Monday, August 16, 2010
I thought you were gone, lost and somewhere that I would not be able to get you back from. The more I struggled to return to where it was, the more I floated away. Slippery, like a fish out of water, I just could not grasp you and hold you down. And the more I wondered and stared, the more out of focus you became.
I can't ask others about you or wonder how they got you back, because no one shares in it the same way, no one takes the same walk and journey with it daily or weekly or in their life. And somehow I got to where pessimism lies dormant,where status-quo sits and twiddles her thumbs and I tried to wake her up-tried to put her on like a warm robe. Warm and self-sufficient, I saw no need to look anymore. Where we were was good enough, well enough for me.
But today-without trying and without knowing-you came back full force and said "Here I am. Here is where I have been all along." And when I looked into what made me my shape-what drives and pushes and motivates and excites and moves me-I saw you. And I know that you waited here for me, knowing like a loyal dog that I would be back and that I would not need to say anything-I can just put you back on like a suit of armor-and joy abounds. I found you, and I didn't even have to look-I just had to see.
Monday, August 9, 2010
We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking.
DCB-Oh How He Loves
I can remember, two distinct times where the ocean tried to get the better of me. Both of which were in Hawaii, both on different areas of the island, and both left me with mixed feelings-each with their own experience and degree of intensity.
The first I can recall put me in the ocean and had me getting flipped over and over at Sherwood Forest beach on the island of Oahu. I can recall multiple flips and tumbles, each putting me just out of my comfort zone. These left me with a feeling of no control and no certainty-as if my body was subject to the waves and nothing could step in. I saw a man and another person coming in from scuba-diving, and while asking me for help, I frantically pushed off of the man’s shoulders to propel myself back towards the shore. He seemed surprised and probably a little ticked off, but I got to where I needed to be.
The second was on the shores of Waikiki a few years later, and I walked out on a sandbar while the sis and mom hung out on the beach, and dad snorkeled….I can recall walking so far because it was a sandbar, and I was barely waist deep early in the morning sun. Well, come high noon or so, after I got tired of hanging out on the sandbar, I started to walk back. But I soon learned the water was now much deeper, closer to 8-10 feet-and anything deeper than you are shoulder-high is too deep. So I swam, and I swam hard and for a while to get back to where I needed to be on the shore. Exhausted, I made it back to the shore.
The water, the oceans-the idea of drowning scares me. It eats at my core, putting a chill in me when I think about it. My kids are awesome swimmers; they are fish in the water. The just trust it and do it and love it. Somewhere along the line my fear became real and made loving the water hard. I can swim, and I do it-but I don’t hold it as a favorite love like they do.
Grace is an ocean. The kids get it, they love it and they embrace it. Sometimes, in the same way I struggle with the water and fight it harder than I need to-I do the same with God’s grace and the way He draws us into it, asking us only to be engulfed by it. I want to sink into that ocean.
Friday, August 6, 2010
The weekend approaches.
It is the first full weekend in August, the summer is here and the heat is hot and the kids are staying up late and having a great time playing. There is something fun and spirited about the summer and the way it brings us all alive.
So today, may you feel the breeze in your hair and the grass under your feet and the sun smiling down on your head. May it fill your soul with joy-
Play skillfully with a shout of joy.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
I love to hang out with the kids. There are fewer things that I enjoy, and there are fewer moments that make me feel young and happy overall. Whenever I get to spend time playing or just listening to them interact, it makes me feel good. And even in the moments when I don't like to hear the repetitive nature, or the arguing or ignoring-I still try to experience it as it is, as a whole and not a singular. Listening to them discuss and debate and interact with each other is awesome, and it is a way for me to see how their minds and hearts are developing.
I wonder, if in the same way, God really enjoys seeing me interact and learn and touch those around me. When I laugh, or have a blast or discuss with those around me, does God enjoy that? What about when I struggle or really need help, or argue and fight-does He look at the whole more than the moment?
My heart and ideas and opinions are always on the move, always growing and questioning and sharpening to shape me. There are loads of things in my mind, and they are always trying to piece out and make sense and lay out a foundation of me. I think, or at least I hope, that the moves I make and growth I experience will be something fun to watch from God's perspective, and like a Father-He can smile and love every minute of it as well.
What is growing in you right now?
Monday, August 2, 2010
This weekend was my daddy-daughter date with my little girl. We had a great plan laid out, and she spent time getting ready (very excitedly) all afternoon, picking out her clothes and earrings and headband and even put on her prettiest dress shoes. Seeing her glowing all day with anticipation was a big slice of awesome for me.
We went to play games and stopped to shop a little after and finished off the date with ice cream cones. While we waited for the cones, she looked at me and said “this is the best date I have ever had daddy.” We talked about everything from video game technique to winning oodles of tickets (to which she totally owned those machines for 500 tickets!) to bargain-hunting to why we go to church to ice cream flavors. We laughed, we sang “Taxman” and had a great time. I don’t know that her and I have had a better time together just the two of us ever.
The best date she has ever had. I could have melted right there on the sidewalk. My daughter has given me the opportunity to teach and guide a little life, but just as important I have been able to learn from her and it has shaped and made me who I am. When I spend time with her, it gives me the chance to really get to experience what she is thinking and feeling in her little mind. It was a great day.
In our interaction, I hope to show her what it means to be a lady little lady who is respected and loved by a man. To be treated like a princess, not in a superior way but in a beautiful and cherished way. I hope I can continue to be an example for her and what it means to be a man, a loving and caring dad who would do anything for his little girl. And I hope she will, someday in the distant future, accept nothing less.
Certain is it that there is no kind of affection so purely angelic as of a father to a daughter. In love to our wives there is desire; to our sons, ambition; but to our daughters there is something which there are no words to express.
-- Joseph Addison
Thursday, July 29, 2010
How do I take care of the people Jesus calls the hungry and thirsty and naked and tired? I can love them, and when you love the people around you, and truely reach out to them this is how we learn to serve. A recent sermon podcast I listened to from Rob Bell talked about this, and how when we struggle to feel God's presence, and we are solely looking for Him in our intellect or theology, we miss the place He tells us to find Him-in generosity.
God is a generous God-giving a Son who gave His life for the world. Giving is where we need to be in our daily lives, and it doesn't just involve the stuff we thing about. It involved love, care and the feeling of being treated like a human.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Listening to his radio/TV show, I get an idea of his attitude, and if you don’t know the whole story behind Dave Ramsey and how he got where he is, he comes across as harsh/judgmental/mean/(insert descriptive word here). But what is his motivation for the fire he has? Why does he yell, question and give a lot of “that’s just stupid” kind of comments?
Dave really comes across to me as someone who realizes that when there is an opportunity to speak truth and it is truth that he has experienced the hard way, and he wants to share that with those around him.
I have always felt there are 2 kinds of people in this world, those that learn by doing and those that learn by listening. If you read Dave’s story, you see a man who learned by doing and getting burned. And once he figured out how to live the right way, how to not be a slave to people through borrowing and how to claim ownership on your own money and life, he couldn’t help but share it. His empire, his ministry is built around that idea. So if he comes across as passionate-that’s because he is, because he doesn’t wish anyone to go down the road that only leads them to destruction financially.
The best I can offer someone when it comes to paths of destruction is my knowledge and learned experiences and self-improvements made from it. Dave shows a true compassion for others-a desire not to see them learn the hard way. I hope in my life, I can influence those around me that seek that same guidance.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Do you admire Jesus?
There are a lot of fans of Jesus, of God, of religion and spirituality and doing the right thing and volunteering or standing up for those whose rights are being trampled and loving others and being a good example or the right kind of Christian according to whatever box you can fit that into…
But are you just a fan-or are you on the team?
Regarding the life of an admirer, in the book Story: Recapturing the Mystery, there is a quote that reads as follows:
Soren Kierkegaard states: "The difference between an admirer and a follower still remains, no matter where you are. The admirer never makes any true sacrifices. He always plays it safe. Though in words, phrases, songs, he is inexhaustible about how highly he prizes Christ, he renounces nothing, gives up nothing, will not reconstruct his life, will not be what he admires, and will not let his life express what it is he supposedly admires."
When I read these words, I had to ask myself---am I an admirer, or a follower?
I don’t think Jesus is impressed with my “fan” collection of Bibles, books, etc…I have a lot of memorabilia, that fits into the books or study guides I like to read, the notes I’ve taken, the ideas I write down-but it’s all just a collection of stuff, isn’t it…
Jesus didn’t say, “admire me”, kind-of like me but still do your own thing…do it as you’re comfortable…
As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea… And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
Immediately, they left it behind to follow Jesus…
Follow Him where? And left what behind?
Their lives, their ways, their hurt and rejection and family and friends and everything they were to follow…
To follow Him to the cross, to die to themselves and live for God, to follow God’s will
Follow me, says Jesus-be on my team.
Follow me to death and ultimately to life
The road starts right here, right now with each decision we make
On Sunday mornings we can make the decision as well with the cup the bread—living the life, not admiring but living…
“This do in remembrance of me”
Each day, I try hard to remember that I need to be on God’s team, striving each and every second to trust and obey.
Not to enshrine, not to be a fan…
Not to admire, but to follow
Sunday, July 18, 2010
“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous."
I drank in nature for all that it’s worth. The smells, sounds, sights and feelings of the earth around me felt awesome. It is hard for me to see all of the creation around us and not attribute it to the Creator who designed it all ex nihilo.
There were sites in the Smoky Mountains that were breathtaking, and by far my favorite was the 1 mile each way hike to the waterfall in Townsend. It was a road off the path, unmarked and not what you would expect to be a great path, it was pretty simple on the sign, “Buckeye Trail”.
So we ventured, with the kids, and our friends and set out on the trail. This is an area where the journey was so important to enjoy, and the destination was something that was going to be there regardless. The journey was beautiful; scenic with lush greens and small creatures, and it was even treacherous at times as well. There were plenty of people telling us to turn around, looking at the little ones thinking, oh they are too small, they can’t make it all the way (some even said it out loud). There were many areas that were just wide enough to walk, and off the edge it was a straight drop down the side of a steep fall.
When we arrived-what a sight. The waterfall was beautiful, hard to describe in words. The shoes came off, and we walked around in the water, enjoying the cool refreshing flow. It towered above our heads and down into the bank below, and smelled sweet and pure. The trees and nature around us sat calmly and sheltered us in. As I sat and contemplated and took it all in, I could feel the presence of God among us.
God spoke: "Earth, green up! Grow all varieties
of seed-bearing plants,
Every sort of fruit-bearing tree."
And there it was.
Earth produced green seed-bearing plants,
And fruit-bearing trees of all sorts.
God saw that it was good.
(Genesis 1:11-13 Message)
When God created, He created the World we see around us and it was natural and beautiful and like the trees and the waterfalls, it was untouched and not corrupted by our hands. The more I get outside, the more I can see the good God saw when He created. I would challenge you to get out of your comfort, out of your man-cave or living room or office building and taste, smell, see, feel and hear the world in it’s natural state around you. The Bible tells us that all of creation points to God-you just need to learn to look for it.
What is the most beautiful thing you have experienced in nature?