Monday, November 21, 2011

Baby Boom Time

It’s been a literal baby boom around the Flatirons offices lately. Like that long list of scheduled holiday arrivals at DIA this week, there has been a steady stream of baby arrivals amongst the Flatirons staff members and their families. We all know, Flatirons is a VERY fertile church…and it’s no more evident than with the staff right now.
To drive that point even further home, I just (quite literally) received an email confirmation of the latest arrival: Madeline Grace—the 7lb. 13oz. baby girl of first-time parents Serban and Brittany Maracine. Congratulations! Madeline joins the growing list of recent arrivals: Charlie Koehn, Smith Weingartner, Lucy Ochoki, Salem Wallace and Holt Terrell. As of this writing, the next arrival within the church offices should be Little Baby Yeager—scheduled for release sometime mid-February.  
New parents. New babies. New experiences. New challenges. It’s all so very wonderful…and all so very temporary. Over too quickly. I can’t help it. I have a bit of a vantage point from my side of the fence now. It’s been a long while since we’ve had a baby in the Foote household. Our eldest, Ben, entered this world wriggling and squirming and covered in (what appeared to be) cream cheese over 26 years ago. Our daughter Katie tripped the odometer back in May when she turned 21.
And as the sun rose this morning, and the Maracine’s were cuddling and smooching little Madeline for the first time, I was dropping Ben (and his wife Ali) off at the airport to spend Thanksgiving away from us for the first time. It's going to be a little weird, but it's okay. Ben and Ali need to be with her parents and with her grandparents in Indiana this holiday. They are entering a new season in life, a season where you come to the realization that all of us…not matter what…only have so many Thanksgivings, and so many birthdays, and so many Christmases together.
So as this season begins for our new parents, I join in celebrating these new little arrivals...and I’ll watch with pleasure as they begin this beautiful, God-ordained dance we call “family”. King Solomon wrote about it best in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8…
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”
Time. There is a time for everything. And time is a gift, not a guarantee. Through Solomon, God reminds us to treasure our time…whatever season we find ourselves in. For all the new moms and dads at Flatirons, be encouraged. Now is a GREAT TIME! A time for cooing and a time for gurgling. A time for sleepless nights and a time for weary days. A time for Gerbers creamed carrots and a time for poopy diapers. A time for first giggles and a time for first steps.
It is a season.
And soon this season will end and give way to another season. A time for Little League and a time for Chucky Cheese birthday parties…which will only give way to a time for drivers’ licenses and a time for Senior Proms…and to a time for college loans and a time for weddings…and a time for…well, you get the point.
Welcome Madeline. Serb and Brit (and all you others)…enjoy this time.   

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Owners Manual Not Included

Dave Garrison is just a darn good guy. He loves God and loves people. He loves to hike and he loves Flatirons. Dave’s also the owner and chief counselor at Genesis Counseling, and he really helped out at Men’s Retreat this year by leading the breakout session on Anger. Dave and I were talking over coffee at IHOP this morning and he shared this great analogy on life. I thought it was so good, I asked him to write the Flatirons Men’s blog this week. Here you go…
Earlier this summer I bought a new lawn mower.  Lugged it home from the home improvement store and broke open the box.  I tossed the Owner’s Manual aside after taking a quick glance at the picture of the assembled mower on the cover.  It took me more than an hour to assemble my new, red, grass eating machine.  SUCCESS! 
Well, kind of... I had to peek at which bolt went where in the handle assembly…then fifteen minutes more to learn that I had to engage the flywheel brake just to get the darn thing to start.  It only took ten more minutes after that…and a trip to the gas station with my 2.5 plastic gas container and some small engine oil before Big Red was finally ready for his first green feast.
Later that day, friends of ours came over with their newborn and toddler for a barbeque…and of course to admire my artistic mowing abilities. They kept mentioning that kids don’t come with an owner’s manual.  Hmmm…
Lying in bed that night, after a “terse marital discussion” (a.k.a. argument) with my wife, I was thinking how cool it would be if I had the owner’s manual for her or for my own kids.  Wow! How many arguments, conflicts, and confusions that could solve!  I can see it now…Communication Problems? See Page 56.  Unexpected Problems or Customer Service? See Page 62… “Tighten this”, “Adjust that” Voila!  Relationship running smooth, smelling like fresh cut grass! Then it occurred to me, perhaps people (myself included) don’t come with an owner’s manual because WE’RE NOT THE OWNER. 
The Bible says that Jesus bought us at a price with His sacrifice on the cross.  He’s the owner…and knows what’s best.  When I take over…black smoke, backfiring, and complete malfunction aren’t too far behind.  Jesus says “Follow me”, “Come”.  He knows best.  I still struggle to trust Him, but am realizing He has the Owner’s Manual on me…and knows me better than I know myself. 
Thankfully God has provided an operator’s manual in the form of the Bible for guidance, encouragement, and “further assistance” (I’m aware sometimes I toss that manual aside as well). Big mistake when I think of all the time, energy, and heart ache I would save myself if I simply consulted the Bible first…and more often.  The Bible does say that God will lead us to green pastures (See: Psalm 23).  My job is to follow Jesus, the owner of my life, and check the Bible on a regular basis for “upkeep and maintenance”. 
Still…I think a page from my wife’s owner’s manual about “The Muffler:  Noise Reduction in Martial Conflict” would be pretty cool to have…and would come in handy more often than not…What can I say?  Pray for me.       
Dave Garrison

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Swimming with the Sharks

I recently had this great opportunity to go scuba diving in Honduras off the island of Roatan. It was amazing! Diving with every kind of sea creature imaginable…sea turtles, moray eel and an endless array of brightly colored fish that looked like floating candy in the water.
But the highlight of the week was easily the Shark Dive.
After taking a choppy boat ride a half mile offshore, our group dropped down 70 ft onto a reef where we were instantly surrounded by 10 or 12 Caribbean Reef Sharks. Honestly (as much as I’d like to play up the risk factor) it was all very controlled. The sharks were simply there for dinner. And no…dinner was not us...but a 5 gallon bucket filled with fish parts. After the bucket lid was removed, and the feeding frenzy ended, the sharks disappeared as quickly as they came—the only trace of their visit was a few teeth left by the battered fish bucket.
Now, the dive guides made it VERY clear before we got in the water: Keep your hands and arms at your sides and DO NOT try to touch the sharks. As controlled as the dive experience was...the truth is; they were still sharks and (given the opportunity) they would probably take a bite.
Still. I was tempted to reach out and touch one.
Why is that? Why am I so tempted by the things I know will hurt me? And not just reef sharks. I mean, why do I allow myself to be tempted by the things of this world…the stupid stuff that I know will only ruin my life? As Jim Burgen says, “We are all just 5 minutes away from making a bad decision that will blow up our lives.”
And the sharks of this world (lust, greed, envy, etc.) are not nearly as easy going as those Caribbean Reef Sharks. And the environments we live in aren’t nearly as controlled as that dive in Roatan. James (Jesus’ brother) writes this about temptation in James 1:13-15:
“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

God doesn’t tempt us. We allow ourselves to be tempted. And while temptation may not be a sin…it IS the first step on a very slippery slope. Our temptation leads to our evil desires…which lead to sin (or acting on those evil desires)…which, in turn, lead to death.
And I don’t think James is writing about physical death necessarily. The kind of death I usually see that occurs from sin is this:
·        If I’m tempted by the beauty of another woman…that can lead to lust…which can lead to acting out that lust…which WILL lead to the death of my marriage.
·        If I’m tempted by the greed in my heart…that can lead to lusting after things I can’t afford…which can lead to racking up huge credit debt or unscrupulous business practices…which WILL lead to the death of my financial world.
And the list (and the types of death that temptation leads to) goes on and on. In the end, it’s pretty simple and James puts it best:
Don’t Go Swimming with the Sharks.