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