Family Football Fun: Wrapping Up the 2010 Season

Well, it’s official. If you’re a fan of the NFL, you know that when the playoffs start next week, they will include for the first time ever a team with a losing record. That’s right. A losing record. Something about that fascinated me and I found myself watching nearly all of the game that just finished. (That’s rare… I usually only watch the Bills games and then hardly any of the rest of the games on NFL weekends.)

If you are not a fan of the NFL, you may have figured out that a team with a losing record is not a very good team. You’re right. Both teams tonight, while they had their moments, also showed repeatedly why they finished the year 7-9.

The football season has ended (in a way) and that means that our Campbell Family Football Fun has ended as well. I think I have posted here before that we make picks as a family each week, and tally all the results. Every game, every week. It’s a blast! I believe this was at least the third season we’ve done it, perhaps the fourth.

This year was the second for “The Girls” (Kirsten and Julia, our 6 and 4-year-old girls as a team) to make their picks. Right out of the gate they had a sizable lead, and they kept it most of the year! It was so fun to see them picking crazy picks… and getting them right!!! But besides pure innocent luck, even better were all the times that these two tiny girls pondered their selections, weighing the pros and cons for each team including who’s playing and who’s not, where the game is being held, current trends for both teams… they were great!

Sadly, though they were tied with Dad going into the final week, Dad pulled off an incredible 12-4 record for the week, while the girls—perhaps paying homage to the first losing-record team to make the post season—finished 7-9.

However, don’t feel too sad for them. Mom and Ian finished tied for at a distant third. They still had quite a great year!

And, Kirsten was the champion of our family fantasy football league, too, beating out Uncle Scott by .54 points in the league’s championship game! (Way to go Dark Pink Pony Pigs! Yes… Kirstie’s very creative team name…) 🙂

We love football Sundays, but honestly, I think we love all the family fun even more than the NFL or the games themselves!

Now we can’t wait till next year!

AZ Representative Shot, “Bullets” Still Flying

I am praying for us tonight.

I have been asking God for some extra specific guidance and bringing him a few more specific requests this week for us, meaning the Campbell family. We are on a very interesting ride at the moment… but that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m sure you have heard by now that a young man opened fire on a small political event in the state of Arizona. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was appearing at a local SafeWay grocery store and she, along with many others, was hit by one of the bullets. Reports earlier said she had been killed, but as of right now, she is still alive, and they actually do expect her to recover.

The question is … will we?

The political debates in our country are ridiculous. I’ve written about it here before, we’re not listening to each other. (See also, “The (True) Fundamental Transformation of America“.) We’re slinging the SAME accusations at each other. We can not both be right! But … in a way, we are.

The point is, the games have to stop. We are all people. We’re not Democrats, Republicans, Tea Party-ers, Libertarians, Communists, or Socialists. We’re people. Yes, we are all Americans, and it’s good to have something we can unite on … but I say that, in the end, should be that we are people.

We are neighbors.

But unfortunately, we’re not. “We” are right, and “they” are wrong. “They” are crazy. It doesn’t matter what the issue, or which side of it you are on… “we” are right, and “they” are dangerously wacko.

It’s only because we are labeling people, and treating them as that objectified concept rather than finding what we do have in common and starting from there. That is certainly much easier than really trying to understand someone who thinks differently than you, and then trying to build on what you do have in common.

But which is better? I think that’s an easy answer.

So tonight, accusations fly. On all sides, of course. I found this blog post from The Telegraph that seems to encapsulate the majority of the accusations (as well as the facts). Well-linked, too.

And that’s why I’m asking God to cool heads.

The only person at fault here is the one who pulled the trigger. It’s not the books he said were his favorites (Mein Kampf, The Communist Manifesto) nor is it any “commentators and blogs” that he read. It’s not the Tea Party, nor the Republicans, nor the Democrats. It is one man, alone. (At least, so far it seems he was acting alone.)

But those who get to say what is really happening (the political voices, and the press) seem to be saying that the “heated political environment” has led to this. (And the worst accusations leverage the fact that she had a “D” in front of her name to blame the opposing “R” party and their constituents. Yikes.)

I really don’t have much to say except that if we just keep doing this “us” vs. “them” thing, we’re in big trouble.

Maybe we already are.

For now, I’m going to be praying.

I’m Such A Baby

Tonight I was noticing just how much I am like our one- and two-year-old children. Now, for the most part I’ve learned to control my responses a bit more (not to mention my excellent potty-trained record) but watching them tonight—and in particular, the way I, their father, interacted with them—I realized just how much I am being the whiny, impatient, uninformed, short-sighted baby.

That’s exactly what you’d expect from a baby, right? The poor creatures can’t talk… they can’t do most things for themselves… they’re at our mercy! So, pretty often then are frustrated to the point of tears (along with kicking and screaming sometimes) and, well, that’s kinda how I felt tonight.

As I was bathing our 1-year-old son, he kept resisting me in various ways. He wanted to hold a toy a certain way at a certain time, but I need to bathe him and so he just had to wait for a bit till he could have it again. But, in his impatient short-sightedness … he cried. Then, once that was over, all was fine. Then while rinsing him off he was crying because the water was going over his face … but again, if he could just think of the bigger picture … he’d save himself the trouble of crying and all that fussing about his (very) temporary discomfort, since he’d be thinking of the great clean, warm, comfy feeling he was about to have in about 3-5 minutes.

After that, the same pattern ensued when we were drying off. He was cold, he was wet … and in the process of trying to fix that, he had cried as I dried him off and dressed him. Again, all was better in the end, but he didn’t like the “getting there” part. And then when we waited for his cup of milk to warm in the microwave—a routine he is quite familiar with—he only whimpered and complained about the wait. I want my milk now!!!

Aren’t we like that? I am. I was tonight. (Maybe am?) I reconciled our finances tonight and we are so far behind at the moment, and besides that we’re excitedly pursuing another opportunity it seems God is leading us toward … but it’s still out of our reach. And our bills are piling up, while income seems to only be trickling in. Ugh. All I can see is that I’m cold, wet, and there’s soap in my eyes. I’m missing the part where my Dad loves me, and he’s taking care of me.

There’s a lot to the idea of living in the moment. It’s important to be where you are, or you might miss it. But sometimes, I admit, just like my two babies … I am way too in the moment. I forget how God has been with us through everything along the way up till now, and I forget that he moves much slower than me. Just like Cameron wants me to get his milk ready in an instant … it doesn’t work that way! It takes time.

God moves like that. He sees the whole picture, and he’s working all things for our good. I do forget that sometimes…

I guess I can be such a baby.

By the way, the photo above is from the end of a photo shoot with all our kids (credit Lindsay Karl), and Cam was very done! We weren’t ramming his head into that tree branch or anything like that… 🙂

Bad News

It seems that this week has been the week of bad news. Not for us, really. I mean, we certainly have our share of hardships, but, I dare say that’s true of every single (honest) person. No?

What I’m talking about is the shocks that life deals you every now and then. We tend to forget how fragile and chaotic life can be at times, and merrily go about our “routines” until all of a sudden we are either directly the victims of some tragedy, or we are intimately connected to it.

This week a friend is dealing with sudden, unexpected news that her sister’s family is dealing with a very serious health issue. Then, I was set to meet with a potential new client of my web business, when he called at the last minute to cancel, due to his wife needing immediate emergency dental surgery. I could hear his voice tighten up with emotion as he told me over the phone, “They think it is cancer. Oral cancer is very bad.”

And all this follows Saturday’s shooting where a federal judge was shot and killed, along with a 9-year-old girl, a 30-year-old man, and three people in their 70s. We tend to get caught up, when speaking of that incident, on the occupations and/or political roles of the people involved: the congresswoman who survived, though critically injured; the federal judge; the aide; etc. Aside from the little girl who was killed, we forget that those are all people: husbands/wives, daughters/sons, brothers/sisters, grandparents… and just neighbors or friends.

Tragedy hardly ever hits us when we’re expecting it to.

Another person I know is dealing with legal issues of some kind and just greatly burdened by that. There doesn’t ever seem to be an end of injustice and tragedy!

And there doesn’t seem to be any answer when we’re in it.

So what have I been doing? Well, offering any kind words that I can … sometimes not offering any words (which seems more helpful at times). And asking God to bring his peace. There are a few verses from the Bible that keep coming to mind:

Phil 4:6-7
6Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. 7Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.

(I even have a song that is from those verses.)

God does not promise that life will always be “smooth sailing” and/or predictable. But the repeated theme through the whole of the Bible, and especially the New Testament is God gives (or brings) peace. That’s what I’ve been asking for those people we know—and those we don’t know—that God would bring them peace. Some things won’t get better. Those people who have lost loved ones won’t get them back. But they may know, they may feel God’s peace.

We can’t control what happens tomorrow, nor can we change what has already happened. But we can live now knowing that God is right here with us, in our tragedy. That was beautifully illustrated in the book The Shack: God goes with us through whatever life may bring.

So I am asking God to bring that peace to lots of people right now. Perhaps you will join me in asking the same. Perhaps you need to know his peace today. If that’s the case, I’m asking God to give you his peace right now, too. He is the God of peace.

No matter what chaos life may bring.

Holding Pattern

It would seem the the operative word for me this moment is: Wait.

For quite a while there’s been a stirring in me that something is going to change. They have never been wrong so far, these inklings, and so I’d guess this one will not be either. And in fact, I have good reason to believe that thanks to some developing events. But for the moment … they have not completely unfolded. In fact, at the moment, I can elaborate no more than that.

But there’s more on hold than that.

I have several new web projects brewing, but for one reason or another all of them remain “on hold”. For a while we were “on hold” with several expected payments as well, but those have been coming in of late. (That’s good!)

Everything around me seems to be at a point where I just have to wait. I’ve caught myself actually thinking, “I’ve got nothing to do right now!” (Then I do quickly think of ten other things I need to tend to… but usually the List of Urgent is so dominant that I don’t get a chance to even breathe, much less think how I might have “nothing to do”.

And perhaps that’s it.

I tend to be “fidgety” when I have nothing to do. I am a Doer. I do. But perhaps God is allowing me some time to breathe? Maybe he knows what’s coming. Obviously I can not, and do not. But he does.

In the waiting, I’ve had some time to pray for people. (And there are definitely some people who are “waiting” on much more serious issues than I am dealing with. I am praying for God’s peace for many folks right now…) I’ve had some more time to be with my family. I even worked on a personal project today that I hadn’t been able to in … well, I don’t know how long!

But at the moment, there’s really nothing I can do other than wait. I am tempted to feel as though I am not doing all I can do when I reach those times, but perhaps as I get a tad older I realize the fruit that can come from the holding patterns, too. Perhaps.

However, I do admit to some pretty great “antsy-ness”. 🙂

This season will pass. For now, I wait. But soon I’m sure we’ll be back to doing.

Till then maybe I can make a dent in my next-to-read list…

Incredible People: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I know that because my in-laws are visiting (since they don’t have to drive their school busses today). I am not a very good observer of holidays in general. My thinking is that we should honor whomever we are honoring more than just one day per year. (And anything can become meaningless when you just do it out of habit…)

But today I was reminded of a post that I started last September. (Yes, I have really neglected writing over the past six months or so…)

I began writing about MLK’s “Dream” speech. The famous one… you’ve heard it. What happened was… well, read on below…

Last summer, Glenn Beck hosted a gigantic rally in Washington, DC on August 28th at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial—the day and location of the historic Martin Luther King Jr. speech, “I Have A Dream

There was a “backlash” in the news, and even a “counter rally”. Accusations were tossed around of trying to co-opt the day… hogwash. The notion that Martin Luther King Jr. belongs to any one group of people is nearly flat-out denying the substance of all that he said.

As I was listening to all this talk about MLK—who he was, what he thought, what he said, what he stood for—I decided that I really didn’t know a lot about him first hand, so, I began investigating. I began, of course, with his most famous speech, “I Have A Dream”. It’s famous for a reason.

I found his speech online and we read it together as a family back in early September last year. It was shorter than I imagined, actually … but very to the point. The dream he spoke of was that one day there would be no colors, no division. One day, all of us would live together as equals. I think his courageous efforts to stand against injustice—leading other people to do the same—went a long way toward improving that in our country, but there are still so many “us” vs. “them” divisions (not necessarily, or at all, based on skin color) that sadly, I’d say we have a long way to go still. Perhaps we’ll never fully realize his dream this side of heaven, but it doesn’t hurt to keep trying, keep encouraging each other toward it.

The text this speech can be found here, and I will quote most of it below, highlighting some of the spots we thought were the most interesting/thought-provoking/great.

The speech begins with historical context. They were gathered at the feet of the Lincoln memorial. At the symbolic feet of the man who ended slavery. But the segregation had not ended. King said, “[the Negro] finds himself an exile in his own land.”

Then he said:

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

All men. I believe that the people who founded our country believed that. There are many stories and evidences to show that, though for hundreds of years there had been a culture of slavery that was more than abhorrent, many (perhaps most) did not support it, or even opposed it. But that’s not what I want to highlight here… I think it’s great that MLK was an American. Not an African-American, but an American… this was his “land”. And he took the words of our founders literally: That all men would be guaranteed—equally—these inalienable rights.

So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

I don’t think most of us today realize how important these two things are. We all live in relative freedom, purchased by many who have come before us. Perhaps many of us have known injustice. But in general, we think of riches more as material things rather than these more basic, more fundamental rights.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

This was an amazing paragraph. How strong is the dark power of bitterness and hatred. It clouds our judgment, fills our heart with darkness. It is definitely powerful, and in a bad way. King was right to acknowledge it, but emphasize that those who were perhaps justified in feeling it must not remain in it, or allow it to remain in them.

In another speech King said, “So this morning, as I look into your eyes, and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you, ‘I love you. I would rather die than hate you.’ And I’m foolish enough to believe that through the power of this love somewhere, men of the most recalcitrant bent will be transformed.” He was right.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

King saw the true American dream. Self-evident truth: all men are created equal. The founders knew it. They may not have fully lived it out, but they knew it. MLK knew that those rights were given to each person by God. It didn’t matter what your skin color was or what country you were from or how much money you had… those are all external things. If we could all get past those things then we would be an oasis of freedom and justice. We would be a nation who judges “not by the color of [our] skin but by the content of [our] character.”

Incredible people are definitely uniquely gifted by God in some ways, but more often, they are just regular people who believe in something, and whose convictions (and usually their deeply rooted faith in God) allow them—perhaps require them—to stand up for what is right. To do what is right. Martin Luther King, Jr. was another incredible person, and definitely worthy of a place of honor in our nation and around the world.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

(note: Today, 1/17/11, the server was overloaded on that I Have a Dream link above! You can find the text of the speech (and that page) via the Way Back Machine here.)

Life Suddenly Changed

A friend of ours passed away this morning. It was very unexpected, apparently very sudden (though I do not fully know the details) and… it just feels very final.

I have not known this friend very long. We met his daughter and her family a little more than a year ago when they moved to our town. They home school their children and had met some mutual home schooling friends who introduced us and we pretty quickly became good friends. Her parents moved to town shortly after her dad had a massive heart attack (about one year ago) to live in the apartment attached to their house. It was all very God-arranged.

We met Wayne & his wife shortly after they moved to town and, likely due to our good friendship with their daughter and family, they quickly became our good friends too. They were equally quickly “adopted” by our kids as their third set of grandparents. (Really! There was even a signed certificate created by our kids!) 🙂 They graciously offered an open invitation to us to watch our kids any time Jen and I needed to get out for some no-kids time. (And we have taken them up on that invite several times!)

The first time I met Wayne, I realized we had a shared love of words. Both reading and writing. Wayne has been far more prolific than I in both departments, to be sure. I am currently reading a book he recommended, and I had been talking with him about helping him publish some of his books. I hope to still do that for him.

It’s been a strange day. Death has not touched me much in life. Presently, I can only think of two people who were really close to me who have died. My Mom’s dad died when I was 12 or 13. I remember that, and remember thinking, “Wow… that’s weird.” But I didn’t realize till later that reaction was due (at least in part) to my Mom’s relationship with him—I had only been with him a handful of times. The other person is my wife’s brother, Jeff. My brother-in-law for only about a year. He died just before our first son Ian was born. (I remember it was really hard. Really shocking. Very sad.) That’s the reason that Ian bears his name. (Ian Jeffrey Campbell).

Otherwise, death has always seemed to be a couple relationships away from me.

But I know Wayne. He is my friend. I already miss him.

I was processing all of this with another friend in an online conversation when I said, “Life just changed suddenly.” I didn’t mean it to be profound, but the more I thought of it, the more I realized it was true. Life—my life—is now different, and quite suddenly so.

Now, I’m sure I don’t hurt nearly as much as our friends who lost a dad, a husband, a grandpa … and we will be asking God to fill the large void they now (suddenly) have in their lives. He can and I know he will…

But there is a hole. There is an absence. Life… is different.

Each of us is so much more impactful than we admit. (Or perhaps we really don’t realize, or understand it.) Every person we know, every place we go, everything we do … is part of the “fabric” of the lives of all those around us. So, the closer we are, the more time we spend with people, the more the void is felt. But all of us feel the absence. All of us.

So I will (and already do) miss him.

Although I am not as naive as to think that death would never touch me, it still nearly always comes as a shock. We are such hardy, fragile creatures. One moment it’s incredible what we can come through, and the next moment we can be gone within that moment. We just never know.

What that means—since we know that—is that each moment we have is precious. We can very easily get to thinking otherwise. Life’s daily details overtake (perhaps overwhelm) our conscious thoughts. But we just never know when we won’t have the people we love with us anymore. All we know is that we have them—we are with them—now.

Please take a moment today, after you read this, and remind the people around you how much they mean to you. Take a second to encourage some of the greatness you see in them. Maybe take more than a second. We can’t live everyday worried that we are going to lose those we love, but, we can certainly remember to let them know what they mean to us as often as possible.

I’m glad to have known Wayne Leavitt. I hope to see him again one day.

Until then, while I am still here, I am now reminded to enjoy the moments I have with the people whose lives God has intertwined with mine, and to let them know how glad I am that he has.

I hope you will do the same.

Live. Now.

More sad news has come this week. Last week we learned of the very sudden, unexpected death of a friend of ours, and have spent the week since praying for and grieving with his family. Today we will join his family as they bury him. Then this week we got a similar call from our very good friends who learned that their cousin had some extremely serious complications during child birth and was in really bad shape. In fact, they were already declaring her “brain dead” and didn’t seem to have much hope to ever revive her.

The next night, we learned that she had in fact passed away.

This was a mom in her early thirties, with a 6-year-old girl, and a newborn baby girl. That’s not supposed to happen. We live in America. We live in the 21st century. We can handle things like a c-section birth, right?

Sadly, we are too often reminded that we are not in control of life.

So today her family is grieving. Her boyfriend, the father of the newborn, is torn apart inside, I’m sure. The joy of your first child is unbelievable, but to lose the woman you love (I am told they had plans to be married after the baby was born) at the same time… excruciating. And her parents. They are now mourning the loss of their daughter, instead of enjoying holding a new granddaughter. (I just can’t imagine…) And there are siblings, cousins (our friends), aunts, uncles, grandparents … all feeling the deep, sudden, tragic sting of this loss.

Later this week I spoke with a friend who traveled half-way around the world to be with her sister who is about to lose her boyfriend to a disease they just discovered he had, and her sister and their infant son are also facing potentially serious health issues. The same day I spoke with some friend who have been dealing with very difficult issues surrounding two teenage boys they brought into their family about four years ago. They’ve been their mom and dad for those years now, giving them a home, a place to be loved… but there’s a lot of rebellion in the boys’ hearts. The oldest of the two has left to be on his own, and the youngest is dealing with some pretty serious issues in life … our friends are tired and weary.

And I feel it all. I feel for all of these friends, some of whom are really more like family, who are dealing directly with hurt or closely surrounded by it. A few thoughts come to mind:

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted. – Matt 5:4 (NIV)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds – James 1:2

I’ve had enough thoughts on both of these short verses lately to fill many pages of writing. In fact, I don’t think I’ll deal with the line from James much right now, other than to say I’ve wondered if James was including sadness and/or loss as a “trial”? I’ve always thought so, but these last two weeks I’ve wondered if he didn’t mean to imply that kind of “trial”…

But mourning. There’s plenty of that going on. And any who’ve read that verse (and the surrounding ones) have wondered at the backward picture that Jesus paints of the way God sees life. We’re blessed if we mourn? If we’re meek? If we’re poor in spirit? If we’re persecuted?? Those don’t fit our definition of “blessed”, do they?

Jen told me that she had been thinking about those words, too, and had seen one way it was a blessing. In the midst of grieving and mourning, all of the unimportant is instantly gone, and the only thing that matters is the real. The true things of life. Generally, that’s only our relationships with those who are close to us, and being with them. Our memories of the one we’ve lost. It’s not (usually) any of the things that just recently before had dominated our daily and weekly schedules. Somehow events which cause us to mourn bring us closer to real life than we usually let ourselves be.

That is not to say that hurt or loss are in themselves good. They are not. (At least in my estimation.) But they are part of real life, much more so (usually) than many of our daily activities.

It’s hard to remain there—and no one would want to remain there, in such a painful place—but somehow I think we can. Time heals the wounds we have, even if there are deep scars remaining. Somehow if we could only capture the connection we have with what is important in these moments, perhaps we could really live.

That’s all I’ve been thinking. I mean, I’ve been thinking of many things, but they all seem to have a central theme. That is to live. And to live now. Be where you are. Remember to enjoy the important things and put off the distractions. Now, we all have things we have to do, but I’d say those should frequently be reevaluated, and measured by what we know in these times to have real value. Not that there can’t be “diversions” at times, but even the word itself implies what they are: diversions from reality.

After all of this sadness—perhaps more descriptively, on top of all this sadness—I am feeling very weary. I’ve heard that in my friends tones as well. (If not specifically in their words.) Yesterday I was really feeling it, and in a moment of clarity I was reminded of the oft-quoted words of Jesus:

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” – Matt. 11:28 (NIV)

The really cool part was that it seemed like Jesus himself was saying it to me. So I just took a moment to breathe, and remember that even in all of my caring for my friends I can’t do anything about it really … only he can. So I brought the heaviness to him, and asked him for rest. And then I asked the same for all whom I have been lifting up to him these past couple weeks.

He is life. He said so—”I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life“. Not his teachings or someone else’s interpretations of him. Not anything else. Jesus. He is the life. (John 17:3 says, “And this is eternal life: To know the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom he sent.”) It’s so simple, but so often missed or forgotten. He is our life source. When we are connected to him (John 15), we can know and live real life.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10

The reminder at these times is to know what matters and find life in that. Jesus made all that is, and all was made for him (Colossians 1) … he is life. Then God made us in his image. There’s nothing more important than the people God has put into your life, and whose lives you’ve been put into. Don’t wait for the moment when they are gone (or you are gone) to live life to its full with them. We have been reminded all too clearly that we really have no guarantee of our next moment.

But we do have now. So please, live. Now.

“Meant To Be” by Steven Curtis Chapman

In light of all that we’ve been surrounded by these past couple weeks, and all we’ve been thinking of, I think I noticed the goodness in this song even more when my kids were watching it yesterday. It’s from the VeggieTales show, “It’s a Meaningful Life” (based on the classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life”) which has a cool added focus on adoption and how great that can be.

The chorus always jumps out at me:

You were meant to be touching the lives that you touch,
Meant to be here making this world so much
More than it would be, without you in it.

We are all meaningful. Each of us. And we can be even more meaningful to the people around us when we know it, and live out what matters. Our impact goes far beyond what we perceive, I think.

So, it’s a great song… but it might make you cry.


Will You Let Me Love You?

Sometimes babies do dumb things. OK, a lot of the time. But usually (really almost always) they are really cute doing them, so, you tend to pretty easily forgive. (That and, they’re all fairly new on the job, so, you cut them some slack.)

Well, today, Emma (who is 2, almost 3) decided she would live up to that.

After her baby brother’s nap (he is 1), she joined him in his crib for a little bouncy fun. Well, the bouncing turned stale I guess, and she thought it would be fun to involve the curtains in the play. It might have been fun at first, but then she jumped a little too high, and pulled a little too hard… and…

The curtain rod is no more.

I came down from my office to get them and noticed that the window did not look right. A quick glance downward revealed the nature of the change in appearance, and I just shook my head in frustration. I surveyed their faces and surmised that Emma was the culprit. (She admitted as much within a few seconds of my assessment.) I scolded her, and removed them from the crib and examined the damage to see if it was reparable. It was not.

So I left the room frustrated and, was also frustrated with Jen that they had somehow escaped her custody. I was just frustrated.

Skip ahead through dinner (steaks!), and bath (fun!), to Emma’s bedtime. She is once again in her brother’s crib (how else can you say good night to him??) and that brings back to her mind the events of the early evening.

“The curtain is broken,” says a sad-voiced Emma.

“Yeah, it is,” says Dad, matching her tone. “But it’s OK, I can fix it.” I even began sort of propping it up to hopefully block some of the morning sunlight.

“Will you let me love you, Dad?” came the sheepish, sullen request.

It took a few seconds to register. I am not sure I’ve ever heard those words strung together, or spoken like that. In our family, we learned that when we wrong each other, rather than saying, “I’m sorry,” which is nice, but leaves the offender still very much “in control”, we feel it’s more appropriate and meaningful to approach the offended, and humbly ask their forgiveness: “Will you please forgive me (for [insert offense here])?”

That is what Emma was asking. She may have been mimicking the tone and phrasing (her own interpretation) of what she’s seen, but I think it was also coming from her heart. And her two-year-old brain actually revealed something amazing to me.

“Will you let me love you” is, in effect, what we’re asking when we ask for forgiveness. Yes, that we’d be forgiven, and receive love from the offended, but also that we’d be allowed to freely give love, too! How could Emma know that? But that’s the great thing! She does!. Jesus said we should be like little children… and that is why. To Emma, life is very simple. Very relational.

(It’s also about candy. And rubber chickens. And frequent screaming. But that’s for another blog post…)

Tonight, Emma got it right. And she got a great big hug and kiss.

And I definitely let her love me. 🙂