Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Some whacked-out kid in our School of Ministry class today claimed that after two weeks the body resets its sleep clock. So theoretically, let's say you're a 7-hour-a-night sleeper. (Editor's note: Seven hours a night? Of sleep? Obviously this person doesn't have little kids. Author's reply: Couldn't have said it better babe.) Back to this alleged theory. OK, so if you're a 7-hour sleeper but have been going on 6 hours, after two weeks you'd be good with the one-hour less of sleep of night.

Where do people come up with this stuff? Heresy, I say, complete heresy. If this was true, by now in my life I would be good on, oh, 12 minutes of sleep a night. The other morning I woke up on one side of the sectional couch. It was an act of desperation to find a place where I could hopefully ditch my beautiful little angels and sleep -- that was still in the house -- without having:
--A squawking 1-year-old in my room;
--A sleepwalking 2-year-old come whisper an inch from my face with morning breath at 6 a.m. that he's hungry for French toast;
--A 4-year-old hop in around 3:27 a.m. and say he has to go pee. (Um, Eli, the bathroom is right there. You passed it on the way to my room.);
--Before I implicate anyone else, I'll just leave it at that.

You know what's funny about waking up on one side of the sectional couch in the morning? Julie was sleeping on the other section. It was kind of cute actually. We got to play footsie when we woke up together.

Monday, April 27, 2009

This Is Helpful How?

The other night I awoke to the wee hours o' the night hollerings of our resident 4-year-old who we'll call "Eli." This particular Eli was in a bad way. Judging from the intensity of his caterwauling, I figured one of his legs had plumb fell off. Or maybe he had gone and somehow in his sleep broken like 10 of his fingers. Not quite. I was told later that he had to go wee-wee and one of his older brothers had attempted to take him to the bathroom, which beats going all over his bed. At least in my eyes. Eli didn't see it that way. By his estimation, it was better to throw a fit. Maybe wake up the whole family in the process.

I just don't get this. Why not just get up, take a whiz, go back to bed and no one gets hurt, let alone awakened? Instead it turned into about a half-hour of "discipline" that included some quality time in the garage, encouragement to just say he was sorry and move on by going back to sleep ... it all sounds so simple. But kids are not simple. I just thought I'd share that with you all. In case you didn't know. Eventually we were successful in getting Eli to see the error of his ways and he apologized, made amends, got some love and we all slept happily ever after ... or at least for a couple of hours until Olivia woke up.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Church

This week was another quality week in Cornerstone School of Ministry. Some enlightening discussions, excellent instruction and provocative q&a sessions. One of the questions that came up was what's important to us in a church. But before we answer that question, another one came up that was interesting as well. Adam Poole, the director of the school, was leading a discussion on churches and asked what makes a healthy church. "No people," I blurted out. Needless to say, that wasn't the answer he was looking for.

Moving along, I did answer the question about what I'm looking for in a church. Or what's important to me, I should say. Here's my answer:
--A Bible-teaching church that is sound doctrinally. (I prefer the Calvary Chapel model where the Bible is taught verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book. From cover to cover, in other words, to be immersed in the entire word of God. Not a topically-oriented teaching style.)
--Spirit-led worship. (I like contemporary, yes, but give me hymns as well. There's nothing like a hymn in worship.)
--Prayer. (Seeing as this is key to communicating with God and Christ, how do you do church and not have corporate prayer?)
--Fellowship. (Small groups, community groups, Bible studies, after-church barbecues or potlucks ... the essence of the gathering of the saints.)
--Bible-based youth ministry. (Teach the kids the word. From a very young age. At their level. 'Nuff said.)
--Missions oriented. (The great commission in Matthew 28. Own it. Love it. Live it. Be a church that looks beyond its community to the nation and world. Train up and send out believers to share the gospel within and beyond our nation's borders.)

Those are the highlights for me. Agree? Disagree? Am I missing something? Do share.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Still In The Hunt

You would think that out of 12 children, at least one of them would be a left-hander. You would think. Why is this important, you are probably asking. Well, aside from the fact my beloved Angels are getting shelled tonight by the dread Detroit Tigers (Which is a nice way of putting the pitching staff is abysmal. Really, really horrible even.), it's simple. I'm looking for a lefty who throws heat. You know, a left-handed pitcher. I like to joke that a lefty who throws heat is my retirement. In Major League Baseball, those guys are coveted and can make oodles, oodles I say, of dough. (Editor's note: Shouldn't you be studying for your Bible doctrine test on the Holy Spirit tomorrow? Author's reply: Just taking a break to refresh a few weary brain cells, babe. Thanks for asking though. In case you were wondering, though, intellect, emotion and will are three attributes of the Holy Spirit's personality. Editor's comment: Just thought you'd share, right?) When my boys were little, I always tried to get them to use their left hand. Short of tying their right hand behind their back (Editor's note: Ahem. Author's reply: Okay, alright. Maybe on very rare occasions someone in the family may have every once in a while and quite rarely actually tied a right hand behind a young child's back. Editor's exasperated comment: Sigh.) I would try and get them to do most everything left-handed, starting at about 2 hours old. But by the time they could play Wiffle ball at 3 years of age, they were all righties. Even my girls are righties!

So now I'm wondering if it's wrong to covet a lefty. Is that sin? Am I out of the Lord's will? Should I not be putting those little spoons with the chewable covers on them that you feed baby food to teething little beavers in my wee ones' left hands? Should I not always try to low-five my babies with their left hands?

At our rate of expansion, I figure we have at least two babies left in us. Well, technically a couple left in Julie's womb. Which means we still got a shot at that lefty who throws heat. (Editor's note: Ahem. Again. Author's reply: Well, I got a shot at it I reckon.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gumby And Faith

All apologies for the interruption in the Team Sabo blog output. This happens when you don't have Internet service, or a laptop. I spent the weekend with a friend in Gloucester -- we flew out on Thursday and flew back Monday night -- and it was excellent. It was the first time he had been to Gloucester and he loved it. At least that was my impression. The Sabo Estate, however, lacks Internet service at the moment, which is a principal cause of unproductive blogging. It was great to be back in town for a few days and see some friends, mosey through Wal-Mart, mow my lawn and sleep in my own bed.

On Monday, I met for lunch with my former editor at the Daily Press to try and get an idea of where I stood in the unemployment line. My expectation has been that I'll get my old job back once we return from our stint in the great state of Oregon. But let's just say I'm still in line. She said the Daily Press would like to hire me back and intends to hire me back as the reporter covering Gloucester County, but so far it hasn't been approved. Extenuating circumstances are a key factor at play here. First of all, the company that owns the paper is in bankruptcy. I'm no finance guy, but to me that's not a real good thing. Then you throw in all the problems newspapers are having -- declining readership, competition from the Internet, declining ad revenues and the fact the paper is still laying people off and not hiring anybody -- and you have a rather combustible mixture. My editor said my rehire `hasn't been denied' ... yet. I'm not sure if that's a positive-negative or a negative-positive. Whatever the case, if you know of any good jobs in metropolitan Gloucester, Va., drop me a line. I'm looking to keep my options open and my prayer is simply that the Lord's will be done.

We don't know if we're entering a new season of life, if this is merely a test, or what. Getting stretched in the faith department is a good thing and perhaps this is just another time I'm going to get Gumbied. Or rather we at Team Sabo are going to get Gumbied. God is good, we know that. And that's how we roll.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Getting Skunked

At 906 Lewisburg Road on the outskirts of Corvallis is an excellent house. I should know. We built it. A buddy of mine at the School of Ministry was asking me about it today and I told him the story of how we "remodeled" the existing house to get what you see when you drive by it. It's a wonderful house full of good memories. It's got a huge old dairy barn where we put a basketball hoop up in the second-floor hay loft. We lived in the barn for a while during our "remodel" project and I'll never forget the lingering odor in the barn. It wasn't overpowering, but just enough to have a constant ripeness in the air. Kind of like burnt toast is the best I can describe it. I figured it was just a barn smell. It wasn't until a beautiful, sunny summer day when we were living in the house that I put two and two together.

Madeline was a toddler and was out in the back yard toddling around when she spied a "kitty." She went to go pet it and the "kitty" turned around, lifted its tail and fired a wretched cloud of stink. It was a skunk. Well, it was on after that between me and that dastardly skunk. No skunk is going to spray my baby and get away with it. I talked with a friend of mine who knew a thing or two about the skunk species and how to take care of any problem stinky invaders. He lent me a live trap -- basically a small cage where I could trap the skunk -- and told me skunks like barbecue. Turns out, from personal experience I can now say that skunks like barbecue pork best, and real crispy at that. Anyway, I did some research on skunks and was alarmed to learn that the critters nest in the same place every year. In other words, they were coming back to nest under our barn. Great. I set the live trap on a corner of the barn one night with a little bit of barbecue in it and waited to see what would happen.

The next morning, bingo. Skunk city. Of course, this posed a "disposal" problem. Here's how I solved it. I went out with a shovel and about 20 yards or so from the cage where the skunk awaited its final solution I dug a hole. Then with a .22 rifle I sent the skunk to the eternal stink in the sky. Upon expiration, however, the skunk "released" its inner stink in its entirety, an odor that arose from the very depths of its bowels that haunts me to this day. I ran to the cage, picked it up, ran to the hole, dropped the skunk in it, threw the dirt on it, ran to the back deck, stripped to my underoos and then ran for the shower. Julie disposed of my rotten clothes in the washing machine and after sudsing up, my clothes and I were ready for business again.

Here's the kicker, though. Little did I know at the time I would have to repeat that dastardly business 15 MORE TIMES!!!! Yes, that's right. For those keeping score at home, that's 16 skunks. Under my barn. Now buried in my back yard. Or my ex-back yard. You can't imagine the discouragement I felt when I awoke in the morning and looked out my bedroom window on those gorgeous spring and summer days, past the plum trees to the corner of the barn ... to see this black "kitty" with a yellowish white stripe down its back trying to paw its way out of a cage. Of course, we can have sympathy for the skunks who paid the ultimate price for their stink and for that particular village idiot who made the fatal error of laying some stench on my precious Madeline.

The bigger question I have, though, is of a deeper, theological nature. It's way profound even and not for those who are shallow, swimming on the mere surface of deep thinkingness. Lord, it goes, why skunks?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Girls Have Fun?

MerriGrace is 10 years old and a girl. You probably know that already but I just thought I'd point it out. Last night she went to a friend's house for a slumber party and while on my way to pick her up this morning her friend's mom called to ask if MerriGrace could stay and play until sometime this afternoon. Sure, was my quick reply. Well, this afternoon turned into tonight and we rendezvoused about 8 o'clock to pick up MerriGrace. On the way to pick her up, with Julie riding shotgun, I wondered aloud, "What kinds of things do 10-year-old girls play?" I was utterly, completely baffled. Beflummoxed even. You might point out that I've already had two 10-year-old girls pass through on the way to being older and that I should know what kinds of things they play. Let me answer that by saying at this point I should know what causes Julie to get pregnant. I'll leave it at that. And I have no "personal experience" in being a 10-year-old girl, and I'm one of those guys who typically learns through personal experience. For most things.

Julie offered a few suggestions of what they might play and I just wrinkled my nose. "That can't be fun," I said. "No Wiffle ball, football, basketball, dirt clod fights and seeing who can make the loudest bodily function -- without having to change their britches. How can not doing those things be fun?" Julie just sighed. "You play the same things when you're 4, 5, 6, 14, 25 and 40," she said, with a hint of disgust. "That shows my reliability," I replied. "A steadiness. Why mess with something that works?" Julie just shook her head.

So MerriGrace got in the van and I hit her up with the big question: So what did she do? MerriGrace claims she had soooo much fun. They played "Dance Contest" (fortunately she couldn't see my humongous eye roll), watched three movies, jumped on the trampoline, played with the Wii (hmmmm, that's not so bad), went down to play in the creek (but they didn't catch frogs, go fishing, or anything remotely fun) and talked. She says they did a bunch of other really fun things, but I have my doubts. I'll have to take her word for it. As Julie might say, what do I know?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Death Of An Angel

Last night we took in an Angels baseball game on TV, which is a pretty rare occurrence for us. When I say `we' and `us' I should make it fairly clear that it was Brenton, Taylor, Ethan and me watching the game. I've been an Angels fan since I was about 10 and my dad took me to a game to see Nolan Ryan pitch -- and win throwing a 1-hitter -- against the Yankees. Last night, a 22-year-old kid named Nick Adenhart pitched six shutout innings for the Angels and it was a beautiful thing. He had a wicked fastball and a filthy curve that made more than a few A's batters look foolish. A couple of those curves looked like he was throwing Wiffle balls. On a couple of the pitches that went for strikeouts I yelled at the poor A's batter, "Sit down!" (For the baseball-challenged fans, that means go back to the bench and sit down. Real Christian of me, eh?)The Angels have been expecting great things from Adenhart for a few years as he progressed through the minor leagues and it looked like he was finally delivering.

On the drive home from a four-hour Bible doctrine class today, Ethan called me to say that Adenhart was killed early this morning in a car wreck. "What?" I said to Ethan. My son said Adenhart was riding with three buddies when an alleged drunk driver ran a red light and broadsided their car, smashing it into a telephone pole. Three of the young men in the car died and the fourth is in intensive care. The alleged drunk driver ran from the accident but was later apprehended by police. I couldn't believe it when Ethan told me about Adenhart's death. My first thought was wondering if he was saved. I don't know. Media accounts portray him as a quiet, polite young man with immense God-given talent. I watched a few SportsCenter clips about him on the computer today and remembered watching him pitch last night and thinking what a great future he had and how the Angels were set with a studly young pitcher. And the thing I'm left with is how fragile life is and how sure we should be of our salvation. The Bible teaches the only way to God is through Christ. Make your election sure by accepting Christ, leaving the rest of us no doubt about your place in eternity.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Moving Day

Tomorrow we move. No, not back to Virginia. At least not yet anyway. Some new friends we met at church are actually vacating their house and going "camping" for the next 7 weeks to let us have a house of our own. Yes, I said camping. They're actually excited about the prospect of camping in Oregon in the spring in a fifth-wheel trailer -- all six of them. God bless them. Needless to say, our friends Lee & Dana and their four children ages 9 and under have rocketed to the top of our "Really, really good friends" list. (Editor's note: Do we actually have a list like that? Author's reply: Well, no. But if we did they'd be up there, right?) The kingdom of God is a wonderful place. We've had one family, the Langs, let us live with them for six months. Another family who we've just met is opening up their home to us for two months. The generosity of our brothers and sisters in the faith is truly humbling. And what an encouragement.

Before we left Virginia to come to Oregon, the Lord had spoke to Brenton in II Kings 8 in the story of the Shunamite woman. Brenton had left for his last semester of Bible college but called us to say he had read something that applied to our lives as we were preparing to move to Oregon. The passage of Scripture describes the Shunammite woman, who was told to "go with your household and sojourn wherever you can sojourn..." for a famine was going to be in the land for seven years. Now, we at Team Sabo weren't facing a famine per se, but it described our situation as we were heading out to the "Beaver State" to stay where we could, counting on the Lord to provide for us. It also described how at the end of the seven-year famine the Shunammite woman returned to her homeland and the king ordered, "Restore all that was hers and all the produce of the field from the day that she left the land even until now." We left behind our house in Gloucester, a job and so much else in faith that we will receive it when we get back, as we see how the Lord took care of the Shunammite woman thousands of years ago. We say Scripture is alive and it's alive with stories of faith that are our sustenance today.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Daddy The Avenger

Let's just get it out there right now: Madeline kicked my butt in the annual Team Sabo March Madness NCAA Basketball Tournament Bracketpalooza Sponsored By Huggies, Luv's And Assorted Store-Brand Cheaper Diapers That Have Containment Issues. Yes, it's a mouthful. But hopefully my shameless plug for diapers will get us some sponsorship dough in the years of bracket-picking that lie ahead. Anyway, at 7-years-old Madeline pretty much knows nothing about college basketball, but you'd never know it from her bracket-picking ability. She dominated me, to my eternal embarrassment. So, because I'm such a wonderful, loving father, I decided there's really only one way to handle this situation. (Editor's Note: Let me guess...take her to Burgerville for a congratulatory milkshake? Author's reply: Um, no. Keep reading.) I decided we needed to settle this on the soccer pitch. Madeline and Taylor (who was exhausted from his 24-hour trip home from Brazil) against me, Abram and Gabe in a 3-on-2 match in the back yard. First to five wins.

Somehow, Madeline and Taylor kept the match close. In fact, it was even up at 4-all before things were finally settled. Here's how it played out. I had Abram camp out in front of Taylor's and Madeline's goal and sent Gabe back to guard our goal. My job was to patrol the middle of the back yard and hopefully secure the ball and send it up to Abram where he could nail the winning shot. Miraculously, an opportunity presented itself. (Editor's note: Is this shortly after you grabbed Madeline's shirt so she couldn't get to the ball? Author's reply: My hand may have somehow inadvertently been tangled up with Madeline's uniform at some point in the match. That's my story. Was there a foul called? No. Editor's rebuttal: Weren't you the ref?) Back to the opportunity. I managed the deflect the ball as Taylor tried to "nutmeg" me -- a soccer term loosely translated as kicking the ball between my legs to make me look like a fool -- and in the scrum for possession of the ball I managed to boot it in the vicinity of Abram. Before Taylor could race off toward Abram, he somehow "tripped" and in the process I got tangled up with him then managed to successfully, er rather unfortunately, fall on top of him. To add to the unfortunate series of events, I was unable to quickly get up and allow Taylor to pursue Abram. This prevented Taylor from getting anywhere near Abram, in addition to causing him great pain from feeling the weight of my muscular build toppling upon him. (Editor's note: Muscular? Is this non-fiction you're writing or have we entered the realm of fiction? Author's reply: I don't need to dignify that remark with a comment.) Well, to end the suspense, Abram drilled the winning goal. Victory. Sweet victory.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Coming `Home'

We're about 12 hours away from picking up Taylor and Ethan at the Portland airport from a two-week Brazilian missions trip with a team of fellow Calvary Corvallis missionaries. We haven't heard much from them in the two weeks they've been gone; just two short Facebook e-mails from Ethan. But Ethan sent good reports and we're excited to hear how the Lord has used them and the 25 or so other members of the team. What an experience for the young lads. It's so different in the house without them and I'm not saying that in a good way. We miss them so much. Particularly tonight when I was lugging three suitcases into Grandma & Grandpa Young's house in Canby. We spent the week "housesitting" for friends in Albany who were on the Brazil trip and it would have been the first time in six months that our whole family was together as a lone family unit since we had left Virginia -- if Taylor and Ethan had been here.

We're looking forward to Team Sabo family time and believe me we'll cherish it much more when that time finally arrives. Meantime, I'm happy to report that I can recite the first six verses of the Sermon on the Mount -- without looking at my Bible. Julie, bless her heart, is helping me learn two verses a day. What a woman. What a wife. Little did I know when I met her 20 years ago this month how valuable she would be to help a knucklehead like me push through a year of Cornerstone School of Ministry. I confess, there's been many times these past months in the face of trials of finances, relationships, weariness and discouragement that I've said let's just go home. As in home to Virginia. But Julie doesn't have quit in her (Perhaps this explains the whole 12 kids thing?) and has always been an encourager. The female Barnabas, if you will. God bless her for that. We're going to make it. Just as the Lord miraculously provided the finances for Taylor and Ethan to make it to Brazil, so He provides for us in so many ways. Thanks for your prayers and keep them coming.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Let Her No Be Yes

Olivia turned 1 on Monday and already she has mastered the nod (yes) and the shake (no) of her sweet little head to signal how she feels about something. I got home from school today around 2 o'clock and shortly afterwards Julie was feeding her a late lunch. An unusually long but very pleasant (for Julie) respite for Olivia -- known in some quarters as a `nap' -- prompted a late lunch of delicious macaroni and cheese. During the course of the meal Olivia managed to successfully answer Julie's question if she wanted more -- our little girl gave a nod -- then later when asked if she was still hungry Olivia shook her head to say `no.'

"She's so smart," Julie said. "She knows her `yes' and 'no.'"

Then Olivia sat on my lap. I asked her if she missed her daddy while he was gone. By now Claire had entered the room. Olivia shook her head `no.' That drew laughs from Julie and Claire. I was stunned. And hurt. So I sweetly asked my beautiful little princess, "Do you love your daddy?"

Two shakes of the head! A resounding no! Julie and Claire were dying laughing. I pretended to cry. Olivia smiled broadly, showing her seven teeth. I'm pretty sure she was just playing us. I do believe she really missed me. She really loves me. Surely she does.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Ultimate Challenge

Today we resumed our lives in Cornerstone School of Ministry with the advent of the first day of the spring term. Our first class is the Gospels, taught by my man Tom Ewers. It was a fun day with each of us taking a turn telling Tom who we are -- it's his first semester teaching this year and there were a few faces he didn't know -- and when we got saved and a person we respect. It was fun stuff and cool to hear stories of how my brothers and sisters came to know Christ. Then Tom handed out the class syllabus. I perused through it until I got to the bombshell: One of our assignments is to memorize the Sermon on the Mount. Like, the whole thing.

I struggle with remembering my own children's middle names. I can barely remember who's in the Final Four and I watched all the games just a couple of days ago! (Editor's note: Hmmmm. That wouldn't be because of the psychological trauma of losing in the bracket pool to your 7-year-old daughter, would it? Author's rebuttal: Certainly not! I'm waaayyyy bigger than that. Really, I am.) I thumbed through my Bible to see what kind of monumental task I'm in for and whether I should start praying immediately for a miracle of memorization to occur. Oh boy, I thought when I reached the critical passages of Matthew. The Sermon on the Mount comprises three chapters, roughly 110 verses. Oy! Please, I beseech you, pray with me for a miracle.