Favorite Tweets from May

These are three of the guys that I was blessed to coach on the Allendale-Fairfax Tigers football team. As you can see, they received numerous awards at the athletic banquet.

A couple of days after this picture was taken, Quendrell (left) won the state in the 110m hurdles, You'shi (middle) got second place in the state in the 800m, and Brandon (right) won the state in the triple jump.

They also excel in the classroom and were great all-around leaders. As my family's own season (of living in Allendale) comes to a close, I reflect with fondness at the great things we were able to be a part of here.

I love to look back on great moments. Here a some inspiring ideas from the past month:

From Others:

@JimThompson777There are two slopes on either side of pure obedience, wrong motive w/ right action and right motive w/ wrong action. I'm scared of both.

@BackRowBaptistHelp others avoid the Osteen Kool-Aid by wearing this shirt:

@DOMoore04God is using students to build his church. Awesome to watch.

@PaulTrippIf you convince yourself that you're independently wise you'll devalue the stunning wisdom that spills across the pages of Scripture.

@LifeLimitsIt's great to be happy, but it's even better to bring happiness to others.

@JonAcuffTrying to have it all is the best way to ensure you won't enjoy any of it.

@AllProDad"A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society." - Billy Graham

@Gospel_Project"For Christians, the Sabbath means we rest in and remember the gospel." -

@billfowlerman:  How sad it is that the US senate leader thinks a football team name (redskins) is morally wrong, but killing children is morally ok? 

From Me:

2nd meeting with leaders from a church, looking to get involved & build relationships in .

Sent a replacement phone by . But their instructions were wrong, & I cracked the case. Now they say warranty is void.

"The goal isn't to have good, moral kids. The goal is to have kids who worship." Bill Fowler (

Congrats to the 2 Track State Champs from , & a few others who placed in the top 3 in their events.

"Parents have to work hard to build a Christ-centered home & not a kid-centered home."  

Do you agree? "The breast-feeding push seems to be rampant on Facebook these days."  

"There are no formulas with God. So there are no formulas for the man who follows him. God is a Person, not a doctrine."  

Helping Your Child Prepare for Camp

Last year my son Elijah participated in three camps -- 2 sleep-away and 1 day camp. He had a great time.

At one of the camps, I found out afterwards that he had a troubling incident. I was concerned and defensive, and ready to pull the plug on future camp experiences for him. But after several conversations with him and another parent (who shared his perspective and wisdom), I saw that I was being too hasty.

More than anything, we saw these camps as opportunities for my son to grow and deal with real-life situations, all under the protection of trained and trusted leaders.

Are your children going to summer camp this year? You can help them get the most of their experience by following these three principles: talk, connect, and equip.

Want to learn more? Check out my guest post, 3 Simple Ways to Prepare Your Child for Summer Camp, on Doctor Joe Says.

Related Links:

Response to "Breastfeeding Isn't Everything"

I didn't intend last week's article about breastfeeding to encourage and find support with so many moms. I hope you know that I'm not a typical "mom blogger" who fills your screen with flowery images and "you're so wonderful" encouragements.

But you ARE wonderful. Really.

I had a number of responses through Facebook, some public comments and some private messages. All were from women (no surprise there). The most obvious comment was,

It's interesting that YOU are writing about this. :)

Tell me about it.

My favorite was an old friend, who wrote this:
THANK YOU! As an adoptive mom, who never got the opportunity to "make my child smarter, etc" through breast milk. . . . Thank you! I am happy for those who get to breast feed, but for me and all those who are unable to breast feed for myriad of reasons, this does not mean that our children will be emotionally and cognitively damaged because of this singular factor. 

There are many reasons people are the way they are. The breast-feeding push seems to be rampant on Facebook these days with pictures of mom's breastfeeding on a nearly daily basis. 

By the way, I would have breastfed if I could have so I don't have a beef with it in general. I just have a problem when it is put in pictures and in media over and over again as evidence of superior parenting.

Since we have entered the world of Facebook after our kids were babies, I'm glad I've been spared images and propaganda on this matter. 

The purpose of this post wasn't about breastfeeding or not, but just the unfounded claims that breastfeeding makes kids smarter. Here's another response I received:
Thank you for this post, I have formula fed babies by choice...and the reactions I get for this are pretty interesting, really I think it translates to some as: "I smoke two packs of cigarettes while I feed them Tennessee Honey Whiskey straight from their bottle". But I am BIG on reading. Read to your children!
Or even more humorously, 
I was formula fed, & I am practically a genius.

But honestly, I wish I had gotten some feedback from the other side. Anyone out there want to add another comment? 

Raising Disciples in 3 Steps

From Matt Blackwell, on Verge Network:
"Parents have to work hard to build a Christ-centered home and not a kid-centered home, because a kid-centered home produces self-centered adults. Parents have to constantly strive to take their kids out of the center of the family and remind them that Christ is the center."

Taking cues from Deuteronomy 6:5-9, Blackwell highlights three sequential steps in discipling our children:
  1. On your hearts:  "As a parent your first step in making disciples of your kids is to be a disciple."
  2. Impress them on your children:  This involves both discipline ("A parent’s role, especially a Father, is not to crush his children but to cultivate them.") and delight ("Parents, you are to rejoice in and delight in the blessing of your kids today, not in some future version of them.")
  3. Talk about them:  "Don’t let discipleship be isolated to Sundays, but let it be a natural part of your day."

Be sure to read the full article, 3 Steps to Raising Disciples.

Related Links:
**image courtesy of Kodiak1 via RGBstock.com

Breastfeeding Isn't Everything. Yeah, I Said That.

First of all, let me point out how amazing it is that I can even write the word breastfeed without utter embarrassment. For a man, that only happens after he gets married and has kids.

Breastfeed. Breastfeed. Breastfeed.

Oh, dear. I wonder what Google's search algorithms will think of this post.

Moving on . . .

Proponents of breastfeeding (there I go again) make a case for the numerous benefits of bre... nursing. It has been shown to have numerous health benefits for both the baby and the mother.

Additionally, many studies also show a connection between breastfeeding (sigh) and future cognitive growth, even to the point of improving your social class. So, nursing your baby will make him smarter, right?

No. Not necessarily.

Breast Milk Is Not the Deciding Factor

It turns out that it is not the act of breastfeeding (....) that helps a baby's cognitive development. What makes the difference are two other actions:
  1. Responding to the child's emotional cues.
  2. Reading to children as early as 9 months of age.
Researcher Ben Gibbs says that breastfeeding mothers tend to do both of these things, more so than mothers who use infant formula.

Responding to a baby's emotional needs helps release "positive" hormones like serotonin and reduce "harsher" ones like cortisone. (This is a topic I discovered and wrote about in Cuddling Is Good for Your Child's Brain.)

You might think that reading to a young child doesn't matter, since he or she doesn't understand complex language. But even a young age, children pay attention to conversations. Reading to a child (even a baby) exposes him or her to a wide and deep vocabulary. (This is a topic I learned more about in The Read-Aloud Handbook, by Jim Trelease.)

How to Support Young Mothers

Of course, I am not making the case that identical nourishment is provided by mother's milk and infant formula. I think the health benefits are real. (But we must also be careful that we don't denigrate mothers who do not breastfeed.)

I'm just saying that we need to be careful what conclusions we jump to when a correlation is found. Also, if we want to help young parents, encourage them in the importance of nurturing and reading to their babies.

Note: Here are some responses I received.

Related Links:

Power in the Absence of Words

In the first part (Power in Words), I outlined three areas that my son and I struggle in our speech: Boasting, Correcting, and Tricking. Here are the last two areas: Manipulating and Ignoring.


"Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person."  Colossians 4:6
Is there any more of annoying sound than a child whining? Probably – an adult whining.

And that’s the point of parenting. We are not raising children as much as we are building future men and women. It is much easier to teach, correct, rebuke, and train them when they are young, then them having to unlearn negative behaviors when they are older. And certainly, this is much better than them dealing with the effects of a lifetime of anti-social behavior.

Most kids (and adults, me included) tend to manipulate others through pouting and whining, instead of using words and conversation And we train kids to do this when we give in to their emotional manipulation. I think we are all guilty of that.

But what’s often harder is when children learn to manipulate passive-aggressively. I joked about this when my older son “let” his brother have the sleeper sofa when we stayed in a hotel. To him, the end (“everyone was happy”) justified the means (self-serving manipulation).

But instead of asking his brother to switch beds, my older son made himself look selfless and loving to his brother. Yes, the result was good, but the method was self-centered, not others-centered.

Another example of passive manipulation is when we are play games that simultaneously require cooperation and competition (our latest favorite is Settlers of Catan). My son will work to get other players to work against each other, but then claim that he is trying to help. And all the while, he claims innocence and gets upset when people work against him (which is another form of emotional manipulation).

There is nothing wrong with asking for things, or especially with doing good things. However, we must ask and do for the right reasons (to glorify God and to bless others), instead of elevating and benefiting ourselves.


"A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity."  Proverbs 17:17

So, I’ve given four ways that my son (and, sigh, I) hurt others and dishonor God with the things we say. But we can damage our relationships just as much when we avoid communication. (Sometimes manipulation can be a former of non-communication, too.)

I think of when he is playing with his brother, and the other one is saying something or asking. This son continues to play, while maybe giving short answers (usually “no”). Instead, he needs to stop what he’s doing (esp if you are playing video games or with Legos), and look at the person.

By continuing with his task (what he wants to do), he is not showing love to others. Or, he may get frustrated and walk away from the other person. He needs to use words to pursue and engage others.

To ignore or to walk away is what we call being passive, which is the core sin of all men. We men would rather not deal with an issue than spend the emotional energy to engage people. I do the same things, and I need to get better at that, too. (After all, if you ask my kids to imitate me, all of them will pretend to type on a laptop and ignore people around me.)

The Core Issue: Pride  

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves."  Philippians 2:3

When it comes to how my son (and all of us) misuse our speech, the core issue is about pride and control. When I boast, correct, trick, manipulate, or ignore someone, I am exerting power over them.

It’s not about being right, and it’s definitely not about helping someone. It’s about elevating myself above them, and closer to God’s level.

That’s why the sins of the tongue are so dangerous, because we are proclaiming (actively or passively) that we are like God. That was the original sin of Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-14), and that was the original sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3).

So why do I make this a big deal with my son, and why am I sharing it with you? Because it’s a big deal to God. I love my son, as God loves me, and I don’t want him to fall into the same pattern of sin (and the ensuing damage) as I have.
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works."  Hebrews 10:24

I Must Lead, I Must Change 

As I disciple my children, I must remember to do it in the context of the gospel. I don’t want to lead my son towards moralism, where he says or does the “right” things to please me or to try to earn favor with God.

I want to lead my son towards Jesus, and to a Spirit-empowered, life-changing relationship with his Creator and Savior.

Even more, I must remember to walk side-by-side with him. He must know that I am a sinner in need of grace, just like him. (For more on this topic, check out this Parenting Conversation.) When I see the sins of my children, it reminds me of my own sin.
"For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God."  James 3:7-9

Related Links:

**image courtesy of ilco via Free Images

Power in Words

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, 
And those who love it will eat its fruit.”  Proverbs18:21

One of my sons has a struggle with his tongue. While he is typically respectful and kind, he tends to say things that he shouldn’t, or not say things when he should.

If you know me well, you know that he is Just Like Me in this way, and we struggle with other similar issues. And because I’ve seen the damage in my own life – or, more specifically, in my relationships with others – I need to be diligent to engage him in this area.

Five areas that I’ve seen him use his tongue in damaging ways are: Boasting, Correcting, Tricking, Manipulating, and Ignoring.


“Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.  I Corinthians 8:1 
All parents think their children are geniuses, right? I get that. But this child is especially smart. And in my sneaky pride, I can slip in a humblebrag -- about he is like me in this area, too.

Being smart is not the problem. The problem is that he knows he is smart, and that’s our fault. We’ve told him that over and over. (We should have been praising him for his hard work, strategies, and persistence, instead of praising him for his God-given talents. But that’s another blog for another day.)

He has lots of knowledge, but he needs to know that love is more precious than knowledge. I tell him that he will most likely struggle with the pride of knowledge his entire life. I tell him that he gets it honest, from me.

To counter this, he has to humbly realize that any skills are gifts from God. Additionally, he must diligently try to not make others feel inferior because of his greater knowledge. These are similar to the pieces of advice that Pele’s father gave him:
  1. remember you have a gift from God,
  2. respect other, and
  3. work hard (be a steward of your gift).
"Let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth."  Jeremiah 9:24 


"You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."  Matthew7:5
Similar to the sin of boasting, my son also has a tendency to correct others. Sometimes when I point this out to him, he explains that he’s trying to help others.

That may be true in some instances, but, as I explain to him, he needs to examine his motivations for why he is correcting. When the pattern is that he corrects repeatedly and incessantly (recently, I had to warn and rebuke him three times in a span of less than 10 minutes), I am sure that he is not pausing to question his own heart before he speaks.

Furthermore, there are times when he “corrects” but his facts are flat-out wrong. I explain that not only could he be hurting others with how he corrects, but he looks foolish in doing so when he’s not right.

How are we working on this? Even how we phrase our correction makes a difference. Instead of stating a fact, it sounds more winsome and humble to say, “I think . . . .” There are other ways to genuinely help someone, without coming across as a know-it-all (although you wouldn't learn that by watching me).

And another way that his heart is revealed in this area is how he responds to my correction. He needs to receive my (or my wife’s, or anyone else’s) correction with humility. Often, he tries to cope by making jokes or playing it off, making light of our instruction and correction. Instead, he needs to respond by turning to the gospel of grace and mercy, finding satisfaction and life in Jesus alone.
"A wise son accepts his father's discipline, 
But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke."  Proverbs 13:1 

Tricking and Joking  

"Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death
is the man who deceives his neighbor 
and says, 'I am only joking!'"  Proverbs 26:18-19
And speaking of joking . . . this is yet another issue that my son has inherited from me. You’d think I’d be writing this blog post about myself. But that stings too much.

I’m not proud of it, but sometimes I think that sarcasm is my love language. (I should repent, but joking about it is so much easier.)

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good joke, and I love that my children love humor. So, I’m not concerned with the action, but the patterns and the motivations behind the joking and tricking.

Here’s the issue: Our words have value. But if we waste them, they are worth less and less.

Let’s have fun, but not at the constant expense of others. Instead of always joking about others, there is value in my son (and most of us) having a healthy dose of self-depreciation. If your humor is always at the expense of others, that probably shows the depth of pride in your heart. (The same can be said if your humor is always at your own expense, but that's also another blog post for another day.)

Don’t let our speech grow worthless. The pattern of our speech does not need to be us being funny and having the last word.

More to Come . . . No Joking 

I think I’ve given us enough to digest for a day or two. At the least, I need to consider these words for my own life. Come back for the next post, where I will cover the last two areas of damaging speech, plus explain the core issue behind it all.

**image courtesy of ilco via Free Images

A Capital Trip

April was a busy month, capped by a week-long vacation for our family, including 5 days in Washington, DC. It was our kids' first visit to our nation's capital, and the first time for Joanna and I in 30 years. Because they have been learning about American history, this was a perfect time to visit the history museums and memorials.

We were blessed to stay with friends, who live just 40 miles outside the city. (Of course, in that traffic 40 miles means a 2-hour commute, at least.) They have 3 daughters, whom our kids enjoyed getting to know and playing with. I wish we had more time to be with them, but I wore us out cramming in as many activities as possible!

What We Did 

You may get worn our just reading our daily itinerary:
  • Wednesday:
    • Drove to Virginia, taking the western route up I-81. It was a beautiful drive through the mountains and Shenandoah Valley.
    • Took a 1-hour detour to drive through West Virginia, to help Elijah meet his goal of visiting 25 states by the time he's 20 years old.
    • Arrived at our friends' home at 7 PM, after 11.5 hours of driving and stops. 
  • Thursday: 
    • Because of traffic accidents along I-66, it took us over an hour to drive 15 miles to the nearest Metro station, and then we took the Metro train into the city (another 30 minutes). 
    • After a quick lunch (in the food court area of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center), we were off to the Mall! (Much to Hannah's disappointment, there were no stores at this mall.)
    • Museum of Natural History. Otherwise known as the "Museum where evolution is mentioned in 99.9% of the exhibits." (I didn't see that word near the Hope Diamond, but I may have just missed it.)
    • Walked the Mall to see the main memorials, and passed the Washington Monument (it re-opens next weekend). The kids were anxious to see the war memorials, and we spent time at each of these memorials: WWII, Vietnam War, Lincoln, Korean War
    • PS -- The Reflecting Pool isn't so reflecting.
    • Spent 1 hour at the Museum of American History, until it closed at 5:30 PM.
    • Took over 2 hours to get back to our friends' home.
  • Friday: 
    • Got an earlier start, thanks to leaving earlier and no major traffic incidents. We were able to get tickets for an afternoon tour of the Federal Bureau of Engraving, before making it for the opening of the Museum of Natural History. We spent another 2.5 hours there, including about 90 minutes just in the warfare section. 
    • After a quick lunch (PB&Js and snacks), we went to the Holocaust Museum. It was very well done, and our kids saw the children's area and the main part. (Contrary to what we read, I don't think it was too much for kids. It was less graphic than I expected.) The overall theme was: "There were lots of people around: some helped the Jews, some hurt the Jews, and some just watched and did nothing. Let's not ever do nothing again."
    • Tour of the Federal Bureau of Engraving, where we saw some of the $1.5 billion per day being printed. Amazing. 
    • Spent a quick hour at the Air and Space Museum on the Mall. We were tired, but enjoyed seeing the planes and spacecraft.
    • Then, another 2-hour commute home.
  • Saturday: 
    • Slept in a little, but still got to the National Zoo before 10 AM. Spent 5 hours there (more walking, and more of me carrying Sender). We got to the panda exhibit early, and got some great views of the baby panda climbing the tree. We saw lots of other great exhibits (gorillas, lions, etc), but we skipped some. By 3 PM, were were "zooed-out" and we figured that we could see most of the animals in other places.
    • Drove to Baltimore (Inner Harbor area), to walk around and to meet my Uncle, Aunt, and cousins for dinner. They drove down from NJ to meet us! (Note: This trip made Maryland the 11th state Elijah has been to.)
    • Drove back to our house. The 90-minute drive on the interstate was amazingly crowded, even at 10 PM on a Saturday night.
  • Sunday:  
    • Thanks to our friends who hosted us (he works for the Secret Service), we were able to go on a Garden Tour of the White House. And with one flash of the agent's badge, we also got to cut through part of the line. Connections!
    • Took the Metro over to Arlington National Cemetery. It was more of an emotional experience for me than I expected -- just looking at the unending diagonals of tombstones, of men who served our country. We walked around some, but mostly focused on JFK's grave and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. (We got there just 1 minute before the changing of the guard.)
    • Took the Metro back to the city, and got off in the business district. Walked past Ford's Theatre, and the house where Lincoln died. The downtown area was definitely a different feel than the political and museum-filled Mall area.
    • Met my cousin at her office, where she is a top-notch (and humble) architect. (Her office building is right next to the White House, so close that they can often see the snipers on the roof of the White House.) She gave us a tour of her building. For all 3 of our kids who love drawing, they were fascinated.
    • Headed over to see my cousin's townhome (you do not want to know what she and her roommate pay in rent). Then we all went to dinner at a yummy Tapas restaurant that she recommended.
    • Back to our friends' home. No rush hour traffic on Sunday nights!
  • Monday:
    • Said good-bye and packed up.
    • Went to the other Air and Space Museum, at Dulles Airport. This one has lots of planes and spacecraft, including the space shuttle Discovery! The kids all enjoyed the variety of planes, although we were completely worn out after 2 more hours on our feet!
    • Lunch (Moe's Monday!), and then on the road, to a hotel in Fayetteville, NC.
    • We picked this hotel because it had an indoor pool. But . . . the heater to the pool and whirpool was broken. But . . . I talked the hotel into covering the cost of breakfast (not normally included at a Hilton Garden Inn). Thank you, Hilton brand, for your 100% satisfaction guarantee!
  • Tuesday: 
    • Slept in, worked out, ate a great breakfast, and were back on the road. 
    • One last major stop was at South of the Border. The kids couldn't figure out what the point was, but then it was fun. Our 15-minute stop and photo-taking was quite enough.
    • We were so glad to get home in mid-afternoon!

Homeschool Assignment at Its Most Fun?

When we got back home, each of our children had to make a "brochure" based on what they enjoyed in DC. Check them out! (Click on the images for a larger version, or Contact Me if you want it as a pdf.)

Note: I was informed that these brochures are rough drafts. I'll work on getting final versions.

From Hannah:

From Elijah:

From Sender: 

More Pictures

See below for some of our favorite pictures. And if you want, check out some other photos on this FB album.

Hope Diamond

At the Holocaust Museum and Memorial

 Baby panda climbing a tree

My cute zoo critters!

In downtown DC

Related Links:

Favorite Tweets from April

Mr. & Mrs. Xavier Moses
Pfew. It's been another busy month. This time it was:
  • my mission trip to Eleuthera      
  • my wife and I attending an out-of-town wedding for two teachers from Allendale (yes, they sang their vows to each other)
  • a week of Elevate Spring Break Camp    
  • a family vacation in Washington, DC    

It's good to be back home in Allendale.

Yet, with our upcoming move this summer, we know that this won't be home for long. If only we knew where our next home will be!

Instead of worrying about the future, let's look back and celebrate a great month. Here are some of my favorite thoughts from the past month, in 140 characters or less.

From Others:

@artofmanlinessActual experts usually don't refer to themselves as experts.

@VergeNetwork“Mission is only fueled and sustained by joy.”

@PaulTrippGrace meets the hopeless with arms of encouragement. It infuses now with the sure hope of eternity.

@mitchmillermeThank God salvation is not by obtained by my works.

@andiebeth76:  "I wonder how many people I've looked at all my life and never seen"--John

@JohnLuce:  "How does God treat enemies? Rather than killing them, he gives his son to die for them." - Richard Hays  

@PlattDavid:  From the moment you wake to the moment you sleep, see how the cross affects every detail of your day:

@TimKellerNYCJesus wants your obedience over your sacrifice. In other words he wants you, not what you have to offer.

@MacNattie:  Prince Caspian: I do not think I am ready to be King, sir.  Aslan: It's for that very reason, I know you are. 

@BackRowBaptist:  I think the title of "First" Baptist Church should be earned in a softball tournament.

Me (@EspinosaJoey)

Reading "Cannery Row." I forgot how much I love .

You do NOT have the spiritual gift of hospitality.

"To know that hell is so horrible & that its punishment never ends gives us greater thankfulness for the gospel." Bruce Ware,  

We're thankful for the families are traveling to this week to participate in our camp!

I just strummed my (in rhythm, surprisingly) to "I'll Fly Away," while my wife sang along. This could be the start of something...