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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

For my wife...

I wrote this for my wife...I can't get enough of her.

Sleeping Beauty

I looked inside your eyes today
And way beyond the blue,
A sleeping beauty rested there,
radiant like the dew.

Enchanted by an ageless spell
Your glory lies there still,
Waiting for the kiss of love
To break the curse’s chill.

It takes a strong affection
To wake you from your slumber,
For years I’ve kept it to myself
And left your heart to wonder.

I see you lying cold inside
Waiting to be seen,
Wanting to be rescued by
The knight inside your dreams.

The shining armor that you see
Stands between our hearts,
Trapping me inside this steel
Trembling in the dark.

I want to come and rescue you
To free you with my love,
To give the kiss that sets you free
And whispers, “You’re enough.”

On the surface I look just like
The hero that you need,
But underneath I’m hiding too,
Wanting to be freed.

Freed to say what’s on my heart
Instead of shutting down,
Freed to offer you the kiss
That lets you see your crown.

For far too long I’ve let you hide
Your beauty sleeps inside,
But as your knight I’ve come to fight
To bring you back to life.

You’re beautiful.

Friday, August 26, 2005

what wrecks you...

What can't you stand? What makes your blood boil or your heart melt? What makes your eyes tear or your stomach knot? What breaks through every detour sign and roadblock you've constructed around your life and collides with the "bridge under construction" that is your heart? What keeps you up through the watches of the night pestering you with questions that refuse simple answers? What is your strongest desire, the kind the arrests all your energy and tires you when it is finished toying with your soul? What leaves you in pieces picking up what's left of your little world view? What collides with your core inviting you to engage without promising a safe return? What images are burned into your memory that awaken a fear and a fuel all at the same time? What is your calling? When will it matter to you that you don't know? Why is the last question something that our soul will not let us get away with not answering?

I'm finding something out...what wrecks me, I mean really cuts me to the quick, that's usually the very thing that wrecks God's heart. So many are asking themselves what to do with their lives when they need look no further than the pit in their stomach. This pit leads to purpose. When you feel an abiding ache for a certain facet of life, it's not an accidental preoccupation, it's more than likely a fire in your bones to equip you to engage with the impossible.

The impossible odds are every before us. They are taunting us like Philistines across the valley. They are daring us to take a shot at acting on our ache. They are intimidating us with statistics of futility and history books filled with others who have tried and failed. They are reminding us of how foolish it is to dream that things could be any different than they are. They are encouraging us to take our place in the line of people waiting for the rapture and praying for prince charming to come and rescue us from this present hour. They are laughing hysterically at the absurdity of a single person challenging the notion that "it is what it is". And we shrink back and resume our humble existence. Live and let live.

But just suppose people believed this one maxim, "Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good." - Paul the Apostle. Dream about the simplicity of this proposal. Every act of good pushes back the bad. When we act on what wrecks us, we may not be able to get an interview with Larry King, but we affect change on a planet in need of an expansion of goodness. Every word laced with goodness, every thought purified with goodness, every act motivated by goodness...this is what pushes back the darkness.

Maybe, just maybe, those stirrings of the spirit are prompted by One who felt them first and invites us to take our place in the symphony of souls playing the music of goodness in a world overcome with evil. "Open up the doors and let the music play, let the streets resound with singing. Songs that bring your hope and songs that bring your joy, dancers who dance upon injustice." -Martin Smith. A song written by a man that must have felt something of what pounds in my own breast on this, my day off.

There are no days off for the one who serves a being Who never slumbers or sleeps.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

first day of school...

the big drop off happened today...

It was Aly's first day of pre-school, so she was grinning with nostrils flaring in delight. She got a new back pack (Barbie and a bunch of other mythological princesses). Her hair was put up in pony tails with a pink bow compliments of Heidi, the bows-in-the-hair specialist. I just wish you could have seen her smile. Dimples deep. Teeth barely showing under taut lips trying to hold back the exileration of finally being able to go to school like her older sister.

Kami must have kissed me 20 times this morning. Ok, I initiated half of those smooches, but the rest were her doing. She loves school. In fact, when we were visiting her class on Monday and getting a little orientation, she had to pick her desk. She picked the desk front and center...she wants front row attention and first rate education. She was a little less exuberant this morning. This was old hat for a girl who is starting her third year of school (that counting pre-school). She strutted over to her classmates standing in line like it was her job. She's experienced.

Taylor sat back and watched her sisters preparing to leave her alone in the nest. She kept saying, "Bye, bye sissy's". If she could, she would strap on a backpack and take the school by storm, but for now, she must stay at home and keep an eye on Heidi.

Whatever it was inside my girls eyes this morning, whatever was etched on there soft, tan faces, whatever gave them the bounce in their step as they walked across the parking lot to school, whatever caused them to laugh with that machine gun giggle...that's what I never want to lose. The expectancy, the adventure, the zest, the unadulterated joy...I must pursue these things until my dying day. I don't think the faith of a child was the only thing Jesus was interested in encouraging. I think it was the heart of a child at the core...a heart that loves without reservation, forgives without remembering, and plays without self-consciousness.

I want today to be like my daughters first day of school.

Monday, August 22, 2005

who's leading who to fun...

Last night I experienced something quite exciting.

A young couple from our church, who happen to also be in my small group, got married yesterday afternoon. It was a beautiful wedding! But the wedding was just the beginning.

After the wedding we were invited to a festive celebration held at a restaurant/bar type of place that was closed to the public and exclusively rented out for the wedding reception. This couple who got married had just come to know the Lord in a personal way within the last year and most of their family and friends were quite obviously not down with God. Most people were making hay while the sun will still shining. (aka - drinking as much free beer and wine as their body could gussle.) Have you ever been to a place where people know that the drinks are free? It is something to behold. I have to tell you, I loved being in the midst of this scene.

There were about 40 people there from our church community and we were having a blast playing pool, talking about life, eating prime rib and laughing at each other's stories. A few were drinking a glass of wine or a beer with their meal, but no one was indulging alchoholically at all. The music was starting to get louder and it was old school dance tunes like, Celebrate Good Times and YMCA. No one was dancing, however.

I was jigging around next to my table and feeling like I wanted to bust a move, but the dance floor was vacant. All the sudden, a group of women from our church moved to the dance floor and started to have fun. One by one, our collective body filled the dance floor and had the time of our lives. No dirty dancing, just a bunch of human beings made in the image of God living like they had something to get excited about. I danced until I was sore.

As we were getting ready to leave, the groom came up to one of the guys from our church and said (listen to this statement), "It was obvious tonight what group of people is most excited about life." I was thinking as we left the reception, this is way it should be, Jesus followers should be the ones having the most fun. We should be the ones that others are looking at and wondering what they're missing. We should be leading the pack to the dance floor. We should give people something to covet, something to crave. We should be the ones smiling, laughing, and dancing.

I drank three large glasses of rasberry lemonade, but I was still under the influence. I was under the influence of the most intoxicating substance available to mankind, The Great Spirit of God. And I danced with others intoxicated with life. "He who has the Son, has life. He who does not have the Son of God does not have life." I John 5:11-12 It's that simple. Last night, it was the followers of Jesus who pushed back the darkness. We were the ones who partied hard while the world stood around drowning their emptiness with the bottle.

It doesn't matter where you are, Jesus will always be the life of the party.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

attack...

I don't know how many reading this are involved in ministry (the salvaging and ennobling of people's hearts and lives), but I thought I'd let you in on something. I go back and forth as to what metaphor most aptly describes the life of a Jesus follower. But the one that makes the most sense is one that I heard from somewhere..."A love story set within a great battle". Something about that covers all the bases. It doesn't focus solely on the battle of life, it gives just due to the beauty of life as well. But today, the beauty seems to be shrouded with the battle.

Satan is on the move. I know, God is on the move, but let me give Satan some credit for a change. We tend to write him off as a defeated foe to soon. He is still active and brilliant. He is powerful and persuasive. He is sly and cunning. He is alive and well. That's right...alive and well.

I've seen him at work this week...people are losing jobs, marriages are on the rocks, children are falling apart....I could go on.

Just now, a man came into my office. He opened the door and started crying because a family that said they would take his dog decided that they couldn't anymore. This man and his family are moving and there is alot of pressure in their lives right now. Without elaborating, they are being pressed from every side and are on the brink of unraveling emotionally. So as the man talked to me about his dog and was trying to figure out what to do...I stopped him and said, "It's going to be alright." I stood up and hugged him in the hall and he fell apart, I mean sobbed like a little boy in my arms. I continued to embrace him letting him vent all his pent up feelings. He kept saying, "I just can't...I just...I just don't...I can't..." I knew what he was trying to say.

Isn't it amazing that life can take you out so bad that a simple thing like a dog can break you? People are dropping like flies. I talked on the phone this morning with another marriage being drug through a knothole backwards. She simply said, "I think we need to meet with someone." A great couple who loves God taking one to many hits to the heart until finally they are at a loss for words and direction.

Yesterday I prayed through two houses that seemed to be influenced by the enemy. For 5 hours on Friday afternoon I devoted my life to inviting God to reclaim ground the enemy had stolen. Restoration, Redemption, Renewal, Cleansing, Authority...just flat out giving God access to rule and reign in these homes once again. I don't know if it did anything...cause it's all unseen battle stuff, but I just can't sit back and watch people ravished any longer.

There is nothing more motivating that when you feel like you're losing.

Someone's on the prowl. He's looking for another person to devour. Devour. He's stealing and killing a destorying as I write. He's masquading as an angel of light. He's alive and well, y'all.

I'm not sure what else to say...I'm tired of fighting. I need more ammunition. I need more backup. I need more hope. I need more.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

a tight heart...

something nameless wraps it's talons around my insides. To the point where I feel short of breath. It won't be shrugged off or downplayed. It won't be avoided or overlooked. It's contraint reminds me that it holds the keys to my desire for freedom. I quote verses and remind myself of all that I have to be thankful for. The Bible says that when you do that, life miraculously changes for the better. It's not working. None of those formulas work. At least for me.

I have nothing to be ashamed of...so it's not unconfessed sin as far as I know.

I have nothing to be afraid of...so it's not fear as far as I know.

What is this ache, this angst, this abyss? It's not depression...at least I don't think it is. But then again, who knows the entrance and departure of this mysterious thing humans call depression. The Bible never uses the word depression...but there were tons of depressed man and women of God. In fact, every person who did anything worth noting in the Bible was depressed at one point or another in their life. How could you not be?

You know what I think knocks the wind out of me? It's not how fragile people are...it's how fickle they are. I love the fragility of human beings. I love sharing my own vulnerability. But the fickleness. That's a tough one to stomach. And my stomach says so. Right now.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

a couple of weeks later...

This morning I find myself reflecting...inspecting history, my recent history. What is shaping me, what is moving me, what is hindering me, what is compelling me?

One moment a couple of weeks ago continues to resurface day after day. It was a night where Heidi and I were less than amused with each other. Sometimes intimacy feels like Normandy. You know, war. A war over differing perspective, family upbringing, and personal needs. A war over insecurity and insensitivity. A war over familiarity and indifference. A war over selfishness.

At the end of our 15 round heavy weight bout, we were sitting in our corners wondering who would emerge the victor(if you're married, you realize that no one wins when someone wins), and like always, the silence started to counsel our hearts.

I don't know who broke the silence with a personal confession of selfishness first (probably Heidi), but that started the journey back to each other's hearts. I love that journey back. And this leads me to the memory that has been swelling in my heart for a couple weeks. It was a simple phrase spoken in the darkness and silence of our bedroom that awakened a strength in me that only my wife can unleash. As she was sharing her love for me, she leaned over and spoke these words into my spirit, "I love what you're made of."

I can't get that phrase out of my mind. I guess it's because I wonder what I'm made of sometimes. I wonder if I'm made of much at all. I wonder what ingredients are at the core of my make up.

My wife loves what I'm made of. It's funny that a couple of weeks later I'm still held hostage to that little momentary expression. I read on a blog this morning that your mate really has the power to name you. I think that night my wife named me. A name I'm proud to bear. A name that speaks against every accusation of hell. A name given by the crown of my heart, my beloved Heidi.

"I love what you're made of."

Friday, August 12, 2005

out of nowhere...

I have no idea what is happening inside me. For the past 3 weeks I have been spiritually harassed by God. I'm about to file charges.

Everywhere I go...God is opening the eyes of my heart to the pain of the world. Every time I turn on the television...brokeness. Every movie I have watched recently...terror. Every place I go...desperation.

I thought for sure that the last couple days would surely be a sabattical from it all. I was going to a "Christian" leadership conference hosted by none other that Willow Creek. It is called Leadership Summit with headliners like John Maxwell, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and the rest of the elite evangelicals that span our globe. In some ways, I was getting ready for the predictable 21 Irrefutable Laws of leadership, 7 Happy Hops to Wholeness, and 4 Deadly Sins of the Influencial Leader. You know, all those tips and techniches that make you want to go home, clean out your drawers, move to the hills of West Virginia, dig a large whole, and bury yourself alive.

I wasn't prepared for what I experienced. The first session started with Bill Hybels sharing a holy discontent that he was feeling over the human suffering in our world. With tears streaming down his face he essentially said, "If a leader is not moved by the international horrors happening around the globe like genicide, poverty, starvation, aids, sex trafficing, orphans, etc, then he or she is not a leader at all." I'm telling you he was balling like a baby talking about his deep passion for the world and his desire to see a global heartbeat in the church.

I was blown away. But I thought, Rick Warren is next. He's going to pitch the new 40 Days of Community Campaign and his next book that will become another New York times best seller. (His last book, Purpose Driven Life has just sold over 30 million copies and rising...best selling book ever according to the New York times) I was ready to hear the "Purpose Driven" rhetoric for the millionth time. Can you tell that my heart is becoming tired of modern Christianity's marketing schemes?

He stepped up to the podium and in the first 30 seconds I could tell that my characterization of this man was as far from the truth as Bigfoot. He passionately talked about his recent and many trips all over the world to destitute towns and remote villages. He talked about how God has moved his heart to rally the church to open their eyes and hearts to the broken and hurting and hungry and lonely and dying all over the planet. With tears in his eyes he shared about the newfound influence and affluence God has blessed him with and how he has started tithing 90 percent of it back to God and using most all his money to start programs to feed starving children, to clothe the naked, to medicate the infected, to hug the hurting. You wouldn't believe it.

He talked of his new P.E.A.C.E. program that he is hoping will gather the more than 1 billion footsoldiers of Christianity to stop talking about God and to start acting like Him. He asked those in the audience to join him in the Second Revolution. The first focusing on creeds, this one focusing on deeds. I'm slow to jump on bandwagons...but this seemed so genuine.

I cannot tell you how humble these guys were...it's as if God is protecting them from pride for this period of history. Bill Hybels said at the end of his message, "The world doesn't have to end like this." We can affect change.

John Maxwell, the big stud leader, cried again and again telling stories of people he's encountering in other countries. He talked about how he was asked to share leadership principles to big corporate leaders over in China and they asked him to stay and share about his faith even though it was against the law...80% stayed to hear about Jesus. 15% accepted the Jesus story as true and wanted to embrace his invitation to join him in the redemptive movement of Christ.

You wouldn't believe it. These men are being broken by God. They are more humble than you could imagine and more shattered in their spirit for the dehumanization of people around the world than you could conceive.

I could go on...I'm just speechless. Could God be changing the hearts of modern selfish evangelicalism into the ageless, selfless Heart of God? I saw the hope of that the last couple days. If you're a person who has given up on the church and it's mega-church pastors, I'm just telling you something's happening that's bigger than you can imagine in their hearts. The humble heart of God is waking in these men...I witnessed it with my own two eyes.

My heart is in shock...

what are your thoughts?

what is going on?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

a dreamless sleep

A dreamless sleep

Under skin so soft and thin
There lays a dreamless soul,
It wonders where it must begin
To climb out of this hole.

With puzzlement a muzzled heart
Stares into empty space,
Its daring dreams have lost their voice
Its smile has lost its face.

The cool of night chills to the bone
But reaches further still,
Beyond the bone down to the heart
Where ice first shrouds, then kills.

Life outside begins to die
When hearts beneath grow cold,
Passive wishes take the throne
Where dreams once ruled bold.

What will become of this, our world,
If dreamers start to die,
Sleeping through each passing day
With hearts afraid to try.

We stand again upon the path
Which forks before us now,
The right declares its promises
The left makes no such vow.

If what we want is surety
Then right provides the way,
But right is wrong if what you want
Is for your heart to play.

For on this path the way does not
Allow for dreams to dance,
The signs are plain, the rules are clear,
Desire stands no chance.

But to the left there lies a world
Where footprints are not seen,
It leads you to a place where men
Have yet begun to dream.

It calls forth longings of the heart
To guide the traveler through,
Asking not “who’s gone before?”
But “What am I to do?”

Though few are drawn to walk this path
My heart cannot resist,
I’m driven by a deeper fear
Of what I might have missed.

For every thousand dangers
My heart is sure to face,
There’s bound to be one moment
That safety can’t replace.

Where every second of my life
Was meant for but this one,
When all that once meant everything
Falls to the ground undone.

And in that instant I can see
What life was meant to mean,
Outside the walls of normalcy
Into the world of dreams.

I can’t imagine what a life
Of dreamless sleep would be,
All I know and that is not
What I’ve been born to be.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

the county fair...

Ok, so I went to the county fair last night with my family. Oh man. It's like taking a mission's trip in your own backyard. I felt like an alien in my own town. I don't know where these people hide during the rest of the year, but on this particular week, they emerge from all corners of the county to pay homage to the carnie gods. Even as I describe them, I'm giving you a foretaste of what is on my heart and where I'm going with this.

We were near a pack of carnie teens and I had to get my daughters away from them for fear that what they heard and saw might never be reversed. But I kept asking myself, "Why do I feal like I want out of here? What is it about this people group that seems beyond the point of no return? Why have I given up on these folks for all express purposes?" Understand, I'm sharing what's happing in my mind while on the outside I'm calm and collected smiling and carrying on like I'm the Rock of Gabraltar. I struggle to love these people.

But if I struggle to love these people, do I really love anyone. Can I say I love people as long as they fit the parameters of my love list? Do I only gravitate to the people that make it easy to love subtly crowding out those who don't make the cut?

Why do I cringe and wince when I get near these kinds of people for any length of time? You know, people that have missing teeth, yellow teeth, crooked teeth...funky hair, oily hair, disheveled hair...no brahs, no deotorant, no manners...You get the picture. In my past, they were called the dregs of humanity. The dross of humanity. The dirt of humanity.

But here the clincher. Jesus spent most of his time with these kinds of people. Ordinary outcasts without education, table manners, or good hygiene. My question is, "How did He do it?" How did he give them the time of day, a listening ear, or a sheltering wing? How did he hold it together when the prostitute was dragged naked in front of his male frame? How did he have the strength to invite himself over to a punk crook's abode? How did he keep from losing his mind around a bunch of uneducated boneheads who didn't know the kingdom from a hole in the wall? How did he bind himself together when the smelly dregs of humanity followed him around the lake all hungry, empty and desperate? I wonder if he ever felt tempted to move to higher ground?

I could write all day about my reactions to last night...but suffice it to say that I feel like I'm back at square one again pondering the age old question, "How do you love your neighbor?" I feel like my understanding of that piece of Scripture needs some attention. I have given it so many facelifts it is beginning to look like the spiritual equivilent of Michael Jackson's face. Stretched, Scarred, and Scary. Oh God, let me see the face of Jesus again!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

playing: the sequel

...the sleeping beauties woke from their slumber with a hunger for wonder. I was rested and ready to give them just that. I told them we were heading to the shores of a small creek for a picnic. Their eyes lit up and I started packing the wicker basket. What did I pack, you ask? The essential food groups: Cheese, fruit snacks, icey pops, pringles, and Welch's grape juice straight from the quart. When we finished our picnic, Aly said, "Dad, this wasn't a picnic...this was just a big snack." I came back with some rebuttal like, "Nughha."

After we ate our "Big Snack", we moved down the the creek to wade in up to our shins. In a matter of two minutes, the girls were skinny dipping up to their chins and I was building a dam in the middle of the current. (No, I wasn't skinny dipping, though I was tempted more than once) They laughed and splashed each other with glee. What a day. What a couple of days.

I think I hear God upstairs again. My daughters are listening to Beth's new cd and dancing around like theirs no tomorrow. Because for them, there might as well not be. Today is plenty enough to keep them occupied. I can't believe how close to God I've felt this weekend. Who would have known all I had to do is play with my daughters.

playing...

My wife left on a little get away yesterday. That means that I'm here with my daughters, alone. Heidi is left alone with the beauties alot, but I'm not granted the same responsibility...(it just struck me, am I irresponsible? No need to dwell on that bit of self-revelation.)

The last two days we have done nothing, and I mean nothing, but played. It started yesterday with a morning at "Chuckie Cheese". Chuckie is an overgrown mouse with large buckteeth. Every once in a while, he comes out of hiding and the kids swarm him, rub his fur, hug him, and invite him to their homes. I know it's a joker in a costume, but they are enraptured with this milk-fed rodent. He waves and puts his hand over his mouth like he's giggling for like 10 minutes straight until he's sweating through the mouse suit. Just when he starts to smell like B.O. he makes a B-line to the storage closet where he emerges as a disgruntled and sweaty employee.

I bought about 10 bucks worth of tokens and we were off to the races. We rode rides, played games and ate ice cream....for like two hours. When the girls had had enough, they begged me to get off the rides so that we could move to the next playful event for these three thrill-seekers. We decided to drive over to the Kent County fair. Mind you, it's not actually open for business yet, they're just getting things ready for next Monday's opening day, but my daughters have been counting down the days. We drove through the cluttered streets of the fair and watched animals being dropped off, rides being assembled, and vendors getting their grease ready for action. Their eyes were popping out of their heads and the giggles--they were priceless. I was even getting excited for the "carnies" to come to town.

From there, we went over to McDonald's Playland, the place where dreams chrystalize before your very eyes. It was a zoo of wild children plotting to take over the world inside the tubes that were suspended 20 feet over the unsuspecting adults heads. I climbed into the tubes and got in on the action. There is nothing I would love more than adults to be overthrown by the hearts of young children. After spending the morning in "Chucky Cheese's", I'm a believer.

From there we had to bed down for some naps. Naps are taken for the express purpose of refueling for the 6 hours leading up to bedtime. As the girls curled into their beds, I braced myself for the remainder of the day.

Before I could catch my breath, they were awake. We headed to town to pick up a movie only to come back with two, Barbie: The Princess and the Pauper, and Eloise, the Plaze. We got gumballs while we were there, the kind that wind down this maze and finally pop out at the bottom with a bang. Taylor could hardly cram hers into her little mouth, so I pushed it in for her...it took about 4 minutes for the saliva to break down the polished texture that protects the gum and for her tiny jaw to chew with freedom. Gumballs rock! Their flavor last approximately 52 seconds, but it's bliss right up to the last second. Then it turns into a harded apoxy that could be used to post notes on your refrigerator.

We watched these movies last night and then told stories before bed. They were dressed up as princesses and I was kissing their hands like we were at the "Royal Ball", at least that's what I think they called it.

They went to bed, so did I. I was spent. Playing takes it out of you.

This morning, we woke up and took a walk down the country road, ate Corn Pops, watched Dora the Explorer, played house outside, and then took off to go to the playground. This playground was huge! I was swinging, sliding, hanging, climbing and loving every minute of it. I took a book to read while they played. I never got around to ready, thank God. (I spent too much time trading play for other things.)

We came home and they took another nap. Kami laid there, but finally came downstairs. We went outside and talked about where pickles come from. I told her that they are baby cucumbers snatched out of the garden prematurely and soaked in this magical juice that makes them delicious. We ate the whole jar of them. My stomach hurts.

I think I just heard more footsteps upstairs. Aly has risen out of slumber and is ready to wisk me away into a world where pedestrian hearts are not allowed. This is a world that only exists to those willing to play again.

I read my Bible today...as I was reading Matthew 4 I thought I heard more footsteps upstairs, I think God's getting ready to play...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Kami, Surgery, Again

Last night Heidi and I sat on the loveseat and prayed for our daughter who was going to have a small surgery to get the tubes removed from her ears. But after all the surgeries my little girl has undergone, there is no routine surgery. They are all traumatic and monumental. I wept for her last night. I hate to see fear well up in her eyes.

Two weeks ago when Kami went to the doctor to find out what needed to happen, I came home from work and she slowly walked towards me and broke into a million pieces saying, "Dad, I have to have another surgery." I picked her up in my arms and hugged her tightly. She left a stain of tears on my shoulder. Her head was buried in my neck. We sat on the couch and I let her melt into my body for as long as she needed to.

This morning it took five people to hold her down so that they could put the mask on her face that puts her under. Five people. Tell me it's routine. I hate seeing my daughter go through this stuff...I don't care how necessary it is, it rots bigtime.

God, be with my firstborn.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

fighting back tears...

Something inside heaves and surfaces as a lump in the throat. Most of the time I’m left thinking, “What’s the big deal? Why am I on the verge of tears?” It was only a simple word. It was only a brief moment. It was only a small glimpse.

But I know it’s so much more. The eyes of the heart saw something that caused them to tear. The ears of the heart heard something that caused them to burn. And unlike so many things in the world on this side of the skin, the underworld won’t be regulated and relegated. Down below, there is no such thing as composure.

Honestly, I spend a great deal of my mental energy just trying to hold it together. But this poise becomes poison. A conjured control. A simulated smile.

But everything inside of me, and I mean everything, wants to weep like a baby. I want to cry for humanity, to shed tears for the greater part of this world homeless and hopeless, crying and dying, hungry and thirsty.

Oh, for the tears of Jesus. For the movement of compassion to pound in my own breast. For the sensitivity to feel the touch of a wretch on the hem of my garment. For the eyes to see the dwarf in the tree. For the ears to hear the moans of a leper. For the knot in the gut at the sight of injustice. For the words to speak to the deaf, the gaze to cast to the blind, the hand to reach to the paralyzed, the step to take to the crippled. The tears fell from this sinless man and he didn’t fight them back.

He cried over Jerusalem. He wept bitterly at the death of a friend. He sobbed loud moans in prayer on the mountain gathering strength for the coming day. Streams flowed down his cheeks as he allowed his heart to speak with tears. This language so silent gives voice to the underworld. These drops that descend the face of Jesus announce the presence of a crying King. One who is free about his feelings. One who isn’t too shy to cry.

I know he felt it. And on this day, I feel it too. I want to release these dammed up tears. They press their way to the surface looking for the light of day. I swallow hard and try to think about something else. But these longings become liquid. These wishes become water. These feelings become fluid. The underworld speaks and I, for once, can’t suppress the current. This is their day and I am their servant. I can master them for only so long. They must and will flow free. Tears never made good slaves.
The fight is over now. I’ve been conquered without losing, for those who sow in tears reap in joy.

So I watched Hotel Rwanda...

It was a little over a week ago now. It feels like last night. I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I picked up that movie for a little relaxing evening home with my wife. Relaxing was the last thing that happened during this particular movie. How can you relax into genocide? Most of the movie my guts were twisted into knots and my heart was crying for mercy. It was horrible. It was real. It was real horrible.

That night, I layed in my bed staring at the ceiling thinking about the world in which I live and wondering why so many days of my life are spent living in my own world. People are being slaughtered by the thousdands even today and is doesn't affect me. Children are dying by the truckloads and I (ok, you won't believe this...just after I wrote this line, my ministry partner came in and told me that a fellow church planter in our area lost his daughter last night in a freak accident at their house. She was taking a nap in her room and the fan fell out of the window on her and suffocated her. My heart is squeezing up as I write) don't care about anyone but my own children and their safety. Wives are being raped, daughters are being ravished, sons are being tortured, Fathers are being executed...and I'm concerned about whether or not we'll have a bassist for our praise band this weekend.

I know, I'm just one of those people who feels deeply about something for the moment and expects everyone else to join him in that feeling only to abandon that feeling next week when I'm swept away into my own little world again and move into the next movie. (hopefully less weighty and more uplifting, right?) So maybe no one else will join me in this gut-wrenching emotion. I don't blame them. I haven't joined anyone else all these years whenever they were trying to get across the idea that the world is a big place and cruel things are happening as we squabble over whether we want lemonade, rasberry lemonade, blackberry lemonade, blueberry lemonade, kiwi lemonade, strawberry lemonade, kiwi-strwberry lemonade, rassleberry lemonade or dingleberry lemonade (yes on know what that is.). I'm sick of myself. Do you ever find yourself sick of your own ability to run from reality?

So this morning a young family lost their little, precious princess to a falling fan. I don't know what to do about that in my spirit. I find myself angry, compassionate and selfishly thanking God that it's not one ofmy daughters. I know the feeling of sympathy won't last long...it never does.

...and today...I've got a problem with that.