Spiritual Ramblings from a Modern Day Husband and Dad

Month: March, 2013

Obedience Unlocks God’s Power

Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24 NIV)

Ramblings from Connor’s dad – My dad worked hard all his life. He farmed with his family when he was growing up, went off to war (WWII), and then came home to work for the telephone company for 35 years. We didn’t often have the things everyone else had, but we did have what we needed.

My thoughts go back to one Christmas when I was probably thirteen. I really wanted a go-cart badly. In no uncertain terms I let everyone know that “we” needed a go-cart. Up to that point, my biggest Christmas was a new bike a few years earlier. On Christmas morning I awoke with great confidence that I would soon see my, I mean “our” new go-cart. I had been good the days leading up to Christmas. (My halo could be seen for miles around.)  There was little arguing between Melody and me, and if we did, it was her fault. Cindy was a Junior in high school and driving a car. Nancy was already working and months from moving out on her own. So when I discussed the family needing a go-cart, the “we” was really Melody and me.

Christmas morning I let everyone sleep in, and didn’t wake up the house until 5:12am. Everyone wiped the sleep out of their eyes, put their robes on, and gathered at the door to the family room. When given the ok, I burst through the door looking for my well deserved, and much needed go-cart. Instead I found much needed blue jeans, some new shirts for school, a new game, and a new blue yo-yo. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I sit in the corner and pouted while everyone else enjoyed Christmas. When finished, mom and dad, decided to “let me clean up” all the remains from our morning festivities. This was adding insult to injury.  First I did not get the much deserved, and much needed go-cart. And now they are making me clean up everyone else’s mess.

I didn’t exactly do it with a happy heart, and my five minute chore took most of the morning. Hours later I finally stopped pouting, and cleaned up. Mom told us to go outside and play and she would call us when lunch was ready.

When Melody and I walked outside, there in our driveway, was a new go-cart! This potato head had wasted most of the morning sulking instead of doing what I was asked to do. Once I finally got around to doing it, I was able to discover my… I mean, our gift.

How many times has God asked me to do something, knowing there was a reward for me at the end? How often have I sat around and sulked, while my “new go-cart” lay undisturbed a few feet away?…waiting!

How can God be so patient with us when we are such self-centered babies?  Just as I overlook my kids shortcomings, because I love them, thankfully God is willing to do the same for us.  In fact, He let His Son climb up on the cross and die for me, and you, knowing all the times we would fail and disappoint Him.

Thank you God for not giving up on me!  Thank You for the power we have through You, if we are just obedient…


Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)


A Love Deep Enough

He is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are under you.” (Deuteronomy 33:27 NLT)

Ramblings from Evan’s dad – One of my best friends, John Tatum, took me to look at some property he was considering buying.  It was near one of my favorite towns, Chattanooga. We walked some of the property and I fell in love with it. A year later he had bought it to develop Cloudland Station, and soon after, Kris and I had purchased a lot.

Our lot backs up to a waterfall.  John told me if I’d follow the water up the mountain, I would find a cave. With a flashlight I looked in and saw that it was only about 40 feet deep. It appeared to be a Talus cave. Talus caves are also called boulder caves. They are basically open spaces under large boulder piles.

But, I noticed the water came out of it, so unless it was like Moses’ rock, it had to have a passage. Upon closer inspection if you shielded your eyes from the outside light and looked hard to the right, you saw darkness…and an opening. I learned later that it was a limestone cave.

Since then we have taken the kids into that cave numerous times. The first couple of times we went in, we had a local who was a professional spelunker take us. He showed up with helmets and lights. He explained some history of the cave and its characteristics. He said that it was believed to be used by the Confederacy in the Civil War to hide soldiers and munitions. Now its only inhabitants appear to be a colony of bats and cave crickets.

There are parts of the cave where you have to wade through the water. Sometimes its just over your shoes, but several places it gets up above your knees, almost to your waist. Year round that water is around 65 degrees. (I discovered my feet really don’t like to be in water that cold, for more than an hour.)

I have never made it to the end of the cave. They tell me it goes back far enough, that you have to spend the night and make it a two day adventure. Thats what they tell me. I personally don’t know because I’ve never made it to the end. The kids and I can tell you that an hour back into the cave is deep. If you turn your lights off, you can not see your hand in front of your face. The darkness is BLACK.

I wonder, is God’s love similar? Have I only experienced the first “few yards” of His love? As an unbeliever did I think His love was like a Talus “cave”, only a few feet deep? After all, when I first looked in our cave I though it was only 4o feet deep. Only after taking a step in, and taking a closer look, did I discover it was much deeper. Even now I haven’t experienced the full depth of that cave.

My comprehension of the depth of God’s love is even worse. How can I understand how much He loves me? He sat there and let His Son die a horrendous slow torturous death for my sins. Because He set the level of punishment for sin.

He looked at me and said “Guilty! The sentence is death!”…and then told Jesus to take my place….


He reached down from heaven and took hold of me; He pulled me out of deep waters.  (Psalms 18:16)

The Length of God’s Love

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.” (Ephesians 3:18-19 NLT)

Ramblings from Connor’s dad – The story goes that a long time ago Mr. Smith lived up in the mountains. He had lived his whole life there. He’d heard stories of the vastness of the ocean, and within its depths, its own world of creatures. One day he set out to see the ocean firsthand. He was gone for months and his friends became anxious. Finally, one day Mr. Smith returned to the relief of everyone.

The news of his return spread and soon everyone gathered to hear of his adventure. He told them of his incredible experience and the ocean’s sheer size. Even though he had never been around water before, he had worked up the courage to venture into the water! He described the creatures that he encountered. Everyone was amazed at his experience. They listened to him for hours.

For years after his adventure, Mr. Smith discussed with anyone who would listen, his experience with the ocean. He talked of its greatness. In great detail he described how wide, how long, and how deep it was. The people were in awe of it.

Many years later Mr. Smith died of old age. After his death, his Bible was given to his grandson, who had moved away to attend college. While examining the Bible, he found a map of his grandfathers great adventure to the ocean. To his amazement, this educated young man realized that his grandfather had experienced not the ocean, but a large lake, in a nearby state.

My understanding of God’s love is very similar to Mr. Smith’s understanding of the ocean. I think I have a good idea of how great His love is, but its such a small fraction of it. The difference in us, is that I have encountered the ocean, or in this case, God’s love. But my grasp of His love’s length, and depth, and width, and hight, are just as inadequate.

Like Mr. Smith, I can’t even begin to comprehend…


For I will declare, “faithful love is build up forever; You establish Your faithfulness in the heavens.”  (Psalms 89:2)

The Width of God’s Love

“The LORD is righteous in everything He does; He is filled with kindness.” (Psalm 145:17 NLT)

Ramblings from Evan’s dad – I love basketball. Played it for hours every day when growing up. In that era, I looked up to “Pistol Pete” and copied all his moves.  There was just one problem, during my high school years if I wore thick socks I might flirt with 5’6″. Not exactly a domineering height for basketball. Why couldn’t God have made me 6’4″?  I mean I could have been a contender with my moves!  I grieved my size all through my teen years. I questioned why God didn’t make me different. Could God have made a mistake with me?

From the beginning of time God knew how He wanted to make me. I am not an inch taller or shorter then He wanted me. He knew how my life would start, all the things that would take place during it, and how the final chapter of my life would play out. I believe He knew the “perfect recipe” for me, making me in a way to maximize my use for His glory, knowing all the blunders I would make! He knew that if I had been a couple of inches taller (or shorter), I would not have brought Him as much honor. I’m not saying that I alone am special. I’m saying that each one of us is special. He made everyone of us the exact way we were made with that in mind.

Every night I pray with the kids. I thank God for the way He made them and wired them, even for their flaws and weaknesses. He didn’t accidentally make Evan talk the way he talks, walk the way he walks, or look the way he looks. He didn’t accidentally make him love nature and rocks. Mentally and emotionally he is wired how God wanted him to be. Evan is exactly the way God wanted him. We all come in the make, with the options, and paint schemes, that God wanted us to have. Often times we misuse those options (but thats a whole different post).

Jesus was no different. When He was born, God had Jesus come along exactly when God wanted Him to, built the way He wanted Him to.  The difference is unlike us, Jesus always took the exact path God wanted Him to take.  Jesus always did and said what God wanted Him to do and say, because He loved His Father that much. And God loved Him.

But, God loves you and me, too.  How much?  The Bible says that one day Jesus was describing how much God loves us. It says Jesus was on a hill, held His hands out wide, and said His Father loves us this much.

He did that while Roman soldiers drove nails through them!

Even more importantly, God knew that would happen, BUT, still let Him do it. To me that is pretty compelling evidence of the width of God’s love….


I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17b-19

God Gives Freedom

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear .” (1 John 4:18 NIV)

Ramblings from Evan’s dad – For years Kris and I taught parenting classes. We were compelled to do so because of the enormous help it was to us early in our marriage when babies started showing up. (Thank you Jim and Karen LaBarr!) We taught the parents to have their babies on a routine. We taught them as the babies grew, to give them very few freedoms and as they matured and understood those freedoms to expand on them. Kris would use the imagery of a funnel. The very narrow end being the amount of freedom early on and the wide end symbolized the amount as they become teenagers.

There were parents that had a hard time with this thinking. They didn’t want to stifle little Johnny or Susie by giving them limitations. They wanted to give them the freedom to learn and express themselves. It was always humorous when Little Jonny would take liberty with having no rules, and decide to express himself by taking a sharpie to the side of mom’s new white mini-van.

Kris would tell of a study where kids were placed on a large playground with woods around it and no fence. The teacher would take them out to recess and tell them to play. The kids would stay huddled close in, not comfortable with the boundaries, or more clearly, the lack of boundaries. They found similar playgrounds with fences normally had kids playing out to where the fence was, because they knew the boundaries.

Maybe that is what God does with us. Maybe the “fences” that we see biblically, much like the playground, are to show us the boundaries to make us feel more secure. Maybe they are there to protect us from getting out there and being attacked by the evil one. The “fences” aren’t electrified. We can choose to disregard them, climb over them, and leave their safety, but we need to be prepared to face the ramifications of that decision…


There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because He first loved us.1 John 4:18-19)

God Gives Satisfying Life

Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14 NLT)

Ramblings from Lacy’s dad –  I remember a couple of people I went to school with that were interesting characters. They were very religious and outspoken about going to church. They almost wore it on their sleeves with pride.

Unfortunately, looking back it was a misplaced pride not in their Savior, but in their status. The first one I would label as “Sunday Sam”. He was a likable guy who played in his church praise band on Sunday’s. He was the epitome of a hypocrite singing praises on Sunday, and using his position to live like the Devil the rest of the week.

Another one who comes to comes to mind was a young lady who went to church on Sunday, and then spent the rest of the week badmouthing her friends. I would call her “Gabby Gossip”. She often talked about church, but in the next sentence, she would have to give some dirt on someone, often in the form of a “prayer request”!

I look back with sadness at the damage they did for the Church. I wonder if they ever saw the error of their ways. Sitting here I come under a lot of conviction…after all, I hung out with “Sunday Sam” and “Gabby”. And at that time, I would have told you I was a Christian because I went to church. But I was just a silk tree, pretending to be the real thing, but with no roots.

I am so thankful God came along and gave me some real roots through Jesus. The happiness I looked so hard for out in the world, I finally found at the Cross. My life did not become perfect, but I did find joy, peace, and contentment that I had never known before.

My prayer is I won’t look like “Sam” or “Gabby”. I pray with whatever time I have left here on planet Earth, I will look more and more like Jesus….


I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:14)


God Says Enjoy Life

” Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.” (1 Timothy 6:17)

Ramblings from Connor’s dad – Shamefully, I must admit that I was one of those who thought becoming a Christian, meant giving up all “fun” and living a life of boredom. Worse yet, I thought the next life would be nothing more than getting my own cloud and harp, and floating around all eternity playing boring elevator music.

The enemy had me fooled thinking that yes, I would eventually want to change, but at an old age, rather then spend an eternity in Hell suffering…of course I do remember thinking there would probably be some really cool, crazy, fun, famous, and beautiful people there…but the whole burning and pain thing seemed to overshadow hanging out with the fun pretty people.

Reluctantly, I knew that I needed to get the “fire insurance”, but I definitely wanted to put off the boredom as long as possible. One Sunday night I headed to church to meet this cute girl a friend wanted me to meet. I was only 28 and had plenty of years left to have fun, before buying the fire insurance.

Thankfully, our loving Heavenly Father had other plans that night. I remember my friend Mike Tiller pointing out the young lady as I sat down; but I never got around to speaking with her that evening. A few minutes into the service, God suddenly shook me awake and pretty much let me know that He was not happy with my status quo, and wanted to change me from the inside out. I fought it thinking He would leave me alone and I could deal with it later. He just smiled from glory and said I don’t think so. He cranked up the “heat”, and finally, after a few verses of “Just As I Am,” I knew I had better get things right because He wasn’t happy with me just as I was.

Satan is an incredible manipulator of the truth, and he customizes his lies to our wants and desires. I am so thankful for a praying family who prayed countless prayers for this potato head. From that night on, I discovered what true happiness and contentment was like.

God placed people in my life that helped me begin to understand how awesome this life can be with His help, and even more importantly how incredibly awesome Heaven will be. God did not place this desire for adventure in this life, only to settle for a life of clouds and harps in the next!…


Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. (1 Corinthians 9:25)

Freedom: From Condemnation to Confidence

Ramblings from Evan’s dad – Growing up in the country with not a lot of money, one gets creative with entertainment. There were countless battles fought with sticks, acorns, and dirt clods. We went inside to play, only when it got too cold or wet. Our default was to be outside. Tim and Chris Chupp played with us some, but the fearless foursome was my other two cousins, Mark and Todd Waites, and my younger sister Melody.

I had several ill thought ideas we carried out that we won’t go into here. One however, that I think I’ve mentioned before, bears repeating.  My really dumb idea of throwing rocks up high into the air, and then see how close they landed to cars passing by. After all, we were playing army, and they were “enemy transports”. One afternoon, I let one fly that seemed to have a 3 minute hang time. We heard the car coming. Uh,oh,…it was Mr. Mayhue’s beautiful new baby blue Cadillac.  We watched in shocked horror, realizing seconds before it happened, that this was a VERY bad idea.  That golf ball sized rock landed square in the middle of his beautiful blue hood. I, being the responsible leader of the pack, ran! I didn’t slow down till I was somewhere near Maryland. Well, maybe it was just to the backyard of my cousin’s house, but I would have run to Maryland if I’d known where it was.

The next day I looked out the window as we drove by Mr. Mayhue’s house and saw him working on his hood.  I was SO ashamed. I had done countless dumb things, but this was near the top of the list. For years after that I avoided Mr. Mayhue like the plague. The guilt ate at me whenever I saw him, or went by his house. If we bumped in to him, dad would talk with him, and I would quickly disappear. The guilt followed me into adulthood.

Twenty some odd years later God really convicted me about that rock incident. I was a fairly new Christian and He brought it to mind. To my knowledge Mr. Mayhue was not a Christian. My whole family was, and now I was, and I felt like I needed to confess. As “luck” would have it, I went to visit my family the next Sunday at church. Who just happened to be there, having recently started attending church?!? Yep!! I walked up to Mr. Mayhue and shook his hand and recounted from my vivid memory that day. I confessed to him it was me, and asked him to forgive me, as I offered to pay for whatever the damages cost. A very strange thing happened. Mr. Mayhue smiled.  And then he told me that he knew it was me the day it happened. He laughed, yes you heard me, he laughed, and said “Ted, I forgave you for that twenty years ago!”  I asked again if I could pay for it. He said that it was paid in full a long time ago. He gave me a big hug and told me to forget about it, because he already had.

How many “rock incidents” do we have in our lives where the one we offended was God?  Mistakes that racked us with guilt for years. Mistakes we didn’t feel worthy of being forgiven for. Maybe at some point we even quickly threw an “I’m sorry” His way, but didn’t hang around long enough to hear His reply. I bet more times than not, He would smile at us like Mr. Mayhue did, give us a BIG hug, and the same reply, “I forgave you of that one twenty years ago, and haven’t thought about it since.”  We might even ask, “God, can I pay for it? I really feel bad about it.”  Like Mr. Mayhue, God’ reply would be “that was paid in full …2000 years ago”….


Though I an in the right, my own mouth would condemn me; though I am blameless, He would prove me perverse. (Job 9:20)

Legacy Through Correction

Ramblings from Lacy’s dad – Parenting is never easy. There are so many decisions to make and so many ways to get it wrong. The Bible does give us some pretty clear guidelines though. Proverbs is full of them. Unfortunately, many of us tend to ignore some or all of them.

Whatever we decide to do in our parenting, I am assured from my own upbringing that a little discipline does not scar a kid for life. Sure, I was coddled growing up. Some Saturdays, I would be allowed to sleep until 9:00am! My typical morning started with cartoons, because back then that was the only day we had them. I would lounge around sometimes till 10:30 watching harmful violent TV like Bugs Bunny, The 3 Stooges, and Scooby Doo. Seldom did I have to do the dishes or wash clothes.  Mom let me goof around with the vacuum cleaner and furniture polish, sometimes getting to clean and dust for hours.

Dad was just as bad. He would let me play with the lawn mower every Saturday, sometimes getting to ride it around in the yard for 6 hours. To make matters worse, they would cave to my boyish pranks, and let me play with the water hose…while I washed our two cars…EVERY Saturday afternoon.

Saturday evening while other kids had to sit around and goof off, I was allowed to use my creative energy and polish shoes for church the next day. (Its probably a lot like finger painting.)  I could stay up as late as I wanted (as long as I was in bed by 10).

If there was ever a misunderstanding where I interpreted a request differently, possibly thinking that it was a suggestion and not an order, no problem. One of my parents would shower me with attention as we had a private “board meeting” discussing the physics of objects traveling at a high rate of speed, and then suddenly coming to rest…against one’s bottom. Being the scientist that I am, I was able to prove from hundreds of these experiments, that Einstein was right. The object coming to a sudden stop on one’s backside, consistently distributed similar forms of energy.

Yeah Mom, you and dad did a lousy job raising me. In fact I am feeling pretty rebellious right now. Think I’ll go out and drive around in my car, play some Gaither, blow my horn…and randomly wave at people. I’m such a rebel….


Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death. (Proverbs 19:18)


Legacy through Guidance

Ramblings from Connor’s dad – We took the family out to Yellowstone several years ago. It so happened a week or two before we left, a friend found out, and recommended a guide. He told me how much they learned and enjoyed by having this individual with them.

I called to get more detailed information and pricing. Honestly, I did not want to use him once I heard the cost. Kris really wanted to use him, even after I told her the cost. So we “compromised”….and used him. 🙂

The first day he met us at out RV, just outside the north entrance at 6:00 a.m. My sister, Melody, and her family were with us. Her four and my five climbed sleepily into a 15 passenger van and off we went. The first thing he did was offer us breakfast and drinks that he had packed. He explained the history of the Roosevelt Arch as we drove underneath it to enter the park. When I saw it the day before, I just thought it was a arched entrance made out of rocks. Silly me!

We weren’t seven minutes into the day, when he pulled over and started using his binoculars. Sure enough, he points out some wolves coming over a rise and crossing the road in front of us. We are now wide awake. Ten minutes later he pulls over again, gets us out of the van and starts handing everyone very nice binoculars or monoculars. We walk 30 feet, look down by the river, and see a couple of ominous bear.  The rest of the day passes by with similar results where he is able to point out different groups of animals, tells some history about them, their habits, and sometimes their nicknames. On our own, even with Google, we would have been clueless. He dropped us off that evening at 7:00 and told us he would see us the next morning at 5:00.

The next day we drove to the southern part of Yellowstone and thought we were on a movie set. The ground eerily breathed steam from numerous spots. We made our first stop and before getting out, he pointed out a beautiful pool of water, where someone had died. Apparently even though it looked beautiful with its clear colors, the water was very hot. Walking toward the pool he stopped us again and pointed out a “crusty” looking area and warned us to stay clear of it because someone has lost their life there, too.

All through this beauty filled area, danger was present. Danger that we would have naively driven or walked by, had it not been for him. For two days he helped us navigate life in a beautiful but dangerous world. Educating us on the dangers, as well as the beauties God had created.

Does Yellowstone have some dangers present? Absolutely!  We were told story after story where negligence, ignorance, or poor judgment, cost someone their life. But by having him to guide us, we were able to safely enjoy our visit.

Does this world have some dangers present? Absolutely! In the Bible we are told story after story where negligence, ignorance, or poor judgement, cost someone their life. Today, like 2000 years ago, there is  opportunity after opportunity to blindly get into situations that can have life long, if not generational consequences.

Our guide was invaluable at Yellowstone. He kept us safe while making us wiser to the world around us. I want to be that kind of person for my kids. I want to be helpful like that to others as they walk on this road called life. Heaven knows I have been blessed with people like that in mine….


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