bully

My oldest daughter is in kindergarden at the local public elementary school.  She seems to be adjusting well to her new surroundings and her new role as a student.  Unlike when I was in kindergarden, she attends school for the full day.  Her day consists of things like art, music, computer class, “circle time,” recess, nap-time and of course, lunch.

One of the new and exciting things about school is getting to choose between eating the lunch prepared at the school cafeteria (aka “hot lunch”) or bring her own lunch from home (aka “cold lunch”).  She puts considerable thought into which lunch she will be enjoying the next day.  Her decision making process is not centered on what is being offered for lunch, but on who she would like to sit with during lunch.  The “hot-lunchers” and “cold-lunchers” are segregated from one another and sit at seperate tables.   For the last couple of weeks she has been on a hot lunch streak.  Day after day she has chosen to eat the lunch prepared by the school, even when it was something less than desirable, just so she could sit with her friends.

Yesterday that changed.  She is ready to switch back to being a cold-luncher.  Her decision is not based on food but on company.  A couple of the boys at the hot lunch table (referred to at our house as the  “bad boys”) began to pick on her.  When I heard of her reasons for making the lunch room change I felt anger beginning to stir in me. One of the bad boys began to kick her under the table.  Another bad boy took a banana and poked her in the face leaving wet “banana-smudge” on her cheek.  As I heard about what the other kids had done to her I became more and more furious.  While I was still listening to the details of the story I was envisioning showing up to her lunch table unannounced to intimidate the boys that were bothering her.

“They kicked you under the table?!?” I thought to myself.  I was already choosing the words for my threats.  I would give the “bad boys” the scare of a life time.

“Wiped banana on your face?!?” my inner dialogue continued. If my scare tactics and intimidation prove insufficient other action may be necessary.  Perhaps waiting for them after school….

“And you just had to sit there? Helpless? Defenseless?” I will hold teachers and school administrators responsible for this injustice!  Doesn’t anyone monitor these children as they try to eat their lunch in peace?!?!

I eventually managed to calm myself down.  Maybe fighting 5 year old boys isn’t the best way to resolve this problem.  My daughter’s solution of simply moving to the cold lunch table is probably a much better idea.  I am sure the lunch room is full of that kind of behavior on a daily basis.  A kick in the leg and a piece of fruit to the face.  I know that in the long run it is not that big of a deal but I hate the thought of it happening to my kid.

This morning I thought more about my outrage at how my daughter was treated.  As I thought about it I realized, again, how staggering God’s love for us is.  It hurt me to think of others hurting and humiliating my kid.  How much would I need to love someone to allow others to beat and brutally kill my little girl?  I can hardly stand the thought of it.

But there is something God loves so much that He was willing to pay that inconceivable price.  What could He possible love the that extent? You and me.

“But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. 6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6)

first day of kindergarten

This morning I took my oldest daughter to school for her first day of kindergarten.  Last night I helped my wife pack her lunch.  This morning, she dressed in her new school clothes, gathered her new lunch box, school supplies and backpack and we headed off to school.  During the first week I am allowed to walk her to her class.  We prayed in the car together before gettingt out.  We walked through the hallways and found her class.  After situating her things in her locker it was time to give her a hug and leave her in her class.

For the last several weeks she has been very nervous about starting school.  She has cried and pleaded not to go.  She has asked innumerable questions about what it will be like through streaming tears and a quivering chin.  But yesterday all of that gave way to a new found bravery.  She decided she was excited for school.  At first the proclamations of excitement were tentative, but over the course of the day her confidence grew.  She went to bed with no problems.  She got up and ready for school with no signs of anxiety or fear.

But as I gave her a hug and prepared to leave she clung to me.  As I knelt on her classroom floor, our arms wrapped around each other, she whispered in my ear, “daddy, I don’t want you to go.” She didn’t want the hug to end.  Neither did I.  After another squeeze I pulled back my head to look her in the eye and reassure her.  Her eyes were welling with tears but she didn’t give in to them.  I could tell she was being brave.  The teacher came and took her by the hand and led her to a table to color with some of the other kids.  I left the room but didn’t go far.  I stood in the hallway and watched for a while, not doing nearly as good a job fighting tears as she did.

This afternoon I will pick her up from school and celebrate a great first day.  I want to hear all about her day over some ice cream.  And then, tomorrow, we will do it all over again.

look here

I am at home with our 8 month old daughter, Sadie.  My wife has our 2 older girls at the dentist for check-ups.   I have been rolling around on the floor with Sadie, playing and trying to make her laugh.  I am also using this time to help her work on her vocabulary, primarily the all important word “da-da.”  She has been able to say it for a couple weeks now, but I am trying to up the frequency of this glorious utterance.

This is only my second time to have Sadie all alone, so it is fun to have some “one-on-one” time without any distractions. I love it when I know I have her attention.  I try to hold it as long as possible, the only problem is, there are SO many distractions. An object doesn’t need to do anything more than wiggle or be shiny in order to completely steal her attention away from me. In fact, my competitors are not limited to those who can move or shine; I am up against any and all things that are small enough to fit in her hand, anything that can be chewed on, anything that makes noise, anything that can be banged against something else, anything that is in arms reach, anything that is colorful…Basically, everything else in the room has the potential to be more interesting than me.

But how can this be?!?  I am her dad! How do I keep losing out to small plastic things? Even when I am trying to feed her, and I have what she needs and wants she keeps getting distracted from me!

I can’t help but see the similarity between her and I.  And not just because she is my daughter and incredibly cute, but because I get distracted from my father pretty easily as well.

Just like her I am surrounded by things that compete to take my eyes off of my Dad.  When I take the time to think about it, my life is full of things that are all too capable of becoming distractions; work, bills, television, working out, fantasy football, facebook, friends…   Things that aren’t in themselves bad can become bad when they distract me from Him.

I know that my desire to have my daughter look at me is a silly analogy. It is basically just a dad who enjoys having his daughter’s attention. But when it comes fixing our eyes on the Lord, the stakes are a good bit higher. Hebrews 12:1 says, “…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily entangles us. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”  We are talking about some pretty serisous things here.  This verse is talking about things in our lives that will tangle us up and slow us down. It is talking about getting rid of things in our lives that will prevent us from being the man or woman God had called us to be, or worse yet, stop us keep us from being a man or woman of God all together.

Thankfully, the writer continues and tells us exactly how to avoid these potential disasters.  Hebrews 12:2, “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the originator and perfecter of our faith.”

Fixing my “eyes” on the Lord is not simply so he can feel good about himself, although I believe he does enjoy it.  It is a safe guard against things that weigh me down, slow me down, entangle me and hinder me.

The tooth of the matter

Last night my daughter lost her first tooth.  It was an exciting moment.  The tooth had been loose for quite some time.  It wobbled while she talked.  She moved it back and forth with her tongue.  It had become so loose in the last week or so that I couldn’t figure out how it was staying in her mouth at all.  But as I put her to bed last night, the weeks of anticipation finally climaxed and the tooth came out.  She was so excited.  She jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom mirror so she could look at the new gap in her smile.  She ran down stairs to show her mom.

I know it is silly, but I was a bit emotional.  I was emotional because she was so excited about it, and that was touching to me in some way.  I was emotional because it seems like just yesterday my wife and I were excited that her teeth were starting to come in and it reminded me how quickly time passes.  I was emotional because it reminded me of how temporary all of this is.

Jesus warned us about how temporary things are. In Luke 21:33 he says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away.”   Jesus was not trying to simply remind us that things won’t last forever, he was trying to direct our focus to what will.  If he had left things right there it would be a bit depressing, but he went on to say, “my words shall not pass away.”

I can get pretty sentimental about the passing of time.  So much so that a child’s tooth falling out causes me to tear up.  I think it is good to be aware of how quickly time passes. But instead of allowing it to stir up sadness in my heart, I am going to allow it to be a reminder of what is permanent and of my need for His Word.

commence….

Tonight my wife and I will take a group of students who are graduating from high school out to dinner.   We will eat at a nice restaurant, then head to one of my favorite places for dessert.  After the eating is done we will reminisce and talk about our favorite memories over the last several years.  Camps, conventions, road trips, bon-fires, break-ups….. lots of memories.  At some point I will ask them what lessons they have learned as they worked their way through high school.  It is always interesting to hear what has impacted their lives and what truths they have managed to pick up along the way.  Sometimes I am thoroughly impressed with the wisdom that comes from some of these young men and women.  It seems to be evenings like the one I will enjoy tonight that remind me how quickly time passes.

They call it commencement but it’s not.  It’s really more of a continuation. Life has been underway for years now and it will continue to flow right by at a rate that, although  I know is steady, seems to always be picking up the pace.  Tonight I will tell them that.  Tonight I will also warn them, and remind myself, of the steady stream of distractions that will attempt to steal their focus from what really matters.  The longer I live, the deeper I realize the truth of what Jesus said in Luke 9.  In verse 23 Jesus tells the crowd that by attempting to cling to one’s life and seeking after temporary things, life will slip through your fingers and be lost. But if you would like to save your life, if you would like to find true life,  it’s accomplished by laying your life down for Him.