One on One with Jack

IMG_2734When Laura and I first became parents, it was a tag team sport.  And most days it felt like we needed two of us to keep up with Jack.  Then Aidan showed up and we were evenly matched – kind of a man to man defense situation.  In a few short weeks, the game is going to change again and we’re going to be forced into a zone defense where we’re outnumbered.

All of that is fairly predictable.  What I didn’t expect is how powerful one on one parenting moments would be in the life of our kids and how early we would need to start.  By three and a half, Jack has come to love what we call “guy time.”  The only one who loves it more is me (and possibly Laura when it means she gets a good nap!).

I’ll be honest – we don’t have earth shattering conversations.  It’s not like we’re reading great books and debating the finer points of theology.  We’re not analyzing the hidden idolatry of our souls.  Most of the time we aren’t even talking – we’re just hanging out, doing something and having fun.  But every once in a while, he’ll turn the corner and talk for a few minutes about something that’s on his mind – preschool in the fall, church or wanting a snack.

But those times let him know that he matters in the chaos of a growing family.  They remind him that his little voice matters.  And they keep him rooted in the truth that his Dad loves him a whole lot.

For us, “guy time” doesn’t have to be some amazing experience or big moment.  Just getting time alone is enough.  So, if God has blessed you with multiple kids, be intentional in creating alone time with each of them.  They’ll become some of your favorite parenting moments.

Moving & The Will Of God

Winding Road

Last week, Laura and I moved our family to a new apartment in search of more space for our soon-to-be family of five.  So, that means I’ve spent the last couple of days carrying boxes, cleaning out the old place, carrying boxes, unpacking those boxes and carrying a few more boxes!

But I’m not writing to grumble about moving.

I’m writing in the hopes that the journey our family has been on for the last few months will be helpful for you as you follow God in your life.  I’m writing because Laura and I never thought we would end up living in a mid-rise apartment in the west end of Alexandria.  Yet, that’s exactly where the Lord has us.

And it all goes back to December 8, 2015.

I remember being in the gym that morning, doing my best not to die on the treadmill, listening to a podcast and praying/thinking through the day ahead.  Later that afternoon I was going to be meeting with a group of Southern Baptist pastors interested in supporting church plants in DC.  So, I was getting my vision caster/fundraiser game face on.  As part of that, I was mentally rehearsing stats about how many people live in this area, how quickly it is growing, etc…  I was getting more and more excited to tell these pastors about the mission field God had called us to.  And then all of a sudden, I felt like Laura and I should be doing more to reach our community.  I remembered my conversations with the leaders of a ministry called Apartment Life and felt like God might be leading Laura and I to move into an apartment in the Crystal City/Pentagon City area through this ministry.  That was a stretch for us – we had been renting a row house and weren’t thrilled about going to an apartment (our kids are loud and we didn’t want to live underneath someone running a makeshift dance studio in the apartment above us!).  But we felt like it was how the Lord was leading.

So, Laura and I started down the road of getting plugged in with Apartment Life.  We did applications and interviews.  We introduced the ministry to the church one Sunday morning.  I told the whole church Laura and I had applied and wanted to serve as a CARES Team through this ministry.  We were accepted into the program and totally believed this was God’s next step for us as a family.

But by the middle of April, it was starting to look like Apartment Life wasn’t going to have a community to place us in.  Honestly, I wasn’t worried.  I totally expected the Lord to pull something out at the last minute.  But by the beginning of May, that was looking less and less likely.  And we knew we needed to be out of our old place by May 31st.  Unsure of what else to do, we started looking for other places – including apartments.  Honestly, we probably never would have included apartments in our search if it wasn’t for the months of praying for Apartment Life.

Finding out that we’re having our third child this fall made it really clear we needed to move.  We knew we needed more space and didn’t have a lot of room to increase our budget.  So, we started looking.  And getting frustrated.  And discouraged.  And concerned. There wasn’t anything available in the time frame we needed!

Finally, we found the place we’re in now.  It meant we had to leave the Del Ray neighborhood that we loved so much.  But it’s the best option for our family in this season of life.  So, we moved in last week.

That story is in some ways very boring – we thought we were going to serve with a ministry, God closed a door, so we did something else.  But I’m also hoping it’s helpful in at least two ways:

  1.  Don’t be afraid of messing up God’s plan.  Clearly, Apartment Life wasn’t the Lord’s will for our family in this season.  We really thought it was, were excited to serve, prayed for God to open doors and did everything we could think of to help open those doors.  But as Job writes, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)  Don’t worry.  You aren’t going to mess up God’s plan for your life.
  2. Go for it.  That means we have the freedom to go for it more often.  I would rather live my life trying to make things happen and trusting God to close doors than waiting idly for God to open doors.  I don’t regret trying to get placed through Apartment Life or feel badly that it didn’t work out.  I like knowing we went for it, put ourselves out there and did everything we could to leverage our lives for the sake of mission.

More often than not, this is what it looks like to follow Jesus – an unexpected road to an unexpected destination.  Even when the road doesn’t make sense, we can trust the One leading us and know that He’s in control and unfolding our lives according to His plans.

Parenting Is Discipling


I love that our Sacred Trust series brought us to 2 Timothy 3:14-15 yesterday morning:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Talk about the perfect text for Mother’s Day!  My goodness, it doesn’t get any better than that!

So much of the trajectory of Timothy’s life was due to the influence of a godly mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5).  Timothy’s father was greek and most likely not a follower of Jesus.  But these two ladies made sure Timothy grew up knowing the Word of God.  As parents, we must do the same.  The most important people you’ll ever disciple are your children.

Of course, that begs the question of how to introduce our kids to the Bible, especially with young kids.  Let me offer you three suggestions:

  1.  Discuss. This is the easiest one because it’s as simple as asking your kids what they learned during their time at RCCKids.  We aren’t just babysitting your kids on a Sunday morning, we’re teaching them age appropriate lessons from God’s Word.  Ask them about it.
  2. Model.  One of the greatest gifts you can give your kids is letting them see the example of you prioritizing time in God’s Word.  They aren’t ever going to take God’s Word seriously if we don’t.
  3. Read.  Laura and I absolutely love the Jesus Storybook Bible.  As a church, we give it to every family at our Parent Commissioning/Baby Dedications.  But owning one is no where near as good as regularly reading to your kids from it.  Make it part of their bedtime routine.

Every parent knows how much our kids watch and mimic us – it’s painfully obvious when we realize we’re the source of the new word they shouldn’t be saying!  How amazing would it be to take that potential and use it to raise a generation that loves the Word of God.