Category Archives: Parenting

Happy Birthday Zach!

A one year update

Very frequently in conversation friends make a point to ask, “So how’s your son doing?”  I’m grateful for how people remember him.  Many people tell me how they have prayed for him too.  It also prompts me to give an update here on the blog since so many of you followed his story last May when we discovered and treated his retinoblastoma.

Today, Tuesday, March 27th, 2012, is Zach’s first birthday.  It’s amazing to think that he’s already one year old.  Time sure flies!  Zach is a happy, joyful boy (believe me, he’s ALL BOY–in a house with six sisters, he’s catching on).  He’s almost always smiling when he interacts with us.  He enjoys exploring the world around him–like on Saturday when we took a two hour letter boxing walk turned hike.  Zach is a wonderful part of our family and we cannot imagine life without him.

As you can see from this photo, his prosthetic eye is a beautiful match to his real eye–this photo shows them both off very well.  Thanks to Emily Alberta of Angel Snap Photography.  Thanks also to Greg Dootz, Zach’s ocularist–see Update #5 and Update #12.

What about the cancer?

We thank God that Zach has a 100% clear report up to the present.  When the surgery first happened to remove his eye, the pathology report confirmed that the cancer (which filled 80% of his eye) was fully contained.  It has not grown beyond the perimeter of the eye or down the optic nerve.

Zach has an exam under anesthesia (EUA) periodically.  Sarah and Zach have now gone back to U of M Hospital for five exams where they put Zach to sleep and examine his good eye up close to scout-out any potential cancer.  So far so good.  There’s no trace of cancer in Zach’s good eye.  Thank God for his powerful protection and mercy!

Next steps

The next steps for Zach are as follows.

  • He will continue to have the EUA’s about every 4 months (this first year it was every 2 months, and now they are spacing out more and more)
  • He will begin wearing glasses soon–he has already been fitted for eye glasses to help protect his one remaining eye from any scratches or injuries.
  • He will grow up like normal kids playing in similar ways and learning to see with his single eye.
  • We’ll keep having a medical exam on his eye from now through the end of childhood in ever decreasing frequency (i.e. once per year once he’s beyond 5 or so).
  • At some point he’ll come to understand how he’s different and we’ll help him to understand the implications for him.

By the way if you’d like to read or see all the posting about Zach from this blog in order, click on the tab on the bar on the upper left labelled ZACH.

Thank you to all of you who have left comments along the way.  I don’t always have the time to reply to each and every one, but I do read every word when I approved the comments.

Thanks for praying for Zach, asking about him, helping our family, or whatever you have done.  Today is a great day to celebrate–Happy Birthday First Birthday!



Filed under Parenting, Zach

My son Zach

We learned yesterday that Zach, has a rare eye condition in his left eye called retinoblastoma. This cancerous tumor on his eye has caused his retina to detach which is how we first became aware of the problem–the symptom is called “no red-reflex.”
The clear and unambiguous counsel of the opthamology specialists is that the best course of action for his condition is to remove the tumor. This necessitates the removal of his entire left eye (enucleation of the eye). He will grow up with a prosthetic eye and will hopefully be free of cancer.
Due to the apparently rapid growth of this tumor, we have agreed with the Doctors’ counsel to proceed to surgery this Monday, May 23. We will have some elders gather and pray over Zach this weekend prior to the surgery.
Here are some specific ways that you can pray for us at this time:

photography by Emily Alberta

  1. Pray that we have clear wisdom about this course of action.
  2. Pray that God would heal him before and without surgery.
  3. Pray that as surgery is otherwise necessary, that it will be entirely successful.
  4. Pray that the cancer in his body will be only in the eye and not anywhere else. Further, that there would be no threat upon his life due to this tumor. We have obviously “caught it early.”
  5. Pray for our other children as they deal with this dramatic event. Pray that they would still feel well loved in the midst of busyness and necessary attention toward Zach!
  6. Pray for God’s peace for all of us. We’re doing pretty well, most moments!
  7. Pray for God to be glorified and for opportunities to make him known.
Thanks for standing with us in prayer.
In Christ,
Tim and Sarah
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” (in our case, with eye cancer)
Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned or his parents, but that the works of God may be displayed in him.” John 9:2-3
Praise God for skilled physicians who can respond.
Praise God that it was in a part of the body we could see into!
Praise God that he is a gracious healer.
Praise God that all things are in his hands!
Praise God for his other good eye!
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!


Filed under Parenting, Zach

Generational Discipleship

At the church where I’m an Associate Pastor I’m leading a team of staff members who are seeking to answer the question, “How can we as church leaders help encourage and equip parents in their role as the primary faith influencers of their children?”

It’s not an easy question to answer, but we’re committed to realigning our thinking for the sake of faithfulness to God and victory in our generation.  Our mission, by the grace of God, is to connect generations to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  We want to promote healthy family life, equip parents to disciple their children, adopt those without a spiritual support system and connect generations within our church.

In this entry, I’d like to share our Values.  I’d love to hear back from you!  Please write some comments about what you read below.

Values for Generational Discipleship

  • God has created the family to bring him glory

– God’s word gives guidance for healthy family life

– All families experience brokenness and sin, but are redeemed by Jesus as they look to him in faith.

– We give each other grace as we all strive to follow God

  • God calls parents to disciple their children

– Healthy families put God first in their lives

– Healthy families make space for discipleship

– Effective leadership in the home begins with personal growth in God

  • The church and family are partners in spiritual formation

– The church should train, involve and equip parents throughout its programming

– The church is responsible minister to those who lack a strong spiritual support system

– Healthy families in turn strengthen churches

  • The whole church is involved in Generational Discipleship

– Varied generations need one another and together engage in discipleship

– Church Leadership practices and proclaims generational discipleship

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Filed under Family Ministry, Generational Discipleship, Parenting, Spiritual Formation

Parents, don’t let your kids grow up to be Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus began her career as Disney’s Hannah Montana.  So long Hannah, hello Lady Gaga Jr.

The recent buzz about Miley Cyrus is that she kissed a girl on Brittain’s Got Talent during a performance of “I Can’t Be Tamed.”

Of course, she flatly denies this at her blog…

The problem is not however whether she kissed another female backup singer or faked kissing a female backup singer.  The problem is that she has taken an active pro-lesbian stance with her new song.  Through her entire new single cut, she advances the homosexual agenda with her erotic flesh-is-right, declaration of independence—“I can’t be tamed.”  The video excerpts are obvious and the lyrics are clear.  Here’s an excerpt:

I can’t be tamed, I can’t be tamed, I can’t be blamed…
I can’t be changed
Well I’m not a trick you play
I’m wired a different way
I’m not a mistake, I’m not a fake, It’s set in my DNA
Don’t change me (x4)
(I can’t be tamed)

The reference to DNA is clearly claiming you’re born gay, (i.e. gay gene).  You can’t change; you were wired that way.  Just follow your base instincts and do whatever you want.  Don’t be fake, be gay!

Parents, be warned.  For the last 10 years many trusting parents have allowed their children to be enamored with Hannah Montana, the cute funny kid rock star.  Now, she’s taking that popularity capital to lead her fans toward animalistic and immoral sexual behavior.   Good bye, Hannah Montana.  She can’t be tamed.  She can’t be changed.  She said it herself.

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Christian Camps for Making Disciples

This summer there are lots of great camps.

Here are two options:

1.  Spring Hill Day Camp at Cornerstone EPC.  Link

2.  Camp Cedar Ridge — this camp in the Huron Forest is wonderful because of the emphasis on discipleship.  If you want to encourage your children to grow as Bible readers while having fun, here’s a link

Happy Camping!!!


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Filed under Family Ministry, Parenting

I hop, you hop, we all hop for IHOP

This weekend I took Darby, my third oldest girl out for a daddy daughter date.  We went to IHOP for breakfast (her choice).  She redeemed a coupon I gave her as a Christmas gift (see BEST Christmas gifts blog entry), breakfast out with Dad or mom.

Since Darby wants to be a writer I had her narrate a bit about our morning.  Enjoy!

Darby’s entry

“Me and My Dad went on a daddy daughter date.  We went to IHOP.  I had coffee; he had water. I had five pancakes!

Darby ihop 2

He taught me how to open a sugar (pack).  I don’t know how many creams I used.  I counted six empty containers of cream.  Funny!  We had a great time at IHOP.  Just me and my Dad.

Daddy put tobasco sauce on his pancakes.  I double-dog dared him to eat it.  And he ate it.  It was disgusting!

Darby ihop

We filled out the comment card in crayon–red, green, blue and orange.

Narrated by Daddy & Darby.

Grace and peace, Tim


Filed under Parenting

Giving the BEST Christmas gifts to your children

What do you get for the person who has everything?

If we are following the model of Jesus at Christmas, his gift was his presence with us.  Therefore the best, most important gifts we can give to our children revolve around giving the gift of ourselves.

Here are 6 things you can give to your family this Christmas season.

Create enduring traditions as a family

1. Chop down a Christmas tree (together!)

2. Have a special breakfast Christmas morning

3. When you open presents, do it with a special twist

Give a creative gift of your time for Christmas to be spent throughout the year.

Here’s a thought!  give your children a booklet of coupons to be used to request special time with Dad or Mom.

Ice-cream, donut shop, apple picking, sledding, arts and crafts, go to a bounce house gym, Breakfast out at the restaurant of their choice, etc.  Choose as many as you think you can handle in 2010 and then give them away!

When you do them, take time to talk with them and give them the gift of being listened to in  meaningful conversation.

Wrap up tickets to a special event.  The nice thing is that you’ll be giving it twice—first when they open it and then again when you take them out.  I love double credit!

Try this, plan a surprise outing  and don’t tell them where you’re going  (plan 3 or 4 stops along the way)

Have advent devotionals together

  1. Buy and use The Advent Book
  2. Advent Calendar (a calendar with ~25 doors leading you upto the day of Christmas)
  3. Read the Christmas story by candle-light
  4. Advent Wreath (four candles—light one per week, followed by white fifth candle on Christmas Eve)

Begin a year-round habit of family devotions

If you take the step of gathing at Christmas time, why not keep the momentum going by doing it right through the year.  My family and I we gather 2-3 times per week. (T, Th, Sat.)  We are reading through a book of the bible, memorizing an age-appropriate catechism, singing 2 songs together and praying.  We have a binder for each child with the songs, and extra paper for artwork

Some of the benefits of family worship are: my wife and I Model worship, be begin to balance some more formal instruction to accompany the day to day stuff (informal), we increase teachable moments—we can say, “remember when we talked about…”  If you need help getting started, I would highly recommend Donald Whitney’s lecture and/or booklet on Family Worship

Repair broken relationships

Maybe you’ve hurt one or more of your children by your attitudes, words or actions.  If so, saying your sorry is one of the most healing things you can do.  Saying, “I’m sorry,” to them rebuilds the bridge of relationship and clarifies that sin (even your own) is wrong.

Learn and practice “speaking” your child’s love language

According to Gary Chapman there are 5 love languages.  We each give and receive love in particular ways (languages).  If we learn to give love the way another receives it, we can hit a home run.  The five languages are:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of service
  5. Physical Touch

God bless and have a wonderful advent season!


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Filed under Family Ministry, Parenting