A Shelter in the Storm

CaveLast week, I asked my wife what she would like to do for Mother’s Day. She recommended that we spend our day at a park and go hiking. She chose Starved Rock State Park, a great place for a family walk. Before going, we looked at the weather forecast. It was quite severe where we lived, but south of us (where we were headed), all was sunny and clear. So, off we went.

We arrived and began our walk on the lovely trails. We first climbed the stairs to enjoy the majestic scenic view of the Illinois River from the top of Starved Rock. We then followed the trail into the narrow corridor of the French Canyon, where we were met with a pleasant waterfall and were surrounded by beautiful sandstone walls, which the kids enjoyed scaling. As we continued on our way down the trail toward the Wildcat Canyon, the skies began to darken. Apparently, the weather south of our home was not as clear as we thought.

It began to sprinkle. Soon it was pouring rain. What to do?

In God’s providence we were near a walking bridge, so we climbed underneath it to find protection from the rain. Once underneath the bridge, we noticed a little cave, where we were protected from the rain. It was our shelter in the storm.  Our adventure became a great illustration to us all of Isaiah 25:4, “For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.”

We waited out the storm for about an hour before returning to our car, full of family memories of this memorable Mother’s Day!


A Lesson from Dad

I was recently asked, “What do you remember your father teaching you?”  The one lesson that stands out above all of the others that I have learned from my father is his often repeated saying, “Steve, I will never ask you to do what I haven’t done first, or what I am not willing to do myself.”

Throughout the years, I have found this to be true of him. He never required of me what he didn’t first model himself. For this I am thankful. May this be true of me as well.

The Gift of Love

I remember a saying that my father would often quote to me, “The greatest gift that you can give to your children is your love for your wife.”

I saw this illustrated in my home. I picked up some flowers for my wife for Mother’s Day. As I spoke with my children about my idea, their faces lighted up. They loved the idea! The photo above is of my daughter with the flowers for mom.

Deep down, I think that they loved the fact that their dad loves their mom.

Love is Creative

This past Valentine’s Day, my wife gave me a very special gift.

I arrived home from work to find her out of the house. She had a card waiting for me (which she had made). It simply said, “LOVE: with all of my heart for all of my life!” On the inside of the card, she affirmed her love for me and told me where I could go to meet her for dinner. We enjoyed a lovely evening together.

Over the course of the evening, it was obvious that she had spent much time thinking about how to make things special. She was very creative. And thus, she showed her love to me.

Keeping Holiday

Our family just finished reading “Keeping Holiday” together out loud. It is a delightful story about two children, Dylan and Claire, searching for the Founder of the city, Holiday, so that they can be authorized to stay there permanently. Along the way, they encounter speaking animals and plants, which guide them in the right way. They also face some temptation to turn away. Justin Taylor said it well, “The genre is something of a cross between Pilgrim’s Progress and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”

In their quest to find the Founder, the children learn about the Founder, like the fact that you don’t find the Founder, but he finds you. As they learn more and more, they come to desire the Founder more and more than the city, which is exactly as how it should be.

It’s a great story for all ages. I recommend it.

Jotham’s Journey

This advent season our family read through a book entitled, “Jotham’s Journey.”  It’s an Advent Devotional that helps to prepare your heart for Christmas. We have read through it before, but it still remains good each time we read it.

The book is an historical fiction account of a young boy named Jotham, who is separated from his family near the time of Christ’s birth.  In his search for his family, he travels all over Judea, meeting up with such people as Zacharias and Elizabeth, Anna and Simeon, and even the Magi from the east.  (I won’t tell you how it ends so as to spoil the story).

There is a reading for each day, which can often be read in 10-15 minutes.  More often than not, the reading sections end with a cliff-hanger, something that always makes our children want to read again tomorrow. At the end of each section, there is a point of application from something that happened in the story, which directs our attention upon the birth of Christ.

Next year, we plan to read through a sequel entitled, “Tabitha’s Travels.”  You can find out more about these books here if you are interested in an easy way to focus your hearts upon the Lord next Christmas season.

When Christmas Falls on a Sunday

This year, Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. Several of the bigger churches in our city have cancelled their Sunday morning services on Christmas morning. These church are conducing numerous Christmas Eve services. I can only presume that these services have so overloaded them that they feel compelled to cancel their regular Sunday morning worship service.

It seems a bit odd for me. These are the same churches that will fight hard to promote, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” And yet, when it comes to Christmas morning, of all mornings, they won’t be gathering to celebrate Him!