Learning Repentance

repent signMiranda and I have been working on teaching our children about repentance quite a bit lately. We never really use that word, but we’re trying to lay a foundation which will make it easy to understand as they grow older. Our practice is to teach them a few things to say when they have hurt someone:

1) I’m sorry. (Stop behavior)
2) I won’t do it again. (Turn around behaviorally)
3) Will you forgive me? (Restore relationship)

After listening to a sermon from Rob Morris (Love146) I’m considering adding another element. He reminded me of the Biblical accounts where the repentant sinner’s first action was to “right” the wrong he was involved in and to even go beyond “right” to make it better.

Remember Zacchaeus, the tax collector who gave back four times everything he had taken? (Lk 19:1-10)

Or when the rich young ruler went away greived because he could not bring himself to help the poor. (Mk 10:17-22)

In Luke 3:10-14, John the Baptist is preaching a baptism of repentance and when asked “What shall we do?” He tells them to give to the poor and to treat others fairly.

Evidently, our repentance should impact the poor and oppressed.

All this is to say, I need to find some ways to help my kids see that repentance is more than my three step lesson. It should have legs on it and actions tied to it. Repentance should impact everyone around us.

Maybe we should add the question: “How can I make it better?” (Restore/Improve situation)

Lord, guide us to model repentance for our children. Lead us to the strategies that will help us to encounter You – to be confronted by sin, and to recognize that our behaviors hinder our relationship with You. Forgive us. Restore us unto You. Change us. Empower us by the Holy Spirit to choose new behaviors and walk different roads and lead us to improve the situations that we have caused in our sin. AMEN.

The Hardest Question

Guest Post from Miranda:

It all started with Kasen asking me, “Who is your brother mommy?”

Mommy: Well Kasen, you know my brother – it’s Uncle Jared.

Kasen: Well who’s your mommy?

Mommy: Gigi.

Kasen: Who’s your daddy?

Mommy: Papa

Kasen: Who’s daddy’s mommy?

Mommy: Grandma.

And then I saw the lightbulb and Kasen said, “Mommy, where’s daddy’s daddy?”

It wasn’t “who?” that time, which was weird. This time he asked “where?” My breath was taken away and I was thinking, “How in the world do I answer this question.” I wasn’t prepared to answer this question. So I said, “Well Kasen, daddy’s daddy was sick and he’s not living anymore.”

Kasen: But mommy, where is he?

Mommy: He’s in heaven with Jesus.

Kasen: Jesus is not in heaven.

Mommy: Well where is he Kasen?

Kasen: He’s with God.

Mommy: Well where are they?

He looked up, and said, “Up in the sky. Up in the air somewhere.”

I thought to myself, “Thank heaven we’re off of that question.” but also thanked God for the opportunity to have that conversation. I also thought, “I wish I could have met him so I would have known what to say to Kasen.”

Mommy: Jesus is also here with us, and he’s in heaven with daddy’s daddy.

Kasen: And at Gigi and Papa’s house?

Mommy: Yes.


Message from Steve: I’m so grateful to have a bride like Miranda. She’s such a great mom! Although I wish I had been there for the moment that she shared with Kasen, I think she responded perfectly. She didn’t fumble all over herself trying to come up with an answer. She was able to tell him the truth in a way that he could understand and then got a bonus opportunity to talk a little about Jesus/heaven/etc. When Miranda told me this story, it brought tears to my eyes. I hate that my children will never know my dad, but the fact they know me, means they know much of who my dad was as well. I see him in the mirror more and more as I grow older.

In the Master’s Name

“All this we ask in the Master’s name. AMEN.” is a phrase I heard over and over as a kid – every time my family would sit down to eat. Both my parents ended their prayers with this phrase each and every night. I’m not sure if it was passed down to them or if they created it themselves, but. . . Well, I’m glad they used it. There’s just something about the way it rolled off their lips. To this day, I listen for it when my mom prays.

I wonder if there will be phrases that will remind my kids of the faith that I carry and cling to?? What will those phrases be?? Will I pass along a legacy of prayer and faith like my parents did??

PS: I asked my mom where the phrase originated, and she isn’t sure either. We’ve heard my grandmother, (mom’s mom) use it too, so our best guess is that it came from her side of the family. I wonder how far back it goes? Did my great grandmother use that phrase too? (Mom keeps forgetting to ask my grandmother, so I’m going to post this without knowing where it originated.)

Prayer & Groans

mikeA friend of mine, Michael Chapman is going through a tough time right now – watching his mother die. She’s been whispering to someone while she’s in a out of consciousness over the past few days. Mike wrote a blog describing it and shared this quote:

In his book, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, Frederick Buechner says this about prayer: “Everybody prays whether we think of it as praying or not. The odd silence you fall into when something very beautiful is happening or something very good or very bad. The ah-h-h-h! that sometimes floats up out of you as out of a Fourth of July crowd when the sky-rocket bursts over the water. The stammer of pain at somebody else’s pain. The stammer of joy at somebody else’s joy. Whatever words or sounds you use for sighing with over your own life. These are all prayers in their way.”

What a beautiful way to describe prayer. It reminds me of Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” He knows our hearts and hears our prayers even when they’re not spoken, but the even better news is that He “groans” for us too!! I also love the imagery of the phrase in the quote saying the . . . . . “that floats up out of you.” Could that be the Spirit at work within us? I hope so.

Sometimes I close my posts with a prayer. Today, I’ll just say that something seems to be “floating up out of me” as I think about Mike’s mom, Jan. Maybe that’s the best prayer I can offer.

A New Dance with a Beautiful Bride

Dancing01I had some thoughts today – Miranda and I started our life together with a dance on our wedding day. Pretty early on in our dating life, we danced together. As we start this new part of our lives with Kasen, it kinda seems like another dance. We’re still learning the steps, and how to move together, but it sure is a fun song to dance to. And I’ve got the best dance partner in the world. I feel like I’ve been writing and praying about the kind of dad that I wanna be, while all along, Miranda is already everything a mom should be. She’s been so good with Kasen. I am so blessed to have her and I’m having lots of fun watching her “mommy-instincts” kick in. She’s incredibly patient and functions really well with almost no sleep. She continues to provide a beautiful home for us and smiles every time I come through the door. (Well, almost every time.) I like calling her “my beautiful bride” and today she is still the most beautiful girl in the world. The same girl I danced with on my wedding day. I see it as my job to help her realize how beautiful she really is. Someday, I’m gonna get her to say the words, “I’m beautiful.” and in that moment, I will have been a part of something really incredible – she will finally have seen herself the way the rest of us have always seen her.

Prayer:
Lord as we learn these new steps together, please be with us. We’ve already shed a few tears and I’m sure there are more to come, but we’ve also known You’re with us through it all. Comfort us. Give us patience with one another. Send people into our lives to bring encouragement and love. Hold us in Your hands God – close to Your heart. As Miranda holds Kasen, let us realize Your presence and closeness. Lord, on our wedding day, we had a multitude of people pray over us and I claim those prayers today over our lives. I’ve never felt closer to Miranda than I do right now, but I also know that things will never be the same. As we make this transition, guide us. Show us how to not only maintain a healthy relationship, but how to grow it even as we are being pulled in other directions with Kasen. God, we need You. We trust You and we will walk with You. Hold our hands and go before us. AMEN.

Rocks
The rocks in the vase to the right are the rocks from our wedding day. Each one was held by a friend or family member and a prayer was said for our relationship and marriage.  This vase sits on the table of our entry way so that each day we will be reminded of the love and support of our friends and family as we strive to live out the promises we made to each other on that day. With the addition of Kasen to our family, I am claiming by my friend Evan’s “transitive property” that these prayers were also for him.

My Beautiful Bride Today

Miranda was exceptionally beautiful to me today. I’m not sure what the deal was, but today she looked even more incredible than normally. Maybe it’s this “radiant glow” thing that people say happens with pregnant women. Maybe it was what she was wearing today or the attitude/outlook she had on life today. Maybe it was my outlook on life today. Maybe it was the way that God shined His light on her today or how all the planets aligned to cause a special gravitational pull which subtly pulled on me causing a heart palpitation within my chest cavity blah, blah, blah. Bottom line. . . . I don’t know what it was today – I just know that I’m so blessed. God has given me such an incredible gift in my bride. I’m so excited about our future together. It’s gonna be so cool to watch her as a mom to Kasen. I’m excited about the team that we’re going to be in raising him.

Our lives are about to change in huge ways once Kasen is born and I must admit that my excitement about the future also has a tiny little hint of sadness/fear about those changes too. I mean, I love my bride and the relationship that we have. I love that we can just get up and go to dinner or travel to Houston to do something fun. I love hanging out with her and cuddling in front of the TV for a quiet night at home together. I’m a little fearful that these days are almost over. Of course I’m excited about what’s coming and how we’re gonna be changed, but I’d be completely clueless to not recognize the beautiful thing we have now.

I thank You God for everything you’ve given me – for my bride, and these incredible early days or marriage, and for the amazing future You have in store for us with Kasen. It’s gonna be so good!!! I love You God!!!