My Best Teacher

Just over 22 years ago I became a father.

As I have written over the last several days, being a dad has been a laboratory in which God has taught me so much about His love for me and my relationship with Him.

One part of being a father that I have not yet touched upon has been the front row seat I have had for the most amazing mother I have ever seen.

My wife is a great wife – but that’s for another day. She is a world-class mom. The ways God has taught me about Himself by watching her be a mom have been amazing…and difficult…and priceless.

I have seen the way she has taught our kids, affirming the right things, correcting the wrong things, always pushing for more because they are capable of it. I have seen the way she somehow knew what they needed and what they wanted – and the way she somehow managed to get those things to be a lot closer together than it seemed to me.

In recent days, as I have seen her wrestle with the growing pains of a family that’s growing up, I have seen her heart break when she couldn’t get all of her chicks in the nest at once. But I have seen the incredible joy that overflows her heart when all of her kids gather around her table and she gets to feed them and care for them and laugh with them and just be with them.

This just might be the sweetest lesson I have learned – and the reason I am most excited about this Father’s Day. I get to watch my love revel in the joy of having (almost) all of her kids together.

But, as we begin our Father’s Day celebration by gathering in our Father’s house for worship – to sit at His table and laugh and sing and feast upon HIs Word together. And I think I’m beginning to understand, maybe for the first time in my life, what it means to Him.

For this and all of the incredible lessons, I have to say to my best friend, my partner, my lover, my life – my beautiful wife – thank you.

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She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: (Proverbs 31:26-28)

My World-Changers

I have been a dad for 22 years. I have written about my oldest son a couple of times, but this is probably the first time I have stopped to write about him and his beautiful wife. Just over a year ago I had the profound honor of conducting their wedding ceremony. In fact, as I write this, I sit about 150 feet from the spot those two lives united as one.

Mickey and Jessica are an amazing young couple with a heart for God and for one another. But that’s not all. They have been used by God to stretch me more than they could possibly realize.

Three summers ago, Mickey spent a month on the other side of the world teaching English to junior high aged students. I believe that God used my son to show His love to those kids in such a way that He can surely use to draw them to Himself. That’s why he went – to shine light in a dark place. That experience changed him. It changed me too.

The next summer Jessica, my wonderful daughter-in-law, spent 10 days or so in Bolivia sharing the love of Christ in a place of such tremendous need. It was sweet and heart-breaking and life-changing. It changed her. It changed me too.

Right now they are in Wales getting more training so that they can spend the next school year somewhere in a foreign land teaching English and loving people in Jesus’ name. They’re doing it because they love Jesus and because they love people. They’re doing it because doing nothing is not an option for them.

I’d like to enlist the help of one of my favorite artists, Josh Wilson, to explain it.

They want to make a difference. I believe they will. They will go and serve and love and God will bear fruit through it. Then they will come back home and make a difference here – and God will bear fruit through that. And through it all, they will continue to help those of us that have the privilege of being near them to see the world much differently than we do.

These kids of mine – my world-changers – make my daddy heart proud. And if that’s how I feel, imagine how the Father’s heart must be full of joy for them.

And I heard the voice of The Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”

Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”(Isaiah 6:8)

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One and Only

God has blessed my wife and me with six great kids. I have many sons, but there only one girl. Kari is our second oldest and is, by every account I have ever heard, amazing.

Kari, my only girl, is indeed my one and only SweetPea. She has always been so.

My SweetPea and I have always shared a particular love for music. She was singing long before we could discern the words. It once was a common thing to walk through the house and hear that sweet voice resonating off of the tile walls in the bathroom as she sat taking care of things…and singing with all her might. “I’m singing…..in the potty…..” and so on.

I knew she had great talent, but when it finally came time for her to start playing an instrument, even I was blown away. She played all the time. As she grew and grew and advanced and advanced, I tried to encourage and support and help as best I could. We finally got to the place where I had to refinance my suburban in order to purchase a professional model clarinet. It seems to have paid off because it has been key in paying her way through college.

I didn’t commision this for her, but I can pretend I did just because I came across it and she will think it’s pretty cool.

This precious girl of mine has been used by God in some powerful ways. She has been an example to me of what amazing things happen when tremendous talent meets discipline. She works hard and her talent serves her well to take her so much farther than I was ever able to go. She reminds me constantly that, if I will lean into the talents God has placed in me and just keep practicing them, there is no limit to what God can do.

The other thing that God has used her to teach me is that God, as my Father, is not objective in His opinion of me.

When I hear my daughter play and she happens to miss a note or squeak here or there, I almost don’t hear it. I hear past it because that’s my SweetPea playing that music.

When I am trying to get life “right” and I mess up – which happens a lot more often than I want to admit – I know that my Father sees beyond it. It’s not that my failures are ok. It’s because He already paid the price for my failures by giving His Son to die in my place. Jesus paid my death penalty. So, when my Father watches my life, He looks past my poor decisions to see Jesus living in me.

Incidentally, my daughter is 1000x better musician than I am a Christian. That’s an observation that could be validated by many, but it is my opinion. And, as proud as I am of my one and only SweetPea, that’s how my Father feels about me…and more.

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