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Last night, I did what I’ve done for decades. Nothing was different, except for one simple variable: my age. It’s amazing how one small difference can make a world of difference in the outcome. 

We had a youth group event called BreakQuake, and one of the activities was pick up basketball. Since I LOVE basketball, and grew up playing it at a very talented level, that was easily my first choice. Smooth sailing, right? 

I played full court basketball with several high school boys for approximately 2 1/2 consecutive days. (In reality, I probably played for a total of an hour. But old-man basketball sort of works like dog years.) The fruit of my labor: several pulled muscles, a devastated lower back, and a severely bruised ego. 

What happened? I’m 36 years old. That’s the same age as Peyton Manning, the guy who went through four neck surgeries, only to emerge as a highly-coveted quarterback. I emerged from my athletic endeavor as a cliche. 

Needless to say, I used this Sabbath to go into Recovery Mode. 

One key theme of Sabbath-keeping is “recovery”. We rest to recover from the week. We rest to replenish our bodies, minds, and spirits. We rest to refuel our relationships with God and others. 

Farmers know this practice very well. They will let a field “rest” for a year to help the nutrients in the soil recover. 

So this Sabbath was a great reminder that (1) I am no longer 23 years old, (2) I should start playing shuffleboard, and (3) I need to recover every week on so many levels. 

Did you allow yourself to go into Recovery Mode sometime this week?

 

 

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Here’s the inaugural Friday Funnies! We all need a good laugh at the end of a long, grueling week!

This is how it works:

  1. Links to two videos will be posted below each week. In the future, it will be the defending champion and the new challenger.
  2. You go to this link to vote for Video A or Video B!
  3. The winning video from the poll comes back next week for the new challenger to the crown!
  4. To submit a potential challenger you find on YouTube, please send me the link through my Facebook page.  The video must:
  • Be less than 3 minutes. (We’re all quite busy, you know…)
  • Be clean enough for Jesus.
  • Be of decent quality – easy to see/hear.
  • Be FUNNY.  I mean REALLY funny!
  • You’re more likely to get your video picked if it’s quite different from the defending champion’s theme!

So, without further ado, here are the first-ever Friday Funnies! 

Video A 

Video B

(Don’t forget to vote! Go to the link above!) 

Okay, I’ve been giving this some thought over this past week of blogging. I’ve been toying with the idea of having a daily routine…some framework in which to work throughout the week. I’ve decided to have seven unique themes addressed on each day. And since I’m adamant about adhering to annoying alliteration, the topics and days start with the same letter. How ingenious and original, I know. (Sarcasm Alert.) 

So here’s what you can anticipate reading/enduring throughout the typical week! 

Sunday Sermon: A reflection on the message I gave (or heard) that morning in youth group.

Monday Musing: A soap box topic that will inevitably (and humorously) collapse underneath my feet.

Tuesday Tale: A meaningful story about my children from the past week. 

Wednesday Wonder: All about my extraordinary Life With Beautiful.

Thursday Thief: The aim is simple – to help readers fight off the Thief, and have life to the full (John 10:10).

Friday Funnies: It’s a YouTube funny video contest! You’ll be able to vote for which video remains the champ for another week. (Feel free to suggest new video candidates on my Facebook page.)

Saturday Sabbath: What did God teach me after I gave Him more time and devotion than usual?  

Don’t sweat it. It’s not like I expect you to build your busy lives around the schedule…but if you’re a creature of habit (as am I), you’ll appreciate the predictable seasons on this blog. It’s sort of like Newton’s Cradle (the image below). There can be great strength and comfort from things we can rely on to routinely occur. Like the sunrise. I hope this blog can add some predictability to your otherwise unpredictable world. 

Who does this? I mean, really? WHO?

What stay-at-home moms with four young children, when given the rare chance for TWO days in a week to themselves, does this?

For those who know Beautiful well, you know she just can’t chill out. In spite of my tireless attempts in mentoring her to embrace her inner slacker, she is just as tireless to remain tireless.  She has no low gear.

So, naturally, she took those two days of “down time” to…paint and decorate…

…her home?

No.

…her friend’s home?

Getting colder. MUCH colder.

Her…

Husband’s…

Office…?  

Bingo.

It was a complete act of mercy, like helping a rat with a broken foot. My office at church was a horrible display of complete…schmleckage. (Don’t waste your time looking up the word. I made it up for this special occasion. Sometimes the English language just doesn’t offer an adequate adjective for a noun.)  Anyone who would pass by my office would either just stop and gawk at the carnage….or just run for cover, out of fear of catching an airborne virus. Schmleckage.

So, Beautiful gets to thinking, “I have available time this week, and an insane ability to make any room look like it’s prepped for a magazine photo shoot, and a husband who is just embarrassing me with how schmlecky his office his. I have a plan.”

Off she goes, using the only gear available to her. New paint job. New photography with new frames (thanks to this talented neighbor friend). New lighting. Even a plant that she insists I cannot possibly kill, even with a blowtorch.

Never fear: there will be photos of this transformation after my office makeover is complete. But let me just say this, I will have the nicest office at CCC…and that’s even without having windows or a humane walking distance to a restroom. Yes, miracles do happen. Especially in a church.

So now I can go to work, and not grimace at all the schmleckage. In fact, I’m actually going to enjoy spending more time in the office. (And, in case you didn’t know this, that’s one of the signs of the Apocalypse: a youth pastor who enjoys spending time in his office.  You’ve been warned.)

I realize that I’m slightly biased. But I’m beginning to think that Beautiful is a pretty special lady.

There is a dear family in our church who is grieving the loss of a true “pillar” in the church, community, and – most importantly – home. My heart goes out to the Saunders family, as we know the journey ahead will be paved with a powerful mix of pain, celebration, struggle, and worship. This post is dedicated to Janel. You will be missed, and Heaven just got a little more amazing.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Today, Gracie cried. Just out of the blue.

“What’s wrong, Gracie?”

“I’m sad,” my 7-year-old replied. “Whenever I start to cry, I always think about Grandma dying. Then it makes me cry more.”

Wow. My mother passed away after a brief battle with cancer just over a year ago, December 2, 2010. (For the whole story, please feel free to check out Beautiful’s blog chronicling her journey.)

Since my mom spent her final months in our home, my kids had a front row seat of her suffering and struggle. And Gracie still grieves whenever she cries, even when she cries about anything unrelated to that sad day when we said good bye. Such a tender heart.

I told her that, because both she and Grandma trusted Jesus as her Savior, they would see each other in Heaven. I told her that Grandma wasn’t in pain anymore from the cancer that took her life, and that we should be happy that Grandma has victory.

While everything I told her was true, it wasn’t enough. Not enough to make it all better. Not enough to bring Grandma back. Not enough to stop the tears, to make the pain go away.

See, that’s the thing with death. No words can ever make the pain go away because pain and death are supposed to coexist. It’s supposed to hurt. It’s supposed to feel wrong. Death, and the effects of it long after the event, constantly reminds us that all is not right. We live in a broken, fallen world, where it never makes sense without the beautiful rescue story of Jesus.

As Easter approaches, it’s a great reminder. This is why Easter is so…so…worth getting overwhelmed with worship for our Savior, our Hero, our Rescuer.

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”….But thanks be to God! He has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”  

1 Corinthians 15:55, 57

http://donandlindasjourney.blogspot.com/

I used to endure a pet peeve that I’m sure many share with me. It almost goes without saying, but I’ll name it anyhow:

Leaving.

The.

Toilet.

Paper.

Roll.

Empty.

Clearly, as I’m sure you all would agree, anyone who does this unforgivable sin should never, ever be…umm…forgiven.

At least that’s what I thought, until I had an epiphany while in the bathroom.

(On a related note, I have a theory on why epiphanies typically occur in the bathroom. I think it has something to do with having precious, quiet time completely alone to think, reflect, and…think. Anyhow, back to the post.)

Where was I? That’s right. Epiphany.

Today I naively reached for the toilet paper that should have been faithfully waiting there to assist me. But it wasn’t.  All that hung there was a humble cardboard roll, with a shred of  semi-useless paper attached. It was mocking me.

So I did exactly what you would do: I reached for a new roll, and correctly loaded the roll onto its dispenser.

Did you catch that? It was the epiphany, summed up in one beautiful word: “correctly”.

See, most everyone knows there is a correct way to have the toilet paper: “paper-side OUT”. But occasionally, there are a few who may either forget, or who are improperly taught, or who are just playing an April Fool’s prank, and place the roll paper- side IN.

So there it is. From this day forward, whenever the roll sits there empty, I will never curse the injustice bestowed upon me. Rather, I will be grateful for the opportunity to lovingly and thoughtfully ensure that friends and family alike are protected from the incorrect application of the toilet paper roll.

You’re welcome.

I mentioned in the previous post about a set of “rules” we call the McCutcheon Family Values. Here’s the story I wrote in Jenny’s blog last July that explains what that’s all about. (Sorry if this is a “repeat” for some of you!)

Two years ago, we’ve felt convicted to develop and instill in our family a set of clearly-defined Biblical values that we could teach our children, and to which we could hold each other accountable.  This code of conduct would uniquely identify us as a family, and would formalize what we have “unofficially” prioritized over the years in our home.

We want do this teaching throughout our children’s stay in our home. Our goal is to go over one value a week – every time we have a focused Sabbath day (Saturdays for us).  So every year, our kids should focus on each value five times, for at least nine more years!

We aim to use these values as a reference point to both praise and correct our kids – even now, we’re seeing them being used in our parenting!  We hope that our kids will one day pass these values along to their children, while living out these values in their own personal lives.

We finally settled on ten points of emphasis that we dubbed the “McCutcheon Family Values”.  We have been teaching them to our children, having them memorize the corresponding Bible verses. They’ve all memorized the verses!

We wanted to post these on the blog for a couple reasons: first, to inspire readers to consider instilling a formal code of ethics in their own families; second, to have people who regulary interact with us or our children be able to reinforce what we try to instill in our home – even to the point of holding us accountable!

So, here are the McCutcheon Family Values, with Biblical references:

1.  McCutcheons put others ahead of themselves.  (Phillipians 2:3-4)
2.  McCutcheons have peace with each other.  (Ephesians 4:3)
3.  McCutcheons shine for Jesus with our attitude.  (Phillipians 2:14-15)
4.  McCutcheons always try our best for God.  (Colossians 3:23)
5.  McCutcheons listen to others’ points of view.  (James 1:19-20)
6.  McCutcheons say “no” to the good things so we can say “yes” to the best things.  (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
7.  McCutcheons focus on rest, family, and God on the Sabbath.  (Exodus 20:8-10a)
8.  McCutcheons support each other, no matter what.  (Galatians 6:2)
9.  McCutcheons obey right away.  (Ephesians 6:1)
10. McCutcheons love God with everything we’ve got.  (Mark 12:30)

Okay, so here’s a confession for you: I talk a good talk when it comes to Sabbath-keeping, but it’s been a LONG time since the McCutcheon family has actually practiced a Sabbath worth observing.

That all changed today.

Before I go on, please understand this about our family: we are NOT legalists, nor are we ultra-fundamentalists. We eat pork, our girls wear pants, and our son’s hair is competing with his sisters’ in length.

But Sabbath is a principle – one of the ten “McCutcheon Family Values” – that we adhere to for (what we believe to be) very good reasons.

Our Sabbath-keeping really has three primary aims:

  • Rest in whatever way that means to you. Slow down. Chill out. Sleep in. Let your body recover.
  • Reflect on God, both formally (Bible study, prayer, etc.) and informally (discussing God, thinking about Scripture, appreciating God’s creation, etc.).
  • Restore relationships with family. Spend time with each other. Talk, play, watch a movie, etc.

Anyhow, back to today’s breakthrough!

A lot went into making this Sabbath rest truly a Sabbath REST. (It sounds strange to think that resting takes so much effort…but in our society, it really does!)

Below is a list of what we did to make it meaningful and memorable:

  1. Say “no” ahead of time. We cleared our schedule. No sleepovers, visits from friends, nothing.
  2. Get work done ahead of time. We worked very hard on Friday to get all the chores finished!
  3. Friday was Family Movie Night. We watched Tarzan 2 (Jenny’s kind of movie in that everyone had a happy ending – even the “bad guys” ended up good). Then our kids slept in the living room together!
  4. Saturday morning: sleep in, watch cartoons, leisurely make breakfast.
  5. Saturday, around 11:00am: devotions. Jenny led Gracie and Nora upstairs with their devotions, while I did a mini “inductive Bible study” with my older two. It’s the first time I’d EVER taught them how to STUDY the Bible, and not just READ the Bible. We studied and discussed James 1:1-13 for an HOUR. (No lie!)
  6. I made them subs for lunch, and then we each discussed what we learned in our devotions. I felt so “full” hearing my children discuss spiritual truths. Wow.
  7. After lunch, we each wrote a note in each others’ journals.
  8. During the afternoon the kids watched a movie while Jenny exercised and I caught up on Packer news. I exercised while Jenny got ready for church.
  9. I got ready for church while Jenny got the kids all ready.
  10. We walked to church, ready for worship. And I felt like it was an overflow from 24 hours of preparation for the grand event.

I feel recharged and ready to take on a new week! So, here’s hoping we can practice Sabbath again next week.

But the ironic truth is this: Sabbath-keeping doesn’t come around by hoping for it.

It comes by working at it.

So tonight I had an opportunity to rise up and be a man. Not a man of mere flesh and bone, mind you. No.

A man of perfectly-sculpted plastic. The kind of macho man my bride dreamed about in preschool when her Ken doll would swoop in to rescue her Malibu Barbie from her latest moment of peril.

This night, I was no longer Hubby. I was Spider Sniper Ken.

Let me recreate the scene.

In the kitchen, an obnoxiously-large spider scurries across the ceiling. Malibu Barbie whisper-screams for her hero. Spider Sniper Ken courageously and selflessly leaves the couch, abandoning his March Madness commitments.

He saunters in the kitchen, and surveys the situation….

Target too high to reach. Counter too high to climb, due to aching joints from couch-sitting. Time for Plan B.

Step 1: Grab a glossy flyer from today’s mail out of the trash.

Step 2: Swat at the target, knocking it to the floor.

Step 3: Frantically look for target on floor.

Step 4: Frantically keep looking for target in other rooms.

Step 5: Explain to Malibu Barbie that spiders are more afraid of us than…

Never mind.

Image

Welcome to my blog. If you are reading this, it’s only because you know me well. Thanks for being someone who is a treasure to my family.

Starting a new blog like this is like going on a road trip without a map.

Or even a destination in mind.

And unlimited cash to keep the gas tank full.

I have no idea where we’ll end up, but I’m going to enjoy the journey. Personally, I hope this is an outlet to process and reflect upon my life with Beautiful. It’s an open journal, an open love letter. I don’t remember things very well. So this will also serve as my guide back to yesteryear.

But what about you? The things I hope to see happen for anyone who stumbles upon this blog are:

1. You will know me and my family better.

2. You will teach me things to help me make my life with Beautiful even more…beautiful.

3. You will be blessed.

So here we go. So it begins!

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