42

It’s been a long time since I have posted  on this blog, and time is something I seemingly have borrowed when I consider my life in reflection. Realizing there is much work to do, time is something I can no longer afford to waste or take for granted.

Growing up I never pictured myself over 30. I’m not entirely sure if it was because all of my childhood heroes were dead before 30, or if I just couldn’t picture myself a mature, responsible grown man. My parents divorced when I was 14 and the model my dad left for me was not that of a mature, responsible grown man, and definitely not that of a Godly man – yet , here I am, one day past my 42nd year of  life .

I suppose in some ways, I have beaten the odds. Statistically speaking, children of divorce don’t typically grow up and stay married due to the broken model set before them, unfortunately they will often follow suit.  Five days from now, however, I will celebrate my 18th year of marriage to the same woman who has also given birth to my two beautiful children.  In addition, statistically I should not have overcome my addiction to drugs and alcohol. Oh, please don’t misunderstand – many overcome and go on with their lives but more than 70% of those go back to some form of abuse, and I can gratefully say that I have not. Finally at 42 , when many my age have given in to poor diet (not that mine is perfect, it is still my biggest struggle) I choose to make the best choices I am able and workout 5 days a week, as well as coach my son’s soccer team and I am stronger physically than I ever have been in my life. I have the best job I could ask for, doing what I love to do and I could go on and on  –  The point is my life, though it is not without conflict or struggle at times, is greater than I ever could have imagined – Especially because I had no expectation of a 42nd year of life.

However, all the things I just said about me, have nothing to do with me, but EVERYTHING to do with CHRIST. I am alive solely because of the grace that he has given me. My marriage is intact solely because of the truth of the gospel and the teaching about marriage in the bible. I have remained sober solely because of the strength I have gained internally from prayer and the knowledge of myself I have acquired through bible study , and the support given to me by my brothers and sisters in Christ. Every single day of life and every single breath is God’s grace for me, and I live for him because of it.  For a guy who has seemingly outlived himself by 12 years – I have absolutely been blessed!

All of this reflection is not without concern, however. I have a great deal of concern for the world my kids are growing up in. Needless to say, it is not the world I grew up in. While I may have beaten the odds getting to 42, my kids have the odds stacked highly against them in regards to living a Christian life. Entertainment is now the driving force that shapes culture, and not God. We now live in a Godless culture where he and his name are deemed offensive and are taken out of everything all in the name of “tolerance” while his people are shown none. The over-sexualization of our children is being forced through every possible outlet including those that used to be considered safe. Television networks are tireless in their efforts to push the boundaries on every level so that we are desensitized to all lasciviousness and immorality while modesty, shamefacedness, and purity are ridiculed and downplayed. Traditional marriage is mocked, and perversion is celebrated. The music industry is even worse.

Nothing is shocking anymore that should be, and everything that once was right, is now shocking and despised.

I hate to sound my age, but I suppose maybe this is what 42 sounds like? Maybe this is what a mature, responsible, grown and Godly man  sounds like? Who knows? Not me – I am surprised as anyone  just to be here – but I am, now what will I do with this time I have been given?

There is much to do, and not that 1 blog as one man’s attempt to change the world can do that, but If can just change one person’s world , and then they can change one other , and so on – revolution just might be possible.

Who knows what 43 may look like this time next year?

I am hopeful 😉 dad

Advertisements

A Letter to the Stoneharts..

This will be brief since we are about to leave for vacation – but it HAD to be shared…

Last year I was approached by a young man named Andrew Gass about coming to stay with us for the summer for a Preacher internship of sorts , and excitedly  – I accepted. I had known Andrew from serving as a counselor at a summer camp that promotes the very college where he and so many other young Christians attend. We had developed a strong friendship and so I was very much looking forward to the time that he would spend with our family. About a week before he 296010_10201410510293115_2000112982_nwas to arrive , I received a message from another young man  named Jon West who I had met briefly  at  Lectures hosted by their college and  had spent a few days with during his spring break. He also expressed his interest in staying with us  , so we welcomed him in also… Needless to say , they brought a very well received charge to our congregation that was for lack of a better term -infectious. Not only that , but an incredible example to my son of what I young man should act and look like -humble , faithful , sincere and strong in their character. They both brought an electricity to our home and needless to say , we were blessed… It has truly been a great summer.

Andrew left a week ago to serve at yet another camp and then head back to college and as my family prepares to head to the beach for a few days , Jon also heads back home to Florida to also prepare for Grad school… This was waiting on me in my inbox –

August 5, 2013 

 

Dear Keith & Kelly, 

 

They say all good things must come to an end, and now such is the case with this summer. It seemed like a strange situation: a young man you knew only slightly coming and living in your house, eating out of your fridge, playing with your kids and tagging along everywhere with you, for nearly three months; and my mom reminded me frequently of this strangeness before I made the drive up. She couldn’t believe that anyone could be so kind, so hospitable, so patient, so loving, but if ever there was a couple who meets these marks, it’s you.  

 

At a time when I needed a break, a getaway from stressors that were weighing me down, a change of scenery to help me refocus, you came to my aid and gave me a place to go. You introduced me to a whole new group of Christians, and so many of your friends have become my friends. You showed me  a city I had hardly been to, and helped me to love it. You fed me, gave me a place to sleep, and invested innumerable assets into ensuring my comfort. Words cannot describe the gratitude I feel, and I could never hope to repay you. All of these things, though, are just a small part of the blessings you’ve given me this summer. 

 

Keith, you showed me a passionate faith, one that shouts the grace of Jesus loud, from the rooftops. You showed me a life that has truly been transformed by Christ, a man who loves his Savior and His God and truly wants to see lost souls saved. You showed me a thankfulness that tears up when we sing about heaven. You showed me a love that is unconditional, that forgives, that acts. The way you work with the kids, whether local or at camp, is incredibly encouraging. Not only has your work helped many of them on their Christian walk, but will continue to help them, and others, in the future. I know this because spending time with you this summer has absolutely helped me to grow closer to God, and to my fellow man, in ways I couldn’t have predicted when I first decided to come up here.  

 

Kelly, you have shown me a wife who loves her husband dearly, one who is impeccably responsible, who cares for her children and husband, house and guests, with skill but more importantly with love. The way you manage the housework with so many people in and out is extraordinary. In you, I see a worthy woman, like Proverbs 31 details, and I know everyone in your house sees what a blessing you are. You have given me an excellent example to consider when I begin to look for a wife. Both of you are doing such an awesome job of raising your kids, too; Kiah and Kole are two of the best kids I know, and I can’t wait to see where the next few years takes them. With your guidance, I know they will do great. 

 

You have a beautiful family, and I am honored to have been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of it for this brief window of time. You have given me a home away from home, made me feel welcome in a strange place, and loved me from the minute I walked through the door. Amazing is the only word for it. Although I leave, I will forever carry with me many memories and much joy from my time with you. Thank you for being the people you are, and for showing me true hospitality and the love of Christ. Wherever I may be, I will always be proud to say that I know the Stoneharts. 

 

In Christian love, 

Jonathan West 

Jon  , from all of us  – we love you right back , for all the reasons mentioned above and more. You and Andrew both have meant a great deal to me personally this summer and I cant imagine spending it any other way.. Not only are you my younger brothers in Christ ,but you also are my friends.. You both have a great future ahead of you and with God at the helm – the possibilities are endless. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives!

Agape –

Keith Stonehart

Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

 

Lessons from My Son : “Thank You Daddy ” …The Love of a Father

WP_000463This will be the last entry in this series, although it wont be the last about my son or either of my kids. I started this series a couple of months ago for a couple of reasons . One reason is that my son truly has been and continues to be a teacher in my life … I preached many sermons inspired by him and blogged even more … He and his older sister have been the greatest gauge or thermometer as to how my wife and I are doing as parents. (I don’t blog much about my daughter because she is 14 and has asked me not to – my son however is just learning to read , so I have more leverage with him..) At any rate , the main reason simple – I love him. I love he and my daughter both with an indescribable love  ..A love too big for words or too vast for description. I believe that the love I have for my kids could never be captured by definition , or I did until recently .. Once again , life had thrown itself at my son and we were forced to deal with it head on , and by HIS example – I was the student  , and he the teacher.

A couple of weeks ago , my son fell out of the bed. This particular night I had fallen asleep on the couch and my son was in bed with my wife , so in true form I slept through the entire event . My wife , the quintessential care taker she is , handled the whole event and I was never awoken. Upon waking up the next morning  ,we realized that Kole was going to probably need stitches.He had hit the side of his face above his ear on the bed frame and it was laid open about a half an inch. It was too big to let heal on its own but we  , like always had some obstacles. It was Sunday morning – I had to preach and urgent care didn’t open until 1 P. M. Preaching doesn’t come with insurance (although, 3 weeks later I do now have it) but the emergency room was out of the question. It wasn’t an emergency ,but it was going to need attention. SO  – I went on to Worship , and Kelly and Kole stayed home.

After returning from worship , a quick bite to eat  and then on to get stitches for Kole. Needless to say , Kole was very concerned about where we were going and what they (the doctors) were going to do to him. I assured him that whatever it was , it would be right and it would be for the best and that NO MATTER WHAT – I would be there with him… No matter what.

Once inside the Urgent Care Center , the waiting game started to take its toll on Kole and his fear of what was to come and clung to me like bark clings to trees – Concern had become fear and fear had become dread   to an all seeking comfort and protection from whatever scenarios were playing out in his head. As much as I wanted to tell him that I could guarantee him no pain , I knew that would be a lie and couldn’t. I knew that to keep his trust ,  honesty was the only thing I could give him and then be there to comfort him and console him. Too many parents lie to their children in hopes of creating security by telling them”this wont hurt a bit” and then destroying the trust between them , because it DID in fact – hurt!  Truly loving your kids begins with honesty ,not deceit…

After what seemed like an eternity , it was finally time.

As he laid up on the table ,he shook all over… I squeezed his hand and told him to look at me , to stay focused on me and that soon it would be over. As the doctor cleaned the wound and applied anesthetic to numb the pain that was coming , his little body jerked with every poke and probe  and cries of pain filled the tiny room .”Just look at me Kole , just look at me , Focus on Me” I told him repeatedly  , trying to sooth and comfort him in his distress . Tears streamed from both of our eyes as the doctor stitched up his wound because he could still feel the prick of the needle each time it entered his skin and I , I could feel every stick of the needle right with along with him because I was there with him – not just physically , but in that pain and fear we were bonded together . Bonded because he was enduring it , and bonded because I wanted so badly to take it from him .. If it would have been possible to take his pain , I would have in a second…

That’s when it hit me.

In the book of Matthew  , we read in chapter 27 verse 46 that Jesus cried out “My God, My God – why have you forsaken me?” . It has been taught by me and others that God , for the first time ever in eternity  -turned his back on his son because he could couldn’t look at the sin of the world That had been “laid upon him”.. That he abandoned him and left him there to die on the cross to fulfill the sacrifice necessary for you and I to enter heaven though him ,by our confession of faith ,repentance and baptism into him then also dying to ourselves to rise agin in his resurrection… I still believe that , now more than ever – but I’m not convinced anymore that God left him. Another preacher and good friend pointed out to me that the concept of “laid our sins on Him” and “He became sin for us” was that Jesus was our sin offering and that the guilt of sin was laid on Him, since sins (transgressions) cannot be “laid” on anyone. He also pointed out that if Jesus was defiled with our sins, He would be a blemished sacrifice and unworthy of being offered. It made a lot of sense but especially the point that Jesus is the offering and is an unblemished lamb. So there was nothing for God to look away from. ALSO, I took the “God had to look away” without digging in. God looks upon the world every day and yet it is filled with sin. He had close relationships with the patriarchs who were imperfect men. In fact, the Holy Spirit filled people who committed sin (as in the High Priest who spoke by inspiration about killing Jesus).

The second thing was that if God abandoned Jesus in His point of greatest need while fulfilling the plan of God, what hope do I have ? You see , while Christ suffering and death was absolutely necessary for our salvation and his will to be accomplished and couldn’t be done any other way , I don’t believe that God left him there ,alone. I believe that while  Christ was enduring the unendurable ,his father was there , telling his son “Just look at me son , just look at me , Focus on Me” and that he felt every cut and probe that entered his sons skin , just like I did with mine. I could not stop my sons pain and he had to endure the suffering  – but I never abandoned him while he was going through the pain. Taking Matthew 27 and Psalm 22 together, I see such a relationship between the Father and His Beloved Son: He allowed Him to suffer but did not turn His face from Him.

The very  thought of God turning his back on His Son as He carried the sins of the world  is creates a chilling and moving scene in our minds eye ,Psalm 22  teaches clearly  that it did not happen. God was with His Son in as he bore the sins of the world and died on the cross , but because of his love  –  a fathers love  , he allowed him to go through it all because it was what was NECESSARY … and I don’t doubt for a second if our Father in heaven could have taken the pain away from HIS son , then he would have.. Just like I would have for MINE.

When it was all over, and the doctors left the room , I just held him.

After a few moments  ,my son whispered 3 words I didn’t expect from him that day – “Thank you Daddy”…

I wasn’t sure at first why he thanked me ,but I supposed it was for being there when he needed me. I suppose  , though scripture doesn’t  say this , that Jesus and his father may have had a similar moment once his ordeal was said and done ?  Thanking him when he needed HIM the most? I don’t know that for a fact and it is just an opinion , but I do know that true comfort from all suffering will be in the arms of our heavenly father one day  , and I cant wait to be there to tell him “Thank you “as well..

Until them I can thank him daily for many things and many blessing ,but none quite so much as my son Kole  who has helped me see the God that I serve in the Lessons he has taught  me though him..

And None at all like his son  ,Jesus who suffered and died so that I can also know  – A fathers love.

Lessons From My Son – “Value and Cost – I wanna be like you Daddy!”

Kole

I think it is probably safe to say that every boy at some point in his life has wanted to do what his dad does for a living. If you think about it , it’s almost expected –  the father son dynamic is such that the son’s main influence in his life , will be his father… Or at least it should be.  I pray that will always be the case with my son … It’s a sobering thought that continues to encourage me to give strict diligence to strive to be the man who my son “thinks”I  am… One day , he will figure out that I too am human ,not invincible ,bulletproof or immune to everything scary and dangerous ,but in fact  – a fragile vulnerable and flawed man – insecure about his image and struggles with his weight , scared at times and not nearly as cool as he thinks he is… Until that day comes however , I AM THE MAN… in my son’s eyes anyway…

That being said , the most important thing I can do for my son  – either for a living or other  – is to recognize the times when he needs me , and fulfill the need . Biblically speaking , we see this time and time again between Jesus and God  , but probably the most visible is in the Garden.. I have heard it said many times that Jesus was sorrowful the most- not because of the cross -but because of the fact that he would face it alone. – In the Garden where Jesus prayed he needed his father and wanted desperately to please him   – no matter the COST …Be cause God deemed us VALUABLE.(Matthew 26:36-42)

… Which finally will bring me to the lesson about “Cost” and “Value” that my son taught me..

I had grown to hate the Holidays… 2 years ago , I wasn’t preaching fulltime yet and had been out of work for several months. We managed to get by with what money I could make doing side work and odd jobs for cash for people. The winter was about to set in and I knew the slow season would be upon us. You see , not only does the work slow down for the winter in the construction industry – the people who do have money are not going to spend it on an out of work construction guy ,but rather family and friends for the Holidays… Unexpectedly , an opportunity to paint the inside of a woman’s home  came up. I hate to paint more than just about everything else ,but I couldn’t turn down the work – Remember , the Holidays were upon us and I needed to do my best to provide some sense of normalcy for my family – if not gifts , having the power on during the Holidays would be nice , and if possible – a gift or two for my kids…

The job was torture – it was a painters nightmare.

All of the furniture had to be moved around , covered  , protected etc.. To add insult to injury , the paint the homeowner selected was the worst quality ever and went on the walls with the consistency of water.To get done in a timely manner and to make sure that the job was profitable – I decided I would work long hours to shorten the amount of days…So ,long,long hours were worked. I was up and gone before either of my kids were awake and not home until well after they had gone to bed…But I kept focused ,telling myself that this was “for them”.. After 2 weeks of this , the inevitable happened – I being completely exhausted – overslept…

In my frantic hurry to get out the door , I nearly tripped over Kole as he excitedly came to greet me from his bedroom door ..”DADDY!” he exclaimed… “Hey bud“I sleepily responded as I was quickly headed to the living room to put on my shoes. Kole followed close behind and in usual form hitting me  with barrage of questions. As I tried to answer them the best I could  , it was clear that I was distracted  and only half way paying attention when he  then stop right in front of me and asked  of  me  this – “daddy, don’t go to work today“… Still tying my shoes I responded ” I have to bud..” .. “Why” he replied… becoming more frustrated with the situation I responded sharply with “ because I HAVE to  – we need money”... He then turned ,  and ran back to his room. I sat there wondering if I had responded rashly and hoped I hadn’t hurt his feelings … I hadn’t seen him at all in the better part of 2 weeks so I knew I needed to apologize.

As I got up from the couch and began to head down the hall ,he greeted me in the hallway , holding his piggy bank in his little hands and looking directly at me with his big brown eyes and smiling so proud. “Here daddy – you can have my money…Stay with me ?”

My knees buckled , and I hit the floor… I wrapped my arms around him and  held him , then began to cry.

My son taught me a most valuable lesson that late fall morning. He taught me that the most important things in this life are not what most of us think they are.  As I was working my self to death , I was neglecting my family for a job that only required that much of my time because  I deemed it necessary  …My son offered to buy  MY time with him because that’s what  he thought it “Cost”..In those two weeks and probably more preceding it , I taught him that – and I was wrong. My son needed me and sought to pay the price to have me , because to him – I was “Valuable” and in doing so exposed a part of myself that once I recognized ,needed to change.

Once again he was the teacher ,and I was the student. His Lions Heart ,in true form ,exposed me and ripped me to shreds… And I am thankful for that  , and him. He taught me the true meaning of “Value” and “Cost”…

Needless to say , I took that day off and gave myself fully to him.. We played  , we watched movies and of course – we took a much-needed nap  ,but we took it together 😉

Since then , Kole and I have had many conversations about my job and the differences between what I used to do , and what I am privileged to do now.. “SO you don’t , fix people’s houses anymore” ..”No Bud , I don’t” … “Do you still help people though?”…”I hope so , I certainly try! “… 

“Daddy , I want to do what you do when I grow up… I wanna be like you!”

… “Yea Bud ? , Well – I wanna be more like you KOLE …  😉 “

The value of the time with my son (and daughter) is most precious and God appointed by scripture – NO MATTER THE COST.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:3-5, ESV)

Lessons From My Son …. “No Enemies”

robins_of_batman_by_vvvviola-d387yglMy son and  I read a lot together.. I think if you are a dad , the second most important thing you can do for your kids is read to them -(I will address the MOST important thing in a later entry here 😉 … There are many reasons for this  ,but mainly , for me – it’s just something he and I get to do.  = Father/son time… You can’t replace the value of the time you give your kids , trust me I know this first hand … There will never be time for “make up time” in the future ,  if you don’t make the  time now. Being a preacher , I get pulled in a lot of different directions at odd hours  – not only do you work all week on sermons ,class lessons and bibles studies with others , but you are also a counselor to those who need it , a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.. Its’ the most demanding job I have ever have  and I love it  –  but I would never trade being “The Best Preacher in the World”  for “Worst Father Ever”… Balance is key and so reading with him is that balance .It does me good ,and it does him good – Therefore if one plus one equals two – it must be GOOD.

One of the things we really enjoy reading is comic books. For the most part we stick to The Batman story lines , especially The Robin story line.. We love that there are 4 of them who have all become heroes in their own right , trained by  the “Best of  the Best” – which also serves as a great metaphor for fathers training their sons to be men . For this reason ,among others ,   I’m convinced ,boys need heroes.  As a growing boy , your imagination plays a primary role  in developing your own identity . It helps shape your ideals and perspectives – to help the weak and stop the evil of the world.. I realize full well , that this is also what the bible teaches so couple that knowledge with the imagination of  a 6-year-old boy ? What you get  then is an unstoppable force  that will grow with him as he grows  , and becomes his character. Heroism or Altruism is what is at the core of every good hero – it’s selflessness personified .. and it flies in the face of all who promote humanism  and the survival of the fittest. If  survival of the fittest were true , there would be NO HEROES… Think about it.

A world with no heroes would be hard to imagine…but what about a world with no enemies?  That’s actually how life is in the beginning – we aren’t born with enemies.. They are something we create over the course of our lives due to our beliefs , our convictions  and what we are willing to fight for.. To you and I ,this makes sense…This is the world we live in because it is the world we have chosen to allow to exist. We have allowed it to exist because  ultimately , we are SELFISH. This might be a little oversimplified but it goes kind of like  -” We want what we want  …and we want you to want it too.. and if you don’t ,then we are enemies” … So how can we know what want is good or not? How can we know if what we want is right or not? How can we know if we are standing up for the right things? ISN’T THERE A STANDARD SOMEWHERE ,WITH THESE THINGS WRITTEN IN IT?… (Maybe you have picked up on my sarcasm?)

But to a 6-year-old boy , the only enemies he worries about are the ones  he battles in the backyard and the ones we read about our comic books. .. The idea of enemies actually being real was completely foreign to my son until recently..

One night  while we preparing dinner , the news had been left on and while I don’t remember the exact topic of discussion , there was an angry mob burning  The American Flag and screaming “Death to America”. Like most things with Kole , he thought about this for a while before saying anything but  that night at comic time  , he brought it up.  “Why do those people hate us Daddy?”… “What people”?… “You know on the T.V”… After a few moments of thought , I finally remembered.  The fact that it took me that long to remember what he was talking about should speak volumes to us all just how numbed we are to much of the evil in this world ,but not Kole..it clearly bothered him.. “Oh , those people”  I responded , “They think we are wrong about a lot of things”  … “What things” he said…  “Like what we believe about God ,the Bible  and Jesus… and the way people act in America “… after a very short pause for thought he asked the $40,000 dollar question.  With total and complete sincerity he asked me –  “Are they RIGHT?”…  A few seconds pass… “No , son , not about everything. There is no doubt in my mind that the Bible is the Word of God , and I believe everything that is said in it. So no we are not wrong about  what we believe about God”… What about the other thing? you know they way people act in America?”… “They may be right on a few of those point son ,but we don’t live like that”…”but why doesn’t everybody else? – would that mean that we would have fewer enemies”… I don’t know all the “why’s” that people have for not living like the bible teaches us to live son , I just know that they have their excuses and for them that’s enough..” “But doesn’t that mean that they are also God’s enemy?”… ” It does” I replied quietly….

He waited for about a minute and then said “Well that’s not very smart… I don’t ever want enemies..especially not God , cause he could blow up your town  , or something!”…. At this point , all I could do was laugh!!!  “Yes indeed son , he could”…

I love my son’s heart.. I love that it bothers him when something isn’t right , and he wants to fix it… That he doesn’t want anyone to be enemies with each other or God..But  , I know  that very desire within him will create enemies in his life . Standing for the right  always will.. Jesus said in John 15:18 “that if the world hates us , it’s because it hated him first”… I hope these words will comfort my son as he grows into a man…and I hope he will stay true to his roots  – his hero boots – and remember the time of “No Enemies”

Lessons from My Son … “Seeing though his Eyes”

301914_2668551717104_115594981_n

J. Oswald Sander was quoted saying “Eyes that look are common… Eyes that see are rare.” … Rare indeed , except through the eyes of a 6-year-old boy…

As I have before mentioned , since he was born, I have preached many sermons inspired by my son. His honesty and innocence have helped me to remember how to see the world that I have forgotten how to see and quite often , I am completely humbled by the most simple of gestures… This particular example involves Carlos. Carlos (pictured with both my kids on the infamous “Werewolf trip ) is  related to me by blood – the blood of Christ. A few months after being baptized into Christ and becoming a Christian after a teen even at our house in Atlanta  , he came to live with us ..It was about  a year and a half ago during a time when I wasn’t preaching full-time  ,but running a construction company.. He had previously lived with my sister-in-law and was friends with all my nephews so technically, he was already family… But Kole made that official .

One night as I was reading to Kole , he stopped me   – as he usually will  , to ask me the most random questions …  Most of the time it’s stuff like ” Daddy , what does lava feel like on your skin?” or “Daddy ,  how do other cats warn other cats that dogs are coming?… Because they can’t talk!…. or can they?” I don’t mind him stopping me to ask these questions , I actually look forward to it !… I love how his little mind is at work and usually leave the room pondering to myself ” Man…. what DOES lava feel like on your skin?“…At any rate , I try my best to answer his questions the best I can and then we move on… I asked him one night where he comes up with these questions..his reply was “I dunno , I just SEE this stuff “… This monumental statement was immediately followed by the question” Daddy – Can YOU see what I see?” …

After a pause I humbly whispered back through a tear ” I wish “..

But one night he asked me a question that changed  our relationship with Carlos – permanently .. As I was reading he stopped me with his usually “Daddy”… not knowing the next for sure what he was going to say , I eagerly awaited the randomness – “Yea Bud” I replied…After a few seconds of pondering he asked –

“Is Carlos my brother?”…

Many things begin to happen inside me , primarily my heart melting.. I ask my self why would he think that? He is old enough to remember when Carlos first came to stay with us , that he hasn’t been here his whole  life , why would he think that? …  After a few seconds of asking ” why” ,these petty questions are quickly squelched when what should have been the obvious answer finally presents itself – He asks me this question because he already looks to Carlos as a brother and loves him like one !–  Why?  – Because Carlos loves HIM that way! Since day one, Carlos has always given time to Kole  – to play with him ,talk to him , read to him and yes –   even answer 30 bazillion of Koles questions. Carlos was ALREADY living as his brother , so why wouldn’t Kole ask me that??

There will always be a place in this family for Carlos – Kole saw to that…  But that is a different blog for a different day.

My son , though he is only 6 ,continues to give me the perspective that I should have on most things. The blog entries that will follow this one will all deal with his observations that helped me realize, that I was seeing wrong… Jesus says plainly in Mathew 18 verse 3 “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I believe in part – this is why..

The morning ritual at our house is pretty simple – we all get up, slowly make our way to the kitchen where coffee can be administered to those who need it , breakfast can be served to those that eat it , and our day can begin with a little conversation(hopefully) from all the kids , yes even Carlos (though he is 23 😉  )…This morning as  Carlos came out for coffee , Kole  – who was diligently eating his cereal jumps down from he bar , runs over to him and threw  his arms around Carlos and said “I love you Carlos ,sometimes for NO REASON”…Carlos hadn’t been anywhere for Kole to miss him so much , so why all the excitement to see Carlos this morning? What reason would he have to excitedly proclaim his love for his brother?..

Then , like most things – the blatantly obvious hits me again..Once more , my son has been the teacher and I have been the student.. DO WE REALLY NEED A REASON TO LOVE EACH OTHER ?

1 John 4 :7-8 says” Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love”…

There is no question – my son KNOWS God as he also KNOWS LOVE … And I have been joyfully reminded of how we ALL should be  – once more through the eyes of my son…

Thank you Lord for allowing me to have Kole and for him sharing his Lions heart with the world…. There is no doubt  , I am BLESSED.

I will always try to live so that I am the person my son sees …  😉

Read 1 John 3:11-24

Lessons from my son , “The Werewolf”

Image

If you know me , then you know it is no secret how much I love my family . I have a beautiful wife who glows inside and out with all that is good about a woman… she is Godly first and for reasons I still can’t see – she chose me , and I am thankful. She also gave two of the most precious gifts that can be given – My kids. My daughter is well on her way to becoming the same kind of woman that my wife is ,but even before now – her very life breathed purpose back into mine when I was but a shell of a man. Between the love of her and her mother , they helped me realize my need for God and gave me the drive necessary to seek him until that drive became my own… I have told her several times that she saved my life , and when she bats her lashes and says” I love you daddy”  – she still does…

My son was a game changer in my life. When we found out we were having a boy , I was terrified… I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to properly raise a boy and teach him to be a man… After all  , my only parenting experience was with a girl and not having much of a father figure growing up ,the word “inadequate” doesn’t even begin to describe my self-image at that time… But  , he was coming none the less and I was just going to just have to figure it out.

A good friend ,who has now passed but was the closest thing to a father to me gave me some great words for my uncertainty – he said “Have Faith , God will do the rest” ..

The rest of the story would go as you may imagine – he is born ,we adjust and begin figuring things out – life resumes.. But one thing is very different. My son , unbeknownst to him obviously ,begins to teach me.. For all the time that I am worrying about guiding him into manhood and teaching him vital lessons for life – he , with his own little life begins to teach me the simple yet powerful lessons that can’t be taught on paper , but shown through ones life – by their heart…

The next few entries in this blog will be about my son and the lessons he continues to teach me. I have Preached many sermons inspired by him , as he inspires me daily.. What I’m about to share with you just happened yesterday  – but began a years and a half ago..

It was the week before Thanksgiving  , and we had planned a family vacation to Gatlinburg Tennessee . On the drive up from Atlanta ,where we lived at the time  , we were discussing the current fad of “Vampires and Werewolves” and if they really existed , which one each of us would be due to the various powers each one possessed. My son Kole , chose to be a werewolf. He liked the idea of being a wolf and roaming about in the night howling at the moon etc..

Later in the drive , he confided in us all that  “He really was a Werewolf”. Intrigued we all replied with “Really?!!”.. You could see his little eyes light up as he could tell we were interested and excited about this. He went on to tell us with his creative little mind of all his adventures as he would climb out of his bedroom window at night and do ,as he put it -” Werewolf Stuff”. We all got a great kick out of the whole thing and it certainly made the ride go by a lot faster..

We spent the rest of the weekend playing into the idea of Kole being a werewolf as he converted all his cousins into his dark secret… other than the occasional mention over time though , the Werewolf bit ,like most childhood things seemed to fade into obscurity. I had all but forgotten about it..until yesterday.

After returning from the gym , I was greeted at my office door by Kole with a quick hug and a “Hey daddy”. I sat down at my desk and began to go through my stuff and I noticed him standing there with his hands clasped together . “Whats up bud”? I said.. He replied”Daddy , I need to tell you something”.. “Ok ,shoot” I replied.. after a second or two , he shook his head and hands and moaned “ugh , this is hard!” with a great  deal frustration and anxiety… Ok , now I’m all in –  this kind of reaction from him usually  only happens when he breaks something of MINE… , So I gently put my hands on his shoulders and quietly tell him “It’s ok son , just tell me” … He takes in a deep breath and then exhaled his confession….

“Daddy , I’m not really a Werewolf”…

Relieved  , he collapses into my arms…

At this moment , many things are going on in my head and heart. My first reaction was to bust out in laughter ,mainly because I had totally forgotten about him even making this claim of him even being one.. but I hold it back  – mainly because I don’t want to make light of what has actually happened here… My 6-year-old son has , in his own mind , felt the sting of CONSCIOUS  From his perspective , he has carried this burden for a year and a half and at some point realized that what he said wasn’t true , that he in fact was not a Werewolf! Although non of us ,his audience  took it for more than it was worth (a then 5-year-old little boy and his imagination) – he took it as he was being dishonest , and needed to come clean.

I just held him.

Now ,not only am I fighting back laughter ,but tears…

As I held him , I let him know that it was ok – that we all knew  he wasn’t really a Werewolf and that I was proud of him – not because he wasn’t a Werewolf ,but because he is well on his way to becoming  a MAN… A Godly MAN.. A man who realizes when he has error in life ,no matter how slight – and MAKES IT RIGHT. A man who teaches with his own life , through the actions of his heart…

The kind of man who I hoped I’d be able to teach him to be..The kind of man I am still trying to be… But today ,like many others before – My son was the teacher and I was the student…

Thank you Kole. Thank you for having the heart of a LION  , and not a Werewolf 😉

Our great and mighty God  shows us himself  often , if we are only willing to look. As I worried about being able to teach my son to be a good man , a friend told me to “Have faith  – God  will do the rest” … With that same faith , not only is my son going to be a good man ,but God has shown me that my son  is going to help me be one too.

Oh God , give us hearts like Lions – Strong to defend and protect ,but tender enough to be pricked by our conscious , knowing you are there with your hands on our shoulders  , whispering to us –  “Just tell me “…

We know you are faithful… Help US to be.

Hebrews 10:22

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”