Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Something I Learned Today...

The phrase, "I'm gonna tell daddy when he gets home," can make you just as mad at 32 as it did when you were 12. Especially when it comes from your 5 year old.

Yep. That's right. She did.

Friday, April 17, 2009


On Wednesday night, at youth group, we talked about the parable of the workers in the vineyard in Matthew 20. And in the middle of it, my perspective shifted. The parable goes something like this:

The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agrees to pay them a denarius for the day. Three hours later, he goes and gets a few more workers. Three hours later, he goes and gets a few more, and then again three hours after that. Then, at the 11th hour, an hour before quitting time, he goes out again, gathers up the rest of those waiting for work and asks them to go work in his vineyard. At the end of the day, he pays each one a denarius. The workers who were hired first begin to complain that it isn’t fair. They worked more, they should get more. And the vineyard owner says to them, “You agreed to work for a denarius. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? What’s it to you if I want to be generous.”

That’s it, in a nut shell. So, as I started to talk to the girls in my group, the question of fairness came up. Most obviously, we sorted out that God doesn’t play fair. And that’s lucky for us because if he did, we would all be headed for hell. But, something deeper began to stir in that little group. (Man, I love those girls.) I could hear echoes of one question over and over and so I asked it straight out. “Why do we follow Jesus?...no wait…Why do YOU follow Jesus?” A few answered, “because it’s the right thing to do.”…“because my parents taught me to.”… “so we can go to heaven, and not hell.”… and then, in a quiet, but self-assured voice, “because it is the only thing that satisfies.” Bingo.

See, for the last few weeks I have been mulling this question over in my mind, and this very same notion has begun to well up in me. I have spent a lot of years believing that I followed Christ mostly because of the hope of heaven. And, you know, that IS part of it. We are so blessed to know that some day we get to leave this world behind and live in perfect blessing with Christ. And there are definitely days when that thought is what gets me through. But, I have come to believe that our greatest reason for following Christ is that in the midst of this world that falls so short of satisfying us, we get to live a life fully satisfied in him. Right here. Right now. And heaven is the extravagant icing on the cake...it is a fuller, richer, more tangible version of what we get to experience here if we choose to follow Christ.

The thing is, if we mostly follow Christ to go to heaven and avoid hell, then we can’t help but be concerned about fairness. So, if someone comes to Christ late in life, at the 11th hour, so to speak, we think, “Pfft…I’ve followed you all my life, Christ, and this latecomer gets the same reward as I do? That’s not fair.” But, if we follow Christ because we know he is the ultimate satisfaction, here, right now, while we are on earth, our attitude towards the latecomer might be something more like, “Hey guy, I’m so glad you made the decision to follow Christ and I’ll be seein’ you in eternity, bro. But, man, I’m so sorry you missed out on life with him here on earth. It would have been so much richer. I’m just dang sorry about that.”

And then, my reason for evangelizing changes, too. Because telling people that they need Jesus so they can go to heaven and live with him eternally isn’t always a convincing reason. It’s just too abstract for most people. And it seems far away. But, if I tell people, that Jesus Christ will bring them a satisfaction like nothing they have ever known, even in the midst of all the junk they have to go through, and, as a bonus, we get to spend an eternity with him in perfection. Well, that’s a reason to get on board. That speaks to our deepest longings. And that’s what he meant when he said, “I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.” Dang, I love Jesus!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pressing on...

It's only been a couple of weeks but we are moving forward in the adoption process. Here's an idea of what that looks like:

1. Application in ...check
2. Fingerprints done...check
3. Department of Human Services Background Investigation...check
4. Strange questionaire about our relationships with our parents, siblings, spouse, children, friends and the ways we interact with them...check (this one included a question about what we thought was the best way to discipline a child. One of the given answers was "restrain them in their crib"...tell me, who is checking that box and thinking it won't be a red flag?)
5. Proof of vaccinations for all pets...check
6. Medical exams for the whole family...check
7. Fee Agreement signed, notarized, and returned...check

This, to me, is the equivalent of morning sickness. So, what would be the equivalent to crackers and gingerale?

Monday, April 6, 2009

It's Written All Over Her Face

We have a telltale way of knowing whenever Hope has been crying. Her salty tears leave white tracks down her beautiful brown face. So, on more than one occasion, my knowledge that she has been crying has seemed magical and has conviced her that I can see everything she does, even when I am not around. This is not a bad thing for a child to believe.

Today, when I picked her up from preschool I noticed the tear streaks. Her teacher told me she had been upset because she wanted to play in the housekeeping center today and since she ALWAYS (and I mean always) picks that center, she was told to pick a different center so some other kids could have a turn at housekeeping. She didn't want another center....hence the tears.

So, when we got in the car we had a conversation that went something like this.

A: Hope, why did you throw a fit at school today?

H: (Shocked) I didn't throw a fit.

A: Well, I know that you were crying at school today and your teacher told me you didn't want to share the housekeeping center today.

H: Well, I wasn't throwing a fit. I was just a little sad and I didn't want to go to another center.

A: Hope, I think you were crying because you didn't get your way. It's okay to cry if you are sad or hurt, but if you are just crying because you can't have your way, that's throwing a fit.

H: Well...(pause)...I wasn't....(pause)...(then, very quietly) dang it.

Busted! I love her honesty in that moment.