Well, the days have gotten short and the nights have gotten long…

…Very long in the Appling house, at least.

Week two with the baby at home is probably par for the course. Way too many people asking if we are “sleeping.” I don’t know if they are being sincere or making a joke. If it was a joke, I don’t know if it’s funny. But everything is good and the age of sleepless nights is fleeting.

This week, there were a few notables that came my way which you should definitely check out.

Me, Somewhere Else

One of my first blog interviews in preparation for Plus or Minus is over at Amateur NesterLisa writes a wonderful, encouraging blog dealing with infertility, and it’s an honor to be featured by her.

In My Blog Reader

Two related posts came to my attention this week, both written by two of my favorite writers named Emily. I’m kind of a kindred spirit with them in that publishing my writing is kind of a love / hate thing. Honestly, it’s really easy as a shy / introverted /extrovert to become really unhealthy with writing, social media and the whole feeling of “competition,” even with the way things have changed in the blog world over the last few years. So, I really loved Emily Weirenga’s The Introverted Writer: Why Publishing Is Dangerous for the Quiet Soul and Emily Freeman’s How to Stay Sane on the Internet in 2015. If you are like me, you need some grounding to keep this whole writing thing fun, rather than toxic.

On the other side of things, two of my favorite guy bloggers (who do not share a name), wrote about neighboring ideas. Paul Angone’s Four Incredible Benefits to Failing Miserably and Zack Hunt’s Even Masterpieces Have Their Critics made my day. (I don’t care if it’s not what Zack usually writes about, it was good, dang it.)

Finally, if you have not seen this video, do yourself a favor. The boys smiles and expressions are just too much. And it might just be me, but I feel like boys in our culture would never compliment a girl if asked to do so.

After five years of waiting, working, praying and paying, Cheri and I have our boy at home.IMG_8136

It’s been five years, about four of those spent pursuing fertility treatments. Five years is a while to spend waiting for a child whom you want. Plenty of people get pregnant when they “plan” on it. Some people get pregnant, even when they do not plan on it. And yes, there are people who have waited far longer than we have, who have paid a higher price and said more desperate prayers. So we are far from the most long-suffering couples.

In just a few weeks, our infertility memoir, Plus or Minus will be released by Moody Publishers. You might think that with a child in our arms, infertility is forever destined to be in our rear view mirror, a distant memory that we probably will not think about much anymore.

However, when something sticks with you for five years, it tends to leave a pretty indelible mark on your marriage and your faith. The fact is that infertility has been with us so long, I just cannot imagine our marriage without it.

Yes, we have a child in our arms. But here are a few ways that all of that waiting has fundamentally shaped how we see our own child (and all of yours).

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It’s that time of year. The time of year for “resolutions.”

It’s the time when people make promises to themselves.

They promise that they will do more.

They promise that they will be more.

They make promises to themselves that they will be better people. Most of these promises turn out to be empty promises, of course. But we are still compelled, at least annually, to reflect on our successes and failures, and try to do better.

I cannot remember a year of my adult life when I did not want to do more, be more, be better in everything I did.

That can be exhausting, the relentless pursuit of better. Better is almost never enough. And so we get back on the treadmill next year, determined that this time will be different. We won’t let ourselves down this time.

I spent the last week of 2014 tending to my new son. Our first child. A long time coming.

Before he came, I had plenty of fears about all of the things I would now not be able to do, not be able to accomplish, not be able to promise myself. I feared that my life would go into standby mode.

I’m back at work today though. My life is not in standby mode. But it occurred to me as I read my son his first bedtime story (a completely unproductive activity to do with a five-day-old) that this is what life is supposed to be like.

There are moments in our lives, even whole seasons which are not designed for pursuing more, for chasing better. There are seasons which are meant to be less, to be quiet, to be a retreat from all of the things the world says we should do. This is the way God has designed life to be.

So maybe you have a new baby, and maybe not. But maybe you are in a season of life when it is okay to be content with less, with doing things a little bit slower, with being a little less ambitious, with things being a little bit quieter. Make peace with this season. Don’t fight it. It is our culture of celebrity, consumerism and glittery churches that tell you that it’s never enough.

It is enough, just to exist today.

productive

Happy New Year, friends. I hope yours is as blissfully unproductive, interrupted, and contented as I think mine is going to be.

I’ve been taking a year-end break from the blog, but that doesn’t mean we have been taking it easy here in the Appling house.

We spent Christmas week expecting baby to finally arrive.

Two days after Christmas, Cheri started having contractions. All night it went, until we went to the hospital. It was a restful day with the epidural. But when it came time to push, things got rough. Sure, we still had some quiet classical music playing. And Cheri wasn’t even screaming. The loudest person in the room was the doctor. But things slowed to a stalemate with baby not moving.

And so we went to the operating room, the last place we wanted to be. But by now, we have learned that our plans just do not count for much.

MCA

I won’t be posting for the rest of the week with the holiday. But forty-eight hours into my son’s life, I’ve got a few thoughts…

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It wouldn’t be Christmas time without all of the traditional trappings…

You know our culture doesn't have a real war to fight when this is its hill to die on.

You know our culture doesn’t have a real war to fight when this is its hill to die on.

The lights, the gifts, time with family,

Some sermonizing from Kirk Cameron.

Now, I am assuming that most of you have not, and will not see Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas. It has a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (and a 32% user rating.) Even still, Cameron’s “movie” represents a bigger picture of American Christmastime, an annual tradition of defending tradition against the forces of paganism, liberalism, consumerism and whoever else may want to “destroy” Christmas. Every year, there is a part of our culture that makes it their mission as Christian soldiers to wage a culture war, to preserve American Christianity for the next generation.

You know what? I don’t think the liberals or the pagans or the retailers are destroying Christmas or Christianity. I think the culture warriors are. You shouldn’t not see Saving Christmas because it’s bad art. You should skip movies like Saving Christmas, because movies like this actually achieve the opposite of their goal.

It’s time we stopped trying to save Christmas and changed our priorities.

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One of the things I find so fulfilling about teaching is the idea of creating…

We are creating the next generation. Bit by bit, day by day.

That’s a job I take seriously, since I am stewarding other people’s children. I hope that the words I speak and the actions I take will build them up into strong people.

In a week and a half, give or take, I’ll embark on a new chapter. God willing, I’ll become a dad. And the job of creating a bit of the next generation will become much more personal.

Cheri and I have spent the last weeks and months dreaming about the kinds of parents we want to be, the kinds of things we want to do as a family, the kind of childhood we want to provide. It’s all been very romanticized. But there is no doubt, that we have also thought very seriously about what we want to do as parents to build or to create a strong man out of our son. It seems like everything around us works against that goal, and the results have been disastrous for our culture. For all of the good intentions, can anyone disagree that there are many broken young adults?

And so it is with fear that we embark on trying to make a healthy, strong man out of our boy. We will try to resist all of the forces that break and wound and scar children. And though it seems daunting, it is the far easier choice…

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Whatever you do, you can help this generation become strong. They need us to help them. The costs of letting this generation break are far too high.