‘I Love mY bab’

DSCN0035

Ok, we’re in Day Two of Chandler’s 22nd birthday celebration, so I’ve pulled out another of my favorite Chandler Catches — this, from a Father’s Day when he was six.

A big part of our purpose in life springs from knowing to whom we belong. 

I received an incredible gift from my 6-year-old this weekend. It consisted of a picture frame and a card, both of which he made at school for a Father’s Day gift. The card has a portrait of me on the front (he told me ahead of time that he had drawn me with hair on the top of my head, an embellishment that definitely enhanced my looks and makes me appear much younger than I really am), and a note from him on the inside. Though I love the portrait, it was the note that got me. The note looked something like this:

Continue reading

Posted in parenting | Tagged | 2 Comments

Me and Michael Douglas

IMG_3370

Today our son, Chandler, is 22 years old. One of my favorite writings is a piece I wrote about his birth. In honor of that auspicious event I am happy to share it with you today.

The only guy I know who’s a new father and older than me is Michael Douglas. And he’s got a young new wife. What about me? Twenty-six years into my first and only marriage with two kids off to college, and I’m changing diapers again? Which way do these flaps go, anyway? Neither side seems sticky. Well would you look at that? Flaps down and the kid is strapped for poop. Six months into the new life of our second son and third child, I notice a sharp pain developing.

When it starts to interfere with my work I decide to go see the doctor. He takes one look at my wrist and knows exactly what it is; he is just a little puzzled as to how I got it.

“We normally see this wrist in new mothers. It’s from lifting the baby,” he gestures. “It’s a type of tendinitis we call, ‘new baby wrist.’ You been lifting anything lately?”

“Yes Doc. My new baby.”

I walk out with a shot of cortisone in my new baby wrist wondering what might be next. Old dad back? Grandpa knee? It’s true, I have noticed a significant reduction in my endurance for horsey rides this time around. There is something about the nerves in my knees that seem more raw than I remember.

Some days I can’t believe I’m doing this, and yet that feeling does not in any way equal regret. It’s more of a sanity issue. I feel like Steve Martin in Father of the Bride 2, adding up how old I will be at various stages in my son’s growth: I’ll be going to soccer games in my 60s, answering questions from 30-something soccer moms about my supposed grandson. At least I can save money eating out. “One child; one senior, please.”

Most people my age are talking empty nest. Our nest was empty for all of two weeks. My second child went off to college in late August. My third was born two weeks later — September 9, 1999, to be exact. That’s a 9/9/99 baby — something special.

It began with a conversation with my wife in the kitchen reminding me of her work with women including how she believes the most noble woman is someone willing to carry a child through to birth for the purpose of giving that baby to another family. I nodded my head, knowing this.  Then she proceeded to tell me that a woman had recently asked her if she really meant that because she said, “I want you to be the mother of my child.” 

“One small problem,” my wife told me she answered. “My husband.”

Admitting the coincidence and unable to rule out the presence of God in these proceedings, I had agreed to at least meet with this woman, thinking I would probably be ruling out the latter.

That’s how I found myself sitting across the table from a young woman all bright and blooming from the life growing within her.

That had been my first surprise. I think I went in expecting someone in trouble–unsure of herself, embarrassed, someone who needed to be rescued. But looking at her through the eyes of my wife, I saw the noble woman she had told me about. I didn’t see someone ashamed and desperate. I saw someone brave, and gloriously pregnant.

“Come over here,” she said, taking may hand when I got there and placing it on her tummy. “Feel that?” Yes, I felt it. Like Thomas the doubter with his hand on the Lord’s side, I felt new life.

I’m not sure at what point I knew this was right, but sometime during that lunch meeting the starch went out of my shirt, and I turned from skeptic to expectant dad. A heightening sense of protectiveness welled up inside me and I knew I would give this child the best possible chance in the world.

And now I watch this little guy, all of 18 months, waddling around with the cocky air of a kid who knows he’s somebody — knows he’s loved, knows he’s important, that his little 18-month-old discoveries count.

I look into his eyes and see someone who has always belonged to me. Every time I look at him I am flooded with thankfulness that God would grace us in this way. Up until his birth, I thought we were doing our son, God, and the world a favor. Now I realize we are the ones upon whom the favor has been bestowed.

I get it now. I get the value of life. I get the importance of those moments spent with total concentration on the activity and thought processes of a child. I get it that a child returns to us the meaning of the moments in our lives.

God watches each one of our lives and personalities unfold before him with the same satisfaction that I watch my son grow. Yes, there is much to bring God sorrow in the world, and yet there is much that brings Him joy. I’m convinced of this, or else He would not have bothered with us in the first place.

So I take more time now than I did 20 years ago being a father. I notice more. I have much more patience. It’s not that I have more time; it’s that I have more reasons to make time. I endure his temper tantrums without taking it personally. I don’t consider any time with him mundane or wasted. I know he’s learning every minute. He doesn’t miss a thing. I don’t want to either.

There’s something to this Michael Douglas thing. I may be in a wheelchair when I watch my son graduate, but he’s going to have to deal with the fact that he has the best dad in the world. This dad chose him like the Father chose us, willing to endure anything — willing to pay the price, even not knowing what the price would be.

This dad knew what he was doing from the beginning. And whether or not my son ever appreciates it, won’t matter. I will.

I already do. 

Posted in parenting | Tagged | 3 Comments

Listening to millennials

OIP-2

We need to start listening to millennials. They are sensitive to things that are near to the heart of God, but have been overlooked by evangelicals for decades. 

Take just the single issue of justice. I grew up dead center of an evangelical environment and the whole idea of justice is foreign to me. We simply didn’t talk about it. 

As Rob Stutzman pointed out on our BlogTalkRadio interview last night, “As long as we weren’t racists, we were okay.” Our problem was: we were racists without knowing it. Our churches were all middle to upper middle class white people. We weren’t racists because there was no one around but us. 

There wasn’t any injustice I was aware of in my neighborhood because I was totally separated from any of the places or any of the people where injustice was felt and experienced. How could I be a racist when I didn’t even know a black or hispanic person, an Asian or an immigrant? It just never came up. As my wife says, you don’t become aware of injustice until where you live determines whether you live. Racism was so deeply imbedded in the system in which I grew up that you didn’t see it because it had created your environment. Unspoken, unacknowledged, but part of the air you breathe. 

And yet, justice and injustice are consistent themes throughout the Bible. Justice is mentioned in almost every book, but we just read on past those verses. They didn’t apply us. Things like, “Give up your wicked ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the orphan. Fight for the rights of widows.” (Isaiah 1:16,17)

What? What was that about the oppressed, the orphans and widows? Those verses must be for missionaries. We say this as we drive by skid row, the homeless, and blocks where blacks are trapped in the “hood” in an unjust economic and legal system.  

Millennials have grown up in a much more diverse world. If not in their own neighborhood, they find it on the internet and in the programming and the music they listen to. 

They see injustice through the eyes of a friend who is afraid to drive a car through fear of being pulled over for no other reason than the color of their skin. They see abortion not through the eyes of a boomer intent on saving babies, but through the eyes of a friend who got pregnant and doesn’t know what to do. They see climate change not through the eyes of a boomer who sees it as strictly political, but as someone who has 50, 60, maybe even 70 years ahead of them and wonders if the planet can survive that long.

We need to listen to millennials. It’s their world, tomorrow.

And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

Posted in Justice, Millennials | Tagged , | 12 Comments

He is greater than me

OIP-1

“It took me a long time to figure out what that meant,” he said.

I was standing in line a few days ago in the local grocery when a young millennial behind me made a comment that at first I didn’t understand until I realized he was talking about my T-shirt. I had to look down at my chest to even know what T-shirt I was wearing that day. It was a T-shirt with the logo representing a surf clothing company based in the little Hawaiian village of Haleiwa near where my daughter lives and works. The company is owned by a group of believers and the logo is the clever “HE>i” which means “He (God) must increase and I must decrease” from the statement by John the Baptist in John 3:30. The logo simply says, “He is greater than me.” 

Before I could even respond, the man behind me then volunteered a good deal of information about himself that surprised me. He was a missionary’s kid from a pentecostal background who used to believe but now he wasn’t sure — as if he was growing out of his childhood beliefs. I suddenly knew a lot about this person even without opening my mouth. 

“So what do you think of God now?” I finally managed to get a word in. 

“I fight with Him a lot,” he said, as I was punching in my debit card. 

“Well Good,” I said with a smile. “That’s better than believing He doesn’t exist. He can handle a good fight.” By then I had signed out and had two sacks of groceries in my hands. He was launching into a few of the reasons he was struggling with God, having less to do with God than with His followers, which is so often the case. Reaching for some kind of closure, I interrupted his list of objections by saying with an air of finality, “You know, it’s all about grace.”

As soon as I said this, his face lit up and he said with great relief, “Thank you!”

Posted in Meaning of life, Millennials | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Our Indomitable Soul

human soul

While John and Marti are on retreat, our good friend, Dave Roper will be providing our Catches each day. For more on Dave’s works, click here.


Remind them to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.  Titus 3:2 

The Greek philosopher Zeno wrote: “If you lay violent hands on me, you will have my body, but Stilpo (Zeno’s mentor) will have my soul.”

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Gates

open-gate-wooden-fence-green-meadow

While John and Marti are on retreat, our good friend, Dave Roper will be providing our Catches each day. For more on Dave’s works, click here.


I’ve opened a door before you that no one can close. You don’t have much strength, I know that… Revelation 3:8

A dear friend of mine sent that text to me at a time when I most needed it. That’s the way our Father works, you know—acting and speaking incognito through our friends. 

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Total Control

earth-in-hands

While John and Marti are on retreat, our good friend, Dave Roper will be providing our Catches each day. For more on Dave’s works, click here.


Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
[God] treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.
—William Cowper

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD;
It is like an irrigation canal:
He turns it wherever He will.  Proverbs 21:1

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Looking Up

LookingUp

While John and Marti are on retreat, our good friend, Dave Roper will be providing our Catches each day. For more on Dave’s works, click here.


My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up.  Psalm 5:3

“Poor little bird, you can’t fly!”
“No, but I can look up!”
—George MacDonald

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment