Joey Sparks
7May/130

2 Things that Scare Me About Parenting and 1 That Destroys Them

So this is birth month for our first child, Hazel Grace. We're at maximum excitement and anxiety about the journey ahead.

Two things I've read scare me to death about bringing this precious girl into the world under my stewardship:

1. A girl's father is the most important person in her life.

2. Parenting is largely who you are and what you do as a person; not what you do or what you say as a parent.

Talk about pressure! The Lord created this beautiful soul and body inside Amanda's womb and he's entrusting her to my leadership (thankfully, with Amanda's help). And that leadership isn't as much something I learn from a book/lecture/class as it is an outgrowth of who I am as a person.

Not me & Hazel. She's not born yet.

Not me & Hazel. She's not born yet.

I am humbled the Lord trusts me and Amanda to raise Hazel to know him. But I also recognize his trust has little-to-nothing to do with my ability to earn or deserve it. I want to please the Lord more than anything, but boy do I fall short sometimes (cf. Rom. 3:23)! My laziness, fearfulness, apathy, complacency, anger, jealousy, and judging rise to the surface more often than my ability to control them.

So I'm a little anxious I'll raise a lazy, scared, disinterested, entitled, mad, jealous, judgmental little girl. Overreaction? Possibly. But I still have doubts about my ability to consistently be the man of God she needs in her life.

But there's one statement that continues to blow up these doubts.

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:10)

Paul had every reason to believe he was unworthy to preach the gospel and serve as an apostle. But he recognized God's loving mercy and grace allowed him and empowered him to do just that.

I am so thankful Jesus came to extend God's grace over my sin. And I'm thankful that as I grow daily in His grace, my daughter can see not how great I am, but how awesome God is.

While I want to be the perfect dad for Hazel, I'm thankful that she gets to see the perfect Father working through an imperfect one. And that she can learn she has the same hope in Him.

22Nov/110

Amanda’s Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

  • 1 box Butter Cake Mix
  • 1 small box chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Canola/Vegetable Oil
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 6 oz chocolate chips 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease and lightly dust bundt pan with flour
  3. Mix first 7 ingredients until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick is clean when inserted in center of cake.

James tells us, "Count it all joy...when you meet trials of various kinds." It's difficult to "label" tough times, tragedies, and discouragement as anything that's good. Yet James tells us to consider those opportunities as "joy."

Though difficult, he does not expect us to do something this extreme without any assurance about future results. In fact, the very reason he says we should "count it all joy" is that we "know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness" (Jas 1:3). He points to the foundational principle that testing and proving our faith will always lead to strengthening it into faith that lasts. He then instructs Christians to, "let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (Jas 1:4).

http://flic.kr/p/GjwLz

http://flic.kr/p/GjwLz

We can know with certainty about the connection between trials and steadfastness, but we must let it take place. This is the second of James' imperative statements in this letter; yet it is one that we must allow to happen in our own lives. We can't force it to happen. We can't fast forward to a time where it's already happened. We can't negotiate the length of time in which it happens. We can't eliminate the pain accompanied with the trial itself while it happens. But we can--and James says we must--target our attitudes in a godly direction because of our conviction and the assurance that it does happen.

Enduring trials will never be easy. They rarely, if ever, taste good on their own. We must continually mix them with healthy attitudes and heavy doses of God's promises. Then, despite our skepticism and short-sightedness, we must allow the oven of time, faith, and God's providence to deliver the sweet steadfastness of trusting Him. Delicious.

15Jun/090

Weekend One Thing

I had a great day Saturday with Amanda. We went to the Pepper Place market in Birmingham & scored some green tomatoes, jalapenos, corn, peaches, plums, cheddar cheese, Gouda cheese, and some huge blackberries. We also fixed an awesome meal together: steaks with Gouda on top, fried green tomatoes with corn & jalapeno relish, corn on the cob, and peach ice cream with fresh peaches and fresh blackberry syrup.

Here's the one thing I'll remember from the weekend: nothing is more special (or important) for a husband and wife than spending time together--and to do so alone. Free Saturdays (or any other day of the week) come at a premium during the summer for Youth Ministers, so it was great to enjoy it with my best friend and closest companion.