Kesleigh and I went on a bike ride the other day. She’s 4 (almost 5) and is still a little wobbly on her “new bike.” (She got it for Christmas.) Our neighbor, Peyton (7yrs) joined us for the ride. We rode around the neighborhood a while but then I got a little bored and decided to take them off road. We found a little trail that led us to a ditch. (maybe 20ft deep) The sides were a little steep and I could see a little trepidation on both their faces when I suggested that we ride down and then back up the other side.
Kesleigh spoke first, “Daddy, you go first.” I did. I rode down the smooth part of the hill thinking they would follow me.
When I reached the other side and motioned for them to come on over, Peyton jumped off his bike and walked it down the hill. Kesleigh (I love this girl) just looked at him and jumped on her bike and started down the hill. She trusted me and the direction I had pointed her in.
No fear. Fully committed. I could see the concentration on her face. She wobbled a little, but made it to the bottom, hit a bump, and bounced off the bike and onto the ground. By the time she realized what had happened, she heard daddy’s cheers showering down from above. “You were awesome Kesleigh! Good job! That was cool!”
Her first words? “Daddy, I made it to the bottom.” No tears. Just a positive outlook.
She fell, but she didn’t fail. I was so proud to see her commitment and determination.She didn’t hesitate.Fear didn’t have time to speak. She just went for it! She was all in! Her focus was perfect and even her attitude about falling was great. Daddy is proud!
That’s my girl!!!!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for Kesleigh. She’s a precious gift. Lord, help me to train her up so that she will grow in her understanding and love for You – so that she will give her life to You and serve you wholeheartedly. Lord, I also ask that You teach me to be like her – trusting the directions you point me in – not allowing fear to have a voice – having a great attitude about falling – being committed and focused – going for it and being all in when it comes to the things You’ve called me to. AMEN.
Last night I couldn’t sleep. I had my 40th birthday Friday and then Monday (yesterday) was told that my full-time ministry position would become part-time in January. They were clear that it was not performance related and this decision was also for all the other full-time programming people too. They said, “It’s the economy”. . . blah. . .blah. . . (After the original blow, I’m not sure I heard much more.) In the end, none of their reasoning (and by the way, I believe they have the best intentions) changes the situation my family is in. Bottom line: I would need to find another way to support my family by January.
So last night I couldn’t sleep. There were too many feelings, thoughts, prayers, and junk rolling around in my head. I just fiddled with the computer from about 3am ’til morning. Around 4am, Kasen (almost 2yrs) woke up and I heard him down the hall. He walked into our room to crawl into bed with Miranda and I. I wasn’t there. I was in the loving room “thinking.” I tracked him down and tried to put him back in his bed. He fought me on it and I was in no mood to fight back, so I brought him into the living room and laid down on the couch with him. He went back to sleep in my arms almost immediately. Then it happened. Was that a giggle? There it was again. Yep, it was a giggle. I can’t believe it. He’s giggling in his sleep.
My son was so comfortable in my arms that he could sleep deeply enough to giggle in his dreams.
Prayer: God, You are my Father. I know I’m safe in your arms. But I’m also feeling pretty vulnerable and insecure. Help me to trust in Your providential hands enough to sleep and giggle again. AMEN.
Miranda asked a simple question. “Where is Kasen?” I didn’t know. We had been home for a few hours from our vacation and were relaxing on the floor of the living room. Kasen had been right there with us just minutes before. We yelled for him. . . No answer or any noises from other parts of the house. We got up and started looking. There are only a couple of places he could be – the living room, the kitchen, his room, our room. (He can’t open doors yet and we keep the rest of them closed.) In a matter of seconds we had searched the whole house – panic was quick to follow. Miranda and I both were yelling his name. I checked behind the closed doors. And then the closets. Fear escalated. I remembered a story of a friend who had climbed in a trunk (Caylin Brashear) and I checked our trunk – then Kasen’s toybox. Miranda was screaming with a voice I had never heard. Shrieks. Her breathing had an unnerving “ohhh. . .” sound. She met me in the hall and screamed, “the pool.” Kasen loves the “poo” – maybe he could be there?.?. but logically, he couldn’t get the back door open. Could someone have come in the house and taken him? Could he have somehow gotten a door open? My mind raced. I was desperate. . .I ran outside slamming my face into the patio door. No. . .he wasn’t in the pool. . . Heart racing, I ran back inside.
Miranda was holding him and yelling to me that she found him. Evidently, he had been laying in his bed the whole time with his covers over his head. We had each been in his room multiple time during those moments. He likes to take Kesleigh’s binky and then run and hide getting his little oral fix ’cause he knows he’s not allowed to have one. Evidently, that’s what he had done and probably fallen asleep. Or maybe he didn’t answer our calls ’cause he was hiding.
Either way, it couldn’t have been more than 3 minutes total. But it was enough. Enough to realize how quickly things can go downhill. Enough to realize how great our love for our children is and how quickly it can turn into fear. This kind of experience changes a man.
As I look back on it I wonder, “Where was my faith during these moments? What happened to trusting in the Lord? Why did I panic so quickly?” I am a weak man. Sinful. Even at my best, I am still very frail. I need God.
Prayer: Lord, take care of my children. You have given them to me for a few years and I truly want to be a good steward. I want to be a great father and a good example. I want to protect them. I want to represent You to them. All of these things are noble thoughts, but the bottom line is that I can’t do any of these things near as well as You. Lord, cover them with Yourself. Protect them when I fail them. Hold them close and keep them safe. Lord, in the same moment that I pray for their protection, I also pray that You will ultimately use them in mighty ways. May they be arrows (Psalm 127) that break into enemy territory taking ground for Your kingdom. May they understand You and the strength they have in You so well that they are willing to follow You into situations that may even seem dangerous to others. May they be in Your hands at all times, with or without me, in every situation – that’s the safest place to be. AMEN.
The trembling hands awkwardly grasped the air. . . faithfully reaching into the unknown. I stood there again, behind the cold glass, looking in on my precious new baby. Kesleigh Anne was born last night around 11:03pm. It was now about 2:30am. The hospital halls were silent and I just watched. I watched my baby girl tremble. Her tiny hands grasping the air. . . groping for something. . . something she didn’t know or understand. It was a new world to her. Just hours earlier she had been protected within her mother. . .floating effortlessly in a forever nourished state. Now she was breathing with lungs which had never tasted air before. Her skin was drying and she was missing the touch of her mother as she lay in this cold plastic box. Unable to see yet, she reached out. . . . longing for a touch. . . . longing for something to comfort her.
I watched behind the glass. I felt so proud. Proud to be her father. Proud of her mother. And yet. . . there was something else underneath. . . something which took the edge off the pleasure of the moment. I was scared. Scared of responsibility. Fearful of what it would be like to have a 2nd child in the house. I imagined brushing her hair as a little girl and tucking her into bed at night. I imagined the day when I would one day walk her down the aisle and give her away. I wondered if I could do it. I wondered if God would give me the strength to be the father that she would need?
As she grasped the air, so did I. Trembling, I awkwardly stretched out my arms and decided to reach into the unknown. . . . longing for a touch. . . . longing for something to comfort me.
Tears soothe the eyes. They moisturize the dryness. They soothe. It’s a mystery to me how this works, ’cause it goes way beyond soothing just our eyes. Tears soothe our hearts. They remind us we’re alive. Tears affect our hearts, but they also express them. The greatest moments of our lives, both good and bad, are usually accompanied by tears.
This past week (Skiing in New Mexico) was the first time I left Kasen and Miranda for any real length of time. I didn’t really imagine how difficult it would be, but as the day approached, I could feel these emotions welling up inside
me. I had worked all day getting ready for the trip. I loaded the church vans with the youth that night and then went back home to finish my personal packing. I had hoped to finish early so I could just cuddle with Miranda bit and play with Kasen, but they were both in bed before I was anywhere close to being ready. Then I realized, I couldn’t find my wallet. I searched everywhere. . . . Nothing. . . .what could I have done with it? Where could it be? Oh wait. . .maybe I left it in the church van when I went to gas it up. I left the house to look ’cause I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep without knowing. I found it in the van. My mind raced back and forth over all the things I had to do to get ready as I drove home. “I think I’m finally ready.” I thought as a unlocked the door to the house. I wasn’t all the way in the door and I could hear Kasen crying in his crib. “Yes!” I thought – maybe I’m demented for being happy he was upset, but that meant that I could go and comfort him. I picked him up gently and held him close as I snuggled into the rocking chair. I whispered to him and prayed over him as I rocked. It was such a tender amazing moment. I didn’t really expect it, but I cried. I did the same a few moments later as I laid down to bed next to Miranda and prayed over her as she slept.
It’s amazing to think about now. My son was actually comforted by my voice and touch. What an honor and privilege it is to be given that kind of influence and trust. I wonder now – was he more comforted by me? or was I more comforted by his total dependence and trust?
On Maundy Thursday, we did a small service and remembered the events of the last supper. As I told the story to our students, I cried again. Jesus loves us wholeheartedly. That night He had an intimate moment with His closest friends, and He gave Himself completely to them. Just as I had done with Kasen, I remembered how He had whispered to them and prayed over them. I was comforted by him. Was He comforted by my dependence and trust?
Tears reveal our hearts and soothe our hearts. If tears accompany the greatest moments of our lives, then our tears also reveal our values. What we cry about, is what’s important to us. I think I can live with that – ’cause that means that Jesus is important to me and that Miranda and Kasen are important to me.
Here’s a pic of my and my brother diving in Cozumel. I’m the one waving at the camera.
It’s been quite a while for me, but one of my favorite things to do is scuba dive. Quite a few years ago I went on a diving trip with Brenda (my sister), Roger (my brother), Kathy (My sister-in-law), and Kim (Kathy’s sister). Anyway, we went to Cozumel which is known for some of the best scuba diving in the world. The area surrounding the island is an international wildlife area or something so no fishing is allowed. Because of this – the fish and reefs are beautiful and full of all kinds of tropical fish. While there we saw lots of cool things. I swam just above the shell of a sea turtle. We saw sand sharks, eels, lots of cool tropical fish, stingrays, and lobsters so big that could pinch your head off.
We also went on a night dive – that’s when the lobster and other fish come out from their holes. Also during the night dive we wore glow sticks. That way in case anyone got lost everyone else could see ’em. Our dive master led us to an area near the ocean floor where we could just float – it’s called neutral buoyancy. Anyway, he took one of the glow sticks and cut it open and let the little droplets of glowing liquid float around us – pretty cool – it felt like we were in space. We were weightless floating around with glowing “stars” surrounding us.
All the dives in Cozumel are what they call “drift dives.” Part of the reason Cozumel is such a good place to dive is because the water has a current that naturally cleans the reef. This current can also be tough for a diver ’cause it’s hard to swim against. Due to this problem the dive boats simply drop you off in one area and then while you’re underwater, they follow your bubbles to know where to pick you up. As a diver it’s pretty cool cause you get to see the reef without working very hard (or using much of your oxygen) trying to swim around – you simply let the current carry you along the reef and try to swim to the areas that most interest you. On one of our dives I decided to completely surrender to the current. I spent those 40 minutes underwater focusing on praising God for His creation. It was pretty easy considering the things I was getting to see. Anyway, I wonder how my life would be if I completely surrendered to the currents that God blows my direction? Some might think a life like this would be out of control – maybe it is out of my control – but don’t you think God would still be in control?
I think about the opening scene of the movie Forrest Gump. The feather is blowing all over the place and finally settles on Forrest’s shoe. That movie is all about two things – 1. “Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get.” and 2. Lt Dan’s “Destiny.” Which is more descriptive of life? Happenstance or Destiny? I think the feather is the perfect answer – it’s both. What seems like happenstance to us can still be destiny to God. I wanna be a feather on God’s wind – by the way, Jesus describes the Holy Spirit like the wind. In the same way that I surrendered to the current while I was diving, I wanna surrender to the Holy Spirit each day. My life may seem out of control to you, but I’m gonna trust God that He knows what He’s doing.
Here’s a video from our Cozumel Scuba Diving Trip:
Miranda and I read this book – well, Miranda read it out loud as I drove to Ft. Worth this past weekend. It was a great way to pass the time and was a really good story.
Mike Yankoski was regular middle-class college student. He was sitting in church one day and the sermon made him start questioning whether his faith was real or not. He wondered if he’d still have such a “strong faith” if he didn’t have his Christian bubble of friends, a roof over his head, christian music, or anything else. He decided to live on the streets as a homeless man for five months to test his own faith. This book tells the story of he and Sam (Mike’s friend) as they live in 6 different cities in the United States over 5 months time. How do they get food? Where would they sleep? Would it be more difficult to believe in God with everything stripped away? Would they believe at all? It’s all in there! Good stuff! Check it out yourself.
One of the classic questions used by youth ministers in “get to know you”-type games is this: If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why? My standard answer to that question comes from an experience I had in a park one day. I was feeding the ducks out on a dock in a park when I was in college, and there were two swans out quite a distance from the dock. I didn’t want them to miss out, so I threw the bread as far as I could out near them. One of the swans would pick up the piece of bread and then drop it in front of the other one, then he would eat it. Eventually I was able to get them near the dock, and each time I threw the bread the swan would take it to the other one to eat. I soon realized that one of them was blind. The one who could see was bringing the food to him.
So what animal would I be? I’d be a swan – I just don’t know wether I’d want to be the one who provided for his friend, or the blind one who was able to trust that God would provide for him. It’s my prayer that I can live my life in both ways – trusting God to provide and serving the people around me.