When the Impact of Tender Love Completely Sneaks Up On You

It completely snuck up on me. Sometimes tender love has a way of doing that. It comes creeping up and catches you completely by surprise. When it does, the results might just be what you least expect. For me, it was emotion that welled up in my heart and spilled over out of my eyes.

That’s right. I cried. Tears weren’t exactly streaming down my face. But they were there. And I most definitely had to wipe my eyes.

We had just spent the afternoon with our little grandson, Crosby, and his mom and dad. He’s sixteen months old and the cutest nonstop bundle of energy you ever did see. We played with toys. Of course grandmom had them all set out and ready to go. But mostly we played with things like remotes, car keys, and stuff in the pantry. The door was open on a warm Florida day so we went in and out, in and out, and in and out again. We climbed up and down the stairs. There was even a little jumping on the bed. He brought his little bike over so we pushed him around the neighborhood. It was the most calm he was all afternoon. He absorbed all the sights: the birds, the fountain in the pond, and of course the trucks. He loves trucks. Then we ate a little dinner together.

Before long it was time for them all to go home. As is my custom I carried him out the car and let his mommy put him in his car seat. He waved to me no less than three times through the darkly tinted window of the car.

Then I watched the car drive away.

Tammy and I went back inside. She went upstairs to do something. I just sat down and thought about all the fun we had.

After a little while I texted Crosby’s mommy and said: “I miss him already.” She texted back: “He misses you, too. Back to a world of rules lol.”

It’s a tender love I have for that little guy. He’s my little buddy. The world is a much better place just because he’s in it.

As I sat there and thought about him those sneaky tears came to my eyes. They were tears of joy. They were tears of appreciation. Those tears were tears of thankfulness. The tears were tears filled with the kind of love I have never felt before.

I would much rather have the reason to shed a tear than not. Even if it’s unsuspected. Even if it’s just a little embarrassing.

Tender love is a gift from God. I’m so glad I get to experience it. I hope you do, too.

Watch for it.

It just might sneak up on you.

Why “Wait and See” Is Usually the Best Action to Take

This is not a post about football. But I need to start with an observation about my favorite football team. The Green Bay Packers just released Jordy Nelson, one of their most popular players in recent memory. Since I’m a fan of the Packers I follow news and comments on most of the social media channels. To see the apoplectic responses of some Packers fans you would think the world is about to end. “The new general manager is an idiot!” they say. “This team is going to (stink)!” they say. “Why would you cut Jordy Nelson and keep Randall Cobb?!” they say. Don’t get me wrong. I love the Packers maybe even more than most. But my attitude about offseason cuts and acquisitions has always been “wait and see.”

I love Jordy Nelson and am sad to see him go. But I’m going to wait and see. The head coach and new General Manager of the Packers knows far more about athletes, football, and the game than I ever will. I will put my trust in them and see how it all turns out when the season starts in the fall.

Wait and see.

That seems to me a good philosophy for much of life. My experience bears that out. There are people in my life who at one time have hated my guts and now seem to be on the best of terms with me. There are other people in my life who currently have turned their back on me. Now I’m waiting to see if they will one day turn toward me again. There are times when I worried that I had some deadly disease, but I went to the doctor and everything was OK. There were other times when I wondered how we would would pay our taxes or a certain bill, and somehow the money became available with the proper planning.

Since I have a Christian world view, it has become more and more apparent to me that “wait and see” blends well with my faith. I have heard it said that as a Christian, “everything will be OK in the end. And if it’s not OK, it’s not yet the end.” I like that. It’s another way of saying wait and see. The Lord promises that He always works things together for my good (see Romans 8:28). In my sinful fallenness I can get in the way of that. Sometimes hurtful people and a world bent on destroying me can get in the way of that. But the promise in Romans 8:28 is that ALL things will work together for good.

So if things aren’t going that well today, or this month, or this year, wait and see. There just might be something around the corner that will repair your relationship, pay your bill, or cure your illness. Remember, everything will be OK in the end. And if it’s not OK, it’s not yet the end.


Just wait and see.

When have you taken a wait and see attitude only to see things work out well?

A Modern Day Psalm of Praise

I’ve recently been part of a 10-week Bible study called The Rooted Experience. It has caused me to really study, pray, journal, and connect with a great group of believers. One of our recent assignments was to write a psalm of thanks and praise. “Aha!” I thought. “That’s right up my alley.”

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

For He has given me:

Parents who raised me well, a wife who loves me well, children who are a wellspring of blessings

Pizza, pasta, and wine

Oh, yeah. And Mexican food

Crosby, my grandson, who simply makes the world a better place

A home I love, a car that works, and a bike to ride

A church to serve, a salary to suffice, and a beautiful worship space to praise the Lord

Warm(er) weather!

Friday nights, sunny mornings, and sometimes showery evenings

Florida birds, beautiful flowers, and far away stars

The ability to write, to speak, to lead

Good books to peruse, devour, and read

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

For a Father who made me who I am

For a faith that points to the Son of Man

For a Spirit who keeps me in spite of me

Hallelujah to the Lord who loves me! 


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If you were to write your own psalm of thanks and praise, what would it look like?

When the Holiday Season Brings a Happy Sadness

As I write this the sun is setting and the sky is orange, pink, and purple. I wish there were a word to describe the feeling that washes over me at this time of the day. A friend of mine calls it “a happy sadness.” I suppose that’s as close as I can get to really describing it. It’s really the same feeling I get at this time of the year. The holiday season brings a happy sadness. Maybe you feel that way, too.

I have a long and sordid love affair with the holiday season. Some of my earliest memories are of the lights on the Christmas tree in our house on Milwaukee’s Tacoma Street. They were the big glass bulbs that you don’t anymore see on trees. There were no mini twinkling lights or LED “cool” lights. Our family always got a real tree and it sat right in front of our big picture window. The big lights on that tree fascinated me and helped me anticipate Christmas morning when the tree would be overflowing with gifts.

But my early memories also include those long holi-“days” home from school. There were times I suffered from a stomach ache so bad that I couldn’t eat for days at a time. I remember feeling an awful feeling both physically and emotionally that I just wanted to go away. I don’t know where the stomach ache came from, but it was relenting. Eventually I would feel better and Christmas morning was as wonderful as could be. The holidays were for me a happy sadness.

Thanksgiving is now over and we are head first into the 2017 holiday season. I go into the grocery store with all of the decorations and specialty foods and think, “This is my favorite time of the year.” I hear (most of) the Christmas songs on the radio or in the store and have a happy feeling.

But the holidays are also a reminder of times past. I think about all of the great times with my girl friend, who then became my fiancé, who then became my wife. I remember those days when our children were very little and seeing that happy anticipation on their faces. There was so much joy over the years finding just the right gifts for each of our kids. And it was always fun to see what they, in their creativity would get me.

Christmas will be different this year. Our son and his wife live out of state and won’t be able to make it to our house this year. Our daughter and her family rightly need time to celebrate Christmas on their own with their little boy, our grandson. This will really be the first time we haven’t had our whole family together at some point at Christmas. That’s the sad part.

But there’s a wonderfully happy part, too. It’s that little boy. Our less-than-one-year-old grandson has brought a special kind of joy to life that simply cannot be matched. His smile lights me up and his presence is the truest gift there is. If I received no other gift this year he would be more than enough.

It’s only a small reminder of the eternally joyful part of Christmas. It’s the part that also has to do with a Baby Boy. The One who was born in Bethlehem and laid in a manger brings the present of His presence. Every day. Every year. Holiday season or not. No matter how I feel. His joy takes any sadness I may have and washes it eternally away. His perfect life takes any sin I have ever committed and nails it to His looming cross. It’s a happy sadness. But it’s always — yes always — undergirded by joy (which is a much different thing than mere “happiness” and ultimately drives away even the deepest sadness.)

This holiday season I wish for you more happiness than sadness.

More than that, I wish you the true joy that comes only from the Newborn King.

The Amazing Power of a Team to Accomplish One Big Thing

Last week I spent three full days starting something new. Actually, that’s not completely accurate. It wasn’t just me. There was a team of five of us attempting to lay the groundwork for something really big. We were working with an organization called Five Two (i.e., Five Loaves and Two Fish) creating a new ministry which we pray, in the end, will culminate in more baptized believers in Jesus. When Five Two begins work with anyone they insist you bring a team along with you. There’s good reason for that.

If you want to accomplish one big thing it’s best to have a team together with you for the ride. You’ll be amazed at the power behind you to make it all happen. A good team helps you by doing these things:

  1. Expanding the vision. The dream the five of us have is a pretty big dream. Far bigger than any of us individually, and even bigger than the five of us collectively. Even though we went in with a big vision, over the course of three days the five of us made it even bigger. We were bold enough to see possibility. It’s so much fun to dream with a team.
  2. Bringing the best gifts. In addition to myself, our team consists of a corporate coach, a retail manager, a tech guru, and an incredibly talented creative. As we worked our way through issues and challenges over the course of the three days it always seemed as though the right person was in the right place to resolve the thing at hand. Wide ranging gifts and talents make a team great.
  3. Reining in one another. A team will help you bring a realistic bent to the proceedings. I tend to be an optimistic dreamer. I need people around me who will show me the realistic side of it all. My fantastic team is helping me do just that. Their realism helps protect my sometimes blind optimism.
  4. Honing the vision. One of the purposes of our three day workshop was to drill down and focus the vision before us. One of the things we had to do was come up with our perfect “customer.” Her name is Hipster Hannah. We could tell you almost everything about where she lives, what she drives, where she shops, what her family’s like, and where she works. it took the entire team to come up with such focused detail. It was one of the most fun parts of our three days together.
  5. Bearing up one another. Three days of hard work can be tiring. It’s a good thing our team is filled with people who have a great sense of humor. There was a great deal of laughter. When things got tiring, we encouraged each other and shared the burden. There tends to be more energy flowing in and through a team than in an individual. Need some energy? Go be with other people.

There is amazing power in a group of people. Don’t have one for yourself? Recruit one. I bet there are people ready and willing to help you right now with the big project thetas’ right in front of you.

What benefits have you seen when working with a team?

The Incredible Power of a Simple Affirmation

The person shall remain nameless. Suffice it to say that there is a fair amount of contact between the two of us. We see each other rather frequently. The person has the opportunity to observe on at least a weekly basis what I do publicly as a pastor. I certainly don’t need affirmation from this person. But it would most definitely be a nice courtesy. Though there have been a myriad of opportunities to do so, not once has there ever been a word of affirmation directed toward me from my friend. In comparison to other people in my life it is a noticeable deficiency.

Do you know how that is? One small word of affirmation can make or break a day. For that matter, it can make or break a relationship. It really doesn’t take much at all. Even if it’s difficult to say something nice about a person to their face there is always something nice you can say. It is a common courtesy and something that seems to be lacking in much of our world today.

What this personal experience has taught me is that I want to be more affirming to the people around me. I know how it feels to be frequently around someone who seems to refuse to provide any kind of affirmation. I don’t want others to feel that way when they’re around me. There is incredible power in a simple affirmation. So I try my best to do the following things:

  1. Affirm the people in my profession. An affirmation from a peer is not just a common courtesy. It seems to be the kind of affirmation that holds a bit more weight. I always feel very good when I am affirmed by another pastor. So whenever I hear another pastor preach I try to find something specific about which I can affirm them. Then I say it.
  2. Affirm my family. It’s so important to affirm those in one’s own family. In the case of children it boosts self-esteem. In the case of a spouse it creates greater trust and intimacy.
  3. Affirm my friends. Why would anyone want to be friends with someone who never recognizes accomplishments or positive qualities? You can certainly do so publicly. But another way is to send a real piece of first class mail to show how much you appreciate your friendship.
  4. Affirm those who work with me. Do you want your co-workers to work well with you and for you? Again, a little bit of affirmation goes a long way. I try to find opportunities to compliment my coworkers in front of other people. I want to recognize their fine work in as many ways as possible, as many times as possible.
  5. Affirm even those who don’t affirm me. There’s no excuse for failing to affirm someone even if they don’t affirm you. The Bible says something about “heaping burning coals” upon someone’s head. But it’s really about raising the level of common courtesy in general. I’ve done it with the person I mentioned at the top of this post, and it feels good to do so.

How do you affirm the people in your life?

The Key to Making Almost Anything Better

I’m in the middle of writing my second book. I guess I should really say I’ve just started writing it. It’s going at a snail’s pace. I hope to move faster pretty soon but I’m in the middle of busy season right now. Writing the book gets pushed a little further down the list of priorities. But it’s still a priority. Another reason the process is a bit slower is because of another tool I’m using this time around. I’m finding that it’s a key to making almost anything better.

Before I started writing my book I hired a writing coach. With trepidation I sent my first chapter off to her. When I got it back she had some incredibly insightful notes for me. She suggested things to work on. She prodded better writing out of me.

So I revised that first chapter. It was hard work. But it was fun work. I had to dig down and do what I wasn’t sure I could do. I had to tell myself that I’m a writer and I can write better when I set my mind to it. Man, was it fun.

When I went back and read the revised chapter I was astounded. It was so much better than I ever thought it could be. I sent it back to my coach and she affirmed that I did what she asked me to do.

The key to making almost anything better is having someone else look at it. Want to be a better writer? Have someone else look over your first draft. Want to be a better teacher? Let someone else observe you. Want to be better at any sport? Be coachable.

We live in a world that encourages us to be Lone Rangers. But the better way is to let people in on your dreams, your projects, your goals. Let another set of eyes look at your work. Listen to what they have to say. Improve on it. Revise and edit. There is no such things as perfection, but there’s always room for improvement. Let a trusted friend, coach, or helper help you.

You’ll be glad you did. 

Then after you improve it (whatever it is), ship it (as Seth Godin says). The key to making almost anything better is to get some help — even just a little.

What will you do improve something in your life today?

What I Learned By Weighing Myself Daily

I weigh myself every day. It didn’t used to be that way. I had always been taught that you should only weigh yourself once a week. Then I joined a program called Omada. Omada is an online health system that provides a coach, lessons, a group of peers, suggested food choices, exercise motivation, and a scale that automatically transmits data. It’s a proven program that decreases diabetes risk and increases the potential for greater weight loss and a more healthy lifestyle. Now I’m weighing myself every day. It’s what Omada tells me to do.

Weighing myself every day has been a game changer. I have completely transformed my diet. Exercise is the first thing I do at least five days of the week. And I’ve lost fourteen pounds in twelve weeks. I can honestly say I feel so much better. But I believe one of the keys has been that daily weigh-in. Here’s what I’ve learned by doing it:

  1. Knowledge is power. When you weigh yourself daily you know exactly where you stand. If your weight goes up you can reflect on the previous day and the (poor) choices you made. It helps you make improvements moving forward. If your weight goes down you can pat yourself on the back and continue making the same good choices. It’s true in every aspect of life: the more you know the better choices you make.
  2. Trends are helpful. As I weigh myself every day I can look back at the chart of my weigh-ins. The trend has been very helpful to me as I see my weight decreasing. The daily weigh-in gives me daily knowledge. But the trend gives me an overall picture. It feels so good to look back and see from where I came. It’s true in every aspect of life: Take a look at trends and see from where you came. You might be surprised.
  3. Motivation comes more naturally. I actually look forward to weighing myself every morning. Sometimes I’m not happy, and I scream (!). Just ask my wife. She hears it. Other times I look at the scale and it starts my day off brilliantly. It’s amazing how a simple number can make an entire day better. When I’m getting ready to eat a cookie I remember that I have to weigh myself in the morning. When I’m eating a salad with grilled chicken and everyone else is eating enchiladas I remember that I have to weigh myself in the morning. It’s a powerful, powerful motivator. And it has worked. It’s true in every aspect of life: accountability works. Why not set up some kind of accountability today?

Knowledge, trends, and accountability are powerful tools. They don’t only work when you’re trying to lose weight. They can help you in almost any area of life. When you use them you will be surprised by the goals you will accomplish.

What do you do to motivate yourself?

What to Do When You’re Up Next

Do you know the name Brett Hundley? If you don’t know by now Aaron Rodgers, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, broke his collar bone in a game against the Minnesota Vikings. You’re about to hear Brett Hundley’s name a great deal more. He’s the back up for Aaron Rodgers. He will now be the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. He is the so-called “next man up.”

I’ve always lived under the mantra that no one is indispensable. There is someone who can do your job, take your place, or bring something different to your current position. That thought isn’t meant to depress or discourage you. It simply means that there is always a way through a difficult time, even if it means another person having to step up. You may even be asked to be the one who steps up and takes the place of another person thought to be irreplaceable. It’s a difficult position. But the next person up may be just the key to a new level or a big breakthrough.

We have yet to see if Brett Hundley will in any way be able to fill Aaron Rodgers Hall of Fame shoes. But the games will go on. They still have to be played. And the Green Bay Packers need a quarterback. So Brett Hundley is the next man up.

Here’s what we can learn from Brett Hundley about being the next person in line:

  1. Show your respect. The first thing Hundley did when Rodgers got hurt was go over to him and say, “I love you, man. I’m gonna do my best.” He respects the person’s whose shoes he’s about to fill. That respect goes a long way with the fans and with his teammates. It shows he knows his place. But it also shows he’s ready to step up.
  2. Do the job. Hundley went out and had a good game. Not a great game, but under the circumstances a good game. He was feeling his way through a difficult situation. He did what he could to keep the team in the game. In the end the Packers lost. But Hundley learned some things he will take into the next games. When you find yourself in a “next person up” situation just go in with a good attitude and do the job.
  3. Be confident. Hundley had nothing to lose. He went into the game with confidence. But more than that, in the post-game interview he expressed confidence that he’d be able to confidently lead the team in the coming games. Confidence will fill the gaps of his inexperience. Be confident but not cocky. It will help you, too.
  4. Keep learning. Now Hundley will be practicing with the starting team. He will have the opportunity to learn even more In the post-game press conference he said, “I’ll prepare and I’ll be ready.” Life is a never-ending classroom. Never stop learning. It will do you will at the perfect time.
  5. Stay humble. The one thing that really stood out to me was that Hundley was humble. He knows he’s got his work cut out for him. He’s confident because he’s a professional. But he knows that if he gets cocky he may not only lose his edge, but his teammates as well. Humility is a great quality. It helps you keep perspective while maintaining confidence.

When will it be your opportunity to be the next person up? You never know. But when it is, here’s the encouragement to do it with respect, confidence, and humility.

Sadness in Search of Hope and Answers

I’m sad. This has not been a good day for our country or, for that matter, people anywhere. I woke up to the news that almost 60 people were gunned down by a madman with an assault rifle, and hundreds more are wounded. Some are still fighting for their lives. This should have been a good day (and part of it really was) because I got to spend the morning with our daughter and grandson. But sadness overcame the day.

Thankfully, (for now) little nine-month-old Crosby is oblivious to what is going on in the world around him. Since he has been born he has lived through a few hurricanes (one of which hit his own city as he slept), deep division in our country, and now our nation’s worst mass shooting. I’m concerned for him and all that he will face as he grows.

But in a way it’s nothing new. There have always been trials, challenges, and tragedies in the world. It just seems that recently so many of them have been bunching together. I suppose that has something to do with the ubiquitous media and social media. We are more aware of tragedy than we ever have been before.

As we are more aware we search for more answers in the face of evil sadness. I completely understand those who solidly support the Second Amendment, but I do question the need for assault rifles and devices that can make them automatic or “machine guns.” And yet my questions go deeper than that. I marvel at the total depravity of evil. I wonder how people can be so callous toward others. And mostly I wonder why our world has fallen so far away from the only thing — the only One — who can help in any real way. The most real way. The eternal way.

When sadness searches for hope and answers they will only be found in one Person: Jesus Christ and Him crucified. His perfect life and substitutionary death means forgiveness for the sins of every person. His resurrection means real life — eternal life — for all who believe in Him. It’s something no evil, no callousness, and no gunman can ever take away.

Though I’m sad today I hold onto the promise of the Psalms that “joy comes in the morning.” I look forward to the joy the morrow will bring. And I will do my best to share that joy with others.

How about you?