Category Archives: Personal

5 Ways to Bless Your Children Daily

This week while listening to a Family Life radio show in the car, I was struck again by how fast little girls grow up. With three of my own, and having never had sisters, at times I worry I am doing this dad thing wrong. Is it self-doubt, the lack of a manual, or the very real tension between family time and providing for these daughters that makes me shudder at times with “what-ifs”?

Just do it. That was the theme of a video I posted on AshleyAndJason.com last week that I am taking really seriously. So what does that look like with the kids? It means I have to do this right and allow myself no excuses when giving my babies my all, both at home and at work.

Here are a few things I am reiterating verbally daily with my daughters. Usually these bursts of blessings involves some kind of physical touch, even if it is just tickling. I am labeling this “5 Ways to Bless Your Children Daily”. Tell them:

1. God made you special and unique, and he has a plan just for you sweetheart. And I am so proud to be your dad.

2. I was thinking, I love ______ about you darlin. I also love _______.

3. No growing up little girl (said jokingly). Do you need a spanking for growing up so fast? Did you know no matter how old you get, you’ll always be my little girl and I’ll love you no matter what?

4. Like your sisters, you make me so happy. You are growing up to be such a wonderful young lady and I know you are going to do great things someday.

5. Do you know how much I love you? I love you from the moon to the sun and back again. I love you so much, but can you imagine that I love your mom even more? Well I do!

There’s obviously more to raising daughters than just words, but I also know each blessing I speak over them that they believe is a stored treasure that someday they are going to need. If you have sons, adjust the above accordingly but do it no less frequently or tenderly.

So what am I missing that little girls need to know or hear? Comment and let us know your idea.

Please Test The Comments on this Blog Post

I don’t think I have ever asked the few readers who follow the wife and I to just goof off in our blogs comments before. Well, now I need you to get crazy with it.

I have built a threaded commenting system for a little side project and I need help to see if it works. So, if you are reading this in facebook or somewhere else, please go now to this post and put in something from the English language. The idea of what we built is to have live commenting so other readers on the post can interact in a more timely way.

So, please goof off on this post and say whatever you want (so long as it is family friendly of course).

Are We Generous?

Today at the church where I work we brought in some folks from the National Christian Foundation to discuss the topic of Generosity. Not just talking about giving here, but about our hearts condition toward being benevolent, poured out, and surrendering our rights. Was really cool to spend the day watching videos and processing what it meant to us individually with-in small groups. At the end, all the staff broke up into 8 groups and listed out what could be possible if our whole church caught an infection of generosity. My group alone came up with 19 world-changing outcomes of a large group of people becoming ridiculously generous.

How Generous are You? If you are like me, then not enough! Well here is the video that kicked off our morning together and really set the tone.

Lastly, you can find more videos on Generosity at Generositybook.com

House Rules

A family values discussion was introduced by me a few years ago on this blog and it went no where. Probably just too heavy of a discussion, I don’t know. To this day I am still concerned about whether I am teaching my kids the right things or not, and if the values my parents seeded within me will transfer to them.

Well, this past weekend on the way home from an event where the kids had been playing with other kids, Lily (our five year old) requested to have her first sleep over at someone else’s home. She sensed our reservations I think (though our reservations are not for the reason she assumed), so she immediately blurted out “It’ll be ok, I know the rules of staying at someone else’s house!”.

Ashley and I were shocked at this, because we almost never talk about rules related with what they should do when not around us. We figure there will be plenty of opportunities for those discussions when she gets older and wants to get into trouble.

She persisted and said:

Sure, this is all you have to do:

  1. Share
  2. Be kind to others
  3. Listen to the ones in charge
  4. Use good manners
  5. Be nice to others
  6. Be friends with others’ friends (this is social networking by the way)
  7. Be careful so you don’t break stuff

I don’t know about you, but those are pretty much what we need to do as adults too! We have no idea where Lily got these house rules from, but we are glad she figured them out in such simple, straightforward language. Ashley and I, along with the younger daughters, will be committing these to memory soon!

What Unemployed Men Need

Recently a good friend of my wife and I came home to her husband (who is also my hunting buddy) laid off from his job. Others provided the typical responses of shock and disdain for the former employer I am sure. Having been laid off three times in my short technology career of 13 years, I provided some really straight talk to her about what her husband needed. I guess it was helpful or something because she shared it with others and they seemed to like it too. In case it is useful (and I hope it never has to be), here is what unemployed men need in my humble opinion:

Depression.

If he is unemployed more than three weeks, count on it. Pep-rally’s are nice, but the best way to help him is to demand sex and be willing to do all the work. Seriously, it does something with the endorphins in the brain and keeps the serotonin flowing. If it gets bad, and it is unlikely to, don’t wait to get on low dosage of anti-depressants… wish I had known to do it.

Identity.

he’s a hard worker, and being without work is like being without your name and your wallet. You feel naked and unsure of who you are. May not happen at first, but just a matter of time… especially if depression hits. Expect him to have to reexamine who he is and how others value him… and how God sees him too.

Truth.

He’ll struggle to find the anchor points of truth in his life. This could even lead to being short/snappy/closed off. It’s cause when you are laid off it feels like you are walking on one of those bridges that goes wobbly during an earthquake. It’ll feel to him like he can’t plant his feet or walk straight. He doesn’t need to talk about it over and over again… may just remind him of his failure. What he needs is for you to remind him of God’s word… and what God has done for you two in the past in providing. Cause him to reflect by talking about how happy you are in the marriage and with your home. Thank him even when his breath is bad, his face ain’t shaved, and he is drinking beer for breakfast (that won’t last long).

Dizziness.

Expect the first week to be a haze. He might be acting business as usual, but deep inside he is mourning. Not that any job is that special, but you mourn the loss of the security/certainty/provision. Allow him to go through all the grieving stages as though he has lost a family member. Listen, don’t talk… he just wants to know you are in love with him no matter what… reassurance won’t touch what is going on inside… but devotion will.

Fighting.

Don’t do it. Neither start fights nor finish them. This will be hard, but he is in no condition to fight productively, so you are just asking to get hurt and to leave him feeling inadequate.

Leads.

When he has job leads, be excited but not forecasting. Don’t start imagining life with this job or the other job. Sets you up for disappointment and him up for failure. Be optimistic and supportive, but not portraying it as the savior of your finances and life.

Friends and Family.

They are all shocked too. They will want to pray and be involved in the day to day. Guard him, he doesn’t need the pressure of having to find the right road and drive the stupid summer camp bus with all it’s passengers. Hold people at a distance on details about the job search, while at the same time letting them know what your needs are if you have them. This includes family. He doesn’t need you babbling to your friends and mother about his potential jobs and the ones that never materialized. He’ll feel like he disappointed you and them. Find kind ways of thanking them for their interest and pointing their fears for you back to trust in Christ.

Fishing and Hunting.

Let him do as much of it as you can afford. If it feels like a vacation, he’ll do more interviewing, more resume sending, and be more relaxed during phone call screens. Make him play even if he feels he needs to be job searching. Finding a job is now his full time job, but he needs the encouragement to take breaks to deal with exhaustion, depression, and the above. Killing things helps.

Prayer and Submission.

Do a lot of it for him, but also encourage him to fully trust in Jesus and pray aloud his dependence on him. You guys do this together. It doesn’t have to be a long, tearful spiritual moment. Just needs to be a daily confession of the two of you standing together waiting on Jesus to make the way. Repeat together what God has given you that is good and praise him for that. Use prayer to remind him of God’s promises. Keep it brief cause he may fall asleep (I know I used to).

Burying a Grandmother

We buried my grandmother on Saturday and my dad asked me to conduct the graveside service. It was a great honor and blessing to do this for my family and my grandmother. Far from a pastor, I admittedly borrowed from my friend David Helbig’s previous memorials and a 1920’s era book titled “The Pastor’s Ideal Funeral Book”. I wanted the service to be formal but personal. Everyone seemed to be happy, so I trust my grandmother would have been as well.

Here is the text of what I presented. The spacing was how I printed it to remind me to go slow and take my time out of respect for my Memaw.

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Graveside Service – Ellen Reynolds

 

Processional Gathering

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never die.”

 

The righteous live forever and the care of them is the most high God’s. With his right hand shall he cover them, and with his arm shall he shield them.

 

We are here to celebrate the life of Ellen Metta King Reynolds, born Feb 26, 1919 in Castle Oklahoma, departed from us January 26, 2009 at age 89.

 

The Invocation

Let us pray:

Almighty God, fount of all life; thou art our refuge and strength; thou art our help in trouble. Enable us to put our trust in thee, that we may obtain comfort and find grace to help us in this and every time of need through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Readings from Scripture

1 Thess. 4:13-18

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

 

When death comes to our loved ones, there are a few things we want to know. We want to know that God cares, that we are not alone in our grief. But even more importantly, perhaps, we want to be reminded that for every ‘exit’ there is an ‘entrance’. We want to know that there is a future for us and our loved ones who we seemingly have lost.

 

THE PROMISES OF SCRIPTURE BECOME LIVING REALITIES IN TIMES LIKE THESE.

 

Jesus said in John 14 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

 

Our faith in those promises, along with the presence of God in our hearts, sustains us.

 

One of the most beautiful promises found in the Bible is in Isaiah 25:8, “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord will wipe away tears from all faces.” Our exit from this world is an entrance into the next and there is great comfort in the promises of God.

 

 

 

 

One of the great hymns say,

Through many dangers, toils and snares,

I have already come,

Twas grace that brought me safe thus far,

And grace will lead me home.

 

That’s God’s promise to us as well. For those who love Jesus, every exit is but an entrance. God is faithful to His promises. He has promised us that in our times of need He will never forsake us. This is cloudy for us now. But for Ellen, the sun is shining brightly and someday it will shine again for us.

 

In Remembrance

Today, while we memorialize her, while we remember her life, while we both laugh and cry at the memories and the loss that we’ve faced this week; Ellen is, as we speak, receiving her full reward. Out of our presence, yet in the fullness of the presence of her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

There are so many vivid things I remember about my Memaw going all the way back to when I was just a little boy. A few things stand out for me that I would like to share.

 

Her Wit.

We could and maybe should write a book with all the funny things she has said over the years. Quick as could be, you didn’t cross her with your words cause she wasn’t scared to remind you in the mostly lady-like of ways just how smart she actually was. Ironically, the word Wit has a german origination just like Memaw.

 

Her perspective.

She gave people the benefit of the doubt and almost never spoke poorly of people. Neither the lowest or the highest of society had anything on her, but she spoke generously of both. She said to me in the last few years of her life “I want to focus on the positive, what’s ahead of me and not what is behind me.” She taught that to my Dad as well.

 

Her Kindness.

Her heart seemed always motivated with the purest and most noble of intentions. She served us unceasingly and constantly with no burden or sense of duty, but a joy and blessing.

 

Her Determination.

I don’t know if it was the German in her or what, but when she made up her mind to do something she did it. Whether it was raise a son alone for a few years during WWII, quit smoking, annihilate every last germ in her kitchen, or live fully and gracefully until the very last hours, well she just did it.

 

Her Family Focus.

It was always about her family, both those who were coming up and those who were already gone. Family meant the world to her.

 

I found a poem that reminded me of her that I would like you to hear:

 

The Watcher by Margaret Widdemer

She always leaned to watch for us,
Anxious if we were late,
In winter by the window,
In summer by the gate.

 

And though we mocked her tenderly,
Who had such foolish care,
The long way home would seem more safe
Because she waited there.

 

Her thoughts were all so full of us,
She never could forget!
And so I think that where she is
She must be watching yet.

 

Waiting till we come home to her,
Anxious if we are late,
Watching from Heaven’s window,
Leaning on Heaven’s gate.

 

And today, FAMILY is the legacy she leaves behind. Yes, that’s us. You and I. Children, Grandchildren, & Great Grandchildren. All of us were loved deeply by Ellen.

 

Allow your mind to go back today. Go back to a time when she blessed you. Go back to a time when she made you laugh. Remember a time when she made you feel like you could do it. Remember your favorite thing about this magnificent woman. Following our time together here there will be a meal at ____________________ wherein I hope we can all share a few memories of Ellen that we’ll never forget.

 

The last thing that stands out for me about this beautiful woman was:

Her Quiet Faith.

Five or six years ago I asked Memaw if she believed in Jesus. Without skipping a beat she said, “well how do you think I’ve been able to be patient with your Papaw all these years?”.

 

Ellen had a quiet, but sure faith that was explored not through theological education or even busy church involvement, but through a reliance on God for peace and steadfast security.

 

May we ask God to help us grow closer to Him and that the reality of his presence would bring us peace and an impact to those around us?

 

The Closing Prayer

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen

 

The Benediction

We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Forasmuch as it has pleased Almighty God of His mercy to take back to Himself the soul of our Ellen, we therefore commit her remains to the care of a loving God; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

As we come to the conclusion of our service, we commit her to her burial place, waiting for the day when Christ returns for us when we can spend eternity together. Grace and peace be unto you. At this time, for those of you who are comfortable, you are welcome to pay your respects to family members and to Ellen as well.

Photos of the Reynolds

On Saturday evening the Reynolds family had a great opportunity to be captured in the lens of a great up and coming photographer named Jessica Lorren. Jessica is a friend of mine from ministry and I can’t me more excited about her gifts with a camera. We got to the session late and our oldest was as cranky as she ever gets, but some great photos resulted in spite of this.

Jessica was gracious enough to post some images for you on her blog I want you to check out, but the below gives you a taste of the greatness. If you are in South Florida, I recommend you book Jessica for your next portrait session or special event. We really had a great time!

Introducing our Third Daughter

[Update] We named her Abby Katherine Reynolds on Sunday… a mere 50 hours after her birth. We thought that was good! Thanks to all who participated in the naming of this baby!

Third daughter born healthy at 8:06 EST this morning. Breathing great and is pleasant.

Here are the stats

APGARES: 9/9
Weight: 7 lbs. 14.5 ounces
Height: 20.5 Inches
Hair: Auburn
General description: Copy of first two, but bigger

Ashley is doing great and is in good spirits in recovery. Big challenge is mashing up (putting together) a name she loves.

Check out these pics

#namethatgirl

Dear LazyWeb,

My wife and I are fresh out of girl names and we have a baby due in 30 hours or so (7:30am Est Friday). Just can’t seem to find the right blend of first name, middle name, and last name.

We are thus crowdsourcing the naming of the girl and asking you to give us what you think would be the best girl name for our child. There is no voting going on here, as the naming of our child is not a democracy. That would be impersonal, people. Still, you come up with something better than what we can… and we just love it, and you get the credit.

Here are the basic boundaries for what we are looking for in a name:

  • Two to two & half syllables or less first name. Three you can’t yell on the soccer field and four I may not remember. It happens.
  • Needs to work for a pale person, as she will certainly be that.
  • Needs to match the last name “Reynolds”. I may never allow her to switch out that last name, so it has to work now.
  • We’d prefer to not reuse our previous children’s names. Besides the confusion it causes, at-least one kid will turn out bitter.
  • I would prefer to stay away from first names that end in “y” since we have three of those already, but my wife is open to it and thinks we are on a roll.
  • Should have a single, common-sense spelling that is understood when given audibly to english speaking people.
  • Should not be the name of someone we didn’t like as a child.

Easy, right? Whateva, we have been trying for months.

Jump in and bail us out one of these two ways:

1. Comment on this blog entry with “Firstname Middlename Reynolds”: http://tinyurl.com/girlnames

2. Tweet “Firstname Middlename Reynolds” along with #namethatgirl