Saturday, December 22, 2007

Pondering the Incarnation

I haven’t done a pondersome post for a while, so here it comes.

Being a dad, again, and being near Christmas has turned my thoughts toward the Incarnation of Christ. The whole process of pregnancy, birth, and taking care of a new baby is hard and messy – and I’m just the dad! Something I had forgotten is how helpless a new baby is. Lydia didn’t know how to eat or fall asleep, and the only message she could send was to cry. She’s started smiling every now and then, so that’s nice, but they don’t start out that way. They also don’t sleep 5.5 hours straight at night (which she is now – yay!).

It should utterly amaze us that Jesus Christ, the Lion of Judah, the second person of God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, would enter the world like all other humans. On top of that, He was born in a barn! A far cry from that nice hospital room we had with nurses a button push away, not to mention the epidural. Jesus had dirty diapers. Jesus woke Mary up every 2 hours or so.

Why? Why come in such a way?

So He could be our great high priest, who knows us and our weaknesses firsthand. So He could truly live the perfect, full, human life. So He could be tempted in every way we are, including our childhood temptations. So He could die in the place of all His chosen people.

Remember that our God is great AND humble. And have a Merry Christmas y’all.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Lydia at 1 month

Earlier this week, I took Lydia for her checkup. After all the concern from doctors with her weight loss and slow gaining (early on), she was 10 lbs 4oz and 23.25 in. That is a pretty big jump in her percentiles! The only concerns were some vomiting (it has gotten less - probably over-eating) and her left hip has a click - a symptom of a dislocated hip.
Two days later we had an ultrasound done of her hips. It felt strange being in an ultrasound room with a baby outside of me! The two technicians who looked at her said that the joint looks fine (but also heard the click), but I haven't heard the "official" report. I'm glad we go back at 2 months so we can follow up.

It is so cute to watch her with Stephen. Lydia's expression when Stephen's playing with her is great - I wonder what she's thinking... We're still teaching him how gentle he has to be, but once we teach him with specific actions (how to hug, pat, etc), he's pretty good to remember. He does enjoy loving on her and he is good help (usually). I didn't know how fun it would be watching their relationship develop!

New set of Lydia Pictures

New Lydia Pictures thanks again to Shutterfly.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Exchange with Stephen

In homage to Kierstyn Krajca, here's a funny exchange I had with Stephen this evening. Note that we had finished the Bedtime Routine and lights were off.

Me (calling up the stairs): Stephen, are you in bed?

Sound effects: thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump

Stephen: Yes!

I went up stairs and found him standing on his bed holding his plastic rifle.

I may be slow, but I think I figured that one out.

(A funny one for the 100th post on this blog!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Rescue Rangers…Away!

Anyone out there remember the old cartoon Chip N’ Dale Rescue Rangers? It came out in 1989 so was a bit after my time. It was part of a Disney afternoon of cartoons – I vaguely remember the Duck Tales and TailSpin being on – and were a part of that lineup.

Anyway, we were visiting my in-laws some time ago and they had saved one Rescue Ranger episode and Stephen LOVED it. He insisted on watching “chipmunks” several times – which got old since they only recorded one episode. When we got back home, I was curious and found that someone has uploaded some full episodes on YouTube. So, Stephen and I watched a few and found he was hooked. I then discovered that Disney has released them on DVD (volumes 1 and 2 with a 3rd on the way). So, that was part of Stephen’s birthday.

Why am I bothering to share? To tell you that this is a very good series. As opposed to cartoons today, it didn’t feel the need to be explicitly educational. It also doesn’t have 1.4 kadrillion product tie-ins to tempt the kids. And, once you get over the improbable stuff, it’s fun for an adult (or at least me) to watch. The 5 rescue rangers have their distinct personalities that work very well together and the gags are funny even when you see them coming. Think of a less spooky “Scooby-Doo” where the crime solvers have real personalities and a little MacGyver thrown in. One more mark in its favor is that it deals with some serious themes at times. For example, choosing loyalty to friends over the threat of harm to yourself, joining a “cult” to belong to a group (a silly and good episode), and perseverance in your integrity. I recommend the DVD’s to my fellow parents out there. Note that some episodes are a bit scary. I haven't seen them in stores, but they are on Amazon:

One last note on the series: there’s still a serious fan following out there. They have their own Wiki. Also, the best fan fiction I’ve ever seen is for the Rescue Rangers. Yes, I confess I’ve read a bit of fan fiction, mostly Harry Potter, and it’s nearly all utter dreck by fans who can’t write. However, this one is done by someone who is a genuine creative artist. Thus, the first (and likely only) fan fiction I will recommend is Of Mice and Mayhem. This is definitely PG and will make more sense if you know the characters.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lydia Grace at 1.5 weeks

Lydia is about 1.5 weeks old now. She's been a much easier baby than Stephen in many ways. That may be her or it may be our better experience. Or maybe I'm just sleeping deeper now and not waking up for all the feedings during "third shift".

For my money, there's a lot to be said for having done this before. I remember you have to dab alcohol around the cord, change her frequently, hold her head up, etc.

I'm also comfortable enough in my manhood to say it: all these little pink outfits she has are really, really cute.

She's also made me realize how BIG Stephen is. I was holding her one evening before putting her down in the bassinet (sp?). I then went up to make sure Stephen was still under the covers (he wasn't). I looked at Stephen in his twin bed and realized he's grown so much! He's huge! And, he's reverting a little and asking me to carry him around the house - especially in the morning. He's such a grown up boy - talking, running, playing; and he has a GREAT imagination. It's amusing to sit and watch and listen to him play by himself - and fun to join in!

My mom and dad came to visit this past Saturday - obviously they were granddaughter deprived. One funny event was my dad, me, and Stephen (chief helper) fixing the upstairs toilet. It went as usual: my dad did most of it, I observed and learned, and Stephen "helped." "Helping" consisted mostly of clamping the pliers on anything that afforded clamping, including the towels, my jeans, the edge of the sink, and the parts we were currently not using.

Outlandish prediction: Stephen will either be a plumber or a rocket scientist.

Blatant Advertising

Greetings all. As chair of our church's pastor search committee I am committed to getting the word out anywhere I can. So, I'm posting our pulpit vacancy to all (both?) of you that keep up with this blog in case you want to direct someone our way:

Emmanuel Presbyterian Church is in Franklin, NC. And I'm blatantly trying to up our search results in Google - just in case.

We now return to our regularly scheduled lack of blog posts.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Installed Deacon

Yes, I am now “Deacon-Lee” (har, har). I was elected, ordained (as a deacon – gotta do it again for the different office apparently), and installed. We have a great group of deacons. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them. And now, down to business! We have the disadvantage of starting from scratch as there were no deacons in the church at the time we were elected. So, we’re not just going to figure out how to get the mower to start, but how to set some policies on our activities.

It’s times like this that I’m thankful for the connections we have in the Presbyterian form of church government. We can ask our nearby churches in our presbytery about how their deacons work. We’ve also starting making plans for a “field trip” to other churchs’ diaconate meetings to see how they do things.

We also have one of those great problems for a church to have – we’re running short on space in our building for what we want and need to do. And that is a deacon problem.

Stephen update

Stephen recently had his third birthday and is doing very well. He had his checkup this week (his first visit to the dr. since his 2-year checkup!) and is 38.75 in. tall and 37 lbs. Since September, for two mornings a week, Stephen has been attending a little preschool affiliated with a local church. I've been very pleased with that experience as has Stephen. I'm glad that he has part of his routine that will be the same during these days of adjustment.
He is adjusting well, we think. Lee went back to work today, which was a little difficult since Stephen had gotten used to having Daddy around. He has regularly been more clingy with Lee, so this was expected...
It has been so fun watching him grow and learn. I'm still amazed at how much he notices and shows interest in!

Stephen at one of his three birthday parties...

Stephen on his actual birthday.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Lydia Pictures!

Follow the link for Lydia Pictures!

Courtesy of Shutterfly:

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Baby Is Here!!!!

Please welcome Lydia Grace Nickles, a child of the Covenant, into this world.

Some stats:
  • born at 12:13 pm
  • 8 lbs. 1 oz.
  • 20.5 inches
  • dark hair
  • very beautiful
Kristy is fine, baby is fine. I'm not doing so bad myself.

Stephen had a big smile on his face at seeing his baby sister. When asked what he thought of her, he said: "She's pretty."

I agree.

Pictures are forthcoming - one thing at a time (such as a shower for me!).

We appreciate and continue to desire your prayers for us and Lydia.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

On the Way!!

We're on the way to the hospital!!!!!!!!!

We would appreciate your prayers for Kristy and daughter.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

News after ultrasound

I had an ultrasound last Thursday - according to that (I know there's some error involved), baby girl weighed 7 lbs at 36.5 weeks, and I have a lot of amniotic fluid. With all that, the doctor suggested that I be induced on Nov. 8, by which point baby girl would be around 8 lbs if she stays on the same growth scale.
Nov. 8 is the day after Lee's busy time at work, so that works out. Unless she decides to come on her own before then!

If we manage to get the printouts scanned before the 8th, we'll post them. If not, we'll have better pictures!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pregnancy Update

I'm now in my ninth month of pregnancy - yay! Because Stephen was so big (and my body had major problems with that), my doctor wants to do an ultrasound in 2 weeks to check her size. I have been measuring a little ahead of schedule. She offered (but thankfully is not encouraging) a c-section to avoid potential problems later in life (I'll leave out the details). That is not the path I want to take...
Another option is a gradual induction (since it would be prior to 40 wks), pending the results of the ultrasound of course. The doctor also wants to confer with the other drs in the practice. Several things are different this time around so maybe that won't be necessary either - I'm having a girl instead of a boy (girls are usually smaller), and I've gained much less weight.
So whatever happens later on, in two weeks, Lord willing, I'll have more ultrasound pictures of our little girl.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Best of Summer

Now that summer is "over," I feel like I should post some pictures I had intended to post over the past months.

Here is Stephen supervising Lee building their sand castle.

Stephen's favorite part of building sand castles was filling the bucket with water, immediately dumping it, and running back for more.

Cute beach pictures

We also made several trips to go swimming in his grandparents' pool in SC. We did have swimming lessons here at WCU, but our camera was out of commission, so no pictures. He was never too keen on putting faces in the water, but other than that he loved it!

Around the time we moved, Lee took Stephen to see Thomas in nearby Dillsboro. They didn't get to ride this year, but there was lots of fun to be had. There was a petting zoo, a table set up with trains, model trains to watch, etc.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Potty Training and a Stephenism

I've seen that I'm not a talented potty-trainer. For example, when Stephen was in a pull-up recently, I noticed it was wet, so I said we should go to the bathroom and change it. He said, "No, I'll just wear it for a few days." Stephen has been in and out of this phase for a while now (we took a break before and after the move), and we have made progress, but not as much as I thought. Our main problem is lack of consistency - he's getting very rebellious and I'm getting very tired.
My goal is to have daytime dryness before the baby's born, so I plan to buckle down and not be afraid of accidents...

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Quite a lot has changed for me lately. Recently, the dean of our college (and my direct supervisor) announced that he will step down from the deanship at the end of this academic year (June 08). So, we’ll be searching for a new dean, and I’m wondering who my new “boss” will be. I’ve really enjoyed working for Michael – he’s the one who hired me and we get along very well. I hope we can find someone who is as good of a leader.

Also, our pastor at Emmanuel is stepping down to become the first RUF campus minister at Western! Dave and family will be moving to Cullowhee sometime soon and he’s started the “new RUF Guy” process. While I’m sorry he’ll no longer be my pastor, I look forward to having him and his family closer to us and to helping as I may with an RUF here at WCU.

We completed deacon training this evening, so the next step is to be examined by our session and then come before the congregation for a vote. If it is the Lord’s will, I look forward to serving as a deacon at Emmanuel. And deacon or no, I’ll be serving because…

I was also elected to the pulpit committee and made the chairman today. Hoo boy! While I feel inadequate for the task (and admit I would have liked to have my Sunday afternoons back now that deacon training is over) I am honored to be picked. I was on the committee at New Life (now Northside) in Winder, GA, so I know this will be a time consuming task.

We would appreciate your prayers in all these things.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Still alive

Greetings all - we've neglected this poor blog. I'd like to say we've been diligently moving in, but that's not entirely accurate. Some quickie updates:
  • We are moved in to the new house and are functional. The house is wonderful - sure the quirks are there but it's great. Stephen loves it, especially having all this baby stuff out now to explore (again, though he doesn't remember it).
  • Stephen asked to get out my old trombone. I showed him what to do and he blew a good, fairly clear note! He really loves moving the slide to change the pitch. It's humbling to know my 2 year old has a much better start on an instrument than I did.
  • Deacon training goes on. The schedule is not fixed, so I don't know exactly how many more weeks we have. We've mostly gone over doctrine and read some articles and short books. The part I've enjoyed most is getting to know my fellow candidates.
  • We've had some more folks visit at church including couples with small kids. I confess I rather hope they join - partly because some are generally from our area and we miss having that fellowship with good friends around our age.
  • The semester has started again here at WCU and it's quite hectic these last two days. That will settle down shortly (I hope) and I can get back to the bigger, less urgent things.
  • The WCU Bible study is starting up again. We're adding some group singing this year. I'm very excited that there is a stable group as a foundation to start an RUF here.
  • Kristy is feeling fine, and our little girl is fine too. We're excited about starting the 3rd trimester.
  • Bluebell ice cream was recently on sale for $3.48/half gallon at Ingle's. That's always good, and a good price for around here.
Basically, God is very good to us - far better than we deserve!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Goodbye Rent, Hello Mortgage...

After 8 years of renting, we've closed on our house! We're mostly packed and should be moved within a week! After getting the keys, we went by just because - Stephen walked in and said, "Ah, this is wonderful!" He is excited to have stairs. I am excited about the heat pump and dishwasher (yes I do feel spoiled when I admit to that...). Lee is excited about the much smaller yard to mow. So we're all very happy and thankful.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Break in Pigeon Forge

We recently went to Pigeon Forge, TN with Lee's family from SC and TN. Lee and I had never been to that area so we were not as prepared for the bustling atmosphere - but for the mountains we would have thought we'd ended up in Myrtle Beach!
On top of that, we spent one morning at Splash Country, the water amusement park next to Dollywood. Stephen had a blast on the partially submerged playground (our camera's battery was dead, so pictures may be coming later from a different source). I had the interesting challenge of finding things that pregnant women could do. I saw the 1-4 rating system and read that 1's and 2's would be safe, but at first, I couldn't find the rating for particular rides. I waited in line with the rest of my party, who agreed that this one (a small group ride) should be fine - it certainly looked safer than keeping up with a 2.5 year old boy. After 10 minutes, we found a sign from the authorities that be stating that those with certain medical conditions should not ride, so I had to go back down all those stairs, defending myself to those who commented, in friendly ways, on my nerve. I used the time to look for the rating (in this case, 4) so I could avoid this again. I did get to go on some things, and got to see family having fun.
One thing pregnant women can almost always do is shop. We did hit the outlet stores, and managed to find decent deals for all four of us. I don't know if buying girls' clothes will be easier or more difficult because of the much bigger selection compared to boys' clothes, but it was so fun.
Then we came home and had to face the pile of stuff to do - including packing!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Baby Pictures

Here are the fuzzy ultrasound pictures. We all of course know that we can barely decipher these, but it is my fatherly duty (and happily so!) to show these to everyone whether you ask or not!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Having a girl!

We had the big ultrasound yesterday! Everything is fine, and I'll have pictures posted as soon as they're scanned.
Stephen came, too and actually paid attention most of the time. He liked the dark room and the equipment, of course. When we were told the baby's a girl, he was as pleased as Lee and I were. He had talked about having a boy more often and even spread that around church a few weeks ago, but he never seemed too opinionated, thankfully...

Monday, July 02, 2007

House Under Contract!

We have the house in the picture below under contract! Now we get to do all that "stuff" in the next 30 days before closing (August 1).

Praise God!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

House Hunting Update

Well, we didn't get Finalist #2; the seller just didn't come down to a price we were willing to pay. So, back to looking...
We have a new prospect and the list price starts out in our budget this time. The only thing is that it is 2 BR with a large open loft that overlooks the living room. We've spoken to several people that say it is quite possible to close that off as a bedroom, and may have people who know more about this than Lee or myself (which isn't too hard) to look at it soon. We are excited but want to take our time...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sabbath Thoughts

For Sunday school last Sunday, our pastor shared his notes from a conference (Westminster Confession for Today) on the Sabbath . I have struggled for some time to figure out how to best spend the Sabbath. Actually, I've struggled to figure out what is not to be done, at the least.

On the way home, we were discussing this issue - particularly that the 4th commandment is perhaps treated the most lightly among conservative Christians. I just don't see us coming up with ways to explain away the commandments against adultery or stealing like we do for the 4th.

In thinking about this and studying the Scriptures, I think part of our lack of respect for the Sabbath is our lack of cultural influence. Our culture still generally values honesty and other "second table of the law" values. But the Sabbath is not. Stores and restaurants are open and there is little cultural influence to keep the day holy. We're used to and guided by that cultural influence so the lack of it in this area makes it difficult to see and follow the Biblical command.
I think we also (or at least for me) tend to think of our time in only two categries: work and pleasure. If I am not working (an easy to define time period) then I consider the rest of the time to be "mine" to spend with family or myself in entertainment or relaxation. I find I don't have a category for the time bounded by the Sabbath; it is not work (Exodus 20) or recreation (Isaiah 58).

So what is this time and how do we use it? I defer to the Westminster Larger Catechism:

Q. 117. How is the sabbath or the Lord’s day to be sanctified?

A. The sabbath or Lord’s day is to be sanctified by an holy resting all the day, not only from such works as are at all times sinful, but even from such worldly employments and recreations as are on other days lawful; and making it our delight to spend the whole time (except so much of it as is to be taken up in works of necessity and mercy) in the public and private exercises of God’s worship: and, to that end, we are to prepare our hearts, and with such foresight, diligence, and moderation, to dispose and seasonably dispatch our worldly business, that we may be the more free and fit for the duties of that day.

But, I'm still not sure how to live that out in our family.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Praise God for our Keys

Yes, we are back from vacation, which was great. Stephen had a blast at the beach and visiting all his grandparents. I'm sure Kristy will blog sometime soon about it all.

One story - we went out to eat in downtown Sylva last night at Mill and Main (very good, by the way) and walked around a bit after. When we got back to our car, we all get in as usual, but as I was getting in, I drop my car keys. This would not have been a big issue had we not been parked over a large storm drain in the street. Yes, my keys went through the grate to rest about a foot and a half under it in the muck. I could see them, but couldn't reach through the grate, nor move the grate. Did I mention that Kristy had not brought her keys? So, we were stuck.

Thankfully, I had some bungee cords in the trunk, which I got out and used to try to hook the keys and pull them up. After probably 15 minutes of trying, I found the right cord with the right hook (and the right bending from me) to snag the keys. Praise God that we got them back without having to call someone.! I'm not even sure who I would call. I can hardly believe I dropped them, much less got them back.

Moral: don't park over a storm drain, but if you do, always carry bungee cords with you (though a coat hanger would have been better).

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Clemson Indoctrination

For a few months we've had the book Clemson University 101: My First Text-Board-Book. (Available, with other colleges at Stephen enjoys reading it; he especially enjoys recognizing "Daddy's ring", looking at the sports page, and having someone sing the Alma Mater at the end. He's recognizing a lot more, but we still have work to do: on the sports page he pointed at Howard's Rock, calling it the How-are-you? Rock (link provided for curious non-Tigers).
It's so fascinating to see the ways children make connections between the new and the familiar. It also reminds me the great importance in building strong foundations in our children from the beginning so that the things of God are "the familiar" in their lives through which they examine everything.

House Hunting Part 2

Well, Lee's parents have come and looked at Finalists 1&2. As a result, we're leaning more toward #2. We hope to try to move forward on this before vacation later this week.
One thing is that we need to see if our car can make it up the steep gravel driveway - we've been up it twice in SUVs, and those weren't easy trips. But it's a new gravel road that is still pretty loose, so it should eventually be okay. Ah, the mountains.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

House Hunting Part 1

This morning, we saw seven houses. Whew! Out of those, we've narrowed it down to 2 - maybe 3.

Finalist #1:
Pretty good location; wish the road were better. By far the least expensive of all we saw.
What Stephen liked: toys, dune buggy, and trampoline.

Finalist #2:
Brand new house! Good location.
Stephen's comment: "There's nothing in it..." He rang the doorbell about 15 times.

Finalist #3 (maybe):
Large house, lots of painting to do, not much yard, kitchen is on the SECOND floor (I'm thinking about groceries and small children.)
Stephen's reaction: I had a hard time keeping up with him in this house, so I didn't hear much. I think he liked the stairs though, especially the ledge along the wall (yikes!). Oh, and the flamingo in the flower bed.

I used to think I wanted a big house to have plenty of room to spread out and store "stuff." But I have not been used to large spaces with Stephen - he was in exploring mode, so it was a little more difficult than usual to know where he was, etc. As I look more at expenses (in buying and maintaining), I see that I can be content with a smaller house. We'll see what God provides!
Our next step: Lee's dad has offered to look at houses with to help us cover all the things to think of. I guess we'll go from there.

Deacon Training: Part I

Deacon training has begun. Actually, we've had three sessions as of last night. The first thing we covered was taking vows and what that involves. We covered the vows from our BCO that we must take during installation as deacons - they're really quite straightforward. We've also discussed the nature of the office from Acts 6 and I Timothy 3. Again, the PCA's BCO has some excellent words to say about this.

One thing that I had not thought about previously is that this office has a spiritual focus. I had considered the division to be that the deacon cares for physical needs while elders care for spiritual needs. Indeed, the first deacons were called to organize the church's support of widows. But, being a deacon is far more than doling out soup at the church's soup kitchen. From our BCO, chapter 9:

It is the duty of the deacons to minister to those who are in need, to the sick, to the friendless, and to any who may be in distress.
Deacons don't dole out, they minister. Note that the above quote mentions ministry to the "friendless." That ministry may certainly include physical needs, but also the love of fellow believers and the grace of the Gospel.

And, how can you minister well and correctly if you don't know right doctrine? That is a major reason we're going through the Westminster Confession and catechisms, so we know right doctrine. (We've blazed through the confession and are starting the larger catechism next week.)

One more thing on this: one of the first deacons, Stephen, is not remembered for waiting on tables, but for his doctrinally sound defense of his faith. Two lessons: 1) his ministry isn't out there for the world to see, but done quietly and without fanfare; 2) deacons must be sound and strong in doctrine and their defense of the faith.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Creation Museum Opens

In case you haven't heard, the new Creation Museum has opened today in northern Kentucky. The museum presents the young earth creationist view (a.k.a., literal 6-day view) in very high-tech, nearly theme-park ways. I understand it addresses dinosaurs regularly and depicts them as living alongside humans.

Speaking to my fellow Christians, I realize people come down on different sides of dating the earth. If we disagree on this, it does not bar me from full, joyous fellowship and worship with you.

From a very big picture perspective, there are things that the old earth and young earth views accommodate and things they must address. The old earth view offers an explanation for fossil & geological evidence and the apparent age of the universe; however, it must address the use of the word "day" in context of being numbered and identified with a morning and evening in Genesis 1. The young earth view accommodates the text by taking it to mean 6 literal 24 hour days; however, it must address the fossil & geological evidence along with the apparent age of the universe. My point is that Answers in Genesis (parent of the Creation Museum) is addressing these issues of the fossil & geological evidence (see: Noah's Flood) and the age of the universe with this museum (and other publications).

Others may have other emphases or items to address, but these were the main points of difference in my struggle with the issue.

Full disclosure: I'm a charter member of the Creation Museum.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Wisdom from the Cloud of Witnesses

I recently skimmed through an on-line collection of writings from the early church fathers. My reading skills have drastically declined since finishing graduate school; it took me quite a bit of effort to keep up with the bits I read. I’ve decided to give it up for now and hopefully return in the future. However, I will point out two gems I found.

First, the account of the martyrdom of Polycarp. Now, Polycarp was a true man – courageous and faithful. The account is a great read, and all the better for being true. Do I glory in the murder of a saint? No, I glory in his witness to his King, even unto death. I will glory in a man who, while being persuaded to renounce Christ to save his life, said:
“Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?”

There is more – go read for yourself.

Second, in the introduction to the writings of Ignatius, the editor pulled out a number of proverbs he wrote. Judge for yourselves if these are not good advice:
  • Find time to pray without ceasing.
  • Every wound is not healed with the same remedy.
  • Stand like a beaten anvil.
  • It is the part of a good athlete to be bruised and to prevail.
  • Slight not the menservants and the handmaids.
  • Let your stewardship define your work.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Nominated for Deacon

Yes indeed, I have been nominated to the office of Deacon at Emmanuel. I'm very honored to be considered. I look forward to the training and (Lord willing) serving in this capacity.

I'm curious to find out how different this will be from being an elder. They are two offices with different functions. We'll also have to see how this works out with being about a 40 minute drive from the church. The Distance Deacon? iDeacon? eDeacon? Can a deacon telecommute? Still, in our church's desire to reach out to the college students here at WCU, I think in the grand scheme it would be great to have both deacons and and elders (maybe someday) in the area. To build on a previous post, you just can't replace being there in person.

I think my favorite statement about the office is that "deacons clean up after the elders." (source not given to protect the innocent)

Reformed News

Just came across this: Reformed News. A site that's just getting started but promises to be an independent outlet for news about generally reformed and presbyterian denominations. I hope it takes off, because this could be a valuable resource.

However, their anonymity concerns me and I hope that will end in the near future.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Rooted vs. Mobile

I've been thinking about "rootedness" lately. It is somewhat hard for me to conceive of a time when the average person would be born, live, and die all in the same town/village/city. Kristy and I have now lived in three different STATES in the first 8 years of our marriage.

We've lately experienced the great advantages of being closer to family (praise God!). All the grandparents have either come to visit or have taken Stephen for the weekend, which has been great for everyone.

Of course, it's fun and important to do things just as a family. Two weekends ago we went to the Greening Up the Mountain festival in Sylva. That was quite fun! Stephen (and we) enjoyed the music and square dancing. I think we'll do the pony ride next year when he's a bit older. And of course we had to get funnel cake. But this is back to rootedness. I remember growing up in Kingsport and ALWAYS going to the 4th of July parade and the routine we would follow in doing so.

That consistency seems very difficult to achieve in our mobile culture. I heard a statistic that 1/3 of all Americans move each calendar year (warning: 56.3% of all statistics are made up). How do you build and maintain friendships when friends are always leaving and new people are always moving in? I think that's going to be a struggle for the Church, which historically has existed in very rooted, connected, non-mobile communities. How to encourage fellowship? How to make sure people don't "slip through the cracks?" How to serve each other in times of trouble when people don't know each other very well?

I certainly won't call being mobile a sin, but I think it has major disadvantages. And I'm speaking from experience.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Grandparents and their attachments

It really is funny to see how my parents and Kristy's parents love on Stephen. They each have their own things they do, but the main thing seems to be getting that time in with him. We're quite thankful since Kristy has been under the weather with this pregnancy. A little break from our "rambunshus" two year old helps. And, that's important for the grandparents.

Stephen is totally comfortable with all of them. I think he would rather stay with them than with mom and dad if he had his choice. I also think (know) they let him get away with more, but that's part of grandparents too.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I love the mountains

Subject says it all. I really enjoy where we are in the world. I've generally lived in this area and I do love actually living in the Appalachians. For example, we had SNOW last weekend (Saturday before Easter) and this past Sunday. SNOW. In the middle of April.

Even in the dead, brown time of winter, the mountains have their own beauty. Kristy and I were discussing why mountains are beautiful. Kristy, being the insightful one, said it was because they are so majestic. I must agree - they are so large, so grand that it humbles us. We drive over a mountain to get to church in Franklin, and it really is surprising how the views can take so many forms depending on time of day, season, and weather.

On a very sad note, the fruit crops were nearly wiped out from the frost this year.

Pray for Knox


For my friends outside Westminster PC in Bryan, TX - please pray for little Knox. He's 17 months and had a bathtub accident. He was found unresponsive and is (as far as I know) still in ICU at Temple. (I'm getting all this third-hand.)

I understand that his heart and lungs are doing well, but his brain activity is minimal. Please pray for him and his family - for God to show His great mercy on Knox and his family.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Due Date

For those who are keeping up - Baby #2 is officially due Nov. 18. Kristy got to see the heartbeat on the ultrasound yesterday. Yay! We're of course very excited.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Putting down roots…again

It's about 6 months now since we moved from Texas, and I've been reflecting on that transition. When we first moved to Texas, I was hesitant to make friendships and get very involved in the church there since I knew it would be temporary (2 years, maybe only 1). Of course we couldn't really help ourselves, and we were sucked into choir and small groups; and I was eventually ordained a ruling elder.

But now, we moved "back" to North Carolina. I love my job and it's great being close to extended family. However, this evening I see our family having to once again set down roots. I miss being 10 minutes from other couples our age with kids our kid(s)'s age. I miss getting up before dawn on Thursday mornings to shoot the breeze with some of the guys from church over greasy breakfast food and slowly (oh so slooowly) go through a book of the Bible. And the church here is different – not bad (at all!) just different in character and style in many ways.

It’s partly a matter of time to settle in here – and get used to being so far from the church building, and therefore the majority of the membership. But, on this Easter Sunday, it’s also a matter, I think, of longing for that final permanence that can only be tasted to a tiny degree in this life. I really long for that eternal city of God, for that permanent home that will never be shaken. I’m tired of setting down roots in a place and then having to dig up again. I miss the many friends I’ve made, but I’m bad at keeping up. I suppose it’s driven out by more immediate tasks and geographically close people to see. Consider this passage - I hope it gives you great comfort to look for that permanent "place":

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. -John 14:1-3

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Nickles Baby #2

Yes indeed. We've told family so now we can tell the world. We are expecting baby #2! Kristy and I are very excited. I think Stephen has some comprehension of what's going on. It helps that we have friends here with a son that is a "big brother" to help make this concrete. No ultrasound pictures yet, but those will come soon.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. -Psalm 127:4-5

Praise God with us!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Yes - still alive

Greetings to any still checking here! My new job has been extraordinarily busy this spring semester. I had hoped to at least blog about the family, but I'd rather spend the time I have with them.

So, without further ado, a few things on how we're doing.

  • I really love my job - even on the long, stressful days. I'd say that's a good indicator that I should stay here a good while.
  • We've enjoyed the little bit of snow we had - Stephen enjoyed it most, especially his sled.
  • I'm the main person in our college who is trying to get everyone (teachers, students, faculty, staff) on our e-portfolio portal: TaskStream. The tool is good, though we're hitting some speedbumps in implementation. We didn't know what we didn't know, so this Fall will be much better.
  • I've been to New York and back. I learned much about TaskStream, but the highlight of the trip was probably going to a Reformed Episcopal church for worship. Their worship service ("Morning Prayer") had great truth and beauty. The city was interesting, though freezing cold.
  • Stephen is a monkey. And a sponge - I'm amazed at the words he's picked up.
  • Kristy is working part time in my college - about half of her time is on-campus, the rest of it she can do from home. This has been a great arrangement for us, and Stephen has new friends - the kids of the mom he stays with.
  • I love my job, but boy do I see a lot of work for me to do! I suppose that's also known as job security.
Must go for now.