Category: Featured

When Colic Is Not A Good Enough Diagnosis

When Colic Is Not A Good Enough Diagnosis

Our Daughter
Photo courtesy of Amy Lee Photography

The birth of our daughter was a beautiful day. The next eight weeks that followed however were not. Incessant crying, a trip to the ER, extreme bloating and a perpetual discontent for life made it a rough introduction into the world. Some could say, “welcome to parenthood” or “sounds like a baby with colic” but our daughter was our second child, she was very different than our first and we wanted to help.

Our firstborn was lactose intolerant so we started there. Our pediatrician recommended an elimination diet so my wife eliminated all potential allergens from her diet. Dairy, wheat, soy, fish, eggs and nuts were out. We also saw signs of infant reflux and began reflux meds (Ratadine) in conjunction with the elimination diet.

Fourteen days later and there was no significant or consistent improvement. Our daughter would wake up 45 minutes following a feeding in a level of screaming you hope never to hear. Gently pressing on her lower abdomen, putting her over your shoulder and repeating 2-3 times sometimes did the trick. Other times, you’d simply have to outlast the crying.

My wife, who was breastfeeding even made sure she pumped prior to every feeding to reduce the strong letdown often experienced by our daughter. This again brought little to no lasting improvement.

This is an x-ray of our daughters digestive system at 2-weeks old. All the dark chambers are pockets of gas.

If your newborn cries for more than three hours a day, doctors will often diagnosis your baby with “colic”. For us, only three hours would have been a blessing. But the potential diagnosis of colic never sat well with us. It seemed like the easy way out. And every challenging day and nightly battle spoke volumes to us. There is simply something not right with this little girl. While researching colic, we came across a reference to a study that found a reduction in “colic” symptoms when coupled with a probiotic supplement. An infant gut without the proper bacteria in it to aid digestion can cause “colic.” This set of bacteria is acquired through breastmilk/formula and improves with age. In other words, our assumption was that maybe, just maybe, the source of her problems were centered around an underdeveloped digestive system.

As we stood in our pediatricians office, our last ditch effort before making an expensive appointment with a pediatric GI specialist was to try 14 days of infant probiotic supplements.  After a bit of research online, we found a well reviewed probiotic powder for infants. Klaire Labs Infant Formula arrived from Amazon three days later. It includes six different bacteria and came shipped with a cold pack to protect potency.

We gave our daughter 1/4 teaspoon, per the bottle’s instructions via two syringes of warm water on a Tuesday morning. That night she went to sleep without any of the usual challenges. Never having two back-to-back nights without hours of crying and writhing, we again gave her another dose Wednesday morning. And again, she went down without issue.

The difference between our daughter before probiotics and after is remarkable. Her entire demeanor has changed. Her awake times include peace, calm and a happy disposition. We have enjoyed new freedoms as we’ve ventured out into restaurants and events as a family, without incident. After spending the first eight weeks of her life in turmoil, our daughters biggest challenge is now finding a consistent sleep rhythm. She’s still got a ways to go, but we are incredibly blessed.

If we had to summarize the factors leading to her improvement, while we believe the probiotic supplement was a significant contributor there were  definitely other factors:

  • General maturing. We have no doubt that as the weeks went by and our daughter grew, all of her internal systems were developing.
  • Great pediatrician. Our doctor and her staff were incredibly aggressive in their treatment and troubleshooting. She was open to the probiotic supplement and recommended it. When your doctor cares about the health of your baby as much as you do, it’s huge. If you’re in the Kansas City metro we highly recommend this practice.
  • Grace of God. Given the wisdom and insight to connect with great doctors and great supplements is truly a blessing. We believe that by His grace we’re where we are today with a healthy, happy daughter, a peaceful home and a strong marriage.

Hopefully our eight to ten week journey through “colic” can be helpful to other parents in a similar season. Our experience has shown us that ultimately you have to be your kids biggest advocate. Ask questions, stick with doctors who fight for your kids as much as you do and research. The side-effects to probiotics were minimal. We were ready for increased bloating and irritability. Thankfully, our daughter had neither. As always, make sure to check with your doctor before giving your infant anything. We’re not doctors and any advice we give shouldn’t be construed as such. We’re simply parents who weren’t satisfied to suffer through colic.

Finding Faith Amidst Fatherhood

Finding Faith Amidst Fatherhood

Finding Faith In Fatherhood
Photo by

Fathers and future fathers beware. There is something that all the books and classes don’t prepare you for when becoming part of this significant club called fatherhood. It’s not the crying, the diapers, the sleeplessness, the frustration or any other gift a newborn brings your way. It’s the simple truth that while much of your life changes, so too does your spiritual life.

Regardless if its your first child, becoming a father changes the way in which you previously encountered and engaged the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I experienced this once, with our first child and now again with the arrival of our second. I’d have to say the second has been more challenging than the first.

Find A New Rhythm

What worked previously for you and God, might not have a chance with a baby in the mix. Waking up early is eclipsed by the fact you’re running on way less sleep, way less brain power and way more stress. Whatever your daily routine, it is no doubt different. I’m currently grasping for my new rhythm and as a new father, you probably will too. But it’s vital. Pursue Father, Son and Holy Spirit and be open to something new. It might be the time you have to and from work, it might be carving out a day or two a week specifically for prayer or study, it might be over lunch or in the evening. There’s no right or wrong, but find it.

Beware of the Lies

Lurking in the shadows of fatherhood are the lies of discouragement and discontentment. As a new father you will be fed volumes of lies about your identity as a Christ follower, your capabilities, your past, present and future. We have to consistently go back to the truth of the Gospel to combat those lies; to remind ourselves of who we are, the love given to us, the power entrusted to us, and the reality that we are never abandoned — even as average, ordinary fathers who fail daily.

Hold Fast to Community

Our natural tendency in times of struggle is to flee; we’ve been doing it since the garden. We’ll tough it out, bunker down, wait it out and hope for the best. But nothing could be more detrimental to fatherhood, to life — than isolation. We were created to commune with God and each other. I’m grateful for the fellow men in my life and the community who has invested in us. Run to Him and run to them. Engage your wife in a conversation not about your kid(s). Invest in weekly “date night” even if it means take-out at home when the kids are asleep. Don’t abandon community.

Enjoy His Grace

God’s grace is most evident in our weakness. Weakness is rampant in fatherhood because so much of fatherhood is out of of our control.  A newborn incessantly screams at your face unaware you have no social, mental or spiritual bandwidth to handle it. By God’s grace you have been given this life to steward over, you have supernatural strength to weather the storm and tomorrow, you might be able to try again. Through the good, the bad and the worse…His grace is often much more evident in fatherhood.

Fathers or those who one day hope to be — may you keep the faith in all the many seasons of fatherhood that are before us.

Restless Discontent

Restless Discontent

Photo by Richard Elzey

Fellow Christian,

The time has come to hit the reset button.

You’re tired of the same ol’, same ol’. What happened when you used to be adventurous? You used to dream?
Then life happened. Life happens…everyday.

Discontentment & restlessness are a regular occurrence and you’re not sure why.

You seem stuck.
Spinning your wheels to get the day-to-day done
But like the tenacious summer heat – discontentment & restlessness pursue you.

How do you shake it? How do you fight it?

We will try new things.
We will break routine.
We will search for new relationships.
We will search for new jobs.
We will try anything we can to plug the hole that spews unrest and frustration from our soul.

I have been here before.

And I have learned that my discontentment and restlessness are tied to Jesus.
Try to roll your eyes back forward.
Resist the temptation to chalk this up to “you’ve heard it before”,
That this is somehow below you.
Because for all your searching, you – like me – often never get to the root.
And the root of our discontentment and our restlessness depends greatly on our relationship to Jesus.

Quit running, hiding, kicking and screaming.
If He truly holds all things together – start with Him.
Before you try anything – exhaust your relationship with Him.

Hold fast to the community you are in,
Reach out to the relationships you have,
Then, listen some more.

Countless times throughout his short ministry, Jesus healed people. For some reason we don’t believe we need healing or don’t believe that same healing is available to us today. Jesus wants to give you rest amongst the restlessness. God does have a hope and a future for you. He will determine your steps. He can do way more than we ask for imagine according to the power working in you. All the verses, on all the “trinkets and trash”, in every Christian bookstore are actually true. We’re just naturally, increasingly, skeptical.

May we start with the author and perfector of our faith.
May we not wander.
May His Word truly be a lamp unto our feet in this journey of life.
May our experience with Jesus be more consistent and more deep today
And may we relinquish the pursuit of satisfying our restless discontent.

A Healthy and Holy Harbor

A Healthy and Holy Harbor

In almost every stage of life there seems to be things people tell us that we’re supposed to remember. From  the introductory “look both ways,” and “don’t talk to strangers,” to the later in life, “look out for your brother or sister,” and “finish your homework.” Regardless of the age, we are always given things we are to remember and apply. But for all the advice there are some things we inevitably overlook, minimize or flat-out forget. We prioritize some, apply a few and discard many.

Almost six years ago a wise man told me something that’s resurfaced in my brain hundreds of times since. In fact, it has been so amazingly true in my own life, so textbook in the lives of others that I’ve shared this bit of wisdom in several conversations. But what I’ve slowly learned six years later is that this truth would have to be continually, relentlessly pursued. It’s not something one “just gets.” It’s not effortless nor is it something you can tuck away in the back of your brain and recall when the moment strikes. In some senses, I wish it was as easy as “look both ways.”

So what was it? It was advice given to a young engaged man, who loved Jesus and was about to embark on the second most significant commitment of his life. It sounded simple at the time…as it was simply this…”Your closeness to Him determines how close you are to her.”

I remember hearing it and liking it immediately, so simple, so good. In some churches whole congregations would of yelled, “AMEN!” But like wisdom we prioritize, apply and discard…I would have to learn that while I agreed with it and believed it, I will spend a lifetime trying to apply it. It was not simple but complex. And if I let up in the pursuit of Him, even temporarily, my purusit of her would be directly effected.

Six years later it rings more true now than when I first heard it. It’s a lighthouse on the coastline reminding me the way to a healthy, holy harbor of marriage.

The crazy thing about this simple yet complex truth is, I often overlook it. Life gets busy, my schedule changes, something new always pops up. Amidst everything in life I try to hold together, I end up miles off shore desperately in need of that healthy, holy harbor. So is she.

The devotionals, sermons, books and tweets are “spiritual fast-food” to the irreplaceable time needed with the Creator and His love story. The “dollar-menu” will get you by in the short term but like a tiny leak in the hull of a ship, eventually the ship will fill with water and sink. I don’t want my marriage to capsize.

In the greatest love story ever written, we’re to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Later, husbands are urged to love their wives, like Christ loves the church.

Fellow Christian men, may we be men who follow Jesus, love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and as a result, truly love our wives. May we lavish in the power of His words and experience a closeness to our Creator so we can truly be close to our wives.

My closeness to Him determines how close I am to her. May my marriage be a healthy and holy harbor.

The City I Love?

The City I Love?

Do I really care about my city?

In a couple years I will have lived in this city for 10 years. When I moved here right out of college the jokes about Independence were about as abundant as traffic on Noland Rd. Everything from the quality of our schools, to crime, to the people, to the general consensus that Independence was simply a city not as good as its neighbors. Economic development, commercialization, housing — the glory days had come and they were now most definitely gone.

I’ll admit that since living here I’ve delivered just as many cheap shots towards the city of Independence as the next person. For awhile I felt I could, after all, I do live here. But for all the jokes, all the put downs, the snide “under your breath” remarks, I began to feel uneasy. Over the last year or so as the comments rolled on, I’ve had this odd, unexpected feeling. As best as I can describe it, a simultaneous sense of anger and hurt. What is this all about? I mean…really?

It turns out that Independence is the city I’ve begun to love. And the simultaneous anger and hurt I occasionally feel is because I care about my city. The rich, the poor, the somewhere in the middle. The schools, the businesses, the neighborhoods. My neighborhood. My neighbors. The ones we do know and ones we don’t know. The guy who police chased through our streets a few weeks ago and the Liberty Tax guy who shares a corner with the T-Mobile guy. These are my people. This is my city.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost the importance of caring for our cities, let alone our neighborhoods. The very people who should care the most, the people who live in a city, throw rocks and condemn it. When Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” He wasn’t giving you the right to be selective. Your neighbor isn’t just the people you know, the people you go to church with, the people you work with. Your neighbor is your literal neighbor, the girl at the checkout counter, the guy who cut you off, the family with the crazy kids at Pizza Street and the elderly woman who is unfamiliar with the 35mph flow of traffic. Everyone in your city is your neighbor.

There is too much need in this city, too many opportunities, too many people that have never experienced true unconditional love to have one of their own toss another rock on the pile of insults, put-downs and mockery. If the people in a city don’t care about it, no one else will.

So if you don’t love the city you live in — begin the process of searching out how to love it. If you can’t or don’t want to, move to a city you can. Regardless of your property taxes, your shopping districts, your home value, or schools no city is exempt from its challenges. And every city needs the people within it to love unconditionally.

Drunk In My Own Comfort

Drunk In My Own Comfort

Photo by Flickr Community

There was something there, but I couldn’t quite place it. In fact, I hadn’t been able to put my finger on it for months. Something that tugs at you repeatedly and you can’t give it a name or a place. I tried to shake it and had shrugged it off several times; blaming it on tiredness, boredom or the pace of life. Then, earlier this week, like a full throttle freight train, it came screaming into view.

I have a holy discontent, a holy frustration for being a comfortable Christian. And the distain I have for it in my own life, spills over as it plays out in the lives of others.

I find myself content struggling through the same things, doing the same things, living my life day-in and day-out, drunk in my comfort, when it’s not even my life to live.  Even though I died years ago I often live as if this life is my own, as if the price paid wasn’t truely priceless.

The reality is I have but meir seconds when stacked next to eternity. My time on earth is a vapor and there is much to be done for the sake of the Gospel. People who need to know Jesus, families to be restored, communities to be renewed, legacies to leave and my mission is passing me by. What I do with the vapor of a life I have been given is up to me, yet many times my stupor blinds me to the urgency at hand. The severity of what’s at stake, life, death, victory, defeat – every single day.

The sobering truth is that for all the “effort”, the studying, the papers, the knowledge, the statements of faith, the theology, the journey – the cause of my holy discontent is that the Gospel has not really gone deep enough in me. If the Gospel truly penetrated the depths of my soul – aspects of my life would look undeniably different. I would think differently, maybe act differently. Certain parts of life wouldn’t matter while others would. The overwhelming perspective in life wouldn’t be of my own affairs, but of His.

And out of His perspective, from a soul made anew by the Gospel, my motivation changes. The inebreiation diminishes. Clarity descends.  Bring Him glory, speak of the good news and make my vapor count for the Kingdom.

How long have I been out? How long have I been oblivious to the urgency of the most important mission in the history of the world? How long has my attention been on my to-do’s, my schedule, my plans and my world?

The deep-dive of my soul must be done…and I think it has already begun.

Fellow Christians, how truly deep has the Gospel gone within you? How long will we slumber in the drunkenness of our own comfort, while this vapor called life drifts away against the backdrop of the greatest mission the world has ever known?

A Year In The Journal

A Year In The Journal

December 14, 2002 is the day I penned my first journal entry. Since then I’ve collected a cadre of leather-bound journals highlighting just over nine years of life. For whatever reason I’ve never thought of looking back over the previous year and pulling out the most significant insight. With 2011 about to be history, here are the best pages from the past year.

  • God is not a God of discouragement, confusion or doubt, but a God of encouragement, clarity and assurance.
  • My fleshly desires and innate desire for rebellion are like a cancer in my soul. The Holy Spirit is constantly infusing me with healing medicine. And for a few minutes, hours, days…I’m in remission. Then the flesh, my sin nature comes screaming into existence. I hear the prompting of the Holy Spirit, “Align with me.” And I rebel, squirm and flee. But there is nowhere I can go to escape the love of Christ, my salvation, my hope.
  • We must have a settled determination to identify ourselves with God’s cause. A faith that outlasts our feelings. Often times I don’t want to pray, I’m stubborn, frustrated, longing for an answer on my own, but I must submit. Jesus should be the first place I run, regardless of how I “feel”.
  • “Jesus doesn’t fix everything, He just makes the death purposeful” – Mark Driscoll
  • “Passivity is the enemy of discipleship” – Orion Berridge
  • God will take the most unqualified men by worldly standards and use them because by the standards of the heart they are very qualified.
  • On April 25th at 8:49pm, Malachi Daniel Burns entered the world and I will never be the same.
  • Confessions of a New Dad: …Amidst all the tired, sleepless, frustrating days and nights, it is worth it. Malachi is worth it. A gift, a blessing, answered prayers.
  • “Grace isn’t opposed to effort, it’s opposed to earning.” Dallas Willard
  • June 17th, 2011 – 5 years. Longer than college, longer than the average ability to remember all that has transpired. But today, 5 years ago, I married my best friend, a beautiful woman with a big heart…We have learned how to “do the dance” of two people becoming one life.
  • Test run at a life purpose statement – “To teach God’s Word & directly influence life change through the Gospel locally & around the world.”
  • Pursue Christ, Find Everything Else
  • God will wreck the expectations of a person, a nation or a world to accomplish His plan.
  • God doesn’t necessarily want to fix you or your situation. The fixing is oftentimes a by-product of increased holiness.
When Talent and Passion Collide

When Talent and Passion Collide

Courtesy of

I spent all of my college years and the first few of my professional career believing that talent and passion were one in the same. If you’re talented in something you’re naturally more inclined to be passionate about it. History had proved this to me as I spent years honing my skills in web and print design. I sniffed out mediocre websites, released new sites, revamped print materials, redesigned terrible logos…I was talented and passionate.

But several years ago, I discovered that often times just because you’re talented at something doesn’t automatically mean it will be your life-long passion.  For some this isn’t true. A talented teacher might spend a lifetime teaching at various levels. A talented innovator might bounce from company to company creating and re-creating. Someone good with numbers might go on to create a career in engineering. For me however, the moment the key turned and I was open to the possibility that another passion existed beyond my talent, the roof blew off. I was free to explore, empowered to hunt down my passion and challenged by the potential before me.

What I learned was that my talent in web and print design would be an essential tool in my life-long passion – to see life change because of the Gospel of Christ. They are different, but they work together. Currently that passion is playing out full-time in the arena of athletics as I’m tasked with helping athletes and coaches around the world experience life change with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. My talent is one of the vehicles I use to execute my passion.

But before you do anything rash and look at changing majors, careers, cities, churches or countries – here are a few guideposts:

  • Whatever your current career – stay “all in”. Your current position is not a playground to go find your passion. Your organization or company, co-workers, customers and salary demand you are 100% engaged. Explore on your own time and count yourself blessed to have a job.
  • Discovering your passion can take years and often times you can’t rush it – so don’t try.
  • Surround yourself with honest, wise people of various life experiences and seek their input in what they see in you. If you can’t find overwhelming agreement about a potential passion – give yourself more time to search. Don’t pursue your passion in a bubble.
  • Your passion might grow, expand or change but you’ll probably find a single thread woven throughout all of it. Think of it as a fruit. You can have a whole orange, an orange smoothie, oranges on top of a salad or orange juice. Different presentation – same ingredient.
  • Don’t be discouraged. Even if you are doing something that you are talented in and you know it’s not your passion – keep pursing both your talent and your passion. Find peace in knowing you and everyone else are “in process”.

If your talent is your passion congratulations. If you are slowly learning that the two are different, that your talent can drive your passion but ultimately you get the sense there is something more; patiently, carefully, slowly start exploring.

Eventually, when you can identify your passion and your talent fuels it like a high-performance engine – your job will become less like a job and more like a way of life.

Thanks to Scott Lee for the encouragement to get this post online.

Have some life experience about talents and passions? Have challenges or questions?
Let the discussion begin.

How Long Is Your Piece of the String?

How Long Is Your Piece of the String?

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There is an analogy that if time is represented by an endless piece of string, then your life on earth is but a small, minute, piece of that string.

Much of what we do while we’re alive is focused on our small, minute, piece of the string. We’re constantly asking, ‘What do I want to do with my life?” We chase all sorts of challenges, goals, dreams and aspirations. And while none of those are wrong, I think we need to ask a bigger question.

How do we extend our piece of the string, so that when our life is over it sill ripples across the line? I believe it comes back to a dusty, old word that is rarely used today…legacy. What we do with the years we have  in this life, has the potential to extend way beyond our piece of the string. It’s legacy that is the driving force of our life ripple. Our legacy determines if our life has any significant influence beyond the years we’ve been given.

Chasing all sorts of challenges, goals, dreams and aspirations are fine, but if they’re not done in the context of the bigger question of legacy than our lives truly are a vapor, a small piece of the string.

No matter what we do, none of us can defy the inescapable truth that eventually, in any given moment on any given day, our piece of the string will come to an end. What we can influence however is the potential of our legacy.

There are causes to get behind, projects to pursue, relationships to invest in, seconds, hours, days and years that will be spent. But what are you doing or not doing that will carry the ripple of your life far down the line?

Leader In Tent

Leader In Tent

We all have responsibilities. I carry the rolls of Christian, husband, son, brother, friend, manager, leader, teacher and yes, soon to be father.  But a conversation with a co-worker this past week accidentally gave me some insight into how I can execute each of these rolls successfully.

My co-worker was telling me about a military concept called “commander intent.” In order for the successful execution of a mission, the troops must know the exact details provided by the commander. If they know his or her intent – they know what they have to do and how they have to do it. Without commander intent, the mission would be open for interpretation and the chance of failure or mistakes would be high.

Sounds simple and makes sense. Here’s where the accident happened.

When I first heard him say it, I thought he said “commander in tent” – meaning leaders have to be present, “in the tent”, in order for a successful mission.

[pullquote]…the greatest opportunity for success for a leader requires he or she literally be “in the tent”[/pullquote]That’s when the light bulb turned on. The intent of a leader can best be communicated if he or she is “in the tent.” As a result, the greatest opportunity for success for a leader requires he or she literally be “in the tent”.

The personal application? I have to be physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally “in the tent” if I am going to have the best chance of successfully carrying out the rolls I have in life. The reality is, I’m often not fully “in the tent”. My mind is all over the place, the task list is long, the resources are few and I often can’t seem to find a few extra hours in a day.

But if I’m not a leader in the tent, completely – the “mission” will suffer. My faith, marriage, relationships, team and work won’t be getting all of “their leader”. Like a mission without details, the chance for ultimate success is significantly lowered.

How do I stay in the tent? I believe that will take a much more life to figure out. But here are some lessons I’ve learned thus far.

  • Prioritize – If everything is important, nothing ends up being important. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Look at that which takes up your time (physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally) and “cut the fat”. Some things have to take priority over others based on what they are and the season of life you are in.
  • Get In One Tent At a Time – So much of our life bleeds together, but if you don’t stop it somewhere, it gets overwhelming in a hurry. If you’re still in the “work tent” and you’re at home, talking with your kids attempting to be in the “home tent” – both tents suffer. Get fully in the tent you are supposed to be in in that moment.
  • Guard the Door – There will be countless things that try and get into your tent. Other distractions (people, places or things) that masquerade as “opportunities”. These will often pull you into all sorts of tents, disrupt your focus, leadership, goals and objectives. Saying “no” to something or someone can be a good thing.
  • Know Your Tent – With all that you have to juggle in life it’s easy to abandon certain tents. We put them on “auto-pilot” and go tend to the areas of life that are more exciting or those that are in crisis. But just like a plane can’t land itself, auto-pilot is only good for so long. If you don’t know what’s going on in your family, work, relationships or any other roll you’re in – those you lead will suffer. Know your tent deeply, regularly and fully.

Regardless of the roles you carry, if you lead a family of three or a corporate team of 20, may we all be leaders who are in the tent; leaders who are physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally engaged in the rolls we are called to. The mission is too great for us not to be.

the commander’s stated vision which defines the purpose of an operation, the end state