Sunday, January 31, 2010

En Vivo #s 1 and 2 - Disciples and Identity

[The main event of our week here at El Pozo is what we call El Pozo “En Vivo” (which means El Pozo “Live!”), our Tuesday night all-community Bible study. It typically comes complete with preaching, music, videos, skits, free food, the whole deal. After each En Vivo, I hope to blog briefly about the night – what we taught, how it went, etc. Enjoy.]

En Vivo #s 1 and 2 – Spring 2010 – Disciples and their Questions…

Okay, so we’ve had two En Vivos and a third is fast-approaching and I have yet to do my usual blog recap. Here is a special double edition.

En Vivo #1 – Disciples - January 19th

The first three fourths of the semester or so, we’ll be doing one long series based on QUESTIONS. Specifically, we’ll be looking at the questions people asked Jesus and how they reveal the questions that we have for Jesus today. Mostly, we’ll be looking at questions asked of Jesus by his disciples, so week one we took a look at who Jesus’ original 12 disciples, or apostles, were. After beginning with Matthew 4:18-22, I pulled out three questions that I thought were particularly relevant for our community to focus on for the first talk of the semester.

Question #1: “What is a disciple?”

When I asked my interns what came to mind when I said the word “disciple”, Mario made me laugh with his answer: “beards and tunics”. I wonder if that wasn’t a very insightful answer, though, and thought it might be important to start with a little context about 1st Century Palestine and the Jewish culture in which Jesus operated. Having recently seen “Dust”, one of Rob Bell’s Nooma videos, I simply passed along the great info that he shares in that film. Check it out sometime.

Next I made the following points: A disciple is a FOLLOWER/IMITATOR. I did not show, but did mention, the scene from “Elf” in which Buddy goes to work dressed just like his dad, following him around and imitating his every move. A Jewish disciple didn’t just want to know what his rabbi knew, he wanted to be exactly like his rabbi in every way and do things exactly as his rabbi did them.

A disciple is a LEARNER. I showed this classic photo of my brother and me – and feel free, by the way, to join the caption contest currently happening among the Oakley side of my family:

My point here is that early in life, my little bro, like every little bro, was constantly watching me and learning from my every move. Learning what to do and what not to do. In a way, younger siblings are great examples of disciples. Following and learning and imitating.

I also thought it worth mentioning that we always talk about the discipleS – plural. Jesus’ disciples were a group, and we never do the faith life alone. Jesus’ strategy for changing the world was to invest in his band of followers, particularly investing deeply in 12 of them, and investing even more intensely in three in particular.

Our second question was “Who were these guys – Jesus’ disciples? What do we know about them and what does it mean for us today?” I guess that is two questions but you get the gist.

Here I did a very quick overview of what we know about each of the 12. Then I talked about several interesting characteristics of Jesus’ guys, including…

They were mostly … well … rednecks. Roughnecks. Fishermen. Working-class folks. Rejects. Not good enough in school to become disciples of any other rabbis. One was a tax collector, hated as a traitor by his own people. Etc. Yet although they were a mostly uneducated and certainly not a favored, privileged group in their society, by joining with Jesus they became heroes, did amazing things, and changed the history of the whole world.

They were very YOUNG. This was the one fact that jumped out at me most during my study leading up to the talk. It was something I knew, but it impacted me anew. These guys were mostly TEENAGERS when Jesus called them to be his disciples!!! Which becomes an even more powerful point when considering that my audience for this talk was mostly a bunch of kids between 18 and 24 years old! To illustrate this, I asked them what images come to mind when they think of St. Peter, St. Matthew, the disciples of Jesus, etc. I showed these examples of some of the typical images:

Then, I pointed out that at the time of their calling, Jesus’ disciples probably looked much more like these guys:

Another important characteristic of Jesus’ disciples is that the ACCEPTED the call. IMMEDIATELY they left their nets and boats and families and followed him. Here I used some fun examples with some of our students – one who loves basketball, one who’s a designer, one who studies economics. Now just exactly how fast do you think they would drop everything if Lebron James, Steve Jobs, and Carlos Slim walked into the room and offered the chance to go with them? I think they would go IMMEDIATELY! This was how the disciples felt, and how they responded, when Jesus invited them to go with him, using the words of a Jewish rabbi – “Come with me”. Only it was even more important, because it was something eternal!

Here I issued a warning that I feel like I say all the time, and that I’ll keep saying until the cows come home  Be careful with the typical college mentality which can be summed up something like this: “Later”. Later I’ll get serious about my faith. When I graduate. When I get married. When I have kids. For now I want to have fun. The day before En Vivo #1 I saw a commercial for a new TV show with Edie Falco – the one where she’s a nurse – and she said “Make me good, God … but not yet.” I think that’s a perfect summary how a lot of college students feel. They are scared to commit to God because they feel like it means having to miss out on their youth and fun and adventure and experiencing life. This is a lie, of course, but a very tempting one. And it’s a slippery slope. Of course Jesus offers unlimited chances and there is no expiration date on the invitation to follow him. But I have seen too many people put off their faith decisions for so long that by never deciding they did indeed decide. I have seen others slip into destructive habits that turned into addictions that built high, strong walls between them and God. I’ve seen so many just drift eeeeever so slowly into materialism and self-centeredness. Anyway, this paragraph is much longer than this section of the talk was. I reminded them of the words of one of my favorite theologians – guy by the name of Bob Dylan – who once said “Everybody serves somebody.” The question, then, becomes who or what am I serving now, and who or what will I serve in the years to come?

The third and final question for the night was: “What is up with the ‘fishers of men’ thing? What the heck does that mean, anyway?”

Here I had two students do that dance where one person acts like he or she is casting a line and reeling the other one in. I said that Jesus took the disciples to a club and taught them that dance. Then I said just kidding, because while Jesus certainly WAS among the party people of his day, we have no evidence that they ever danced that fish dance. Haha.

But seriously, to me the fishers of men thing boils down to one word: PURPOSE. Here I talked about the difference between “vocation” and “occupation”. Occupation is activity – job, profession, pastime. Vocation, from the Latin “vocare” which means “to call”, is about the REASON and the POINT behind the activity. The Christian understanding is simple: As followers of Christ, we all have different occupations, but only one shared vocation.

Here I asked our students to at least be open to being called by God into full-time ministry, but also recognized the fact that most of them will be professionals in something other than ministry in the years to come. I reminded them that we came to work next to UDLAP, not at a Bible college or seminary, on purpose. I reminded them of the purpose of El Pozo – to change the world – and of HOW we intend to do that – by making MORE and BETTER disciples of Jesus in this place.

I ended the talk with three images. The first image was this one of my brother and me:

Notice how we stand side by side. That’s because years ago he quit being my disciple and made the excellent decision to be a disciple of Jesus. I shared a story about how God is working in his life and how God is always faithful to care for His children in surprising and wonderful ways.

Second I showed a photo of Emily (See my blog from Jan. 12th.) along with these words from her caringbridge site when she passed away:
“Emily passed away just before 1AM. She went peacefully and without pain.
Emily lived and loved more in 26 years than a lot of people live in 80. She lived for Christ and now she is resting with him.
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.’ - John 14:1-3”
Three verses later, Jesus called himself the way, the truth, and the life. I talked about how Emily’s life, while shorter than expected, was abundant and full and meaningful. I talked about her joy and her purpose and her hope. Emily truly was – is – one of the finest examples of a disciple of Jesus I’ve ever known.

Finally, I showed this image:

A guy covered with dust. In the aforementioned Nooma video, Bell talks about a saying that developed among the 1st Century Jews – a blessing – “May you be covered with the dust of your rabbi.” I concluded with these words (well, their Spanish translation), followed by a prayer:

Disciples of Jesus… Christ lives and he invites you and me into a relationship that is just that close, that intimate. Just as he did 2000 years ago, Christ calls to us and says “Come follow me.” He is looking not just for some kind of vague “believers” whose lives really aren’t impacted or changed, but instead he seeks FOLLOWERS, DISCIPLES.

Disciples of Jesus… Their questions are our questions. True for you whether you’re a follower or not. All invited to join us as we walk with Jesus from Xmas to Easter and listen to the questions that people asked him…

Disciples of Jesus… God has chosen YOU. Called YOU. You are good enough. Christ looks you in the eyes, challenges you, and calls you. So the important question now is: How will you respond?


En Vivo #2 - Identity - January 26th

The second talk of the semester was given by someone who is our newest staff member but has been a part of this community for quite a while now – Miss Kami Burns. We are so glad to have Kami here. She has brought a ton of energy and great ideas and love for students, and she’s dived right into life and relationships on our staff. And we threw her right into the deep end with our week 1 Pozomida talk and week 2 En Vivo talk. She did great. Here’s my summary of her En Vivo talk, on the topic of Identity:

Started with a clip from “Slumdog Millionaire” in which the game show host is making fun of Jamal for being a “chaiwalla” – a poor kid from the slums. Then Kami threw out some of the typical stereotypes that surround us. You’re a Mexican? Oh so that means you’re a Roman Catholic, right? You are often at the Casa Verde? Oh so you are a Christian, right? You’re an American? Oh so you just came to Mexico to have fun and party, right? The point, of course, is “Not necessarily…”

Then Kami talked about her own identity a little bit. Who is Kami Burns? What defines her? Maybe she should be defined by her hometown – Whitesburg, GA – a town of 500 (or roughly the same number of people who live in one of the four dorm buildings on UDLAP’s campus). Here are some photos from Whitesburg:
The water tower:

One of the four restaurants:

The store:

The baseball card shop:

And my favorite: The bank. Kami joked that to rob the Whitesburg bank there is no need to break in. Just hitch it to your truck and take it with you!

So maybe Kami should be defined as a redneck because she’s from Whitesburg. Or maybe not. Maybe she should be defined as really really smart because she’s a graduate of Georgia Tech? Or maybe not. She works at El Pozo, so of course she’s a Christian. But what does a Christian look like? Here she showed several images alongside that question. Kami is an American, but what does that mean? Here she showed an image of Disney’s Pocahontas, pointing out how little they have in common… Kami’s last name is Burns, so maybe that is what should define her. Here she showed this picture:

Kami went on to tell more fun stories about her family origins and mom’s maiden name (Musick), making the point that there are many ways to try to define ourselves – hometown, family, school, job, wealth, success, girlfriend/boyfriend or lack thereof … but in the end none of those really succeed at defining a person.

Here Kami read the night’s main Scriptures – Matthew 13:54-57 and John 1:45-46. Jesus was rejected in his hometown. Later, when one of his disciples, Philip, went to another guy named Nathanael to tell him about Jesus, Nathanael said “Isn’t he from Nazareth? How could anything good – much less the Messiah – come from that Podunk place???” Nazareth, by the way, was even smaller than Whitesburg.

Kami reminded the students of Jesus’ bio at the time: From a nothing town. Born to an unwed mother. Brother of four guys and ??? gals. Carpenter. Friend of “sinners”. Breaker of sacred traditions. Accused of telling lies about God. Accused of not having any power. Dead.

But did any of those things ultimately define him? Of course not!

Kami talked about how she used to define herself based on who she was dating and how her friends noticed a change in her when he broke up with her. Because she saw herself as ugly, undesirable, no fun. She shared with the students how on January 6th (Three Kings Day), when I asked each of the staff what they were going to hand over to Baby Jesus this year, Kami said she was giving him her identity. She said “This year, only God gets to tell me who I am.” She said I’m not how much money I make, or how many times my cell phone rings each day, or what others say about me (good or bad)…

She told the students that likewise they are not defined by who their friends are (also mentioning how lame it is to change who you are and how you act depending on who you are with at a particular time); nor by their grade point average (Several people cheered here.); nor school or major or boyfriend or girlfriend or number of championships won or number of Twitter followers or what people say about them!

Jamal Malik didn’t allow himself to be defined just as a chaiwalla, and Jesus Christ was not defined by what others said about him, and especially not by his death on the cross! Here we see the power in the story of Philip and Nathanel. When Nathanael doubted what Philip was saying about Jesus, Philip wisely answered “Come and see.” And Nathanael did, and he was convinced, and he was added to that group of the original 12. And that was Kami’s message to the students, too: COME AND SEE. See for yourself. Check Jesus out for real, maybe for the first time in your life. Then decide.

Jesus’ identity was based only in the fact that he was the SON OF GOD. And guess what? Our identity should be based only in this one thing as well – we are children of God! Our real, true identity is not based in our perspective, or our emotions, or what we do. It’s not based in our sins, or past, or our weaknesses.

God says this to YOU and to me:
* You’re beautiful. – He is captivated by your beauty! – Psalm 45:11
* It’s not about success. – “God never called me to be successful. He called me to be faithful.” – Mother Teresa
* You are LOVED by God. – 1 John 3:1

At every major El Pozo event, we hand out nametags. So this talk ended in a very cool way: Each person, as they walked out the back door, received a new nametag that said…




In case you are wondering what El Pozo is doing to help in Haiti, here it is. A couple of weeks ago, the Carlos Slim Foundation said that they would match any donations given via text message toward Haiti relief. (Carlos Slim owns the major Mexican cellular company, TelCel.) So by texting 100, 200, 300, or 500 pesos, one actually donates twice that. My teammate Heath had the idea that El Pozo could also match donations given by our students, which would also then be doubled by the foundation, turning every peso our students donated into four pesos. We only announced this for about a week, because we're about to start fundraising activities for our annual house-building trip to Juarez, but during these last couple of weeks our students did give about about 1,500 pesos, which means that around $500 USD will be headed to those in need in Haiti thanks to El Pozo. Every little bit counts! And we love any opportunity to teach our students about giving and generosity.


Stay tuned for En Vivo #3 in which Mario the intern talks about the “rich young ruler” and the questions he had for Jesus, followed by two weeks with yours truly talking about PRAYER…

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hope Lost/Found by Ryan Kiesshauer

Yesterday morning at 6 A.M. I found myself on a bus to Mexico City wondering what the businessmen sitting all around me must be thinking, because there I was with my headphones on, just crying.

The reason for the tears was a happy one. I was listening for the first time to the final versions of some songs by a good friend of mine, Mr. Ryan Kiesshauer. I was just thanking God for Ryan and for the gift that his music is to so many.

Ryan's first album, entitled "Hope Lost/Found", is musically beautiful, lyrically excellent, and perfectly named. Hope does indeed spring forth throughout the 13 original tracks. I even have proof: I played the album for Erin today, her first hearing of it. Afterward, her very first comment to me was how HOPE seemed to be a major theme throughout. I said, "Hence the title". She said "Oh, what's the title?" So yeah, good choice for the name.

Ryan played and sang in my wedding. Some people may read that and roll their eyes and say "Big deal, Ryan has played in a lot of weddings". My answer to that is "Yeah but I only had one". An honor.

If you like good music, please Please PLEASE go to and purchase one to fifty of these CDs. Trust me when I tell you that you will not be disappointed, and that you are supporting a young artist who is more than worth the investment. Ryan's a great guy.



Thank you so much for sharing your music with the world. I know it is not an easy thing to put yourself out there in this way. Kudos to your courage and effort.

Also, thank you for the shout-out in the acknowledgements. I'm honored yet again.

Your music takes me to a higher place, bro. And your lyrics ooze with all of the best things - things like hope and love and grace and truth and healing and awe and allegiance and the promises of Scripture. God is honored.

That line you wrote for Fisher in "You Are Never Really Gone" just destroys me every time I hear it. Thanks for keeping his memory that much more alive in this way.

"Bethany's Song" is wonderful. I cannot imagine a better gift to give to your bride. I admit to being very jealous that you are able to do this. (Sorry Erin... At least I can play this song for you now. And by "play" I mean "press play".)

I'm sorry I broke your guitar back in the day. And thanks for handling that with such grace. The fact that I broke Ryan Kiesshauer's guitar will forever be, to me, a reminder of God's grace - how He and only He can take our stupid and clumsy mistakes and still make beautiful music out of our lives.

And last but not least, it is my sincere hope and prayer that my "rabid fandom" be always encouraging and never annoying to you! Whenever there's an official fan club, I'm running for president.

Much love. As always, I'm looking forward to catching up with you and Bethany sometime soon. At Henry's perhaps?

En Cristo,


P.S. Hey Ryan, in case you were wondering, here's what I'd like for you to give me for my birthday and Christmas and Three Kings' Day, etc., for the next decade or two: I would like for you to eventually record all four of the songs you sang at the McDade/Edwards wedding. I'm sure you're not busy these days, so if you could get right to work on that... Pop quiz: Do you (or anyone else out there) remember which songs they were?...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Baby Update - 21 January 2010

Hey everybody! Here's the latest on Miss Elsa Lynne McDade.

It seems that our little girl just loves to laugh and have a good time. These days she's VERY into laughing, and to her parents it's the cutest and sweetest sound in the world. Some of the things that get her most excited are swinging, jumping up and down, and being chased around the room by Mommy.

She's discovering her feet. Occasionally tries to put them in her mouth. Mostly just grabs 'em. Loves to stick them straight up in the air when she's laying on her back. Also, they are ticklish.

She's paying a lot more attention to Lucho (the cat) these days. That is to say, she's actually acknowledging his existence.

Still favoring Mommy, but also having plenty of sweet times with Daddy. She's also recognizing other people she sees regularly, such as Elsa (the Elder), who has been watching her several hours a week. She gets a big 'ol smile on her face when she sees people she knows. And this is a great sign that Elsa H. is doing a great job as babysitter.

All signs point to the beginning of the teething process. Erin would appreciate some extra prayers for the painful days to come!

Still not starting her on the solid food, even though the books say that most babies have done so by now. She's healthy, growing, and satisfied with the breast milk, so we're rolling with that as long as possible. It's so healthy for her!

New and diverse sounds are coming from her mouth these days. Talking Elsa talk - can't wait until they are words we can understand! But enjoying the jibberish stage, which will end all too soon I'm sure.

CANNOT BELIEVE that nearly five months have passed since Elsa's birth!!!! Wow. It sure has flown by.

Looking forward to the second visit by Grandpa Kim and Grandma Lynne in just one week! They were here for the first two weeks of Elsa's life, so she has certainly grown and changed a great deal since they last held her.

Here are a few recent photos!

Looking like the Gorton's Fisherman's kid in a yellow knit outfit given by Yuyo's grandma (made by her friend).

This pink thing was huge for us during the several very cold weeks we had here recently.




Hanging with Tamara the trilingual dragon.

Sporting another Grandma (Buckner) hat.

Laughing it up.

Flipper Slippers.


Feet in the air.

Thanks as always for the love and prayers.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Emily Piper McGill

A good friend of ours and one of the saints who helped create El Pozo passed away yesterday morning. Here's my favorite photo of Emily Piper McGill, along with what I wrote yesterday morning to go out to our students in our weekly email, La Ola:

January 11, 2010

Hey Pozo Nation!

I wanted to let you all know about something important that happened today. This morning at about 1 A.M., a good friend of mine named Emily Piper McGill passed away. Most of you probably don’t know Emily, but she HAS actually played a role in your life, because Emily was one of the very first El Pozo exchange students. She came here in the Spring of 2005 to help start this ministry, and she liked it so much that she came back for the Fall semester, too.

Not long after she left Mexico, Emily was diagnosed with brain cancer. Many of us prayed a lot, Emily was very brave, and her first surgery was a great success. The cancer was gone. Then, about a week ago, it came back, and on a part of her brain that made surgery too risky. She was given six weeks to live, and didn’t make it that long. Emily was 26 years old.

So why do I mention Emily to you guys? Because it is at times like this when “the rubber meets the road” for people of faith. When a doctor says “It’s cancer”, when life and youth no longer seem to stretch out endlessly before us, when a friend dies; THIS is when we decide what we really believe.

Here’s what I believe: I believe that the way Emily lived her life was the right way to live. I believe that Emily’s soul is not dead, only her body. She’s got a new, heavenly body now. I believe that she is with Jesus now, with her Creator, and that she is in a better place. I believe that she no longer feels pain or fear or worry or sadness. I hold onto these things in times like this. I hold onto HOPE.

This semester in the Casa Verde we are going to talk, as always, about what it means to follow Jesus. Emily followed Jesus. She put her faith in him, lived for him, and shined his light. And now she is reaping the reward of that life well-lived.

I will always remember Emily’s joy. When I picture her, I picture her one of two ways. The first is laughing, enjoying life with her friends. The second is sitting and talking with an intense look on her face, incredibly focused on the person in front of her, listening, caring, investing, LOVING. Now Emily’s joy continues into eternity. I thank God that my path crossed with Emily’s and that I was blessed to be influenced by her. And I look forward to sharing that joy – the joy of Christ – with all of you in this new year. Emily’s spirit lives on in this place, because Emily was a conduit for the Spirit of our God, who is Love.

What do YOU believe? I pray that Emily’s passing motivates you to take a deeper look at your own faith this semester. And as always you are welcome to do that among friends here at El Pozo. Come as you are, come to learn, come with an open heart and open mind. Because all of this God and Jesus stuff really do MATTER. I am reminded of that on this bittersweet day.

Much love,



11 de Enero de 2010

¡Hola Pozonación!

Les quiero hablar de algo importante que acaba de pasar. Hoy a la una de la mañana falleció una amiga mía. Su nombre es Emily Piper McGill, y aunque la mayoría de ustedes no la conocieron, ella de hecho SÍ ha tomado un papel en tu vida. Porque Emily estuvo en el primerísimo grupo de intercambios dEl Pozo. Vino aquí en la primavera de 2005 para ayudar a comenzar esta comunidad, y le gustó México tanto que regresó para el semestre del otoño también.

Después de regresar a los EUA, Emily fue diagnosticada con cáncer del cerebro. Muchos de nosotros oramos mucho, Emily fue muy valiente, y su primera cirugía fue un gran éxito. Se quedó sin cáncer. Pero luego, hace una semana, el cáncer regresó, y en un lugar en el cerebro que hizo que operarla no fuera la opción. Le dijeron que tal vez viviría seis semanas más y solo vivió una; ella tenía 26 años.

Entonces ¿por qué menciono Emily aquí en La Ola? Porque momentos como este son “el momento de la verdad” para personas de fe. Cuando el doctor te dice “Es cáncer”, cuando ya no parece que la vida y la juventud se extienden sin fin ante ti, cuando se muere un amigo; ESTOS son los momentos en los cuales decidimos lo que realmente creemos.

Aquí es lo que yo creo: Creo que la forma en la cual Emily vivió su vida fue la forma correcta de vivir. Creo que el alma de Emily sigue vivo – solo murió su cuerpo, y ahora tiene un cuerpo nuevo y celestial. Creo que Emily está ahora con Jesús, con su Creador, y en un mejor lugar. Creo que ya no se siente dolor ni miedo ni preocupación ni tristeza. Me aferro a estas cosas en momentos como este. Me aferro a la ESPERANZA.

Este semestre en la Casa Verde vamos a hablar, como siempre, acerca de lo que significa seguir a Jesús. Emily seguía a Jesús. Ponía su fe en él, vivía por él, y brillaba su luz. Y ahora está cosechando la recompensa de una vida bien vivida.

Siempre me acordaré del gozo de Emily. Cuando me la imagino, la veo en dos imágenes. La primera es Emily riéndose, disfrutando de la vida con sus amigos y la segunda es Emily sentada, hablando con una cara intensa, increíblemente enfocada en la persona delante de ella, escuchando, invirtiendo, AMANDO. Ahora el gozo de Emily continúa en la eternidad. Yo le doy gracias a Dios por permitir que mi camino cruzara con el de Emily y que yo fuera influido por ella. Y espero con ansia todos los momentos que vienen en este año nuevo en los cuales compartiremos ese gozo. El espíritu de Emily sigue vivo aquí, porque Emily fue un conducto para el Espíritu de nuestro Dios, quien es Amor.

¿Qué crees TÚ? Mi oración es que el fallecimiento de Emily te motiva a echar un vistazo mucho más profundo a tu propia fe en 2010. Y como siempre estás más que invitado a explorar estas cosas entre amigos aquí en El Pozo. Ven tal como y donde estás, ven a aprender, y ven con un corazón y mente abierto. Porque todas esas cosas de Dios y Jesús realmente IMPORTAN. Me acuerdo de este hecho hoy en este día agridulce para mi y todos los amigos creyentes de Emily.

Con mucho amor,


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Baby Update - Happy New Year!!!

Hey everybody - Happy New Year! I hope the Oughts finished up well and that the Tens or the Teens or whatever we'll call them are kicking off nicely for you and yours. One last thought for 2009:
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss
Amen and amen.

Now down to business - this is a baby update. Elsa Lynne photos, demanded and provided. That said, here's a thought about kids:
"Songs are like kids; you don't know if they're any good until you try 'em out on other people; everybody likes their own." - Arlo Guthrie
So true.

Next I want to share with y'all a poem that I wrote. But first I must say that I am more than a little shy about this. I don't often write poetry and when I do it's very personal and emotional. In fact the main reason I'm posting this is because I know so few people read this blog and most of those who do already love me unconditionally! So anyway, as you read the words that follow, know that I do not claim to be a good poet; I only claim to be a daddy totally, helplessly in love with my little girl. I wrote these words on the first day of 2010 after spending a few magical moments just snuggling, staring at each other, and smiling back and forth with Elsa. Erin was off taking her shower, and as I watched Elsa look at her own fingers and toes with wonder and curiosity I experienced one of those moments where the emotion of it all just hit me like a Mack truck. Everything she does, even crying, is just so beautiful and innocent and new. At times like that I am just so filled with love. And those same times are so incredibly hard to describe. This poem is a faltering attempt. Enjoy.

Eyes meet eyes
My words poor to describe
Precious space and time
Study hands brand new
You move, I am moved
Then you smile
It takes me high
I am yours, you are mine
Even when you cry
Forgive my delight
Spark of the divine
Daddy’s heart devastated
And elated
At what Father has created
Experience and bright innocence
Differently we cry
Intimately we smile
We fly
Through space and time
Holy, sublime
Yours and mine
Just for a while
Helpless daddy, precious child
When eyes meet eyes

Now on to the photos...

I'm sure this goes without saying, but playing with a Scottish highland cow is exhausting.

Holding daddy's hand, or finger, as it were, helps her fall asleep when she's upset. She keeps gripping even while sleeping.

Beef stroganoff - daddy's favorite.

Riding in the sling, position 1.

Riding in the sling, position 2.

Tail fin.

Two peas in a pod.

The next few photos are exclusive insider images of Elsa Lynne's workout routine at My Gym.

Trampoline. Feeling the burn.

This counts as both swimming and playing ball. Double workout - intense.

Baby pilates.

Swing. Favorite.

Christmas morning, complete with fresh OJ and sausage balls.

New PJs, oh yeah.

Lucho demanding some attention. He has performed valiantly in the face of a drastic loss of attention during the past four months.

Mommy love.

Important McDade Christmas tradition: Viewing of "Elf".


Elsa sandwich.

Saying something very important.

At Yuyo's favorite restaurant. Elsa has a knack for making friends everywhere we go.


With Sherbert the bear, nighttime snuggle buddy.

Ringing in the new year with Yuyo and Brittan.

Snuggle time.

Awake and still snuggling. Check out the slobber spot on daddy's shoulder.

With buddy Brittan.

Cheesin' for Yuyo's mom.

Hat by Grandma, dress by Kami, leggings by Mommy, Bumbo seat by Coopers.

First bus trip. 4 AM, headed to the US Embassy in Mexico City. This is a little scary and requires the holding of multiple parental hands.

Excited at officially becoming an American!

"Oh beautiful, for spacious skies..."

Even if she weren't growing out of it, I would officially retire this GT outfit. While very cute, it is absolutely not helpful for winning football games. First time she wore it - loss to UGA. Second time - loss in Orange Bowl AND bball loss to UGA on same day. Argh.

Hanging with Sherbert.

Much love, people! Please pray for Elsita and her mom and dad and for the ministry of El Pozo as we begin another semester!