Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Predicting the Weather

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance, and the hills in a pair of scales? -Is. 40:12 It’s going to be a new year soon and the weather is doing its usual thing. Rain, snow, sleet, fog- you name it and it’s in the forecast. And for those of us that like control (which is everyone, in some form or another) it’s an uncomfortable time. Why? Because there is simply nothing we can do about it. The weather is going to be the weather whether we try to control it or not. The weather is just another one of God’s reminders that He is in control. But that doesn’t keep us from trying to control nature. Just look around. There are multiple television channels, computer applications and cell phone apps all solely focused on the weather. The granddaddy of them all is the Weather Channel. Who would have thought that weather would be watched 24 hours a day! Our great-grandparents would have laughed at the idea. But as of August 2013, approximately 99,926,000 American households (87.50% of households with television) receive The Weather Channel. The Weather Channel is currently the most reached channel on cable in America, in terms of coverage. Does knowing the weather change any of it? No. But it does help us prepare and feel a sense of control, whether rational or not. I received an actual professional weather station for Christmas from my brother-in-law. I love it. It’s a device placed on a pole with a wind speed and direction indicator, a rainfall gauge and an internal computer that measures all the factors of weather and provides a forecast. It is all wirelessly transmitted to a base station inside the house. It tells me the temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and whether the air pressure is correct on the tires of my car (not really). Control. It’s not enough to have the weather displayed on my cell phone and television. Now I have it in the house! I might start my own weather channel! There have been other attempts at controlling weather. Cloud seeding and laser targeting are attempts to stimulate the atmosphere to produce rain. But the results have been mediocre at best. There have been attempts to microwave hurricanes to lesson their intensity. But none have proven effective. We are like the child declaring to his parents at the beach that “I’m going to count all the grains of sand while we’re here this week!” While we think his comments are quite cute, we realize the futility of the assignment he has placed upon himself. But a Science writer David Blatner, in his new book Spectrums, says a group of researchers at the University of Hawaii, being well-versed in all things beachy, tried to calculate the number of grains of sand. They said, if you assume a grain of sand has an average size and you calculate how many grains are in a teaspoon and then multiply by all the beaches and deserts in the world, the Earth has roughly (and we're speaking very roughly here) 7.5 x 101 to the eighteenth grains of sand, or seven quintillion, five hundred quadrillion grains. That's a lot of grains and certainly too many to count. We predict the weather and though we can’t count all the world’s sand, we can enjoy what God has given us. As we leave 2013 behind and usher in 2014, whether it’s cloudy or rainy, we can live and breathe and live the abundant life God has supplied us. Whether the weather is sunny or rainy, life is simply okay. We can relax and enjoy the beach, no matter the amount of sand. It just doesn’t matter, because the rhetorical answer to Isaiah’s question in the verse above is “God.” He knows. He has it all under His control. The ups and the downs and even the sideways- He’s got it covered. It may not make sense, but He’s God. And that’s enough. So, enjoy the weather in 2014… …whether it’s sunny or not. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Child Is Born

“…she will bear a son…” –Matt. 1:21 A year ago, there was a flurry of activity in the Staples and Mason camps. Elizabeth wasn’t far from delivering her second baby girl, Lucy, and we were all expectant. It was an issue of growth. The obstetricians were concerned that the baby wasn’t developing on pace and that they might have to induce labor. There was cloud of uncertainty about the outcome and we were all trusting God, but were a bit anxious. That’s the problem with the vessel called uncertainty. It can only be filled with one of two things: a trusting faith or an anxious worry. That was pretty much the attitude in Mary and Joseph’s family a few thousand years ago. Mary and Joseph were the perfect couple, then BOOM, suddenly Mary is pregnant. The angel explained it all to Joseph and Mary, but it wasn’t in the plan. They knew they’d done nothing wrong for, as the angel explained, “the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 1:20). But everyone else didn’t know that truth. After Jeanie and I had married, I asked a wise man once, “How do you know when it’s time to have kids?” His answer surprised me, “You don’t. It just happens.” Proverbs 16 reads, “Man plans his way, but God directs his steps.” And so it is with having kids - it just happens. Children are the natural by-products of a husband and wife who love each other. And so it was with Lucy and with Jesus- both a part of God’s perfect plan. We made a quick trip to Fort Worth to be with my mom and prayed that Lucy would be born on her January 21th due date. But we knew it might be earlier. We drove my gas guzzling SUV to Fort Worth in case we had to suddenly jump in the car and make the drive from Texas to Des Moines in the snow. We prayed for the best and prepared for the worst. Both would be a part of God’s plan, but we petitioned God for three more weeks. Our request was denied. We got the call on Christmas Eve that they would most likely be doing a c-section the following morning. It sure wasn’t our first choice. The “why” question surfaced. Why would a loving God want this to happen? Of course, we had no answer. We rarely do. We don’t need one. God grades the tests and he has the answer sheet. So, we jumped in the SUV, got five miles to the gallon, drove through the ice and snow (mostly in Texas!) and made it to the hospital in Des Moines at midnight on December 26th. As we hurried to Elizabeth’s room, we were surprised to see a beautiful baby girl named Lucy Katherine! The delivery went well and both baby and mom were healthy and strong. Lucy will be one year old in a few days and she is beautiful. There are no signs and deficiencies due to low birth weight. As a matter of fact, on her due date, three weeks after her birth, she was already up to a normal weight. God had a plan for Lucy. God had a plan for Jesus as well. He knew that a world rocked by evil and suffering could only be rescued by a baby named Jesus. He knew that God’s grace would have to be carried in the model of a child and then confirmed by that man on a cross. He knew that anything less than the death of His precious baby wouldn’t do. Today, every time at look at Lucy, I smile and remember last Christmas and what a special gift God gave us. Every time God looks at us, He remembers His precious Son and His rescue mission on planet earth. It all began in a manager in Bethlehem and that’s what we celebrate this week. Thank you God for our precious Lucy. And thank you for your precious son, Jesus, whom You chose to send…. …that we might be yours again. Merry Christmas! By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Saturday, December 7, 2013


“You do not have because you do not ask” -James 4:2 I was with a friend the other day who was describing a difficult situation he was experiencing. I asked him, “How is your family helping you?” He responded, “Oh, I would never ask my family for help- they don’t want to be in on my stuff.” When times are difficult, that’s how most of us react to those most equipped to help us. We prefer to solo. We prefer to isolate. We prefer to be on our own. It is easier to drive by ourselves- fewer stops, fewer noises, fewer directions, and better gas mileage (really?) But the journey has more meaning and purpose when we’re sharing it with someone else. We need to learn to let others bear our burdens. And that begins by asking. A few weeks ago, Jeanie and I were headed back from Des Moines after a wonderful visit with Elizabeth, Mark, and our two granddaughters, Reese and Lucy. It’s about a six-hour drive- no big deal. On the way up to Des Moines from Branson, the check engine light began to flash in our vehicle, but went off after a few miles. But on the way back, it began to flash again and stayed on. We love our Honda and it’s the first time we’ve had a problem with it. We pulled out the owner’s manual to see what the flashing light meant. It said, “If the check engine light is flashing, do not drive the car and seek immediate service.” Immediate service in Humansville, Missouri? That was not an option. So we elected to drive another hour to Springfield and drop the car off at the Honda dealership there for service. But Branson is 45 minutes from Springfield- a long walk on a Sunday afternoon. So Jeanie and I switched into solo mode... “We could get a taxi?...no, that would cost too much. We could wait and take it later in the week?...no, we’re leaving town again. We could wait and take it the next week?...no, we shouldn’t be driving it.” Then the “burden bearing deflection” began. “But we can’t call someone to come get us: it’s Sunday and no one wants to drive to Springfield on a Sunday afternoon. No, we can’t call someone to come get us: we should take care of this by ourselves. No, we can’t call someone to come get us: the Chiefs are playing and people would rather be watching the game.” But slowly, our pride began to melt, the deflector shield came down and we realized we needed to ask for help. So we called a couple of friends but got voicemail. “See, no one can help,” we thought for an instant, but realized how irrational that logic was, so we called Vicki, a trusted friend of ours. She simply said, “I’ll take care of it.” As it turns out, she sent out a mass text to a bunch of people and she told us later “So many responded and wanted to help.” In the end, Amy and her daughter, Carly, jumped in their car, and, with cheerful hearts, came to get us. They were wonderful. The car was fixed the next day and is resting comfortably in our warm garage. It wasn’t about people willing to come help Joey and Jeanie. It was about God providing help in a time of need. Without exception, God always provides what we need when we need it, IF WE ASK. Sometimes it’s about asking God to provide through a friend or family. We’ll pray all day long, but pride refuses to let a brother or sister be God’s hands and solution to a problem. We ask, “God, please help us!” while our friends stay unaware of the load they would so willingly be willing to bear. Pride says, “Well, they should know about my need- I shouldn’t have to call them.” Humility is willing to reach out and lean on a friend. As Chuck Swindoll said in his classic book, Improving Your Serve, “a servant is only a true servant if he is willing to be served.” Don’t walk this short journey called life by yourself. It’s not how God designed us. Reach out, serve others, lean on God and ask others to help you. You will be blessed… …And so will the helper. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks for the Thorns

“…there was given me a thorn in the flesh,… most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” -2Cor. 12:7-9 How awesome! Another Thanksgiving is upon us. Our lives are a little different every Thanksgiving with our unique family trials, but what a wonderful holiday. Again, we’re all left with a decision to make: Do I bow to the difficulties and struggles I carry this week or do I turn my attention to the ways I’ve been blessed? We will always have thorns in our flesh. We always have trials in our daily living. We always have challenges emotionally, physically, and spiritually. They are God’s constant reminder of where we need to focus: on His awesome power and strength. And that is not so those difficulties will go away, but so that we can be truly thankful in the midst of the thorns. In chapter twelve of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes his thorn. He had just told the people about a magnificent journey he had taken to heaven and about how wonderful it was. He was probably referring to his stoning in Lystra in Acts 14. You might recall that stoning in the first century was capital punishment. The idea was death. In this miraculous story, Paul was stoned and then life returned to him by the providence of God. Paul describes his heaven experience in great detail. But then he lands back on earth to describe his thorn in the flesh. We don’t know what the thorn was exactly. Some have suggested it was his eyesight, since we know he was blind for a time after his conversion. Some have suggested malaria, as it was prevalent in those days. We simply don’t know. God, in His providence, leaves the identity unknown so that we might fill in the blank with our own particular handicap. Paul goes on to say he “entreated the Lord three times that it might be removed,” but God said “let it be- let my strength be shown in your weakness.” It seems we all have issues that we feel, if they weren’t present, would leave us in great shape. But there a problem with that philosophy- it leaves us in great shape without God. It’s like a baby saying, “If I just didn’t need to be fed, clothed, housed and protected, then all would be great.” That’s true- but what’s wrong with needing a mother? Because, past all of her provision, children need the deeper love of their momma. The same is true in our relationships with God. We don’t just need what God can give us, we need who He is. In that same letter, back in Chapter 9, Paul had thanked God for His “indescribable gift.” When we’re truly seeking God and not just what He can give us, we possess a thankful heart. It’s why we’re urged by Paul again in Philippians Chapter Four to be “anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God will guard your heart and minds.” When we “let God know,” He already knows, but prayer changes our perspective from a spirit of want to a spirit of thankfulness. The old Baptist hymn said to “Count your blessings, name them one by one.” When we do the counting and the naming of our blessings, everything changes. We recognize how good our God really is. Take the time this Thanksgiving season to say “thanks” to God, not just for all you have, but for who He is. It’s okay to pray for “thorn removal”- Paul certainly did- but if God says “leave it,” be thankful. Sara Young says in her famous devotional “God Calling”, “You give God thanks (regardless of your feelings), and He gives you joy (regardless of your circumstances).” Enjoy a “thankful” Thanksgiving this year. Enjoy the food, enjoy the football, enjoy the family, and enjoy God’s love. Be thankful… …for the thorns as well. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteens101.com

Friday, November 15, 2013

Eric and Jennifer: Wedding Day

“…so they are no longer two, but one flesh” -Mark 10:8 After a wonderful rehearsal dinner on Friday in Dallas, Eric and Jen were officially married on Saturday night at Highland Park United Methodist church. They were and are a beautiful couple and such an excellent example of what God intended marriage to be. Their declaration of their union was powerful because they focused their marriage on a few key ingredients. Jesus Christ. From the beginning, Eric and Jen have expressed their devotion to God. They chose to invite the Lord to be the initiator and proclaimer of their love for one another. And having their wedding in a church just made sense. The word “church” invokes a lot of different reactions from people, but it’s simply a place for Christians to gather and commit themselves to thanking and praising God for all He has done and will do. The service and minister’s words all gave credit and glory to the Lord. He not only invented marriage but was responsible for bringing Eric and Jen together. Jesus is the very glue that holds any marriage together and especially with Eric and Jen, His countenance and glory are manifested through their love for on another. Family. Of course, eloping is always a less expensive option. But having a private ceremony robs the larger families from getting to be in on the celebration. Almost all of the families represented attended the weekend activities. The Staples, Condons, Masons, Beadles, Guerrieros, Hallums, and other families all journeyed to Dallas. There were almost one hundred people at the rehearsal dinner and several hundred people at the wedding. It was all a beautiful example of the family at work and the baton being passed on to another generation. In a day when more and more people are choosing to live together without being married, it not only avoids the highest level of commitment and love, but it leaves the family unit out of the equation. There is strength in family, both inside and outside of the marriage. Friends. Eric and Jen have such a solid group of friends from their days in Dallas, Austin, Fayetteville, Nashville and other places God has taken them. Their friends came from far and wide to endorse their friends’ union together. But the commitment of their friends goes deeper than the ceremony. They will be there with them through all the seasons of their lives. After all, that’s the purpose of friends. Ecclesiastics 4:10 reminds us of the worth of friends, “For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” Eric and Jen certainly have each other to bear the weight of life, but also solid friends to be with them. May Eric and Jen’s marriage be a light to all they encounter. With Jesus Christ as their source of love, may their agape love deepen between each other. May their devotion to family grow more and more as they begin their own. May their friendships be even more meaningful in their new relationship. May God continue to bless their marriage… …as they begin their union together. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Monday, November 11, 2013

Eric and Jennifer: Getting Ready

“This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church” - Eph. 5:32 This past weekend, we were getting ready for our son, Eric’s, wedding. He was marrying Jennifer, a phenomenally beautiful girl, inside and out. Eric was so ready. Jen was too. It had been an exciting several months leading up to the event. All their lives, God had been preparing them to be ready for each other and now they were going to live their lives as one. The Bible refers to another bridegroom that is preparing to be married. In Ephesians Chapter Five, Paul focuses on Christ coming to be “married” to the church. Of course, believers are the church, not a building or a program or a denomination. And we are waiting, as Eric and Jen were waiting, to be joined together in the second coming of Jesus. We’re to be faithful to Him as we wait for His return. But, when it comes to our “faith” engagement time, most Christians handle it in less-than-faithful ways. “Since I don’t know the actual wedding day, I can’t really count on my bride.” The past few months, Eric and Jen have been focused entirely on each other and their union. Their anticipation has centered them more on each other, not less. A majority of Christians believe in the second coming of Jesus but few embrace the reality and let it affect their everyday lives. Paul writes repeatedly about Jesus’ return, that it might be an encouragement to believers to persevere through trial. “When I know the time of the wedding, I’ll focus more on my bride-to-be.” Eric and Jen’s actual wedding was a confirmation of their love for each other, not the beginning of their love for each other. Our love for Jesus isn’t determined by when He returns. We already have the capacity to love Him deeply and to let Him love us as well. He is with us now. “I’ve never been engaged.” Now that’s a huge issue. Eric and Jen had already expressed their deep devotion and love for one another. The wedding simply capped and confirmed their love. As Christ returns, He will gather those who have confessed their faith in Jesus. That relationship begins now, not when He returns. And I have to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus to be joined with Him upon His return. “It’s okay to have multiple wives- I’ll become monogamous when the wedding arrives.” Eric and Jen have focused their devotion and love to each other and no one else. Many a Christian focuses on multiple “wives” long before the wedding day. Money, health, career, self and others are not bad in themselves, but when they become substitutes for the love of Jesus, they are destructive. “I am head-over-heels excited to marry this woman and can’t wait to begin the journey of life together.” As Eric and Jen walked down the aisle of the church, you could see the deep love they had for one another shining in their faces. They are simply God’s match for one another and are meant to journey their course of life together. God has designed us the same way. We were meant to be His children and to spend all eternity together with Him. Yes, it is a mystery, but love is always mysterious and wonderful, all at the same time. May we enjoy our engagement time with God. We don’t need to hide in a cave and wait for His return, but its okay to be excited about the wedding day. May it be our very encouragement to finish the course He has planned for us all. May we have the same deep love and devotion for Christ that is evident in Eric and Jennifer… …before the wedding and beyond. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Brazos River Expedition

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you” -Deut. 31:6 I grew up in a tremendous “kid-friendly” neighborhood in west Fort Worth. Back then, we were on the outer rim of the city limits, so to the north and west of our neighborhood were creeks and woods and fun. We built forts, dammed up streams and had a blast. We caught all kinds of wildlife and brought a lot of it home to our shocked mothers. I grew up in a day when parents were willing to let their kids risk both adventure and fun. In these days of increased liability and too much knowledge, we need to be careful to let our kids explore and get dirty. In the summer of 1970, in 6th grade, my best friends, Joe Paget, Bill Adams and I had the great idea to build a raft and float it down the Brazos river. The Brazos is a river that flows through north central Texas all the way to the Texas coast. We had all been canoeing on the river before and were convinced that we could pull off the great adventure. So, the three of us met at our unofficial headquarters in Joe Paget’s garage, and we went to work. Today, most projects like this would end at the beginning. “It’s too dangerous. It’s too risky. You’re too young.” But our parents left us alone and let us design the raft and pick the route we would float on the river. I’m sure our parents were more than involved than we realized. But we felt like the project was ours. And that’s the point. Our parents let us do the work. Then, we went and bought the materials necessary to build the raft. None of us could drive, so I remember my mom taking us to a hardware store and to a tire shop to get the huge inner tubes necessary to float the raft. I remember we scraped our nickels and dimes together to buy the materials. Our parents didn’t mail order the raft or hire an expert in raft building. We built it ourselves. It was rather “scrappy,” as I recall, but it was ours. We loaded the raft on top of Joe Paget’s mom’s station wagon and off we went to the Brazos, about an hour drive. Our moms had fixed us meals for the day and we had a map and route all planned. We were dropped off that morning and were to be picked up that evening down stream at a bridge site. As we drifted down the river, I remember being half scared and half excited. All was going well and on time, until the wind picked up and the rather heavy raft sat motionless. We figured that the current would move us along, but before long, we had to pull the raft using ropes on the bank. And, to add to the difficulty, a couple of the inner tubes we used for flotation began losing air. We did stop to eat some sandwiches, but we finally arrived to our arrival site later than expected, tired, sore and so relieved to see Mrs. Paget waiting for us. We lifted the raft back on top of the station wagon and made the trip back to Fort Worth. The expedition had been a success, sort of. We had succeeded in our mission, but the raft took a battering. It sat in Joe Paget’s yard for years, until it finally fell apart. It was a reminder to us that sometimes projects are worth doing just to do them. We all need hills to climb and rivers to float. In the video game and sports crazed world we live in today, encourage your kids to explore, build and risk. Be careful not to hold onto them too tightly. I spoke to Joe Paget about that trip not too long ago. He told me he now runs a marina on Lake Palo Pinto, not far from that stretch of the Brazos where we went that day. He said, “I can’t believe our parents let us go on that trip.” Without knowing it, we were learning lessons about risk and difficulty and about trusting God to provide strength in the trials. Thank you, moms and dads, for letting us be on our own. Thank you for letting us grow up a little that day. Thank you for letting us take a risk that we might come out successful, whether we succeeded or not. Thank you for believing in us. And thank you for loving us enough to let us go… …on the expedition called life. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Mom's Fourteener

“Be strong and very courageous…”- Deut. 31:6 I know Mother's day isn’t until May, but I want to take this time to honor my Mom. Jeanie and I just spent the week with her and discovered again that she’s an amazing lady. My mom, Mildred Rabun Staples, is 86 years old and lives by herself in Fort Worth, Texas, where she’s lived for over 40 years. My dad passed away in 1988 and she’s been on her own ever since. Though my brothers and I do the best we can to care for her, she’s left to handle a lot of life on her own. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes and the height of the mountain is all relative to our ability to climb. My mom will probably never climb Mt. Everest, but she has climbed some pretty steep fourteen thousand foot mountains over the years. A few weeks ago, Jeanie and I made a quick trip down to Dallas to have dinner with our son’s fiancée’s parents. We stayed with my mom in Fort Worth. I had casually asked my mom if she would like to drive back to Branson with us and she said “yes.” She hasn’t left Fort Worth in years. She doesn’t walk very well and uses a cane, so making the trip and the flight back to Fort Worth was a big deal. But she decided to brave the journey. She made the long drive to our home with us. She spent the week in Branson, climbing the stairs of our split-level house and then we flew back to Fort Worth. She persevered and climbed a 14er. Last Spring, she lost her son Pelham after battling cancer for over 10 years. She did the best she could to care for him when he was in Colorado. She called him often and even made the trip up there several times to care for him. When his cancer worsened a few years ago, he moved to Fort Worth and bought a house there. She called him nearly every day, fixed him meals at her house and when he wasn’t able to be by himself, she housed him and finally, visited him often at the hospital. When he passed away, she painfully said her goodbye. Every mother struggles outliving any of her children, but she accepted God’s plan, moved on and climbed another 14er. Twenty-five years ago, her precious husband and my dad, Pelham Sr., passed away suddenly of a heart attack. Her world (and ours) would never be the same. He had handled all the emotional and financial issues of the family. Literally, in a heartbeat, the load fell on my mom. Several family friends and certainly my brothers and I all jumped in to help bear her load. But at the end of the day, she had to face the future without her dear husband and provider. And she faced it well. She learned to handle the finances and settled in to being on her own. She survived and climbed yet another 14er. Yes, my mom is an amazing lady. And I pray she continues to rely on God’s strength as she faces the future. Her health is good and she has a family who loves her dearly. But she continues to choose to live on her own in our home in Fort Worth. I’m sure other mountains await her in the future, but she’s in the care of an awesome God who will be her strength in the climbing… …and will provide a hero’s wreath at the summit. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Virgil and Paul

“But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus” - Acts 9:27 Seeing potential in people is always difficult. Why? Because believing someone can change requires future vision. It requires seeing past the present behavior to what could be. It requires hope- hope that the person in question may not possess. But seeing potential is absolutely crucial in helping people reach their God-given best. Two people at the top of the “potential see-er” list are Barnabas of the New Testament and Andy of Mayberry. In episode thirty, season two of the Andy Griffith Show, Barney tells Andy that his cousin Virgil will soon be visiting Mayberry and perhaps they could offer him a job at the Sheriff's office. Add Virgil to the list of people that Barney saw as “fit’’ to be deputies on the “force.” Barney did not see potential in people very well. Andy takes a “wait and see” attitude, which turned out to be good thing. When Virgil finally shows up - he had missed the bus when he went to mail a letter during a rest stop. He seems nothing short of disaster prone. From spilling the dinner at Andy's house to crashing the squad car, everything he touches seems to end up in disaster. He even cleans the jail keys so thoroughly that they will no longer open the cells, leaving Otis trapped just when he has a job interview to get to. Just when things seem at their worst, Andy finds one thing Virgil does well. Virgil had carved Opie a wonderful wooden figure of a cowboy. Andy asked how he did it and Virgil replied, “I do better work when no one is watching.” So, with no one watching, Andy has him get Otis out of the cell. Virgil does it well. Andy helps Virgil discover that he does have talent, if it’s used in the right atmosphere. That’s what “potential seekers” do. They move the frustrated lineman to defensive end and marvel at the success of the athlete. They move the unsatisfied salesman to a job on the plant floor and appreciate his success in his new role. They see the power of change and the relief that comes with being planted in the right kind of soil. Barnabas, was a Jew from Cyprus who became a Christian. As is recorded in Acts, he was an outstanding man and was dedicated to the church in Jerusalem. After Paul became a Christian, Barnabas supported Paul as he associated with the disciples in Jerusalem. He built him up just when he needed it. When Barnabas was assigned to head up the new church in Antioch, he formed his ministry team. One of his first choices was the young, feisty Paul, who has been living for years back in his hometown of Tarsus. It was a gamble, but Barnabas made the journey there, found Paul and hired him. And Paul flourished in his God-given role. Barnabas literally means “encourager.” What a nickname. His given name was Joseph (Acts 4:36) but he must have been quite an encourager. Encouragers always see potential because encouragement is the fuel that drives someone to reach their potential. Discouragement drives people backwards while encouragement propels them forward. That’s what Barnabas did for Paul. He took the once all-star Jewish legalist Saul and helped develop him into the grace-filled leader named Paul. He helped him be more than he thought he could be. That’s what happens when we tap someone’s potential. They become more than they thought possible. They use their God-given talents and marvel at the gift. Be a Barnabas and Andy to those around you. Look past the present behavior and build up what could be instead of criticizing what is. Have the vision to see the possibilities. Paint the picture for the person. Set them up to succeed. The Virgil’s and the Paul’s are waiting… By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Monday, September 23, 2013

Honoring Pel in God's Majesty

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth…”-Psalm 8:1 The majesty of it all, God shouting from above; The mountains are the message Of His unending love; The aspen and the pine trees Flourish in the air, They serve as a reminder That a mighty God is there; But it takes the time to notice, Business numbs our sight; We easily miss the obvious, We easily miss the light; So take your time and shake us, Remind us who You are; Keep us in the mountains, Whether near or far; We all need a purpose In the valley where we go; Keep the mountains in our hearts And help us all to grow. I wrote those words yesterday as I was sitting on Mt. Massive in Colorado. We were honoring Pel, my oldest brother, who passed away last spring. He requested that his ashes be spread on a 14er in the Rockies. He loved hiking and climbed over twenty 14ers when he lived in Colorado. So his three sons, Pell III, Scott and Alex, along with his three brothers, Marc, Bob, and myself made the trip determined to fulfill his wish. We all sensed that Pel was with us too. The journey went well. We didn't quite make it all the way to the top of the mountain. But close to the top, we built Pel a monument out of rocks and honored his life. It was a beautiful and emotional time as we each spread a portion of his ashes on the monument. His sons did make the extra trek to the summit to throw the other portion of his ashes to the wind. It turned out to be much more than a celebration of my dear brother…it was a celebration of God as well. The day was absolutely beautiful. We’d heard that the next day, a cold front would be moving through, the temperature dropping and several inches of snow would fall. But for then, the setting could not have been more perfect. We hit the trailhead around 6:ooam as the sun was just rising in the east. The aspen were bright gold in the morning light and the pines were majestic. We passed several waterfalls and wildlife scurried everywhere. God was shouting, "I am here and I am awesome. My child Pel is here with me, but you have more life to live. Trust me. Seek me. Admire me and my creation before you. Rest in my love and peace. So we honored Pel. His legacy of dedication, love and passion will live on through his family. But we honored God as well. May we all continue to honor God every day of our lives. Rest in peace Pel. We all love you. And may we rest in Your peace, our Awesome God and Savior, all the days of our lives. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Saying Goodbyes, Again

“…do not grieve as do the rest who have no hope” -1Th. 4:13 Jeanie just dropped me off at the Branson airport to make the trip to Colorado. My brothers, nephews and I will be climbing Mt. Massive and fulfilling my oldest brother’s wish for his ashes to be thrown off a 14er. I wrote about it a few weeks ago. It’s been an emotional couple of hours- a lot more than I anticipated. Grief is so unpredictable. We try to fast forward through it all, only to be rudely interrupted when it shows up again. But when it comes walking through the door, it’s best to politely pay heed and to honor the guest. Earlier this morning, we made a trip to our local veterinarian. Our cat, Tigger, had been in our family for 18 years. He had outlasted three of our labs and his health never wavered. But this past year, he began losing weight and losing mobility. His quality of life was deteriorating, so we made the tough decision to have him “put to sleep.” Though Tigger was never really a ”cozy” cat, he still was a part of the family that will be missed. A loss is a loss, whether big or small. But now I’m on the plane going to say bye to my big brother again. I’ve found myself revisiting his loss and realized that I too easily shift into compartmentalization mode when I face pain. It’s simply easier to keep it tucked away than to face the reality and deal with it in a healthy way. I do realize that God has gifted us with the unique ability to handle loss. Our fantastic God-given brain has the ability to store away emotions when necessary so that we can cope and survive through tough situations. But the coping system becomes destructive when I keep emotions tucked away indefinitely without letting God touch them with His healing power. Can our awesome God heal with an instant touch? Of course. But He usually chooses to use the healing touch of a brother or sister who walks with us through the pain and loss. That’s what I anticipate in Colorado. As Pel’s three sons and three brothers gather together for the weekend and honor him on the mountain, we’ll be validating each other’s love for our brother and dad. We’ll be saying to one another, “It’s OK to say goodbye. It’s OK to move on.” The common denominator is people. When we choose to grieve alone, we’re locked into our own empty, dark closet of pain. I am so thankful to have brothers and nephews that are willing to take the time and go to the expense to honor Pel. I realize not everyone can make a trip to the mountains in Colorado. But everyone can reach out to people. Everyone can lean on a trusted friend. Everyone can reach out to our loving and compassionate God who knows what it means to hurt. The point is: reach out. Because reaching in just compounds the pain. I’m praying we have a safe and awesome time this weekend. I’m a little nervous but excited for what lies in store. Mostly, I look forward to being with Pel. His sprit will never leave us. Yes, I’ll miss Tigger too, but Pel’s spirit lives on forever. Both in Heaven and in our hearts. By Eric Joseph Staples © www,parentingyourteen101.com

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Learning Golf

"…and He chose the twelve, that He might be with them…-Mark 3:14 Growing up in the Staples' family meant growing up with sports. My dad was a wrestler in his younger days and my three older brothers all excelled in football and track. We didn't play baseball, golf or basketball. Growing up in Texas, the focus was football. As the youngest and wanting to be a little different, I took up soccer as well. My dad came to watch the soccer games but I don't think he ever quite figured it all out. He told me once, "I don't understand the rules but I sure like watching you play." That was all the encouragement I needed. So, when my kids were in their school years, they played sports as well. Elizabeth played volleyball and was a pole vaulter and hurdler in track. I was clueless about both events but loved watching her compete. Eric also was involved in sports. He ran cross-country and track and played basketball and golf. I loved watching him play as well. As the kids have grown, they're not involved in most of those sports anymore. It would be kind of strange for Elizabeth and I to go pole-vaulting together. But the one sport that continues is golf. The problem was I am not a golfer. So, one afternoon years ago, I called a friend of mine who was the pro at a local golf club. I ask him, "Jeff, my son is into golf and good at it. I am not a golfer. Can you help me learn how to golf?" He said, "Yes." So we set an appointment for the next week. So the next week, I showed up with my sub par set of golf clubs ready to learn. I explained to Jeff, "I just want to be able to play a few holes with Eric without totally embarrassing myself." He said, "We'll get it done. "Remember," he said, "that golf is more mental than physical." I nodded yes, but had no clue what he meant. And the lessons began. I learned several important lessons from Jeff, about golf but mostly about life. 1. "Relax." From the first time I stepped up to the tee and hit the ball, Jeff urged me, "Relax Joey. Hold the club lightly. Breathe and enjoy the game." I had never really done that before in athletics. Relaxing in soccer would have landed me on the bench. Maybe. Or, would playing hard, intense and relaxed have been more fun? Jeff's point was a good one. Doing anything with a "chilled out" yet intentional attitude makes it more fun and usually more effective. 2. "Don't swing so hard." Jeff commented after my first drive, "Joey, you are not playing racquetball- swing softly." He educated me on the physics involved in the distance of the drive not being directly proportional to how hard the swing. He analyzed every part of my swing. He slowed it all down and it began to work. My late mentor, Richard Beach, used to say, "Play smarter, not harder." When we live our lives with focus, we get more accomplished. 3. "The distance doesn't matter." Jeff reminded me that if I swing the club correctly, the ball will go straight and farther. "Just focus on the swing," Jeff said. "Let the distance take care of itself." And of course, he was right. The "results" of life are up to the Lord, while my responsibility is to follow God and do what is right. My four lessons with Jeff lasted about a month and I learned quite a bit. No, I never went on the pro tour or anything, but I was able to at least play a few holes with Eric. I did learn a lot about golf, but never really mastered the game. But of course, that was never my intent. My intent was to love my son by doing what he liked to do. What do those you love like to do? Does your wife enjoy bike riding? Does your husband enjoy gardening? Do your kids like to play tennis? Do what they like to do. If you have to take lessons, take the time. It will be worth it. You just might learn some important lessons along the way… And show them you love them as well. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pelham's Promise

"…but your yes is to be yes…" -James 5:12 My favorite TV mini-series is also one of the most famous ever: Lonesome Dove. I bet I've watched it a zillion times. Jeanie said the other day, "It seems like you just watch that movie over and over." I think it connects me with my Texas roots or something. It's certainly doesn't espouse the best in morality, but it's just so…TEXAS. You may not have known that it's based on the true-life stories of Texan's Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnight. They were Texas Rangers and cattlemen and Goodnight kept meticulous records, correspondence and diaries. If ever there was a true man and spirit of the West, it was Charles Goodnight. His exploits have been made the basis of most Western movies in the last 100 years. Not only Lonesome Dove, but John Wayne movies and many others. In real life, while on a cattle drive, Loving was shot by Indians and would die of gangrene from his wounds on Sept. 25, 1867, and was temporarily buried at Fort Sumner. Before his death, Loving had asked Goodnight to bury him in Texas, so in February of 1868 Goodnight returned with Loving’s son, Joe, and carried the body back to be buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Weatherford, Texas. In Lonesome Dove, Call does the same for Augustus, transporting his body all the way back to Texas. That's what we do with those we love. When they make a wish, we honor that wish because we honor the person. You might remember that my dear brother, Pelham, passed away back in the spring. We had a memorial service for him back then but he made a special request before he died. He asked us to throw his ashes off of a mountain in Colorado. Pel loved climbing the 14ers (14,000 ft. high). So, the third weekend in September, Pel's three sons and my two brothers and I will fly to Denver, drive to Leadville and spend Saturday climbing to the summit of Mt. Massive, the 2nd highest mountain in Colorado. It won't be easy. The hike will begin about 3:00am so we can get to the summit before noon as there are afternoon thunderstorms nearly every day. The summit is above the tree line, so there is no protection from lightning strikes. But our plan is to make the journey and fulfill Pel's wish. But even better than fulfilling someone's wishes after their death is fulfilling wishes during their life. Someone said, "Don't respect someone for making a promise. Respect them for keeping it." Keeping promises requires commitment and integrity. The commitment to keep the promise given and the integrity to do whatever is required to make it happen. Husband's and wives, when is the last time you read the vows you made on your wedding day. They surely involved loving and honoring during better and worse. Parents, be reminded of those promises you made to your kids to always love them. And kids, remember the promise you made to respect your mom and dad. We need to be people of our word. We need to be people who keep promises. It's not easy because commitments are always difficult. Just like Goodnight honored Loving, we will honor Pelham by climbing the 14er and throwing his ashes to the wind. May we honor those we love in life as well as in their death. May we be willing to honor them… No matter where the journey takes us. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Friday, August 23, 2013

Back from the Beach

"…love one another" -2 John 5 We just returned from a wonderful trip to the Gulf Coast with all the family. It was a tremendous time of fun, fellowship and rest. It's a trip we've been taking for 25 plus years with Jeanie's best friend and sister, Holly, and her family. Our families have grown so much that we rented a beach house for the first time this year. It had 7 bedrooms and slept 23 people. The house and beach were great but the best part about the trip was the time with family. Many times, families celebrate the end of a vacation so they can get away from family and back to their routine. For all of us, we're still in the middle of P.V.D. (post vacation depression- I made that one up) from genuinely missing each other. Our vacations work because of some important ingredients. Respect. Someone said, "The highest expression of love is to respect." When we respect someone, we honor them even though we may not understand them. Counting kids, we had seventeen people between our families. There are a variety of personalities and temperaments in our group. It would be easy for the leaders and decision-makers to battle it out over who has control. But because of the respect level, this group always decides to take it easy and let the week flow. Laughter. Milton Berle said, "Laughter is an instant vacation." So, when laughter is coupled with a real vacation, it's a powerful combination. We laughed at each other all the time! The three grandkids were hilarious with their mannerisms and faces and, when our power went off during a storm, someone asked (and I won't name names), "Will the toilet still work with the electricity off?" We all had fun with that one. There were so many situations where we chose to find humor in each other rather than frustration. Flexibility. The other day, as I was telling someone about the trip, they responded, "How can you stand to be with family for a whole week? Don't you drive each other crazy?" My answer was "We could have spent a month together!" There are simply no huge expectations. And guess who struggles with that one more than anyone else? ME! But being flexible means not holding onto preconceived plans. It means, "letting go." It means relaxing and trusting God's plans. Love. Love is simply a choice. It's not about waiting until someone has earned the right to be loved, but about applying grace anyway. Are our two families perfect? Of course not. We do things to irritate each other and have our disagreements. But as Paul said at the end of Ephesians Chapter four, "Be kind to one another, forgiving each other as Christ has forgiven you." Love is the trump card that overrules any disagreement or misunderstanding. Yep, we loved our vacation. And the time of reflection and rest was so needed. Though we're back to the realities of school, work, and house chores, I think of our trip to the beach and I smile. Be sure you have vacation times with your family. You don't have to go to the beach. Maybe it's just a night out to eat and a movie or just grilling hot dogs on the back porch. The point is, you're together as a family respecting, laughing, flexing and loving those who mean the most to you. That's why God invented the family- that we might be filled with meaning and love. Families simply work… …whether the electricity goes off or not. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Clock Radios

"But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment" -1 Tim. 6:6 Sometimes I can be very annoying. I check and re-check things to make sure they're "set." I've never been clinically diagnosed as obsessive- compulsive, but I definitely have those tendencies. I like things to be in their place. It's good to be "tidy" but not good when it really doesn't matter. It's good for things to go as scheduled but not good when we resist God's better plan. It's not healthy when we've been given enough but we still want more. I was in the bedroom the other day and noticed our old alarm clocks that sit on the nightstands on each side of our bed. They looked dusty and old. I commented to Jeanie, "We need to get new alarm clocks." "Why", she asked? "These work just fine!" By the way, Jeanie would not be classified as OCD. She is not messy but doesn't stress over a pillow out of place. So, I began to describe all the reasons why we needed new alarm clocks. "These are dusty, they're worn out, and they won't charge our iPhone…they are just old." "Well okay,” she said. She's learned to leave me alone when I'm in "fix" mode. So, we drove to Bed Bath and Beyond and they had a bunch of different alarm clocks. We bought two of them that had a built in dock for the iPhone and a lot of gadgets. When we got home, I set them both up and we were set for an unbelievable experience with our clock radios. But the amazing experience turned sour. The clocks were too bright at night. Even set to their lowest, they kept us awake. And the iPhone cradle was awkward and noisy. So, a few days later, I returned the clock radios. I found two more that were less expensive, weren't as bright and worked just fine. I took them home and plugged them in. Again, ready to have a remarkable clock radio experience, I discovered that they were about the same as the original clock radios I had removed. So, I took those back to the store as well (they think I'm crazy), dusted and cleaned the old ones (that we hadn’t given away yet) and put them back in there place. We slept better that night, the clocks worked just fine and I saved $100. Our tendency is to always want more... 2 scoops could be 3 scoops, $10 could be $20, and partly sunny could be fully sunny. But the truth is, enough is enough. The word gluttony comes from the Latin word meaning "to gulp down or swallow." It means, "to gulp down to the point of extravagance or waste." We tend to associate gluttony with food, but most of the things we "gulp down" are much more damaging than what we eat. In Jesus' lesson about the rich young ruler, in Mark 10:17, Jesus was explaining that if we're focused on "gulping down" money, then we won't be focused on finding our peace in Him. Being rich, that man clearly had enough, but wasn't willing to give it away. We hold tightly to the most important things in our lives. Whether money, food, people, clock radios or God, where our heart is, our treasure lies. Jesus nailed it in Luke 12:34,“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." We'll never be content with anything other than Jesus. Be content with what God has provided. Trust that His provision is just right. Don't compare to those around you, but rather, prepare for God to bless you in His own unique way. He knows what He's doing and what you have is probably more than enough… …clock radios and all. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Barney Fife- Realtor

" …be content with what you have" - Heb. 13:5 Nothing fills our souls like the love of Jesus. Unfortunately, that doesn't keep most of us from trying to replace God with substitutes. But they all fall short. Nothing fills our souls like the love of Jesus. I have an experiment for you to try today: go to the kitchen sink in your house and fill up one side of the sink half way with water. Now, begin to grab the water with your hands and move it to the other side of the sink. Time yourself, and after 5 minutes, see how much water you've moved. You probably won't move very much. The truth is, grabbing water doesn't work very well. Looking to anything other than God for our significance doesn't work very well either. It will always produce frustration because it always slips through our fingers. Deep inside, it keeps us empty. It satisfies temporarily. The Bible challenges us to "be content with what we have" - if God is not at the center of it all, we'll always be looking for more. The house could always be bigger, our health could always be better, the car could always be newer, the kids could always live closer, and the savings account could always be fuller. The list goes on and on. If we're not filled up with Jesus, we will never be satisfied. Enter Barney Fife, the deputy on the Andy Griffith Show. We laugh at him because we see so much of ourselves in him. In season five, episode sixteen, Barney has grown discontent with his deputy job (once again). After speaking to the local real estate agent, Barney Fife decides that selling houses would be the perfect sideline for him. Being the deputy isn't enough. He starts by targeting some of the families in Mayberry who may want to change houses and soon has a chain of four buyers and sellers lined up. Even Andy has gotten involved. But Barney grows frustrated when the buyers and sellers aren't moving their homes quickly enough for Barney to share the profit. Having recently admonished Opie for trying to sell his bicycle without revealing the problem with the brakes, Andy finds himself being less than honest with the the prospective buyer of his house about the leaky roof or the noisy pipes. Opie practices what his father preaches and mentions these things to an interested buyer, much to Andy's annoyance. When Andy visits the house he's interested in buying, he finds that it may not be perfect either. So Andy tells the truth and, much to Barney's displeasure, decides that his current home is just fine, after all. At the end of the episode, every one is right back where they started. Andy realizes that the house they live in is home, leaky roof and all. And apparently, Barney realizes that his job is fine, even though they don't have machine guns and crime waves in Mayberry. They grew "content with what they had." Are you content with what you have today? It's okay to buy new cars and go on vacations, but if you're looking to those things for true peace, it's not there. In the 1600's, the famous French mathematician Blaise Pascal said, "there is a God-shaped hollow in the human heart that nothing else can fill." And the thing is, God is more than willing and capable of filling it to the very top, if we'll let Him. If I confess my reluctance and ask Him to be my peace, He is faithful to fill the void. You can let the water drain out of the sink now- let it be a reminder that anything we substitute for God always slips through our fingers. God is our all in all, whether we're selling houses or fighting crime in Mayberry. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Rodeo

"By faith Abraham…went out, not knowing where he was going" - Heb. 11:8 Life consists of all kinds of trials, challenges and learning experiences. Some of the trials are sent to us and some of them we choose. Either way, God uses them for our good. One experience I chose when I was a just entering high school landed me on my rear end. But I took a risk and learned from the experience. I grew up in "Cowtown." It was so named in the 1800's for its focus on cattle, ranching, and rodeo. Fort Worth went from a sleepy outpost to a bustling town when it became a stop along the legendary Chisholm Trail, the dusty path on which millions of head of cattle were driven north to market. Fort Worth became the center of the cattle drives, and later, the ranching industry. Its location on the Old Chisholm Trail helped establish Fort Worth as a trading and cattle center and earned it the nickname "Cowtown." Though I never lived on a ranch, I went to high school with several guys that lived west of Fort Worth on cattle ranches. But most of us at school adapted to the western image and wore our cowboy boots most days. One good friend that was especially western was Bill Barber. He was a friend of mine since fourth grade who took the cowboy heritage to a different level. His dad had been a champion roper and passed on the legacy to Bill. Bill had multiple pairs of boots, a great mustache and a "barrel" in his backyard. Set up like a swing set, a "barrel" is a device used by cowboys to practice rodeo. It's literally a big steel barrel on springs that you sit on and try to "ride" as it's bouncing around. It simulates riding a bronc or a bull. I never could stay on that thing. One afternoon, some friends and I were in Bill's backyard when he came up with a crazy idea. "Let's go ride in an actual rodeo." I'm sure I paused and laughed. Bill continued, "There's a rodeo every Saturday west of Fort Worth in Boyd. You pay $25 bucks and they let you ride." He was serious. He was actually serious. And, though I wanted to throw up, I wasn't about to back out of the experience. So, a few Saturday's later, some of us piled in Bill's pickup and we headed to Boyd. We arrived late on a Saturday morning, paid our money and got in line. I was scared to death and had no idea what I was doing. Bill tried to prep me but it was hopeless. I was in a trance the whole time. I remember climbing into the "chute," where the horse is kept. I remember getting on the horse. I remember grabbing the top of the gate to settle myself, and I remember them asking if I was "ready" (ready?) and I remember the gate opening. But there was one problem: I never let go of the top of the gate. So when the gate opened and the horse left the chute, I was pulled off the horse by…me! The horse (and my $25) ran on through the arena while I fell to the ground. It was pitiful. But I did it! Forever I could say that I actually and technically rode in a rodeo… sort of. I rode about one second. For a guy like myself who wasn't used to taking huge risks, it was a big deal. Of course, today, liability spoils many a risky adventure. I'm sure that Saturday morning rodeo is long gone, smothered by needed insurance coverage and costs. But the adventures are still out there. And the opportunity for kids to explore and risk is so important. Let your kids try some crazy things. Let it be their idea. Let them explore. Let them make the choice to test themselves. Leave them alone long enough for them to do it themselves. Sure, they will probably fall off the horse, but the adventure will be worth every penny. Even for a one second ride. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Child Raising

"…train up a child in the way he should go…" -Proverbs 22:6 There are countless books, manuals and DVD's on "how to properly raise a child". While most of the the authors and speakers are sharing truth and wisdom, the instructions can sometimes be a bit overwhelming and simplistic. While we need to be open to wise Godly counsel and advice, parents don't need to panic. God is in control and if we seek Him first, He brings the peace and wisdom we need. I've been to Africa a couple of times, and both times I observed several differences in families there and here in America. One glaring difference that stood out is the focus on kids. In most of the world, kids are not number one. Here in the U.S., they have become the focus. Certainly we don't need to neglect our kids, but we don't need to treat them as kings and queens either. The kid obsession has produced a focus on "kid advice" in America. Scripture points out the necessity of wisdom gained in "abundance of counselors" (Prov. 15:22), but how many is enough? Exactly how many professionals does it take to raise a child? I was reading an article in a magazine that listed the mirage of new professions focused on kids. It's hard to believe that 100 years ago, Professional Counselors and Consultants hardly existed. And while Doctors and Counselors have provided much needed care, when does the care go too far? A Baby Whisperer is a "Certified Child Sleep Consultant". They cost between $50-$350 per hour. They examine a baby's napping and nighttime schedule. A Sensory Communicator is a "Certified Infant Massage Instructor". They cost between $25-$100 per hour. They teach parents how to massage their babies, intended to promote attachment and well-being. A Supportive Foodie is a "Certified Nutrition Consultant". They cost between $40-$100 per hour. They share the children's diet and devise healthy recipes and personalized eating plans. A Greenproofer is a "Certified Maternity Eco-Consultant". They cost between $40-$80 per hour. They help minimize potentially toxic substances in the home. They recommend diapers, bath products, cleaning supplies, and nursery décor and can test indoor air quality. Asa was one of the many kings of Judah and reigned 41 years (a record for most kings in the Old Testament). Scripture says he followed God and rooted out idol worship during his reign. But at the end of his life, he got a foot disease and an interesting thing happened: he sought advice and it killed him - sort of. Second Chronicles 16:12-13 explains, " in the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa became diseased in his feet. His disease was severe, yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians. So Asa slept with his fathers, having died in the forty-first year of his reign." A foot disease? Hardly seems like enough to kill someone. After all, a Hebrew "foot consultant" probably suggested to Asa to "sprinkle a little talcum powder on it and all will be well". For whatever reason, Asa didn't go to God with his problem first. Instead, he went to the experts on foot disease. Is there anything wrong with going to doctors and counselors? Of course not. They're trained to help. But we have to remember to go to the Great Physician and Counselor first, not to every "expert" in the field of raising children. He might choose to heal outright or he might work through those professionals to bring the healing. Either way, God is at work growing our kids. And giving us the wisdom to parent His way. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Thursday, June 27, 2013


"…I do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men" - Acts 24:16 We moved to the Ozarks over thirty years ago and have lived in the same home all these years. We love our home. It sits on two and a half acres surrounded by woods. We have added on twice and done multiple renovations over the years. I'm not sure there's a single part of the house that hasn't been changed and updated. The maintenance goes on and on. That's the thing about houses- they require maintenance. Our lives require maintenance too. In the fall, we decided it was time to paint again. The weather had been cool and though we enlisted the help of a friend who is a professional painter, we are doing a lot of the work ourselves. The weather has turned hot and we're almost finished. The house already looks great. But here's the problem (and the opportunity) that comes with maintenance- it costs time and money. There is always a price to pay for maintaining the things that are valuable to us, but it's always worth it. Why? Because when we do the work necessary to keep our valuables working well, it usually means those "things" will run better and smoother. Not convinced? Well, try this experiment: don't change the oil in your car this year or don't take a shower this month or don't brush your teeth this week (yuck). Chances are your car will break down, you will have an unusual odor following you and, well, you'll have an unusual odor in front of you too. But there are more important maintenance issues than painting and brushing teeth. The upkeep of our hearts and minds is the most important focus we should have. A few coats of paint may hardly be noticed, but maintaining the integrity of my heart brings meaning and purpose to life. Of course, there are prices to be paid for that maintenance as well. Doing a "maintenance check" of our lives is simply taking the time to inventory the valuable relationships in our lives. 1) My relationship with God. Am I taking the time to spend time with Jesus? Am I having a daily time with Jesus, studying His Word and spending time in prayer and confession? 2) My relationship with my spouse. Am I taking the time to spend time with my husband or wife? Am I being a good listener? Am I loving and respecting them? Am I cherishing them above all else? 3) My relationship with my kids. Am I taking the time to spend with my kids? (notice a pattern here?) Am I listening to them and accepting them for who they are and not what I want them to be? Am I doing what they like to do? 4) My relationship with friends. Am I taking the time to spend with friends? Am I being a "friend that sticks closer than a brother?" Am I encouraging and challenging them to be the best they can be? 5) My relationship with me. Am I taking the time to keep myself healthy? Am I exercising and eating like I should? Am I spending time with my favorite hobbies? Doing maintenance work is not easy and the cost can be high. But whether it's painting a house or spending time with my family, the price is always worth it. And the finished product is beautiful. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Sunday, June 16, 2013


“Honor your father…” –Exodus 20:12 This father day, I want to honor the wonderful legacy of my father, Pelham Staples. My dad was born April 3, 1919 in Roopville, Georgia on a cotton farm. He was the fourth son of seven kids. After serving in World War II, he married my mom, went to medical school and practiced medicine for his whole career. But his main focus was always his four boys, of which I was the youngest. My dad died suddenly in 1988. He was my father, my hero and my security. When he died, my world stopped for a while. Even though it was 22 years ago, it seems like yesterday. I still miss him very much. The sting of grief has definitely turned into something sweeter than before, but I know that a part of me is gone and will never return. I also know that I have a heavenly Father that is more than capable of filling that void in my heart left on that cold December day. It’s funny the things we remember about those that we love. When I think of my dad, I remember things he said. He was a man of few words and language meant a lot to him. “There are a lot of things worse than dying.” He often spoke of the sadness of lack of love within family, living a life of empty conceit and the importance of living life to fullest. I saw my dad die a lot through his giving spirit and unselfish attitude. He was a giver. “Worrying doesn’t stop the rain- besides the farmers need it.” Seldom did he comment on the rain-instead he rejoiced in who was recieving the blessing. My dad’s agrarian background often showed in his appreciation of nature. We’d be driving along and he comment on “the beautiful crops.” “Joey, I’d love to decide for you but I’ll only decide with you.” I went to him for so much counsel. “Should I go to Baylor? What should be my major? What do I do after college? Should I marry this beautiful girl named Jeanie? Should we move to Branson?” With all the questions came that same response. He knew I needed to own my life, but he was always there for me. After he died, as we sat at visitation at the funeral home, an old pickup truck pulled up in front and a well-dressed Mexican family filed out of the truck, 4 girls and the mom and dad. It was Gonzalo, my dad’s helper at our ranch, and his family. They had driven all the way from west Texas to honor my dad. They came over to my mom and the brothers and introduced themselves. Then he pulled up the cuff of his pants to show us his lizard skin boots. “Your father gave me these boots. One day he noticed my boots were old and worn out and right there on the spot he took off his boots and gave them to me. I will never forget Dr. Staples and I come to honor him.” My dad would be the first to say he was far from perfect. But he was a dad that loved. I am so thankful I got to be his son, and that I can live the rest of my life to honor him and my heavenly Father. Happy fathers day! By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Monday, June 3, 2013

Suitable Helpers

"Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” -Gen. 2:18 Last week, my son Eric asked Jennifer to be his wife. She said "yes!" They met in Nashville last year. They are a beautiful couple, inside and out. Jeanie and I had made the drive to Nashville to be there for the "post-asking party." We had a great time meeting Jen and Eric's friends who make up their community there in Nashville. Eric and Jen have been truly blessed by God and will be used greatly by Him as they make their home in Nashville. Eric commented, "Isn't it cool how God knows who we need to complete us?" It's more than cool; it's miraculous that God can orchestrate circumstances so that we line up with our perfect match. In three weeks, my nephew Taylor and his finance Emily will be married. They have been dating for several years and are super excited to spend the rest of their lives together. They both graduated from LSU and have been involved with a campus ministry and other activities. They will be married in Lafayette at a beautiful southern mansion. But it's not about the wedding, it's about the marriage and these two will enjoy a solid friendship as partners forever. More than thirty years ago, I asked Jeanie Beadle to be my wife. We'd met the summer of 1980 and were in engaged that October. All I knew was that I loved her and needed her to complete me. Were we ready to get married? Absolutely. Were we all set for the future? Not at all. On the other hand, sure we were. God had it all covered. In hindsight, he had orchestrated a phenomenal plan for us. But at the time, we had little money in our checking account, lived in a tiny apartment and shared our little Datson 210. But God recognized that we were lonely on our own and brought us together forever. My mom, Mildred, met my dad, Pelham, in the early 1940's. They quickly fell in love and married. After over 45 years of marriage with four boys and many grandchildren, my dad passed away in 1988. But my mom is still madly in love with her man. God sent him to complete my mom and she still loves him dearly. Sure, the option exists to move on but she's chosen to keep true to him. What's the common factor in these four relationships? God. He's in the business of pairing up couples to be completed. Is it OK to be single? Absolutely. God is sufficient to meet every need. But, for some reason, when God created man, he saw there was a void. And then he created the miracle called woman to complete the man (and the woman). And he didn't just create a woman, he created THE woman necessary to be suitable for the man. In other words, he custom built the woman for the man. Amazing. And God has been in the customizing business ever since. He matches men with women. We sometimes make the process difficult when we grow impatient and force the issue. But in the powerful concept called "waiting," we become the recipients of His perfect will. God pairs up "suitable helpers" and the process rolls on and on. So, Eric and Jen, enjoy your engagement, as your hearts grow even closer; Taylor and Emily, an early congratulations as you begin this next chapter together; Jeanie, I love you more today than I've ever; and mom, thanks to you and dad for your example of being in love. Mostly, thank you God for recognizing our deficiency and filling the void. Not just through providing our mates… …but mostly, by sending Your Son, Jesus, that we might be complete forever. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Monday, May 27, 2013

Conquering Fear

"…keep up your courage…" -Acts 27:25 Today we celebrate Memorial Day to honor all those who gave their lives in service to our wonderful country. They served country over self and we are thankful. They looked danger in the face and said, "I refuse to give in to fear- I choose honor, even if I sacrifice myself to a larger cause." Thanks to all those who have passed and the legacy they have left for each one of us living today. Nelson Mandela said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” There is another kind of bravery and it's not limited to the battlefield. It's those who face seemingly insurmountable trials with faith and integrity. Lisa Mason is one of the most courageous people I have ever known. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 25 years ago and has been dealing with the symptoms ever since. MS is a potentially debilitating disease in which your body's immune system eats away at the protective sheath (myelin) that covers your nerves. Damage to myelin causes interference in the communication between your brain, spinal cord and other areas of your body. This condition may result in deterioration of the nerves themselves, a process that's not reversible. But MS has never defeated Lisa. She has simply refused to let the MS define who she is. Her husband Donny, one of my best friends since high school, has been her faithful partner through all of this. Her oldest son, Mark, is married to my daughter Elizabeth, so I've been able to watch Lisa's example for years. I've learned (or, better said, I'm still learning) three lessons from her willingness to be courageous: 1) Reliance on the Lord. Lisa has never been bitter through this trial season. She recognizes that God is on control and like Job said, "He gives and takes away." Her faith is in Christ and faith is immune from any disease. 2) Contentment. In Paul's letter to the Philippians, he challenged them to "be content in whatever circumstances they were in" (4:11). Lisa does not bow to MS. It is simply an inconvenience that she works around every day. 3) An eye on the future. Lisa is in her greatest challenge as I write this blog. As the disease has continued to conflict her body, she was offered a chance to free her body of the MS through a new clinical trial. This trial is new to the US and there are only a few specialists utilizing the treatment, one of which is Lisa’s doctor in Amarillo, Texas, where she lives. Through this treatment they will remove her damaged stem cells and replace them with "clean" stem cells, thus ridding her body of the bad cells. The procedure is risky but the chance of a positive outcome will leave her well. So, she's in week three of the six-month process and people from all over the world are praying for a positive outcome. As usual, Lisa is not going through the procedure for herself, but desires to have greater mobility for those she loves. She is courageously facing the trial with faith and dignity. That's no surprise to any of us who know her. Her heart could make no other choice. Lisa, we pray for you to stay focused on the Lord and His blessings that follow. Thank you for your example…. As you conquer the fear. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Monday, May 20, 2013


"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe" -Prov. 18:10 Encouragement is a powerful tool. It literally means, "to do what is necessary to bring courage to another." If we encourage, we're building someone up and enabling them to face the difficulties of life. We are at our best when we're encouraging one another. God loves to encourage His people in a variety of ways. Having been out of town the week before, my counseling schedule for the week was packed. I was in the last session late Thursday and my brain was pretty fried. As always, I was finishing the week super impressed with everyone I had met with that week: honest, vulnerable and willing to work on their issues. As my last session was ending, I heard what I thought was music. Perhaps it was just music coming from a car in the parking lot. I prayed with the client, said goodbye and began to close down my office for the day when I heard the music again. As I opened the door to my office, the music grew louder. It was blue grass, which I love! The banjo, fiddle, bass and guitar blended into a beautiful melody of music. As I walked down the hallway, it became apparent to me that it was live. I walked downstairs to Fellowship Hall and as I turned the corner, I froze as the bluegrass band played their music. The Hall was packed with people as the band played. It was a group of musicians playing for a church function. They were so good and I thought I recognized the mandolin player on the left. As they began to discuss the Andy Griffith Show, I figured it out. It was Dean Webb, one of the original Darlings that appeared on the Show back in the 60's (far left in the photo). They began to discuss Dean's experience on the show and how much he enjoyed his time there. The Andy Griffith Show just happens to be my favorite and has to be the most popular show in the history of television. After all, fifty years later, episodes are still being shown on multiple channels. Then something magic happened. The band announced that they would play two songs that the Darlings played on the show: "Doug's tune" and "Dooley". I could not believe it! I smiled as I sang along with their music. It was exactly what I needed at the end of a difficult week. God always provides what we need. He is an encouragement machine. He always provides just what we need at just the time when we need it. In the life of the Apostle Paul, he provided Ananias after Paul was blinded in Acts 9 and, in Acts 27, an angel appeared to encourage him when his boat was sinking. Encouragement comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Certainly, God provides encouragement 24/7 via the Holy Spirit. God provides His Word, the Bible, to bring us encouragement. Prayer links us into God's Spirit. And brothers and sisters around us build us up during difficult times. God can use anything at anytime to build us up. He is not bound by any limitation. So, the next time you're feeling tired, down or defeated, be sure your eyes are open to God's method of encouragement. There is a condition: we have to be willing to let God crash our pity party and brighten our day. We have to be willing to step back out of ourselves and accept His tools to build us up. If we're willing to follow the sound of the music, it just might lead us to a place of encouragement. And back to Mayberry as well. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Friday, May 10, 2013

Family Ties

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" - John 15:13 We're just returning from trips to Des Moines, Baton Rouge and Fort Worth to spend time with family. Whew. We put in lots of miles, ate a lot of food and carried lots of suitcases, but it's always worth the hassle. In the end, it's all about family. Blood really is thicker than water and I'm more and more convinced that God created us humans to need each other. We can claim independence, but we're all needy, especially for those who share our gene pool. One of my favorite movies is "Legends of the Fall." I know, it's intense and not suited for kids but it's a beautiful movie about family. I've discovered in all my years of working with families that they are always in constant change. Families are just a microcosm of ourselves- always moving and searching for truth. In Legends of the Fall, the Ludlow family, who live in rustic Montana, find their niche. Through loss and tragedy, two of the brothers grow apart. In anger, Tristan and Alfred go their separate ways. And the dad sides with Tristan. Fast forward to a scene at the end of the movie, when Tristan is about to be shot by the corrupt police. A shot rings out from nowhere to save the trapped Tristan. He and his dad turn to see that Alfred has protected his brother. The father walks over to his estranged son, pauses, and gives him a huge hug, the first in many years. In the end, the brothers and the father reconcile. I cry every time I see that scene. I cry because I love reconciliation. It's what I try to help others discover. Is it because there is some deep need I have to connect with my own family? Maybe, but I don't think so. I'm close to all my family. I think it's a God-given desire we all possess. We all have a void left by the wound of Sin. We long for connection, ultimately with our Creator. Connection with family won't fix it, but when we've corrected the connection problem with God, we're okay. And, connection with family stirs love. My favorite movie number two is even more intense. "Man on Fire" is about Creasy, a burned-out CIA assassin who is lost, addicted and unconnected. He is working in the civilian world as a bodyguard for a prominent family in Mexico. As time passes, he bonds with Pita, the little girl of the family. All is peaceful, as he grows closer to her. Then the girl is kidnapped and Creasy wounded. In love, he finds the girl and saves her. He saves her by offering himself to the kidnappers in exchange for her freedom. They grant the request, she runs to her mother and Creasy dies in the hands of the captors. I cry every time I see that scene too (I know, I'm a cry baby). That's the true definition of family: sacrifice. It's about giving up something of ourselves for the benefit of those we love. And then we become the beneficiary. Jesus gave up Himself so that we might have a relationship with God. It was and will always be the ultimate example of selflessness. Reach out to your family today. Sure, they're weird, hard to understand and different, but so are you! Go see them, if you can. But it's not about geography. Connect from wherever you are. And let the blood grow thicker and thicker. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Hit List

“But I say to you, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you" -Luke 6:27 One of God's greatest tools for discipleship is friendship. Two brothers or sisters form an amazing bond when their hearts meld together. Just ask Jonathon and David. Their friendship is described beautifully in Scripture. Or, just ask yourself how much those few life-long friendships in your life make a difference. But as rich and fulfilling as friendships can be, when they are damaged, the hurt is deep and the consequences are difficult. I knew a friend had been struggling in a friendship and I ask him how things were going between them. "Oh, I've been put on his Hit List." I asked him to clarify. "Well, he won't return my calls or my emails. I've been checked off his list. We're done." I was pretty sure I knew who he was talking about and my heart grieved as I heard his anguish. Friendships falter all the time. But it seems there is never a legitimate reason to "pull the plug" on a friendship. Never. Are we supposed to be deep brothers and sisters with everyone? No. We're not to spend all our time trying to add to our friendship total (look out Facebook friends). But we are to be friends with all we meet. And, we're called to maintain those friendships. Scripture seems clear that if we encounter a problem with a friend, we're supposed to deal with it. If we don't, our very relationship with God is damaged until the mending takes place. Jesus said in Matthew 6:15, “If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive you." What he means is as long as we harbor anger or resentment towards a friend, we cannot experience (though we're forgiven) God's forgiveness. Oscar Wilde said, "true friends stab you in the front." And I think that's the problem. A true friend "speaks truth in love" (Eph. 4:15), feelings get hurt and reconciliation never takes place. And Satan throws a party. Sad. Someone holds on to justified resentment (hmmm) and days turn in to weeks which turn in to years. Right after Jesus talked about being a true "light to the world" and right before he talked about divorce, he talked about friendships in Matthew 5:22-25, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering." Later on in Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus also said, " If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you". “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector." (Both of which Jesus loved dearly, by the way). Friendships are all about love and maintenance. And they work both ways. If a brother hurts us, we need to go to him and right the wrong. We work it out. It's difficult, but necessary. And, if we sense a brother is angry with us, we go to him. Or, at least we try. We can't control whether they'll take our phone call or accept our invitation to lunch. But we do our best. Paul said in Romans, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." We can only try. Aristotle said, "A friend to all is a friend to none." Count your true friends and treasure them. Do the maintenance work necessary to keep them current. Love them and if you harbor anger or resentment, go to them- even if it's been years. Share your heart and you will be the one set free. Paul said in Romans 12:17-18, "Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." My translation: it's never okay to harbor anger towards someone. Period. I think Joseph understood as he forgave his brothers. Take the challenge. Clean the slate. Make the phone call. Deal with it. Accept Paul's call in Ephesians 4: "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." And throw the Hit List in the trashcan. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Knowing Someone

"Instead, I have called you friends…" -John 15:15 Knowing someone, I mean, really knowing someone is awesome. Proverbs 18:24 states that, “A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” Translation in 2013, "Having a thousand Facebook friends means little, but having one true brother means a lot!" True brother/sister friendships are rare. They are rare because they are risky. The hurdles jumped on the way to true friendship are high, but the prize at the end of the race is a life-long friendship. Certainly we need friendships as we journey through this life, but there is no "friend that sticks closer than a brother" like Jesus. Steering our kids and loved ones toward Him, as a friend, means they will walk in true friendship forever. In one of my favorite scenes in Avatar, Jake Sully turns to Neytiri and says, “I see you.” Neytiri responds back to him, “I see you too.” They were expressing the understanding and love that they had for one another as they knew each other. Then their tails joined together and they skipped off into the sunset. I never truly understood the tail thing. I remember when I was in 5th grade I went to Camp Carter, a YMCA camp in Fort Worth. I was pretty shy but excited to go to camp with Joe Padget and my other friends. I enjoyed the time but I remember feeling left out at the rifle range. The head counselor there made these special T-shirts for some of the guys in my cabin, but he didn't make me one. I remember thinking, “I’m going to get to know this guy so he’ll make me a T-shirt.” I hung out at the rifle range as much as I could and talked to him at meals and stuff. I know, pretty pitiful just to get a T-shirt, but hey, they were cool. The last day of camp, guess what that counselor handed me? You guessed it, a T-shirt. I still have that shirt in my closet (just kidding). The point is, I wanted to know him (even if my motive was weak). When we want to know someone, we spend time with them. In Philippians 3:10, Paul shares, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering, becoming like Him in His death.” Paul wanted to know Christ. Sure, he’d wanted to experience power and fellowship, but he wanted to know Jesus. If you have a personal relationship with Jesus, you will get to enjoy eternal friendship with Him. But you can enjoy the friendship with Him today on planet earth. How are you doing in your relationship with Jesus? Is He an “acquaintance” these days or a true friend? Do you “see” Jesus? Of course, He always sees us. But am I relaxed in the grace of a friendship with Him? It’s easy to feel “left out at the rifle range,” but when I humble myself and reach towards Christ, He always reaches back. Always! And He promises to bless us with something even better than a T-shirt. He promises to bless us with His grace and love. by Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com

Monday, April 8, 2013

Thank You

Not a blog, per se, but an opportunity to tell everyone thanks for the outpouring of love on the passing of my dear brother Pelham this past week. I'd prefer to respond individually to every voicemail, letter, email, text and post to the blog, but there are just too many. Your prayers and encouragement have made a huge difference to the Staples family. During my crazy drive to Houston during the wee hours of Tuesday morning, your prayers kept me alert. During the difficult week at MD Anderson, your prayer gave the doctors discernment. During Pel's struggle to battle the cancer, your prayers gave him strength. During the difficult decisions of Wednesday and Thursday, your prayers gave the family wisdom. During Pel's letting go, I'm confident your prayers gave him peace. And during the grieving through his death, your prayers are giving us comfort and assurance. Now, we face another difficult journey as we move on without Pel. But God is more than graceful to fill the void. Thank you for your continued prayers in the days ahead and for your friendship. So grateful, Joseph Staples on behalf of the Staples family

Sunday, April 7, 2013


"…we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord" -2 Cor. 5:8 My awesome brother Pelham passed away a few days ago. Surrounded by most of his family, he took his last breath and immediately his suffering ended and peace began. He went home. Most of us had spent the week with him at MD Anderson in Houston where the excellent Staff did all they could to stem the tide of the suddenly super aggressive cancer that he'd been battling for over ten years. But none of that matters now. Pel is home. Home is an awesome place. It's cozy, predictable, smells just right and feels secure. But home is not a house. Robin Hobb wrote, “Home is people. Not a place. If you go back there after the people are gone, then all you can see is what is not there any more.” She is so right. It's all about the people; it's all about family. A year ago, Pel decided to move to Fort Worth from Colorado, where he'd lived for a long time. We were all a bit surprised, but excited that he was moving closer to family in Texas. It became apparent that along with his TV and clothes, he was also bringing something else back with him: cancer. We were hoping it wouldn't be allowed to cross the Colorado-Texas state line, but cancer knows no boundaries. So, he bought a house here in Fort Worth and he came home. I think he intuitively knew that his days were short. He probably never shared all the details of how sick he was with us. Like all us "tough" Staples boys, Pel was hard on the outside and soft on the inside. No matter how sick he was, there wasn't a time that I called Pel that he didn't say how well he was doing. "I'm great", he would say, "How are you?" Many times, I thought I knew better. I knew he was super sick, but Pel refused to give in to the sickness. There's a story about a man who was asked how he was doing, "I'm OK, under the circumstances." The reply back was, "Well, what are you doing under there?" Pel refused to be dictated by his sickness. You could call that "denial," I guess, or maybe it was something even better. Maybe it was more "acceptance" of the difficulty and a "moving on" in his spirit. But Pel also knew that he was human. And when the days are difficult and the load heavy, there's simply "no place like home." Though he missed his loved ones in Colorado, I think Pel felt like it was time to be with family in Fort Worth. So he set up shop right here in Texas. But his sickness had another agenda. There's another Home and it makes our home here on earth seem like a cheap hotel room. It's called Heaven. And though we only know a few of the details, we know it's awesome. Over the years, Pel and I had long talks about God. A few months ago, he wrote me a long letter about his faith. In it, he said, "I do believe in God and I do pray" and listed 7 reasons why he believes. I think he heard the voice of God calling him Home. Pel lived a remarkable life. As a physician, his healing hands served and preserved life for countless men, women and babies. He raised three wonderful sons and was a loyal friend to so many people. He was a great brother to Marc, Bob and me as he simply took responsibility for his little brothers. Since my dad died in 1988, he called and checked up on us often. But ultimately, he heeded the call of God and went home. So, have a blast Pel. Enjoy the safety and security of Heaven. All the detail questions about God don't matter now, just rest in His presence. Enjoy the absence of pain and the presence of peace… and a marvelous homecoming. By Eric Joseph Staples © www.parentingyourteen101.com To see obituary: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dfw/obituary.aspx?n=pelham-porter-staples&pid=164073471#fbLoggedOut