Morning by Morning (6/30/16)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. The way the teens welcome, watch out for, and love on Ryan.  Anytime he joins us he is played with and entertained, and it is quite the blessing.
  2. Maddie, who watches Ryan almost every day and does such a good job playing with him and coming up with activities.  She has been a blessing to us in this first month of her work.
  3. The PICU nurses.  Gosh, I love these people. Skilled, check. Compassionate, check. Wise, check. Hilarious, check! 
  4. The PICU Fellows.  I have been blessed by Ryan Coleman, Rich Lion, Corey Chartan, Nirica Borges, Erin Kreitz, et al.  I have learned and laughed a great deal with these folks.

Morning by Morning (6/29/16)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. Waking up at 7:10 this morning.  Having a toddler who wakes up around 6am and a job that often requires me to get up that early or more, I very much appreciated “sleeping in.”  As a parent, extra sleep is always appreciated!
  2. The amazing parents of children who have died, and particularly 5 I now who I treasure so much- Teresa,  Bryn, Stephanie, Chris, and Alana.  The way they have loved and grieved their children shows me it is possible to wrestle with God and still be faithful. In essence, I see their beautiful faith in the midst of great tragedy, and for that I am eternally grateful.
  3. The middle of the week, if only because there is only half a week left till a three day weekend. It’s been a long week!

Morning by Morning (6/27/16)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. The time I had at Pepperdine to spend with Vaughn Heydel, Jay Pickard, and Kris Strobeck.  Just some of the awesome faithful people I got to know through my fraternity time with Psi Upsilon.
  2. My Spiritual Life Advisor Mentor during my Junior year, Jonathan Bakewicz.  That man had some monstrous guns for arms and was super gentle. I was so blessed y his joy, encouragement, and friendship.
  3. Anyone who has patience with me.  I mean, I can be grumpy, brooding, pouty, irritable, and just plain dumb sometimes but I find there are many people willing to act with grace and kindness with me.
  4. DeAndre Gibbs and his first sermon yesterday! Very proud of him!

Morning by Morning (6/23/16)

My morning gratitude for:

  1. My many colleagues in the Pediatric Chaplains Network who are encouraging, challenging, and thought provoking as I continue to grow my ministry.
  2. Michael Bell, one of my really awesome friends who I appreciate because of his thoughtfulness and intentionality and his passion.  There’s a reason he was my best man!
  3. Coming dinner group with some folks at church tonight.  It’s a nice place to be renewed and recharged amongst compassionate and caring people.

Morning by Morning (6/22/16)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. The small flowers around the TCH building on the walk in to work. They are really nice pops of color in the morning!
  2. The health care that is provided to many people who are not well off, poor, underserved, and completely overwhelmed by the medical world. Yesterday on the train I met an elderly woman just overwhelmed by trying to find the right train stop after going to a Harris County (Ben Taub I believe) hospital for services. I’m grateful they were there for her.
  3. Pam Krinock, Tom Sharon, and Naguib Kedeas, all good chaplains with whom I work.
  4. Nicole, Dawn, Akisha, Barbara, and the Lauren’s! Just some of the fantastic nurses in our PICU. So grateful for them.

Morning by Morning (6/21/16)

So, I waited on my daily gratitude for my visit to the Copa America semi final tonight between the US and Argentina.  For good reason.

  1. A wife who watched the kids so I could go.  Thank you so much Elana for the pass and the encouragement.
  2. A friend, Josh Day, who was willing to share his tickets with me and listened to me ask tons of questions about soccer, strategy, and trivia. In fact, he made the already amazing soccer atmosphere a phenomenal experience, especially with the way he “coached the refs” and shared his wisdom of handballs with them!
  3. Lionel Messi.  That free kick was just amazing (the best among the limited  I’ve seen), plus the numerous gifted passes, assists, and ball control he brought. Every time he touched the ball, the stadium stood in eager anticipation and were rarely disappointed.  That kind of feeling in a stadium experience is just awesome! Greatness watched!
  4. The opportunity to even go.  It’s not lost on me that I got to enjoy this.

Morning by Morning (6/20/16)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. A great Fathers Day complete with good church service, video call between me, my Dad, and Ryan, disc golf at a new course, hanging with good friends, watching “Somm,” and laughing  on the couch with Elana in the evening as we watched TV.
  2. Working at Texas Childrens Hospital.
  3. The official arrival of Summer, although us Houstonians started that experience back in February!
  4. Josh Day, a good friend and good disc golf partner.

Morning by Morning (6/17/16)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. The ability to not drive all the way to work. It is quite a relief to be able to take the rail and mentally have a break from driving and traffic.
  2. Bryan Schackmann and Zach Luben, friends in SoCal I regularly miss for their humor, wisdom, friendship, and all things sports.
  3. Really good leftovers.  Yep.
  4. Getting to snuggle and then walk with Ryan this morning after he woke up more tired than usual.

Morning by Morning (6/15/16)

My daily gratitude for:

  1. A little young toddler at the hospital who is spending most of his life in an ICU and most of his life without family present.  I love every time I get to come to his bedside, play with him, laugh and be silly with him, and read books and help his hands turn the pages.  I am so grateful for him because he brings me joy to connect with him, to be the calming affirming presence of God that a parent would normally share in.  He is precious and I am glad God has called me to be in his life even for just small moments.
  2. Good friends at good birthday parties! (Read Josh and Andrea Day, Mikey Weesner, Belinda Guerra, Elana Denham, and my boy Ryan Denham)
  3. Prosecco. Seriously. Seriously good wine!
  4. My brother Joe and his life going well at the moment.
  5. My nephews and niece! Love them!

Happy birthday Elana!

She breathes silently as she lays on the bed, sprawled across as though she owns it as usual.  Her foot peeks out from the comforter, limp of course from her quiet slumber. There she is, so unlike her exuberant, energetic and anxious self, gently dreaming her birthday morning away.

As she sleeps so gently this morning, I am always humbled and challenged. This is my wife, Elana, who so often embodies full and deep joy and a wistfulness of youth combined with the exotic chaos of a cornered lion.  Yes, my wonderful yet powerful wife who has on occasion been compared to unbridled hurricanes. There she is, sleeping gently as she does almost every morning, doing what she is so good at doing: investing fully and intensely into what she is doing at the moment. Work, class, project at church, play, even sleep, she is fully present there and so full of joy.

I am humbled because I must be.  She is a force who has blessed my life just out of sheer happening- helping me become a father and experience married life, being the mother of my children, the secretary at my church, the planner and budgeter extraordinaire, etc. You get the picture I’m sure. I am humbled because my life is held by her in so many ways and she is a touch point and foundation of most of it. But there’s more than that.

I am humbled because she is a gift that I too often forget to thank, little appreciate, and too lightly dismiss. You see, I am really a poor husband sometimes. I am humbled because I have at times forgotten to love her the way she deserves, carried resentment, and been filled with fear too much to see her for who she is. And yet, she continues every day with passion, intensity, and hurricane force love to smile, say I love you, drive the kids around, plan dental appointments, and generally do the things that our household needs. That’s humbling.

Elana is very much a Proverbs 31 woman, which is humbling. There isn’t much about proverbs 31 that could not relate to her.  She is, in so many ways:

  • Trustworthy
  • Virtuous
  • Clothed with strength and dignity
  • Laughs in the face of the future (and worries about it as well!)
  • Blessed
  • Fearing the Lord with great and pure faith

And in specific Proverbs 31 ways, she humbles me:

  • A food arranger
  • A planner for the household
  • A spinner (always looking for improvements and things for our family)
  • An inspector (our children’s bites particularly!)
  • Energetic
  • Strong willed (except with wine like me!)
  • Hands busy making, spinning, planning, arranging, working
  • A helper to the needy (willing to give our possessions to support)
  • A finder (of clothes for winter and swim diapers for summer)
  • Makes our beds
  • Works at the market with teens lives and education 
  • Wise words and lots of research!
  • Carefully watches everything in the household (looking for needs, hopes, and ways to make her family happy)
  • Burning her lamps late into the night (Pinterest-ing and scheming for the family)
  • Her children stand and bless her in love.

Elana humbles me.  She humbles me because she is so driven and passionate, but while doing so she acts out a gentle love and consuming loyalty and care to her family and friends. It amazes me and it was what drew me to her in the first place.

She humbles me because in the most important way, she is so passionate out of her own vulnerability.  She earns her worth through her passion, intensity, and drive. She seeks the affirmation that she is beautiful because of what she does. (I unfortunately contribute to this all too often.) But she is not loved for those things. There is more than that. She is all those good things.

But I love her, because she is full of dignity.

But I love her, because she is clothed with strength.

But I love her, because she stands strong in her joy.

But I love her, because she is gorgeous and beautiful and always will be.

But I love her, because she is an absolute blessing of love to her children.

But I love her, because she is full of forgiveness and loyalty.

But I love her, because I really believe she is making me better.

But I love her, because she refuses to let me fail and falter and isolate myself.

But I love her, because she is an eager spirit and willing in her soul.

But I love her, because she is worth every moment of love God gives me with her.

But I love her, because I am better with every embrace, every hug, every encouragement, and every kiss.

  1. But I love her, because she is a gift from God, and I see it as she sleeps so gently.

Happy birthday my dear love whom I never appreciate enough but I love in every deepest nook of me I can find.

Happy birthday my loving hurricane! (Hehe!)