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Lighthouse Strong

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God tells us in scripture to let our light shine that they would see our good works and glorify Him. A lighthouse doesn’t need to fire a cannon to call attention to its shining – it just shines. Used to be 25+ years of marriage was the norm, but nowadays people in our culture marvel at a marriage that lasts as long as ours has.

It’s been said that a strong marriage requires two people who choose to LOVE each other – even on those days when they struggle to like each other. I certainly haven’t always been likable (or lovable, for that matter), but you’ve loved me right through it. And I admit I haven’t always liked you. But I’ve always loved you…always will.

Father, thank you for the gift of marriage…that you’ve made us one flesh. She knows the worst of me and still chooses to love me because Your love is in her. The world around us has devalued the sanctity of marriage, and yet here we stand…stronger than ever, and we praise you for that! Abba Father, let our marriage shine bright for our sons to see…first and foremost that our example gives you glory, but also that they each desire for their future marriage to bring you honor as well. Lord, may Your love and Your light pierce the darkness of the world around us as we stand strong and faithful for You like a lighthouse, today and through the years ahead.

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The Parable of a Trash Bag

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Some days, these notes are as much more to encourage me than you…a reference point for me to use in recalling something later in life as my memory fails me. This is one of those notes.

Last night, while changing the trash, my nine year old NE stops halfway through the task, turns to me and this is what followed:

NE: “Dad, I’m going to tell you a parable.”
Me: “Cool! I like parables. Whatcha got?”

NE: “This trash bag is us. Well, it’s like us, cuz we’re not really trash…”

Me: 😗😉

NE: “And the wind is Jesus. When I open the new bag to let the air in, it fills up. It’s like our hearts…when we open our heart and life to Jesus, He comes in and fills us up.”

Me: “Yeah man! That is SO true! I love it!”

NE: “See there, I just told you a parable, because parables are stories about things that are the same. I really like parables.”

Me: “Me too buddy. Where’d you learn that one?”

NE: “I didn’t. I just thought of it myself while I was changing the trash. It just came into my mind so I told you.” (Walks out of the room carrying the trash to the dumpster)

(Mic drop…like, literally! I’m left standing there in silence with my mouth wide open in awe.)

It was one of those Eight-Second Bull Rides, where I’m left standing in the dust wondering what just happened.

You have no idea the depths to which my mind had taken that parable in the 45 seconds that our conversation lasted.

No, really! I mean I could’ve done a full 40 minute Sunday sermon on that baby right there on the spot… in the middle of the kitchen, tripping over spilled trash, dirty dishes still in my hand…stopped everything and called the family in for some impromptu, down right deep bible study that would’ve touched the souls of most biblical scholars type-stuff. Yowza, baby!

He doesn’t know it yet, but I think he just found the Upward game day half-time devotion he wants to write and share himself this season. 😉🙌

I literally just never cease to be amazed at how and when God uses His children to work in the lives of others. Like…seriously! Awesome!

And, even more, I just totally adore watching my boys mature in their understanding of who God is and who they are in Christ.

Love you boys! Keep on keepin’ on!

Dad

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for making yourself known to these two precious little ones you’ve entrusted me with. Please keep working in their lives to guide and lead them along the path you’ve set apart for each of them. Would you please just continue setting a firm foundation in their lives of who they are in you so that they can withstand the trials they’ll surely face without me. Please, speak to them in a way that they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they will ALWAYS have you. Lord, bless these little hearts and keep them in your arms. Oh…and if you could just take my mistakes and shortcomings as their daddy…you know, all the things about me that I’d toss to the curb with the trash…and maybe just overlook those and use them for something good in their lives, that’d be like.just.really.amazing. I know you got my back. 😉👍

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Post-It Note From God

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As I rushed out of the house at 9:00pm last night on the way to the hospital, I didn’t think to take a Bible with me.  By the time it crossed my mind, it was too late to turn back for it.  How could I not grab my Bible!?  Ugh!

Stopping to fill the car with gas and grab a coffee for the long night, I sent a text to some brothers in the faith asking for prayer.  My phone almost dead and my access to a digital Bible thus limited, I had no written Word of God to take with me so I also asked for some Scripture to share.

Praying for the 45 minute drive downtown to comfort a friend in his hour of need, I asked God to reveal to me what to say.  I asked for SO much in that time.  I asked…and asked…and asked some more.  I praised, and I glorified.  I sought Him, and I sought His Word.  I sought to recall it, knowing I would have to rely on my weak memory alone to speak Truth into the lives of a family hurting in the dark hours of the night. 

Stepping out of the car at the hospital, I looked at my phone, on its last minutes of battery life, to see the texts from the brothers praying for the situation and the various Scripture references they pointed me toward.  And I prayed, “if only I had a Bible with me.” In that instant, it’s as if God whispered directly in my ear “look in the back seat.” Finding NE’s children’s Bible, I laughed and praised God for it…and then walked inside.
Isn’t it awesome how He provides exactly what we need when we need it!

Hours later, as midnight approached, I opened it and read through some Psalms.  In turning to find what I was searching for, I turned too far and landed right dab on Proverbs 15, and this.  
Proverbs 15 This.  A post-it note written by my son in his newfound faith, as he seeks to know his God better…seeks to know the Jesus that died for him in a deeper, more intimate way.  This was the calming voice I needed to remind me that I don’t have to have all the answers when life happens.  

Because I don’t.  And I never will.  But I know who does.  He’s the Jesus/God of the Bible.  And I love Him …and His Bible!  Thank you, Lord, for speaking to me through my son.  And thank you, son, for being faithful in your quest for Him.  In your youth, you are witnessing to those around you (i.e. me) more than you know.

Love,

Dad

Lord, help me lead him and his brother in YOUR ways.  Help me to die to self so that I may live for you.  Guide me as I guide them.  Let them see you in me, and let them follow you, not me.

Amen

What’s Next? My Biggest Parenting Fear Revealed 

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What Next?

photo credit: liveindiapost.blogspot.com

I’m literally sitting in the parking lot at the eye doctor waiting to walk in, and I can’t. I…just…cannot. I have to stop crying first.

Why? Because, this. (I encourage you to take the six minutes to watch the video. It offers some good insight, not just to what I share here next, but a glimpse into life with a special needs child.)

You know, I don’t know what it’s like to be a parent of only “typical” kids, so I don’t know if parents of “typical” kids have the same fear I do. I do know I’ve had conversations with parents of “non-typical” children, so I don’t think I’m alone here…though maybe I am. Creation was established, by God, with a life cycle…and the natural cycle for us is that our children outlive their parents. We go first…that’s the way it’s “supposed” to be. I’m not supposed to bury my own child.

I’m just gonna throw out a fault of mine…an odd fear of mine that maybe shouldn’t be. (If you’re a parent and reading this, don’t judge me…not until you’ve walked the road I’ve walked for sixteen years. I’m just laying my weakness down at the cross and counting on Christ’s redemptive grace and mercy to carry me.)

Some days, my biggest parenting fear for you, my only daughter, is that you outlive me. Yes…that would mean, that in order to prevent this fear from becoming reality, I would need to outlive you…to bury my own child. And THAT is perhaps my second biggest parenting fear.  But, some days it seems like the better alternative, if I’m just being honest.

The thought that you may have to navigate this life without the foundation and stability of your mommy and me is…unbearable for me to imagine. I shared the story at our basketball games this past weekend of when we lost you at Six Flags as a child…20 minutes of unimaginable turmoil and hell on earth. The sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that I’d failed you. I would rather walk that pain again for my lifetime than to live an eternity knowing you are alone here, without the love and support of a sibling like this. I think my bigger failure would be in not setting in place for you a support system and firm foundation upon which to fall when I pass into eternity.  

I pray almost daily that you have this type of relationship with your brothers when your mommy and I are dead and gone. (Not because I’ve guilted you into it, boys.)  Not because they HAVE to…but because they WANT to. It’s hard to see that type of future for the three of you during this stage in our lives. I pray I can be the type of father and leader that guides the three of you to that place. That leads you, my precious daughter, to a refuge of safety, security, stability and support.

I love you more than you know, sweet daughter of mine.

Love,

Daddy

A Week’s Prayer Covering – Day 1

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 Oh gracious Lord, my God, as I watch them play, I know you’re watching them too. So young and innocent…clueless to the horrors and atrocities that await them in the adult world. Abba Father, shelter their minds and their hearts for as long as You can. I beseech you to only expose them to the pain and the hurt and the suffering this world will offer them as You see need to prepare them for worse to come. As difficult as it is for me to see them hurting, Lord, I pray it be in Your will to do so while I’m here to help them navigate it.

  As their little minds grow with each rock skipped, every stick tossed, each ball thrown, every bubble popped and every frog caught, please continue expanding their minds to explore a world outside their own…to live outside their comfort zone…to never settle for the first answer (unless it’s from me and their mom) 🙂 Ignite a passion in their hearts to live life to the fullest…to seek You with all their heart, mind, soul and body. To never stop searching for Truth…to seek You without ceasing.

  Thank you for blessing me and their mother in choosing us as their parents. What an awesome responsibility you’ve laid at our feet. Oh, but what a greater joy you’ve placed in our hearts. Lead us in leading them, Father. Thank you for the road we’ve already travelled, the smooth and the bumpy. Prepare us for the journey that still lies ahead, and walk with us as we share with them a love like no other…the love of their eternal Father and Creator…the love of your Son. Lord God, it’s in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, I pray these things. In all things may your will be done and to you be the glory and the praise forever. Amen.

Love,

A child of the One True King

Life In Eight Seconds…or Less

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Some of my most deeply though-provoking, meaningful and life-altering conversations with my boys take place in less time than it takes to win a championship bull ride. They start with an open of the gate, and whether I’m ready for the ride or not, we’re off and running. Sometimes I’m able to dig in, hold my ground and ride that bull for the whole eight seconds, leaving a small nugget of truth in their hearts and minds. Most times, (which is more often than I care to admit) the gate is opened when I least expect it, and that bull bucks me off with his opening line. Take last week as a prime example:

SI: (watching a toddler half his age walk past him…at church, no less!):
“She has a cute butt.”
“Umm, wait…wha…?”
He gone. Down the hall in the opposite direction, I didn’t even have a fightin’ chance.

Any trip in the car tends to be one bull ride after another.

SI:
“Dad, firemen are not afraid.”
“Uh, yeah I’m not sure I agree with that.”
“No! Firemen cannot be afraid.”
“Yeah, we can.”
“Wait, you’re afraid?”
“What makes a firefighter different from everyone else is we’re a little afraid, but we go in anyway…because someone has to. There’s nothing wrong with being afraid of anything that can kill you.”
“Fire can kill you?”
“Yes, son. It can.”
Turning to his brother, he’s gone…off to the next thing.

Two minutes later from NE:

“Dad?”
“Yes sir.”
“If you want to dig for oil, do not…because you might blow up.”
“Wha…”?”
He gone. And I’m left lying in the dust wondering what just happened as that bull runs off to the next thing.

Last week SI was was literally walking circles around a friend at church.
“Dude! What are you doing?”
“I’m mooning him.”
“You’re what?!”
“I’m being his moon.”
“Well, alrighty then.”

That’s our life. Eight-second bursts of attention that take every ounce of my concentration just to hold on as if my life depends on it. Can’t say, if given the chance, I’d change it for all the sanity in the world. Life…eight seconds at a time.

Love,

Dad

P.S. For the record, any “cute butt” comment coming from my 5 year old warrants a follow up conversation. Apparently, she had cute little flowers on the seat of her pants. Aha! So, the pants. The pants are cute, not the butt. Well, okay then. I can live with that.

A Field Trip

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I did something I thought I’d never do today. I walked through the doors of an art gallery. Intentionally. You see, I’m not much into art. It’s never really been my thing. Really. I mean, don’t get me wrong here, there’s nothing wrong with art…it’s just not MY thing. The extent of my art-viewing experiences is glancing at the walls in the dining room

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on my way to the refrigerator.

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Nonetheless, far be it from me to impose my likes and dislikes on my kids. So, we picked the boys up from school an hour early and took a field trip to the art gallery.

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Why, you ask? What brought me here today? Because, tied with your mom, I’m your biggest fan! I always knew you have mad skills, dude! My son…an artist who’s work is on display for the whole world to appreciate.

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They’ll never appreciate it as much as I do. Keep up the great work son! I’m proud of you. Then. Now. Tomorrow. Always. Not merely because your art made it into the gallery, but because you’re MY son.

Love,

Dad

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