final post

10 07 2010

Hey everyone!

     This blog has a new address, www.gowatchtheants.wordpress.com I moved it so that I could have the correct address for it; I needed that to keep myself organized. I have written a new post there, but none of you were emailed because your subscription is tied to this web address. Therefore, if you want to stay on board, you need to go to www.gowatchtheants.wordpress.com and subscribe there. I hope that you do.

   Remember, that there is a second blog option as well. On www.nobodysnormal.wordpress.com I write about issues pertaining more specifically to special needs. Both blogs have links to each other on the right side of the page.

  Thanks again for reading and I hope to continue the conversation on the new page 🙂

Ryan

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new blog is up

5 07 2010

Hi there,

My newest blog, “Nobody’s Normal” is up and I have written my first post. This one is dedicated to the concept of “special needs” and I hope that we all can find it useful. I promised to let you know when the new one was published, hence this little post. Remember, “Go watch the Ants” will still be here 🙂

I am not sure if your subscription to this blog notifies you of posts in my other blog(s). I don’t think it does.

Thanks,

Ryan





Without further adieu… changes on the horizon

3 07 2010

It’s been awhile…

My blogging journey got off to a fast start… too fast. I was attempting to put out a new post every day and I am afraid I got a bit burnt out and might have overwhelmed an inbox or two. I also had to focus my attention on the completion of another writing project; but I will talk about that later.

After looking back on my initial blog burst I noticed that I deviated from my desired purpose. My goal with “Wax on, Log off” was to encourage you to see God everywhere. I wanted to be an encouragement. But, I showed a tendency to preach sometimes and that wasn’t my intention. I also found that I would regularly write about Caedmon or special needs in general, while also having lots to say about my Seminoles. What’s a blogger to do?

My answer? Multiple blogs. I believe that you have a certain expectation when you read a blog and if you are expecting Seminole stuff and end up with a sermon you might be caught off guard. The same is true if you are expecting to be edified in God’s word but find yourself reading about practical tips for managing a family with special needs. Granted, many issues can overlap, but I believe I could do a better job by focusing on issues more squarely.

Therefore, this blog is now titled “Go watch the ants.” The book of proverbs encourages us to do just that, and be wise. This is the place where I will offer encouragement by observing God in the world around me… including ants.

I will post as I feel led with no committment to a schedule. Maybe daily, maybe weekly, maybe 7 times in a 4 hour period… maybe not. But, you understand.

I am also going to launch a couple new blogs. I think one will be devoted to the world of special needs. My hope is that we will all benefit from that blog because we all have special needs people around us. 7 years ago I was ignorant and careless. Today I am knowledgeable and sensitive. I hope to offer that perspective in that blog. I don’t know what it will be called.

I would like to blog about my ‘Noles, or sports in general, every once in a while, so that’s on the horizon.

I also believe that I have something to offer Christians in the form of a place for challenging encouragement. This will be a place where I hope to make believers really think about what they are saying and doing in hopes of spurring them on to righteousness.

I hope that these changes are well received and that each new format becomes a greater service to the issue at hand. I have discovered a new joy in the form of writing and hope to do even more of it. Hopefully, you can find a place to come along for the ride.

 As the new blogs become active I will link them on the existing blog(s).

Thanks for reading!





Team Colors

2 06 2010

I bet you didn’t expect to see that logo on one of  my posts. It seems out-of-place doesn’t it? I’ll explain…

We experienced an Amazonian rain today so Jeni and I took the boys down to The Fun Factory to play with Oliver and Samuel. I chose to wear the Wake Forest T-shirt that I bought on my annual road trip with my friends to see FSU play football.

I thought nothing of it until I noticed a guy walking in proudly wearing a FSU T-shirt. Had this been any other day and I was wearing one of my vast array of Seminole shirts we would have interacted in some way. He might have said, “Go Noles.” Or maybe I would have said, “nice shirt.” This exchange would normally lead to further discussion about if we attended the university or hailed from Tallahassee. We might discover mutual friends or find out we were at the same games, etc. Our shirts could conceive a conversation that might birth friendship. But not today.

Today I felt like a fraud. I didn’t even say hi to my collegiate companion. Instead of connecting with a potential friend, I retreated as a perceived foe. I felt like I had compromised my true self in the name of convenience.

As I write this I realize how silly it is to have felt like a traitor because of a T-shirt, but I did. I know that I am a Seminolious- obnoxious. Those who are close to me are not shaken by my displaying the wrong colors. (Quick disclaimer, those colors will never be ora*** mixed with bl** nor would they be ora*** mixed with gr***. Just felt I should clarify

But that guy, the alien Seminole walking around North Carolina unashamedly displaying the garnet and gold, doesn’t know me. He missed out on an opportunity for encouragement in his foreign plight. He just saw one more enemy, albeit a feeble one.

Who among us hasn’t been in a similar situation? Maybe we were being told an off-color joke and even though we knew it was mean-spirited we laughed. Perhaps it was noticing someone who needed assistance of some sort and instead of freely offering support, you pretended not to notice. Have you ever seen someone else make a stand for something and when the time came to throw your hat in the ring, you were more concerned about keeping the sun out of your eyes…

This is what Peter did. He promised Jesus that he would never deny him, if fact he swore he would die for him. But, when a little girl called him “all in” he folded like a bath towel in the hands of a cruise ship attendant. He had entered enemy territory and tucked his team colors into his satchel, proving himself to be a hopeless coward.

We have all been there. A friend was about to make a terrible mistake, and we utilized our right to remain silent. We knew the right thing to do yet we cowered and did the wrong thing instead. We knew the idea wasn’t ours but we hogged the praise like an early riser taking a super long shower.

But we don’t have to do it anymore. We can go into our closets or dressers, grab our game day shirts, and proudly display our true colors.

We can speak the truth, love our neighbor, forgive our family, embrace the hurting, support the fallen, or teach the ignorant.

You and I have the privilege of being the hands and feet of Christ. Being the light of the world and salt of the Earth. We can shine like stars. We have the hope of the nations to share with a hopeless world.

But we can’t do it wearing the enemies clothes.





AFO-LAW

20 05 2010

Caedmon wears a device on each of his feet known as AFO’s, you might have heard us refer to them as his “boots.” They have very specific purpose and that is to force his feet into their proper alignment so that he can maintain some stability. Here’s the problem, his feet tend to want to do their own thing.

The Cerebral Palsy has affected his feet in such a way that his toes are almost always pointed. He is capable of relaxing them but it would be like you lifting your toes while you had 100 pounds tied them. Most of our feet, when relaxed, lie basically perpendicular to our legs. Caedmon’s might too, but he can almost never relax. He is to flexibility what Nascar is to turning right…

So we place his feet into the AFO’s and then velcro the straps down over the top of his foot, the joint of his ankle, and around his calf. Once he is strapped into his boots, he can sit or stand with his feet flat. Ideally we will get to a place where we no longer need to use the AFO’s but that is unlikely and probably a long way off. In the mean time we use the law… err AFO’s (did I let the cat out of the bag?) to get his feet to function properly.

This illustrates the dynamic of what the Bible refers to as the “law.” We aren’t talking about laws like this one from Georgia; “No one may carry an ice cream cone in their back pocket if it is Sunday.” We are talking about THE Law, God’s Law, thou shalt not kill and stuff.

Where this gets interesting is when Jesus came on the scene and claimed to “fulfill the law and offered grace to the world. Some people take the doctrine of grace, offer it a lollypop, jerk it into their van, and then drive it off into the woods and beat it. They live as if there were no law because “love covers a multitude of sins.” By their reasoning; we can lie, cheat, and steal all day long and just proclaim grace.

Other people see grace standing on the side of the road and are scared he has a knife in his pocket so they drive on by and leave him standing there. These folks tend to be a bit overbearing. Not only do they have a “Jesus fish” on their car, but they would tell you that Hell is promised for those who don’t.

I would argue that neither group is correct… hence the need for the AFO’s.

You see, our natural tendency is to self. We love us. But, God says that’s a bad idea. If I love me it is normally to the neglect of you which tends to disrupt relationships. Not only that, the love of the man in the mirror keeps us from loving the man on the throne, Jesus. This is what we are talking about when Christians use the S-word…sin.

Our natural inclination is not correct, neither is it helpful to our own well-being. God provided the Law to serve in much the same capacity as Caedmon’s AFO’s. It is a rigid, corrective measure that forces us to maintain the correct moral posture. Ideally we won’t always need the law but that is unlikely. The law provides that objective measure by which we can judge our behavior and motivations.

But, as we are all too plainly aware, we will not ever master the law. This is where Jesus comes in. He loves us knowing our inclination to self and desire for sin. He loves us more than we can really understand. You can tell your dog you love him all day long, but he really doesn’t get it. There is a gap in communication. Our communication gap with God is similar; we don’t fully get it.

The point is; without the law we would be walking around hurting ourselves and others without really knowing what was wrong.

Just like Caedmon’s AFO’s provide a feel for how it is supposed to work and, in turn, allow him the freedom to experience that much more.
God’s law provides for us, when applied, a feel for how life is supposed to work and, in turn, allows us the freedom to experience that much more.

God’s law informs us that something is wrong.
It provides the mold for us to conform our lives to.
And, it points us to Christ who overcame sin and promised us new life.

As Caedmon grows and we work on his flexibility and strength he may not need the AFO’s as much. When we put them on him now he gets red marks where his feet were resisting them and he gets blisters where his feet were rubbing against them.Eventually he may be able to put them on like you put on shoes, no friction, just the benefits.

I hope I grow spiritually much the same way. Some parts of the law really rubbed me the wrong way in years past, but now I embrace them. 

Maybe you have struggled with elements of God’s law? You might feel it is too restrictive or harsh. We have all felt that way at times. Some of it is difficult to accept. That just points out our need. If I chose not to use Caedmon’s AFO’s just because it felt restrictive or harsh we would never use them and he would suffer for it. The same is true morally and spiritually for us, we have to get past our “feelings” and trust the long-term benefit of God’s law.

While we keep trusting God’s law to guide our behavior; we trust Jesus to redeem our hearts. He is the only one who has ever lived that didn’t need AFO’s. His bent was towards obedience to God. Was he tempted, sure; but he never succumbed to it. He is perfect, He is God. This is how his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead are our rescue from this life of dysfunction.

Instead of cursing the Law, we should thank the law for revealing to us our need and then thank God for meeting that need in Jesus.

Thanks to Jesus; one day we won’t need the law and Caedmon won’t need AFO’s and that will be a great day!





Autograph

18 05 2010

The family was in downtown Atlanta on Saturday for the kite festival and to hang out with my sister Angie, our friends Amanda and James, and our new friend Kristin. We all had lunch at CNN Center where Atlanta Braves second baseman Martin (Mar-teen) Prado was signing autographs. There was a little time to kill so Caedmon and Jackson each got an autograph.

Jackson walked up to me with his paper and asked, “Dad, what does this say?” I told him it said Martin Prado. He disagreed, “No it doesn’t. It says blah.” I laughed and he continued, “It doesn’t say anything.” I wanted to correct him but as I looked at the mark I was compelled to agree with him.

We even asked a security guard what it said and his honest reply was, “I have no idea, what is it?”

People were in line for hours to get “blah” scribbled onto jerseys, hats, posters, etc. Am I the only one who doesn’t get it?

Anyhow, my philosopher sister Angie declared a new edict that all autographs (and signatures for all you doctors out there) need to be legible. I concur, enough with the written gibberish!

Were I to come upon this alleged autograph in a store or on the street I wouldn’t recognize it and I certainly wouldn’t make any effort to obtain it. It is unrecognizable.

This got my thinking about chlorophyll, hummingbirds, and bombardier beetles. Here’s what I mean…

What does the following say?

If you said John Hancock, you would have correctly identified that collection of 11 letters and 1 space. The signature was written clearly enough for an honest person to acknowledge that it says John Hancock.

If we were to go back and look at Prado’s autograph and ask what it says we would get any number of answers. Although, most people would probably just say it is scribbles.

Did you know that God has given us His autograph? Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”  Also in the 1st chapter of the letter written to the church in Rome we read, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

God’s autograph is all around us. From the incredibly specific and complex design of chlorophyll to the design of the human eye. It is seen in the miracle of rain (you really ought to read the preceeding link when you finish this, so cool) and the beauty of a coral reef. He has provided the most profound and awe-inspiring sign our world has ever known and we can see it every day. It is more incredible than cured cancer, more fantastic than a parted sea, and more stunning than blind man seeing. Our universe is screaming out to us saying, “You think I’m awesome, you should see who made me!”

Sure, science can “explain” many things but that’s just it. All science is doing is reading the signature. For all the “explaining” and copying that science does it cannot create. All it can do is mimic. What we have begun to do is worship the handwriting experts and forget the miracle in the autograph.

Every time the miracle of your olfactory system interprets the glory of fresh-baked bread and that smell actually produces within you a feeling of enjoyment… God has given you His autograph.

Every time the miracle of your eyesight interprets the vibrant colors of autumn leaves and the depth of the mountains they are found on and you are struck with a sense of awe… God has given you His autograph.

Every time a tree falls in the woods and you are there to hear it and your ears interpret it’s sound… God has given you His autograph.

Our Creator didn’t give us an autograph like Martin Prado, His is much closer to John Hancock’s. The question we must ask ourselves is, “Can I read it?” The next question is more important than the first, “What does it say?”

I’ll give you a hint… watch





Way to go Daniel…

17 05 2010

Jeni, the boys, and I went to lunch with my brother Daniel and our friend Brent to one of the Chili’s restaurants around Atlanta yesterday. We had a great time watching Andrew throw anything within arms reach at anyone within throws reach. Brent and Caedmon played tic-tac-toe, Jackson colored on his menu, Toby ate continuously and we had a cheerful time. But, in a matter of moments everything changed. (insert dramatic, cliffhanger music here)

Caedmon had been his smiley self, prompting Brent to ask, “Is this the happiest kid in the world?” (or something like that). Anyway, towards the end of dinner Caedmon told us he had to go the bathroom and asked Daniel to watch his food for him. His concern is rooted in Andrew’s reaching and throwing habit. Daniel started playing with Caedmon and acting like he was going to eat Caedmon’s food. Laughter and squealing ensued as I wheeled Caedmon to the bathroom.

Continuing the game, Caedmon had me call Daniel from the bathroom and remind him not to eat his food. That sweet little, never hurt anyone, delight of a child was having such innocent fun with his trustworthy, loving uncle. As we walked through the restaurant back to our table Caedmon could be heard from a distance as he lost the battle to contain his enthusiasm. But, (insert another dose of dramatic music) when we arrived at the table Caedmon’s plate was gone! Daniel told Caedmon that he had eaten the rest of his food!

Caedmon’s face was robbed of its carefree joy and invaded by a foreign presence of heartache. He dropped his head down, laying his forehead across his right forearm, staring at the floor below. Daniel began asking, “Is he sad? Is he really sad?” All the while tears had begun racing each other to the floor to escape the sadness portrayed by Caedmon’s heartbroken countenance. He finally lifted his head to reveal his anguish and the groveling began.

Daniel quickly returned the plate of food that he had hidden and began pleading with the lamenting toddler, “I’m sorry Caedmon.” Thankfully Jeni had come prepared with some leftover chocolate cake and we were able to divert Caedmon’s attention to the imminent sweet relief. Crisis averted, lesson learned.

Caedmon’s distress came from a combination of  factors.

1) He really wanted his dinner.
2) The person he trusted appeared to have betrayed him.
3) He really, really wanted his dinner.

The  incident had me thinking about that second factor. Reliability, trustworthiness, shooting straight.

In our personal relationships it is always tough to tell whether or not someone is “shooting straight” with us. Do they have an ulterior motive? Are they simply dishonest? Or, do the know and tell the truth? The classic stereotype of this is found in the politician. But, that’s for another blog and another blogger.

I want to point out something about the God that loves me and you.

(I know that not everyone reading this is a theist, much less a Christian but can I encourage you to consider these words. You aren’t sitting in a church, no one is watching you or judging you. You have the freedom to reflect on these ideas and ask God to help you understand them… what do you have to lose?)

1) He is trustworthy. We can take God at his word.
2) He has “shot straight” with us. Now, we may not like what God has communicated to us through the Bible but we can agree that he didn’t mince words. Many people struggle with the idea that they are a sinner, but that’s what the Bible says. We wrestle with the idea that our goodness might not be enough to make God accept us, but that’s what the Bible says. So, what are we to do with this?

In my little parable about Caedmon and Daniel, the villain was Daniel because he made a false promise and when it proved false Caedmon was heartbroken. The promise Daniel made represents the lie that we are being fed in our culture. The lie that we are good enough for Heaven or that God is mean-spirited and evil because some go to Hell. Unfortunately, when our time comes if we have believed the lie we will find ourselves heartbroken beyond words as we stand before the Holy One.

God has stated His case plainly. No one is good enough for Heaven. Secondly, He is love. He doesn’t just love or have the capability to love… He is love. To not love is impossible for Him. Our not being good enough and His love collided just outside of Jerusalem about 2000 years ago when Jesus was crucified.

Our sin was placed onto Jesus, God incarnate, so that the payment for sin could be paid for everyone. From the beginning God knew of our condition and promised a rescue. Jesus is that rescue. We now have the benefit of history and hindsight to look back and embrace our rescuer. But many of us have believed the lie so we look back at the rescuer and find Him silly or dishonest. We have exchanged the truth for a lie.

How different would our lunch experience have been if it had gone like this…

“Caedmon, not only will I watch over your food but, if you believe me and trust me with this I will have chocolate cake waiting on you when you return. Do you believe me?” Caedmon would have replied, “Yeah!” and he would have instantly begun pointing towards the bathroom so that I would get him moving. His faith in Daniel being pure and knowing that he had to go in order for the cake to appear. While Caedmon was gone, Daniel cut a bronto-slab of cake and smothered Caedmon’s plate with it. It goes without saying that upon his return, Caedmon would have been thrilled, Daniel would have been thrilled, and cake would have been devoured.

You see, God has made that offer to you and to me. “If you will trust me with your life and believe me about Jesus then I will have eternal life for you when you get to me. Do you believe me?” Oh, that we would respond like Caedmon. But too many of us get distracted by the naysayers and the business of life and never accept God’s offer. Sad.

When the day comes and you find yourself being pushed up to God’s table will you have heartbroken tears or will you have cake?