Going for a Swim


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jesus at bethesda 2

There was a pool in Jerusalem during the time of Christ that was called Bethesda.  In Hebrew the word Bethesda could mean either House of Mercy or House of Grace.  In Aramaic the word could mean shame or disgrace.  During this time the pool was believed to have special healing powers.  People believed that when the waters were stirred that you would receive healing if only you were the first one in the pool.

Well Jesus shows up (John 5:1-15) at this pool to find a man who has been an invalid for 38 years!  For 38 years this man has tried to get well through his own efforts.  I can picture him trying to drag himself to the edge of the pool once the waters started to move, thinking to himself that “maybe today I will succeed and be made right“.  The bible says the man tells Jesus that no one will help him when it’s time get in the water and consequently he is pushed out of the way by others.  38 years of frustration!  I would imagine that he has become bitter towards others because they won’t help him in his struggle.

Then Jesus ask him the question “Do you want to get well?”.  Obviously the man wants to become healed, he has tried for 38 years!  I love that the pool’s name has two meanings – Mercy and Disgrace.  Here is this man who society would label as shamed or disgraced because of a physical disability.  Everyone would have judged him on appearance that either he or his parents caused this condition due to sin.  All this man wants to do is remove the shame.  So Jesus already knows that he wanted to be made physically well; He’s asking him about the condition of his heart.  Jesus replies to the man’s answer with “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

How many times do try to be made right with God?  We can struggle with sin in our lives for years, crawling toward some kind of perceived hope.  The truth is that no matter what we do on our own, like the invalid, we will never be able to make it to the pool of Mercy.  Jesus is the only one who can heal our Disgrace and our Shame.  Jesus didn’t care what the man had done, he simply ask “Do you want to get well?”.  He is still asking us today, “Do you want to get well?”.  He wants to take you by the hand and say “Get up!”.  He wants to take what others judge to be your pool of disgrace and turn it into what you will see as an Ocean of Mercy!

jesus at bethesda

Brooklyn Water Bagels


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Brooklyn Water Bagels on Urbanspoon
We found a great little bagel shop last weekend called Brooklyn Water Bagels.  Not only did they have good breakfast sandwiches, it was educational as well.  The idea appears that they start by purifying the water that is used in the process of making the bagels.  You can watch the entire process of making the bagels through the windows - from water purification, to mixing, all the way to baking.  One thing that I didn’t realize before was that they boil the bagels in water before they go in the oven.  It appears that they use the purified water to make their coffee as well.  The restaurant had a great feel to it, with old black and white sitcoms playing on the mounted flatscreen.  Others seem to have caught on as there were several people in line.  It was a chilly day so seating was limited.  

Everyone is was very nice and willing to take the time to explain the process to us.  The lady behind the register was very helpful & patient as we made our selections.  You can get your bagels to go and they will give you a freezer bag to keep them fresh. A great experience that I’m sure we will try to re-create in the future.  


Let Us Keep to the Point


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Oswald Chambers – My Utmost for His Highest – January 1

“God’s order has to work up to a crisis in our lives because we will not heed the gentler way.  He brings us to the place where He ask us to be our utmost for Him, and we begin to debate; then He produces a providential crisis where we have to decide – for or aginst, and from that point the “Great Divide” begins.
If the crisis has come to you on any line, surrender your will to Him absolutely and irrevocably”



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The ADVENT season was a great time to be with my family and friends this year.  My wife and I have tried very hard over the years to have Christmas traditions of our own.  It’s something that I think has been especially important for her and at the same time hasn’t come easy.  When you think of traditions it conjures up images of Norman Rockwell paintings.  It’s a trap that I have fallen into many times over the years and as a parent can leave you feeling defeated.  I can remember times when the kids were little and trying to put up the tree.  Decorations, Christmas music, hot cocoa – you get the picture.  Well reality; about a ten minute attention span intervened by a sugar rush.  I’m not going to lie – it was tough with two little boys.  I think the best we were able to do in the way of traditions in those days was going to the tree farm to cut down the tree.  We would hike around looking for the perfect tree, have the Clark Griswold like angelic illuminated moment when it was found, and a ceremonial “Timmmmmbeeeeerrrrrr”.

This year, we took another run at the ADVENT calendar.  Every day in December there was a different activity to do as a family.  Some days we coordinated the fun with some other families so we could do things together.  Some of the highlights this year:

Purchase a Christmas album
Work on a puzzle together.
Play Texas Hold’em at the Odell farm
Christmas party around the fire pit in the back yard
Christmas cookie exchange
Ginger bread house decorating contest
Ornament exchange
Line dancing at the Odell farm
See A Christmas Carol play (my personal favorite)
Christmas gift shopping as a family
One night stay-cation (Gaylord Palms)

We stayed very busy this year with something to do every day, but it was well worth it in relationship and in tradition making.  We even broke a tradition (I had a hard time with that) this year and opened our gifts on Christmas eve.  The teenagers slept in on Christmas morning and we did stockings when they woke up.  It worked out great!  After the stocking my wife shared some things she had learned from her devotions this month, and we all prayed as a family.  What a sweet way to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Afterwards, Christmas morning Eggs Benedict breakfast.

So yes, even when it seems the boys are all grown up traditions can be made.  You have to just keep trying and just keep loving.  Merry Christmas!

Happy Campers


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We went camping a few weeks ago at Fort Wilderness and spent four days and three nights there.  Each year we have a group of about 30 families that get together for a long weekend at the Disney campgrounds.  It really is a lot of fun and Disney knows how to make it well – Disney.   Continue reading

Honey Harvest


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I have to say that I have been wanting to write about this for several months now.  This past Saturday I was invited to one of my favorite family’s home to participate in the harvesting of honey from one of their bee hives.  What an absolutely fascinating process.  Continue reading

Pumpkin Carvin’


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We had a good time last night with friends carving pumpkins.  I appreciate so much how my friend Pilar works to create events like this and therefore memories.  The food is always central to the festivities as well.  It’s really is a blessing. Continue reading

Festival of Bacon


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You heard right – I went to the Festival of Bacon in Orlando with my son and some of our friends yesterday.  The atmosphere was electric, as in griddle, over the famed pork belly.  Let me say that having grown up on a hog farm and hearing my dad spin this into a patriotic experience by referencing the animal as “The Great American Hog” – I’ve had my share of bacon. Continue reading

When You Can’t Quit


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The past few weeks have been full of reflection. When we moved into our home, like most people, we met and got to know our neighbors. Some neighbors you get to know a little better than others. It seems that you get to know those neighbors a little better that might have children the same age as yours, or go to the same church, or even share a hobby.

The family that lived across the street at the time, had four boys of which two were the same ages as our two boys. Our youngest son became friends with Jason (the third son) and are still best friends to this day. We learned that the family were missionaries to Jordan, and that their youngest son Joseph had leukemia. Continue reading


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