Monday, July 23, 2007

Our house

Not too many pastors can admit to living with their in-laws. And this is not like Simon Peter who took his widowed mother-in-law into his home (Mk 1:29-30). My wife's parents are housing us; we're the recipients of their hospitality, not vice versa.

Because we were expecting our second child within two months of our move, we wanted to make the transition as smooth (and cheap) as possible. Our plan, then, was to take time finding the right house, without feeling rushed. This way we could be prayerful and strategic with its placement, and gradual in learning the language of homeownership.

The plan had its downsides. First, living with your in-laws means the home is not yours. And as much liberty as they gave us to invite people from the church over, my wife felt considerably juvenile asking, "Do you want to come to my parents house to play?"

Second, house-hunting is dangerous, especially every time we were in the car. The greater Warsaw area is not huge, but properties are aplenty. Virtually every time we drove from hither to thither (which means Winona Lake to Wal-mart), the car was sidelined by For Sale signs. RE/MAX, Coldwell Banker, and Century Twenty One became our traffic signals.

Third, we learn best by doing. So we put an offer on the first house we toured. Strategy and prayer were involved, but mainly we loved the house. It's inviting, cute, well-situated, feasible, and my wife wanted it more than a vacation with me.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sleepless Nights and Spiritual Battle

Both my daughters were born with their mother's drugs and their father's eyes. Claire, the eldest, was born on eight hours of Pitocin, which sent her into the world functioning at a resting heart rate of 237. Margot emerged at a modest 22 beats per minute, compliments of a dulling prescription of Vicodin.

July 18th marks Margot's one month birthday; she already sleeps better than her older sister did into the second year. The difference could be drug related, the fact that her parents are far less paranoid about imminent death, or a host of thirty other causes found in thirty separate books which have 'Getting Your Baby To Sleep' somewhere in the title. We've given up searching for the perfect method and gone on to retirement planning.

Margot's inertia has been a blessing: Sunday through Friday nights she sneaks through the night with only a single feeding. Then she's back to sleep before my dream completely fades.

But something happens on Saturday nights--those sweet, dormant hours before I preach--which I hesitated to identify. Margot was waking (2:00 a.m.), staring (3:00 a.m.), and fussing (4:00 a.m.) in two-hour blocks. At first I called it coincidence. After three weeks in a row, though, I'm confident the matter is spiritual.

Sleep is my safeguard against insanity. When I lack it, I feel irritable as father, lazy as a husband, clumsy as a preacher, petty as a Christian, and irresponsible as an American consumer (e.g. QVC).

Spiritual attacks on Saturday nights threaten my performance (meant militarily) during Sunday battles. And yet, the fact that I'm being wakened suggests that the church in Leesburg poses a challenge to the Enemy...because we preach Jesus.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Sugar Purge and American Dieting

"You look like you could be anorexic."

My wife heard this only two weeks after her second pregnancy ended in a C-section. To a degree, the comment sounded like a compliment. Of course, compared to a full-term mother-to-be, NFL linebackers look anorexic.

On Sunday morning I announced to the congregation my and Liz's goal to purge from complex sugars for the month of July. The task is more difficult than it sounds. Complex sugars are the staple of American dieting. I was afraid I would be charged with treason from the pulpit and banned from the Pledge.

But before an insurrection broke out, I appeased the masses by tossing candy bars into the seating area. My office was home to eight full-sized Hersey products and more than 100 miniatures. I had no chance of fulfilling my vow if temptation filled my desk drawers. Oh, sweet saccharine ecstasy. I will release you from your foil gown and let you melt in my mouth.

The Great Sucrose Purge began shortly after the birth of our first daughter. Pregnancies often culminate with a gluttonous sense of entitlement. The exhaustion, pain, and expectation are appeased with donuts, candy bars, Frappucinos, and ice cream. And that's just for the husband.

By design, the purge released us from compulsive, entitled eating and detoxified our bodies. The second purge intends to do the same. My fear, however, is that the unintended consequence is a lack of dinner invitations from people in the church.