Unsolicited Peace

20 01 2009

I have been blessed with peace in my life recently, but not the peace I wanted.  It’s a peace I’ve been blessed with before, however it is somewhat precarious because I sometimes find myself forgetting, ignoring, or fighting with it.  To better understand, here’s a short history of my (short) adult life:

2002 – Got laid off, got married, moved to Seattle, started junior year of college, got job flipping burgers
2003 – Tons of schoolwork, lots of burgers flipped, we got pregnant
2004 – Graduated college, moved to Kent, Daniel born, got job at a bank call center
2005 – Raising Daniel, changed departments at work, we got pregnant
2006 – Moved to Fife, Jonathan born
2007 – Raising boys, work moved to Tacoma, we moved to Tacoma, labored on fixing up new house
2008 – We got pregnant, wrangling boys, Megan born

It would be an understatement to say we’ve been busy the last seven years.  So when 2009 came around, Michelle and I were excited at the prospect of a down year.  My tenure at work earned me a boost in vacation days, and we were finally going to have a year where we weren’t anticipating moving or having a baby!  The Allen Family ship was sailing out of chaotic waters towards peace on the horizon.

Then there was an emergency meeting at work.

I was joking with my manager going into the meeting: “hey, are you giving references? yuk, yuk, yuk!”  The message at the meeting was, in a nutshell, “You guys are awesome, times are bad, we’re closing this call center… Sorry”  I turned to my manager, “no seriously, are you giving references?”

Read the rest of this entry »


A story of prayer

9 01 2009

Since the last time I wrote, some time has passed and many diapers have been filled.  Sometimes I think my new daughter is an undercover agent for Huggies.

On December 17th, our daughter Megan Elizabeth was born, and our lives changed again.  I have many thoughts, emotions, and anecdotes about the labor, birth, and life with the baby, but I will leave most of that to my wife.  I wanted to share here a special interaction I had with God during the birth of my new little girl.

Coming into December, my wife was getting more and more uncomfortable everyday, and the doctor scheduled an induction for December 17th.  We were looking forward to the day, but with each day came more and more ominous reports from the weather folk of a horrible storm coming.  The storm was going to bring feet of snow to all of western Washington and everyone should take necessary precautions.  This did not help my wife’s state.  This could be bad in a lot of ways; my Mom (who was going to watch our boys) might not be able to get to us, my Mom might not be able to bring the kids to the hospital to see their sister, Michelle’s family might not be able to come.  Really the biggest and most important concern was getting Michelle and baby safely to and from the hospital.  I neglected to take that “Emergency Childbirth” class in college, though I am trained in CPR… which probably wouldn’t have come in handy.

I tried not to think about it and just resolved to wait and see.  Then, on Sunday the 14th, I woke up slowly and started praying as I sometimes do in the morning.  As I was laying there, verses started coming to mind such as James 1:6-8, Matthew 17:20, Hebrews 4:16, and especially James 5:16b:

“…the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much”

Right then I started praying for God to hold the storm back for us.   Read the rest of this entry »

Congrats Dave!

17 12 2008

…and Michelle (who did all the hard work!).  Today, at 1:18, their third child (and first daughter) was born.  Welcome, Megan Elizabeth; Dave needed more pink in his world!
For all the info, check out Michelle’s blog.

39 Lessons, 20 Tips and 10 “Don’ts”

15 12 2008

Check out this great list for Christian parents: “39 Lessons, 20 Tips and 10 ‘Don’ts’ for Parenting.”   It is put together by Matt & Elizabeth Schmucker and posted over at IX Marks.  Matt is the executive director of IX Marks and an Elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church.

Some of my personal favorites:

(From Lessons about Ourselves…)

1. To be a faithful steward of your children you must abide in Christ (John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”).

6. Being parented is defining; Parenting is refining.

10. To have children is to need margin in your life.

11. A disreputable life will undermine the gospel. An exemplary life will commend it.

(From Lessons about Children…)

13. Pack in truth while your children are little and trust the Lord to unpack it in his time.

20. Do not presume you will be able to speak into the lives of your older children if you do not live in their world when they are younger. Play with your children. There is a reap/sow principle at work here (2 Cor. 9:6: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously”).

29. Teach your children to receive reproof, correction, and instruction (Prov. 12:15 “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice”).

30. Let kids be kids. Let them dabble in various areas of extra-curricular activities (sports, art, drama, etc) rather than build a resume.

(From Lessons about Satan [his devices]…)

36. Arm your children for the world, not (necessarily) shield them from it. Consider getting your high-school-aged children out of the Christian bubble.

(From Lessons about God…)

37. Prayer is a mighty weapon to use in the life of your children:
a. It changes the parent’s approach to the child
b. It softens the hard-hearted child

39. God elects. God saves. Parents cannot do this heart-changing work. At best we can pray and point to the One who can cause our children to be born again.

There is a lot more excellent stuff in this article.  Be sure to check it out.

Vote Your Conscience!

10 10 2008

The Catholic church has produced an amazing video that I felt compelled to share with you all. While I am not Catholic I felt as though this video captured the essence of what is at stake in this election. It is hard for me to accept that anyone could approve of the legalized murder of millions of children every year (especially with how much modern science has taught us about the unborn – www.abort73.com) . May God help us all to vote with the moral fabric of our country in mind. If we stand for what is right, God will bless us.

Out of the mouth of babes

29 08 2008

*Warning!* It’s about to get political!

I was sitting at the dinner table with my family tonight and was feeling kind of silly.  When I’m feeling silly, I sometimes confuse my kids by asking them questions I know they probably won’t understand.  It’s fun to see your kids look at you like you’re an alien when you ask them: “So Jonathan… have you researched any prospectuses so you can use your investment capital more wisely?”

So I turned to Daniel, my genius four year old (he can read at a 3rd grade level), and asked him: “this sure has been an exciting election cycle… who do you think we should vote for?”

He yelled out “Barack Obama!”

After getting over the amused shock that he even knew what I was talking about (and that he’s probably watching too much tv), I then had the following dialogue:

Daddy: Barack Obama, huh?  Why do you think we should vote for him?

Daniel: Well, I think maybe he’s a nice guy and we should vote for nice guys!

Daddy: Oh… and do you know who the other guy is?

Daniel: Yeah, John McCain (with much less enthusiasm)

Daddy: And you don’t think we should vote for him?

Daniel: No.

Daddy: Why not?

Daniel: Well, maybe because he’s a bad guy or maybe he does bad things.  Maybe.

Daddy: Like what kind of bad things?

Daniel: I don’t know.  Maybe he didn’t.

Daddy: Oh, ok.  Well Daniel, did you know that Barack Obama thinks it’s ok to hurt babies?

Daniel: What?! (with a look of shock and confusion) Read the rest of this entry »

The Week that Was…

25 08 2008

Sorry I haven’t posted for over a week, but the last 7 days have been…um… taxing, to say the least.

A few months ago my mom’s blood sugar started going crazy (she was at work one day with a blood sugar level over 500).  As the doctors began trying to figure out what was going on, they discovered a tumor in her pancreas.  Last Monday, my two sister and I accompanied my mom to the University of Washington medical center where she underwent a 10 hour surgery to remove the tumor.

Halfway through the surgery, the doctors came out to talk with the three of us and explained that the tumor ran through the entire length of pancreas.  Since they couldn’t wake my mom up and ask her, they were asking our permission to take out her whole pancreas.  As we learned, you can live without your pancreas.  No pancreas just means welcome to diabetes… and insulin dependence.  The doctor explained that he believed the tumor was a carcinoma and, if it was left in, we would be leaving in a “ticking time bomb.”  When faced with the decision of diabetes vs. pancreatic cancer, the decision wasn’t too difficult.

By the time the surgery was completed, not only had they taken the entire pancreas, but they also removed her spleen, part of her stomach, and part of her small intestine.  Like I said, the entire process took over 10 hours.  My sisters and I outlasted everyone else in the waiting room and were still there when the janitors arrived.  That was last Monday.

Tuesday through Friday was spent in three worlds.

First, I wanted to be there for my mom (who spent two days following the surgery in the ICU) and my sisters.  This meant daily trips to Seattle and the UW.  It is a drive I feel I have now mastered and understand that much of it will be spent sitting and waiting on the freeway.  This world was a new one, but God gave me gracious blessings in it- being able to spend time with my mom and sisters and have some wonderful conversations about our life together and our life with the Lord.

The second world I walked through this last week was one that I’m much more familiar with and, thankfully, was portable.  Our Senior Pastor is away on vacation, so I have the responsibilities of our church ministries to care for.  With the invention of the cell phone and the laptop, I was able to have a portable office and work on my sermon, on email, and help people work through ministry issues.  Honestly, it wasn’t easy to get my brain into this world, but (again) God was gracious and so the church is still standing and a sermon was preached last Sunday.

The third world is that of my wife and daughters.  This was the world that I gave little to this week, but in return it gave so much to me.  My wife was so supportive and such an encouragement.  During a week like this, you really see and understand why God said “It is not good for man to be alone.”  The blessing of a gracious and support spouse is one I was praising God for over and over again this week.  In addition to Amy’s love, it was such a blessing to come home after a long day in worlds one and two, and see two smiling little girls and hold them in my arms.  It is amazing how hugging your children can make so many of life’s cares and concerns melt away.

Then came Saturday… Read the rest of this entry »