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Nature’s Work (5/7/5 haiku)

forces stronger than
i work to influence you
Faith: my one true Hope

 

This little poem can mean so many things, and I certainly had specific life situations in mind when writing this haiku.  But a “nature image” (which I believe is a requirement for a “true” haiku) that came to mind as I wrote this is a “sideways tree” that grows in my father’s pasture.  Decades ago, the tree was blown over by a hurricane.  But instead of dying, it just grew new roots and became the best “climbing tree” one could ever hope for.  The tree is also inspirational to me.  There were times as a teenager, and even now as an adult, when I’ve felt “blown over” by life and will visit that tree to remind myself that I can dig in and become stronger no matter what blows life has dealt. 

p.s. the tree above is not my father’s but looks very similar.

Pleasant (and unpleasant) Surprises

Today has been really interesting.  Felt sick and mostly stayed home.  Ok, I felt lazy too!  🙂  But, my stomach has been a “blender” today, so I didn’t feel like venturing out too far.  However, I needed to do some venturing and forced myself to do so starting around 1ish.  About that same time, my 2-year-old daughter decided to find out whether or not my cell phone can float in the bathtub.  It can’t.

Later in the day, my van would threaten to leave me stranded—I’m still trying to figure out what my 2-year-old did to the van!  Surprisingly enough though,  I drove about 100 miles in said van after the unpleasant surprise of nearly stalling out.  I spent time with my father and saw the parents of an old friend.  Enjoyable, but put me behind schedule for a Small Group I lead on Monday nights.  With no phone, I was unable to let people know I would get to the meeting a little late.   Well it wasn’t really “people” I wanted to notify; they are teenagers.  They used to be “people.”  They will one day be “people” again. But I digress…

No worries though, the students who were able to make it tonight waited patiently for me to arrive.  And when I say “waited patiently,” I mean they rearranged our meeting space!  They also created a new game using notecards, pool balls, and bolts. There I go digressing again.

But now the “real fun” begins—the pleasant surprises.  Since we were limited on time, we wound up just hanging out and having an informal discussion about what it means to “follow Jesus.”  This discussion was loosely based on the book we are studying, Not a Fan.  Mostly it was just a chance for them to talk about the challenges of living out their faith in the day-to-day reality of teenage life.  And, long story short, they are passionate about being more than fans of Christ—they passionately long to follow Him.

The other pleasant surprise happened when I left the meeting to go home.  About a mile from my office I realized I had left some things behind. I needed to return and grab them, so I started driving back.  I decided to make my return trip through a neighborhood I don’t frequently drive through—a student lives there who has just lost his father to cancer.  My intention was to merely do a “drive by” (shooting up prayers for him as I drove by the house), but he was actually out in his driveway playing basketball.  Alone.  It was a great opportunity to visit and pray with him rather than just for him.  And I absolutely believe God orchestrated the opportunity to meet with him on “his turf.”  It was a moment that perhaps surprised me, but not God.  🙂

I hope you’ve also had a few pleasant surprises today!

The Week in Quotes!

I’ve done precious little blogging this week.  Haven’t written much and haven’t read much.  But I have found some really great “nuggets” of wisdom in much of the little I have read.  I wanted to share with you some quotes from a few of the writings I was impacted by this week.  This is also a great way for you to perhaps discover a new blog you’ll love.  And, who knows, maybe I’ll pick up some “finder fees” for sending you their way?  I doubt it, but a boy can dream, right?!?  🙂

This pretty much punched me in the gut.  Lots of wisdom in this quote:

No one is ever satisfied when they’re not doing their best.  When you do your best and fail it’s more acceptable than failing when you aren’t really trying.”

The quote below touches on some conversations my wife and I have had this week.  I’m “thankful” to know others are in our shoes and can speak to it in such a powerful way!

The last few times I was faced with this blatant ungratefulness I didn’t handle it very well.  I got irritable and frustrated and snappy.  How dare my children be so ungrateful?  Don’t they appreciate all I do for them, all I give them?  It was at about that point I felt God whispering in my ear about my own gratitude towards Him.  Do I even notice all the things He does for me on a daily basis?  How many blessings in my life do I treat as burdens? …I realized then and there that if I expect my kids to be grateful, I need to show them exactly what it looks like.”

Charles is such an encouraging blogger/author/poet.  I look forward to reading his homespun wisdom and Godly insight every week.

God puts us on this earth to do His will, and He blesses us with everything we need to do it. It might be assets, talent, a strong body, intelligence, health, or just a good and loving personality. Whatever attributes you need, to do what the Lord needs done, are available to you, and I believe when you begin to focus on God and His will for your life, He will provide them to you, and you will know how to use them to His glory.”

Linnea’s site has become one of my favorites to read each week.  Especially this week!  Things were hopping over there, and as usual, she brought much insight “to the table.”

My hope in readily confessing my dark side is to get people to stop and think about their own….Truthful self-awareness must exact humility and humility is required in order to love others as we love ourselves.”

RabidMongoose always is a straight-shooter with well informed posts about issues of spirituality—especially for men.  But this post was a great read for all of us since it deals with an issue we all face at times.

We look at resentments. We’ve found out they are a distortion of the truth – a way to take a situation, cast the blame on somebody else, and totally escape, so we have nothing to do with it whatsoever!” – Joe McQ, The Steps We Took …This quote from Joe McQ’s book The Steps We Took sums up perfectly what I do with my resentments: I absolve myself completely of all responsibility for a problematic situation, making the issue everyone’s’ fault but mine. Resentment is a tool I use to live in denial: It allows me to create a shield around my fragile persona that ‘protects’ me from the truth about myself…I cannot keep holding all these resentments in. I need to accept responsibility for my own actions…

Feel free to share some quotes you have found (or wisdom you have written) in the comments below!  You’ll help me do a better job of catching up before the week is *officially* over!

Now I have the privilege of getting ready for a “date night” with my Beautiful Bride.  Hope to catch up with all of you wonderful bloggers soon!

This is the day…

Today has been a long one.  For me.  For the girls.  Especially for my Beautiful Bride!  I’m tired just remembering it all!  🙂

“Day in the life” posts aren’t the norm around here.  But I think there’s some spiritual insight worth sharing along with, so here goes:  Ran over a bike first thing this morn.  Oldest left it right behind my van!  (Yeah, I’m cool enough to drive a van!)  Not a happy Dad, but no time to dole out the proper punishment cause I was running late for church.  Same daughter decided to go to “Neighbor Boy’s” house for breakfast (yes, that Neighbor Boy!).  Only she didn’t ask for permission.  Her mother assumed she had gone to church with me; I had told her to go back in the house to Mom.  Brief moment of panic when I returned home and we realized we had “lost” a child.

Find her, scold her, load her in Mom’s van so we can drive the 45 mins. to a different worship service where I’m scheduled to speak.  Really encouraging service, and then off to lunch at Grandmother’s.  What a special thing that my little family can spend time with my grandparents who are both in their 80’s!  But it did mean almost an hour of driving home mid-afternoon only to load right back up and head to the talent show.  (with a quick meeting somehow squeezed in between)

Middle child and I were asked to sing a song; one I had written and she loves to help me sing.  So we did.  Which means my wife went “above and beyond” to support me when I spoke this morn, and J when she sang tonight.  But I could tell she was really worn out and I encouraged her to go home after J’s performance and get some rest.  Leaving me at the mercy of someone else for a ride home.  Someone who couldn’t leave talent show/church for another couple hours.  Oh man, it was a long day!

But on the way home, my “taxi driver” really needed to talk about some things going on in his life.  And I realized that a verse I had read in worship earlier today was being lived out nearly 12 hours later…even if I’m being poured out as an offering for the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice*…Poured out.”  I felt that when parenting today.  I saw that in my wife today.  I lived that in “church life” today.  And at the end of the day, hopefully I will join Paul in being glad and rejoicing for the chance to pour my life out if it helps others grow closer to Christ.

This is the day…the day the Lord has made!  I will rejoice.  I will be glad.

* Philippians 2:17


“Bummed” Out

I briefly thought about a different kind of bum picture, since this post is about a different kind of bum.  Any kind of “bum” pic I posted was going to be a funny one, but the one above really made me laugh.  “Monkey butt” would have also made me laugh, but I found this pic first!  🙂

And since I’m *loosely* writing a post about thankfulness, the pic I chose gives me a great opportunity to state that I AM THANKFUL!  Thankful I can speak and walk.  Thankful I have (most of) my teeth.  Thankful for a job.  Thankful I’m not yet wearing diapers again.  Thankful that God does indeed bless!

This post is also about something I’m fearful of: my oldest daughter growing older!  She’s always been a challenge, but so far we’ve only had to deal with “little girl challenges.”   Yesterday & today, however, I’ve gotten a real big “wake-up call” about what the future may hold.  We have a newish neighbor who is the same age (9) as our oldest.  She has already proclaimed her undying love for new neighbor boy.  Anytime she has permission—and many times she doesn’t—she makes a beeline for his house.  Last night was an example of a “no permission” trip to the house next door.

We had just returned home from church, and before I even had a chance to realize she wasn’t in our house, she comes running through the door shouting: “You won’t believe what I just saw!”  Turns out, she was right!  I didn’t believe what she had just seen.  As I was getting her younger sister out of the van and in our house,  Big Sister snuck over to “neighbor boy’s” house—at bath time.  As her visit was unexpected, neighbor boy was apparently standing in his living room in the buff.  He took off down his hall as soon as my daughter began knocking on their door.  Thankfully, she only saw his backside.  (See, I told you this post is about thankfulness!)

I tried to downplay the event last night.  But today she made it pretty clear: I definitely have reason to be worried.  She said (in a rather dreamy manner): “Dad, last night was the best night of my life!”  Having “sometimers disease,” I just had to ask:  “Why?”   She grinned and said, “You know Dad…cause of what I sawww!  I can’t believe I actually saw his bum!”   (Insert mental image of Dad pulling hair out here)

But thankfully I have a pretty level-headed wife.  She reminded me that these emotions in our daughter were bound to happen some day.  (Though she did admit it’s earlier than she had expected as well!)  But she also said something that is crucially important.  While we continue to teach our daughter the benefits of living with moral integrity, the most important lesson we can teach her is to live a life of love for God!  Whether I like it or not, there will be a day in the future (like when she’s 25) when she won’t be constrained by any of my rules or expectations.  It will be her love for God alone which will compel her to make wise, godly choices as she grows, spreads wings, and becomes completely independent.

So today this “bummed out Dad” is most thankful for a God who has made this promise: “(be) confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:6)

Fathers – Where are you? Part III

Fathers – Where are you? Part III.

Long read, but worth the time.  Nice follow up to the “real man” post from a week or so ago.

Here are some important statistics to share from the link above:

According to the Barna Group in their series on the state of the church:

    • Church attendance declined by six percentage points among men, The research showed that the proportion of men who had attended a church service, other than a special event such as a wedding or funeral, during the week prior to their survey interview fell from 42% to 36%.
    • Sunday school attendance declined by eight percentage points among men since 1991. Only one out of eight men (13%) presently attends such a meeting in a typical week.
    • The percentage of men who volunteer at a church during a typical week has slipped by six percentage points since 1991 to its present level of 18%.
    • The proportion of unchurched men has grown by nine percentage points since 1991. Today an estimated 39% of all men can be deemed unchurched – that is, having not attended a church event, other than a special service such as a wedding or funeral, in the past six months.

Additionally:

We are abandoning our homes and families at an alarming rate.  In the United States there are 9.9 million single mothers living with children under 18 in 2010.  This is up from 3.4 million in 1970.

“Arriving Home”

arms and hands reach high
naked feet dance funny jigs
screams ring out: “Daddy!”

written for Sensational Haiku Wednesday (theme: excitement)