My social media feed has been filled to capacity lately with commentary on the impending release of Fifty Shades of Grey.Fifty_Shades_of_Grey_1

And if you keep the kind of online company that I do, it’s largely negative. For good reason, I think.

A few of the radio stations in town (the top 40 kind that are always giving away prizes) have been giving away tickets all week. One morning DJ in particular is always excited about everything, whether it’s Miley Cyrus or Transformers or some other piece of cultural sludge. It’s almost comical, really. So of course, he says, “I’m not going to lie, I’m really excited to see this movie.” I think it’s his job to be excited about everything, but I honestly don’t see how a self-respecting man, much less a man in media can publicly declare his excitement for a movie like this. It sounds…emasculating.

I don’t know what kind of man would take his wife or girlfriend to see this movie. That sounds even more emasculating. And I really don’t know what kind of man would be comfortable with his wife going out with her girlfriends to see the movie. That sounds really really emasculating. Even though the movie is not really about sex (it’s about taboo behavior), it still sounds emasculating.

But rather than retreading the same observations about the glorification of violence against women, et. al., that others are making more eloquently, it would be better if we asked some other questions. Because Fifty Shades is hardly the first of its kind. And it won’t be the last.

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There have been many times when things in my life did not go the way I had planned.

Maybe you can say the same for your life.

And if you are anything like me, you became frustrated when that happened.

I might be able to say that more times than not, things have not gone according to my plans. If I were an investment manager, I’d probably be better off just letting the money go on auto-pilot.

My career did not go the way I had planned.

Starting a family did not go the way I planned.

And now that I have a kid, very few things go the way I plan.

I am convinced that as a species, we experience a lot of frustration. I think frustration is an emotion unique to humans. And the deepest sources of our frustration comes from our desire to control and to plan. We decide that things should go this way, at this time, according to these plans. We desire to control our destinies. We desire to control our surroundings. We desire to control other people. And few of those things ever work. Whether you are a pastor or a parent, you have probably discovered that you cannot control other people. Yes, it’s maddening.

But I have also become convinced that I have discovered the antidote for my need to control:

I have come to believe that all things truly do work for good.

I can look back on five frustrating years in my marriage and see how they worked for good. I can see how the low points in my life came full circle and bore fruit.

Now working for “good,” doesn’t mean that our plans come true. Working for “good” doesn’t mean it will always be pleasant. It doesn’t mean that things will work for good next week or next year. Sometimes, it takes longer than our short little lives for things to work for good.

But it means that, if we are willing, we will see the threads of grace in our lives, especially when our precious little plans are frustrated.

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The universe has not made us any promises. But God has promised that He works all things for good in the end.

 

I could not be more proud of what has happened this week. Plus or Minus was finally given “birth.” Word of mouth reviews are getting backendorsement2 to me, and they are all encouraging. And hundreds of copies have already been given away, because Moody Publishers and I care about getting this book into the hands of people who need it.

But I know that for most people, infertility is not a personal reality. We have written a niche book, I get it. If people read the book who have not gone through infertility themselves, then they are reading it because they love someone who is struggling.

And you know what? We need those people to read the book. People whose friends or family are struggling need to know how to support them.

But even if you can’t read the book, I’m going to give you a few ways you can love the childless people in your life, church or family.

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Did anyone else notice something different about the Superbowl this year?video.superbowlads.com@d2b09cbb-f8cf-35c0-b202-6fd4b5611605_FULL

It was the commercials.

Sure, every year, people complain that the commercials are not as good, not as funny, not as entertaining as they were last year (we all have rose colored specs, after all.)

But this year, there was this undeniable feeling that many of the commercials were not trying to be funny. Leave it to Doritos to be funny. Nacho cheese flavored tortilla chips can afford to be that cavalier on a national stage.

Rather, there were many commercials that were trying to make us feel something. They were trying to make us feel sentimental. They were trying to pluck our little heartstrings (which may have been easier, considering the collective haze of alcohol that hung over much of the country.) They were trying to reach us emotionally…and then sell us their product.

There were two ads that prominently featured positive images of fatherhood. One was for Dove, the other for Nissan.

Fatherhood.

In a positive light.

On a national stage.

I have to admit, I was pretty impressed, which is a sad state of affairs. When I’m used to seeing dads be dunces who can’t wash their own clothes, or be reduced to the insulting role of “Mr. Mom,” (a moniker so insipid, it doesn’t even deserve rebuke), it is sad that it’s so refreshing to see positive portrayals of dads.

But what does it illustrate?

It illustrates what all of you can do to be positively counter-cultural. It illustrates that the most counter-cultural thing to do is building safe, secure, loving homes.

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In the gray light of a dreary Tuesday morning, the city started to awaken.

Mothers stood in darkened kitchens, placing plastic-wrapped sandwiches into brown paper bags while children dressed themselves for school. Dads ensured backpacks were packed and umbrellas were ready by the door. Infants yelped for sleep-deprived parents. Dads changed diapers while moms warmed bottles. Teenagers hit the snooze button for a third time while preschoolers watched cartoons and ate buttered toast on TV trays. Toddlers pulled all of their toys out of their toy boxes, moms avoided two-day-old stacks of dirty dishes in the sink while dads narrowly avoided stepping on pointy plastic trains on the living room floor for the seventeenth time. Morning prayers were said. Hugs and kisses were exchanged. Temperatures were taken. Buses were caught. Ties were straightened.

Everywhere across the city, families greeted the new day with a frenzy of activity.

Everywhere, that is, except for one place.

In the quiet darkness of the hospital room, the monotonous beeping of the heart monitor kept time. The silent dripping of the fluid bags delivered medication. The constant puffing of the leg cuffs kept leg veins circulating. Outside was the dull tapping of the cold November rain on the window and the quiet roar of the traffic: parents driving to work or dropping kids off at daycare, buses taking students to school.

A thin gray wash of sterile-looking light barely illuminated the room on that early November morning. I sat in the plastic chair beside the bed and sipped from my little foam cup of hospital coffee. I had managed to sneak in without waking Cheri, but I would not be able to stay for long before I would have to slip off to work.

That was Cheri and I a year ago last November. We were as far away from our goal of having a child as we could imagine. By God’s grace, Cheri got well and we did have our son just five weeks ago. We have also celebrated with others who celebrate births and we have mourned with people whose dreams have not come true.

I am so proud of the people who shared their stories for Plus or Minus. Infertility taught me so much about parenting before I even became a parent, and I hope the same is true for any of you parents who read the book. I hope it helps educate you on how to encourage your friends who are going through something secret. I hope it helps educate our churches to be able to minister to hurting couples.

Most of all, I hope it gives each of you a new perspective on life and the amazing God who is behind it all. Please, download the ebook, leave a review on Amazon, tell a friend. #ShareTheHope

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I can’t believe it’s here!PlusOrMinus_Revisions1_June9

If you preordered Plus or Minus on Kindle or other ebook platforms, it should be delivered to you this weekend. It really is like another baby being born, and I hope everyone who reads it finds encouragement in our words.

Around the ‘net, there were lots of writers posting words worthy of discussion. These are a few of the best.

Lots of bloggers can find plenty of fodder by taking aim at the church. Erin at Holy Hellions discusses making peace with church.

Here in the midwest, it’s been really unseasonably warm lately. Like, the kind of gorgeous weather than makes you believe the Earth must be dying for it to be this nice. But the northeast has been getting pummelled and Zack Hunt shares a simple little gesture that some people did to help the homeless in the cold.

Addie Zierman, upon the imminent closing of A Deeper Story, shares some of her best Deeper Story posts.

Kristen at We Are That Family shares a pretty ordinary looking post with photos of her family cleaning an apartment. But it’s why they are cleaning an apartment, not to mention what this activity does for her family that is so important. I wonder how many of us are really doing family life on purpose. Our families really are at their best, not when we are at ball games or on the lake, but when we are taking time for others.

On the same note, Leigh Kramer discusses the ministry of availability. I don’t know about you, but I have not always been the most available guy to the people near me. In fact, I use the facade of busyness as a measure of my worth. But how valuable am I if I am always busy?

Finally, KC Proctor shares the first part of his “Dad Manifesto.” This guy sleeps five hours a night, starts his day at 4:00 and does all of his personal projects after putting three kids to bed. Guys, we can do it all, if we choose to.

That’s it for me this week. See you later!