Stretching: Learning and Growing

That’s my son Myron doing one of his favorite things in the world — stretching!

Watching him do this several times each day has got me thinking, what is stretching me?

What’s Stretching Me at the Moment…

Here are a few of the things that are stretching me, causing me to grow and to learn (in no particular order):

  1. School.  I’ve been in school for what seems like forever.  Finishing my PhD has required so much perseverance and patience, the second of which I don’t come by naturally.  If all continues to go well, I should be finished this summer.  *Fingers crossed*
  2. Marriage.  I’ve said it many times that I didn’t know how selfish I was until I got married.  And that statement is as true today as it was in 2002 when I first got married!  The stretching caused by marriage is varied but it is definitely effective!  To me, the hardest part of marriage is choosing each day to put the interests of my wife before my own.  Man, why is it so hard not to be selfish!?
  3. Parenthood.  Since being a dad is so new to me (only one month in!), it feels like the thing that is stretching me the most right now!  I’m learning to live on less sleep, to prioritize differently, and to do things that I hadn’t done often before.  But most of all, fatherhood is teaching me that my capacity for love is much greater than I ever imagined!  When I heard Myron’s first cry, I felt like the Grinch at the end of the book: my heart grew three sizes!
  4. Leadership.  Whether in official capacities or informal ones, being a leader is always a stretching experience!  Not unlike marriage and parenthood, being a good leader means putting the interests and needs of others at the forefront.  This is always unnatural, or at least it is for me!
  5. Spiritual Disciplines.  I’m not a planner.  I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-er.  And with regard to spirituality, spontaneity is not always best!  In my experience, it is best to have some spiritual practices (such as prayer, Bible reading, fasting, etc.) which are a regular part of my life.  For me, the one that creates the most stretching in me is daily, devotional Bible reading.  For me this is a challenge because when I read the Bible I constantly think about it either as an academic, thinking about all the grammatical, historical, and theological issues, or as a teacher, thinking about how to communicate the truths found within to others.  It is a daily struggle for me to find personal, spiritual meaning from the Bible.  This discipline helps me grow!
  6. Work.  I’m about to embark on a new assignment at work and it will be a stretching process!  I’m excited to see how God grows me and my community through this opportunity.  But I’m also quite aware that things will be difficult at times and that I’ll have to find creative ways to move forward or to step aside and let others take the limelight.  I’m looking forward to the challenge.


So, what kinds of things are stretching you in your life right now?

Let me know in the comments below!


Praying on the Spot

Maybe you’re like me and you have a hard time remembering things.  I’m horrible with dates, names, places, directions, and on and on.

In fact, I was so nervous that I would forget my wife’s birthday that I set it as my password for everything when we were dating.  Then I did the same thing with our anniversary date when we first got married.  (I have since changed it, so don’t try to log-in to my stuff!)

So it should come as no surprise that I almost never remember to pray for someone when I tell them I’m going to.


Praying on the Spot

So, in response to my poor memory, I started praying for people on the spot.  I began with my close friends and family.

Sure, it was a bit awkward at first, but once we all got used to it, things were great!

I then extended the “praying on the spot” circle to include other people in our church community.  That went well too.

But lately I’ve started praying for people I barely know, like cashiers and other people I run into in my daily life.

Well, as many of you already know, my wife and I are in the process of finalizing the adoption of our little boy Jude Myron.  Here’s an obligatory picture:


Jude Myron, posing for his newborn pics.

For part of Myron’s time in the hospital after he was born, he had to stay in the NICU’s nursery due to some particular adoption regulations.  Well, as you might imagine, we saw some tired and stressed out parents and family members in the NICU (which is short for neo-natal intensive care unit).

Praying in the Hospital

On one particular day a woman walked out of the NICU and it was clear that she was really shaken up.  She was sobbing as she walked by in her hospital-issued gown to go back to her labor recovery room.  My instincts were telling me to reach out to her, to console her, and to pray for her.

But I thought it would be awkward, her being in a gown and all.  So I let the moment slip by.

I saw her early the next day and she was with a friend.  They were chatting and things seemed better.  I naively thought, Well, I guess the worst times are behind her.  I felt okay about passing on the opportunity to pray for her the day before.

Then, later on that same day, I saw her exiting the NICU again.  She was in tears once more, but this time she was wearing street clothes.

All the excuses were gone.  Now was the time.  And since Myron was about to be discharged, I wasn’t going to get another opportunity.

As she approached the area where I was seated we made eye contact.  When she was right in front of me I finally gathered the courage to talk to her:

“Are you okay?”

“Not really.”

“I’m sorry.  How long does your baby have to be here?” I asked.

“Eight and a half more weeks,” she replied.

I knew at that point only one tiny drop of the pain she was feeling.  Myron had been in the NICU for three days and that felt horrible…and he was healthy.  My heart broke for her.

“I saw you the other day and I wanted to talk to you but I didn’t,” I said.

“Was I crying then too?”


“Sorry about that.”

“No.  Don’t be sorry,” I responded.  Then I paused for a second or two.  We were still making eye contact.  I knew that I was about to ask her if I could pray for her but I was scared.

“I know this might sound weird…but can I pray for you?”

“Sure,” she said as she brightened up ever-so-slightly.

I motioned her to move closer to me since there were half a dozen people in the waiting room.

“What’s your name?” I asked.  She told me.  “What’s your baby’s name?”  She shared that information with me too.

Then I offered my hand to her and she took it.  I paused, trying to gather my strength, and I prayed.

I simply offered a prayer for her recovery and the health of her child.  I had a really hard time holding it together though.

I finished praying and I looked up and we shared a nice little moment together.  She then told me some more of her story and how hard it was to have such a tiny baby.  I wished her the best and told her I would continue to pray for her.



For every one story like this that I have, I have twenty where I did nothing.  Praying for someone you don’t know can be difficult and weird.

But praying for a stranger can sometimes be the best missional ice breaker ever.

What’s the worst that could happen?  Someone could ask you not to pray for them?

The missional benefits outweigh the “risks.”

Praying for someone who is far from God can be the catalyst to put them on the path toward Jesus!


What do you think about praying for people on the spot?  Is praying in this manner difficult or weird for you?  Or do you find it easy and natural?


If you’d like to help us with our adoption finalization costs or if you want to read more of our adoption story, then please CLICK HERE.  Thanks!