Thursday, December 18, 2008


If my mom was still alive today would be her 74th birthday and my parents’ 57th wedding anniversary. In a conversation Susanne and I had last week she said that since she was so young when her Grandfather Beem passed away—twelve, I think—she cannot recall his voice. She has memories of him, for sure, but even those are limited. Yet since she was an adult when my mom passed away 14 years ago she can recall many things, including the sound of her voice, the way she answered the phone, her ability to recall recipes off the top of her head, and her constant encouragement.

I was reflecting on that just now, and it brings up the sadness I feel that our daughter will never get to know her Grandma Roberts (that’s also true for her cousin Kirsten, who was an infant when Mom passed away). Now Linnea is not hurting for attention, mind you. For better or worse she is pretty much the center of the universe when we’re in Kansas with our families. She gets all kinds of attention, not the least of which is from her Grandma Beem, whom she adores. Still, she will miss out because my mother was a really great woman. She loved her grandchildren and would have loved Linnea, too. And Linnea would have loved her. Mom would have loved Linnea’s spunk, her love of laughter, and her developing ability to say hilarious things. (Of course, I am her not so objective father. Linnea could call the dog to her food dish and I would think it was beautiful). Linnea would have loved Mom’s zest for life, and her knack—unforced—for finding joy in so much of life, even in, maybe especially in, the hard times.

My Grandmother Holm passed away not long after Mom and Dad were married, so my siblings and I never got to know her. Sometimes Mom would talk about her mother and I would feel the ache of really wishing she was still around so I could know her. I feel that now as I write about Linnea missing out on knowing my mother. She knows my father, and I am so glad for that. He and Mom were a great match: two very good people, and I am grateful for them.

Fifty-seven years, how incredible that would be! Instead, Mom died a few months before their 43rd anniversary. The acute pain that I felt when she first died is gone, but the ache of the loss is so much deeper now. A couple of days before Mom’s death Susanne and I visited her in the hospital, and she reassured us during that visit that she knew Susanne and I would get to have children, something we weren’t feeling so confident of anymore. It took eleven more years, but Mom was right. And I wish the precious gift God gave us could know the precious gift that was my mother.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Read this!

My good friend Ben over at mentioned a book he'd just ordered, so I decided to check it out and found an excerpt from it on the author's website. The author is Winn Collier, and his book is Holy Curiosity: Encountering Jesus' Provocative Questions. Here is the link to chapter one: By the way, I'm putting it on my Christmas list in case someone wants to buy it for me.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thank you!

A few Saturdays ago Susanne, Linnea and I were out running errands and we decided to stop at Fuddruckers for lunch. The place was bustling with activity, packed with moms and dads and children, many of whom were wearing soccer or football uniforms (the children, that is, not the moms and dads).
Susanne and Linnea went to find a table while I waited in line to order our food. As I stood there watching the other families I found myself thinking about how, not too long ago, I used to see families on fall Saturdays and feel sad. Susanne and I didn’t have children, and it was starting to look to me like we never would. This time my thoughts turned to joy because of the beautiful gift God gave us, a sweet, energetic girl who turned three last Saturday. We were blessed to be there for Linnea’s birth, and she has been with us ever since. What a gift from the God “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” As I stood in line considering all this tears of gratitude welled up in my eyes.
“God, I had all but given up on being a father,” I silently prayed. “I had given up the idea that it even mattered to you where I was concerned. Thank you for being so good to me.”
One of these days I might bump into you on a fall Saturday at Fuddruckers. I’ll be the misty-eyed dad ordering burgers for me and my wife and the little blonde beauty in the soccer uniform.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pray for "Pacman"

I’m happy for Adam “Pacman” Jones. He’s finally encountered someone who cares about him as a human being. That someone is Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, who just suspended Jones again for his latest run-in with the law. Up to this point, the people in Pacman’s life have mostly been enablers and excuse-makers.

I don’t know Jones’ whole story, but from what I understand, he, like many others, had a pretty rough upbringing. In his case, though, he is an exceptional athlete, which can actually work against someone in our society when it comes to character formation. If you’re a good athlete there are a lot of enablers out there--coaches, team owners, schools, fans--who will let you get away with bad behavior. All you’ve got to do is show up on a Friday night or a weekend afternoon and help your team to victory. There are some coaches and owners out there who won’t stand for that, but by and large many of them are more than happy to use a player with bad character as long as he produces for the team. The sad thing is that most of those players never figure out they’re being used. And once their careers are over, all the athleticism squeezed out of them, the enablers disappear from the players’ life, out looking for the next star who can pack the stadium. Again, this is not true of all coaches or teams or schools, but it is true enough that it’s become expected in our society. The really great athletes stop being held accountable for bad behavior in middle school or junior high.

Fortunately for Pacman Jones, someone is standing up and saying, “that’s enough. You either figure out what is going on inside you that is causing you to destroy your life, or you won’t play in my league.” Good friends lovingly confront us when we’re about to do something stupid that will harm ourselves or someone else. Love is patient and kind but it also stands up sometimes and says, “I love you too much to watch you destroy your life.” The thing that is left for us to do is to pray for Adam Jones, that he will see his deep need, a need we all share, for a loving Savior who is full of the grace that changes lives.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hear No Evil???

Today's (digital) issue of The Sporting News mentions Lance Allred, the deaf basketball player who was just released by the Cleveland Cavaliers. It mentions that he is writing a book about his disability and about growing up in a polygamous sect in Utah. Any chance the title will be Hear No Evil?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Drink Deeply!

The counseling center I work at publishes a monthly newsletter. If you'd like to take a look just click on this link: The October edition has a short devotional written by yours truly. It was originally published a few years ago in the Lenten devotional my church puts out every year for the congregation, which explains why the third paragraph begins, "In another of our readings for today . . ." Hmmm, I should have fixed that before it went into our newsletter. Anyway, the newsletter includes parenting tips, and good, thought-provoking articles by my colleagues, too.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

just a silly thought

I just finished eating Campbell's Old-Fashioned Vegetable Beef Soup for lunch.

Which leads me to the question: When are they going to introduce the new stuff? They've had plenty of time.


Do yourself a favor and read this: It's on the left-hand side, scroll down a bit. I found it on Wes Roberts' blog, which you'll find a link to off to your left. Wes Roberts' blog is well worth checking out daily.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hope Springs Eternal

It is that time of year when hope springs eternal. I know what swells up in your heart when you read that, and you're exactly right. Football season is here! Or is that just me?

My beloved K-State Wildcats open their season Saturday against the University of North Texas. I don't know what our prospects are this season. We pounded the University of Texas last season but we were awful down the stretch, including a loss to ku. And in my economy, the Cats can win every other game but if they lose to ku the season was a failure. So I am entering this season with my usual odd mix of quiet hope mixed with a fair amount of pessimism which I hope will protect me if the season is a failure. It never works. Pessimism is a poor servant, and I always quickly point that out to my counseling clients.

When it comes to K-State football I have many years of experience (just as my clients do with their areas where they battle with hope). I started faithfully listening to K-State football when I was about 12 years old. I'd be following my Dad and older brother Bob around, watching them work, and listening to the game on my little transistor radio. If you know the history of Kansas State football you know that it was never good, except for a brief period during the late 60s and early 70s when Vince Gibson was there. Things got progressively worse after that. There were occasional bright spots like Steve Grogan and Gary Spani, but my usual Saturday consisted of listening to the Wildcats get soundly defeated by their opponent, and telling myself, "just wait 'til next week." At the end of the season it was always, "just wait until next year." In those days Wildcat basketball was great, so I always had that to console myself. Still, I always hoped for a great football team. There was one good season in the early 80s--we went to our first bowl game ever--but I was in Chicago those days at the Moody Bible Institute. Al Gore was still trying to figure out how to get the Internet to the masses, and the Tribune didn't write anything about K-State, so I missed out on a lot about that season.

After that, things were just bad again. I remember going to a game against Colorado in November of '87, and there were probably 3000 people in the stands. The smart people were out hunting pheasants.

After another dismal season in 1988 K-State went looking for another head coach. If I remember correctly, the University of Iowa had beaten us pretty badly that season, and when K-State hired Bill Snyder, the offensive coordinator at Iowa, it wasn't much to cheer about. It was just another example of how we could only attract assistant coaches who were desparate for a head coaching job, not proven head coaches. Well, we did hire a proven head coach once, Stan Parrish, and turned him into an assistant coach for the rest of his career. Turns out I don't know much about coaches, 'cause Bill Snyder is now a legend in Kansas. His first win came against the University of North Texas (North Texas State in those days) and I went absolutely nuts. Fortunately, I was all alone, so there was no one around to witness this and have me committed.

Saturday night I expect I will be grilling some pork chops for us and Susanne's parents who are coming down for a visit. I'll log onto the Internet site where I listen to the games (thanks, Al). It's the start of a new season, and hope springs eternal.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Is This What Jesus Was Thinking?

I would love to know what you think of the video venue church. You can read about it by going to Mary DeMuth's blog:

You can see what yours truly thinks of video churches by going to her comments section.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Love & Suffering

Our daughter, Linnea, has been sick all week. She is not quite 3 (she will be 3 on November 1, and she has reminded us over and over for the past month, "my birthday's coming up!"), and it is hard to watch and listen to her suffer. She told me on the phone this morning, "Daddy, I'm not feeling good."

Susanne and I have both been up in the night a lot with her this week and on one of those occasions a family in our church came to mind. I don't know them, but I know their situation: their four year-old son has battled brain tumors for quite a while now. And I thought, "if it's this hard to bear when your daughter can't sleep because of a bad, croupy cough, how does a parent do it when their child is violently ill or dying?"

Another thought: none of us, no matter how much we love someone, loves as much as God does. How painful it must be for him to see his children suffer, especially when the suffering is because they (we, I) refuse relationship with him.

Love and suffering go hand in hand. There's no way to separate the two, for God and for us.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Shack and C.S. Lewis

Several of us were discussing The Shack recently, particularly all the controversy over its' theology. Personally, I feel that some of the ones who are warning against reading The Shack are missing the main point, which is that God is committed to friendship with us and continually provides opportunities for that to happen. It may seem unlikely that the Trinity would show up in a cabin to help a struggling man, as happens in The Shack; indeed, I am not expecting that is actually going to happen to me or anyone I know. Yet the premise is not so far-fetched. God already did something "way out there" in the Incarnation. That Jesus would reside in the womb of a young Jewish girl and be born into this world in the same manner as you and I is incredible! And it shows the lengths God will/did go to in order to have a relationship with us.

Theology matters to me, greatly. I think it is easy, though, to grab onto certain theological concerns and miss something important the author is saying. As I mentioned to my friends, we hold C. S. Lewis in high regard for his great volume of work, and we should. Meanwhile, there are probably many evangelicals who assume that Lewis believed all the same things many of us believe, but that isn't true.

I was thinking about this on my way to work this morning, and I recalled an article I read years ago by J. I. Packer about C. S. Lewis, and I thought I would link to that in this post. It turns out that you have to pay to read the whole article, but if you're interested it is well worth it. Here is the link:

Here is another article that points out some of the same things as the Christianity Today article:

Again, my point is, if we got all hung up on certain tenets of C. S. Lewis' theology we might never read his books, and we would be the poorer for it.

Friday, August 1, 2008

a meaningful quote . . .

I read a good book the other day, one of those ones that entices me to drop everything except what I just have to do. It's called So You Don't Want to go to Church Anymore, and you can read it, or more about it, here: The coauthor, Wayne Jacobsen, is one of the men behind the publication of The Shack.

This quote in particular stood out to me because it touches on two of the things that have always dogged me: "You had this incredible hunger to know God and follow him. But you also wanted to be circumstantially secure and well-liked. Those just aren't compatible with following him. We are safe because he is with us, not because our circumstances are easy, and trying to get everyone to like you only made you less a person than God made you to be."

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Oh, great, another blog!

Well, here goes, I’m entering the world of blogging. I’ll let you pause to catch your breath, you, whoever you are that might be reading this. How exciting, you must be thinking, another blog!

Blogging is something I’ve thought about for a couple of years. I love to read and I have a few blogs that I try to keep up with through Google Reader. I also love to write yet I have held off until now actually starting a blog. I think there are two reasons (there may be more, but these are the two I’ve identified). One, if I blog someone may actually read what I’ve written (other than my wife and my trusted writing friend). It’s out there, no taking it back. I’ve always wanted to someday be published but I’ve had this hope that I could write in isolation and then summon the courage to send a manuscript to a publisher who falls madly in love with it. The book becomes a bestseller as news of it spreads like wildfire (my own The Shack-like success story). And once that happens I am validated as a writer and as a human, and then I start a blog, but only because my adoring public is dying to hear what I think. I do have enough contact with reality, though, to know it doesn’t work like that. I’ve just got to put my stuff out there. The second thing that has held me back from blogging is that once you’ve started one you’ve got to feed the beast. If I do somewhere along the line actually attract some readers they will only keep coming back if I’m adding new stuff. Do I have that much to say that is actually interesting? I have feared the answer is “no” so I’ve held off from blogging.

Last Saturday I went to a writer’s conference. One of the things several speakers said was that if you’re going to get something published the publisher wants to know you’re going to be marketing and promoting your book, and one of the primary ways of doing that is through blogging. I do have some hopes for publishing a few things I’m working on, so I can no longer drag my feet about blogging. It is time to get it started.

What will I blog about? I am a counselor in private practice but one thing you can be sure of is that I will never write about my clients. That would be foolhardy and potentially damaging to them. I may, however, offer some thoughts here and there about counseling in general and the process of change. Any examples I use will be from my own life.

I’ve had a lifelong love affair with books, so I will often blog about something I’m reading that is impacting me.

I love sports. I don’t invest nearly the amount of time I did 30 years ago in the days when I was pursuing sportswriting as a career, but I do try to keep up a little. As things interest me I may blog about them. Since I was a little bitty kid I’ve been hopelessly attached to the Kansas State Wildcats. You’ll probably have to put up with a comment or two about them. My wife has pointed out my ongoing determination to “find the K-State connection” to sports stories. Like the day Tiger Woods won his first Masters. Susanne was sleeping in the recliner while I watched a CBS special about Tiger they were running before the Sunday afternoon golf coverage. When they mentioned Tiger’s father had played baseball at K-State I woke her up with my shouts of “there’s a K-State connection to Tiger Woods!” She was less than pleased but accepting of the fact that it’s part of the package with me.

We’ve been married for 20 years now (we actually celebrate it next week). Seventeen years in God blessed us with a beautiful daughter. I am an old geezer who is finally enjoying the thrill of fatherhood. The journey to fatherhood is my main writing project. I chatter on constantly to my friends and my clients about my daughter; I can’t help myself. No doubt I will use some of this space to chatter on about her.

I hope you enjoy it and maybe even find something helpful for your own life.