Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I feel like we may be stuck in the middle of the most disgusting sandwich ever created. Beyond any liverwurst and swiss cheese your grandma tried to shove down your throat, more filthy than your dad's sandwich creations, our life has become a poop sandwich.

Our first born child, Harper, was born December 17th, 2010. For more information see my wife's facebook note: http://www.facebook.com/notes/cassandra-clarke-black/the-birth-and-life-of-harper-kendall-blackso-far-this-is-very-detailed-so-there-/10150105065405860. Here's a sample to suck you in:

 "Without any doubt in my being that was the hardest thing I had ever done, but by trusting my God, my body that he created, and my amazing midwife my beautiful son was born and I was able to experience the curse that God gave women because of the fall of man. So humbled and empowered at the same time, I wanted to weep and praise God for everything I had but didn't deserve."

Harper was born with Imperforate Anus, a fancy medical term meaning his poop had no way out. Our doctor's prepared us and Harper and took him into surgery to install a colostomy bag. For those of you who may not know what a colostomy bag is, let me explain. The surgeon went in to Harper's lower bowels and cut them in half, bringing both halves through the skin on his side. He will continue to eat normally and digest food and the food will be pooped out through his side (colostomy) and into his bag. You've probably learned more than you ever desired to know.

As if it wasn't difficult enough to change my first diaper ever or be a father for the first time, now I have a medical condition to deal with. But we've never backed down from a challenge and this wouldn't be the first time.

When we got home, Cassie was looking up websites about colostomy bags on infants so we could learn as much as we could. I glanced over at one point and read a line that made me laugh and roll my eyes: "For parents who's lives are dictated by bowels".

Dictated by bowels? HA! I was not about to allow a child to run my house, and especially not his poo!
Little did I know...

Before Harper's birth, my day was planned around my mornings. Religiously I would go by the same schedule every day.

6:00 Wake Up
6:05 Take the dog out
6:10 Make coffee and start bacon
6:20 Read Bible while bacon cooks
6:45 Drain bacon and start eggs
7:00 Finish reading and eat breakfast
7:30 Shower and get ready for work

Now, it seems like everything revolves around his nose-hair burning stool. For example, Sunday morning looked more like:

7:00 Wake up and Change poop bag
7:25 Take the dog out
7:35 Make coffee and start breakfast
7:40 Read Bible
7:55 Drain poop from bag
8:15 Eat breakfast
8:45 Get ready for Church
9:30 Drain bag again
10:00 Arrive at church

Now, most babies don't fill their bags as often as that and I will admit, Sunday was not the norm. He seemed to have eaten extra well Saturday night/Sunday morning. But that kid does poop. A lot. And when he does it smells infinitely worse than any dirty diaper you've been exposed to. If you don't believe me, I insist you come and change the next one. It would be my pleasure.

And thanks to my unbelievably adorable son, I now am wedged into a poop sandwich. My life is effectively "poop-God-poop". And I think that's exactly where God wants me to be, wedged right between my son's crap.

The best part of it all? Through the pregnancy, the delivery, the surgery, and the frequent bag changing, God has been there. And He'll be there for the next surgery and everything in between. Which is just what we need.

God is with us, sandwiched between our baby poop, smiling, crying, and gagging along with us.
And its the best sandwich ever.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Papa Bear

Thanks to Christmas season, its been much longer than I had planned between posts. I'm intending to blog more frequently. Feel free to FB or Tweet me to keep me going!

I do not have a perfect dad.

This was a tough realization to come to. As you probably know, Cassie and I are expecting a baby soon, little Harper Kendall. I, of course, want him to grow up to love God, his mom, and sports, and to be a strong man who stands up for what he believes in.
With those goals in mind, I need to start my journey of fatherhood now with intentions to arrive at that point: a boy becomes a man who loves God, his mom (and future spouse), and stands up for his beliefs.
So I'm thinking, "How do I start being the perfect father now, so that HK will be what I want him to be in the end?"
It is best not to head into the unknown until you first investigate the known. So I started by reflecting on my dad and my relationship with him.

Growing up, Dad was always a hard worker. He was always a pretty large man, barrel chested, so I found it weird that he was on submarines when I was small. After he got out of the Navy, he worked night shift from my 2nd grade year into my high schooling. He would go off to work around 10 pm and return every day between 6 and 9 am, sleep for a few hours, and wake up around 2 to greet the three of us kids and start on dinner.

I can remember many times that Dad was, in our minds, harsh, short, and somewhat moody. He and I had numerous strains in our relationship, most (probably all) coming from me acting out, which I know can be a surprise. He was continuously sleep-deprived, something I was too self-centered to notice until I was older.

My dad is not a perfect dad.
The thought hit me like a gut shot from Mike Tyson (who still has it, by the way).

God has given me the chance now to look back and critically view my life, my relationship with my father, and how his job of raising three kids has panned out.

I believe my dad's goals were similar to mine: raise godly adults who love God, their mom (and future spouses), and who stand up for their beliefs.

I'm the middle child. I get to look up at Ben as he is grown and out on his own. I get to look down to Sara and see her at LSU pursuing her degree. I see two individuals who love God, their mom, and stand up for their beliefs. And when I look in the mirror I know a few things: I love God with all that I am, love my wife second, love my mother, and will forever stand up for my beliefs.

My dad is successful.

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

I'm going to be harsh with Harper. Many times I'm going to be short and I am often moody. And I will never be the perfect dad. I will never be the Father-of-the-Year. I will make mistakes, hurt his feelings, break his confidence, and shatter his trust in me. And by God's grace, I will reconcile myself to my family and love them like Christ loves the Church and like Benjamin Black loved each of us (see Ephesians 5). And I will do whatever it takes to make sure each of my children love God, their mom and spouse, and stand up for their beliefs.

I have seen parenting success. I am the evidence of it.

My dad is not perfect, but he is successful.

And I want to be just like him.

Let the conversation begin.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Work vs. Ministry: Fulfilling the Call

So I was driving from my apartment to the church today, letting Josh Groban's new CD serenade me, and I began to think about what my next blog post should be. 
Should I discuss Health Care or the new naked scanners like everyone else is?
Should I talk about my fears/joys of becoming a father at a young age?
Should I blog about the fact that I get to see a pre-screening of the newest Narnia movie tonight? (FACT!)
Or maybe I should be as brave as my friend Stephen Schick and tackle evil in the world...

I hope that my blog continues to be an out-pouring of my continuously growing relationship with Christ. Because of a conversation we had (call it prayer, if you will), I've decided to write about my "occupation".

If I handed you my business card to sent you an email, you would see my technical title: "Student Pastor".

The wrestling match between my heart and my mind began. 
What is my job? Being a Student Pastor? If so, what is my ministry? Can they be the same thing?

According to everyone's favorite resource, dictionary.com, a job is defined as:
a piece of work, esp. a specific task done as part of theroutine of one's occupation or for an agreed price: She gavehim the job of mowing the lawn.
a post of employment; full-time or part-time position: Shewas seeking a job as an editor.
anything a person is expected or obliged to do; duty;responsibility: It is your job to be on time.

Personal opinion: Incredible definitions. Great work, dictionary.com writers (if you really exist).
According to definition 2, my job is to be a Student Pastor at the Oaks Baptist Church. Your job is to _________ (fill in that blank with whatever pays your checks). 

What really stuck out was that third definition: "anything a person is expected or obliged to do; duty; responsibility". 

Expected to do? Obliged? Responsibility

Then the light changed (still in the car, remember? Keep up.). 

What am I expected to do? What is my responsibility?

This month at the Oaks is Missions Emphasis. And as I drove back to the church, it was like God said to me, "Make disciples. That's your responsibility."
See, I'm a Follower of Christ. As Acts 9:1 puts it, a "Follower of the Way". I'm traveling down a path with Jesus as my guide, and my sole responsibility is to make disciples as I go. 

How does that transfer?
I'm a Follower first. A Husband and Father second. And a Student Pastor third.

I am thus expected to:
1. Make a disciple of myself. I am in no condition to create disciples if the reflection in the morning does not Follow the Risen God. I must, without hesitation, follow Christ with all that I am.
2. Make disciples of my wife and children. My example and love for God should inspire my wife to love God more. The words I speak should be so gracious (Col. 4:6) that my children see the difference in my life and want to follow me as I follow Christ. I must love my wife and children as Christ loved the church, and give myself (time, energy, motives, desires, and wants) for them.
3. Make disciples of the students God gives me and show them how to become Followers of the Way.
4. Continue to make disciples every where, as I go.

This principle should apply to your life. Any position you may hold, you are a Follower first, then a leader. Your job and my job is the same: as you go, make disciples. 

Waiting for the "call" in your life to find out what you should be doing? 

You just read it. 

Make disciples. 

Let the conversation begin.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Awkward Beginnings

After much consideration and hours of prayer, I've decided to do it.

Let the blogging commence.

I promised myself that I would never write a blog consistently. "It boring", I told myself. "No one actually reads blogs." "Who would honestly read your blog?"

So, after consulting with my great team of experts (Cassie and Facebook), I have decided to do it. The hardest part so far? The title.

I truly believe that millions more books than we have now would have been written if people could have just come up with a cool, creative title. Many times I would dream of being the next great author, but the great title alluded me.

As I did my best to come up with a title that would catch the eye of the world, I quickly realized I was aiming too high. I had no reason to have the greatest title; my title should reflect the purpose of my content.

My goal in writing a blog is not to experience the onset of premature carpal tunnel syndrome or to have another reason to stare at the light that mysteriously draws me in from my glowing screen. My true goal is to encourage honest conversations between people. I look at my generation, a group called the "Mosaics", and I feel like I am one of the millions who want nothing more but an opportunity to express my opinion, hear a rebuttal, and adapt my opinion accordingly. I cannot be the only one who is tired of being told by previous generations how great things were and how we should do things exactly the same.

Don't get me wrong. Our parents and grand-parents did some great things. Civil rights was incredible. Fighting for the world's freedoms was brave.
But wearing leisure suits? Gold chains and bracelets on men? Allowing the Wonder Years to get cancelled?
You could never convince me that yesterday was better than our future.

Which brings me back again to my goal: conversation. I read a few blogs and noticed one common thing- a lot of them sound like a guy behind a keyboard ranting about his terrible life or women sharing recipes. Very few promote real conversation between people. My hope is that, by reading this, my blog turns from a monologue to a dialogue and eventually a pluralogue. To come clean, I will say that I don't think "pluralogue" exists. When I googled it I found it used it a book that sounded like no one had ever read it: "Viennese Heritage: Karl Buehler's Theory of Language". Since the word has never been used in common speech, I'll take it upon myself to define it.
    Pluralogue (noun)-
 1. A conversation between the members of a large group of people
 2. A conversation between separate large groups of people
 3. A sandwich consisting of every kind of lunchmeat except those ending with "wurst"

When my children are old enough to read this blog, I hope I can look back and know I fulfilled my goal.

Let the conversations begin!