Originally Written: May 2017
I’ve been working out every day. I remodeled the kitchen, dining room, living room and entry of our house. I have read 19 books and read through the whole New Testament. I could keep listing all that I have done, but I will spare you the details. It is amazing how busy one can be on sabbatical!
I recently spent three days alone on a retreat without my cell phone. I wanted to reflect on what God is teaching me. Two ideas emerged. First, I realized how easily I get sucked into doing things. When people ask, I’m tempted to tell them all I have accomplished. Fortunately, sabbatical hasn’t been all busyness; I have been able to slow down. For example, I have been at the bus stop nearly every day when the kids get home from school. My children don’t care what I have accomplished. They just want to see me. Similarly, my heavenly father also wants to see me. He cares about what I do, but he wants it to be an overflow from my time spent with him.
Secondly, I realized that I love my job and I am excited to get back to work. I had a lot of fun remodeling my house, but I realized that it does not provide the same reward as my job. In fact, it reminds of my calling to InterVarsity. 15 years ago I was graduating from college. I loved computers, but I would rather help someone encounter God’s amazing love for them. That is what brings me great joy.
Shortly before my last grandparent passed away, my siblings and I all traveled to see him.
It feels like death and suffering has surrounded me. Last spring, I watched my friends lose their 4-month-old. This spring it has intensified. A former student at UMD died on January 22, 2017 after a 15 month battle with colon cancer. My wife’s great aunt passed away on January 23, 2017. My last living grandparent passed away January 27, 2017. He was 95 years old. A pastor of the church that I attended in Duluth died unexpectedly at age 52 in a house fire. Another friend is facing terminal cancer. He has 6 kids. Through it all, I have been studying theology.
What does God have to say about death and suffering? Quite a lot. Jesus wept when Lazarus died. Thus, we can too. He talked about his own death and how he would suffer. Thus, he has experienced it himself. And in John 16:33 he said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
In his book, The Art of Dying: Living Fully into the Life to Come, Rob Moll writes “Good deaths, even the best of them, are terrible because they separate.” He also says that for the Christian “this life is only the prelude to an eternal life with Christ.”
In between studying and writing papers, I have been reflecting on my work. While reading part of Moll’s book, I thought about how my job prepares students for death. I help students meet Jesus. I help them learn to follow God in their daily lives. Because a life well lived for God is the best preparation for death.
Thanks for helping me prepare students for death.
Monday afternoon we arrived at my parents house for a visit with my parents and grandmother after Christmas. We were planning to travel home Wednesday afternoon to prepare to host a new year’s party at our house. Tuesday, Grandma stopped eating and drinking and when she went to bed that evening my dad and I had our final conversation with her. Wednesday she spoke her final words in the morning to my kids and she passed away Friday night. While it was a surprise how quickly it went, she was on hospice and it was expected to happen sometime. It just seemed to go quickly at the end.
Death has a way of helping us take time to reflect and give careful thought to our values. As I sat at my grandmother’s bedside I thought about Read more
The photo that sold our house
“You’re getting three offers on your house!” our realtor said over the phone. We couldn’t believe it!
Four weeks ago we decided we would list our house and if it sold we would move to Duluth. We listed the house Thursday. On Monday we had three showings and all three made an offer. Tuesday we compared offers and accepted an offer for more than our asking price!
Our realtor in Duluth said “that’s amazing – a friend of mine in Bemidji said the market is soft!” Read more
Sitting in Church this Sunday brought a wave of emotion. Singing the song, “In Christ Alone,” began to speak to me. As I sang the last verse I couldn’t hold in the emotion that was overcoming me. Sandi and I have recently experienced great joy and sorrow. We welcomed the birth of our son, Elam in to the world. During the same week, just a few days later we received the phone call that one of Sandi’s aunt’s that she is named after passed away. The final verse speaks, “from life’s first cry to final breath.” I couldn’t help but think about how God came down and experienced both of those events. He knows the joy of new life. He also knows the pain and sorrow of death.
This Christmas has given me time to think, reflect and pause for a moment. I have been letting Christmas speak to me. More realistically I have been letting God speak to me through his word and worship at my local church during this advent season. So what have I been learning? Read more
We jolted out of bed at 6:30am thinking that Sandi’s water had broken. It didn’t continue to leak, but we started monitoring regular contractions. 12 minutes in between each. So we called labor and delivery. Dropped off Calista at the Sommers and headed for the hospital. By 11am they told us that it was likely we would have a C-section. At about 11:40 it was for sure and happening at noon. It didn’t quite happen at noon, but at 12:42pm Elam Shelton Asker was born!
Announcement Site: https://asker.net/elam/
Baby Asker Two is on the way. We are expecting a December arrival. We recently got a recording of the heart beat. We put a webpage up with information regarding the due date and other vital statistics! Calista will be a big sister soon.
These days Calista does not go very long without letting us know something via one of her many sounds. It seems her favorite place to try these new sounds is the kitchen. So one day we put a video camera in front of her to capture the moments. Now you can enjoy the many sounds of Calista as she sits at the dinner table.
Calista is now six months old and she is sitting up on her own. She still falls down occasionally but she enjoys sitting upright. Recently I have been putting together some video’s to watch her playing and sitting. It sure is fun watching her grow up.
Last week we took Calista on a tour of the state of Minnesota. We traveled to Duluth, Minneapolis, Rochester and Austin before coming home. We had several firsts including the first visit to the cabin in Wisconsin and her first visit to the zoo. We had a lot of fun. Today was her four month checkup and she has now grown to 25 and 3/4 inches!