My kids are usually some of the last people to leave the church on Sunday morning. Because of this they are around when the fellowship hosts are packing up whatever left over goodies remain. It’s always more fun to give tasty goodies to kids than to pack them up and take them home. Sometimes there isn’t much, but sometimes, there is some really good stuff left over. This past Sunday was one of those days. Our gracious hosts had provided numerous treats including those delicious store-bought cream-filled cookies.

I was in conversation with someone when my son proudly came up to me with this giant bag of cookies, thirty cookies wouldn’t be exaggerating. He was beaming with joy and his eyes said, “Guess what I’m having for lunch.” He asked me to hold them and he was off to play with a friend.

I held on to that bag for a few minutes until it was time to head to lunch with a guest who came to speak during worship. As I was getting ready to leave I set the cookies down on my desk and got my things so we could head out for Mexican food. Neither of my kids asked where the cookies were, or if my wife or I even had the cookies. They were long forgotten.

Fast forward to this morning, my first day back in my office since Sunday and there sitting on the edge of my desk was a large Ziploc bag with at least thirty delicious looking cookies inside. This got me to wondering. How often does God bless us with something and we quickly forget about it because something new enters our lives? Our lives are filled with blessings daily and in the midst of our frenetic schedules, social media addictions, and DVR run lives we miss witnessing them, savoring them, we don’t remember them.

Like a bag of freely given cookies to a child, we set them aside because we can’t enjoy them immediately. We entertain the myth that we will take the time later when we have more time. It is a myth. There isn’t more time later. To experience the blessings given today we have to take time today to enjoy them. The world around us is amazing. Breathe it in, see it, hear it, feel it, enjoy it. God is blessing you this very moment.

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Leaf Cycle

Leaf Cycle

Melting snowfalls
Thawed, dampened earth
Buds on branches
A new leaf’s birth

Growing more full
Fearing late frost
Vibrant new green
Spring rainstorm tossed

Soaking in rays
The power plant
Creating shade
From sun’s bright rant

Summer’s long heat
So hot, so mean
Endless summer days
The leaf stays green

The sun moves South
Leaf’s job complete
Green changes hue
New colors meet

Orange, red, yellow
Green lingers on
Autumn is here
Summer is gone

First frost arrives
A cold front stall
The stem detaches
Leaf starts to fall

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Mullberry Tree

Mullberry Tree

Long have you stood
On this plot of land
Split trunk at your base
So majestic and grand

You’ve shed millions of leaves
As each autumn transitions
When temperatures drop
And the sun changes positions

Before there was Freeborn
Welch or Roosevelt
You were a young sapling
Watching winter snows melt

Seasons have changed
And many years have past
You’ve grown impressive
A most beautiful shadow you cast

A home for birds
And insects alike
A haven of shade
From the summer’s hot light

A tower of blessing
You stand ever strong
I’ll continue to admire you
For many years long

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For the past two afternoons I have begun reading a chapter a day of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe to my kids. So obviously we are not too far into it. Yesterday I had my daughter next to me helping me hold the book and my son on my lap sitting very still, which for him and most any five-year-old boy is a minor miracle. We got to the part where Mr. Tumnus begins describing the terrible things the White Witch will do to him if he fails to deliver Lucy into her hands.

“…she’ll have my tail cut off, and my horns sawn off, and my beard plucked out…”

Next thing I knew my son had jumped off my lap and was hiding around the back of the loveseat. He didn’t want to hear any more and he was not interested in waiting around to see if Lucy made it back safely to War Drobe.

As adults we forget the power of words. Somewhere along the way we’ve written so many, heard so many, read so many, that we are simply immune to the power that they truly do possess. As my son flew off my lap I was reminded of just what it is like to be present in a book for the first time. 

My son loves books about dinosaurs. He loves stories about what they eat and how they fight. So there’s something that happens with fiction, with fantasy. It engages us on a whole other level and draws us in with the author to the world they are writing about. Stories help us understand The Story that is happening around us. 

Jesus told His followers (John 104,5), “When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

Part of parenting is helping our children recognize the voice of Jesus in their lives as we’ve heard it in our own. My son’s reaction to Mr. Tumnus’ description of impending suffering was not a strange one, it was him actively saying, “I don’t like this! I don’t like people that cause others to experience pain.”  We adults know that life is not without pain and suffering in our fallen world, but I believe we are closer to the voice of Jesus when the desire to be in a world without pain, without suffering fills our hearts and defines our actions.

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Hutchmoot 2013

I fly six to twelve times a year. I’ve been flying since before I can remember. It was second nature to get on a plane to go see my grandparents in Pennsylvania for Christmas or summer vacation. So for me flying is routine.

This past weekend I attended Hutchmoot. What’s that you ask? I couldn’t begin to define it. Pete Peterson and his brother Andrew, not to mention an army of other people, put it on in Nashville and people from all over the country who love Jesus, read books, write novels, paint, make music, listen to music, cook, or participate in any other form of art, show up to spend a few days together celebrating those things in each other’s lives.

During Artmoot, the final session of the weekend, I was given a tile to fill with color and tasked with coming up with a word that our group agreed captured the time together. The word that came to me was “vision”. The people at my table agreed that it was a fitting word and so I included it with my tile. I didn’t realize how profoundly that word spoke to me during my time at Hutchmoot.

Andrew started the weekend talking about his hope that this time together would give us an opportunity to see anew. My first session with Lanier Ivester, Jennifer Trafton, and Eric Peters was a reminder that what we create is an expression of who we know God to be and how we see the world with that knowledge. My second session with N.D. Wilson was a call to me to always be improving my craft, whether it is in writing a sermon, a column for the newspaper, or an article for the monthly church newsletter. Because of God’s role as creator, I have a role in creating as well and it reflects poorly on God if what I create is crap. Then during my time with Jonathan Rogers and Andrew Saturday morning I was blessed to hear how significant the world around us actually is and to embrace it in my life and my craft. I took Pete’s recommendation in the afternoon and visited Radnor Lake. It was a beautiful Tennessee lake nestled in a wooded area. There were busy squirrels and skittish chipmunks. I allowed myself opportunities to stop and watch them move. Then as I entered into the wooded trail I came across a mother deer and her two adolescent fawns. And at the other end of the trail there were five more. There were wild turkeys and water snakes as well.  As I was enjoying the serenity of the woods I was brought quickly back to reality when a walnut careened out of the tree and hit the ground with a very serious thud. I found myself taking the time to see.

So this morning I got to the airport and the line for Southwest baggage check was ridiculously long and I groused to my wife about that on the phone. Then security was even longer, again more grousing. I finally made it through and got to my gate, enjoyed some breakfast, sent a few emails and then got on the plane where I was a sardine stuffed next to the window with two other guys bigger than me in the same aisle. My vision was just about back to where it was before Hutchmoot and then something wonderful happened. As we were taking off I quickly learned the little blonde boy in front of me, maybe five years old, was flying for the first time and when the wheels left the ground he exclaimed with awe, “We’re off the ground! We’re off the ground!” Then we got the play by play. “We’re higher than the cars! We’re higher than the trees! We’re higher than the birds! Uh oh we’re going down; nope we’re still going up!” It brought a welcome smile to my face, because for me that was it. Life is filled with awe and wonder and I have simply been blind to it as of late.

What is Hutchmoot? It’s hard to say, but for me it was a great eye exam and I came out with a new prescription!

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