like magic

Everyone warned me – these kids were going to go ballistic when they left their mom.

My heart melted a little bit when the little guy practically raced into my arms at daycare; it was like he knew where we were headed. We gathered up all the day’s things (and mercy! the day has so many papers and mittens and shoes and stray toys) and then we gathered sister and got into the car.

I had been told they didn’t do well in the car, especially little Mr. Man. But apparently the other folks didn’t know the secret. The little fusses almost immediately died down when we set out on the road and I cranked the tunes.

It was like magic.

I saw heads bopping and I think I heard a few notes floating around in the backseat, too. We got into a groove, those kiddos and me. I finger played my steering wheel like animal on the drum and that was a big hit. Sister shouted accounts of the day’s events while brother cooed and I multi-tasked my prayers for safety and peace and joy and the classic “help!” And we made it. We pulled up still friends with dry faces.

After the visit with mom, we gathered all the day’s things once again (how they can get multiplied and strewn about, I do not know) and I braced myself for the breakdown. I had been warned that it would get apocalyptic up in my car once they said goodbye. I got quiet and let the farewells fill all the space in the air. Mom loves these littles, of that I am sure.

They got belted in my backseat and there was a moment we just kind of teetered there on the cliff. Would we fall over that edge and spend the car ride in apocalypse freefall or would we fly instead?

The music accompanied our ascent and we sang all the way home.

It was like magic.

Why is this round trip car ride so significant? Does it deserve to be published into anonymity on the internet? I say yes and let me tell you why.

These little ones have had life ripped out from under them like a rug. Everything familiar and everything “home” is no longer true – it’s all turned upside down. Nothing is as it should be and no one makes sense when they try to explain it to their sweet little souls.

And then they get into my car and I get overwhelmed at the moments we share. What do I say? How do I pour out dump trucks of love when they are belted in the backseat and we only have 30 minutes? How do I become someone familiar?

I’ve never been so thankful for Christian radio in my life. We sing, I drum, they hum, and we all bop our heads to the sound of truth making melody.

The reality is I don’t know. I just don’t know how to make them believe they are precious and all this mix up isn’t their fault. I don’t know how to tell them that their little people world is turned upside down because some big people made bad choices. I don’t know how to make them understand there is a God who made them, loves them, and wants to be known by them.

And so we sing.
And I pray with broken heart that the truth sinks in: Jesus loves them and keeps every promise He makes.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy


Boys become kings, girls will be queens
Wrapped in Your majesty
When we love, when we love the least of these
Then they will be brave and free
Shout Your name in victory
When we love, when we love the least of these
When we love the least of these

Break our hearts once again
Help us to remember when
We were only children hoping for a friend
Won’t you look around
These are the lives that the world has forgotten
Waiting for doors of our hearts and our homes to open

If not us, who will be like Jesus
To the least of these
If not us tell me who will be like Jesus
Like Jesus to the least of these

**As part of my job, I regularly supervise interactions between children and parents with the hope that they can be reunified after the issues have been resolved.

you are not enough

What a funny word.
“Enough” means sufficient, even if it means barely squeaking by.

I wonder what happens when enough is a challenge. Are you man enough? Are you strong enough? Are you brave enough? Are you mom enough?

These questions issue a challenge to those places in us that can’t resist – those places in us that say, “I’ll show you…” in response. We might even get a little carried away in proving that we are, indeed, enough of whatever quality is in question. We might even, on the wild proving grounds of this challenge, reveal just how great is our need. Because when we start to think that our adequacy is found in what we do, we’re beat from the start.

We were never meant to rise to the challenge of enough. We were meant to see our not enough and recognize our need.
We were made to find our enough in Another who is always sufficient, always abundant, and always.

This little excerpt (thanks, Tim Challies) from John Piper’s book Pierced by God gives helpful perspective. I realize it’s a bit much for this morning, so if you don’t read the excerpt below, just know that you are not enough.

You will never be brave enough, strong enough, smart enough, or mom enough. You can’t reach down deep and muster up the willpower. It’s not in you. And it’s not failure to admit that – it’s just recognizing that you are not God. You are made to depend on God’s enough-ness (if you will) and bring Him glory.

We are not God. So by comparison to ultimate, absolute Reality, we are not much. Our existence is secondary and dependent on the absolute Reality of God. He is the only Given in the universe. We are derivative. …We were. He simply is. But we become, “I Am Who I Am” in His name (Exodus 3:14).

Nevertheless, because He made us with the highest creaturely purpose in mind—to enjoy and display the Creator’s glory—we may have a very substantial life that lasts forever. This is why we were made (“All things were created through Him and for Him”, Colossians 1:16). …This is why we eat and drink (“So whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”, 1 Cor. 10:31). …This is why we do good deeds, (“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”, Matthew 5:16).

That is why we exist—to display the glory of God. Human life is all about God. That is the meaning of being human. It is our created nature to make much of God. When we fulfill this reason for being, we have substance. There is weight and significance in our existence. Knowing, enjoying, and thus displaying the glory of God is a sharing in the glory of God. Not that we become God. But something of His greatness and beauty is on us as we realize this purpose for our being—to image-forth His excellence. This is our substance.

Not to fulfill this purpose for human existence is to be a mere shadow of the substance we were created to have. Not to display God’s worth by enjoying Him above all things is to be a mere echo of the music we were created to make.

This is a great tragedy. Humans are not meant to be mere shadows and echoes. We were to have God-like substance and make God-like music and have God-like impact. That is what it means to be created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). But when humans forsake their Maker and love other things more, they become like the things they love—small, insignificant, weightless, inconsequential, and God-diminishing.

Human life is all about God, isn’t it? So, why do we love being enough more than the One who is enough? Piper continues,

Listen to the way the Psalmist put it: “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; they have eyes but they do not see; they have ears but they do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them” (Ps. 135:15-18: see also 115:4-8).

Think and tremble. You become like the man-made things that you trust: mute, blind, deaf. This is a shadow existence. It is an echo of what you were meant to be. It is an empty mime on the stage of history with much movement and no meaning.

Dear reader, be not shadows and echoes. Break free from the epidemic of the manward spirit of our age. Set your face like flint to see and know and enjoy and live in light of the Lord. “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5). In His light you will see Him and all things as they truly are. You will wake up from the slumbers of shadowland existence. You will crave and find substance. You will make God-like music with your life. Death will dispatch you to paradise. And what you leave behind will not be a mere shadow or echo, but a tribute on earth, written in heaven, to the triumphant grace of God.

In God, we find all our desire for enough so that our lives can be a tribute on earth to the triumphant grace of God. You are not enough, but in Him we have more than enough to

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

a letter to fathers

I remembered this post recently and thought now is a good time to revisit these thoughts. I wrote this post almost exactly a year ago, while working in Honduras. Maybe it’s Valentine’s Day that has me thinking about it again.

daughter & dad

___________________________________________________________________

John Mayer’s song, “Daughters,” scratches the surface of the longing a daughter feels to be loved by her dad, but (not surprisingly) it isn’t strong enough.

Fathers, be good to your daughters
daughters will love like you do

It was simple enough to capture the attention of a whole crowd of daughters who wished for what this nebulously suggests, but I wish this song spelled out specifics.

Fathers:

  1. Be transparent about your first and greatest Love.
    For many daughters, your faith is a secret. You might go to church or you might have a Bible, but your ideas and convictions are as hidden and elusive as treasure on a child’s crayon-scribbled treasure map. It’s okay to be somewhere in the growing stages of your faith – in fact, it’s refreshing for us daughters to know you haven’t “arrived” yet. When your daughter can see you admit you need God, her heart and tenderness toward you will grow, but more importantly you will have pointed her gaze to the Father who never fails.
  2. Love your wife.
    One of the greatest ways you can love your daughter is to love and serve your wife. When your daughter sees you honoring, protecting, partnering, laughing, enjoying, and living in a way that reflects God’s design for marriage, she will respect your role and have an excellent example of a husband (especially important in those years when you cannot relate to your daughter. When nothing makes sense, love your wife well and I promise your daughter will see it!).
  3. Choose to be around.
    Your daughter will feel special when you decide the best place for you is next to her.
  4. Get personal.
    Some of my favorite memories with my dad are simple ones that we shared while we did chores together on the farm or as we drove out to a football game or prepared our animals for county fair. Every discussion doesn’t have to be deep, but if you open up first then you’ll gain your daughter’s trust and she’ll likely reciprocate (even if it’s not right away).
  5. Encourage, praise, love the God-honoring things your daughter does and push her in those things to be excellent.
    I’ll never forget my dad’s insistence that I study that little spelling book in preparation for the elementary spelling bees. My dad still types on the computer with his pointer fingers and English wasn’t his strongest high school subject, but when he found out I could put letters together in the right order, he was going to make sure I did it excellently. Those little things (though I assure you I didn’t love them at the time) made his love for me so obvious.
  6. Be gentle.
    Your daughter will appreciate well-placed words and respected silences.
  7. Be good to your sons, too.
    Your daughters are smart. They will see the way you are leading and guiding your sons. Right now they are making mental notes in their heart about whether their dream man will act like the father and brothers in their lives. Many daughters hold on desperately to the hope that it can be different. If they have to rely on Hollywood, they will be hoping for something unhealthy and unrealistic. Your daughter has a front row seat for what a man should look like – so show her!

 

let LOVE fly like crazy
and let those people closest to you benefit