Luke 15

Posted by Max02 | | Posted On Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 4:13 PM
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So Katdish has a post going on about Luke chapter 15.

I read it and started to comment. However, when I was almost done with putting my completed thoughts down in the comment section, I realized what I had on my hands; I had a Bible commentary. She was very specific in what type of comment she wanted back, and a commentary on what we had just read was not among the list. So, sadly, I cut and pasted my thoughts out of the comments box.

But don't fret, gentle and not-so-gentle readers. For I have decided to post my thoughts here, where I'm free to do so at my own discretion.

Muhuhahahaha...

People tell me I have a rather diabolical laugh. (seriously, I laugh like that sometimes).

Anyways, here are my thoughts on Luke chapter 15.

Hey Kat,


I liked your post and challenge.


I read through it a few times. I actually looked it up in different translations to see if I could glean a little more out of their subtle, and not so subtle, changes in word use.


I think the first few verses really sum up the entire post...err...chapter.


God knows our hearts and minds. He, like Santa but MUCH cooler, knows if we're being bad or good; if we're being superficial, self-important, self-righteous hypocrites (harsh, but oh so true sometimes), or if we're being humble and meek with hearts of servants.


Something I find really cool is that, when Jesus taught, there were usually a group of "learned" people who thought themselves so much better than the "common" people. Such is the case here.


Jesus knows what the Pharisees were thinking. So he gave them something better to think about. I also think it's really cool that Jesus gave them, the Pharisees, a little gem, as well as the "regular" people around Him.

He used terms that people could grasp quickly. Shepherds know and love their animals. Their lives depend on their livestock. Of course a shepherd will rejoice when they've found that one lost sheep. Jesus then compares it to the joy in Heaven when someone who is "lost in sin" repents and gives their life to God. In the NLT it says there is more joy over a repentant sinner than for someone who has never strayed away, so I have to assume that He's talking about people who love God and live for Him already.


Jesus moves onto the next area people readily connect with, their money. This is simple math. 10 - 1 = 9, which is one less than ten. Some translations go on to say that one of those silver coins equaled a WHOLE DAY of wages. I don't care who you are or what you do for a living, nobody wants to lose a whole day of pay if they already worked for it. Imagine the relief associated with that. Jesus was saying the same relief, if not more, is felt in Heaven when someone is saved. The hard work done by God, Jesus, the angels, and other people is fulfilled when someone comes to Christ for the first time.


Then He finally hits home His whole point with the relational/emotional part. Imagine the loss of a loved one to the world. After spending your life teaching, encouraging, and training your child, they leave, they turn on you, they spit in your face and say, "My way is better." Ouch. Now, think of the shame, guilt, and fear if you are that lost person coming back to your family after realizing how stupid you were. Then add in the emotions and perspectives of the Father and brother. That's a lot of emotional baggage there.


The guilt and shame of the prodigal, the relief and love of the Father, and the confusion and bitterness of the brother are all emotions we can relate to.


Then and now "sinners" don't expect acceptance and love when they repent and apologize. They expect bitterness, anger, and punishment. But the grace shown by God and His people overwhelm them.


The Father is overjoyed to have His son back, His child, His beloved.


The brother, is a different matter. He got caught up in a little pity party of woe-is-me, maybe I should have sinned too. He doesn't realize how good he has it.


He thinks, I've been here this whole time and you've never celebrated me, and now he (the prodigal) comes back after blowing his money and you throw the biggest pachanga you can in such a short notice.


To this, the Father reminds him that he is no less loved. Quite the opposite, actually. He is just as much an owner of the land as his Father.


The way I see it, I believe the Father means to say that he never threw so much as a fajita barbecue for him because he never asked. And why didn't he ask? Probably because He never understood that when the inheritance was given out, he came into ownership of his part. Everything he could want lay before him. But, possibly blinded by his negativity toward his brother, he never realized this. I don't know for sure.


What it tells me, I think, is that I shouldn't get caught up in my own self-righteousness. I need to remember that people who are forgiven much are that much more thankful for what they've undeservedly received. I should be happy for them, rejoicing in the fact that they now have a home in Heaven, not bitter because I'm jealous that they got to live the so-called "good" life and NOW they're coming to God.


I need to be reminded, like the son that stayed at home, that I am a child of God, and everything He has to offer will be laid out for me if only I ask (and it lies within His will).


Sorry if I posted a novel, but that was my though progression, and you did ask for that, right? I hope this wasn't a Bible commentary...


Oh wait, it is. Dangitt.


Thanks for inspiring this post Katdish.

Ow

Posted by Max02 | Labels: , , | Posted On Friday, January 23, 2009 at 2:53 PM
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I hurt.










Don’t worry, it’s not really a “bad” kind of hurt. I hurt because my wife and I went back to the gym two days ago after MONTHS of delinquency.


What happened was, last year, we both got memberships at Gold’s Gym. I got mine first and then Leslie decided she wanted to get one too. This was quite a few months before we got engaged. I was working at another job at the time and had to get up ridiculously early in order to be at work by 8:30am. Since I was used to getting up that early, I decided to go to the gym in the morning. This routine was pretty much hit or miss. I made it just about as much as I didn’t. It got worse the later I started getting to sleep.


Now fast forward to when we got engaged. You’d think we’d be in the gym even more because of the new extracurricular activities we’d be able to engage in just a little down the line. Instead, we stopped going to the gym altogether. We were spending more and more time together, talking on the phone later, and getting less and less sleep, especially as we started planning the wedding and whatnot.


Now it’s 3 ½ months after the wedding and this is the third week since we decided to go back to the gym. This is actually our first time we’ve been back to the gym since our decision. Third time is a charm, I guess. We tried, fruitlessly, to wake up early in the morning and go before work. Yeah, that didn’t work out. So now we’re trying to go right after work on Monday’s, Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s.


Pray for us!


Ok, so we get to the gym, half an hour after work, and it’s pretty much packed; ugh. We find some open treadmills and start warming up. Leslie decides she wants to take a class, so she only jogs for a few minutes and then leaves when the class starts up. I stay on the treadmill and, being the exercise genius that I am, decide to run steady for 30 minutes. I don’t remember how many miles I went. I don’t remember what my average heart rate was. I don’t even remember what speed I was going at for most of the time. All I really remember is that I stared at the clock forever, willing it to go faster, and that, once I got off the blasted thing, I felt like the Bionic Man; kind of disorienting to walk on regular, non-moving ground after you get off a treadmill. There should be a sign or disclaimer or something! I’m just saying.


Anyways, so then I did some weights until Leslie got out of her class. We went home, made some food, watched the rest of American Idol, and went to sleep. Normal.


Two days later, I’ve developed a hatred for stairs, my muscles ache, I don’t know if I’ll be able to play guitar properly tonight, and I’m even more sore than I was yesterday.


Don’t get me wrong, I actually like being sore. It reminds me that I’ve been working out my muscles and that I’ve been active and that I’m still alive. Those are all very good things. What I don’t like is being so sore that I feel like I can’t lift my arms too high in fear of dropping whatever it is I’m holding in my hands. You know?


So this experience got me thinking of heaven a little bit. Weird, I know. How does exercise make one think of Heaven?


"And this reminds me rather of our Lord Jesus!" (300 pts. to whomever gets this reference first)


Ok, seriously, now. So, I’m going about my day, thinking about how sore I am, and then I wonder, “Will there be exercise in Heaven???” I mean, because we’re all going to be perfect when we get to Heaven, right? So, will we NEED to exercise when we get there? Will there be a local gym where all of us can go to relieve our spiritual stress? This also made me wonder what exactly God’s definition of perfect is. I’m fairly certain God has a completely different definition for perfect than we do. I mean, come on, He not only invented the word, but He also just so happens to BE perfect.


So yeah, what do you think about gyms in Heaven? Eric Clapton tells us there’ll be no tears in Heaven. What do you think of that? Will there be crying in Heaven?


Side note: I LOVE Whataburger (pronounced What-a-burger) ketchup. The burgers are great, too. If you haven’t had it, you’d better get in your car and start driving to the nearest one. I once e-mailed them and asked if I could purchase their ketchup in a larger sized container, but, alas, they do not market this wonderful product yet. I need to start a petition…


If there ARE gyms in Heaven, I'm sure they'll have weights made out of gold.


Barbecue, Banana Pudding and Scrabble

Posted by Max02 | Labels: , , | Posted On Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 8:38 PM
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After church today, Leslie and I came over to my parent's house. Okay, first off, let me just say that this weekend has been the most nervous times for me in a long while.

I'm the intern worship leader at my church, and, because of circumstances that have cropped up, I've had to lead more often than I'm used to on the actual weekend. I usually only need to lead the Friday night Recovery band. The times I have to do the whole weekend, Friday, Saturday (two services) and Sunday (another two services), I'm usually wiped out in a coma by the time I get home. This weekend is the third weekend in a row, so far. But that's not the reason I was so nervous. I was nervous because I was co-leading with our Small Groups Pastor (who sings and play guitar as well), we were adding lots of different elements to the "usual" set, and because I was going to be singing a song that's rather high at one pivotal point.

It went really well, by the way. The first song, A Thousand Hallelujahs, by Mark Roach, was good. That was the one that made me the most nervous (because of the high notes at the end of the bridge). Then we did No One Like You, by The David Crowder Band. That was the first time we've done that song with the "big" church. We used to do it a long time ago when I was with the High School Band, but I think it went over really well with the adults (the band really liked it too). Then we sat the people down, Randy (the co-leader guy) started playing Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone), by Chris Tomlin, and I read a scripture lead in. That was kind of nerve wrecking also. I'm not really used to speaking in front of people. Ask me to sing for hundreds of people and I'm fine. Ask me to say something and I get rather anxious. Randy led that song by himself because it's way too high for me to sing well. But we switched it up at the end and I sang the last verse. It was awesome, if I don't say so myself. I sang it real soft and smooth. It was cool. Then we did Here I Am to Worship with Call, by Hillsong. That went really nice too. Somebody came up to pray, and then we ended with Trading My Sorrows, by Darrell Evans (I think).

All in all, it was a really great set. It went over well with the church, the band liked it, I had fun, and it glorified God. That equals a great set in my book.

Okay, back to the original reason for this post...

Barbecue, banana pudding, and Scrabble.

My brother, who some of you know was stabbed recently, is still here at my parent's house, recuperating. I called him up after church to see what he was up to and he said they were gonna watch the game and barbecue. Leslie and I were so in; we were starving! We met my mom at the store, picked up some grub, and headed over. We had fajitas, sausages, chicken, Mexican rice, guacamole, ranch style beans with bacon and fajitas mixed in, and other assorted snacks. It was beautimous! My stomach was thankful. I also made some of my famous banana pudding. It's super easy to make, so there's really nothing all that special about it, but everyone fawns all over it when I make it (oddly enough for something so simple), so I make it as often as I can ;)

Then we brought out the Scrabble board Leslie gave me for Christmas. It's come in handy. We played it with my brother when he was in the hospital and he's been looking forward to a rematch since then. My mom also wanted to play because she skipped out when she had the chance. Some of my extended family also came over to watch the game. Leslie's been worried that they haven't really warmed up to her yet, so this has given us a really good chance to open up with them a little bit.

We're still here and having fun. Scrabble is awesome.

Check in with ya'll later.

Below is a picture taken from their backyard by my dad. It's hard to believe this is South Texas. It looks like a scene out of Twilight, set in Forks, WA. See the movie, it's good. Read the books, they're better.

Grace

Posted by Max02 | | Posted On Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 2:05 PM
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I just heard a very interesting description of grace.

As Christians, we know that grace is a free, undeserved gift given to us by God. We have all, at one time or another, messed up, failed, made a mistake, or simply chosen to do something we knew was wrong. Yet, after we ask forgiveness from God (with right motives and sincere regret), we find that His love, mercy, and grace are there for us. For some reason, that’s always surprising to us. It shouldn’t be. We should know God is perfectly just, infinitely loving and merciful. God even takes it a step further and helps make us better for our mistakes.

Grace is also something that can come from God through other people. Some people, God bless them, have a wonderful capacity for grace, while others, bless their hearts, simply don’t. We were all made differently. One man, who has a great capacity for grace, likened it to something that is still blowing my mind.

Imagine this: A suicide bomber comes into your home while your entire family is in it and explodes. You and your family survive, but the man is severely wounded. Grace is being able to go to that man, help him care for his wounds, and, although you’re ticked off at him for trying to kill your family, tell him you love and forgive him.

!!!

Imagine what that man had to go through in order to make the decision to be a suicide bomber. Think about the subtle choices and decisions that had to be made before he took that step. Imagine how brainwashed he would have to be. How completely fooled and duped. And, although he made the final choice to bomb your house and the consequences are on him, imagine there was an even more sinister and diabolical force leading him.

That is what it’s like in our world. We know that Satan is real, hates us, and wants to destroy us. We’ve all heard his lies, seen his work, and experienced sin in one way or another. Those of us who have seriously messed up and returned to God can understand the depth of thankfulness and completely heartbreaking love the suicide bomber felt when that person forgave him and loved him through his mess.

We’re all different. We all have a certain capacity for one thing or another. But we’re all given the choice to love people with God’s love. It’s so easy to react, to get caught up in our feelings. Those feelings are good. They let us know we were hurt, that a line was crossed, and that we have been wronged. But God wants us to respond in love. He tells us that in the same way He forgave us, so we should forgive others. It’s definitely a lot harder to do that than it is to lash out.

There Will Be a Day

Posted by Max02 | | Posted On Wednesday, January 14, 2009 at 2:22 PM
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I have the awesome, wonderful privilege to work in my church office. I’m the Intern Worship Leader (this year, at least). I’ve been an un-paid volunteer for a year, part-time paid volunteer for another year, and the assistant to the Music Director for a few months. It’s been fun. I love being able to work full-time for the church. I’ve worked other jobs in between and this is my favorite.

Because I work with the music, I get to be included in the weekly “message meeting” with the Senior Pastor (or whoever’s speaking that weekend) and other people. It’s the Creative Team meeting, so to speak. We talk about the previous weekend, try to figure out God’s direction for this next weekend, etc. It’s a lot of fun. It’s in these meetings that I sometimes get really great insight from the other people involved. I like being a part of that. It makes me think, it stretches me, and it grows me.

FYI, I do sort of the same thing with blogs. I’ll read other blogs to see what’s going on in people’s lives because I just like knowing stuff about people. But I also do it because sometimes those blogs inspire me, teach me something, stretch my mind, or cause me to see things in a new light. I then turn around and use those little gems of wisdom in the Creative Team meeting. I’m not plagiarizing, I promise. I’m simply taking the experience I had and sharing it with others…right? Right.

For instance, yesterday, as I read Stacy From Louisville’s blog, it moved me. It also gave me a scripture reference, Matthew 25:34-40, and we all know that reading the Bible in other people’s blogs is almost as good as reading it from an actual Bible. It made me think of how I think, or don’t think for that matter, of the people outside my circle, outside my little bubble I call my world. So many times I’ve set them aside. I say “hi” and smile and nod as I walk to my apartment without stopping to see how their day was. I tell myself, some people don’t like to be “interrogated. I don’t want to invade someone’s privacy.” But really, I don’t want to put myself out there like that; it scares me.

Previously, Matt and Joanna also both talked about reading hard things in the scriptures. At first, in only reading what Matt wrote, I took from what he said as much as I could. I didn’t honestly think I’d ever AVOIDED scripture before. But then I read Joanna’s blog about it. She said much the same thing but in a way that made it a bit more clear for me. I immediately thought of quite a few verses in Proverbs that irked me.

Then, in the meeting yesterday, my pastor had this verse up on his computer screen:

Proverbs 1:20-33 (The Message)
Lady Wisdom goes out in the street and shouts. At the town center she makes her speech. In the middle of the traffic she takes her stand. At the busiest corner she calls out:

"Simpletons! How long will you wallow in ignorance? Cynics! How long will you feed your cynicism? Idiots! How long will you refuse to learn? About face! I can revise your life. Look, I'm ready to pour out my spirit on you; I'm ready to tell you all I know. As it is, I've called, but you've turned a deaf ear; I've reached out to you, but you've ignored me.

"Since you laugh at my counsel and make a joke of my advice, how can I take you seriously? I'll turn the tables and joke about your troubles! What if the roof falls in, and your whole life goes to pieces? What if catastrophe strikes and there's nothing to show for your life but rubble and ashes? You'll need me then. You'll call for me, but don't expect an answer. No matter how hard you look, you won't find me.

"Because you hated Knowledge and had nothing to do with the Fear-of-God, because you wouldn't take my advice and brushed aside all my offers to train you, well, you've made your bed—now lie in it; you wanted your own way—now, how do you like it? Don't you see what happens, you simpletons, you idiots? Carelessness kills; complacency is murder. First pay attention to me, and then relax. Now you can take it easy—you're in good hands."


Okay, he didn’t have the WHOLE section up there, but it was way too good to not put it in. That caught me off guard. Go back and read the third paragraph. In the midst of His call, God tells us that there will be a time when He will stop calling, when he will stop pursuing; a time when He will no longer listen for your voice. That scared me. I immediately remembered the people Stacy was talking about. I then thought of my family, friends, and other people I know who aren’t saved. It almost broke my heart to think of this. I had tears in my eyes. I didn’t have much time to dwell on this though; we were in the middle of a meeting, you know.

But it made me think, there will be a day for many things in this life. A day for tears, joy, fear, comfort, love, hate, and the list goes on. There will be a day when God’s infinite amount of love and mercy is cut off from you. The Bible talks about people who harden their hearts so much to God that He finally gives them over to their wicked desires.

Personally, I’d like to believe that nobody is beyond saving. I’d love to think that there are people out there that, no matter how far gone, God can change their hearts. But it’s not true. There are people who have heard God’s voice, who have heard His call, but they’ve hardened their hearts, closed their minds, and shouted so loud and so long that God’s heart is turned from them. People do this all the time. If all someone did all day was go against everything I said, I’d imagine I’d be pretty upset by the end of the day. But God, who’s infinitely more patient and gracious than I am, how long does that take before God, in His perfect justice, turns and leaves the person be?

When I read that verse, it was then my heart cried for those people and for their potential to be cut off from God. It makes me want to be braver, more compassionate and loving.

Good and Evil

Posted by Max02 | | Posted On Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at 11:24 AM
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We’re all born with huge capacities for good and evil. We all have both.

We all have hatred, adultery, lust, etc. in our hearts. It sits, simmers, and waits to be released. It plants itself and grows as life changes around us.

Yet we also have such great goodness in us. People love and care for a child they know may not live to see the next day. People fall in love. Beautiful sonnets, paintings, works of art, songs, and stories are written about people in love. Mercy and grace can be shown to even the most lowly, the most undeserving.

But how can we judge what’s good, great, and awesome without having the bad, flawed, and horrible to balance it with?

Do you know what I mean? What I’m trying to say?

I don’t, in any way, shape or form, condone evil. I hate oppression, bigotry, racism, and acts of malice. Would evil still exist without human beings? I’ve wondered this before. If the human race ceased to exist on this planet, would evil still be a tangible thing? Is it evil for a lion to kill the weak and helpless? Is it evil for any animal to take advantage of another animal? Honestly, I don’t think so.

I think they’re simply doing what they were designed to do: live. It’s not like they can go to the local supermarket and pick up a Sushi Special #9 for dinner. They can’t till the soil and grow their own produce either.

Someone once said that we should expect the world to be evil. That we shouldn’t be in shock when something tragic takes place. It is simply the world doing what it’s designed to do: sin.

Sin is alive and well in all of our hearts. Wickedness is always one choice away. How many of us have ever considered an act of evil? I have. But, being the normally sane people that we are, we stop ourselves. We don’t follow through with them. Why?

It’s because we, as human beings, have the capability of choosing between good and evil. We have the intrinsic right to choose for ourselves the decisions we make. We define good, evil, love, hate. We define right and wrong. These definitions are the foundation on which we make our choices. Is it bad if I eat this piece of chocolate? Is it good if I eat this vegetable? Is this right or wrong?

Beyond this, we have the choice to choose God. God offers a life of purpose beyond simply existing on this planet. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes it questions our comfort, motives, and decisions. But when your choices are between what the world offers and what God offers, I want to choose God.

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD”
Joshua 24:15


Once you make the decision for Christ, there are some things you can’t pick and choose.

“You can't pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God's law and ignoring others. The same God who said, ‘Don't commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Don't murder.’ If you don't commit adultery but go ahead and murder, do you think your non-adultery will cancel out your murder? No, you're a murderer, period.”
James 2:8-11


I don’t always make the best choices. I can be a rude, insensitive jerk. But I’ve made my ultimate decision. I’m going to follow God. I’m going to try to be a better example, a better reflection of who He is.

I’ve made my decision. Have you?

The Don't Song

Posted by Max02 | | Posted On Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 10:25 AM
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I was looking at some Christian videos online and stumbled across this one again. I've seen it before, but I thought it might be good to post it. Check out the hair.

The Don't Song

Season Craziness

Posted by Max02 | | Posted On Friday, January 2, 2009 at 2:37 PM
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Okay world, so this is what's been happening with me over the past two weeks.

Have I been focusing my ADD and making cool crafts and awesome ways to hold partner-less socks? No.

Have I been recapping the favorite moments of the previous year? No.

Have I been Christmas shopping at 11pm two days before Christmas? Well, yes, actually, but it wasn't MY Christmas shopping.

The festivities leading up to Christmas were awesome. Friends and family gathered around for a game of White Elephant. I was all about gift wrapping a collection of massage oils, but my wife thought it might be a bit inappropriate, children were invited. The next time there's an adult only White Elephant party, you know what's going in there. I later told this to the pastor who held the party. Although he loved the idea, his face also turned bright red. I'm thinking it's a win-win situation for next Christmas.

Leslie and I had Christmas Adam steaks; very good. Christmas Adam = Christmas Eve eve. Unfortunately I was bitten by the “clean bug” and insisted on cleaning out the black hole of a spare room in our apartment. She cooked, I cleaned. At least the room was recognizable after I was done.

We spent Christmas Eve with our friends, the Moreno’s and their baby. We ate junk food, played Wii sports, and opened presents. Baby Ricky G. got to open his gifts at 9pm. Apparently babies eat, live, and breathe on a schedule (I’ll have to remember that for when my wife and I start to procreate). The adults barely made it to 11:30pm before we opened our presents. I think it was a mixture of impatience and sleepiness.

Christmas Day was spent with our separate families. We went to Leslie’s fam first. Tamales, Mexican rice and beans, and some more gifts = a great lunch. Leslie told her family that she was diagnosed with diabetes type 2 (it runs on both sides of her family). Most of the people there were card carrying members and welcomed her to the club.

Then we went to my family’s party. More food, more presents, and singing = two very tired newlyweds.

We came home and fell asleep. Very uneventful…until my younger brother calls me at 2am to freak out about losing his new camera at the beach. I did my best to calm him down and get him to go home. I prayed for him and went back to sleep. Around 6am, I get a text from him saying there had been some sort of accident. I didn’t think much of it, things of that sort happen with my family. I wake up, Leslie leaves for work, and I’m bumming around the house when Adam calls again and lets me know my older brother, Abel, is in the hospital. Apparently he had accidentally been stabbed earlier that morning. Stabbed. Yes, stabbed. I don’t know how someone is “accidentally” stabbed, but if it can happen in this world, it can happen to my family. We spent the next few days figuring out what had happened and visiting my brother in the hospital.

A week later, Abel is still in the hospital, my younger brother is still in town, my parents are back to normal, we spent New Year's Eve/Day in a hospital room, and Leslie and I have never had such a crazy Christmas/New Year season in our lives. Welcome to the family, Leslie!

I’ll update more later.

Ladies, if you're looking for a few more details, visit my wife's blog.