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It’s late and I need to get to bed, but wanted to share a few highlights of our afternoon and evening with you.

Look at those hard working men!


Sammy soaked it all up

Ready to drill

I don’t think we’ve ever really talked about it here, but Gretchen and I have plans to become foster parents in the future. We’ve been planning ever since we were married actually. We both feel that being parents to the parent-less (temporarily or permanently) is a beautiful picture of the kingdom of God. By Christ’s sacrifice we were adopted into his family, so it would be our joy to foster/adopt someone into our family, especially if it meant we had to make some major sacrifices.

Some of our good friends have recently become foster parents. They talk a little about it in this podcast, and I was so moved by what they’ve been experiencing I wanted to share it here. So listen, if you dare!

Foster Parenting Podcast: Episode 76 – A First Placement

We’ve decided to relocate our family to Ohio. We’re putting our house on the market as soon as we can and, Lord willing, as soon as it sells we’ll move.

The red one is Ohio.

As you can imagine, there are a lot of factors that have played into this decision. We first began considering a move in September of last year and since then we’ve spent many nights talking, praying, outlining possibilities and discussing the idea with wise people whose opinion we value. I won’t bore you with the minutia of the decision making process, but I thought I might illuminate a few major considerations as a means of explanation for our family and friends.

Our new flag. Not a rectangle!

First, we’re having another baby. That means as of June we’ll have three boys under the age of four. Gretchen’s entire family lives in Ohio and we could really use their help with the boys. Moving will enable our boys to grow up in the same community with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. I have a lot of respect for Gretchen’s parents and a lot of love for her sisters and their husbands. They’ve all been supportive of us in the past and the prospect of having closer relationships with them is valuable to us. Plus the free childcare. And one of my brothers-in-law drives a motorcycle, which is cool.

Our new state seal. Looks pretty "great" to me!

Second, I’m going back to school. We’ve been looking into a way for me to complete a theology degree for the last few years, but I’ve vacillated on the idea and we’ve never really seriously pursued it. My indecision, in part, was because of some serious doubts I’ve had about being called to ministry. There was a time when I was absolutely sure that I wanted to pursue pastoral ministry, but then Gretchen and I had a very negative experience with a ministry where we worked and my faith was shaken pretty severely. I spent the next 5 or 6 years kind of spinning my wheels, struggling through anger and bitterness about what we had experienced. A lot of that anger ended up directed at what I perceived to be failings of the Church and organized religion in general. I became very critical of churches and pastors, even to the point where I was just generally anti-vocational-ministry and anti-intellectual. I wanted to serve Christ, but I wanted to do it without the things that I perceived to be “fake”, like churches and formal educations.

I’d like to say that I’ve had some sort of major epiphany, but the truth is that God has just been graciously changing my heart over the last year or so. It’s been a slow process, and I think it was as much about me maturing and outgrowing some childishness as it was anything else. Time levels mountains, and I guess God uses it to humble foolish people like me in the same way. I’m ready to go back to school.

Five years ago we bought a crappy house in a crappy neighborhood. We’ve done a lot of work to our house and by God’s providence our entire neighborhood is significantly less crappy than it was when we moved in. Even estimating low, we can sell our house for a significant profit. So much so that we could actually live for a year with no income while I go to school full time. Folks in my position with families and responsibilities don’t get a lot of opportunities to take a year off from work, so we’re going to make the most of this one. I imagine it won’t happen again.

There are of course other reasons. We want to live in a larger city, we want a change of scenery, Ohio’s state fossil is the Trilobite, etc. The bottom line is, we’re moving to Dayton, Ohio as soon as we can. We’ve been working pretty hard on getting our house together and we’re planning to have it on the market by the end of the first of March. So, if you know anyone who is looking to buy a house in an up-and-coming historic (no longer crappy) neighborhood in Roanoke, VA, please let me know.

The fair city of Dayton. I hear it's a lot like Detroit in 1996!

As you may or may not be aware, we’ve had some rather unusual weather this winter. Several times this year we’ve had in excess of a foot of snow fall, which hasn’t happened in southwestern Virginia in over a decade. Personally, I think terms like “snowpocalypse” and “snowmageddon” are overstating the issue a little. Maybe “snow-inconvenience” would be more appropriate. I have had to shovel all twenty feet of sidewalk in front of our house several times this year, where as most years I only have to once (or not at all if I can wait until my neighbor gets to it first).  I guess the local weather wants to take advantage of every opportunity they get to use their spinning “X-treme Weather!!” logo though, I don’t blame them. Nothing says “reliable scientific prediction” like huge chrome letters rendered in three dimensions flying around the TV screen while a guitar wails in the background.

But when the meteorological oracles divined that we would have yet another bout with “X-treme winter conditions!!” we decided to hit the road and go visit some family in Ohio. Not exactly snow bird territory, but at least they know how to handle a few inches of snow. Their entire infrastructure doesn’t grind to a halt as soon as some fool starts flailing on front of a multicolored weather map. It did snow, but the roads and sidewalks were cleared and it was pretty much business as usual. Here are some pictures of me, my father-in-law, and the boys.

Sammy astride a modified tractor/sled

Jim trying to load us all on the sled

Jim realizing that we (one of us in particular) were way too heavy

Our tribute to the Lands End catalog

Regarding the gender of our unborn child, the people made their voices heard when they rallied in support of a girl, but they were wrong. God has spoken, and he has spoken thusly, “Nay, it shall be yet another boy. Get used to it.”

When the sonogram technician told us it was a boy Gretchen asked her if she was absolutely sure. She said, “Yup, there’s a penis.” Later, Sammy told us, “It made me sad when she said penis.” Me too buddy, me too.

In all seriousness, we’re very excited about having another boy. We are a little nervous about the un-babysittable horde we’ll have, but still excited. And the boys are excited about their new little brother, “Handsome Dan Lightning”.

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RSS Verse of the day

  • Hebrews 4:12
    For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.