Horshoe Bend

The Great Divide

The Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.

It was one of the best spring break trips we've ever taken. Honestly, growing up and reading about it in school books, I never thought I'd get to see it in person. So, when we arrived there, I was in awe with how majestic and vast the entire canyon really is. Then, after five minutes of wooooooow, I went into explore mode.

Soon Daryl and I and the kids were climbing anywhere and everywhere. Down the mountainside. Onto rocks. Jumping over gaps. And climbing up to the very edge to get a better view... and to frankly have more fun.

Was it risky? Sure, some of it. At one point, as Jami stayed back and watched us, a group with a guide walked up near where she was standing. As the guide was talking, Jami overheard what he was saying...

"You see that group of guys with their kids... you're gonna read about them on the news tonight because someone fell off the mountain."

As Jami was listening, she quickly realized that the guide was talking about me and our kids. When we got back, she told us what the guide said. To which I replied, "Well, if someone would have fallen, he would have been right. There was an 800 foot fall off of that edge we were walking."

Fear.

It's an interesting thing. In one circumstance, like in the Grand Canyon, it will keep people from experiencing and seeing something more beautiful by venturing out and exploring a bit... it's a motivating factor for them. For me and my kids (and our friends), we don't let fear keep us back. Rather, the rewards of the process of exploration motivates us to push farther.

Today, while we aren't at the Grand Canyon, fear is still a motivating factor for many people. And the media, politicians and regular folk know it. Just watch tv for five minutes, jump on social media, listen to the radio or even talk to a few folks face to face, and you will see that the end of the world is near if you vote for "so-and-so." I have never in my life listened to so many speeches that are written to take advantage of people's fears.

The message is clear... You need to fear Covid. You need to fear Donald Trump. You need to fear Joe Biden. You need to fear... and the answer to your fear is provided by whomever is speaking.

Fear.

Fear keeps us from living life how it's meant to be lived. It divides us. If we allow it to take root in our lives, it keeps us from seeing life as something more beautiful and we see others as our enemies. Jesus knew this and instead of preaching fear, He said something completely different. Check it out...

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

It's interesting to me that Jesus talks about living in peace and not being afraid in chapter 14. Then, in the very next chapter, He talks about love, and tells people to love one another. Even though I went to seminary, I'm not a bible scholar. But it's not lost on me that, at least in the book of John, loving others comes after living in peace and not in fear.

One of the MANY lessons that 2020 has taught me has been this...

It's hard to love people when you're living in fear.

I've witnessed it on the news. I've seen it on social media. And I've experienced it myself in my own life and mental head space. What I've noticed is this... When you live in fear, when I live in fear, we are focusing on our circumstances and what we need to do to control our circumstances at any cost. This is why it's hard to love people when you live in fear... fear makes things to be about YOU and YOUR circumstances. Fear is the great divide between you and others. But when you live in a spirit of love, it's NEVER about you. And love is able to bridge the divide.

But fear is a powerful emotion. It can sprint into your life and take a hold quickly. We see this with Peter when, in the middle of a storm in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, he asks Jesus to call him out onto the water with him. And when Peter got out of the boat, He took his eyes off of Jesus and was concerned about the wind and waves and began to be afraid. In other words, he started to focus on his circumstances.

It's the same thing for us... and there are a lot of circumstances we can be focused on right now. Covid. Politics. Riots. Lies. Job security. Money problems. The election. Government mandates. Social injustice. While we aren't on a boat on the Sea of Galilee, if feels like we're in the middle of ONE BIG STORM. And Jesus still says the same thing He said to Peter...

"Come."

It's a simple word. Four letters. But it's also a powerful word. In the middle of our storm, in the middle of our fear, Jesus calls to us and says, "Come." Because He knows that we can't overcome our fear and love others without His help. Only when we answer the call of Jesus on our life, trust Him as our Savior, and live in the Holy Spirit can we truly overcome fear, live in peace and love others genuinely.

Fear is the great divide between loving others. But Jesus... Jesus is the bridge to fill the gap because Jesus is love. And He's calling to each of us...

"Come."


Give It Away, Give It Away, Give It Away Now

Give it away. Give it away. Give it away now...

Sing it with me... I loved singing this song as I was growing up. It's written by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I honestly can't remember any other song that they wrote. But I remember this one. It's stuck with me through the years. And as I'm singing this song in my head right now, I can't help but think of a few things I need to give away today. So, with that said...

Here's a few things I need to give away...

  • The need to always be right
  • The feelings of anger at myself
  • The feelings of anger at others
  • The need to be in control
  • The feelings of inadequacy
  • The feelings of bitterness towards people who hurt people I love
  • The need to be liked
  • The need to appear to have it all together
  • The need to look religious
  • The fear of what others think about me
  • The fear of failing

Sometimes, the things I hold on to above get in the way of how I parent and they can affect my relationships. So, if I'm being honest, those are just a few things that I need to give away today.

What about you? What are some things you need to give away?

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7


We Have A Dud

I've wanted a lab for quite some time.

What I would call a real dog. A big dog. So we finally jumped and got Lola, a charcoal lab, just over six months ago. She’s been amazing. She goes pretty much everywhere with us… on walks, to the park and to the beach. She absolutely loves all of it… or so we thought.

So a few weeks ago we went to spend the afternoon at Warren Dunes Sate Park in Michigan. It’s got a great beach and they allow dogs as well. We thought that since Lola loved the creek water in the other parks, she’d love the water at Lake Michigan. So we got our things set up, put our blankets and chairs down, and Carter and Morgan took Lola down to the water and threw the ball. Lola ran up to where the water met the sand and as soon as the wave crashed ashore, Lola went running the other direction.

The kids threw the ball a few more times, and each time Lola ran away and wouldn’t go after the ball. After about the seventh time, Carter came back to us and declared,

“We have a dud!”

And to make things worse, just 25 yards down the beach there was another lab that was running into the lake to chase down its frisbee. It was comical, sad and embarrassing all at the same time. What if we really did have a dud!?

Lola loved the water everywhere else. But she was super afraid of the sound and crash of the wave coming ashore. She just couldn’t push past her fear. But Carter and Morgan weren’t done trying.

As I looked towards the water, I could see Carter carrying our 70 pound lab out past the waves and into the lake. It was one of the most funny, ridiculous things I have witnessed. A 15 year old boy carrying his 70 pound lab into the lake all while the other lab was doing its, well, lab thing of running into the water to play fetch. I didn’t think this was gonna work. The first time the kids took Lola out in the water, she freaked out and ran back to the shore. But Carter and Morgan followed her back to where she was, picked her up again, and carried her back into the water. This time, they sat down in the water with her and petted and comforted her. Lola played for a couple of seconds then ran back to the shore. They tried to throw the ball again, but no luck. So, Carter again, picked her up, and walked her into the water. This time he walked her to her ball. She grabbed her ball and ran back to the shore.

The kids followed her back, grabbed the ball. This time, as they threw the ball, Morgan ran out into the water after it and… Lola followed her… past the waves, into the water to retrieve her ball.

Success! “We don’t have a dud!”

The rest of the afternoon was more of the same… Lola living her best life, chasing her ball out into the lake. I don’t think she has ever had as much fun as she did after she conquered her fears with the kids help.

Parenting can look super similar to this situation. There’s been countless situations where Carter and Morgan have been fearful of something. At times, they have stepped past fear and have overcome to do what they really wanted to do. Other times, they’ve given in to fear and have lived with regret for a short time. It’s painful to watch them live with regret. It’s painful to watch them give in to their fears knowing that what’s on the other side is great. But that’s life. We can only be there to hold their hand and carry them whether they overcome their fear or give in to it. The choice is completely theirs and theirs alone.

As parents… as adults… we have our own fears. And while we have friends and relatives to help us through. The ultimate parent, Jesus, is there to carry us through the fear of the crashing waves sometimes called life, just as Carter carried Lola. We just celebrated Mother’s Day yesterday. And with parenting, there are countless fears that we have to walk through. I don’t know what fears you are facing, but know this, Jesus will carry you through them. Check this out:

For I am the Lord you God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

If you allow Him to carry you, Jesus will never drop you. He will help you through your fear to overcome. Because with Jesus,

There are no duds!


The Ruth Tooth Extraction

This was Carter when he was seven years old.

For a week prior to this video, I was coaching and bribing and coaxing Carter into trying to pull his loose tooth out. I’m not sure why he was so fearful of pulling his tooth out. Maybe it was the fear of it hurting. Maybe it was the fear of it possibly bleeding. Maybe it was the fear of change. I even told him that I would tie a string to his tooth and attach it to my car and hit the gas to rip it out. But that didn’t work either. (Actually, that probably made his fear worse.) Whatever it was, Carter would not even attempt to try to pull his tooth out.

So, each night, for seven straight days, I would ask him… “Are you ready yet? Do you think your tooth is ready yet?” And for seven straight evenings he would reply with a, “No.” No follow up questions. Don’t pass go. This tooth ain’t ready. Carter knew the tooth was going to come out. He had lost two teeth before… two teeth that literally fell out on their own because the adult tooth pushed them straight out. So he knew that, at some point, the tooth was going to be “lost.”

You see, he wanted this one to be different. He, deep down, wanted to pull this one out on his own. He wanted to be the one to pull the tooth out and not let it simply be pushed out by the adult tooth coming in. But, he was scared. He knew that what he wanted to do was good. It was natural. And it was needed for the next step to occur. But still, night after night… day after day he was scared and wasn’t ready…

Until the night of the video.

That night, he said… “I think I want to try dad.” And, like any good dad would say, I said, “Wait, let me get my phone to record it coming out!” The video that you watched is just one minute and 11 seconds. The actual time the it took from start to finish to get the tooth out… just over two hours. Two hours of coaching. Two hours of encouraging. Two hours of making jokes to ease his nerves. Two hours of standing by his side and he pushed through the fear to extract that “fiesty” tooth as he put it.

This isn’t the first time that Carter has been scared to try to accomplish something. And it’s not going to be the last. My job as a parent is to stand by him and help him push past the fear if he chooses. To let him know that I’m by his side, cheering him on.

As a parent, we can see the other side. We can see that everything will be ok. It’s so easy to get frustrated by that. To not understand where they are at in their fear and to only focus on the end goal. But as a child, they can’t see that end goal. They can only see the immediate place where they’re at… fear. It’s our job to help them walk through that place to come out on the other side not only ok, but also a better person having learned to walk to the other side of fear, despite their fear.

You know, God does the same thing with us as well. Sure, he doesn’t physically hold our hand. But He’s right there beside us giving us comfort as we walk to the other side of our fear, despite our fear. Check this out:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Our God has promised to be with us wherever we go. Whether it’s during this time of quarantine or after, our God will never leave us. He is there. For you. For me. For us. As you walk with your child through their fears, despite their fears, know that our God is doing the same with us… through our fears, despite our fears.