc. You can't just assume that because you're a parent, you're parenting.

That being said, I've found a website that I think families should be taking advantage of, and parents should be involved in. Granted, there are many sites out there like this. But most sites that I've seen are also hooked into other organizations or faiths, which may end up limiting their impact, reach, or skew the facts.

Let's face it: the internet is here. Most of us have grown up with it since our middle school years, and our children have already begun their addiction. Content and advertising on the internet alone is threatening innocence, but then you add in the social interactions possible, and communication that happens even between the youngest of students, and it's a whole new area of development.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH started in 1994, has a TON of information, articles, printable resources, and links to downloads that can help a parent of any age group learn how to safely allow their child to use the internet.

What I like about this group is that it isn't just stopping at providing all of this useful stuff out there. This is an active group, that (scroll down on this page to the legal stuff) is helping to steer the development of technology at least a small way towards decency.

Basically, here are some blunt tips: (my opinion, I'm no expert)

1. If you don't have a filter on your computer....GET ONE NOW. Even the greatest Biblical characters faced temptation.

2. If you have a child or teen with a computer in their bedroom....GET IT OUT NOW. Only allow computer usage in a public area of the house. Even if it's a laptop. No internet after mom and dad go to bed. Seriously, there are other things to do. Most teens are sleep deprived, anyways.

3. Go through safe internet usage tips with your child!!! In any parenting circumstance, if your child could potentially harm themselves, you slowly guide them through safety precautions. Why should the internet be different? Go through their friends on myspace/facebook or on their chatting buddy-list once in a while, ask them who each person is.

4. KNOW if your teen has a website, profile, or a blog online somewhere, and check it out regularly!!! Be involved, and if there are places online you don't want them, don't let them go!!! Don't buy into the "they're an individual, and need to have a world where I'm not in it" mentality. Our children need parents.

I'll do it if you will.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Opinions...

Amid all the business, and enjoying my daughters and my wife...I've been able to watch a few minutes of the news as well. Here are a few opinions....u'll either ignore, agree, or disagree with. :) But I figured....ranting is what blogs are for, right?

1. Our Governor and State government is planning on assisting NIU with recovering from the tragedy that occurred a couple weeks ago. I don't want to sound insensitive...but tearing down a structure that's obviously still usable, and giving $40 Million Dollars in State Assistance to construct a building that will no doubt be way too ornate seems a bit over the top. I can understand a memorial, and offering counseling to families and students, and changing security measures, etc.....but a $40 Million building??? I thought that was for rich private Universities who are trying to show how much God has blessed them? There are many other necessary State projects that could use that funding, that will probably be set aside. If we tear down every building a shooting occurs in or near...the years ahead could be expensive. Let's set a precedence of healing people, not million dollar structure renovations. Still, if I was a student or family member close to someone who had been shot....would I want to see the Hall torn down? Yeah...probably. But a flashy new building would remind me just as much, what had occurred there.

2. The State of Illinois is trying to lower the voting age to 17. The article linked explains it better. But it doesn't sound like they're actually researching people who work with 17 year-olds on a regular basis. Sounds like politicians racing to be "the first", or "the hippest" state. I'm not even sure most 26 year olds should be allowed to decide the future these days. I think there are a few 18 and 17 year olds who stand out in a crowd...but overall, I think at 18, the voting age is already allowing plenty of people who are swayed by commercials and appearances on talk shows. We don't need Nickelodeon adding to the 20+ debates we've had to endure already this political season. Let's work on educating our youth, and getting the average American more involved in how our world happens.

3. The economy. Oh man, if you're watching the financial portions of most news shows, you've heard about the people who are panicking, not panicking, and just talking about the status of our economy. What's the answer? Somehow "boost" the economy? Pass out checks to everyone, hoping the "dimwitted" general public will simply pour the dollars back into stuff they don't need? (they'll probably buy from overseas anyways) Cut the Federal rate, so that it's easier for us to buy stuff we don't need, with money we don't have? If ever we've had an illustration that the "buy more" mentality has infected us.....it's now. Seriously friends...don't wait until Christmas this year to give to charities, and talk about spending less money on stuff you don't need. Our world needs us to change our lifestyles....now. (and buy some canned foods, just in case...hehe)

Those are just a few things my mind can throw up onto my blog right now. Hopefully they make sense....they do in my head.

Also, if you live in the Decatur area....please get online and fill out our city's new survey...get involved in your neighborhood!!!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Words fail....

The place to be...


So have I mentioned my church rocks? They've given me 2 weeks paternity leave, so I can be at home helping my wife assimilate to a 2-child home, and loving on my 3 favorite females. It's stinkin' awesome. Literally, stinking, sometimes.

Sophie is still too young for us to make her face much publicity outside the home, so she and Sarah pretty much stay indoors. I try to let Sarah get out a few minutes here and there....but since we're not using bottles at all....well, it can't happen much.

But Addie needs fresh air....so I get to take her out on errands, like Wal-mart, or Kroger, or running around a bit. We've gone to the mall a few times too, and made some great discoveries!

1. The Mall ROCKS for an 18-month old between 9am and 11am. (the stores open at 10am, but it's still relatively quiet). Imagine a hundred surrogate grandparents, all smiling, and sometimes offering to buy you a cookie, just cause you waved at them and smiled!! Mall walkers are AWESOME!!! (make sure you walk the opposite way with your child, this increases the amount of smiles she gives)

2. This is also the PERFECT time to play on the playland at the mall. Maybe one other kid...but usually completely empty. Time to explore safely, and when there is another, they can be social without having to dodge the 4 year olds.

3. Umbrella strollers need to be just 2 inches taller. No excitement there, just a shout out to the stroller companies. My back hurts.

4. Window displays are boring. C'mon stores, let's work on this. When the doors are all closed, give us a reason to come back when they're open. Don't just throw some products up there, and figure that will do it.

So let's see...home is going great. My wife is awesome. Sophie is SO MUCH SMALLER than Addison ever was. This is realized even more when you try and change her diaper....she has no butt. It just goes from tiny little leg....to the back. Even so, those tiny little legs pack just as much strength as I remember Addie havin'.
Other updates...hmm. Lent is going well. No books or movies, although I added another clause: If it's a movie I would never want to watch (a.k.a. a girly movie my wife really wants to see), I'm allowed to watch it with Sarah. We need that time relaxing together, and she didn't give up movies. I figured it's okay, since I'm reading books with Addie.

The Redwings have had a rough month, and have several injuries right now. They need to get McCarty back into shape, and a couple back from DTD status. Playoffs aren't too far away!

God is good. Doing some more writing for CREDO magazine, and very greatful for the experience/development of that hobby that they're offering me.

Thanks to my INCREDIBLE youth workers/parents and church staff/volunteers for covering for me.....I miss all you guys....and to the teens.....we're praying for you, and miss you too! I pray that I'm being faithful to the time I've been given to focus on family. (no Dobson pun intended)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Addie and Sophie.....?

Sometimes, it's like...
..and then there's times where it's like...

But for the most part....it's usually like....

A few questions:

1. How can the world still be so full of hate when people continue to be parents?
2. Why can't "Yo Gabba Gabba" have Biz on every time?
3. Why do both girls have "bad nights" on the same night?
4. How do people do this without paternity leave?
5. How'd I get such an incredible wife, family, group of friends, and church family?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Yup, it's like this...



So here we are...Wednesday. Sophie came Friday night....we came home from the hospital Sunday night. Addison has had a nasty cough that keeps her up late the past 2 nights.

Sophie still thinks day is night, and night is day.

Praise God for a church that has allowed me to help this transition at home.

Sleep deprived, trying to stay healthy, loving our dishwasher, not allowed to read or watch movies (lent)...

Addison loves her sister. Calls her "baby"...and lights up when she makes the slightest sound. But the next minute she may be hiding in the corner trying to get attention.

I love our daughters. We have the cute, newborn, spit-up, every day is new stuff....and we have the forming words, running around, wanting hugs stuff.

Thanks for all your kind thoughts, prayers, gifts, etc. We feel the love.

God bless you in return.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sophie Grace Anderson...

7 lbs, 4 oz. 21.5 inches 9:20pm, February 15th, 2008



video

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

from 2006...false labor with Addie...

I was ready.

There I stood, pen and notebook in hand; every contraction from the past 4 hours written down on paper. All the signs were there. They had started at 6 minutes apart, and moved all the way to 2 minutes apart, and stayed consistent for the past 2 hours. All the signs were there. Time to move. We headed home, grabbed the bags that were already packed and by the door, called the doctor, and headed to the hospital.

Once at the hospital, they hooked Sarah up to the monitors and we saw that we were right; contractions every 2 minutes consistently. This is it. All the signs are there. Addison is coming.
She didn’t come that night. After contracting for 2 more hours, and being tested, the nurses told Sarah and I that perhaps this was a “false labor”. Addison was not coming when we thought. We would have to wait. We could wait there at the hospital, or go home on our own. But either way, we had to wait.
It was tempting to stay at the hospital. It was tempting to go home and sit on our hands, waiting for any more signs that Addison had decided to come. Unfortunately, all the experts say that’s one of the worst things you can do. So what do they recommend? Live your life as normal as possible. Remember Addison is coming, and allow your life to point towards that, but don’t give up living to worry about it. Continue to prepare for her.
As frustrating as this all was, it’s given me one stellar illustration for a sermon. And I’m gonna let it out here, so if I preach and use this…pretend you’ve never heard it.

It’s the year 2006. War is once again heated up in the Middle East. Leaders of Nations are rising and falling. Earthquakes, floods, and other large events are spreading suffering and destruction. All the signs are there. Funny, this sounds familiar.
The truth is, all the signs have been there time after time after time. From those who read Revelation as a timeline to Armegeddon, all the way to those who think Jesus is gonna come back in a limousine (not many people hopefully), people have been watching to try and figure out when God will usher in His Kingdom. 100AD, 1000AD, 2000AD, Nero, Hitler, the fall of Rome, the Soviet Union, the Y2K crisis, and many events in between these have been looked at before their occurance as “God’s return”. All the signs were there. Thoughts like these spark great living, but also dangerous living.

If Sarah and I had stayed at the hospital that night, fully expecting Addison’s arrival, we would still be there 3 days later. Instead, we went home, and lived our lives in continued preparation for her.
To hope and pray for God to usher all of creation into His Kingdom is an incredible thing. To forget to live this life because we hope He will come tomorrow is a misuse of all we’ve been given. As His creation, we have been in the birth pangs of the Coming Kingdom for centuries. We have had many “false labors”, and the truth is, we will probably have many more. Does that mean we go home, and forget that God is even coming? Not at all!!! It would have been easy to be so disappointed, that we went home, and pretended we weren’t even having a baby. But then what? Addison would’ve come anyway, and we wouldn’t have been ready at all.

Instead, we realize we’ve been given more time to prepare!!! Friends, we HAVE been given more time to prepare this world for the Coming Kingdom of God. Maybe days, maybe weeks, years, maybe even millennia. But that doesn’t negate the fact that God IS returning! He has given us that promise throughout scripture. We find just one of the many references in Acts chapter 3:

“…that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus, who must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets…”

So here we are with a choice. What can we do to prepare for His arrival? What can you do this week? What can you do with your life? The answer is: LIVE IT. A statement I heard when I was in college put these things in a great perspective for me. If God doesn’t bring His completion until the year 10,000; the years we’re living right now will be seen as the “beginning” of Christianity. How are we affecting the world from that perspective? Are we? Or are we sitting at the hospital, doing nothing with our life, just hoping God will come tonight?

tick tock...


So this is how it is right now. We can only see the bottom of the timer. We're not sure how much is left in the top section....but we know the bottom section is getting pretty full.

Man, if it's this intense for me....I can't imagine what my wife is actually experiencing. Know that yeah...we've scheduled induction for Friday morning at 7:30am....but that really, Sophie could come any time she chooses. There may be fair warning....there may not. :)

Sunday night, there was a moment around 2am that we thought it was time. But it turned out not to be. Just like with Addison, only this time we didn't rush to the hospital. The result was the same though....it was a quick kick in the pants for me to finish getting ready the things I had been putting off. (baby seat, packing, getting a new tape for the camera, etc...)

SO....I figured it was an appropriate time to repost my blog from just prior to Addie....about False Labor....

Friday, February 08, 2008

...I'm intercontinental when I eat French toast....


I know I've posted a lot already...but this deserves a post.

Sarah and I have taken a big step forward in our experience as parents. Last night, we were getting ready to watch "LOST" on TV...sitting around with some family, about to put Addison down for the night...when it happened.

You know that sound that comes from the end of a hose, when you turn on the faucet, and it gurgles all the way to the open end? Imagine that sound coming from an 18 month olds' mouth....followed by the source of that noise, a hefty serving of fresh vomit.

In the milliseconds that followed, I experienced a myriad of emotions: shock, humor, disgust, upset, love, pity (for Sarah and her outfit), duty, empathy, frustration, helplessness (how do you hold a puking 18-month old? how can I help her?) , etc. As I responded without thinking, grabbing Addison, holding her as if she wasn't vomiting....to comfort her as I took her into the bathroom, to finish her self-evacuation in the tub.

Oh man...our daughter no longer has the cute baby spit-up. That stuff was awesome compared to this. Give me a shirt with spit-up all over it, compared to one spot of this. And the smell? Oh man. We're lighting candles all over the place.

So anyways, we responded well...cleaned up...figured out how to comfort Addie through the night, responding each time she began to gag again. The laundry is being done, and Addison is finally keeping fluids down this morning. Hopefully Sarah gets a chance to nap when Addison takes one this afternoon.

We've got our dishwasher installed (Thanks Wheel of Fortune!!), and are almost done getting Sophie's room and the house ready. :) Lent is going well....but I've decided it's okay for me to read books to Addison, even though I've given them up until Easter.

Anywho....that's my update. Bring back any good puke memories?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

calculating some love...


So this will probably seem like a youth pastor putting a cheesy, over-simplification of something that shouldn't be simplified. But I like it. So deal.

Sarah and I are having our 2nd child sometime REALLY soon! (she is scheduled to be induced on February 15th!) Addison is doing great, 18 months old...running around, learning words/sounds/people/etc....and SO smart! We have definitely been blessed, and continue to be.

Having 2 kids freaks me out a little bit. A lot bit. In many exciting ways. One way in particular is the risk that, in my human-ness, I might favor one child above the other. I love Addie...and I've had 18 months with her already, forming bonds, having great experiences, teaching her, and her teaching me. On the other hand, Sophie will need to be held more, carried more, rocked more...and will be a bit more delicately handled. Both girls will be incredible inspirations for a father who's ready to love. Ultimately, I think I'll be okay...I love Sophie so much already, but Addison is loved just as much. And thankfully I'm not alone. I have an incredible wife, who teaches me, and does it as if she's been studying parenting books since she was 10. (come to think of it, maybe she has. :) )

In this, I'm getting a very small glimpse of our Fathers' love for us. We believe that whether someone begins living towards God at a young age, or whether they are "born again" just prior to passing on....God loves them the same. That can be hard to understand, and especially in ministry with teenagers, may seem unfair to the one who has put in time and effort "investing" in their relationship with God.

Seeing it as a parent/child or a creator/created relationship, instead of measuring it by our economic investment/return relationship....it's a bit easier to swallow.

It may be easy to realize that, and say....well, that's good for the person who gets in right before they die. But being honest with ourselves, I think we'd all rather it go the way God has it now. We don't earn it. We don't buy it. We don't have to constantly measure ourselves up with "God's will" measuring tapes. I've talked with so many who are really afraid of "falling out" of God's will on accident...as if walking a spiritual tightrope.

If you're worried about God's will...seriously....you're probably in a good place. Enjoy your life.
You are loved. Just as much as the mega-pastors. Just as much as Mother Theresa. Just as much as that smelly guy who always hangs out by the gas station. Whether you've spent years acknowledging God....or have just begun to. May that knowledge bless you.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

"Jesus would've had his own leer jet"


On "The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet" this morning, they had a few guests on talking either pro or con the concept of "prosperity theology". This is something I think most people have heard about...read books, or seen/heard some nonsense on interviews. I'm sure some amount of good is happening through ministries like these, but you can probably figure out on your own...that I don't agree with much these people say.

At one point, Mike actually asks a minister from Chicago about flying on his private jet to do the interview this morning. The minister stumbles through a few excuses, mainly the fact that he has a family, and wants to be with them as much as possible, even though he travels around doing 2-3 interviews every day. Okay. Maybe. You almost feel sorry for his family. But then he goes and actually says, "I believe if Jesus were doing ministry today, he would certainly have his own leer jet". Wow. Really?

So personally....I'm not rich. Probably won't ever be. I'm cool with that. So for me to say "I'm not really that into prosperity theology", not really a huge revelation. But I still struggle with some of these same principles in ministry. If you're faithful, God will bless your ministry efforts.

I'm a full time youth pastor. With a budget. And I hope to be doing this for a very long time, here in one place. What will that look like? What should that look like? What would it look like if Jesus had total reign of it? What would it look like if I wanted hundreds of teens to show up? If all we do is study scripture, feed hungry, and care for those in need....we might only have 15 people show up. I know I'm happy if 2 come. But I'm accountable to God, not myself. And I'm paid by the church, not myself.

"Prosperity theology" works its ugly little head into everyday life unannounced usually. Those board meeting where we approve of spending ridiculous amounts of money to do unnecessary things, or to pay someone else to do something that someone from our church is trained to do. Over the past year, I've spent money on a really nice projector for the youth room. It's great, because now 40 teenagers don't have to hone in on a single 32 inch screen. Over the next year, I'll probably invest in a sound system. In Youth Ministry, we spend thousands and thousands of dollars (probably millions worldwide) to entertain teenagers with sound, lighting, concerts, conventions, mission trips (vacations), etc. These are luxuries not required by scripture to accomplish ministry of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and caring for those in need. Meanwhile, people die of hunger, disease, homelessness, etc. at an alarming rate.
Why can't Jesus be attractive on His own?

How do I sleep at night?

But, I'm good friends with other youth pastors who have incredible resources at their disposal for ministry. And yeah, I get jealous once in a while. And I believe they are accomplishing great things for the Kingdom. And I know that, like it or not, a lot of people in my church may judge my effectiveness next to the appearance of these other ministries.

I suppose my calling is to be faithful to the ministries and resources that have been entrusted to me. And recognize that they are Gods'.
Without using everything I've just mentioned as an excuse to be lazy.

May God use me, the way God designed me, the hour God appoints me.
(sounds kinda selfish, doesn't it?)

Monday, February 04, 2008

Not "lint"....


Remember, tomorrow is Fat Tuesday (and also the day you need to go VOTE, no matter who you support...get out there and DO IT!!) But this Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, we celebrate the beginning of Lent.

Lent is 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter(not counting the Sabbaths, which are "mini-celebrations" of Easter, and our lives are already focused on God those days). Throughout scripture, we see examples of God using the number 40 with His people. Check out the Wikipedia article, so I don't have to copy and paste it.

All of that to jump to today. What do we do for Lent? Growing up, a few Catholic friends of mine would show up to school on Ash Wednesday with a cross on their forehead. They'd compare and the darkest/largest one would win. These were also the guys who would talk about getting drunk on weekends. So I didn't really care to ask them about their spiritual practices. A few of us would give up something like chocolate or pop for lent, and poke fun at each other and pretend to be suffering for Jesus for 40 days.

In college, I'm thankful to have had a pastor who loved the Church calendar, and got his congregation involved in it. I learned the heritage we share in this long-celebrated time of preparation for Easter. The things I'd "give up" became more important to me, less important to my social life, and my Spiritual life really would get a shot in the arm. Combining pastoral guidance with the theology courses I was taking in college....I loved this time of year. Reminding myself that from ashes I came, and shall return...and the same with the world I invest myself in.

Being no great theologian or Mega-church leader...just a guy who says "this is really good for me, and I think you should try it!" I would challenge you, my 10 readers, to celebrate this Lent season with the Church also. Find something you can fast from, that is difficult (but not life threatening)...that also gives space in your life for God. Use that time to be with Him...and serve Him.

Let a few others know how you are fasting, not to brag or moan...but for accountability and to encourage them. I will be giving up movies and books (except the Bible) this year, thanks to my brother Larry - who asked me casually "How do you watch so many movies and read so many books?". I do spend quite a bit of time/effort doing these two things, and look forward to what their absence for a while leads to.

Matthew 6:16-18
"And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."