Category Archives: Family

Back Home: Death in a Coal Mine

I was saddened this week to read about a young man getting killed in an accident at a coal mine in my home county back in southern Illinois. It brought back memories for me. When most people think about coal mines, they usually think about West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. I’ve learned that many people don’t realize that southern Illinois has one of the richest coal mining veins in the United States.

I can remember as a young boy going to spend the night at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house and Grandpa coming home from finishing the 2nd shift. He’d wake me up so I could join him for a midnight snack in the kitchen: Pringles and a bottle of cold Mountain Dew.

My Grandpa is in the middle.
My Grandpa is in the middle. Grandpa would shower before our “midnight snack” in the kitchen.

I also remember in grade school getting news of a classmate’s Dad being killed in the mine. One of my Dad’s best buddies had his face crushed in mine accident. Several surgeries were required to reconstruct his face. One of my best friends spent several weeks in a hospital recuperating after nearly dying in a coal mining accident.

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Book Review: Family-Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham, Jr.

I don’t recall when I first heard of Voddie Baucham but we did have the privilege of seeing him live at the Desiring God National Conference in Minneapolis back in 2006. During that same timeframe I called him and talked with him about twenty-five minutes. He was gracious and I recall our conversation went very well. What I cannot recall is why I called him in the first place!

I started reading his first book, The Ever-Loving Truth, but did not finish it, which is nothing new in my world. This book, Family-Driven Faith, which I purchased through the Amazon Kindle Store and read over three devices (my iPad, my iPhone, and my wife’s Kindle Fire), was more engaging to me because of my interest in the subject matter. Two areas of interest drove me to read this book: (1) how to do a better job as the spiritual leader of my home and (2) how to more effectively lead our church to equip parents in discipling their children. Family-Driven Faith is the only book I have ever read that that I can recall addresses these two issues, and Baucham does so boldly and directly.

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Ben Phillips on Modesty

One of my good longtime friends, Ben Phillips, is my guest for this post. He recently penned this excellent piece on modesty. Ben is currently serving as the Family Ministry Team Leader at the Arkansas Baptist Convention. 

Modest Choices by Ben Phillips

Gaze at the TV, view a hit music video, examine a magazine, saunter through the mall, (dare I say enter a sanctuary?) and it’s easy to observe that modesty is not the fashion trend in today’s American culture.  A 2007 report by the American Psychological Association on the sexualization of girls reveals the negative consequences of this pervasive societal drift.

As a father of a teenage daughter and two sons, I’ve wrestled with this issue from a biblical perspective.  One writer quotes, “modesty is more about the heart than the hemline.”  In order to apprehend modesty correctly, one must inform the heart with Scripture.

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Our First Garden

My wife and I have taken a stab at growing tomatoes beside our house a couple of times in our marriage. We succeeded in Kentucky. We failed in Florida. Not long after we built our house here in Florida, we decided to plant a lemon tree. In seven years, we have had one season of a decent harvest, getting 18 lemons off the tree.

This year we decided to plant a garden. We did it because I somehow heard about square foot gardening. So for my birthday, my dear wife got me a couple of easy-to-construct garden boxes, and suddenly my intentions were void of excuses.

In less than two weeks, I had cleared a spot in the yard, removed the grass, laid down the weed fabric, constructed the garden boxes, and mixed and filled the soil (1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermeculite, and 1/3 compost). All that was left to do was lay the string to mark off the “square feet” and plant the seeds.

On the evening of Wednesday, April the 13th, we did just that. Below is a chart, showing what we planted, who planted, and when the book says we should expect a harvest. Chase did the calculations on the calendar, so we are trusting his 2nd grade homeschool education is a sufficient foundation for accuracy!

The Maragni Square Foot Garden

The kids loved the idea of planting a garden and stood there waiting to watch it grow in front of their eyes. At one point in the process, Lacey asked our five-year-old son, “Bryce, do you have a green thumb?” He pulled his right hand up, pointed upward with his dirty thumb, looked at it real good, and said with all seriousness, “No, it’s brown.”

Planting our First Garden

That evening for our family devotional time I read from 1 Corinthians 3:5-9:

5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers.”

We did our part by taking and applying what God has given: seeds, soil, wisdom to know how to plant them. Now we will water it. God will cause it to grow…we hope and pray.