Addicted to Gaming

GAMING BLOG.jpgPro skateboarder Tony Hawk used to be all the rage. But I didn’t know Hawk’s name because of his numerous X Games victories or as the first person to complete the 900-degree spin. I knew of him because I could skateboard as him, on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 for Playstation 2. Not only could you hop on rails, do kick-flips, and ride across a cruise ship, but a few cheat codes could let you do tricks that were never possible in real life. You could turn gravity off, so your skater would float in the air, adding twists, turns, and flips for mega-multipliers and record-breaking scores. You could play as Darth Maul from Star Wars or Wolverine from X-Men and turn your skateboard into a snowboard. All of these settings were a change from the default settings—the settings my friends and I would always go back to in the end.

Every video gamer is familiar with the default settings. They are what’s seen as normal—what you find yourself going back to without much thought, because that’s just what you do.

And all of us have default settings in our own lives. They’re what we find ourselves doing in those in-between moments, when we aren’t specifically working on something else, or we are waiting for the next thing. Waiting in line at the grocery store? Enough time for a Twitter check. Free afternoon? Netflix just added that new series. But there are also default behaviors that create real value in our lives, whether social, physical or spiritual, such as calling an old friend, going to the gym, or spending time in prayer and Bible reading. Continue reading

Call in the Expert

call in the expert.jpgWhen my oldest son, Caleb, was only a few years old, we moved to Texas. One Sunday, my wife Terri and I were visiting a new church. As we made the drive, she began to tell Caleb what he might expect at a new church, a new Sunday School class and new kids he might meet. I remember being impressed by the way she was preparing him for a new encounter. Caleb is now twenty years old, and from that day until now, Terri has watched for those new encounters. Somewhere along the way I began doing the same. I realized the value of being prepared and bringing my perspective as a dad as I partnered with Terri in preparing our kids for so many “first times.” Continue reading

Talking to Your Child About Politics


The election season is heating up!

The presidential candidates have been chosen; the debates will kickoff soon; and the tension between the proponents of the candidates will continue to rise above an already feverish pitch. What are we to do? How are we to vote? How should we communicate to our kids?

While the first two questions are important, the last question is the one God has been challenging me with the past few weeks. How do we demonstrate righteousness to our children throughout this election season? Continue reading

The Tween Years

tween years 3I loved the [fairly] straight-forward parenting of babies. I’m a bit of a rule-follower and soaked up everything my pediatrician said. Took notes, even. Sleep train? Check. Boot camp potty training? Check. Plenty of outside time at the park? Check. It’s all very step-oriented, and I like steps. And, we had our kids in church every time the doors were open. We really thought we had this parenting thing NAILED.

The next several years would prove me…well, “wrong” doesn’t really even cut it. Let’s call me “blindsided.” Parenting babies had lulled me into a false sense of security that you could actually GET it… Continue reading

Love Your Imperfect House

love your imperfect house.jpgOur white couch used to look pristine before we had Emerson and Ezra. Upon close inspection, you might have been able to see a pin-sized splatter of pasta sauce overlooked from a dinner-and-a-Red Box movie night.  Occasionally, the bluish tint from our new dark-rinse jeans would appear on the couch prompting us to wash our slipcovers as if it was an eyesore of the worst kind.

Now, upon not so close inspection, the white couch boasts gray fingerprint smudges, pink crayon marks, and water stains from leaking “spill-proof” sippy cups. We still wash our slipcovers, but the time between washes has gotten longer and the care with which we iron them has eased. The washing machine is burdened with extra loads of laundry and our schedules are filled with other responsibilities like feeding small human beings, giving baths, managing changing work schedules, picking up toys, and hosting play dates. Continue reading

Creating Space

creating spaceWhen my first son was born, I lamented to my husband that I had lost the cadence in my days to do the things that made me feel like a whole person, things that made me feel alive: art, reading, running, and prayer. He suggested creating some space for myself in the morning by trying to wake up before the baby. Naturally, I was defensive and indignant, given I was barely getting enough sleep as is. Why on earth would I give up precious sleep?

Continue reading

Welcome the Wiggle

welcome the wiggleEach Sunday, my children stand with me in church during the worship set. These have been some of the sweetest moments and, if I am honest, also sometimes the most torturous. There have been the times that I have looked down to find them singing along or, when they were tiny, even imitating their dad or me by closing their eyes or raising their arms. But, there are also many times that I have been pulled from my own time of worship to place my finger to my lips and urge them to quiet down or remind them to take their feet off of the back of the seat in front of them. I am sure that they have distracted many people with their loud whispers or sibling spats. Continue reading

Watch Me Worship

WatchMeWorshipNearly three years ago I received an email from a single mom here at church, and the words she shared still resonate with me to this day. She mentioned that she attended one of our nights of worship at our Miracle Theatre campus. On this particular night, she brought her daughter, who was about four years old at the time. This mom revealed to me that up until that night she had never really responded physically in worship, and most of the time was disengaged, just thinking of the music as “nice”, or “something that gets us to the message”. However, on this particular night of worship, she was prompted by the Bible verse I shared before launching into Matt Redman’s song “Wide as the Sky”. Continue reading

Make Summer Count

make summer count 2There are just a few days of school left and we have been dreaming about summer! I’ve always been a wanderer. I guess that’s what brought me across the ocean from Romania to this part of the world some years ago. I think my desire to go, see, and do has bumped up a notch since having kids.

My oldest, Alex, is five now and I remember our pace being a little slower when he was just a baby. I got the sense that things would be a bit different as he got older and we would be able to do more. He grew up in no time and a whole new array of options seemed to open up. His younger sister, Norah, joined us not lon after that, but there was no more wandering around the streets of DC just to kill time with a sleeping baby. The double stroller had a toddler leading the way, ready to go somewhere.

Continue reading

When Parenting Takes You on a Trip You Didn’t Plan

trip you didn't plan squareI read once that discovering your child is on the spectrum is like planning a trip to Italy. You’ve done your reading, learned the language, packed your bags, and up, up and away, you’re off. Then, upon landing, you are actually not in Italy after all. “Good afternoon Ladies & Gentleman.  This is your pilot speaking. Welcome to Holland!” Wait, what? This is not the journey we had planned.

It wasn’t exactly like this for us; not at first. Sitting at a conference table, surrounded by a team of developmental specialists, we were relieved to have clarity about our journey. It was with an audible “Hallelujah!” and a “Thank you Jesus!,” that we received the news that James, then three, was High Functioning Autistic. Judging by the expressions on the specialists faces, I was fairly certain ours was not a typical reaction. I was so relieved to have reached a destination, diagnosis, that in exiting the room I couldn’t help but turn, and like a quarterback having just won the Super Bowl, exclaim, “We’re going to Disney World!”… because it seemed fitting, and because (oh, the irony) we actually were.

Continue reading