Monthly Archives: February 2010

Secret sins don’t hold water

“I can see the water, but I can’t see where it is coming from,” I said to my wife. “I don’t know where it is leaking.”

My wife was moving things underneath the kitchen sink and discovered water where it shouldn’t be. It’s not like there was standing water threatening to drip down through the floor and into the family room below. It’s not like we needed to get the waders out. But there were enough drips to cause concern and cancel my immediate plans.

I examined all of the elbows, joints, traps, and connections from the sink to the garbage disposal. Everything was tight. They were wet, but not leaking. I checked the sink drain itself. It seemed to be ok as well. A bit loose, but nothing serious. The next time I was at the hardware store, I told myself, I’ll pick up some plumber’s putty and reseat the drain. I was mystified. I could not see any leaks. I gave up and started fixing lunch.

Meanwhile, my wife filled the sink with water in order to soak a plant. Can you say, LEAK!?!?

I put my lunch fixings away and headed to the hardware store for plumber’s putty and plumber’s tape.

Arriving back home, I starting taking the sink and drain apart. Whereupon I discovered the real culprit–A flange that secures the drain to the sink had a tiny crack in it on the backside of the sink. The crack was just big enough to loosen the drain seal and allow water to leak through. But it was small enough so it was not visible until you dismantled everything and brought it out into the light.

One more trip to the hardware store to buy the appropriate flange.

Once everything was retaped, reputtied, and tightened down, the water stayed where it was supposed to–in the sink and in the pipes, and not on the floor.

I wonder how many people have secret sins that are draining the vitality from their lives. I wonder how many simply live with a leak instead of trying to find the culprit and fix it. I wonder how many try to plug the holes with putty and patch the cracks with tape instead of replacing the cracked portion of their lives.

Who knew I would discover a spiritual lesson underneath the kitchen sink?

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Posted by on February 17, 2010 in Character, Home, Personal growth


Birthday traditions

Cake. Ice cream. Blowing out the candles. Balloons. Party hats and favors. Gifts. What more could you ask for in a birthday celebration? What other traditions do you need?

Our family practices three traditions when it comes to celebrating birthdays. They have been practiced through the years, though geography is now making them more difficult.

One tradition was that I took each of my children out to breakfast on their respective birthday. I started when they were perhaps 3 or 4 years old and continued until they left home for college. In earlier years, it was breakfast at McDonalds for the two of us, before they were dropped off at school. As they grew older, their tastes (and mine) grew more elaborate and expensive. We moved from McD’s to IHOP or Village Square Cafe in Redmond. It was a great way to start their day and honor them as special. With the kids away at college, I’ve had to settle for a phone call instead of a meal. A good thing, but just not the same.

Another favorite tradition was the birthday dinner. The birthday boy/girl/mom/dad got to determine the menu of their choice, regardless of what it was. Needless to say, favorite foods made the list. The birthday person’s meal was served on a red, “You are special” plate. Most years, it included me making a chocolate swirl cheesecake as the birthday cake of choice.

A third family tradition is one that only I have had the privilege of enjoying. In 1994, when our children were 8, 6, and 4, Carol bought a journal and had each one of the kids and herself write a note to me on my birthday. For some reason, we missed 2009, but each year since ’94, I’ve received a handwritten entry from each of the kids and my wife. When they were small, Carol played the role of scribe and the child  scrawled their name at the end. This week, each one sent their note by email and my wife cut and pasted them into the journal. It has become the favorite part of my birthday, much more so than any present I’ve been given.

Thanks, guys, for keeping the tradition alive.

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Posted by on February 12, 2010 in Family & Friends, Fun


Why didn’t I listen to my father?

In his later years, my father would often say, “Mark, never get old.” As it turns out, I didn’t listen very well.

I can now order off the senior’s menu at Denny’s. I have been on AARP’s recruiting list for the past five years. My age is now the same as the year of my birth. The next time I renew my driver’s license will be when I turn 60. I can now get on the waiting list for a retirement community.

Perhaps I dozed off at some point, but when did I get old?

If I listen to the culture around me, I will conclude that my life is over. I’m on the downward slope towards obscurity. I better start shopping for hearing aids, bifocals, rocking chairs, and a quiet retirement community where others can take care of me while I fill my days with leisure and golf.

If I take my inspiration from the pages of Scripture, however, I will conclude that my latter years could be the most fruitful years of my life. Moses was 80 when he stepped into his first ministry as the deliverer of Israel. Joshua was 65 when he led Israel in conquering the Promised Land. Caleb was still a warrior in his 80’s when he asked Joshua for the most challenging parcel of land in Canaan. John was possibly in his 80’s or 90’s when he wrote 1, 2, & 3 John, and the Book of Revelation.

While I cannot obey my father and not grow older, I can listen to his advice and not get old. Rather than start sliding for home, I want to listen for the call of God and follow him wherever he might lead.

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Posted by on February 10, 2010 in Character, Personal growth


Laughter on a mid-winter day

Preaching Now sent links to the following humorous stories. They will give you a chuckle.

What not to buy for Valentine’s Day

The moral of the story

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Posted by on February 9, 2010 in Fun


Men need to be MEN

Men. Initiate! Great post by my friend and former colleague, Tim Jack. Intriguing, thought-provoking, and convicting.

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Posted by on February 8, 2010 in Culture, Scripture


Maintain your balance

There are days when a circus elephant has better balance than I do. Six months after my episode of vertigo, my balance has still not returned completely. I can climb a ladder, I can ride a bicycle, I can ride a roller coaster. I just cannot walk in a straight line. I cannot stand still without feeling like I am tipping over.

One of the benefits of dealing with this illness is that I have learned far more about my balance system than I ever knew before. I discovered that our balance system is made up of three components:

  • Eyes (Visual)
  • Inner ear (Vestibular)
  • Feet (Somatosensory – pressure and muscle sense)

Since I still have issues caused by my inner ear, I rely heavily on visual cues and what my feet sense to keep myself upright and balanced. Little changes in those two areas have a dramatic effect on me. My wife bought a thicker rug for our bathroom and the extra thickness makes me feel like I am “up in the air.” My greatest challenge, however is that I cannot walk in the dark. When I walk down the hallway at night, I have to turn on the lights. If I don’t, I drift into the walls. The simple act of turning off the bedroom light and walking a few feet to the bed is a challenge. “Falling into bed” took on a whole new meaning.

I am physically unable to walk in the dark. To maintain my balance, I have to turn on the lights.

In the same way, if I want to maintain my spiritual balance, I also need to walk in the light. If I turn off the light of God’s Word, I might bounce off something more harmful than a wall. I might fall into an addictive behavior. I might flirt with another woman and drift into an affair. I might trip over a sin and bruise my integrity. But if I let the Word of God shine in my life, I will walk in a straight line because I will see that God is walking right beside me.

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7, ESV)

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Posted by on February 7, 2010 in Character, Personal growth, Scripture


Is it spring already?

Washington D. C. and Baltimore may be buried in snow, but it is spring in Seattle. The iris’ and day lilies are getting ready to bloom, the trees are budding, and I mowed the lawn this morning. Was Groundhog Day really only four days ago?

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Posted by on February 6, 2010 in Photos, Seattle, Spring