Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Parenting Posts #1

I have several blogging friends whose blogs became baby blogs after they had children. I do not plan on this being the case with this blog. However, I have always tried to use this blog as a place to openly and transparently share my personal and spiritual journey. Being a parent is being a big part of my journey now, so I plan on having parenting posts at least once every week or two. Maybe more at some times and maybe less at others. The forthcoming post is pretty raw. I hope as you read it you will see it as a snapshot of my life, and not judge me or think I am contradicting the more joyful and positive things I also say and believe.


The Unexpected Things I Have Discovered with Parenting an Infant



There were several changes that I expected in having a child. I expected less sleep. I expected more garbage. I expected the house to be cluttered with baby stuff everywhere. There are several changes that I did not expect about being a new parent. It is about those changes that I want to share with you today.



Having to think and live at a slower pace



I expected that I might have to bottle feed our baby at times. Actually, I have looked forward to holding the baby and feeding her a bottle. What has suprised me is how much feeding the baby, and doing things with the baby forces me to slow down.



Our daughter usually eats every three hours. I did not expect that often times those feedings would last 45 minutes. My theory was that I would often be able to multitask during Karis' feedings. For instance, I might be able to feed and read at the same time. I have found that when I feed Karis she wants me to slow down and give her my full attention. She gets a little unhappy with me if I am not looking at her when I feed her, because she is looking at me. Often times she will grab one or both of my fingers as I feed her, especially when she wants my full attention.



She has slowed me into more stillness. She forces me to quiet my mind. When we are alone, I find that this feeding time at this stage is a perfect time for prayer, especially praying for her. That is, until she wants me to sing to her. Sometimes she wants me to sing to her...I can just tell. And the singing with her and holding her, when it works, is the time I feel closest to her. Especially when she gazes right at me while I do it. Sometimes when I sing to her. Other times I sing prayers and songs of worship and praise to continue my prayer time. She likes both.



Having to adjust some of my household routines



I was suprised at how much housework, home maintenence, and chores that I chose to do between the time Jennifer goes to bed and the time I go to bed. I often pick up stuff off the floor, put all the shoes in one place, and do the dishes once Jennifer goes to bed. I think I did this because I could spend more time with Jennifer if I waited to do these things until she went to sleep.



Our routine these days is that I stay up until midnight, feed the baby, and then go to bed soon after that. This gives Jennifer an extra couple of hours of solid sleep before she gets up for Karis' middle of the night feeding.



Nowdays, I am learning that I need to take out the garbage at lunch, water the plants earlier in the day, and do some other chores earlier in the day. Since I get out of my routine, often I forget what I should be doing earlier because I am used to doing it later.



I Have A Harder Time Setting Priorities



When I am doing office work, I feel badly about doing that instead of family stuff. When I am doing family stuff, I feel badly about not getting more work done. I felt this a little once I got married, more when Jennifer was on bed rest, and even more intensely now that we have a baby at home. This would be easier I think if I had a normal 9-5 job. But when I live in a parsonage, and have a self-made schedule, I feel that the responsibility is always on me to choose one thing, and by doing so I feel like I am slighting the other.



I Am Suprised I Don't Feel More Attached to Karis



I love my daughter. I cried a little when she was born. I have learned a lot about who I am and who she is, and who God is since I became a father. There are moments when I can think about my baby, and I have to do something else because I am moved to tears. I love her with all my heart. If anyone tried to take her away from us, or hurt her, I would fight them ferociously.



Furthermore, I am so proud of my family. I love taking pictures of Karis. I love seeing her in her "daddy wear". With Jennifer at home now, I love coming home for lunch and having all my family together. It feels good and right.



Yet, I don't feel as bonded to her as I expected to. My wife gets excited just looking at Karis, and her and I together. You can see that when Jennifer playing with her and holding her fills up a part of her that she did not know was there before she was born. I don't have the same kinds of feelings. I do not always feel this wave of emotion when I am holding her, and after 30 to 45 minutes of cuddling with her I am ready to pass her on to someone or for her to take a nap. I dread those days when I might have to be alone with her with Jennifer out of town.



I think part of this lack of bonded feeling is my sense of inability to do things "right" with Karis. This sense both has to do with my time spent together with Karis, and what other people tell me I should think, feel or do. Jen has done the middle of the night feeding, but several people have told me that I am not being a good father unless I am sharing that responsibilty at this time. If I can't burp her efficiently, I get frustrated. There is never a time when I am being graded when I am with her, and that I am on the verge of failure. I especially feel like a failure when I cannot stop her from crying, or when someone is making a comment about how I should do something that we are not doing.



I love my baby. I enjoy her presence in the house. I like holding her when she is not crying and I like feeding her. I think she is adorable. I wouldn't want our baby to be any different than who she is. Yet, I expected to ENJOY her as much as all these other parents talk about enjoying their babies. On a day by day and moment by moment basis, for me, there is much less enjoyment of being a father of an newborn child than I expected their to be. Or that I feel that their should be. It makes me wonder what is wrong with me. And it breaks my heart, because I think my family deserves better. I expect this to change as she grows. I hope it will.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lessons Learned #1--Fatherhood Lessons from my Heavenly Father


This morning we are going to do something a little different. The sermon is broken up into three parts. When I was trying to think about what I should say for Father’s Day, a number of things ran through my head. I opted for something kind of similar to my article in the Tribune the other week.

What I want to share with you this Sunday, very briefly, are some lessons I have learned about who God as a heavenly father from my two-weeks as an earthly father. I realize this is dangerous because, well, I don’t have a lot of time on the job. On the other hand, being fresh to the fatherhood experience, I might have some perspective that might bear reminding for some of us.

Anyway, not a lot of this is really based on my experience. It is based on the word of God, and some Scriptures that teach us about the love and character of our Heavenly Father.

The first passage is this one, from the minor prophets:

Zephaniah 3:17
17 The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”


The prophet Zephaniah writes this to Israelites as they were exile. He points them to a future hope when they will again be at home, and again be at peace. To give them a picture of what this is going to be like, he gives them an image of a Father caring for his young child, possibly as the child is just born. It talks about God being full of rejoicing over us, trying to lovingly quiet us, and singing over us.

When Karis was born, I was lucky enough to spend the first moments of her life with her. I assisted in the delivery by holding and pushing against one of Jennifer’s legs. Karis greeted her mother. I cut the cord. I carried her over to the little burrito warmer. I helped the nurse with the footprints, the weight, and the measurements. They cleaned her and swaddled her. I held her as they were finishing caring for Jennifer. I got to rock her.


As I began to hold her she whimpered a little. I talked to her and welcomed her to the world. I told her how lucky I was that out of all the little girls in all of the world, God had given me the best one. She quieted and kind of put her eyes in my direction. I sang over her. I sang songs I knew, and songs I just made up for the occasion—which I am known to do. I may have even shed a few tears. She was one of the most beautiful people I had ever seen.

That tenderness I felt as I held that new life in my arms—that tenderness you have felt with your own children—that is the kind of love God has for those who are his faithful children. Those who are born again.

God says that your life may be difficult. You may have felt isolated and alone, like those Jews who spent a generation in exile. But you can count on the hope that at the end of your heartache and despair, your isolation and loneliness, that God will sweep you up in his arms. Like a little child that is newly born he will rejoice over and sing over you, he will comfort you with his love.

He won’t do this because of anything you have done or anything you can do. He will love you like a tenderly loving father because you are his, and he is yours, and to your Heavenly Father you are one of the most precious and beautiful things he has ever seen.

Lessons Learned Part 2: Lessons Learned about my Heavenly Father


I John 3:1
1How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!


It is always nice to belong to someone, isn’t it? To have someone say….look at them….they are mine! To have someone say, “That’s my baby! That’s my boy! That my girl! That’s MY man! That’s MY woman!” Or vise versa. It is always nice to have someone to say that about.

When we are believers in Christ we have this privilege. When God watches us and looks upon us, he looks on us and says, “those are my kids”.

At one point in my life I had a pastor who did this prayer exercise where he challenged us to ask God, “God, what do you think of me?” Then he told us to listen for a response.

The pastor told us if we heard stuff that was like “you are worthless” or “I hate you” that this was the devil, who is called the accuser, and to rebuke him. But he also challenged us to listen to what God would say, and if God gave us some mental image to think about that as well.

I don’t always do well at these touchy feely exercises, so it took me a while to slow down enough to hear what God was saying. But when I slowed down this picture came to mind. I was with God in a room, a small living room with white walls and pictures all around. I asked the question. And God said, “I think of you all the time.” And then I looked around. And all around the room there were pictures of me at important and fun moments of my life. And it seemed to me that it was obvious that God was there at every moment those pictures were taken, taking those pictures. Furthermore, I noticed that God loved me so much that it was my pictures that he had on his wall, on his table, near his chair. And the thought of this moved me to tears. Why? Because I knew my Heavenly Father loved me like only a perfect father can. This vision I believe God gave me told the story of what it means to have a Heavenly Father that treasures me as only he can.
When God calls us his child he has given us his name. He has created us to look more like him, to act more like him, to share more and more of our life with him as we grow. He has given us an identity as his child, his heir, a member of his family. People can look at us and say “that is God’s child!” What a privilege!

The moment Karis was born, and I began to hold her in my arms, I knew that no matter what she did, or no matter what happened to her, I could not love her more in that moment, and I could not love her any less than I did in that moment for the rest of my life.

Let me say this again. One of the things I learned very quickly as I gazed into my child’s barely able to focus eyes was that there is nothing that she could ever do that could make me love her any less. Would I want bad things to happen to her? No. Would I want her to rebel and make a lot of bad mistakes? Of course not! But no matter what happens, deep down in my heart, I know my love for her can only grow.

The same is true of our Heavenly Father. There is nothing that we have done, or could do, that would make God love us any less. Does he want us to rebel? No. Does he want us to run away from him? Of course he does not. But if we run away from him or rebel against him, he offers us forgiveness and restoration. He loves us more than we will ever know.

Lessons Learned #3--A Father Welcomes Us Home


Luke 15:11-24
11Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.
13"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.[
b]'
22"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.




When you are a new parent, one of the big moments of excitement and worry is when you get to take your children home from the hospital and welcome them into your home. I think this might be especially true with your first child. You have been preparing your home for months. You get a room ready as a nursery. You get all those little baby toys and baby furniture items put together. You gather hand-me downs. Your church throws a baby shower for you, your bride, and the little baby to come.

You organize the clothes by age. You buy plenty of diapers. Or at least, what you think is plenty of diapers until a week after you get home. You prepare the house for the baby to be in it. You get the base for the car seat set for the new little child to be in it. Jennifer even wanted me to take the car into that Octopus car wash and get an express detail for the baby so that the car would be as clean as it could be when we brought our baby home.

The moment comes when the doctor says that momma and baby are free to come home, and you put that precious cargo in your car. I told Jennifer not to be surprised if I drove 5 miles an hour down Highway 50 all the way home. The truth was I went about 50, but I was still driving slow, deliberately, and cautiously.

I discovered my normal laid back approach to driving fading, and being replaced by a newly minted road rage as I got frustrated at every car that cut in front of us or rode to closely to our bumper. I scolded them from inside my car, and told them in no uncertain terms, that we had a baby on board inside our car and should show us more respect.

I was more excited, I think, to bring our new baby inside the home we had been preparing for her arrival than when I came into our apartment for the first time as a married couple with Jennifer after our honeymoon. We had prepared a place for our baby. We were welcoming her home.

When Jesus was about to go to the cross, he said this, “In my Father’s house are many mansions (or rooms depending on the translation). I go to prepare a place for you…”

Just like we spent over 9 months waiting for our baby to arrive in our home, preparing, anticipating, hoping and dreaming, God has a place set aside for you. Jesus is preparing that place for you. There is a lot of anticipation in God’s heart, and hope for your homecoming.
Jesus told this story about this father, who son had spurned him. The Father is supposed to be like God, the son like those who had strayed far from God and went their own way. The rebellious son had taken his inheritance early and ran away to a land far away. He had gone broke spending all his money on loose women and wild living. He had his share of fun, sure. But when the money and parties had run out, so did the fun. He looked around and he was broke, he was lonely, friendless, with very little hope. All those things he thought would make him happy had led to a dead end.

He decided to go back to his father’s home and be a hired hand for his father. When the father, who represents our heavenly father, was out one day he looked off in the distance. He saw the son. He must have been looking out there every day hoping his child would come home. The father ran to his son and threw his arms around him. He called him his son. He put the family ring on his finger. He threw a party for the lost son. He prepared a feast. He welcomed him.
Friends, our Heavenly Father is always ready to welcome us home.

You may be coming toward the end of your life, and you may be thinking of eternity. Remember, just like some parents preparing a place for their newborn child, God is preparing a place for you.
You may have run away from God. You may have wasted most of your money and your life on wild, selfish living. Know this. God is eagerly awaiting your return to him and his ways. He has a feast prepared for you. He is eager to welcome you home.

Either way, God is waiting eagerly for your homecoming. He is anticipating that moment when he can walk you into his home, and say “Here is my boy! Here is my girl! After all this waiting, the family is finally home. Together.”

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Catering to the Least Responsible Among Us: Reason #2 I still consider myself a conservative


Before Karis was born and while Jennifer was pregnant we participated in a childbirth class. It was something that was recommended to Jennifer, and she thought it would be helpful for us.


As her pregnancy went on, her enthusiasm for the class waned. Once Jennifer was put on bedrest by her doctor, she became even less excited about the one day intensive on the joys of giving birth . The class, as it turned out, happened to coincide with a visit from my wife's father and my wife's aunt. We decided to attend anyway, believing that since we had paid for the tutorial, we most likely should attend.


We showed up to the event in Pueblo. The building was approximately 45 minutes from our house. We were told we needed to bring our lunch with us, because we would work through lunch. In order to be prepared for this lunch, we drove to Rocky Ford (about 25 minutes one way) to get the Subway sandwiches we wanted.


We showed up that morning on time. The meeting started about ten minutes late. Although some of the information was basic, we learned a few things in the class. Jennifer was getting tired. It was getting to be lunch time.


When it was time to have lunch the instructor asked how many people had brought their lunch. About half had not. So the instructor told the class that instead of taking a short break and working through the class they would take an hour break and let people go out and get their lunches and come back.


This made me very angry. I had made a special effort to be prepared for the "working" lunch. I had made an effort to get to the class on time, and it had started late. We both were perturbed enough to confront the issue directly to the teacher.


"I thought we were having a 'working lunch', weren't we?" Jennifer asked.


"Yes, we were," the instructor responded, "but half of the people did not bring their lunches, and we cannot go to four without letting them eat, can we."


"You know what you are doing," I responded, "you are catering to the least responsible among us."


She shrugged. We went out to the car. We ate our lunch. We skipped the rest of the childbirth class because we were frustrated with the way the class was run, and because most of the second half of the class was a lot of standing up and moving.


This class demonstrates another reason why I consider myself a conservative. Many liberal policies and liberal persons tend to be so enamoured with their concerns with mercy and justice that they enable people's lack of responsibilities. Instead of offering people subsidies or incentives to become stronger people, liberals tend to pity people and offer them handouts to keep them weak and dependent. At their worst, liberals cater to the least responsible among us.

Compassionate conservative ideals (though often not conservative practice) attempt to address poverty and injustice through offering incentives for people to be more responsible. This is one of the reasons I became a conservative when I was young. This appeal to the best in us instead of the worst in us is also why I continue to consider myself a conservative today.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Review of Hunter's Moon by Don Hoesel


Hunter’s Moon begins as a homecoming story. CJ Baxter is a successful author, but his personal life is a mess. As he returns to his hometown for his grandfather’s funeral he begins to question his choices, those of his powerful political family, and the secret they are all trying to keep hidden.


The story begins a little slow, but the characters and plot all become intertwined in the family secret. As the pace of the story picks up, Baxter finds himself in a life or death struggle that forces him to come to terms with both his personal choices and his family’s history. As CJ struggles with his difficult circumstances, many readers will identify with him, which makes this novel even more interesting. He begins to realize that all he can do is move forward from the past and do the right thing in the present. It is when this realization comes upon him that he begins to understand matters of faith more clearly, and make his faith a real and active part of his life.


The nice thing about Hunter’s Moon is that it incorporates a number of different elements that people are looking for in an enjoyable reading experience. Baxter has to deal with significant relational struggles. The main characters are developed clearly. At the same time, as the story ramps up the pace of the novel increases, it becomes a mystery novel. Then the storyline turns a corner later in the novel and becomes more of a thriller. There is something for everyone’s taste in this fine book.


*This review was written in parnership with my mother, Patricia J. Walker


**This book was provided to me at no cost by Bethany House publishers in exchange for an honest review. As positive or negaitve review was not required in order to obtain the book.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

NCAA Conference Realignment


Conference Realignment in the NCAA Division I is happening quickly these days. There are some things that seem to be settled. Those things are:

1. Colorado is becoming a part of the Pac 10 Conference. (Yipee)
2. Nebraska is becoming a part of the Big 10 (makes sense)

As you can see, both teams are from the Big 12 North, which has gotten short shrift in light of the dominance of Oklahoma and Texas in the conference. There move is understandable. Unfortunately, it puts the rest of the Big 12 North (KU, Mizzou, KState, Iowa State) in a lerch regarding being in a BCS Conference. In the Big 12 South, it also puts Baylor in a precarious position.

These leaves several possibilities:

1. The Big 12 going down to 10 teams as it is, moving Ok. State to the North.

2. The Pac 10 superconference

3. The Big 12 pulling in some mid majors like BYU and TCU to keep the conference alive.

4. The Big 12 imploding in a number of directions.


What do you think is going to happen? What teams are going where? Why do you think that?

Big Brother in the Baby Ward


My daughter was born last week. Because of that fact, we have spent a lot of time at the hospital. I think as far as hospitals go, Parkview hospital is a good hospital. However, the more time I spent at the hospital, the more I got frustrated and angry about all of the control and power I had to give away to the hospital staff and administration. It felt like big brother is running amuck in the halls of our labor and delvery wards.


After our baby was born, my wife and I got to hold her briefly. Then the powers that be took the child away to the hospital nursery. I asked if I could bathe the baby. They told me I was welcome to stay in the room and watch. Are you telling me they could not tell me how my baby needed to be washed? Or they could not have done it in our own room instead of taking her to another room. Ridiculous.


They also had to tell us when we could take our child home. If we did not wait for her to be released to go home we would have been in trouble. We sat in the room and waited for hours for someone to come and let us take OUR BABY home. Crazy! Who is the hospital or the government to force us to fill out paperwork to take our child to our home whenever we see fit.


Then there were the small things. The nurse who changed our child's diaper when we specifically said we wanted to change her ourselves. The insistance that many patients must wear robes, which are supposed to be more hygenic, but really have been worn by several hundred other people before you have worn them.


All the unecessary tests that are run. All of the intrusive control and power they take in your family and with your friends.


Did you know that you can not take pictures of your own child's delivery, or video tape it, at the hospital we were at. Do they know that we chose to come to their hospital? That it is our insurance that puts food on their table? Shouldn't they then give us more power and control in our own family health and development.


All of this really makes me angry. It makes me remember why I still consider myself a conservative. More government does not make things better. It makes a citizenry weaker and with less individual power over their own lives and the lives of friends and family.


Uncle Steve Retires


It seems like yesterday that Mom packed us up to Alaska in a Mazda GLC with plans to stay with my Uncle Steve and Aunt Tammy for a month or two during the summer until we got on our feet. She had a job lined up in a frame shop, and hopes of becoming a teacher. Steve, if I remember right, was working on the "Binkley Street Project", which meant that he was turning the heart of Soldotna from gravel roads to paved roads with curbs and sidewalks. Quite an adventure!
That was 23 years ago. This month Steve retired from the city of Soldotna having constructed or reconstructed most of its infrastructure. Starting out in Alaska with next to nothing, he did what many people coming to the last frontier did. He worked hard, made friends, made a life and a reputation for himself through his honesty, integrity and hard work.
I am so thankful that the Clarion honored him with THIS ARTICLE. I hope you will take time to read it.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

DVD Review for READ AND SHARE: THE JESUS STORIES, LIFE AND MIRACLES


This evening I recieved the opportunity to watch the DVD Read and Share: The Jesus Stories, Life and Miracles. I was excited to watch this DVD for several reasons. First, I am thinking about what children's videos might be appropriate for the congregation I am a pastor of. Second, I am a father of an infant looking for videos that would properly teach my baby girl about Jesus from early in her life. Finally, I was interested in how a publisher would choose what to show and what not to show in their videos.
Many videos in this series are chopped into short three minute segments of parts of the Bible witness about Jesus. This section of the series was a half of an hour long. The video quickly moved from the flight from Egypt, to Jesus in Nazereth, to the Miracles and Teachings of Jesus, to Maundy Thursday. Each of the stories were told pretty close to the Biblical text.
There were several things I enjoyed about the video. There were several attempts by the creators of the video to be true to Jesus' Jewish heritage. I have no idea if they did this correctly or not, but I thought the effort of presenting Jesus as a Messiah in a Hebrew context was worthwhile.
Also, I enjoyed the simplistic animation the video was presented with. I think this would be especially appropriate for young children, much like Blue's Clues works with its simple presentation.
Unfortunately, as I watched I wondered about some of the choice of content for the video. For instance, some of the teaching they featured is highly metaphorical, and thus difficult to understand by younger children. Also, I wondered why there was such a strong emphasis on Judas.
Overall I would recommend this video for a nursery/preschool audience, and their adult caregiver who both need to learn a little bit more about the Bible.
(Thomas Nelson gave me this video in exchange for reviewing this video. No favorable or unfavorable review was required in order to receive the video)

Through a Father's Eyes




1How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!—I John 3:1


On June 2, my wife Jennifer gave birth to our baby girl. Her name is Karis. For most of my adult life, I was not sure I wanted a child. One week later, Baby Karis has captured my heart and defined my new world.

When the baby was born I got to be the first one, after my wife, to hold her. I rocked her, held her in my arms, and quietly began singing to her. As the doctor finished up caring for my wife he came to me and said, “Pastor, I have to tell you, I don’t think your preaching will ever be the same.”


I replied, “Probably not.”


I thought, “I hope not.”


During those late nights when you are snuggling that little child to your chest, you have a lot of time to think. One of the things you do is pray for your family. Another thing you do is meditate on what being a good father is. There is nothing like becoming a father to help you grow in your understanding of who God is as our Heavenly Father.


One of the things I learned very quickly as I gazed into my child’s barely able to focus eyes was that there is nothing that she could ever do that could make me love her any less. Would I want bad things to happen to her? No. Would I want her to rebel and make a lot of bad mistakes? Of course not! But no matter what happens, deep down in my heart, I know my love for her can only grow.


The same is true of our Heavenly Father. There is nothing that we have done, or could do, that would make God love us any less. Does he want us to rebel? No. Does he want us to run away from him? Of course he does not. But if we run away from him or rebel against him, he offers us forgiveness and restoration. He loves us more than we will ever know.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Book Review of Sleep: It Does a Family Good by Dr. Archibald Hart


I just loved reading Sleep: It Does a Family Good by Dr. Archibald Hart. It is an excellent book filled with good information and it is also a book that is written in a very readable manner.

Published by Tyndale Publishing in partnership with Focus on the Family, Dr. Hart shares how most families are so active and busy that they are about to burn out due to lack of rest. Following that, he shares how sleep is essential to healthy physical, emotional, and spiritual lives. Then, he shares some techniques and skills to increase the amount of sleep that you and members of your family get, and the benefits that will provide. He integrates his research on the importance of sleep and rest into a thorough theology of sleep and rest. Finally, Dr. Hart shows how integrate some ancient prayer practices into your life that will not only aid restful sleeping, but less anxious and busy living.

This book is countercultural. Our society teaches us that we can do it all, and do everything well. Our culture tells us to always look for ways to work harder, and to be better. Thus, we often rob ourselves of the sleep and rest that Scripture commends over and over again. God commands us to keep a Sabbath. The Lord Jesus offers the invitation, "Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). In many ways our attemps to live without rest are an attempt to at best earn God's approval, and at worst build an altar to the God of self. In either instance, choosing not to sleep and not to rest is an affront to the grace of God that we are called not only to be saved by, but to live in each day as well.

One thing I loved about this book is that it is well-researched, but at a very accessable level. Thus, there are lots of little tidbits about sleep and rest that drew my attention. I kept reading something to myself, and then re-reading little parts of the book outloud to my wife after I read them.

Sleep: It Does a Family Good is a wonderful book and an easy read. It should find a place on the bookshelf of Christians who want to be happier and healthier. It should also find its way into the hands of any Christian leader who wants some simple tools to help people become happier with their lives and healthier in their relationships.
(I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for reviewing it for Tyndale Publishers. A favorable review was not required in order to get this book, just an honest one.)