Category Archives: Joshua

Wedding Feast Rehearsal

On Thursday I had the opportunity to attend the rehearsal dinner for my oldest son’s wedding. I was taken aback a little when most of the ladies were dressed in their First Communion Dresses. I supposed that was the format. Joshua and Kelsie were married on Friday evening, to the general delight and satisfaction of their assembled friends and family. We greatly enjoyed witnessing this momentous occasion as the newlyweds embark on the adventure of their marriage.

It was such fun to celebrate with Joshua and Kelsie.

It was such fun to celebrate with Joshua and Kelsie.

Being the father of the groom is a pretty good gig. Kelsie’s family took care of the reception and nearly all of the details of the wedding itself — all I had to do was show up, wear a suit, and pay for the rehearsal dinner. But I must admit, I had some misgivings a few weeks ago, when Kathy told me that I’d be providing a blessing at the end of the dinner.

Getting the room ready for the rehearsal dinner ...

Getting the room ready for the rehearsal dinner …

“A blessing?” I pictured some saint of old like Jacob or Isaac, blessing his sons on his deathbed. “I’m not sure I can pull off the whole patriarch thing,” I told Kathy (although I do have a beard). Later, on the phone, Joshua assured me that I was expected to make some final remarks at the Rehearsal Dinner. I decided I would put some thought into what I would say, rather than trusting entirely in my ability to extemporize. “You might want to make a few notes,” Kathy wisely counseled.

Little did I know that the testimonies and speeches during this event would be one of the highlights of my life.

It began with some of Kelsie’s family reflecting on her character and their relationship with her. Several had notes to which they frequently referred as they related various amusing anecdotes — I began to wish I had followed Kathy’s advice.

Michelle's idea to put up Christmas lights was excellent -- it really transformed the room.

Michelle’s idea to put up Christmas lights was excellent — it really transformed the room.

But then several of the groomsmen stood to speak about Joshua, and several of the bridesmaids spoke about Kelsie, and I began to realize that this was much more than a rehearsal dinner. This was a sacred celebration of the work of the Holy Spirit in and through the students of Union University, and I was privileged with a front-row seat to the Christian community which had been built during the years that Joshua and Kelsie were in Tennessee.

We were blithe enough when we sent Joshua off to school at Union University. He had received a full tuition scholarship, and we really liked what we heard about the school from his cousin, Rebecca. Joshua’s faith in God was solid — we had little fear that he would fall away from the Lord as so many do, when they begin re-inventing themselves in college.

Rehearsal dinner preparation is always better with a coffee from Starbucks.

Rehearsal dinner preparation is always better with a coffee from Starbucks.

But I guess we didn’t really think through what would happen when Joshua got to school — how he would begin to intentionally surround himself with a cohort of other like-minded men of God, and what they would build through purposeful, obedient conviction, walking in faith together. As each of the young men and women stood and spoke about godliness, faithfulness and purity, I felt as though I was attending a rehearsal for the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”

– for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” — Revelation 19:6-9

We walked through the ceremony twice, and then settled into a back room of the church, crammed wall-to-wall with tables and chairs. With a wedding party of two-dozen, plus family members, we were a snug group of fifty or so.

I was worried about how tight the seating was, but it actually turned out very well -- it gave the meal a very intimate feel.

I was worried about how tight the seating was, but it actually turned out very well — it gave the meal a very intimate feel.

It was my role to conclude the time with my blessing — so as people were finishing the meal, I stood and warned the assembled wedding party and families that when I next stood up, their opportunity to speak would end. Then I sat back and enjoyed the show.

Two hours later, I leaned over to Kathy. “Should I put an end to this? Surely people have sat in these chairs long enough?”

It took some effort to fit the wedding party across the front of the church, but we eventually managed.

It took some effort to fit the wedding party across the front of the church, but we eventually managed.

Kathy encouraged me to sit tight, and I settled back into my chair as two or three more people stood to testify. Each story contributed to the central theme: that Christ is glorified in Joshua and Kelsie, but also among the other students of that college in a rare and deeply-satisfying way.

What a lovely group of bridesmaids!  Kelsie is very blessed to have so many dear sisters and friends.

What a lovely group of bridesmaids! Kelsie is very blessed to have so many dear sisters and friends.

I realized that I wanted my younger sons and the other young men present to hear these testimonies — to catch a vision for what God can do when a few young people stand together in obedience to His Word and the Holy Spirit. As I later commented in my blessing, we were witnessing the joining of three families — Joshua and Kelsie’s natural families, plus the family of faith that they had built at Union.

If ever a father could have his dearest wish, it was granted to me, as I sat in that back room of the church: heart full of joy, tears brimming in my eyes, listening to the closest friends and relatives of my son and soon-to-be daugther-in-law speak of the work of Jesus in their lives. Truly John wrote: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” — 3 John 1:4

Thank you, Joshua and Kelsie, and thank you to all of your friends and relatives for so many kind and Christ-honoring words. Thank you, Debbie Le, Michelle Kuhlmann and Beckie Madson for slaving behind the scenes to make the rehearsal dinner a success. And thank you, Lord Jesus, for granting us new life and joy and making all this possible!

Project 365, Day 351

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Michigan Family Time

Sarah and I are in Michigan to enjoy some time with my mom as she recovers from her hip replacement. The surgery “just happened” to coincide with a dear friend’s wedding. I was already planning on coming to Michigan in October to attend the wedding, spend time with my mom, and see Joshua and Kelsie. Joshua was the best man in the wedding – he and Kelsie drove up from Tennessee to be here over fall break.

A few minutes of relaxing before rushing to the next thing.

A few minutes of relaxing before rushing to the next thing.

When Mom’s surgery was scheduled for the end of September, it worked out beautifully for my aunt to come for the first week of recovery time, and then Sarah and I to come for the next two weeks. So many sweet things came together – we got to see my mom’s twin sister, we had time with Joshua and Kelsie, we got some relaxed, intentional time with Kelsie (my beautiful future daughter in law), we were able to attend David and Christianne’s wedding, we shopped for wedding outfits, we pampered Mamie, and then we had time with my brother and his youngest daughter.

Sarah gets some loving from Aunt Kate!

Sarah gets some loving from Aunt Kate!


Not sure why I haven’t been blogging all of this. Just know there has been joy. There have been some tears. There has been a lot of reminiscing and talk of my beloved (and SORELY missed) dad. There have been even more giggles. Quite a bit of ice cream and other delicious food. Sweet discussions on faith and life. Quiet moments of Bible study. Painful stretching and hip exercises (we ALL do them with Mamie). Other silly video workouts. Good chocolate. Visits with Mamie’s INCREDIBLE friends. And more.

It was hard being gone for Tim’s birthday, but we managed to celebrate him here in Michigan.

We missed being with Tim on his birthday.

We missed being with Tim on his birthday.

We love you, Tim!!  Happy Birthday.

We love you, Tim!! Happy Birthday.

And he was obviously thoroughly spoiled on his birthday back in Washington. We are a blessed and loved family! A huge thankful to all of our friends for stepping in and partying with Tim in my absence.

Tim and David have been surviving just fine without us (somehow). Hopefully they haven’t been spoiled so much by my sweet friends that they don’t regret us returning home on Tuesday.

Kathy – more to follow
Project 365 – October 7th & October 8th

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Feature Phones

Some ten years ago, I started working for a telecommunications company. At the time, I was a contractor, but I wanted the people at that company to think of me as a ‘team player’. So I rushed out and purchased a cell phone plan through that company.

At the time, they were offering a very inexpensive flip phone; I picked up one for me, one for Kathy, and one for my parents. It was the Samsung x475, a basic, durable clamshell phone with a battery that needed charging only about twice a week.

Not my actual phone.

Not my actual phone.

Later, I became an employee of that company, and became eligible for free phones and a very cheap monthly voice and text plan. Over the years, my children began to be added to my account, and we started experimenting with smartphones and data plans.

In this day and age, it is quite difficult to purchase a ‘feature phone’ — that is, a phone that is not a smartphone. Presumably someone in marketing thought that calling it a ‘dumbphone’ would be bad for sales. But there still is a market for such phones, if only among Luddites and technophobes.

This summer marks the end of an era. Joshua has finally been forced to replace his Samsung x475, some ten years after it was initially purchased. For some reason, the phone decided that it would offset the network time by 5 hours and 11 minutes, correcting for timezones. It also refused to admit that any year after 2014 existed (apparently the Mayans were off by a couple of years). Since the phone was originally marketed and sold in 2004 and 2005, it was not designed for ‘bleeding edge’ technologies like 3G and LTE, and can’t communicate on the frequencies used by those types of networks. As the 2G GSM network is re-farmed and the radio frequency blocks are harvested for LTE use, less and less of the cell network is available for coverage of Joshua’s phone.

This phone has really served its time.  I wish they made 'em this durable, these days.

This phone has really served its time. I wish they made ‘em this durable, these days.

“Shall I buy you a smartphone, Josh?” I asked him.

“No, I don’t want a phone that is smarter than me,” he reasoned.

I forbore to make the obvious insulting remark, but it was a close thing.

“So, what do you want, then? A blanket and some smoke? Two cans and some string?” Sometimes I’m not as patient as I should be.

“Can I get another flippy phone like this one?” he whined, waving his Samsung x475 hopefully.

So I bought him another ‘feature phone’, this one sold by another carrier. It pretty much just makes and receives phone calls, and texts, and can play music from an SD memory card, if you buy one and load it up. Other than that, it has a rudimentary browser and not much else.

Joshua and Kelsie, admiring his new 'feature phone'.

Joshua and Kelsie, admiring his new ‘feature phone’.

Some people really enjoy standing against cultural trends, but I think Joshua has developed this into an art form. While others swap their phones out every year, needing to have the latest and greatest, Joshua gains genuine (if childish) delight from using a phone that is fully ten years behind its time.

I can imagine having a similar conversation, some ten years from now.

Me: “Say, Josh, you need to swap out your phone for one of the new ones with a telepathic interface.”

Joshua: “Aw, Dad, you know I’ve finally got the hang of using this little numeric keypad. See, if you hit the ’3′ twice, it spells out ‘e’.”

Me: “Well, the CEO of our company called me and asked if he could turn off the UMTS network. Apparently your phone is the last holdout, and they would love to shut it down. He says it would save the company about $6 billion annually.”

Joshua: “Gee, that sounds like a lot of money, but I really like my flip-phone. I’m going to have to think about it … ”

Me: “I’ll just tell him to wait, then. I’m sure it will be fine.”

Project 365, Day 219

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An Engaging Couple

Some three years ago, my oldest son went off to college. It seemed harmless enough, at the time.

As these things sometimes transpire, he immediately noticed a certain red-headed girl on campus, and one thing led to another. Today, in a small gazebo on Tranquility Island (Kerrville, TX) in the middle of the Guadalupe river, Joshua proposed to Miss Kelsie Leaf, who graciously consented to become his wife.

We think this is the actual gazebo, courtesy of the interweb.

We think this is the actual gazebo, courtesy of the interweb.

Although they have not yet fixed a date, there is talk of a December wedding. We are so delighted to welcome Kelsie into our family (or invite ourselves into hers) and we hope and pray that God will bless them greatly as they take this monumental step.

The ring itself.

The ring itself.

It is strange to think of my son beginning to found his own household — it seems only just last year I was teaching him to crawl up and down the stairs in our Stamford, CT house. Admittedly, it was 1994, which is technically a little more than a year ago. (My grip on reality is sometimes a bit tenuous.) In any case, we are so excited to see the love that Joshua and Kelsie have for each other.

They do look ridiculously happy together, it is true.

They do look ridiculously happy together, it is true.

Joshua is not really into pictures, and so he neglected to have a professional wedding photographer present to record the entire story for the benefit of remote relatives who just might have an interest. For this reason, we are forced to use pictures from this Spring, of the two of them as a couple.

As the scripture says:

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD. (Proverbs 18:22)

Of course, with marriage between a man and a woman serving as a template for our relationship with God, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention God’s intention for engagement:

And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. (Hosea 2:19)

We will be praying that God will continue to bless Joshua and Kelsie with some of that steadfast love for each other.

"He always was a good-looking kid," I told his mother.

“He always was a good-looking kid,” I told his mother. Whatever you may think about that, Kelsie looks beautiful, nestled into his shoulder.

Congratulations on your engagement, Kelsie and Joshua! We are so happy for you both!

Project 365, Day 178

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We are savoring every relaxed minute of having Joshua home this week. That doesn’t mean we’re busy and active every minute. On the contrary, we’re almost having a “non-vacation” time. The kids are sleeping in when they can, we’ve had some meals out and some in, we celebrated Daniel,we went to church as a family. It’s not about grand adventures, instead it’s been about living and breathing and just BEING together. It’s been a relaxing, sweet time.

Today the sun returned. Happy Days!! I came home from a walk to find the children (everyone but Daniel who had school) sitting outside. They were perched on lawn chairs and sleeping bags. I grabbed my cook book and sat with them. Joshua may or may not have fallen asleep.

Tim worked from home today, but we were careful not to distract him hardly at all. Joshua and I can’t help it if we have fun things to talk about. Or if Rachel needs to snuggle down for a nap. Or if the sun is heating up the house. Mmmmmmm.

Oldest and youngest boy

Oldest and youngest boys

David mowed the neighbors lawn. Joshua worked on some summer communications he needed to do. Sarah finished one of her school books. I had two long phone calls and managed to sneak in a walk each time.

It was a good, relaxing, peaceful day. The only two sad things are – Joshua is leaving on Friday night, and Daniel has to work so much this week that he’s not with us much. :(

This evening, after everyone had gone off to bed, Daniel said to me, rather wistfully, “I’m sad that Joshua is leaving so soon. I’m going to miss him.”

Me too, me too.

Thank you for spending a week at home, Joshua. And thank you to Tim for flying him home (first class no less – ha).

Project 365 – Day 147

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