Monday, February 28, 2011

My Durant

I still remember a few years ago feeling like my son was in Ethiopia.  Nikki already knew and was waiting for me to figure it out.  As we filled out papers and waited for this young man to come into our home we had the idea that he was more than a little boy.  With him was going to come a brand new life.  My friend, Doug, called this boy "my inheritance."  That has been true so far.

Durant Natnael turned six today!  He has gone from a quiet, little boy to now a hilarious little man.  He brings so much joy to my life.

Today Nikki got him donuts for breakfast and since school started late with the rain, she took him to get a treat at the gas station after dropping Ana at school.  Do you think he was excited?

You be the judge.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Middle School

I'm leaving in a minute to go and speak to middle school students for the whole day.  Seriously, the whole day.  Pray for me.

I love middle schoolers, but they remind me of some of my painful moments as a middle school pastor.  Going to the hospital with broken arms, explaining how I didn't think it was my students smearing things on the bathroom walls, apologizing when it was my students.

It also reminds me of being in middle school.  Man, was I not awesome. Here are my quick memories.

  • the awesomeness that was the Sega Genesis
  • Spin Doctors cd
  • Columbia House and BMG cd deals (I thought they were awesome)
  • Girbaud jeans
  • Starter jackets
  • Michael Jordan
  • awkward conversations at dances
  • ripping my sweatpants right in front while carrying metal in my shop class
  • being glad shop was my last class
  • confirmation
  • my first guitar
  • neon everything
I hope you enjoyed middle school.  If you feel out of place today, be glad you are not still rocking your old school.

Monday, February 21, 2011

History on this President's Day

I learned from my kindergarten son today all about our nation's rich history.  I had no clue that even though President George Washington is dead that he is still our president.  He is good.  I couldn't imagine the stress of dealing with the problems of this nation and never medicating on a bag of Snyder's peanut butter pretzel sandwiches.  Also, we live in the great nation of Kentucky, in the state of Louisville, the city of the United States.

Somehow Durant didn't quite score high enough for AP classes next year.  

Friday, February 18, 2011

February's Quote

I read Seth Godin's blog pretty often and he had this statement that I thought had some meaning today.

He wrote "Art is not in the eye of the beholder.  It is in the soul of the artist."

This is pretty encouraging when we look at some parts of our life.  Too often we quit because we aren't sure what it would look like.  Most days I want to stop blogging because who really cares what I'm thinking.  People don't paint because they are sure it isn't good enough.  I have a friend who loves flowers and gardens yet doesn't know if he is good so he doesn't plant.

Too often we stop before we ever start.  Our little worlds would be a lot more colorful if we would do what we love, at least with our free time.  We can be critics later.  Let what is within you out today, whether that means five extra minutes making dinner or dusting off the old guitar.  I think Seth is right.  It's art if it is in your soul.

Seth is a lot smarter than I.  If you want to read his thoughts first hand, check him out at

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hope (Again)

If you follow our blog for Eyes That See you have already read this post.  As I was preparing for my next trip and celebrating the stories of the women involved in Eyes That See, I was moved again by this previous post.  Nikki and Christy first wrote it at but I wanted to post it here as well.  I hope this is an encouragement to you today!

Our first day of working in Ethiopia we got to visit the home of one of the women in our beauty school program.

Her name is WoubeEjig. Her house leaves little to be desired. It has no windows, no running water or electricity, it is made of mud, and it's the size of a closet. But WoubeEjig was so honored that we would come and sit and see her home. As five adults crammed into this tiny place, we sat and listened to her story. It's difficult to try to even begin to share with you the hardship and struggles she has faced. Losing her father at a young age started her on a journey of addiction and prostitution. She is 35 years old. She has two children. A son who is 20 and a daughter who is 6. Her daughter is living with her grandma right now. Her small home with very few belongings had recently been broken into and robbed.

But the thing that stuck out most was her joy and hope. Because of going through the program, her life has been changed. She said because of the opportunity to go to the beauty school and receive counseling she is free from her addiction, knows who she is in Christ, and has hope for her future.

This is what Eyes That See is about. This is why we exist and why we need your help and support more then ever. There are countless women with stories like WoubeEjig who need the opportunity to feel the joy and hope that only God can bring them.

Currently we have enough funding to provide this to 10 women. All that is stopping us from starting another group of 10 women is $30 per student each month for 5 months. This is a total of $150 per student to have her life changed or $300 each month would support an entire class.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Crippling Doubt

I have been reading 1 Samuel lately.  I love the Samuels, the Kings and the Chronicles.  They read like adventure stories to me.  Anytime I feel like my life has a lot of adventure and uncertainty I read these to find my life as predictable as Mr. Rogers'.

Today I read my favorite events recorded in 1 Samuel 14 when Jonathan and the armor bearer take on an army by faith and win.  After that I kept reading and found something that I never noticed before.

Saul made a mess of his life.   He made a mess of all of Israel really.  He kept getting in the way of what God was doing, kept inching himself towards deity, and was inpatient with what God was doing. Finally, when God was explaining to Samuel about how Saul no longer had his favor at all, he said through Samuel some words that caught my eye.

1 Samuel 15.17
"Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel?  The Lord anointed you King over Israel."

Little in your own eyes.  This just throws me off.  He's the king!  He looks like he is arrogant in his actions, yet the thing that frustrates The Lord about Saul is that he is "little" in his own eyes.   If you read 1 Samuel 9 just before Saul is anointed, he disqualifies himself.  Saul is certain he is too small, disqualified, and beyond what God could use.   Even God making him king, using him to defeat enemies and showing miracles through him won't change the doubt that cripples Saul's heart.

I have spent plenty of time in serious doubt.  I have doubted God could use me, would want to use me, or would not have someone better waiting in the wings.  My doubt has trumped God's will too many times.  No matter how much God shows Himself faithful in my life, if I doubt that what He says is bigger than what I feel, I will shut Him down.  Again, it is an issue of faith.  I have had to believe that God's words over me are bigger than any others.

Doubt isn't just a problem in Saul and within me.  You may wrestle with it too.  You may be spending a lot of time thinking that you are too little.  Here's the thing: you are who God says you are.  That is it.  It may be time to deal with that.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Friday Night

I don't know about your house, but my house will always fall for the classic, "lets have a night together that is only sort of together."  It's horrible, and we try not to do it too often, but last night I pulled out the standard, fool proof bonding time:  "Pizza and a movie."  I think the kids like it more than if we played board games, built with Legos or bought them each space ships.  (Okay, they would take the space ships.)

Our kids know the routine.  They lay a blanket on the floor in the living room (because someone always spills), one gets the cups, another the plates and napkins.  One cues the dvd player and tv and Ana watches it all happen like a maestro before an orchestra.

Last night I even cheated.  We watched a movie that we own, which totally invites them to find out that I just wanted bedtime to come 86 minutes early.  They didn't figure it out, and for that 86 minutes plus the 5 minutes of trailers I was the dad of the year! I felt horrible though, because I knew we were having "Pizza and a movie" only because Carter was too sick to go to school or his game and I only had the energy to push play on the remote.

We watched the movie, we ate the pizza, we all felt connected in some strange, not so real way.  Now today I will actually engaged with the kids.  We have two soccer games to cheer at, so that is a start.  We will team up to accomplish stuff around the house and maybe get in another game of balloon volleyball.  Who knows, I might even win.

The go to move of "Pizza and a movie" is a little too easy, but last night it was beautiful!  Now if the kids would only start liking movies that don't include talking animals I would be hooked.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Yesterday all the kids were healthy and went to school  It was a beautiful day.  The birds were chirping and the work was getting done. I caught up on some of life and felt much better by the end of the day.

Last night I was talking to a great friend for a while and I told him about Ana's new vitamins.  She has this vitamin that smells like fish.  It is horrible.  It is as if they cut up a fish and made it in pill form (It is not fish oil, but something weirder.)  Anyways, a few weeks ago Nikki called the Dr. because all of Ana smelled like fish.  Her hair smelled like fish, her diapers, everything.  She is on this vitamin to counter her medicine, so we were getting nervous about this horrible smell being present for years.

When Nikki talked to the nurse she said that Ana smelling like the vitamin shows you that it is working. We were sure that she wasn't getting any of the nutrients, but we were completely off.  I guess that this fish vitamin isn't fully in you until it leaks out of you.

It is the same with beliefs.  If your belief doesn't leak out of your pours, it is probably theory.  Not that you should be pounding your beliefs on other people, but you should smell like what you believe.  Are the people near you your highest priority? You should smell like it.  Do you believe you are new?  Do you feel your life is not your own?  That you have reason for real joy?  If these or any other beliefs are real and actual in your life you should smell like it.  Otherwise it's just theory.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Here are a few things that kept crossing my mind yesterday.  If you don't enjoy my thinking, I would come back tomorrow, this may be painful.

Tubes of beef are weird.  When I grocery shopped earlier in the week I bought one of those 5lb tubes of meat.  I don't know if I ever bought one before, but they are pretty weird.  Granted, we ate it in two meals (dinner Tuesday and Wednesday,) I still felt kind of awkward squirting out beef.  I don't want the beef straight off the cow or anything, but I guess I like to think that it at one time was real.  To be funny, last night I took the tube beef and made it a meatloaf.  That way the beef could know that it spent its existence in the most unnatural of shapes.  I will only eat chicken the rest of the week.

Chic-Fil-A is heavenly.  I'm not normally a fast food fan, but there is something about Chic-Fil-A.  The owner must be Calvinist because there is something about their food that is Irresistible. Then, the Chic-Fil-A sauce.'s not even fair.  The only place even close is Taco Bell, but we all know that isn't from Jesus.  I think that Taco Bell may be the complete opposite.  It's still temptingly good though.

Robots are cooler than cars chased by dinosaurs.  I get to help Durant make a Valentine's Day basket.  I want to make a robot because:
1.  I made one when I was a kid and I'm nostalgic.
2.  I know how.
3.  We have tin foil and that is fun to play with.
I had it all set up and gave a convincing speech to Durant.  Instead he wants to turn a shoe box into a car with working wheels being chased by a dinosaur.  When I said I didn't want to, he said "who's box is it?"  Today I will be googling how to make a car being chased by a dinosaur.  It's due tomorrow.

We need more homework hats.  My mom reminded me that I used to wear a "homework hat."  It was actually just a baseball helmet with a stocking cap over it, but magic happened in my brain when I wore it.  I pace when I work, still to this day, and I would wear this so that people knew I was doing homework.  I'm sure I also wore it because I thought it was awesome, but I still wore it.  Now, I think I should have a "work hat" or "thinking hat" or "I'm taking a two minute break that will take 25."  I should start designing these now.

Andy Pettitte shouldn't retire.  I recognize not everyone is a baseball fan, but stick with me.  He's just done now.  He's so good and the Yankees need him, and yet he said that he's done playing.  He wants "more time with his family."  I've had a week with my kids.  I think he should start throwing again.  (Just kidding mostly.)  The Yankees lost last year and he has to retire on a championship. Him quitting right now is like if Shadrach decided to go home just before the fire thing.  "I'll talk to you later Benny.  I know this is a great adventure, but I want to go change diapers."  He didn't say that.  He went in the fire!  Ok, I don't wish fire on Andy, but I want to see him pitch. I'm a little emotional right now.  I'll be okay.

Ana's finally healthy and back at school, so hopefully I'll have less free time to think today and will be more productive.  Thanks for sticking with me!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


To start off I have to tell you that Ana stole my coffee.  You would think I would just take it back, but she has been sick, and she's kind of scary.  I know she is little, but her hair is all crazy (my fault) and she looks like she just left a cage fight.  I can't take it from her.  She may bite me.

So some of you may be wondering "How was Tuesday?"
Let me tell you some of the thing I've learned.

1.  I can't email.  It took me three attempts to get the right blog site emailed out yesterday and I still didn't do it correctly.  It's okay, I read pretty well and I think I have a great Jerry Seinfeld impression.

2.  Like his mom, Carter likes to travel.  Unlike his mom, his traveling is on the basketball court.  In the words of Ross "Pivot!  Pivot!"  He's playing well though, just wishes dribbling were optional.

3. Rhythm isn't preloaded into kids.  I caught Jackson dancing yesterday.  Wow!  He can move, but he was trying some new stuff that looked like he was doing an impression of Napoleon Dynamite doing the intro to "The Cosby Show."  It was painful.  I wanted to video tape it and put it on the blog, but he might record my moves too.  They have to stay secret until they make their debut somewhere huge!

4.  Homework isn't fun.  I don't remember doing much homework, but I'll tell you that I'm making up for it now.  This kindergarten stuff Durant has is tough.  He has to write ten sentences this week and he doesn't know how to spell yet.  It makes for challenging work.

5.  Balloons should cost more.  The most popular toys in the Ness house for 2011?  Balloons and plastic cups.  I pulled out a balloon yesterday and you would have thought that I had just dumped Toys R Us in the kitchen.  Everyone was amazed and in wonder at the balloon.  Everyone huddled together and played a game of volleyball as joy filled the room.  Why do I buy expensive toys to fight over when I can buy a pack of balloons at the dollar store and be wildly popular.

6. God made moms.  I get why man should not be alone.  You should see this house.  Half way done, and that means there is time to clean, catch up on Valentines for school, do laundry, take medicine, baths, wash the car, get groceries...  When is Nikki back?

Those are the things I learned yesterday.  Hope your day was good.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Christy and Nikki put a great post up about their day yesterday, so I will compete with a much less heart felt and serious post about my day.

Had to convince my boys that going to school was the only option.  They were hoping I would say "hey, why don't you feel sick until eleven, we'll get some pizza, and play video games until maybe midnight! Sound cool?"
I disappointed them.  They furthered their education.

Ana was sick/is sick with a fever and what I assume are aches.  The poor little thing just kind of groans like a dog.  She is very snuggly though.  I had to call her school and cancel her appointment.

The morning
Ana like Playhouse Disney.  Who knew? I worked from the living room while she watched Mickey Mouse do his high pitched thing.  She smiled, then wanted to go to bed.

Ana pointed at foods until I found the one she wanted.  Then I would warm it in the microwave and she would want something else. This happened four times, then she was too tired and wanted to sleep.

I got to talk to Nikki on the computer, which was awesome, while Ana napped. I have not gotten done what I had hoped, but hopefully Ana feels better soon.

Also, it began snowing. Nothing stuck to the pavement, but it began snowing.  This means my kids will come home certain of no school tomorrow.

Ezra comes home certain their is no school tomorrow.  He just wants to watch tv and play video games until midnight.  I had him do his chores.  I'm a mean dad.

The other boys come home certain their is no school tomorrow.  We had the talk again, and they believed me that there was a slight chance that there would be school since there was zero snow actually on the ground.

The kids did their homework in the kitchen (even though they are sure there will be no school.) Durant's page gets wet because he wanted to chew on his shirt.  He finished his homework without a shirt on. He was a little cold.

We ate dinner and discussed Paula Dean, Selena Gomez, and the value of leftovers all at the same time.  I got a headache.

The boys were supposed to be getting ready for bed. Instead, they put on Ethiopian clothes and made music videos to their favorite Ethiopian artists.  It was cute, so I pretended I didn't know what they were doing.  Ana moaned like a dog and fell asleep.

Ezra wants to watch Tivo and see if we can find American Idol since there will be no school tomorrow.  He got to go read before bed.

All is quiet at my house and I learn that there WILL be school tomorrow.  I throw a small party, dance around the living room and read about Yogi Berra until I fall asleep.

Does life get more ordinary? I think not.

Monday, February 7, 2011

What's really going on?

Since Nikki left for Ethiopia some people have been wondering what is happening.  I tell them that she arrived safe, is doing great and will be reporting updates on  Here I will be giving a daily update on being a dad of five without my wife's help.  Here is the weekend addition.
Friday Night:
The three young ones and myself went to cheer on Norton basketball.  Carter's team won big and he had a steal and a basket right away in the third quarter.  It was a great play, great game, and a fun night.  Sadly, I had the flu last week so I lost sixteen pounds in sweat during the game, not because the game was close but because I was having hot flashes.

Carter went with the guys to Buffalo Wild Wings after the game. I couldn't be more proud.  Ezra was out at a concert and came home to me drooling on my chair late that night.  I think I handled it all well.

Everyone got dressed and ate before the day ended.  If that was all that happened, I would say that we are winning!  Everything that the kids had they were on time for, which is not always true.  Ezra scored three goals in his soccer game and wasn't feeling very well.  Carter won the Super Bowl on Madden.  Durant played Lightning McQueen for every moment his eyes were open, and Jackson drew some pretty incredible pictures.  He's a great artist.  Ana had to work on Saturday, she was taking care of babies all day and was very worn out by the end of the day.
We watched Louisville win at night, though it was closer than I would hope.  I think ESPN should hire me as an analyst for those ESPN 78 games like that one.

Ezra and Carter were feeling sick all night so we missed church.  It was a pretty uneventful day at our house, but I was reminded how much I like to be at church and worship with others.  It is good doing church with your kids at home, but it is nice to have the support of the community.  Oh yeah, there was that game yesterday too.  I guess I watched that.  Off to work!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why Should I Cheer?

This Super Bowl has me slightly sad.  I know, I lived in Wisconsin, but the only team with sillier uniforms than the Packers is the Vikings and at least they have a manly horn on the helmet.  Anyways, I'm not a Packers fan, and probably would lean towards the Steelers on Sunday. Then I thought, I have some creative friends.  Maybe they would want to give me reason to cheer for the Packers or Steelers for a day.  If I'm not convinced I will cheer for the commercials with 78% of the other Americans.  Have at it.  Comment why I should cheer.  We'll see if there is any worthy argument.

Results of a Broken Phone

Since you know that I now carry a complete diva phone, I will confess that I lost all phone numbers.  If you want me to have your phone number (which I am not assuming) please send it over to me.  My email is  Thanks.