benhoak has written 247 posts for BenHoak's Old Blog

Why We Foster

We are merchants of hope. That is our currency, whether it ends up being six months’ worth or a lifetime supply. As kids, you need hope that a better life is possible. Hope that you’ll have parents who will be there for you. Hope that you’ll have a decent meal, and then another one and another after that. Hope that you’ll get out of the crib, out of the corner, out of the dark room. Hope that the yelling will stop. Hope that you’ll get to touch the grass, look at the trees, laugh at the moon hanging low on a warm summer evening while fireflies dance through the night. Hope that you’ll be heard. Hope that your parents will change. Hope that if they don’t, you can overcome genetics. Hope that this sadness is not forever. Hope that you someone will wrap their arms around you and hold you close. Hope that you’ll find a different way than the drugs and the alcohol and the selfishness and the parade of guys through your mom’s bed. Hope that someone will pick you up when you fall. Hope for boundaries that really just mean someone cares. Hope that there’s more to this life than just this life. Hope that keeps hoping, beyond all reason, beyond all sight. Hope that hung on a cross and took your pain and sin and sadness and brokenness and made it new. Hope that will never end …


Two pieces that complement each other. Carl Trueman is spot-on about Christians trying to fit into today’s world, and well, my dad is also spot-on about “the new normal” we find ourselves living in. Same point, well-made from two different angles.

This paragraph is brilliant from Trueman:

You really do kid only yourselves if you think you can be an orthodox Christian and be at the same time cool enough and hip enough to cut it in the wider world. Frankly, in a couple of years it will not matter how much urban ink you sport, how much fair trade coffee you drink, how many craft brews you can name, how much urban gibberish you spout, how many art house movies you can find that redeemer figure in, and how much money you divert from gospel preaching to social justice: maintaining biblical sexual ethics will be the equivalent in our culture of being a white supremacist.

My dad:

What we desperately need is not a “new normal.”  We need an unashamed return to the biblical values that helped to shape this country long ago.  We need a return to God as Redeemer – the God who can take a renegade, broken-down culture and heal it, put it back together, and restore a God-designed normalcy.  We need a return to the truth that actually sets people free – free from the tyranny of sin whether that sin is pride, selfishness, greed or homosexuality.

Amen and amen.

Links: Miscellaneous

Several great things that I at least want to be able to find again:

– Been listening to podcasts of TED Talks. Some pretty cool stuff by a lot of creative people. Love this one by Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts. She argues that while society and school and workplaces seem to value extroverts more, it’s really introverts who provide the creative spark that we need.

Introverts get their stimulation from being alone and able to think by themselves, she says, not from being around other people so much. Really good stuff. Made me want to go hide in one of these cabins with a bunch of books because, yes, I am an introvert deep down inside.

How to pitch an article to a major magazine.

– Quick way to stay updated on sports news: www.quickish.com. Fantastic.



LOTD: Acting Human

– Great advice from James Lipton, host of Inside the Actor’s Studio, for Mitt Romney on how to improve his image — how to “act human.” Anyone who watches Romney for any length of time knows that he just doesn’t look comfortable a lot of the time. Probably because he’s trying not to look like he’s worth billions while he really has no idea how to pull that off. So what to do?

As worthy as the real Romney may be, he is not, has never been, and never will be the common man, and when he assumes the role in a crowd, his evident discomfort tells us that this guy doesn’t fly coach, much less go Greyhound, and, without the demands of “running for office,” wouldn’t be spending much time with these people who do …

So, for what it’s worth, my advice to Mr. Romney is this: Since the evidence indicates that you lack the skills to simulate what you’re not, you should stick to typecasting and go with what you’ve got and who you are. It’s not just your best option, sir, it’s your only one.

– This is from a couple of months ago, but these are fantastic photos of Alaska’s Iditarod sled race from The Big Picture.


Because … (a glimpse into life with five kids)

A glimpse into life with five children …


Because I needed to finish something up at work, I was delayed a few minutes getting home.

Because I was late, my lovely wife Kelsey left five kids (ages 7, 4, 2, 2 and 1 — the first three are biological sons, the last two are foster girls) alone in the backyard for a few minutes so she could start dinner.

Because I hadn’t yet put together the new deck box we bought to replace the old plastic bin that holds outside toys, a few inches of dirty rainwater were just sitting in the bottom of the bin (the lid doesn’t work so well) waiting to be used.

Because they were alone, the three youngest children (boy and two girls) decided to dump the waiting rainwater into the sand table that had just a few minutes before been lovingly cleaned and filled with new replacement sand that surprisingly enough we actually had in the garage.

Because water and dirt make mud, and because children enjoy mud, when I walked in the door from work, I found a frustrated mama, two older kids being perfectly agreeable and three younger kids with mud and sand on their shirts, shoes, hands, faces and hair. Mud and water were also all over the back patio and muddy toys near and far.

Because mama was cooking dinner and had taken care of the cherubs all day, I got clean-up duty. Because kids don’t like to stop playing in the mud just because you don’t like that they are dirty, it took a few minutes to wrangle them away from the dirt.

Because dirt in the house is a bad thing, I stripped them down to their diapers and pulled out the hose. Worked pretty well for Gabe. Because hose water is cold, and because she’s probably never had a hose-shower before, Lily (19 months), was decidedly not a fan of the hose and made her displeasure loudly known.

Because a kid was screaming, I wrapped her up in a towel and herded them all up to the bathtub. Because a boy and two girls in the tub together might not be the best thing in the world, I washed the two girls first, dried and diapered them and then washed Gabe.

Because the two girls decided to slam doors (after I specifically told them not to), one of them hurt her finger just before I put a pull-up on Gabe after the bath.

Because I aborted the pull-up mission to tend to the finger, Gabe was still in his birthday suit when I heard this: “Dad, I peed!”

Because I put my head in my hands at the news of pee soaking into the carpet, Nevaeh (2 ½), put her arms around my neck and hugged me. That was pretty sweet.

Because Gabe then went to the potty to pee some more, I got some clothes out for the kids while he did so.

Because I was not in the bathroom, I walked in a minute later to see both girls standing directly in front of the potty, peering curiously at naked Gabe as he relieved himself. So much for avoiding questionable boy-girl interaction.

Because I’m paralyzed by all the female clothes choices, my wife gave me specific directions about what to pick out for them to wear.

Because I finally got them all dressed, we got to eat dinner.

Because we got to eat dinner, we were all happy. Because we were happy, it all feels worth it.

But because of grace, even when we don’t feel happy – yeah, it’s still worth it.


LOTD: Parenting

Good piece from the WSJ on “oversharenting” — the phenomenon of parents putting everything their kids do online, often to just say their kid is cuter than yours. Some parents even set up fake online accounts in their kid’s name, hijacking their identity.

There’s a line between beneficial use of fabulous tools and abuse of them. As the author writes, “I’m torn between wanting to offer my son a tabula rasa, and tapping the efficient, frictionless nature of digital tools to share him with our family and friends.”

Good read — and good reminder not to put too much of our lives online. It’s best lived in real life.

– Great post on Desiring God about motherhood, written in honor of Mother’s Day yesterday: Motherhood is Application. Love this line:

Every day we fight against disorder, filth, starvation, and lawlessness, and some days we might almost succeed.

She goes on to make the point that even in the moments when you feel like pulling your hair out, when there’s not time for Gospel presentation, we have to do Gospel application — “The gospel is not too big to fit into little situations. It is too big not to.”

Kowloon Walled City

In my world, KWC usually stands for Kentucky Wesleyan College, where I went to school and now work. Because I’m responsible for online communications, I get Google alerts every day for KWC. You’d be surprised at the number of groups who use KWC as an acronym: Karoake World Championships, Kids With Candy, etc.

One such group is the band Kowloon Walled City. Apparently, there really was a Kowloon Walled City — a series of more than 300 interconnected high rise buildings in Hong Kong. Once thought to be the most densely populated place on earth (50,000 people in a few blocks), it was demolished in the early ’90s.

Photos of the place are absolutely fascinating. A couple of photographers spent five years there, capturing the crowded life of more than 33,000 families and businesses. A couple photos below, but check out the link for much more detail — it’s remarkable how these people lived.

Get the full story and more photos here.

LOTD: Catching Up

Been a while. Adding two kids to your household will do that. But here’s some good stuff from the last little while:

– Why do I love Twitter, you ask? Here’s just one of many reasons: where else is a starting MLB pitcher going to find a random cancer survivor to play catch with on his off day? Seriously. It happened.

– John Calvin on providence and impatience. Need to remember this more. (HT: Kevin DeYoung):

If there is no more effective remedy for anger and impatience, he has surely benefited greatly who has so learned to meditate upon God’s providence that he can always recall his mind to this point: the Lord has willed it; therefore it must be borne, not only because one may not contend against it, but also because he wills nothing but what is just and expedient.

To sum this up: when we are unjustly wounded by men, let us overlook their wickedness (which would but worsen our pain and sharpen our minds to revenge), remember to mount up to God, and learn to believe for certain that whatever our enemy has wickedly committed against us was permitted and sent by God’s just dispensation. (Institutes1.17.8)

– Now a quote from Kevin DeYoung himself. Need more of this too — I tend to linger too long over decisions. Sometimes you just gotta make a choice and go:

Obsessing over the future is not how God wants us to live because showing us the future is not God’s way. His way is to speak to us in the Scriptures and transform us by the renewing of our minds. His way is not a crystal ball. His way is wisdom. We should stop looking for God to reveal the future to us and remove all risk from our lives. We should start looking to God-His character and His promises-and thereby have confidence to take risks for His name’s sake. – from Just Do Something

Interesting story on the sinking of the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy last January. Author gets some good behind-the-scenes details.

How the NFL schedule gets made. It’s more complicated than you might think.

Long story (I have yet to read it all) by Chris Jones about Robert Caro, who has spend most of his life writing a biography of LBJ (that’s President Lyndon Baines Johnson, not LeBron James). Gets into great details about his writing process. If you’ve never read him, Chris Jones is really good, btw.

– One more quote, this one from Nancy Pearcey, who I got to sit under for a few lectures in 2003 at WJI. I want to raise my kids to be able to think like this:

Generations of churched youngsters have been encouraged to shore up their religious commitment by sheer will power, closing their eyes and ears to contrary ideas. This explains why so many churches are full of people who are closed-minded, dogmatic, harsh and judgmental. Only people who understand that Christianity is true to the real world are capable of the relaxed confidence that allows them to be open, patient, and loving toward those who differ from them.


–  Great, great writing from Steve Rushin, best known for his work at SI, in this profile of the man in charge of the Boston Marathon. Rushin has a way with words, and the lead alone is worth the price of admission. Fantastic opening.

– Huh. Who would have guessed that living together first actually hurts couples who later get married? People are starting to get the idea that cohabiting doesn’t work. (Are you really going to enjoy marriage more if you’ve already had all the benefits with none of the commitment?)

– More great writing from new Pulitzer Prize winner Eli Sanders on the bravest woman in Seattle.

Top Ten Table Tennis Shots of 2011. Unbelievable.

– And since I keep talking about great writing, here are seven tips on how to write well. My favorite is number five:

The meaning of life is all in verbs. If you emphasize verbs, you emphasize action. If you emphasize action, you have to emphasize people. If you emphasize people, you will have drama. If you have drama, you’ll have interest. And if you have interest, you’ll have the reader.


LOTD: Bubba, parenting boys and Luther was a blogger?

Some great stories the last couple days:

Fantastic column from Joe Posnanski on Bubba Watson winning the Masters. Talks about why we love, watch and write about sports. Just a sample:

It feels like the rest of the entertainment world has been trying for years to express the immediacy of sports, to capture what it is about these games that captures us. What, after all, are reality TV shows except an effort to reproduce the drama and unexpected turns of sports? Cooking shows try to be like sports. Televised poker tries to be like sports. Movies try twist endings to surprise us the way sports can and do. Those questions — Will he or won’t he? Can she or can’t she? Victory or defeat? — will startle and thrill and frustrate us forever. This is why I love writing about games.

Plus he gets major bonus points for not one, but two Princess Bride references.

This additional SI coverage of Bubba is great as well. Love that he bought the General Lee from the old show The Dukes of Hazzard.

– Good advice on how to parent boys from The Resurgence.

– Martin Luther was a blogger? The Reformation was fueled by social media? Well, yeah, according to The Economist.