pecaspers: a Blog in transition

April 15, 2013

We Have a Crap Problem

We have a crap problem at our house. Stay with me; I’m going somewhere with this.

My son is potty training. While he’s pretty good about going pee-pee, the poor kid struggles to go poop. He holds on to it for too long then dances around on his tip-toes saying “oh dear, oh dear.” If you ask if he needs to poop, then he’ll tell you that he just needs to pee-pee. But of course, that’s not the solution to his problem. Eventually, he’ll either poop in his pants, or we’ll sit him on the potty and enter into a battle of wills to keep him there until he just can’t hold it anymore. Then we celebrate. “Look! I put my poops in the potty!” “Good job!” …as if he hadn’t been fighting his need to poop for hours or days.

It’s extremely frustrating, potty training that is, from a parental perspective. I’m sure it’s emotionally hard on my wife to sit watching her son in pain knowing that she could just tell him it was O.K. to go in his pants. However, she had a preschooler in her class once who would ask for a diaper to poop in for years after he had mastered the other side of potty-training, and she doesn’t want that for us.

As a man, I like to fix things. So as a father, I want to fix his problem, but I can neither physically force him to poop nor go for him. I have also had no success at commanding him to poop or threatening to punish him for not going when I can clearly see he’s struggling to hold it in. (Don’t call DHR. If you have been through it as a parent, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, then one day you will.) We are trying to train him in how to deal with his bodily waste in a healthy way, but he wants to keep it inside and deny that there is any need to let it go.

The poor boy gave me a new line the other day while he was sitting on the potty after about ten minutes solid of stumbling around on tip-toes trying to put together a puzzle rather unsuccessfully due to his decreased ability to focus his motor skills. I said to him, “Just let your poops go. You’ll feel so much better.” And he looked at me and said, “I don’t know how!”

Now, he does know how. This isn’t the first time we’ve put him on the potty, and it’s certainly not the first bowel movement he’s ever had. Here’s where this article will take it’s turn.

Isn’t this exactly what we (include yourself if you are a Christian) put our Heavenly Father through? In so many ways, isn’t he trying to show us how to get the crap out of our lives so we can stay focused on enjoying Him and enjoying doing the good work He has set us apart to do?

The apostle Paul wrote this to the Philippian church after having described his own Jewish, self-righteous pedigree:

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— (Philippians 3:7-9 ESV)

The word translated as “rubbish” is a light vulgarity. Depending on your generation and geography, it’s roughly equivalent to crap or the “s-word.” If you are walking barefoot in the grass and squish down into a warm pile of dog feces, what word do you use? That’s the way you should read this text.

Paul says all the things that he once thought were so important are really “rubbish.” It’s not that this stuff is worthless, rather it’s that it has negative value. Paul is saying that he considers himself worse off because of all the things he might be tempted to find some significance or value in.

You have seen that show Hoardes, right? They try to help people who have amassed so much useless stuff that it is litterally (see what I did there) a danger to their physical health and has usually caused relational breakdown with family and friends. That’s what Paul says we are, spiritual hoarders.

Paul wants us to recognize that life–real, good, glorious, wholesome, true, beautiful, eternal life–is hindered by all the mess we falsely think has worth.

We are children of God who do not know what to do with our feces. We need to poop, we’re crying out, we’re distracted, we aren’t able to enjoy being with our Father and family,
but we won’t admit to ourselves that letting it go is as simple as it sounds.

And it makes me realize how frustrated God must be with me at times. And it makes me think about how good a Father He is that he doesn’t just grab me and squeeze. And it makes me wonder why we dance around and try to stay busy ignoring what we’re in desperate need of expelling. And it makes me stop and consider what I might be missing out on in God’s Kingdom because of the earthly things I cling to for support.

We have a crap problem.

Let’s remember, too, going potty isn’t a one time thing. I have to take the trash out of my house every day or two and to the curb once a week. You may rid yourself of rubbish today only to find there is more to be rid of tomorrow. It’s only natural.

Praise God, however, because there is a day coming when the King will renew everything and all the broken things that bring junk into our lives will be set right. There is no “rubbish” in God’s house.

Until then, learn from the Father how to get rid of the waste in your life. Don’t be like my son. Just let it go. You’ll feel so much better, and you’ll make Daddy proud. He loves to see his children mature and succeed.

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January 14, 2013

Resolutions Have a Bad Reputation

Every New Year, millions of people claim they are making “resolutions” without really planning to discipline themselves to make the change stick. Because of this, some people would argue that even having New Year’s resolutions is pointless and just another meaningless–even bad–part of our culture. I think that line of thinking is ridiculous.

Just because most people play at making resolutions like they play at Santa Claus doesn’t make it a foolish thing to use the New Year as an opportunity to begin a new effort in personal growth. The rolling over of a calendar year is a great time to reflect on the year(s) now past and decide what needs to change for the year(s) to come. While the date is rather arbitrary, Jan. 1 is as good a day as any to set ourselves up for some self-discipline, and the cultural celebration of leaving the past behind to move toward a brighter tomorrow means that we can catch a little positive momentum from those around us–even if they aren’t as thoughtful and intentional in their resolutions as we are.

What dooms most resolution-makers to failure? Well, I’ve already mentioned that many don’t really have any intention to follow through. For those who actually want to see some change in their lives, there are two big flaws in most people’s plans. One is, in fact, the complete lack of a plan. Two is the utter vagueness of the resolution itself.

One of the most common resolutions is weight loss. Most people don’t attack that goal with a plan. I’ve done it before. I’ve set the goal of losing weight only to discover that months or years have gone by without me doing anything substantial to reach that goal. If you’re going to lose weight, then you have to have a plan. Any change takes time, and there are usually small steps to get that change to stick. But if you don’t know what steps you intend on taking, then it’ll be hard to take any. It’s also hard to gauge your success if you do make any progress. So, you have got to have a plan.

But if you’re resolution is just “to lose weight,” then you’ve run into my number two. If your target is just a haze, you’ll never hit it. You can’t measure success on a vague goal, either. Sure, you can pat yourself on the back for any little win, but you usually have nothing firm to hold on to.

With these things in mind, I’m resolving the following common things:

“To Lose Weight” – I am resolved to reach the end of 2013 at 200 lbs or less. I’ll spare you the details of my plan, but it includes daily sweating and a return to training like I have a race to run.

“To Read More Good Books” – In another post later on, I’ll see if I can list out the books I read in 2012. I try to rotate through some basic categories as I read. The Gospel, marriage, pastoral ministry, missionary biography, classic fiction, current fiction, and what I’ll call “special topics.” Right now, I’m reading The Explicit Gospel, by Matt Chandler. Next will likely be the Driscoll’s book, Real Marriage which I should have read last year or before but didn’t. The Puritan classic, The Reformed Pastor, by Richard Baxter is probably my first pastoral ministry book for the year. I haven’t chosen my next missionary biography, but I’ve got a few on my shelves that I haven’t read yet. I often get my classic fiction fix via audiobooks, but I’m thinking I’ll pretty quickly plow through a copy of Dune that I pulled from the free bin at 2nd & Charles a while back. I often read fiction concurrently with heavier topics. Current fiction isn’t a priority worth planning, but I’ll see what the next big thing is in a few months. In “special topics,” I’ve already got a copy of Francis Chan’s Multiply, and I’d like to get Mohler’s Conviction to Lead. After that, it’s time to cycle back through categories…or adjust/add to my categories. …So many books, so little time.

I am further resolved that 2013 will be the year that I…

…Get my family out of poverty. This is going to happen as a simple reality of finding a new position in vocational ministry which is paid full-time. It is also the transition I am most excited about. I am… Nah, that’s a post for another time.

…Become pastor of a church. This too brings me a lot of hope when I think about it. I know God has a place for me, and I’m looking forward to finding and settling into it. I just hope I am not presuming on The Lord that my search will end before 2013 does.

…Become a gun owner. I jokingly tell people that I need a shotgun because I have a daughter on the way and need something to clean whenever the boys start coming over. That has some truth behind it, but there is also just the masculine instinct that tells me I ought to have a weapon which can be used against anything or anyone who threatens my family–snakes, zombies, intruders, an over zealous government, whatever.

…Become a father of two, one of whom is a daughter. I know, I know. That’s not really a resolution, but it a major transition that will occur this year.

I’m hopeful about all these things to come in 2013 and more. All of this is of course under God’s sovereign hand and you should read “if it is the Lord’s will” before and behind all of the above.

I’m going to have a great year…I just know it.

October 19, 2010

Current Status of Change

Filed under: Baby,My Life in General — pecaspers @ 1:28 PM
Tags: , ,

My son is now over two months old. He sleeps pretty well, only needing one middle of the night feeding on his best nights. That doesn’t necessarily mean Mommy and Daddy are sleeping well, but we do O.K. most nights. He’s growing well. He’s very long (would be tall, but he can’t stand yet) and rather slim, which is a bit surprising looking at his parents today. With his big blue eyes and lack of an abundance of hair, he looks a lot like me. I was hoping to put a beard on him for Halloween so that he would look like me, but we’ve been handed down an amazing lobster costume that we simply must use. He’s smiling and “talking” as well as growing more alert and able to focus on things at a distance every day. I love him. He is my son.

The leaves are starting to turn as they do every October. And just like every October, I’m a year older. Thirty, that’s a whole new decade. It’s not old. It seemed old last year. It looks old when I let my hair get long enough to see all the gray (or grey…whichever you like). It feels old when I go too quickly from rest to action. But as I was breaking a sweat working on my basketball and volleyball skills the other night after youth group, it didn’t feel that old–just a little out of practice. It seems old when I watch “reality” TV competitions and realize the contestants are mostly younger than me, but then I look around at the people I live around and worship with and realize more people are older than me than younger. I hope I’m not just getting older but actually growing more mature. There is some evidence for and against that hope, but I’ll not get into that here.

I’m learning how to play the guitar. I think the youth will engage in singing praises better if they are singing with live music rather than singing with songs from my laptop. It’ll also be easier to teach someone how to play specific songs if I know how to play them myself. It’s going pretty well…just slowly. I’m hoping it speeds up since I’ve found some helpful how-to videos on YouTube (what did people do before YouTube? …that’s right, we paid people to teach us stuff).

I need to mulch the fallen leaves into my grass. I need to get back to cleaning and organizing my study. I need to work harder and more passionately for my youth because they belong to Christ…or (in the case of some) so that they might belong to Christ. I need to get back to getting off my hindquarters and getting rid of much of the rest of my “quarters,” but that’s coming along, albeit slowly. So much is needed, but I’m glad to see the transition continue.

June 15, 2010

Recentish Stuff

Filed under: Baby,Ministry,My Life in General,New Home,Youth Ministry — pecaspers @ 7:41 AM

Well, I just looked back at my last post.  It hasn’t been THAT long, but much transitioning has occurred.  We have moved.  We’re not totally “moved in” yet, but it’s even more livable than it was when we bought it.

In the bedroom, we’ve painted, laid new carpet, moved our bedroom furniture into the room,  and hung some semi-shwanky curtains (TJ Max: $7 each=deal).  We even busted out a comforter that’s been unopened since our wedding (two years, for those keeping count).

We’ve got the “great room” (our living room/dining room combo), more or less like we like it.  There’s still a bunch of extra stuff in it, but the main furniture and makeshift entertainment center (actually a coffee table and end table combo) are where they are staying for the foreseeable future.  We haven’t painted the great room yet, that’s a big task that will include much sanding, painting not only the walls but the ceiling as well (perhaps even untexturizing [a pox on you squiggly line, that should totally be a word] the ceiling…somebody got a little overzealous with the plaster up in here), installing new baseboards, and will likely serve as the best chance to put a major cleaning on our fabulous parquet floor.  We did find an AMAZING 8’x12′ rug at the Wetumpka Lowes for under $70; that’s a crazy-go-nuts deal on that much quality floor covering for those of you who haven’t been rug shopping in a while (I think it was originally priced at around $160).  It was nice to find it there too because we were actually there on our second trip looking at carpet for the bedroom, but the “while supplies last” had run out of the clearance priced stuff we were interested in just like it had on our first trip.  (Note:  While I was typing above, my cat tried to puke on our nice rug.  I was able to get him to the parquet, but not all the way to the kitchen tile.)

The bathrooms are serviceable, but not much more.  The kitchen is as it will be for quite a while, with the exception of the refrigerator still not fitting under the cabinets yet.  I might get on that next week…maybe.   The new washer and dryer are in (THANKS Papa and Nana!!!), but I need to hang Jessica’s requested shelf over them.   The nursery is still somewhat filled with random stuff, much of which needs to go to my study.  My study is not yet fully functional, which explains 1) why I still have stuff in the nursery, and 2) why I’m sitting in a recliner in the living room posting this and not at my desk.

I’ve mowed the lawn 1.9 times.  The first time it took me 6 hours solid, and that is not counting time for lunch and water breaks.  That included chopping  through between 5 and 15 feet of kudzu around 3/4 of the perimeter of the yard.  The second time, yesterday, I pushed myself to the verge of heat stroke, but had the good sense to stop.  Note for the future: Don’t mow your massive yard all at once when it’s 98 degrees outside.  I’d like to have finished it this morning, but Jess and I are headed to Auburn in just over an hour, and I’ve got stuff to get ready before we go…so it’s not likely to happen today.

We sold The Container (that’s our old trailer).  In fact, we had a buyer the night before we closed on the house (I think I’m remembering that right), and they moved it out the following Tuesday (it rained on Monday).  PTL!

We survived  Vacation Bible School 2010.  Jessica taught the “pre-K and kindergarten” class, which included a range in ages from an old-2 to a young 7.  They averaged around 14 each night, I think.  I taught the youth, obviously.  We had either 6 or 7 most nights.  That’s not counting the 7 who were helpers in other classes.  There might be a VBS recap post coming soon…or not, we’ll see.  For now, we’re capping off our BBQ chicken fundraiser on Friday, looking forward to Student Life @ Orange Beach, and then to the Alabama Baptist Convention’s Youth Evangelism Conference.  I hope little Paul Fitzgerald Caspers (not a final choice, just seeing how it looks in print) stays in his mommy’s belly through all the stress and excitement.

Jessica is always in transition.  One moment she’s excited, the next she’s anxious, the next she’s crying because she thinks I’m mad at her because she’s anxious, then she’s just tired and/or hungry.  Speaking of hungry, I am.  This is where we’ll stop for today.

April 28, 2010

The Obligatory “I Haven’t Posted in a While” Post

Filed under: Baby,Ministry,My Life in General,New Home,Youth Ministry — pecaspers @ 10:01 AM

Yeah.  It’s been a long time since I posted.  But remember, the title of this blog is “a Blog in transition.” Life in transition doesn’t always allow for consistent posting. At least I’m not a missionary in Africa or elsewhere having amazing adventures but refusing to keep my stateside friends in the loop (You know who you are :P).  If I were awesome, I’d go back and see what the last thing I posted was and fill you in on what you missed.  However, I’m pretty sure that if you’re reading this, then you are also keeping tabs on me via facebook or even in real life.

We’re about to move.  About 85% of the stuff from our current home is in boxes and/or in an Extra-Space Storage unit (give them my name, and I’ll split my bonus for recommending you).  We’re movin’ out.  Like the Billy Joel song, not to be confused with “Movin’ on Up” from the Jeffersons.  We are planning to close on Friday.  So there’s a transition for you.

We’re also having a baby.  I think most all of you know about that.  You can read more about it at babycaspers.blogspot.com. Jessica is about three and a half months from popping. It’s a crazy time. So there is another transition for you.

We’re working on an number of…um…things to be done in addition to the things that have always been done at Liberty Baptist Church.  I didn’t say “changes”.  I also didn’t say “I” was the one working on them.  “We” are trying to implement some different (if you’ll permit that word) stuff into the stuff that Liberty does well.  Of course, my ultimate goal is to get the sanctuary painted a flat theater black, hang lighting and speaker racks, sing songs exclusively written in the current year, switch to “small groups” instead of Sunday School, make everybody use The Message, and drive all the gray haired country folk away.  (THAT is, of course, sarcasm.)  Mostly, we’re just working on having more ways to bring people into the life of the church, i.e. additional classes, outreach events, service projects, etc.  So there’s some more transition.

We are about to dive into summer ministry activities.  We’ve got a pool party, VBS (the youth portion I am solely responsible for planning), Student Life Camp @ Orange Beach, the Youth Evangelism Conference in B’ham, and a big UBC (that’s United Between Churches, an area wide interdenominational youth ministry) event toward the start of the next school year.  So there’s a nice long chain of transitions to come.

I’m looking forward to it all.  Mostly, I’m looking forward to having a study in my home.  I’m convinced that having a place set aside for me to put my laptop, a nice chair to sit in, a quiet place where the TV won’t be on unless I want it on,  will help me stay in the habit of writing on here.  It’ll also help with daily prayer and bible study.  No, I’m not saying that having a study makes a person more disciplined.  In fact, I’m saying just the opposite.  I hope, since I’m not disciplined enough, having a dedicated space will keep me from being so easily distracted.  Hey look, something shiny!

What was I saying?  Oh well, this has been a good obligatory “I haven’t posted in a while” post.  Pray (if that’s something you do) that Jessica and I will have a smooth transition to our new home, our new town, and a new pattern of life.

P.S. – If you know anyone looking for a cheap mobile home, I’ve got one I NEED to sell.

P.P.S. – You should totally go to ChristianAudio.com and pick up Jonathan Acuff’s audio version of Stuff Christians Like, and then start reading his blog Stuff Christians Like. It’s delightful.

January 14, 2010

Speaking of transitions…

Filed under: Baby,Ministry,My Life in General,New Home,Youth Ministry — pecaspers @ 1:32 PM
Tags: , ,

Much has happened since my last post.

I’ve really started to settle into my role as Youth Pastor. We’ve successfully had non-disastrous results at a few different events. In late December, my wife and I loaded the church van with 5 youth (4 girls, 1 guy) and went to Connect 2009 in Pigeon Forge, TN. The speakers were great; the musicians were excellent; our youth behaved predominantly well; good-times were had by all. This was a wonderful and wonderfully inexpensive youth conference, and it would have been worth it at twice the price. We’ve already got some stuff planned for the coming months and are working on getting things lined up for spring (especially Spring Break) and summer as well. I’ve also been given the opportunity to preach 3 times. The first two times went very well. I felt less than positive about my delivery of this most recent sermon after having only a few days (two of which I was also working taking graduation pictures) of lead time since Pastor David came down with bronchitis. Nevertheless, a number of people said they got a lot out of it, so I guess God is still in the business of using what we might reject as worthless for his grand purposes.

Jessica and I have been in the process of trying to buy a home in East Tallassee for months. We found the 2008-model, double-wide, manufactured home sitting on an acre of land which we are trying to purchase back in September, I think. We liked it when the Realtor showed it to us, and it was in far better condition and gave far more square feet per dollar than any of the houses we looked at. However, at that time, we didn’t think we could pull together the money to make it a reality. In November, things were looking better for us. Long story shortened: two potential buyers had fallen through and the home was still available. We paid our earnest money and started trying to get a loan. The first loan company wasted our time and got bought by another bank which wasn’t going to handle mobile home loans. One good thing our loan officer DID do for us was find us someone else who could help us. Our new loan agent is doing her best, but having more than a year between graduating from seminary and going on staff at Liberty is causing us all sorts of problems. On top of all the usual financial info they need (bank statements, tax records, etc.), we have now also supplied them with: a letter from Lakeview Baptist Church saying I’ve still been working (both paid and volunteer) with them since graduating; a letter from Liberty basically saying that I’m going to keep my job there; a letter each from me and Jessica explaining our recent work histories; a simple listing of each of my and Jessica’s recent work and education histories; an additional bank statement showing the check for our earnest money leaving our account; pictures/scanned copies of Jessica’s Auburn diploma, my Auburn diploma, my Southern Seminary diploma, and my certificate of ordination. At one point, we thought every time we got a call from this company we’d be hearing either a “yea” or “nay” on our loan. Now, we are just expecting to be asked for one more random thing. So we’re frustrated with this whole process. Still, I know that God has a reason for the delay. If nothing else, it has kept us from having to pay lot rent on our current home on top of a mortgage payment on our new one.

Another change, I’ve gotten a new car. Well, it’s new to me at least. Jessica’s mom got a for-real-new Hyundai Santa Fé, and they gave me her 1999 Toyota Solara. I’m totally grateful and thoroughly enjoy driving it. We were able to sell my 1992 GMC Jimmy for a whopping $800. I miss the Jimmy, but it made much more since to sell it than to keep it and have it rot from disuse and keep paying insurance on it.

I’ve saved the biggest change of all for last. We’re having a baby! Read more about it at babycaspers.blogspot.com. (WordPress faithful don’t hate. Jessica had it set up on Blogspot before I could stop her.) We go for her first official ultrasound tomorrow. I say official because one of the nurses at the women’s clinic where Jessica volunteers did one just for kicks and giggles last week. So yes, as Jessica said, I’m now part of “The Daddy Team.”

And the changes just keep on coming. Now if we can only find a buyer for this container we live in now.

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