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Monday, March 30, 2009

Present in the present...

Monday mornings tend to be a warm-down jog around the track after a weekend of breakneck, smashmouth ministry.  You've heard the phrase from the Bible..."my spirit is willing but my flesh is weak."  Monday mornings feel more like "my flesh is willing but my spirit is weak."  My flesh is off to the races wanting to surge into things that appease it's appetite for superficial significance, but my spirit is convulsing looking for some time to just be.  To just be in the here.  To just be in the now.  My spirit is dying for this discipline of "presence".

I am caught in between a retrospection, an introspection and a prospection, bouncing back and forth like the little cursor-configuration on my computer screensaver.  Part of me wants to surge forward into plans for the upcoming weekend while another part of me wants to linger in the wake of the one that just finished.  Still another part of me doesn't want to be bothered by the past or the future longing to be present in the present.  This triad of magnetic energy is ever pulling me apart inside on any given Monday morning.  I feel it once again today.

Being present in the present may be the hardest thing for me to achieve these days.  The regrets of yesterday and the dread of tomorrow weigh heavy on my soul.  Or positively speaking, the triumph of yesterday and the prospect of tomorrow lift me out of the now and transport me to the then and there.  It might just be the way I'm wired, but I have a feeling this is the ubiquitous struggle of the mass of men.  The next is always ripping us away from the now.  And by the time the next becomes the now, there is another next that seduces away from what we were consumed by yesterday.  I find it hard to commune with the present honoring it with my full attention.

Today I'm going to perform mental exercises on myself, a sort of theo-therapy that forces me to remain.  For to remain is all the Jesus asks of us in John 15. "Remain in me and I will remain in you."  That is the secret key to the joyful human experience, for this person has figured out how to extract maximum happiness from the moment they occupy.  This remaining life has got to be the rehabilitation program I lean into every Monday morning as I set my dials for the week to come.  These presets determine the quality of life I experience the rest of the week.

Preset #1 - Withdraw to a lonely place and think upon God's abiding, remaining presence.  Join him in his effortless, relaxed solidarity.  Now then, doesn't that feel much better?  How you like me now?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Note to Self...

Note to self:

Self, you need to think about the three other wheels that aren't squeaky today.  There will always be a 25% freefall of failure and frustration, misfortune and misadventure.  But it's not the whole story, though it may seem so.  

Self, that tight feeling in your neck is trying to tell you something.  Try taking 6 to 8 more breaths a minute and even give breathing through your nose a whirl if you get brave.  That shortness of breath is going to catch up to you...I don't mean to insult your intelligence, but you need oxygen just like the next guy.  Relax.

Self, I know it's been a long day but you will see your family shortly and they are innocently carrying on as if the world were raining blow pops and skittles.  Instead of letting your day leak into theirs, let theirs leak into yours.  You need to chillax with them and not take yourself so seriously.  "Why so serious?" (The Joker)

Self, remember that you're not a complete failure just because you can't fix everything.  You're not from Nazareth, you don't walk on water...last time I checked you haven't risen from the dead nor helped anyone else to do so.  You're just a regular guy, dude.  Give yourself a break.  Don't beat yourself up.  You're not doing that bad of a job.  Nobody wants to kill you regardless of what the last two nights of dreams indicate.  

Self, I kinda like you because you are honest and you talk to me and you like it when I talk back.  It feels kinda skitzo, but there's something therapeutic that happens when I'm conversing with you, I mean with me, I mean, you know, us.  

We're going to be alright, Self.  You and I will be just fine as long as we stick together. It's that fracturing into a split personality thing we gotta watch out for.  I've heard thats where this talking to yourself deal can get kinda maniacal.  

I think you're a pretty cool cat, Self.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

the nuanced narrative of God...

This was an email I sent to a friend today...I only post it cause I think it may strike a fairly universal chord out there.  You ever felt alone only to find out you're in the 99 percentile?  I have...

_____________________________

I think you think you're more unique in your feelings than you are.  This email you sent me is probably the sentiments of the majority of people that pile into church each weekend.  I think alot of people long for more than what they're experiencing, but don't know how to actualize their dreams.  I think people in general are lonely as all get out...starving for friendships, but immobilized as to how to initiate something meaningful.  Insecurities and disappointments and failures and abandonment from the past all contribute to a standoffish faith with standoffish friendships.  I know, for me, friendship is always a constant struggle.  I have deep feelings and probably a heightened set of expectations and longings as it relates to friendship that make me wrestle with questions of whether I'll even have a best friends that I can completely be myself with and share similar longings and enjoyments.  But I think this is common to man as I listen to the hearts of so many...we just all think we're alone.

I know that you think you're an outsider and that so many others are insiders.  But again, I think that is a perception more than a reality.  Most people feel like outsiders, looking from the outside in on everyone else's apparent joy and relaxation and fulfillment.  But the person they are looking at is feeling like they, too, are standing on the outside wishing for more, but settling for less.  It's really a perception, perspective issue in my opinion and until we know the truth of what God sees and feels and wants and commands...we all will continue to feel tentative and tense about the state of life and our state of being and state of mind in the midst of it.

I've heard the phrase...let life come to you...but I think this is a misnomer.  You must go after life again.  It will not come to you.   People will not come to you.  Chances are, they will not jump first or talk first or ask first or want first....you will have to go after life with all you got or you will sink deeper into the slough of despond and the isolation that comes with it.  You have to happen to life...not wait for life to happen to you.  It is all around you beckoning you to take the risk again.  And it is a risk...you have been hurt.  Hurt by your dad, your friends, your church, your family...heck, probably even your wife and kids if the truth be known.  It's impossible to go through life and not sustain injury from each of these parties...but God can resurrect.  Read 2 Cor. 1:8-11...he can raise the dead and deliver.  

I know that..because he has to do that every day and every week for me.  I have choices to back away and just let go...or press in and press on.  It's not easy...it's really hard.  The hurt reminds me of the risk.   But the risk reminds me of the reward.  And the reward reminds me of the release.  And that is what I experience when I go after life...release.  A release from the bonds that hold me back and hold me down.  I want this for you.

Freedom.

Healing.

Peace.

Joy.

This is what I'm praying for today.

for myself, for you...

nothing less will do.

________________________________

And so the story goes...and the goings on of each life represent the goings on of just about every life.  I can do nothing but fearfully and fearlessly tell the ongoing story, for within its nuanced narrative are found the colors and whispers and textures of God.  And his story is something beautiful...

The gospel of Andy...

I'm part of a ministry that reaches out to at-risk kids in our local elementary school called "Kids Hope USA".  My boy's name is Andy and he just turned 10 this week.  I love hanging out with him and getting him to laugh (rather, him getting me to laugh!)  

We were hanging out yesterday playing a little UNO and he was saying, "Oh, my god!" over and over again.  Now we're not supposed to bring up conversation about God unless they initiate it, so I've been waiting for an in-route.  After about the 4oth time he spouted off that little phrase, I said, "Man, you must know alot about God because you talk about him all the time!"  He looked at me without hesitating and said, "Oh, I do!"

"Is that so?" I said with a wee bit of surprise.  I know his background and God is not a part of it whatsoever.  He continued on.  "Yeah, God sent down his Son to the earth to help people switch their lives around. (I love the word switch)  He died on the cross so that the blood that came out of him would take people's sin away.  And then he got buried under a rock. (priceless)  But he climbed out from under the rock after three days and went back to be with his Dad."  It was one of the most simple and beautiful descriptions of the gospel I think I had ever heard.

I asked him where he heard that story and he told me that he was watching something during the Christmas season on T.V. that was talking about the song, "Drummer Boy".  They must have shared this in the context of that story.  I asked him how many times he watched the show and he said one time.  He remembered all that stuff after watching the show one time.  I thought that was astounding.  His brain is like a steel trap!  It's funny...he struggles with school, but he's got one of the brightest minds of any 10 yr. old I've ever met.  Almost photographic memory-like.

Once a week for one hour during the school day I hang out with Andy.  He doesn't know this yet, but I need him as much as he needs me.  We're getting to be pretty good friends.  He kicks my butt in UNO.  We eat Skittles together.  I help him with his Spelling.  We talk about his family, his dreams, his friends, his trailer park, his father that he hasn't seen for 8 years, his video games, his favorite music, his struggle with anger, his love of dogs and his best memories.

At the end of one of our times together he asked me, "When you come here, am I the only one you come to see?"  I replied, "You're it, buddy.  You're the only one I come here to see and I wouldn't miss it for the world."  He smiled, we high-fived, and he opened the door to head back into his classroom.

This is the gospel to me.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

where's the power...

Alot of bark, no bite.

A little less talk, alot more action.

Faith without works is dead, being alone.

Show me the money!

Well done is better than well said.

Big talkers, Spin-doctors.

Come strong or don't come at all.

They talk the talk, but don't walk the walk.

The honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.

The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power.

Having a form of godliness but deny it's power, from such turn away.

Smoke and mirrors.

They speak of things they do not know.

White washed tombs.

Where is the change...where is the transformation...where is the newness of life...where is the substance behind the speech...where is the growth...where is the healing...where is the freedom...where is the joy...where is truth in the inner parts?  

There is so much white noise...such a chaotic flurry of frenetic activity in the church...such a dearth of depth...such a glut of god-gossip.  Where is the choice among the cheap?  God come down and grant us the power to authenticate and activate.  Give us the passion to change.  Give us an unction from on high, quicken our hearts, infuse us with a vigorous faith that humbly surrenders to your will.

The world has for too long witnessed a church of hot air and cold hearts.  We need a resurrection, a church born again to the truth of God's life-altering power.  We need truth in the inner parts...

it's time.
 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Artistic little snakes...

My daughters were in a "Celebration of the Arts" recital this last weekend.  It was something that our children's ministry put together to give kids an opportunity to explore the arts and to see if something tugged at their heart strings.  

All of the girls participated in art(drawing, painting, etc) and dance over the last several months putting together pieces that would be displayed for all to see on the night of the recital.  It has been so cool to see them blossom into little artisans over the last few years.  Much of their newfound love for the arts is due in large part to the Kidzone program under the leadership of Andrea and Jennifer.  They are continually stimulated to think imaginatively about life, God and themselves through the arts, be it drama, videography, photography, music, painting, musicals, dance, etc.  The dynamic programming and preparation that happens each and every week around our church calls out the creative in each one of the kids and our daughters are no exception.

So to see them having a chance to express their own hearts via the arts is moving.  I sat there on Friday night and welled up with tears watching them dance around gracefully on the stage glorifying God with the feminine agility of their little bodies.  The way they pointed their toes, or held a pose, or twirled to a certain refrain, or jigged their legs or torsos to a catchy beat just brought my heart to life.  You could tell they were in their element soaking up their moment in the spotlight.  So much hard work was rewarded that night and they performed superbly.

I don't know what kind of church you're a part of out there, but if it doesn't highlight the arts and call out the creativity of the human soul, you're missing out on something God-ordained.  There's just something so cool about being a part of a faith community that preaches the whole gospel to the whole person in the whole world.  It makes you proud to be a Christ-follower and makes you actually want to invite someone to get in on the action.  

You shouldn't feel that when you're inviting people to church, you're inviting them out of life.  It should be an invitation into the most uber, holistic life conceivable.  I'm so lucky to have this sort of Christ-community around me...and around my precious daughters.

A community that isn't just as innocent as doves, they are a shrewd as snakes...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

the rest of me...the rest of God...the rest of life...

It’s my day off.  A day to turn off and go off.  A day that says, “Off is good.  On is bad”.  A counterintuitive day that declares war against all that speaks of production, productivity and cranking out product.  A Sabbath from busyness and business.  A respite, an oasis, a refuge.

But dang is it hard to really “take” a day off.  It’s this gift that is being handed to me that I don’t want to take for some reason.  I don’t want to reach out, grab it and let it have its way with me.  I’m starting to learn why.

I’ve come to realize that busyness means importance inside of me.  I feel important when I’m about the business of making something or making something happen.  I feel significance in this mass production, a security that my identity is unquestionably useful.  A validation that I am very much needed.  That I’m not just matter, I matter. 

I matter to life, to people, to myself.  I’m important, I’m essential.  Things can’t go on without me.  I’m quite a catch.  I’m unique in my contribution.  I’m one of a kind in a world of almost 7 billion. 

The funny thing is that even when I’m not doing much of anything that makes a hill of beans difference, I just keep moving “as if”.  That’s what Americans do, “just keep moving, it looks like you’re important when you simply move about, the faster the better.”  And so I’m a veritable pinball machine bouncing to and fro making a racket, setting off sirens and racking up points like a champ.  The more frenetic and frantic the pace, the more points you get…and the more points you get, the better you are compared to someone else, and when you’re better than someone else, in our culture this makes you somebody special.  Boy, do I want to be special.  So special that I, unlike many others, can’t afford to take a day off.  And so on and so forth.

Another wonderful thing about moving fast is that nobody, not ever you yourself, can catch “you” and ask you probing questions about the quality behind all the quantity.  Your heart, your built in “quality control” mechanism, gets gagged and thrown into the internal mechanical closet, forlorn and forgotten.  Quality of life is lost, as quantity becomes the barometer of success.

And it’s godless.  Godlessness is different than ungodliness.  It’s more insidious and undetected.  It’s, by way of definition, “life without God”. . . and who actually can tell whether that’s happening these days.  Ungodliness is more pronounced and far harder to hide.  It’s glaring addiction or an obvious “misaction” or reaction that we can spot that from a mile away.  But godlessness looks so slick, so savvy, so seductive.  Unfortunately, busyness and preoccupation and multi-tasking and crowded itineraries are often applauded as a “move of God”, a “blessed life of opportunity”, an “abundant life”.  It is rewarded with more hyperactivity leading to more adulation leading to counterfeit “closeness to God”.  It’s because we have been led to believe that “God is always moving”.  He’s always “on the move”.  Really?

What about “be still and know that I am God”?  Another way of saying, “Slow down and let me catch up, would ya?”  What if God is “still” sometimes?  What if knowing God involves being still, sitting still and staying still?  What if the “rest of God”, as Mark Buchanan cleverly calls it, is found in the “rest of us”, and what if the “rest of us” is the path to the “rest of God”?  We miss the rest of life when we miss the rest of us found in the rest of God.  It’s that simple, it’s that profound.

How do I know that this civilization is obsessive-compulsively addicted to manic energy and performance-enhanced self-importance?  It takes one to know one as they say.  I’m an addict myself who goes into withdrawal given small amounts of free time with nothing to do.  I get fidgety and unnerved.  And my days off are spent as a stir-crazy rehabilitant trying to kick his habit.  Itching my crawling skin, winding my hair into tight, wool-like circles, chewing my nails down to the cuticle, and nervously tapping my foot on the ground nursing my medically diagnosed restless legs syndrome.

Restless legs syndrome…tell me our culture hasn’t gone raving mad.

Yet here I am, fighting for the rest of God, the rest of me, the rest of life.  Ironically enough, there’s no place I’d rather be…that is if I’m listening to the right voice, of many, inside my head.  The rest of the voices are telling me something is falling apart without me.  Those voices sound much more affirming and validating stroking my uniqueness, my importance, my worth…but they are full of hogwash.  Which is the Greek word for bologna. 

And so I sit still in the papoose of God’s presence.  Is he enough?  We’ll find out.

dreamers...

There will always be a need for dreamers...those who take enough time in the secret places to have something to say in the seen places.  People who labor over visions, fighting with them to make sense of sensations.  Souls that listen to the otherworldly notions that tap on their heart's shoulder asking for a moment's pause to process the inconvenient inklings within.

I value this off-roading spirit.  Those who wander beyond the blacktop and on into the woods of wonderment.  I love those who stand at a distance from the well-worn paths of conventional thinking and take a slanted look at the landscape from the ditch.  Those who climb trees for a bird's eye view of the path.  Not to chastise the path or those who walk it.  Not to simply revel in rebellion raging against the machine.  This is not the motive of a true dreamer.

A dreamer just has to wonder what may be missing on the all too familiar path of predicability.  A dreamer wonders what may be lurking the darkness of the nearby wooded hill.  A dreamer wonders if something could be tucked in the darkness that breathes new meaning into pilgrimage.  They are sojourners looking for joy in the journey, their chief draw is not the destination alone.  They are looking for reasons beyond reason.  

Will dreamers ever be understood?  I hope not.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Drunk judgement...

I'm in a writing mood lately...maybe cause I have a little breathing room in my schedule to actually think and brood over my musings longer than a nanosecond. 

I've been thinking a lot about my faith.  Particularly, what it looks like from a pagan perspective.  I think I can get away with murder in the Judeo-Christian circles, but I wonder what a secular soul would encounter should they cross paths with me, and what their internal "crap detector" would identify as queer and suspect.  I know that I've grown accustom to my own theological warts and religious defects over time.  I'm almost sure I don't see myself with sober judgement in certain areas.  Their just have to be elements of "drunk judgement" going on inside my head that lead to a detrimental tunnel vision as it relates to my world view and self view.  We all think we're the standard of level headed, moderate thinking.  Balanced perfectly on the fulcrum of wisdom.  This, quite frankly, is where my "hammered" judgement takes a turn toward the deep weeds.

"The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know." (I believe it's in 1 Corinthians 8 or ?)  This verse slays me.  It cuts to the quick, exposing my most vulnerable inner framework of understanding.  Knowing something is always the first step toward not knowing something else.  In the book, Made to Stick, they take a little different slant on this topic when the float their idea called "The curse of knowledge".  This, they say, is "a person who forgets what it was like to not know what he or she now knows." They subtly become oblivious to the vantage points of others because they are so petrified in their own system of belief.  This can especially be dangerous for a pastor given his safe and untested green house of authority and autonomy.  Pastors can get lost--I speak from experience--in a buffered fantasy land, a time capsule of sorts, that cuts them off from the rest of society.  They think their theology and psychology and sociology (all three critical components to Christ-centered living) are centered and universal.  They sit unknowingly separated from realists and reality.  

And here's the clincher, no one has the heart to tell them.  Maybe it's because they think pastors don't have the heart to handle reality, maybe it's because they feel like maybe they aren't living in reality themselves and it will expose their secular-humanist hermeneutic...I don't know, but pastors live in a protected world of pity, largely ignorant of people's real feelings about them and the questions they have about their propensity to see everyday life through a glass darkly.  

I fear that I've fallen prey to this pitiful place of protection.  I don't mean to live buffered and shielded behind my position.  I don't want any excuses for not engaging life as it is.  I don't want anyone leaving me out of a conversation because "I just wouldn't understand".   But is this already in the works.  Do I live in a "believer's bubble"?  Do I dwell apart from reality or a part of reality? I do not know.  

But I digress.

My real question is what a person who isn't like me thinks about my interactions with them.  I wonder if my thoughts hold up in the light of ordinary human scrutiny.  Can I reason in the marketplace?  Do my visions of life make sense to humanity or just Christianity?  Do I have a functional faith that grapples with the nuances of reality, or do I gravitate to 6-8 soapboxes of thought that I regurgitate to the masses who quite conveniently espouse the same mentalities?  
I've noticed that my thoughts and theories are losing their edge, the edge that only stays sharp though the grind of an equally hard substance, a substantive thought or theory that challenges my paradigm, my yoke of understanding.  The dull blade of my belief is worrisome.  It calls into question the strength of the belief if, in fact, the belief can't handle opposition (which is simply a counter "position").  I don't care if you call it "higher criticism" or "lower criticism", every belief needs criticism to keep it accountable to truth.  The dross and chaff of unchallenged thinking must be separated from truth through the filter of healthy debate, be it playful banter or painful confrontation.  This is the diamond file that grinds away all that speaks of dull and dead thought, language or activity.  It is this intellectual rub that I'm missing...not cocky critics, but conscientious "critiquers".  Critical thinking arouses me when it's motivated by a violent affection for the kingdom and a teachable and humble heart of studious exploration and adventure.  Does anyone else know of what I'm feebly attempting to put into words?

I want a faith that isn't scared of investigation, an "audit" every now and again led by the world not our own peep's.  An inventory that exposes "ignorant" traditions based on nothing more than personal comfort.  An exploration of my mental framework to test its merit and meaning.  This would do my heart good.  It is what I don't know that I don't know that I fear.  And how will I ever know until and unless I place myself in company of critics, a cloud of many witnesses who are chasing after the very thing I am, Truth in its truest and most naked form?  How will I know otherwise?  How will I be anything other than the clueless king who was carried through the public square, naked and unaware?  Who will tell me that I don't have clothes on?  Who will tell me that I am over-clothed?  Who will tell me that I have the wrong clothes on altogether?  

I, like many, run the risk of going to the grave untested, tamed by my fear of man.  And tame is something that I can't bear the thought of being.  Tame is lame.  I simply must keep pressing to the dark edges asking the ineffable question, "What do I not know that I don't know?"  Because the Word is clear, "He who thinks he knows something, doesn't know as he ought to know."  This thought begs the question, "What do I think I know that I don't and how long will I live in this self-inflicted abyss of drunk judgement?"  

Hmmm?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Sects in the City...

I was thinking about Donald Miller, Rob Bell, C.S. Lewis and John Eldredge today.  Each of these men have been instrumental thinkers that have meddled in my b'ness and challenged my theology.  I love them for it.

But I was thinking of how many religious folk want these guys dead.  I've read several scathing diatribes attacking each of these "emergent" personalities, some even employing the harsh language of holy war.  Things like "You're going to burn in hell" and "I hope God takes you out" and "you will wish you were never born".  I think certain psuedo-Christians wish death upon these men and fantasize, in weak moments, about being the one to take them out.  Violent words coming from violent thoughts litter the internet, calling down curses and damnation on these controversial wolves in sheep's clothing.  In my opinion, the ones throwing the verbal stones are sheep in wolves clothing.

I can't believe how many Christians I don't get along with.  I run across "believers" on a fairly regular basis that I share very little in common with other than a rudimentary belief in the substitutionary atonement of Christ.  But even our espousal of similar doctrinal facts leaves me confused all the more as to how the knowledge of those factoids could lead us to such different expressions of the gospel.  

I don't agree with everything the aforementioned authors venture to write about.  But at least they aren't karaoke in their approach to God, church history and the advancing Kingdom.  They are asking questions and questioning answers, and I feel it to be quite helpful to be honest.  I feel something gritty in their thoughts, something that makes me glad I'm alive.  It teaches me how to think, instead of what to think.  

There are certain guys out there (I'll leave them unnamed for now) that just repeat the all to familiar interpretations and expressions of religion that have put people to sleep for years.  This is not to chuck the baby out with the bathwater, leaving behind the solid and unquestionable teachings of the Scriptures.  Not at all!  But you have to appreciate the tenacious hearts of those who want to siphon out the bathwater seeing what the baby would look like sporting its birthday suit.  The naked truth is transfixing.  And the raw and naked approach to addressing and undressing God really lights my logs.  I'm, more than ever, interested in what God looks like naked.  He has been clothed in so many man-made garments over the years.  The naked truth.  The naked God.  This intrigues me.

I really wish I could get along with all these sects of Christianity better than I do, but I just can't get over the chasm that stands between our expressions of faith.  The psyche, the attitude, the personality, the philosophy.  These things just confound me.  We're looking at the same Bible and coming away with a different looking Jesus.  I'll be the first to admit that I'm guilty as charged with fraudulent and facelifting interpretations of Jesus over the years, but if I'm going to error, I think I'll error with grace.  

I enjoy hanging out with pagans alot.  I, at least, feel like I know who I'm talking to.  But when I'm talking to many Christians out there, I have not idea which Jesus, from what proof texts, they are following; and this, I've found, lends itself to a very awkward encounter where both parties are feeling each other out with ten foot polls, not knowing whether to shout out, "Brotha!" or "Anathema!"  

There are so many "Sects in the City" aren't there?  

I'm just thankful for good thinkers out there who are calling us to back up our faith with something that makes sense to the heart, body and soul.  

Thursday, March 05, 2009

My daughters are slipping through my fingers...

There is one piece of human contact this is most meaningful to me.  It is when one of my daughters, unprovoked, kneels next to me in a restaurant booth and puts her little arm around my neck like I'm her best friend and then tenderly kisses my cheek, twice or three times if I'm really lucky.  It's best when I'm actually in a conversation with Heidi and it's happening as somewhat of a sidebar affection, not needy instant affirmation and recognition.  

This happened last night as I was talking to Heidi.  Kami just drew next to me and felt moved to affirm her love with physical affection.  I purposely didn't acknowledge it to see if it was motivated by a counter-response, but she apparently didn't need my acknowledgement, because she continued to give it regardless of my reaction.  This made it all the more special.  There's something diminishing about rewarding affection instantaneously conditioning the affectee to give only to get.  Like a dog waiting on a "snausage"-treat upon performing a trick.  Kami was just bent toward expressing her love last night regardless of my reciprocation.

I did eventually respond, but you could tell it wasn't about that.  

I love when my daughters climb on the couch and attempt to give me a massage with their brittle, nimble little fingers...especially Taylor.  She likes to stand on the couch just behind me while I'm watching TV and haphazardly rub the back of my neck trying to please me.  You can tell she's just wanting my pleasure, because she'll say over and over again, "Daddy, does that make you feel good?"  "Daddy, do you like when I do this?"  It's so cute.  It is so weak that it barely even gets to the muscle, it's more like a skin massage.  But it's not about the massage, it's about having my daughter's little hands on me.  It's about hearing her breathe down my neck.  It's about sharing that little moment of close proximity where a daddy and daughter share something so heavenly you can almost feel the brush of angel's wings.  I love the cold feel of her little paws on my shoulders.

All my daughters love to cuddle, folding into my body like a hand in a glove.  I wrap my arms around their curled up bodies and draw them tight to my chest.  I kiss them on the neck and the head and the cheek over and over and over again, pressing my nose against their skin and smelling their unique God-given oily aroma.  They each smell differently to me...I love how even the smelling sense is stirred by their presence.

I need to pull away from the pressing responsibilities of life to be with them more.  There is coming a day when they will want more independence in their adolescence and have more independence in their adulthood and I won't be able to soak in these moments of closeness with them.  They will be unavailable or uninterested and I will look back wishing I had seized the time I had with more deliberate intentionality.  It's just so easy to get wrapped up in life and lose sight of and touch with the finer things, the best things, the fleeting things, the everlasting things.

I just needed to write to stir up my affections for my little girls again.  I simply cannot let them slip through my fingers.  My heart depends on it more than theirs.