When Ethan Speaks

22 04 2008

autisticGod bless our kids.  They’ll say absolutely anything.  They have no brakes.  A though hits their brain, and within 2 seconds, it’s sliding off their tongue.  And some kids aren’t’ even THAT restrained.

I love Ethan.  He’s my associate pastor’s son.  When I first came to GFM 5 years ago, Ethan didn’t really talk.  The autistic five-year-old spoke gibberish that his older brother referred to as “Chinese”.  Every night before going to bed, Ethan’s brother would pray,

click here to read this article at wherethefishhavenoname.com.


Everything You Wanted To Know About Webkinz But Were Afraid To Ask

29 02 2008

Actually, the title is a bit of a misnomer.  I am no fountain of knowledge when it comes to the latest web phenomenon for kidz.  Er, kids.

My experience with this ecraze barely extends upon what I’ve learned from my sister’s children.  If I understand this thing correctly, you buy a stuffed animal, then create a web “reality” for it.  The creature comes to life on-line.  For many uninitiated older folk such as myself, this might seem a good reason to get all frumpy grumpy and proclaim what a shame it is our children pursue such improvident internet mind drains.  webkinz

I would almost agree.  The stopper for me is knowing how protective my sister is of her children’s minds and activities.  She and her husband are wonderful parents who treat the kids as sacred trusts.  And then I remembered all the adventures I had creating psuedo realities for GI Joe and other generic versions of the doll, uh, I mean, action figure.  Properly regulated by watchful parents, the webkinz craze is simply another outlet to allow a child to express creativity.  It doesn’t supersede crayons and paint kits and books and such.  Those things are still present and used with great joy.

Speaking of crayons, though, I did get a bit of an education on today’s perception of the colorful creators.  My youngest niece, Carly, was using crayons at our house.  She handed me the white crayon and dismissed it saying, “It’s broked.”  Looking at it, I could plainly see it was not only in one piece, but had barely been used.  Then, my sister explained that since the crayon doesn’t show up on normal drawing paper, Carly and her friends have taken to assuming that the white crayon is “broked”.  It doesn’t work.

All this to serve as a reminder of what precious jewels our children are.  They aren’t masterpieces in the making; they are fully realized works of art in their own present reality.  Somehow we need to teach them that they are completely loved, that they are of infinite worth to God, and yet that they are not alone in that.  While they are first in our lives when in comes to caring and nurturing, they need to learn to put other children before themselves.  I regularly experience children who were taught that not only were they the center of their parents’ lives, but they were also the center of the universe.  This makes for ugly adults.  Perhaps webkinz are a good way of teaching a child to love, care and nurture.  You are special.  But others are more special.  God is served not when we ourselves are worshipped, but when we find our worth in worshipping Him.  This leads us to put all others before ourselves as Christ taught.  The amazing thing is how quickly a child can learn this priceless lesson, and put it to work, when we learn to strike proper balances in their lives.  Webkinz or not.

Another Bite In The Cookie, part 4

13 01 2008

This was our first year without our daughter Jackie here on Christmas day.  She married last year, and the in-laws live in Oklahoma.  And it was their well justified turn.

Rather than the lonely Christmas Barbara and I had anticipated, my sister, brother-in-law, and their 3 young progeny joined us and brought much joy.  Especially Carly.

This was Carly’s first year to really get into the Santa thing.  She knew she was supposed to leave a note, so mommy transcribed it for her.  There was the refreshing glass of 2% milk that would surely be a disdainful lukewarm mouthful by the time the jolly old elf arrived.  And then there was the cookies.  Two cookies.  One of which was that perennial holiday favorite, the peanut butter cookie with a Hershey’s kiss in the middle.  Carly sat there, those wonderful, sacred, sugary delights staring her in the eye.  And then it happened.  Her little 4 year old desires could be arrested no longer.  She took a bite out of the cookie.  The adults quickly swooped down on her to wrest away the cookie like a pelican hitting water.  It was bedtime after all, and the cookie curfew had long since passed.  But along with the rejoinders came the bursts of laughter.  We had just witnessed a precious rite that will no doubt one day be recounted to her own children.  She said that she didn’t know she wasn’t supposed to eat the cookie, but no one believed her.  It is fundamentally impossible for a child to overcome such a temptation when it lingers such as the Santa cookie did. 

As a pastor, I see the same thing play out week after week.  The cookie is just too tempting.  We take that bite claiming we didn’t know it was wrong.  We seemed shocked at the reactions of others who pass along quick condemnations.  The cookies linger.  We bite.  For most of us past the age of 4 the problem isn’t the bite, it’s the response.  There are no guilty people in jail…  or in church.  We’ve all been framed, set-up, unfairly stung or mistakenly apprehended.  Why is it so fundamentally hard for us to exercise contrition?  Has our society necessitated personal standing to the point where any frailty or fault becomes unbearable to confess? 

And I write all this as if I myself find it easy to be contrite.  God help us all!  I wonder what impact one or two honestly contrite and confessing Christ-followers might make on the world around them.  I hope we one day find out.

I Hate To Admit It, But…

23 09 2007

Charlotte’s Web still makes me cry.  Barbara and I watched it together tonight.  No kids present.  No coercion on her behalf.  No sentimental reason or otherwise.  We simply wanted to watch it.  I had purchased the new live version on DVD when our niece was visiting in late summer (I also discovered that “Night At The Museum” was a much funnier movie than I’d ever imagined).  So tonight we watched the erudite arachnid and I cried.  I’ve always been overly sentimental; blame that on my mom.  And perhaps its her early death from cancer almost 18 years ago, or my wife’s recent 8 month hospitalization and death-comebacks that have made me even more prone to tear up.  But above all the sentimentality and above all the emasculating aspects of this confession, I also see something much more powerful at work.

Here it is.  This story has a great, on-point, and timeless message.  It’s a beautiful story about sacrificial friendship.  It’s about the effect that sacrificial love has even on the coldest of hearts.  This is the kind of love that opens doors and changes lives.  This is the kind of love that I pray manifests itself firmly among my church and all those who truly follow Christ.

I can’t change someone’s mind about Christ with arguments on a blog.  I can’t make someone accept a reality that they are predispostioned to ignore.  I believe it was Paul Little who said that a non-believer trying to understand Christianity was like a bachelor trying to understand marriage.  Certainly they can comprehend the mechanics and the theories.  But you just can’t fully intellectually get it until you’ve opened your heart to that one thing that has called you all along. 

There’s marked disagreement among Christ followers as to which road of service that Jesus blazed is best to take.  But one thing is for certain: until wesacrificially love each other inside the walls of the church, and then outside those walls, we cannot take any of His paths.  We learn to love among His people (which can be the hardest place to start loving at times!).  Then we love unconditionally those who don’t share our immense hope, joy and peace.

 I hate to admit it, but some of us are still swilling slop rather than weaving webs.