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Okay, now, this is what I’m looking for in a secular song.

Happy, silly, sing-a-long-able, fun keyboard intro. Great melody and he loves this girl. Why don’t they play this on the radio more?

This is what I want my wife to think I think about her. Within reason, of course.


I’m told, by my shampoo bottle, that when I chose Suave I said “’Yes’ to Beautiful”. Wow. . . and I wasn’t even trying.

I thought, because of current events, this might be a good time to post this.

Watch me avoid the disclaimer.

In 1978, when Robert Beale became my scoutmaster, my original (biological) Dad was in the middle of his sixteenth months of fighting (and eventually losing to) Leukemia. The Beale family was one of many at our church that helped our family by bringing meals and taking care of us kids (I was in fifth grade) while my Mom was visiting my Dad at the hospital.

But Scoutmaster Beale decided to do something else to help my dad: he asked my dad if he would be willing to write up a menu for our big week-long camping/canoeing trip down the Namekagon river. This might not seem that big a thing, but he provided my hospital-staying mostly bed-ridden dad something useful that he could do – a service he could provide, even knowing that he wouldn’t be going on the camping trip with us.  We used the menu that my Dad created.

And when my Dad died, Scoutmaster Beale made sure that there was a contingent of scouts in uniform at the funeral honoring my Dad’s memory. This was a little added support to a family that needed much.

(I will also mention in passing that the weekend after my dad died we had another scout camping trip and I remember two of my friends making an effort to help me with my grief. One of them (his name was Steve) let me lean back and think in a canoe as he paddled me around the river. The other was Vox (we didn’t call him ‘Vox’ back then, obviously), who simply made a point of walking up to me and saying “I wish your Dad hadn’t died”. I remember thinking that it was a brave action on his part. I have since used this statement for other in grief.)

A little less than a year after my dad’s funeral there was another man at our church whose wife died of cancer. He was a neighbor of the Beale family (Do you want to know where? Read “The World In Shadow”, it’ll get you within a few houses) and he (this man) later told me that one day a few months after his wife died he happened to see Vox’s Mom (a very decent and honorable woman and always nice to me) while taking a walk and she suggested that he consider dating another lady, specifically my Mom.

Obviously, I don’t know how the Beales decided to be proactive in cultivating this new possible relationship, but here’s how I picture it: Vox’s mom said “This might really be good for both of them,” and Vox’s dad said “Okay, let’s make it happen.”

In any case, soon after that the Beales arranged for a dinner at their place with my Mom and this man (who would soon become my new Dad). And at this meal Mr. Beale (as my new Dad recalls in his autobiography) “proceeded to interview <her> for my benefit. I was impressed with the way she handled Bob’s questions.”

Things worked out, and December of that year they got married. And three kids (me included) who didn’t have a Dad, got one. And my Dad, who really did not like living alone, got a good wife. For 28 years – finishing strongly this month. As I mentioned in my tribute for my Dad, I have always seen my second Dad as a bonus gift from God. And who knows if it would have happened if it weren’t for the Beales?

Bob Beale helped out both of my Dads when they were in tough shape, and for that I am grateful.

Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian*


The worst of sleeping out of doors is that you wake up so dreadfully early. And when you wake you have to get up because the ground is so hard that you are uncomfortable. And it makes matter worse if there is nothing but apples for breakfast and you have had nothing but apples for supper the night before. *** You’ve no idea what an appetite it gives you, being executed. *** It’s very bad manners among squirrels to watch anyone going to his store or to look as if you wanted to know where it was. *** It said it was a beast, it was, and if claws and teeth could not keep its skin whole, it wasn’t worth keeping. *** The creature can’t help its ancestry. *** If you know anything about woods, you know that one is always finding imaginary paths. They disappear after about five minutes and then you think you have found another and (and hope it’s not another but more of the same) and it also disappears and after you have been well lured out of your right direction, you realize that none of them were paths at all. *** To know what would have happened, Child? No, no one is ever told that. But anyone can find out what will happen. *** Things never happen the same way twice. *** I will wait here. Go and wake the others and tell them to follow. If they will not, then you at least must follow. *** It is a terrible thing to have to wake four people, all older than yourself and all very tired, for the purpose of telling them something they probably won’t believe and making them do something they certainly won’t like. *** I mustn’t think about it. I must just do it. *** When your sword breaks, you draw your dagger. *** A scholar is never without pen and ink. *** Any giant looks impressive, if only it will keep quiet. *** If you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have prove that you were not. *** A tail is the honor and glory of a mouse. *** There were many chinks and chasms between worlds in the old times, but they have grown rarer. *** You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve, and that is both honor enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor in earth. Be content.


* The book, but just in time for the movie!

How many songs have you written in the last two years or so? I bet I’ve written more.

My church has developed what we call the Fighter Verse Program. This is a set of short passages of scripture that our church has set into a weekly five year schedule. Every week, as a church body (anyone who wants to), we memorize the fighter verse of that week. Many small groups incorporate it into their meeting times, the pastors and leaders all memorize them and often at the beginning of a service, the announcement pastor asks if someone is willing to speak the fighter verse out loud for all of us to say. It is always a good moment in the service.

So way back in October of 2005, when our small group leader challenged us to memorize the verse each week so that our families could recite them at our meetings, I started making up a song to help our kids memorize the passage for that week (back then we had a 2,3,4,5,6 and 7 year old). Our small group liked our kids’ singing and our kids enjoyed learning them, so I kept making them up.

About a year later our children’s pastor asked us to sing one of the songs at the yearly Bible Memory Kick Off and we did and then people started asking us to record them.

So at the beginning of the last year we started creating songs for the verses one year in advance and this past December we recorded (with help from several musicians and choirs) 17 songs (all of fighter verse passages for the first half of 2008 ) and our church made 300 copies and gave them to people for free.

People have liked them enough that we have kept going in writing and making them and next month we will be recording the second set.

I decided to note this here on my blog today because last week, in the process of writing songs for next year’s CD (if we choose to record them) we made up and learned our 100th song. And since most songs include more than one verse, we now have more than 300 verses memorized this way.

Here’s the cool part. It doesn’t take great musical ability or a lot of time to make up a little melody for a verse you want to memorize.  I typically make up a song while I’m driving to work (often on Monday), refine it on the way home and then teach it to my wife and kids over the course of a week. And often, by as early as Thursday I hear the kids singing the new song as they play with toys.

I have previously mentioned how useful Psalm 34 was for our family as my Dad was dieing and specifically for me as I held his hand in the hospital. God means for us learn his word on a very deep level. Towards this end, can I recommend that you create bible verse songs for yourself and your family? Try it.

Read Part 1.

When my Dad joined my family, we gained a strong stable man. We gained a father who knew a thing or two about mathematics and science. And we gained a father who could make it possible for us to go to Bethel for almost free.

You may have heard him say that he didn’t have a very big role as a father of my brother, my sister and I and can’t take credit for our development. Have none of it. We learned from him the value of hard work and honesty and respect for authority. He took us to breakfast and he took us boys to the boundary waters along with the scout troop.

During our teenage years, as you might expect, we kids of course had, shall we say, differences of opinion with him. But I think it speaks well of him that not once did any of us tell him “You’re not my real dad.” Even as teenagers, we knew that we needed a dad and that this man was doing an honorable job.

You may have heard his say that he wasn’t a very affectionate (or as he described it ‘mushy’) person. But I can tell you that he was delighted every single time one of my kids asked him for a hug. And they liked these hugs. We will miss this.

You may have heard my Dad describe his singing as poor. He used to say, more accurately, that he sang well, he just had a very small range. If any of you have sat next to him in a congregational time of singing you may have noted this. But he didn’t let this lack of range keep him from worshiping, nor did it stop him from singing along every time when we sang happy birthday to one my kids. I will miss this, too. A lot.

I would be remiss if I didn’t relate to you all another story from this hospital stay. Perhaps many of you have heard it already, but I think it bears repeating. Two weeks ago today, my mom and I were at the hospital with my dad and the infection in his leg was progressing so quickly that the doctor looked at the red spots as they spread on his leg and decided that they needed to get him into surgery very quickly. This was a dark period as Mom and I realized perhaps for the first time that death for him was a significant possibility.

My dad had had a bad morning and was fairly disoriented. Because of lung issues, they had an oxygen mask on his mouth which made speaking more difficult all morning. Just a few minutes before the surgeon came in, they had asked him a few simple questions which he had been unable to answer. But when my mom leaned over him and told him that they were taking him to surgery, that she loved him and told him to get better, he, with difficulty, moved the mask away from his mouth and said to her “You’re a good wife.” These were the last words he ever spoke.

I think he knew this was likely. And I am extremely impressed. He could have said “I don’t want to die” or “My leg really really hurts”, but he didn’t. He chose to help my Mom. Awesome.

A few months ago as Dad was dropping off their dog for us to dog sit while he and Mom were on a trip to a warmer location, I looked at my Dad as he was giving me some advice and I thought, “I really like this man.” I felt this many times as I held his hand in this last hospital stay.

At the beginning of March of this year our family took on the task of memorizing Psalm 34. Perhaps this was God’s way of preparing us for my Dad’s hospitalization. I have learned in the last few weeks how good psalm 34 is for encouraging people in a hard situation. One of the passages that we discussed with our kids is verse 20. “He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken”. This is a true verse. Right now my dad is not in pain, and he isn’t missing a leg.

When Dad came into our life, he was a hurting man who needed a good wife and he found one. In doing so he did a very good thing for a family that needed a husband and a dad. I thank God for my Dad and the way he blessed our family.

Give thanks to your parents and praise them before they die. You won’t regret it.

Wait a second . . .

I thought I was supposed to be anti-libertarian and pro-government when compared to the average person.

Can someone help me get comfortable with the idea of 416 kids being taken away from their parents?

What’s the real problem here? Bigamy? Then send the dads who do it to jail. Is Bigamy a crime or not? Haven’t they known for a long time that this was happening?

Or is the problem rape of children? Then send the rapists to jail.

But in those cases, is it common for the kids to be taken away from the Mom? I’m sorry, Ma’am, your husband married another lady, your kids can’t live with you anymore.

But wait, . .. I read (this) at
“The mothers are part of the problem here. They subscribe to the sect’s beliefs. Or maybe they are brainwashed, or victims themselves. But none of that really matters.
What matters is protecting these children, even if that means protecting them from their own mothers.”

Protecting them from what about their mothers? The fact that they say that Bigamy is a good idea? Should we do that? Should we take away children from all families that say that Bigamy is a decent way to do things? Even though the government doesn’t usually prosecute this crime?
If they really cared about these kids, they would have spent the big bucks and done it right: A house by house investigation. If there was reasonable evidence in a home that rape was happening and no one in the family was doing anything about it, then take the guilty party away.

What these prosecutors are doing is imprisoning the children and letting the guilty parties stay free in the compound.

It may turn out that the state has a lot of evidence that it isn’t showing and this really was a wise idea. But if after a month or so, they say “Well, it looks like 390 of these kids can go home because their homes are fairly safe” then a dozen people should be fired and the state should lose some serious lawsuits and have to pay millions of punitive dollars to deter other states from getting bright ideas like this.

What I think will happen is that 390 of the kids will be returned and people will say “Oh, well, we had to error on the side of caution”

A couple other things:

(1) Of course the courtroom drama turned into a farce. This is a direct result of the foolish decision to take the kids as a group. This should have been done house by house.

(2) Please note that I am not saying I love the Mormon church and agree with everything they say.

Update: I just had a debate with a friend of mine who suggested that it was not for illegal actions made by the parents that they took the children, but for non-illegal reasons.

This makes sense, and I believe sometimes a child should be taken away from a child even though the parent is doing nothing illegal (extremely chronic alcoholism for example) but the best data (that I could find and it is admittedly incomplete and greatly lacking) for why they made this decision suggests the judge made this decision based on the Polygamy and forced marriages.

<I asked my Mom if I could speak a tribute for my Dad at his funeral, which was yesterday. She said Yes. Here is the first part of what I said.>

My Goal here is to describe how the life of my Dad was a gift to my family. The extent of this gift was significant. But please indulge me as I go back a couple years before he came into our life. And bear with me as I tell you many things that many of you already know.

My first Dad was a very good Dad and provided for us and loved my mom and my brother and sister. So when we found out in the fall of 1977 that he had cancer, it was a scary time for a wife and three young kids. And we experienced sadness and uncertainty for 16 months as he went through the ups and downs as he won and (more often) lost battles with the leukemia that was attacking his body.

(Let me just stop here and publicly express my thanks and appreciation to this Church for the love and support that many, many people gave us during this time. Much was done for us, but what I remember most was the meals. The food was very good and we enjoyed it, but I think more important to us as a family was the idea that we were not standing alone as a grieving family. We had many people who loved us and were standing with us. God significantly blessed our family through you. Just like we are being blessed by you here again these days)

But, as you know, on June first 1979, my first Dad died. And we were very sad, but happily a fifth grade mind recovers from this kind of sadness fairly quickly and even later that summer I remember thinking, with some relief, that I had gotten past the grief and with fifth grade thinking I thought looking forward into my life that no matter what sadnesses were in my future, at least I wouldn’t have to suffer through my dad dieing again.

But even my fifth grade mind was aware that though I had gotten past a significant part of my grief, this was not as true with my mom.  She was lonely. So, about a year later, when she told us that she was meeting with (some might have called it ‘dating’) a new man, this felt good and right.

And when we met this man, whose name was Bob, it was a gift from God that we were immediately comfortable with him. I remember that he knew how to make us laugh and that my mom liked him and that everyone else seemed to like him.

When mom asked my brother what he thought about her with another man, he said that he better know about camping and he did! And of course it was a prerequisite that he be a Christian and he was – a strong Christian quite involved at our church. And as a bonus – he had a cabin!

And soon we were having a meeting with our Pastor and just us three kids where he asked us what we thought about my mom marrying this man and I remember saying that this was a good idea and fine with us.

And soon they were planning the wedding and soon after that the sanctuary and fellowship hall where we had mourned the loss of my original dad became the sanctuary and fellowship hall that we were celebrating a new marriage. And for me it felt very, very good and gave me joy. But my seventh grade mind realized that this meant that most likely at some point in the future I would have to experience the loss of a beloved dad again. I am paying that price today. But it is a price gladly spent and well worth it.

<Part 2 (of 2) comes next week and in it I share why it was worth it.>


Update: You can read part 2 here


People from your church who babysit your kids (or bring you meals, or send flowers, or pray or help you in many, many other ways when your family is going through a grieving period) are gifts from God.

Just to let you all know,  my Dad died on Friday (the 11th) around 11 in the morning. This was not expected (at least this soon), but not surprising.

There was a white board near the head of his bed that I had been thinking I should fill with something, so that morning – not knowing that he was going to die – I wrote this:

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all – Psalm 34”

And a couple hours later, God did this for my Dad.

So right now we are preparing the details for the funeral. There is much to get done.

My dad was a long-time college prof so we are hearing some very nice words about him. Please pray for continued peace.  We are feeling it.



23 Ways to Glorify God in a Hospital Room

1. Remember that God owes none of us health
2. Speak aloud Psalm 34 changing the words to work for the patient
3. Psalm 27 works well, too.
4. Perhaps you could think of others.
5. Sing Songs of praise.
6. Pray for healing and patience
7. Pray for wisdom for the doctors.
8. Tell them you are doing this.
9. Remember that it is God who heals.
10. Thank God out loud because of the promise of eternal life for the saved – so death is not the end.
11. Witness to a man listening to his iPod in the fourth floor lounge.
12. Use this time as a reminder that all Flesh is Grass and will fade away.
13. . . . and remember the more permanent gifts.
14. Don’t waste the illness.
15. When things are very, very hard, trust God.
16. Cry.
17. Encourage the care-givers.
18. Work through how the verse that promises only good for those who are in Christ can be true in your situation.
19. Remember that Death will not have the victory.
20. Pray for patients in other rooms.
21. Wish that Jesus would return soon or call the saved sufferer home.
22. Let the less important things be made known to you as less important.
23. Remember that in Jesus we have a God who has already experienced death and has defeated it.


A man in a hospital bed requiring a respirator (to supplement what his lungs are able to do) suffers many indignities.



You can continue to pray.

Just to let all of you know, the reason that I have not blogged since Tuesday (and will be posting less in the near future) is that my Dad is in the hospital. He has had a severe leg infection that has caused significant difficulties with heart, lungs and kidneys.

If you are so inclined, please pray. His name is Bob. 

From Psalm 34: “This poor man cried and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his trouble.”

Our Father in Heaven will do this for my dad, one way or the other.

I can’t decide if it’s a sign of insanity or mental stability for one to feel joy when one hears that there is going to be a blizzard in late March / early April.

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