Saturday, May 15, 2021

Say Cheese

There are days when I encounter the real struggles in life and feel that I just cannot endure anymore.  After a year like 2020 and all of the pandemic protocols…you would think that I would be empowered with enough stamina to handle just about anything.  In fact, I thought I could…until the Little Falls Community High School Prom Picture Taking Marathon of 2021 took place. 

My oldest daughter looked amazing for her first prom.  Her escort looked nice too…which made me all the more want to jab that boutonniere pin a little too far into his lapel.  The nice young man showed up at 1:00 p.m. to pick her up and snap some pictures.  I stood and watched…and stood “in” the taking of a large number of digital photographs for about an hour.    

“There…that wasn’t so bad,” I stated to my wife…pleased with myself for the endurance I had just exhibited. 

“Yes…that was nice,” my wife answered.

“Hannah is going to text us when we are supposed to meet them at Maple Island Park for the next round of pictures.”

“Wait…what?...More pictures?” I beckoned.

“Why yes!...but that’s ok…I can go alone…I guess.”

“I will go with you,” I droned.

“Oh…you don’t have to…but ok!”

I parked the car in the nearest spot to Maple Island Park that I could find and began walking the 1 mile trek to the “bridge,” where we would stand and wait for our turn for pictures.

“Now let’s take a shot with one hand in your pocket and one hand waving…now the other hand in your pocket and the other hand waving.”

“Now let’s get a shot of just the girls…now one of just the boys…now one of just this turtle sitting on the rock in the river.”

“Let’s get a picture looking at the water…now let’s get a picture with our backs to the water…now one with the dam in the background…now one with this flowering tree.”

“Oh…we should get one with that white flowering tree over there on the opposite side of the park.”

“We should stand here and think of some more obscure shots that we could take.”

“Dad, are you coming to Grand March to take more pictures?”

If it weren’t for digital photography, we would be out of film by this time and this marathon would be over. 

If this is all I have to endure in life, then I have it extremely easy.  Despite the hours of photographs, I cannot complain.  My daughter makes good choices, as does her very respectful escort…though he may or may not have an extra pin puncture in his upper left torso.   

Yet, there are days when we must endure hardships…some much more difficult than a day of photographs.   

When I think a day of photos is rough…all I need to do is read Revelation 13.  This is one of darkest pictures of evil that we find in all of Scripture.  We find a Dragon and two beasts enter into the picture and bring about incredible destruction and hardship…specifically for followers of Jesus.  Remarkably…in the middle of this chapter…we find a brief word of encouragement.  God tells us that believers will be arrested…and killed…and this will call for “faithful endurance.”

This will take some REAL endurance!.  When we feel that we cannot take it anymore…we are called to endure.  When we don’t have the strength to do it…Jesus does!  We can faithfully endure…because Jesus faithfully endured.   

Saturday, May 8, 2021


My youngest daughter had been talking about it for weeks…The Fabulous Footrace!  Despite being a track and field coach for over 20 seasons…I struggle to use the words “fabulous” and “footrace,” in a unified context.  I guess it likely has to do with the way that my 45 year old joints feel when I run, which just goes to show…running is for the young…and for the crazy.

In any case, my daughter was excited for this event.  She spent some minimal time “training”…i.e. running to the mailbox…or running away from responsibility…or away from rabid squirrels.  Most of her efforts in training were spent simply counting down the days until the race.  I couldn’t quite understand her excitement…especially considering how little time she actually spends running. 

“What is the deal with the Fabulous Footrace…why are you so excited?”

“Because Dad, the winner gets cake!”

“Oooh! I like cake!”

“I know right!...Me too!”

The day of the race came…and the group of girls attacked the 800m course.  However, at about the 600m mark…my daughter slowed down and began to walk.  She walked no more than two steps when one of her classmates came up beside her and barked at her, “Erica! You can’t walk! You have to keep running!”

Erica started running again, doing all she could to keep up with her friend and finish the race.

Erica DID finish the race!

However, she did not win the race.

“I am sorry that you didn’t win Erica.”

“That’s ok…I got third.”

“Yeah…but now you don’t get cake.”

“Sure I do.”

“What!?...but you didn’t win.”

“Sure I did!...Addison won…and because she won…the whole class wins…the whole class gets cake!”

I was struck with a picture of Jesus in that moment.  Victory! 

What does victory even mean? What does it really mean to “win?”

It hit me that my greatest victory in life has nothing to do with my own efforts…it has nothing to do with my talent…my work…or my initiatives.  My greatest victory in life has been given to me…because Jesus has won!...and because Jesus won! I win!!!

Jesus has defeated sin and death! Revelation 11:14-12:17, tells of the incredible story of the victory of Jesus…both past and future! 

Jesus wins!...and so do those who follow Him!

Now…when to I get cake?

Saturday, May 1, 2021


I have many weaknesses.  As a young father, I would get weak in the knees when my one year old, firstborn daughter begged to go to the park and play by repetitively beseeching with the two word fragmented sentence, “I play. I play. I play.”

I couldn’t help myself…“Why of course! Let’s go to the park and you can play!”

Now, as an old father, I long to have her crawl on my lap and once again beg, “Dada…I play?”  This reveals yet another weakness…I cannot contain the dehydration of my eyes.

Now instead of, “I play.” I hear the words, “What I’d really like dad is to borrow the car keys…see you later can I have them please?”  Oh…wait…that wasn’t her…that was Harry Chapin.

My heart tightens as I look at photos from the past and encounter the times that the memories were created. 

I also have a weakness for delicious food, including but not exclusive to: Peanut M&M’s, peanut butter, trail mix, donuts, venison, pork, beef, chicken...well maybe I should have just said meat.  I love spicy foods…hot wings, chips and salsa (with strong cilantro), chili and cheese dips and spicy sausage wontons. 

This past Christmas season, our family spent a lovely evening at my brother in law’s home, in which he hand crafted some of the most delicious wontons known to mankind.  I am well aware of my weaknesses…and thus, I knew that I would have to practice some restraint.  I chose ahead of time that I would, “Just have one”…which turned into…“Just one…at a time”…which turned into…“Several…at a time.”

I also have a weakness against wastefulness…and when I see only one or two wontons left on a try…they are not worth saving…and yet, they are too valuable to dispose of…thus…I do my duty and “take one for the team” and finish the tray.

These wontons were incredibly perfect.  They tasted so good…and felt soothing sliding down my throat and landing in my belly.  My mouth was left with the perfect blend of residual flavor and heat.  It was heavenly.

Until…it wasn’t.

As we drove home from the evening…there grew an unfortunate turmoil in my lower abdominal regions and began boiling upward.  I had my wife drive so I could hurry into the home and take a fistful of antacids. In this case…the Rolaids did NOT spell relief.  My heavenly moment erupted into a gruesome night of explosions as I hugged the white porcelain bowl, for 8 long hours, begging for God’s mercy.  This has not been an isolated incident as I can recall two other similar experiences in my life.

When I encounter moments like these, I cannot help but recall what I have read in Revelation 10:1-11:13.  This passage depicts a powerful image of an angel standing with one foot on the sea and one foot on the land.  He holds a scroll in his hand which he asks John (the recipient of the vision) to eat.  John eats the scroll…and though the scroll tastes sweet…it leaves his stomach sour.  Sometimes it is hard to understand the sweetness of God’s plan when we see the sourness of sin being judged.  May we come to see that the plan of God is sweet, yet the final destruction of sin…may be very painful to watch or experience.