Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Garrison Recovery: Day Two

Garrison's report continues to be baffling. His blood-gas levels look good, now not so good...his temp is OK, now he has a fever...his white cell count is up...his breathing is shallow and too quick...he wants to eat really bad!...he's strong enough to push himself up...!!
It just leaves you drained because you're trying to figure it all out. I want to understand and do something about it, but...guess I'm not in charge.
Treatment options/diagnoses are being thrown around:
  • ...will possibly need to go on a ventilator.
  • ...tomorrow, we will check his heart to make sure that's not the problem.
  • ...his spinal tap results showed no IMMEDIATE cause for concern, but we need to wait for the cultures to grow for 48 to 72 hours.
  • ...other cultures for bacteria are showing nothing.
  • ...chest x-rays are clear.
  • ...it could just be he needs to work out some fluid, and some babies take 3 days to do that.

So there it is...you now know as much as we do!!!
We appreciate all the thoughts and prayers. Keep them coming.

If you're wondering about visiting: Right now we are welcoming people to come and visit Tracy, but we'd like to start limiting Garrison's exposure to others. TRUST US, we would LOVE to be passing him around right now!!!

Please pray for the hospital staff as they continue to work on him. They have been wonderful to us so far, and we know they're doing their best. Pray that they will catch something or think about another possibility. Pray that Garrison keeps his strength up.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Baby Garrison Update

Why do all my kids have to look like this their first few days of life?
Garrison had to be taken to the NICU because of labored breathing, low oxygen levels, and high white cell count. Several x-rays have come back looking clear, so they're not sure why he's laboring as though he needs to get something out of his lungs. They may have to insert a breathing tube so that they can put medicine directly into his lungs which will open up his air sacs and increase his O2 levels. We're hoping it won't come to that.
So this is a repeat performance for me. Fischer was in NICU for a couple of days as well. I hated every second. I'm one of the most squeamish people you know.
I cringed as they tried to insert an IV into both Garrison's arms, and it didn't work, so they went to work on his foot. I must have looked awful, because another nurse came over and said, "Would you like to go back upstairs and check on your wife now?" I gratefully accepted her suggestion.
I HATE hearing my kids cry. Oh, don't get me wrong...if they do something to deserve it, I'm fine. But not when it's like this!! It just tears at your heart and makes you want to scream out (like Elliot in the movie "E.T.") "Leave 'im alone!"
Tracy continues to do OK. Much better than last C-section!
Prayers for helpless daddy, recovering mommy, and struggling baby are appreciated.

Our New Miracle

Here is our newest little guy: Garrison Steven Samuel Wood
8 lbs 15 oz
21 inches long
He is a mighty man, already lifting his head!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Another Miracle

In just under ten hours, another miracle will take place in my life.
Most miracles seem to happen in hindsight, so it's exciting that I get to wait in anxious expectation for one!
Our second son, Garrison, will be brought into the world (Lord willing) at around 7:30 tomorrow morning by C-section. God started this little life and shaped it with His own hand. He watched as the little life began to grow inside of it's mother, and laughed with her as she felt the child kick for the first time.
God will be there in the morning. I know this because, where there is life, there is God.
God will be keenly interested in Garrison's life. His early years, discovering God's creation; his teen years, filled with anxiety and self-awareness; his adult years, possibly starting a family and career; his failures and his successes...God will watch it all.
And tomorrow morning, I really think God will be smiling with us as we welcome new life into our family.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Virtual Conversations

The following is a conversation that played out in my head on the way home from work:

Tracy: Well, you're home late.

Me: I know, but I just need a little understanding on your part tonight. I've stayed extra busy this week, because I'm trying to take some days off next week when our baby is born! There are a lot of big projects coming up that I've been working on. Then I come home and have to take care of a pregnant wife and a hyper three-year old! Things are just discouraging right now! People don't answer their e-mails or return phone calls. They SAY they will do something, and then don't. I need help! I just feel like everything's crashing down around me right now, and...

At this very moment in my virtual conversation (I'm not kidding) my CD holder that hangs from the driver's side visor (right in front of my eyes) comes loose from the velcro and swings open right toward my face!
In a millisecond, I stopped my rant and swung my head back to avoid getting hit.
And then I started laughing...hard.
It was like God was saying, "You're taking yourself WAY too seriously, Franklin! Lighten up, son, you're too tense! Here's something to wake you up and help you have a laugh."

In case you're wondering, my lovely wife was very sweet when I got home. She never said a thing about my coming home late!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Spiritual Gifts

Our men's retreat was encouraging and uplifting. We discussed our spiritual gifts and then took an assessment. Wanna know my results? Here are my top three...

1. Teacher - The capability and desire to serve God by making clear the truths of God.
  • Characteristics: Loves to research, greatest joy is sharing insights, wants to know context, makes a complicated concept more easily understood.

2. Shepherd - The capability and desire to serve God by overseeing, training, and caring for the needs of a group of Christians.

  • Characteristics: Knows the lives of people in their group, willing to help people avoid spiritual pitfalls, always there for people

3. Exhorter - The capability and desire to serve God by motivating others to action, especially with an eye toward practical solutions for the individual or the church.

  • Characteristics: Able to connect people with a job that needs to be done, more willing to offer solutions rather than mere sympathy, offers positive, sincered, specific feedback, loves 'how-to' workshops.

I don't share this stuff to "show off." EVERYBODY has spiritual gifts!! It's in finding them that we gain our joy in ministry. No one gift is better than another. We need ALL the gifts to reach out to the world.

One thing I haven't figured out yet, though. How do I do MORE of what I love (see above) and less of the gifts that don't come naturally to me (administration, for example.) Am I, as a youth minister, allowed to do that? Or am I shirking my responsibility?

Hmmm...some major thoughts to chew on...

How about you? Have you ever done a spiritual gifts assessment? What are your gifts? (See Romans 12 and Eph. 4 for a good list.) Are you joyfully serving God?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Moses: A Good Friend

I've never considered Moses as a "relational" type of person. He grew up thinking he was abandoned by his mom, he killed an Egyptian, he wasn't much of a public speaker/people-person (think "politician") and he was leading a LARGE group of people (can you be relational with that many folks?) Modern psychologists would have LOVED to sit down and chat with Moses!
But, if you look closely enough, Exodus shows us a relational side of Moses. A side that craves close relationships and will do anything to protect them. Check out these verses:
  • "Inside the Tent of Meeting, the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend." (Exod. 33:11)

And then there's this passage that just jumps out at me. The LORD had decided that He could not travel with His chosen people, because they were sinful and stubborn. This is the conversation that followed this decision... (italics are my own addition as I imagine the conversation)

  • The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.”
    Then Moses said, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”
    The Lord replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.” (Exod. 33:14-17)

Moses knew that God would BE with them, but he passionately asks God to GO with them! He knew that God would provide them with some kind of protection and help, but he wanted GOD to go with them personally.

Moses shows the kind of relationship that God craves from us. A friend-to-friend relationship. A relationship where you sit in a tent together and just talk. A relationship that says, "I don't want to leave this place unless you go with me yourself!"

And when other people KNOW that GOD is with us PERSONALLY...that's what sets us apart from the world.

Is God personally traveling with you? Or have you uprooted and gone on your way without Him?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fischer's Follies

My day off was rather entertaining today...

At mid-afternoon, we decided to take a walk, partially to help Tracy's soaring blood sugar, and partially to help Fischer's soaring energy levels. We all put our shoes on and exited through the door to the garage, where I ducked into my car and grabbed the garage door opener.
As we walked away, I pressed the button and watched the door shut.
Satisfied, we proceeded to walk for a good 30 minutes, enjoying the hills in our neighborhood and soothing Fischer, who fell and scraped his knee (the same knee he's scraped like 3 times now!)
Upon our return, I pushed the button and the garage door ascended. Tracy entered first, grabbed the door handle, tried to turn it, and hung her head.
"Who locked the door?"
"I'll give you one guess," I replied, flashing a Daddy-angry-stare at our 3-year old door-locker.
Fortunately, because of the beautiful weather, we had left our bedroom window open. After standing on a ladder for ten minutes, I was able to pry open the screen and scramble through the window.

After that fiasco, Fischer wanted to play in the back yard. He really turned on the charm, as kids always seem to do when you're mad at them.
"Daddy, come push me in the swing!"
I crumbled. He swung in silent bliss for several minutes.
"It's a nice day."
Yes it is, son.
"Fank you for pushing me, Dad."
"You're welcome, buddy."
"You can go inside now."

On a side note: I'm starting my own personal study of Leviticus, and you know what? The first study was INCREDIBLE!! I think I'm gonna enjoy this (I know, I can't believe I'm saying that about Leviticus either!)

Monday, September 08, 2008


OK, here's the struggle:

We're starting our Small Groups again soon. I've got a baby on the way, and a need to be with my family more. I need to back out of leading a group and let someone else encourage ME for a while.


I've got teens who need me. There are some parents who probably feel like I should be leading a teen group. Will the teens feel like I don't like them if I step away for a while? Do I spend enough time with them? Am I losing "momentum" if I slow things down after a crazy, but fulfilling summer?

What should I do?

Over the last few days, this song has been on the radio (multiple stations at various times.) Like a dummy, I didn't really pay attention to the words until today:

Father God, I am clay in your hands,
Help me to stay that way through all life's demands,
'Cause they chip and they nag and they pull at me,
And every little thing I make up my mind to be,
Like I'm gonna be a daddy whose in the mix,And I'm gonna be a husband who stays legit,
And I pray that I'm an artist who rises above,The road that is wide and filled with self love,
Everything that I see draws me,
Though it's only in You that I can truly see that its a feast for the eyes- a low blow to purpose.
And I'm a little kid at a three ring circus.

I don't want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul,
Don't wanna walk away, let me hear the people say.
I don't want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul,
Don't wanna walk away, let me hear the people say.

Being a youth minister is, in some ways, like any other job. You can work as HARD as you can for as many HOURS as you can, and be successful in the eyes of the world, but you could lose things that are precious to you. You could lose your family. You could lose sight of God. You could lose your faith. You could lose your sense of eternal purpose and be stuck on "looking good."
I don't want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul.

Sometimes, you need to step back and make sure your soul is being fed.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


He stretches his lean little legs out as far as he can manage. Little hands are pushing against my chest. He smiles and licks his lips as he stretches his legs so that he can put his feet on his mom's legs nearby. The little body makes a perfect arch in-between us. Bright blue eyes capture my attention. Again the smile, and then he opens his mouth...
"Look, Dad, I making a bridge!"

I pray you continue to make bridges, son. Physical, emotional, spiritual...bridges that will bring people together. After all, that's what bridges are for.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Conventions and Caucases

Why do people love to argue about politics so much? That is probably why I don't like to talk about it a whole lot. However, a thought has been burning in my mind...
A lot of people are down on John McCain for "playing up" his military career. He is using his POW status to grab the attention of the people, and perhaps get more votes. To those who think this way:
Is Obama any different?
We have to remember that these guys are politicians. They are running for the same office. OF COURSE they are going to play up their strengths (and weaknesses, for sympathy sake) to gain votes!! We do the same when we...
  • Interview for a job (I HATE the interview process for youth ministry positions! I feel almost dirty when I highlight my successes in order to gain a job in which I am meant to be a servant.)
  • Date and/or marry. Don't tell me that you don't chuckle when you see a young man trying to show off to catch his girl's eye!
  • Meet a stranger. First impressions are a PILLAR of our society (are they not?)

Let me see if I can name some of Obama's strong points: young, dynamic speaker, compassionate toward the lower socio-economic classes, doesn't associate with a psycho pastor...

Now, how did I know all that? Was it just my keen sense of observation, or did he play up his strengths as well? (And avoided making himself look bad with the whole pastor thing!)

My point is not to pick one candidate over another. It is simply a cry for us to realize that we are nit-picky people. Character assasination is not supposed to be in a Christian's reportoire of behavior. Maybe we should be praying for both candidates instead of choosing who to like and who to hate.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Year of Living Biblically

Author A.J. Jacobs brings religious life into perspective with his newest book, "The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible."

Jacobs is a nerdy agnostic who will pull you in with his honesty and sense of humor. Though he does not completely buy into the whole God thing, he gives it a fair chance in these memoirs.

So, for one year, he decided to try to follow the Bible as literally as possible. After his initial research (reading, researching and recording the over 700 laws of the Bible) he begins his journey.

Each chapter is filled with insight on various biblical commands.

A.J. struggles with some of the more bizarre rules:

  • You shall not wear a "garment of cloth made of two kinds of stuff." (Leviticus 19:19).

  • If you set your slave free after six years, but he decides to stay, then you shall bring him to the doorpost and bore a hole in his ear. (Exodus 21:5).

  • You shall not eat eagles, vultures, black vultures, red kites, black kites, ravens, horned or screech owl, gull or any kind of hawk, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat.

And yet, he finds comfort and wisdom in other rules:

  • Keep the sabbath.

  • "Let your garments be always white" Ecclesiastes 9:8.

  • No gossip.

  • Give thanks.

Most helpful to me, though, as one who proclaims to be Christian, is the fact that he readily admits his failures in following biblical laws:

  • You shall not covet.

  • You shall not lie.

  • You shall not utter the name of another God.

  • Be slow to anger (Proverbs 19:11).

Beware the use of some foul language early in the book. But also be aware that language gets cleaner as the book goes on. Could this be a by-product of his experiment? (Read the book to find out!)

Even though Mr. Jacobs wasn't "converted" by his experiment, he shares his new fondness for the sacred things in life. He acknowledges that there is something greater than him. And he even seems to be saying that there is comfort in some of the commandments that God left for us.

For anyone that asks me for a Christmas list, this is a hint.

Read the book. Be encouraged. Live a God-following life.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I Wish I Was a Better...

Have you ever desired some traits you saw in someone else? I seem to be plagued with this affliction. Just recently, I was asked to speak at a youth rally. I found myself wishing I was funnier, especially while delivering a devo thought.
You see, my speaking style is pretty serious. I tend to get really passionate when I talk. Oh sure, I crack a few jokes here and there, but I'm no Larry the Cable Guy.

This passage in Romans 9 really speaks to me:

20But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' " 21Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

My point here is not to discuss "the best" speaking style. I've heard people say they have been encouraged by funny sermons, and by those that are a little more serious.
The point is that God can use you (and me) despite what WE think we lack. There is always room for improvement, but take some time to rejoice in who you are. God made you that way!