Tag Archives: love

How We Love Our Kids

hwlok-dvd

“Parents, reading this book is the best gift you could give your children and yourself. While it gives practical and insightful ways to understand and parent your children, it is not about a technique. It is about understanding your heart and soul as a parent, and learning how to give that to your children. Milan and Kay do so by helping us examine the dynamics of our own upbringing so that we can make the changes in our relationship styles that create rewarding and healthy relationships with our kids. Read this book and see how much sense it makes!”

– Larry Hamilton, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

 

When I found out Milan and Kay had written this book for kids, I was a young parent. I can honestly say it has influenced my parenting and Sheri’s and my relationship as parents more than any other book, and working with them on it was one of the highlights of my editing career.

Every time I have a frustration or fear about my kids, about being a dad, or just want to remember what’s most important, I pull out this book. It’s exactly as Larry said in this review: it’s not about technique. It’s about giving your kids your heart and soul–learning to do that, hard and simple as that is.

Buy this book. Live it. And give it to your kids someday to help them with their kids.

If you’ve been wondering what’s missing, it really can be an incredible, beautiful journey. I’m so grateful to Milan and Kay for their influence in our lives.

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The Passing Day

“My days are like a lengthening shadow, and I wither away like grass.” 

 – Psalm 102:11

 

I’m just back from discussing the future focus of our church with about 2 dozen aged Presbyterians this weekend.

IMG_6284 Isn’t it amazing how we’re all strangers, even to ourselves? And yet we all have an important job to do….

I agreed to take part because for the last 3 years, we’ve been embraced and encouraged by this traditional community, and after 50 years, they want to reinvent to keep their church alive.

A consulting firm was hired to identify the demographics and characteristics of our neighborhood and membership, and we came together to discuss how we’ll seek to fulfill this call to love and serve the neighbors around us.

Somewhere in discussion, it struck me how we all want to live out the fullest possible expression of our connection, however possible, wherever and whenever we can. This group of people believes we’re all alike in the most important, fundamental ways. And I feel the fire to invest in those connections, the passion that’s always above all for those of us who’ve been changed by Love.

And church can happen anywhere, and it’s not about a place, but a feeling, and it’s why I write, and it’s why I edit books, always striving to make that connection and honor it, respect it, build it stronger and more solid in the unbreakable love of God. It’s why we talk of a body, and this is the way I’ve chosen, and I need the reminders to be praying at all times. And though it’s difficult, more and more every day, I feel the truth coming from my writing, that done prayerfully, writing is prayer. And done prayerfully, work is prayer, and all of life is held within that central relationship.

IMG_6290There’s time for everything. God will feel close and he’ll feel far. But with this focus on what matters, it won’t matter how I feel much, or what I’m specifically praying for, or what’s beyond my help or my reach. Committed to this relationship, all focus is turned to God’s greatest interest in my every passing moment, expressed through this greatest desire, this highest purpose. No fear or failure is possible there because the relationship is secure, come what may.

There is no challenge, no frustration that can thwart this central connection, for here I peer through the screen of separation and see the unmistakable fusion, molecules to spirit, in unbreakable union and inevitably resolving into eternity. Any struggle I may face is not without purpose, and pain, though inevitable, is not unimportant. It is leading to deeper unity with this guiding Love.

And if you feel that, you are part of this community, this body. Inside that embrace, there is a pain that can’t be felt, that never even grazes the shielded, life-radiating heart. All hatred and anger and destruction and evil can mean nothing against this sovereign design for me and all of us who would seek it, the Sovereign One structuring time itself to reveal all that Love has sacrificed to one day pull evil up by the roots and leave no trace.

The eternal song will go on. Let whomever has not yet heard it try to silence it. There is no silencing it.

Pay it no mind, embrace them and envelope them in this Love, and commit to your true business. For as it goes forward, Love goes forward and it will be their constant torment until they surrender. Love will swallow the opposition and transform it and all the time they wasted. So for now, have compassion and visit them, care for them. And in the time you have left, you will see God move and you will know His truth that sets us free from all fear.

Every day is a new grace. And while there is light in the passing day, we must learn to embrace this day for what it truly is–a holy chance to know deeper unity. And if we will carry on, undistracted and undiminished in our commitment to this Love, we can take the few frightened souls around us into our great heart to share the experience of this joy with as many as want it.

For all that’s required is that undying longing….

How to be a child again this Christmas

Reading my Christmas post last year was enlightening. It's so sad! I apologize to anyone who read it. I sound like someone who desperately needs a new perspective.

This year, I found one. After 10 years in Colorado Springs and Christian publishing, the miracle happened and I was finally let go from WaterBrook a few months before my 5 year anniversary. Within weeks, our house sold, and we moved to Portland where I've been pursuing my fortunes as a consultant and freelance editor. And after being away for a few months now from that difficult town, which is also beautiful and fun and has many things we miss, especially our great friends, and the corporate traditional publishing world (which is valiant and filled with the most incredible and smartest people in the world), rather than loving the season for brief moments and savoring the fleeting reminders of childhood and love, I'm enjoying a far more sustained enjoyment, sharper and heightened.

But I don't think these are the biggest reasons.

No doubt it's much to do with this great book I was fortunate to help with recently. I'm also no longer the father of young children, which is both frightening and revelatory. This fact alone fills me to brimming with a wistful glee. I'll miss their younger selves someday. But now I'm too grateful not to be among the dozens of friends of mine with kids under 4, flinging their little socks into overnight bags and searching for two rested neurons to create a spark. With regular sleep this year, I don’t find it so hard not to say the evil thoughts I'm thinking; I’m not even thinking them to begin with. There isn't nearly so much that needs to be done, and the familiar struggle to appreciate the real reason for all the running around doesn't seem so hard. I'm hoping this also means I won't have to eat so much or excuse my lack of self-discipline. I may even get to write when we're back at my old house. 

This is crazy but the more I think about it, the more it seems to come down to regular sleep. With clearer thoughts, I no longer feel so old! There's a noticeably sharper sense of wonder to the songs and sermons, and I don’t miss the old electric blanket of food and wine to pull around me. My memories are returning–of beauty, love, hope–in my haze last year I feared I’d never recover them.

But I’m remembering. Being put back together. And what’s more, the girls' excitement seems all the greater. They're like little sprinklers of happiness. It’s their Christmas cheer that fills my cup this year. Christmas is for children and now I get to be one again! And maybe it is mostly because they aren’t quite so needy anymore. Who knew?

This year, I get to go back for a little while and remember it will all be okay. Somehow. All of it will be redeemed. The evil can not stand. With older kids I can see through the eyes I used to have again, the eyes that knew it was all right, that everything will be as it should be forever.

Is this how home is regained?

For all of you who have chaos at home right now, I know it doesn’t make sense when you can’t see it. I was there last year. There's too much that can cover it up. Such simple, ordinary things. Too much responsibility. But it will be put right again. Just know that it's not really up to you how things will go, and it’s so much better to accept your ignorant bliss. The frustrations hidden by a sovereign hand, the strings all under perfect control. The tremendous effort to pull off the celebrations can be forfeited. (And maybe it's when we don't that it starts to resemble anything but a celebration.)

Too often today, the ties of family, the significance of our being here at all, it can all go unnoticed. We turn blinded eyes to the very things that make seeing worthwhile. But don't be afraid of losing those children we were. Don't worry about stuffing in the trappings and wrappings to bring them back. They can't come back. And that's good. That's as it should be.

Instead, if we can let go those children, we can embrace the new ones better. When they're 5 and 6 and 7, you find these things in them you've been fighting to recover. It's as though it's the payback for your sacrifices–they do eventually bring back your joy at Christmas. And in their happiness is our escape. It's what Christmas is about, after all, a child bringing hope in the darkness to show us the way to wonder.

It felt so hard to see last year, like trying to guess if this gift was in one of the tightly wrapped boxes behind the tree. I wish I could have told myself last year to focus on giving instead–it may have been easier to find what I was looking for.

Of such as these is the very kingdom. And a child shall lead them…

So once again, come now little ones. Come into our broken-down world and re-member us. As we gather, put us back together, and may we see in your innocent eyes, those windows still so clean, the easy belief we used to know. For in your raised faces, bold and bright, we can see the great star shine through the dark.

How will they know?

Meditation

Psalm 139

 

“Even before there is a word on my tongue,

God, You know it all.”

 

Why don’t we know how beautiful we are to you?

You know our very thoughts.

Why don’t we know how beautiful we are?

You listen for our every sound.

Why don’t we know?

 

“You have enclosed me behind and before,

and laid your hand on me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

it is too high, I can’t attain it.”

 

What have you made in us?

What have you made?

We know such a small piece,

mostly hidden from us by pain,

by experiences that steal,

lost to us through negligence,

unintended neglect,

of our own and others’.

 

But “ …I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

…Your eyes saw my unformed substance

and in your book they were all written,

the days that were ordained for me,

when as yet there was not one of them.”

 

How I grasp to know the planning

to know the care that went into me,

and continually goes into me this day.

How I strive to know,

to put to words the truth of it,

the incontrovertible truth of what you wrought in me,

of what you fathomed and fashioned,

and left for me to fathom—

the intricacies, the organization, the complexity,

the grand infintessimal structures,

emotional expression, reception, and retention,

the gathering of characteristics, of capabilities, of soul,

of dust shaped differently than any other,

of the dust where 200 billion have trod.

 

“How precious are your thoughts to me, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.”

 

Your thoughts of us are like that.

Like the dust.

Your unquestioning love,

your inexhaustible forgiveness,

All you give is the dust,

as infinite as the light that falls from the stars.

 

I don’t know why you love us so much;

But I believe in your love.

I don’t know why you believe in us;

But I believe what you believe.

I don’t know why you made us;

But I believe in what you made.

I don’t know how you can know all you know of us—

what was, what is, and what someday is—

and keep loving, keep caring.

But I believe in what you know.

 

I see this

and believe

and know.

 

How will they see how beautiful they truly are?

How will they see?

How?