Poetry Saturday—Growing Down

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

Mix a grunt and a grumble, a sneer and a frown,
And what do you have? Why old Mr. Brown,
The crabbiest man in our whole darn town.
We all called him Grow-Up Brown:
For years each girl and boy and pup
Heard “Grow up, grow up, oh grow up.”
He’d say, “Why don’t you be polite?
Why must you shout and fuss and fight?
Why can’t you keep dirt off your clothes?
Why can’t you remember to wipe your nose?
Why must you always make such noise?
Why don’t you go pick up your toys?
Why do you hate to wash your hands?
Why are your shoes all filled with sand?
Why must you shout when I’m lying down?
Why don’t you grow up?” grumped Grow-Up Brown.

One day we said to Grow-Up Brown,
“Hey, why don’t you try growing down?
Why don’t you crawl on your knees?
Why don’t you try climbing trees?
Why don’t you bang on a tin-can drum?
Why don’t you chew some bubble gum?
Why don’t you play kick-the-can?
Why don’t you not wash your hands?
Why don’t you join the baseball team?
Why don’t you jump and yell and scream?
Why don’t you try skipping stones?
Why don’t you eat ice cream cones?
Why don’t you cry when you feel sad?
Why don’t you cuddle with your dad?
Why don’t you have weenie roasts?
Why don’t you believe in ghosts?
Why don’t you have pillow fights?
Why don’t you sleep with your teddy at night?
Why don’t you swing from monkey bars?
Why don’t you wish on falling stars?
Why don’t you run in three-legged races?
Why don’t you make weirdie faces?
Why don’t you smile, Grow-Up Brown?
Why don’t you try growing down?”
Then Grow-Up Brown, he scrunched and frowned
And scratched his head and walked around,
And finally he said with a helpless sound,
“Maybe I will try growing down.”

So Grow-Up Brown began to sing
And started doing silly things:
He started making weirdie faces
And came in first in the three-legged races.
All day he swung from monkey bars,
All night he’d lie and count the stars.
He tooted horns, he banged on drums,
He spent twenty bucks on bubble gum,
He went to all the weenie roasts,
And once he thought he saw a ghost.
He got to be great at pillow fights
And went to sleep with his teddy at night.
He flew a kite, he kick a can,
He rubbed some dirt upon his hands.
He drew some pictures, threw some stones,
He ate forty-seven ice cream cones.
He got some sand between his toes,
Got a loose tooth and a bloody nose.
He got a dog, they rolled in the mud.
He imitated Elmer Fudd.
He climbed a roof (though no one asked),
He broke his wrist—he wore a cast.
He rolled down hills, he climbed up trees,
He scuffed his elbows, skinned his knees,
He tried to join the baseball team;
When they said no, he spit and screamed.
He cried when he was feeling sad
And went and cuddled with his dad.
He wore a hat that didn’t fit,
He learned just how far he could spit,
He learned to wrestle and get tickled,
Sucked his thumb, he belched and giggled.
He got his trousers torn and stained,
He ran out barefoot in the rain,
Shouting to all the folks in town,
“It’s much more fun, this growin’ down.” —Shel Silverstein

Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? 

Poetry Saturday—The Mother’s Prayer

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

Starting forth on life’s rough way,
   Father, guide them;
Oh, we know not what of harm
   May betide them;
‘Neath the shadow of Thy wing,
   Father, hide them;
Walking, sleeping, Lord, we pray,
   Go beside them.

When in prayer they cry to Thee,
   Do Thou hear them;
From the stain of sin and shame
   Do Thou clear them;
‘Mid the quicksands and the rocks
   Do Thou steer them;
In temptation, trial, grief,
   Be Thou near them.

Unto Thee we give them up;
   Lord, receive them.
In the world we know must be
   Much to grieve them—
Many striving, oft and strong,
   To deceive them;
Trustful in Thy hands of love
   We must leave them. —William Cullen Bryant

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? ◀︎◀︎

Poetry Saturday—An Owens Haiku

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

Craig loved Betsy first.
Then came three lovable kids.
All five love Jesus.

Then God sent us west.
To the town of Cedar Springs.
We all love our church.

God added spouses.
Lovable mates for our kids.
The blessings increase. —Craig T. Owens

Poetry Saturday—The Children’s Hour

Between the dark and the daylight,
      When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
      That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
      The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
      And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
      Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
      And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
      Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
      To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
      A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
      They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
      O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
      They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
      Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
      In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
      Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
      Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
      And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
      In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
      Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
      And moulder in dust away! —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Feeding Hungry Kids

It was a snowy day in West Michigan. So snowy, in fact, that schools had been canceled for the day. While many people were bundled up at home, the local police department was responding to a call of an alarm that had been tripped at an elementary building. When the police arrived they found a young body going to each door attempting to get inside his school. When the police officer asked him what he was doing, the young lad looked at him innocently and said, “This is where I get breakfast.” 

Sometimes we forget how many of our students get at least one or two meals at their school each day. In my community, 49 percent of Cedar Springs students are eligible for free or reduced lunch, and in the neighboring Kent City schools, it’s 65 percent.

So when I heard about an organization called Hand2Hand that helped organize nutritious food for hungry students to eat on the weekends, I was immediately ready to sign up! 

Someone once asked me, “Before agreeing to get Hand2Hand started in our city, did you pray about it?” 

“No,” I quickly responded. “I didn’t need to pray about it because I knew Jesus had already said, ‘If you see someone hungry, feed them.’” 

Our Hand2Hand program is currently serving 300 students each week!

Think about that—without the generous and faithful support of so many volunteers and donors, 250 students in Cedar Springs and Kent City would be going without adequate food each weekend. 

Would you consider helping us? 

We have set up a separate website to keep people updated on the current food and volunteering opportunities. We also have a link for online financial gifts. If you would like to make a recurring donation, just $20 per month will provide healthy food for a student for the whole month. Whatever you can do with your time or financial support will be a blessing to so many!

Some of the volunteers that help us week after week

Students help feed their peers

7 Quotes + 1 Infographic From “Marching Off The Map”

Once again, Tim Elmore has given us invaluable insight into the emerging youth culture. If you have kids or work with kids, you must read Marching Off The Map. You can check out my full book review by clicking here. Below is the first set of quotes I want to share with you, but there will be plenty more coming in the future, so stay tuned!

“Thanks to technology, information streams into their lives 24/7 and often has no filter on it, even for young children. When we determined not to censor content in the media, we had no idea (understandably) how it would affect our kids. We’re removing the opportunity for them to experience innocence and wonder. However, because they’re still maturing emotionally, socially, cognitively and biologically in their first 25 years, we have now begun to witness a strange paradox in our young: the extinction of childlikeness and the extension of childishness. …

“Since they are exposed to so much adult information, so early in their lives, they can prematurely lose (1) their sense of innocence, (2) their sense of wonder and (3) their sense of trust …

“Biologically, the graduate is an adult. Emotionally, the graduate may be unprepared for the adult world.” 

“If you think our kids are pitifully impulsive on social media—just look at the adult population. … If you think teens are addicted to Facebook, just study the hours their mothers spend on it. If you think young athletes on the Little League baseball field act childish, just look at their dads. The behavior of adults and children has become more and more similar. Society has baptized ‘youthfulness.’ We want to look young, feel young, dress young, talk young and act young. We argue with our children’s teachers. We push our kid’s coaches to get them special treatment. We are not good at delaying gratification, and we frequently don’t keep commitments we make … very much like children. The result? Adulthood has lost much of its aura and authority.”

“As you stand in front of your classroom or your own children—you are, in a sense, Galileo. You are Magellan. You are Christopher Columbus. You are Lewis and Clark. You are Neil Armstrong. Ready or not, they need you to play this role.

“Our world is both expanding and shrinking. Our past maps and methods are antiquated. Like it or not, we’re moving into unfamiliar territory and many think it’s too difficult to explore. We have fallen in love with our old maps. … 

“For educators, our role must change as we teach a generation of students who don’t need adults to get information.

“For parents, our role must change as we raise kids in a time of terrorism, economic recession, racial unrest, underemployment and ubiquitous technology.

“For coaches, our role must change as we train young athletes who have eight-second attention spans, and may arrive at practice with little resilience or grit.

“For youth workers, our role must change as we mentor students who have few life skills or values because adults either over-functioned or were absent.

“For employers, our role must change as we onboard young employees who may have never had a real job before, and may ask when ‘spring break’ will be.”

“Adults must enable the students to leverage what is new, yet at the same time, hold on to what is ancient, yet valuable. We must be both timeless and timely. So, our job as we serve the next generation is two-fold:

  • To adopt or adapt. We must seize what is new and help kids leverage it well.
  • To explain and equip. We must relate to them the timeless ideals every generation needs.”

“I believe we must cultivate one significant skill set in ourselves: we must be able to either adapt to the new world that’s emerging, or we must explain why a timeless virtue or value is still relevant in our 21st century world.”

“A third of young Americans say they don’t belong to any religion. I’ve found, however, they’ve traded in one God for many gods. They want to ‘feel’ spiritual, so they’ve created a buffet—seeking something to satisfy their soul. I often hear students say, ‘I don’t believe in religion, but I want to be a spiritual person.’ Today—pluralism is expanding across the landscape. It’s easier to say ‘no’ to one and enjoy a mixture of many.”

“A third of young Americans say they don’t belong to any religion. I’ve found, however, they’ve traded in one God for many gods. They want to ‘feel’ spiritual, so they’ve created a buffet—seeking something to satisfy their soul. I often hear students say, ‘I don’t believe in religion, but I want to be a spiritual person.’ Today—pluralism is expanding across the landscape. It’s easier to say ‘no’ to one and enjoy a mixture of many.”

“The Latin root word for ‘educate’ is ‘ducere’ which means to ‘push out.’ … We should not put students in a passive mode as we teach. We must be inspirers of learning. We must help pull ambition out of them, not push information into them.”

I’ll be posting some more quotes from Marching Off The Map next week.

Poetry Saturday—A Man

Edgar A. GuestA man doesn’t whine at his losses,
A man doesn’t whimper and fret,
Or rail at the weight of his crosses
And ask life to rear him a pet.
A man doesn’t grudgingly labor
Or look upon toil as a blight;
A man doesn’t sneer at his neighbor
Or sneak from a cause that is right.

A man doesn’t sulk when another
Succeeds where his efforts have failed;
Doesn’t keep all his praise for the brother
Whose glory is publicly hailed;
And pass by the weak and the humble
As though they were not of his clay;
A man doesn’t ceaselessly grumble
When things are not going his way.

A man looks on woman as tender
And gentle, and stands at her side
At all times to guard and defend her,
And never to scorn or deride.
A man looks on life as a mission.
To serve, just so far as he can;
A man holds his noblest ambition
On earth is to live as a man. —Edgar A. Guest

Josh McDowell On Appreciating Our Kids

“Unconditionally accepting your kids tells them that being matters. Expressing your appreciation to them says that their doing matters too. …

“Unless your kids are absolutely convinced that you accept them for who they are, your praise and appreciation can become manipulative. Appreciation without acceptance may prompt your child to relate to you on a performance basis, thinking, ‘If I do a good job … if I get A’s … if I score a goal … then my dad will love me.’ Living on a performance basis will tend to produce feelings of false guilt in your kids. That’s why you need to be sure your kids first feel accepted then appreciated. …

“Appreciate your child’s efforts more than your child’s accomplishments, and appreciate your kid’s worth as God’s creation even more than your kid’s efforts.” —Josh McDowell, in 10 Commitments For Dads

If you are interested in more quotes from 10 Commitments For Dads, you can click here.

Kids In Jesus’ Day

the-bad-habits-of-jesus“Kids in Jesus’ day were to be seen and not heard. Small children (under age 5) were associated with death. All children were associated with dirt, noise, and annoying habits. It went without saying that they shouldn’t bother the rabbi.

“Even Jesus’ disciples thought He wouldn’t want to be interrupted by rambunctious children. Sound familiar? Many of our churches today banish children to distant parts of the building during worship, then bemoan their absence from church when the same kids reach adulthood. Instead of Jesus’ ‘Let the children come unto Me,’ the church says, ‘Let us babysit your kids while we dazzle you adults in worship.’

“Jesus’ idea of children and childhood was radically different from what was normal in His day. Jesus taught a faith that you might call adultproof. Today we childproof our medicine and our faith, making them as hard for children to get into as possible. In contrast, Jesus made faith child friendly and adult averse, meaning Jesus did everything He could to protect children’s faith from adults and to help even the most adultish among us become more childlike so as to get into the Kingdom without messing it up.” —Leonard Sweet, in The Bad Habits Of Jesus

Dads: Godly Influencers

Godly Influencer - fathers dayIt’s hard work being a Dad!

  • We have to be tough enough to kill spiders, yet tender enough to attend a princess tea party.
  • We have to bring home the bacon, yet not eat too much bacon so our cholesterol doesn’t get out of control.
  • We have to know the strategy of football, and the scoring for competitive cheerleading.
  • We have to be strong and gentle, smart and compassionate.
  • We have to climb the ladder at work, and build a solid foundation at home.
  • We have to knock down our competitors, and build up our children.

The Bible has a lot to say to encourage Dads to do all of these things, and to become the godly influencer God wants us to be in all aspect of our lives.

Please join me this Sunday as we learn from a man in the Bible who had everything to lose at work by doing things God’s way. Yet he chose God’s way and reaped some amazing results. Hope to see all the Dads this Sunday at 10:30am.

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