A Few Good Men

I began writing this post back in June, just a week after we lost our third daughter, Juliette, at 20 weeks gestation.  It’s one of the hardest things our family has gone through and something that is particularly heavy on our minds in the days leading up to her would-be due date, 10/10/10.  And so, this post has been on my mind again and I thought it was a good time to finish it and publish it.


It’s been a tough few weeks to say the least.  The details don’t really matter – I’m continually reminded that we’re not the first to go through rough times like these… and besides, that’s not what this post is about.

Instead, this post is about the people you get to know as you go through times like these.  Better stated, this post is about the men I’d like to grow up to be like some day.  Christian men of the United States Armed Forces.  OK, for sure I’m making a gross generalization because I’m basing this opinion on three men in particular – and contrary to the title of this post they’re actually all Army men (although they could definitely “handle the Truth!“).  But, they are men that I’ve seen extraordinary things from – even in the admittedly few hours I’ve gotten to spend with any of them.

As I’ve talked about in detail on a separate page, my wife and I went through a tough time in our marriage five years ago.  During that time I traveled to West Point to visit a dear confidant who was teaching there at the time.  I needed a weekend away to gain a new perspective on my junk and figure out how to finally, really “own” it all.  Among the numerous things I experienced that weekend, one was a Saturday morning gathering held once a month called “Higher Ground” – a breakfast/worship/teaching gathering for the Christian men on post.  The room was packed and there was nothing particularly “special” about the meeting from an agenda point-of-view.  But I was an outsider (although none of the men made me feel that way at all) – and so in that short hour I saw something extremely rare and… well… beautiful.  No, I wouldn’t call it beautiful in a room full of infantry.

There was a level of masculine respect and intimacy among these men of faith that I had never see in 10 years of being a Christian.  There was no pretense, no favoritism, no outward barrier that kept things at the level of “see the game last night”.  Instead, the men in this room clearly stated through their actions and (when needed) words, “we are brothers in Christ, I’ve got your back and I don’t have to impress you with anything else.”  For days and weeks after being at West Point I just couldn’t get that out of my mind.  I had never experienced it – even though I’d had some deep relationships with men at my church since becoming a believer.

I’ve spoken of it many, many times since that weekend…. always slightly puzzled at how these military men have such a unique bond when Christ is among them.  I do not have a sociology degree (although I loved my freshman sociology class in college…. hmmmmm….) – but I think it has to exist simply because they share a very common lifestyle, with common threats, pains, joys and goals.  They move every few years and have to set up shop again and re-integrate their family into yet another new environment.  There’s no time to figure out if they can trust the guy across the street or rely on them to look out for their family and know that someone will drop everything if they’re in need of help.  They don’t have five years to build that foundation.  And so they show up and they serve because that’s what they’ve been training to do day after day – for years on end.

I suppose that’s probably why it’s easiest to see these men be such a great example of service to others.  It’s the reason they look you in the eye and say, “if you need help with something give me a call – I’m just a few miles down the road”… and they mean it.  They really, really mean it.  And I don’t know what to do with that because it’s so rare.  But I know I’m drawn to it because it’s real, genuine and so overflowing of God’s love – the kind of love that honestly makes me say, “I want to be like that.”  I think, at least in the example of these three men, I see a simple example of Jesus’s love lived out in simple “real man” ways.

One other thought occurred to me recently after we had a picnic at the farm with two of these Army families.  Even in the midst of a family life that’s always in transition and dad is often gone “on duty” – these families always have great kids and marriages.  They’re not perfect and not without trial, but they are strong.  Their children have a sense of purpose.  They’re wives know they can trust their men.   And together the family is close-knit and genuinely loves one another.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

So, when I grow up I want to be more like these men – which I’m pretty sure means I’ll be a little more like Jesus, too.  For that I’m thankful to have been blessed by these relationships.  And I’m thankful for a Father that loves me enough to give me better, tangible expressions of being “doers of the Word.”

God’s Provision

Wow. It’s been nearly a year since I’ve posted anything. Much like my desire to journal each day, this blog is just “that much” out of my reach to get to it seems. But things have been moving lately and at some point I just can’t shut up.

It seems that the Booz family has been in a fairly long period of God’s provision. I realize that Jesus is always providing for us, big or small, but sometimes we actually stop long enough to see it… be thankful for it. Somehow that culminated for me today when I ran my third half-marathon. Through the entire race I could feel his provision in my thoughts, my attitude and my actual physical strength. It was honestly, well… pretty darn great.

But as I finshed and my family made it back to the hotel so that we could get ready to leave, I was more aware that the place where Christ keeps giving and giving is with my family. And of almost anything that He could do, that feels the most amazing and precious of all. It is truly overwheling.

I’ve been blessed with a wife that shares the vision of having a family that knows and loves God. Our children, although imperfectly “children” in every way, are catching the vision as well. When these things work together – I find that we often function with a peace and joy that is not of our own doing. And all I can say is YAY!!!

It propells me to look forward to each day and see us experience more of Him each day. See my children pray for each other and the needs around them. My wife held in a place of honor at the city gates. Our collective thought, words, actions and resources used to bring glory to Jesus Christ and not ourselves.

I’m enjoying the journey more now then I did before. I’m still very, very far from perfect – but I’m glad when I actually live my life and can get to the end of a day and say, “thank you Father for you graceousness today.” I hope I can do that more in the days ahead.

The Heart of the Battle

This is probably the most important post I’ll make in a long time.  I’ve added a new “page/tab” at the top you might notice called “Daily Victory“.  It’s the audio and slides from a talk I gave in church a few weeks ago (4/13/08) about my struggle with pornography addiction and how the battle to find victory nearly destroyed my marriage, family and life – but how His unrelenting pursuit of me just wouldn’t let go.  The end result is a marriage and family that is strong (not perfect mind you – we still have a lot of learning to do) and a strengthened passion for helping men find freedom from this junk and step into their calling as a man/husband/father.

With that in mind I approached the elders recently and asked if they would let me use some/all of the men’s ministry budget to help subsidize accountability software for anyone in the church that wanted to use it.  They were all for it and so I presented that to the church by sharing my story.  I pray that as men (and women) choose to become accountable for this one area, it will free them up to step into the calling God has placed on their lives in other areas.  But, for this generation, I believe that this is one of only a few major battles for our future and our growth in Christ as a whole.

Please let me know what you think.  It’s tough to take off the mask sometimes, but if Christ is glorified – then it’s all worth it.

Listen to the talk

Real Faith – Part 2

Watching the three people you love the most pull away at 5:45 in the morning for a trip to grandmom and grandpop’s house. I’ll be joining them on Thursday – but trusting my heavenly Father to go before them is something I have no trouble doing – and yet I can’t help but be in a continuous state of anxiety at the same time. Weird. The three best gifts I got as they prepared to leave were:

– A wonderful smile from 5 week old Lia
– “I really love you dad. I can’t wait to play with you…” from Vivienne
– A hug (and a kiss and a hug…) from Laura that just made me feel like the man I desire to be in her life (and the lives of our girls)

We have some great easter family pictures from yesterday – but they must be on the camera still. So, this is the next best one I could find of my three girls…

My girls…

Lia Monet Booz

For those of you that haven’t heard – or aren’t reading the much better blog by my wife – Lia Monet Booz was born on Monday, February 18 @ 3:07PM. Lia means “bearer of good news” and Monet means “to be heard”. Booz means… well, depends on the country and generation…. 🙂 For you men that will have to report to your wives the “stats” – Lia was 21″ long and weighed 7lb. 6oz. Seriously, a real cuttie!

From start to finish, Laura’s labor was 12 hours and although there were a few brief “take a sigh” moments, it was tremendously different from Vivienne’s more spirited (and long) labor process. When it came time to actually push, Lia was delivered in about 10 minutes. CRAZY!!

As far as not knowing that we were having “Lia” until she was born – it did feel very traditional. However, to be honest, I’m not sure I’d do it again. I don’t regret it one bit (partially because it confirmed a word I believe the Lord spoke to me a few years ago), both Laura and I really appreciated the ability to form a relationship with Vivienne for weeks before she was born.

In all though – it doesn’t really matter. We have a tremendous gift from God that just blows our minds away. YAY!

Some initial pics at: http://gallery.mac.com/rlbooz

The Centrality of the Home

For those of you that don’t know we’re about to have our second child… of course, I use “we” lightly because, well, I don’t really have to do the “having”. But regardless, in light of our pending family growth (which we couldn’t be more excited for!!!) we continue to try and understand God’s design for family. To this end, as I mentioned in my mind dump last week (Frustrated) we’re continually seeking out teachings and ministries that focus specifically on Biblical family dynamics. In most circles today, this would simply be called “conservative Christian living” – probably Southern Baptist kind of conservative. And this, quite honestly, is where the Church gets me sometimes. I listen to a message like the one below and shout “AMEN” through the whole thing. But then I realize that this same pastor would likely preach that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not for today – something that Laura and I are pretty sure Christ has given us opportunities to see that the are.

And that, to an extent, is what I’m working out. In general I’m seeing that the churches I’ve grown up in since becoming a Christian at age 21 do not focus nearly as much on the centrality of family in our faith. I’m not sure why, and I’m not really upset about it, but the more we learn the more I wish others were hearing it too. As our family grows and Christ continues to give us more and more of a passion for his full family design – I’m glad to have some other perspectives. I love having straight talk that’s not covered in anecdotes. I like being brought to Scripture and someone saying, “this is what is says. Let me show you how I came to that belief by teaching you the meaning. It’s OK if you disagree, but you better be able to back it up with Scripture.” Come on, don’t you love to be challenged by someone with that kind of confidence in the scripture?

Anyway there are two teachings the Voddie Bachman gives that are wonderful. The one linked below was the first one Laura and I heard by him, on a CD we got from Vision Forums – a homeschooling/family centered ministry we have grown to love. The message is VERY counter church culture. My entry into the church, by God’s grace, was to help with youth ministry while in college. I’ve seen youth ministry do amazing things in young adult lives. But as I grow up and examine what it appears God intended for the flow of faith from one generation to the next – this seems to make a lot more sense to me.

So, as a shout out to all of the men I’ve talked with that say they reading and homework, when it comes to learning Scripture, isn’t for them (yes, I’m a card carrying member of that club as well – but I’m slowly being transformed) – heres something you can listen to instead. 🙂 Please let me know what you think.

The Centrality of the Home – by Voddie Bachman