Thursday, September 27, 2007

Letting go of my son

I listened to another Ed Dobson sermon in the car today. He spoke about Genesis 22, the story of God's testing of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac. One thing that stuck out strong to me was when Dobson spoke about the faith that Abraham had in God as he let go of his son and put him in God's hands. Dobson has a son who is currently on his second tour in Iraq. This is a daily struggle for him. I so struggle letting go of the people that I love.

Today Ben went to Chicago with Grandma Shube. He will be gone until Sunday. They will have a great time seeing family, riding the train and eating Chicago dogs. I will miss him so much. On my drive today I already began to get choked up. I really want what God has for me today though. I know that involves giving Him my family. I know that will be difficult. I know that it will only become more difficult as God tests my faith as God "tested Abraham" (Gen. 22:1). I am already looking forward to Ben's call tonight.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

John Piper's thoughts on grieving as a grandfather

I have felt like a bit of a voyeur in watching through the world wide web a family grieve the loss of their child, niece, granddaughter. It has been amazing to watch though and God has used it to draw me into prayer for them and for others currently suffering. It has also drawn me into a deeper gratitude for God's many mercies. I wrote Abraham a short note in response to Pastor John's original post about the loss. I need to take more time though and pass along how much God has used this. When I have walked through suffering I have had such a longing for redemption: redemption of myself, but mostly redemption of my circumstances. I always want to know that God is using it all somehow. I want their family to know that there is a man sitting in a little office at Century College crying as he reads the latest blog post about their grief. I want to show them that my heart is hurting and changing.

I hope that God is drawing you into the suffering of others as I seek to share these thoughts. Thank you Tricia, for your comments on my original post. I am glad to know that these words touch.

Read Pastor John's thoughts that he shared at Felicity's funeral this morning here. As a parent, my heart breaks to think that some day I will hold the hands of my children as they walk through sufferings and grief. These are good and true words.

Continuing to grieve and pray for the Piper family

As I wrote a few days ago, our pastor's son and his wife lost their little girl. Her name was Felicity. One of Abaraham's (Pastor John's son) co-workers wrote a poem about her that I thought was especially significant. You can read it here. Please continue to pray for the Piper family.

Matty's birthday

I forgot to post a little about Matty's birthday. We sure had a fun day. He is starting to really catch on to things. Although I don't think that he knew that it was his birthday (or even what that means.) He got all embarrassed when we sand "Happy Birthday" to him. He's funny.

The highlight of my day was definitely our breakfast. Instead of the Cobblestone Cafe, we decided to go to McDonald's. Matt wore his Elmo slippers and we just spent time together. We were a little distracted by the old guys playing cribbage, but that really only added to the ambiance. If you're ever interested in a good cribbage game, I think they're there every morning.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Children are a gift from God

Psalm 127:3 Children are a heritage from the LORD,
offspring a reward from him.

Yesterday at church before a baby dedication service, it was announced that our pastor's granddaughter had been born still born on Saturday. As I sat and watched our campus pastor dedicate the new babies and held the hand of my son, I cried for Pastor John, his son and their family. I thought of the many people that I love who have struggled or are currently struggling to have children. I thought of how blessed we are. I squeezed Benjamin again.

It often seems empty for me to offer my heart hurt to people who are struggling with bearing children. I have four children of my own. Because I love my kids so much though, I can imagine what the longing must be like to want children and be unable. I have prayed for each of you this morning. I have cried for each of you.

What are we to do amidst this and so many other sufferings? Are you alone? Are you hurting? Are you disappointed? Are you tired? Are you questioning why? At best, we can offer the words of Job during his sufferings, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face" (Job 13:15). Or Job's response when he found out that all of his children had been killed. "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised" (Job 1:21). These responses seem distant at times. They are those of a Saint.

The thing that I am learning to cling to is that God loves me and that he wants my good. This is different, I think than a simple trite pat on the back. This is a relationship with the creator of the universe who is FOR ME! I don't really understand all that means. I struggle with it.

Wherever you are this morning, join me in praying for our pastor and his family. Join me in praying for people walking through various valleys. Pray that they might experience the presence of God.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Matthew Bradley, our fair haired boy

I haven't written much about Matt-t-t lately. He is something else. He is really starting to talk a lot. He repeats anything you say. The other night we were eating my birthday dinner which would be followed by cake. We usually sing a hymn after dinner. The moment the song finished, Matthew said, "CAKE." We are usually privy to at least one story like this every day.

The boys found the above Elmo slippers in the basement a few days ago. Matt has been WAY into them since. It is sure fun to watch each of our kids grow and watch their personalities change and be revealed. Matthew is definitely an interesting character that will bring continued joy to our family in the coming years.

Now playing: Grateful Dead - Big Boss Man
via FoxyTunes

A great day with Ben

We had a great day with Benjamin yesterday. Here's a recap in photos.

Our morning started with breakfast for Ben and me at the Cobblestone Cafe in downtown WBL. This is our second year of this tradition and it was another very rich morning.

We then loaded everyone in the car and met Shube at the MOA (Mall of America). This is how Ben wanted to spend his birthday. We hung out at the Lego store for a while, rode some rides and then went to Rain Forest Cafe for lunch. If you're interested in a nice quiet lunch at the MOA, this is not the place for you. The boys think it's great though. Caleb didn't really like the first "thunder storm".

We ended our evening with presents and Ben's choice of pork chops and broccoli for dinner. (I'll write more some other time about presents and kids. I think it is an interesting topic and one that I have been thinking a lot about.) After dinner we cut into our Lego cake. It was fun to show this to Ben when he woke up in the morning. He said right away, "It's a three-er (what he calls a lego piece with three dots on top.)" Caleb said, "I want a Lego cake for my birthday, except I want mine to be blue."

All in all, it was a great day. I am so thankful for my family and the gift that they are.

Now playing: Indigo Girls - Mystery
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Five years of Benjamin Donald Gammons

It was Valentine's Day 2001. We lived at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Amanda handed me my Valentine's gift, a DVD of Snow White. We had talked about collecting Disney movies for the kids that we would have some day. I said, "What is this?" "It's for you to watch with our new baby," she said. I was so surprised, excited, and a little nervous. I didn't know what I had gotten myself into.

Five years later, tomorrow Benjamin turns five-years-old. In the morning Ben and I will go for breakfast at the Cobblestone Cafe. I have taken each of the boys out for breakfast on their birthdays. It's a lot of fun. Then we're going to the Mall of America. I am sure that Ben will want to spend most of the day looking at the Lego store. Then we're just going to have his favorite meal (a Gammons tradition) of pork chops. Amanda and I are going to try and construct a cake that looks like a Lego brick. We'll see. He has been waiting for this day for months.

It has been an amazing five years. I have learned so much and ideally been shaped to be more like Christ. It sure hasn't been easy, but it sure has been amazing. Thank you Ben.

Now playing: Johnny Cash - Girl In Saskatoon
via FoxyTunes

Friday, September 14, 2007

Amanda ventures out

The photo above is what I came home to at lunch. Last night in bed Amanda said to me, "I just don't know how I am going to get you a birthday present." The idea of loading the now 4 crazies into the van and heading out seemed insurmountable. But this morning, Amanda got everyone in the van and went to Target. Each of the kids picked out a different gift for my birthday. Ben told me that he got me a LEGO Bionicle and Caleb got me a LEGO castle set. Amanda said that she asked them at the store what they thought that I would like. They said, "LEGO's! He liked them when he was little. He likes to put them together with us." Very funny! Ben was pretty disappointed when I said that I wanted to wait to open my gifts until Shube came over for dinner. I think he had some plans for my new LEGO's.

I have been deeply struck lately with the many blessings and mercies that God has granted me. Amanda and I said at lunch today how sweet Molly has become. It was only a week ago when we were both ready to put her in the envelope and write "RETURN TO SENDER" in large red letters. She wouldn't really even let us sit and hold her. She had to be bouncing and moving just so. Our family is in a very good spot. I know that this is nothing of my doing, that it is all a gift from God. I am thankful and humble today for the 31 years of grace and redemption that God has given me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Where did this little boy come from?

All of the sudden our little toddler Benny, has been replaced with a very sweet little boy name Ben. It has been so fun to watch him mature and grow. More than anything right now, he is WAY into Lego (as you can see from the hotel that he built above.) Every day he wakes up and gets right to work. The other day, Caleb or Matty broke one of his creations and he said to Amanda, "Oh, no! Now I am going to be so busy tomorrow. I'm going to wake up-LEGO. Eat breakfast-LEGO. Eat lunch-LEGO. Nap-time-LEGO. . . ."

He is amazingly considerate for a five-year-old. This week Amanda was asking him what he wanted to do on his birthday. He replied, "I think I want to go to Mall of America, if you think Molly could handle that." I asked him later what he wanted to do at the MOA. "Go and look at the LEGO's. Then maybe we could do something you guys wanted to do." Of course, this is Ben all the time, but he really is a very nice person to be around. He turns 5 next week.

Sweet, sweet

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A little more Molly

Who wouldn't like a little more Molly? I am excited to get home to see her. She get sweeter every day (especially when she isn't screaming her head off.)

What does it mean to be forgiven?

I have been listening to a sermon by Ed Dobson (former pastor of Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan) entitled "What does it mean to be forgiven?" He focused on Psalm 32.

Psalm 32

Of David. A maskil. [a]
1 Blessed is he
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.

2 Blessed is the man
whose sin the LORD does not count against him
and in whose spirit is no deceit.

3 When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.

4 For day and night
your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, "I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD "—
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin.

6 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you
while you may be found;
surely when the mighty waters rise,
they will not reach him.

7 You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.

9 Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.

10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the LORD's unfailing love
surrounds the man who trusts in him.

11 Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!

He hit hard on the three highlighted areas above. God takes our bag of trash and removes it from us. He covers up our sin so it is no longer seen. He does not count our sin against us. In classic Dobson form, he focused so well on the Jewish background. I did long for a little more of John Piper's focus of Christ! THROUGH CHRIST, God has ultimately removed our sins from us, cover them and no longer counts them against us.

If you'd like to listen to this sermon, go here. Skip to 3:36 to miss the announcements.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Bad parents

I've always felt a little guilty about this. It seems like we're not very good parents. Good parents are the ones that take their kids to places like the JC Penny photo studio regularly to get their picture taken in front of Whinny the Pooh or a Sesame Street character. We've never done this.

This weekend though, I did take some pretty fun pictures of all of the kids. I tried to make the pictures of the boys look like "school picutres". I didn't have a plastic comb or soft blue background though, so it didn't really work. I love the pictures of all four kids. When I look at them I am AMAZED at the mercy of God in our life. Each of them are a blessing; each of them are a miracle; we don't deserve these mercies and yet God lavishly gives them.

You can see more pics here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Apple event recap

A big day in the iPod world! I will give you a brief recap, but you can read all about it here.

The first big announcement came in the redesign of all of the current iPod models. The shuffles all got color changes. The nano was completely redesigned. It got the ability to play video, games and a full metal outside. The iPod that I have has now been dubbed the "iPod Classic". It has also been given a full metal outside. The capacity has also been raised to a whopping 160 GB. They report that to be "40,000 songs in your pocket." My current iPod is 30GB. That's like having more than 5 of my current iPods in your pocket. WOW!

The biggest news comes with the unveiling of the new iPod "Touch". It is pretty much the iPhone without the phone. This is the thing that all the geeks have been waiting for. You can use your fingers to browse through your music library. It plays videos on a 3.5 inch wide screen display. It also has the ability to do Wifi. That means that you'll be able to browse the web on a Wifi network. You can also download songs through the new iTunes Wifi store.

It's a big day in the iPod world. All of this is supposed to be ready to ship for the holidays. Unfortunately not in time for my birthday. Maybe next year!

Apple event today

For those of you who like me are Apple and especially iPod fanboys, you already know that Apple is scheduled to make an announcement today. It is speculated to be about new iPod models. The rumor sites all say that there will be a new iPod nano with video capabilities (picture at right) and a new touch screen iPod. The event starts at 10:00 am Pacific time (that's 12:00 pm here in Minnesota.) If you'd like to watch the event live, you can do so here.

If any of you are really racking your brains for birthday gifts for me (only 9 more shopping days) or even doing some early Christmas shopping, this announcement may clear up some of those problems. I will post more after the event.