In his book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster joins Jesus in praising children for their faith.  Children trust until given a reason to doubt; adults doubt until given a reason to trust.  With allusion to the Lord’s Prayer, Foster reminds us that The Lord taught us to pray for our daily bread.  Then he continues with these words,

Have you ever noticed that children ask for lunch in utter confidence that it will be provided?  They have no need to stash away today’s sandwiches for fear none will be available tomorrow.  As far as they are concerned, there is an endless supply of sandwiches.
 In the Bible we hear a call to trust God for “an endless supply of sandwiches.”  Maybe not those exact words, but indeed the call.  As we “mature,” sometimes we try to complicate trust and faith.  We add the words “but” and “if” when we say that we trust God.  I believe that is exactly why Jesus told the crowds of the first century to enter the kingdom of heaven with the faith of a child.   

As you believe, go ahead and believe boldly.

School lunch is, well, school lunch.  For that reason, my wife and I make three “sack” lunches for our kids each school day.  Our kids look forward to Friday’s sack.  Fridays, you see, are Nutella Days.  No ham & cheese, soup, or PB&J on the fifth school day.  Only Nutella.  Our kids trust that we will furnish them with a lunch every day.  And they trust that each Friday’s sack will be special.  While, a time or two, I  allowed the jar to empty too fast or my mind spaced the correct Friday sandwich ingredient, God’s provision, while plentiful, is also always present.  He does not forget. 

Trust like a child.  Smile at the supply.  Lick the delicious Nutella from your lips.  Enjoy!


Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face –
Victor Hugo

My phone that is deemed “smart” informs me that, at the time of this writing, the Anchorage temperature is 25 degrees Fahrenheit - or 28 according to the same phone.  (How smart does a phone have to be in order to be consistent?)  Either temperature proves mild for Alaska’s largest town.  While the degrees are quite nice, I prefer more snow during this time of year.  We like winter here! 

I look out my window and see gray skies and like-color gravel lying atop the slippery ice.  Oh, and the leafless birch trees look gray as well.  I am reminded of Seuss’ My Many Colored Days - 
Gray Day . . . Everything is gray.
I watch.  But nothing moves today

This morning was a mixture of other types of gray. 
  • Rising from my bed with cracked ribs making their presence known (another story for later);
  • Watching Bailey, my aging beagle, struggle with the stairs;
  • The morning rush of “Eat your food,” “It’s time to go,” “Put your socks on,” “Take Bailey out.”
  • A lost number 3 out of a 9-CD recorded book (So much for finishing that read/listen!)
  • And late to school.

Time out –
Here is a “Thank you” to my wife for handling this on a regular basis.  I usually miss the morning rush by going to the gym, but the afore-mentioned ribs prevented that today.  Now back to the story . . .

On days like today, laughter is great.  In fact, laughter is always (OK – mostly) great.  For one reason, days change.  As Seuss reminds,
Then all of a sudden I’m a circus seal! 
On my Orange Days that’s how I feel.

For another reason, even when gray days follow gray days and gray days follow those, spring will come.  God created you and me with the capacity to look forward.  Humans remember yesterday and live today and also dream of tomorrow.  So we laugh . . . 
  • We laugh at falls, knowing that we learned from that tripping hazard. 
  • We laugh at verbal miscues, fueled by the knowledge that we won’t say that again. 
  • We even laugh at those “Wow! That was stupid” moments in life, at least grateful that we survived. 
  • We laugh.

I laughed and then not long thereafter, my “not dumb” phone
announced the arrival of a text from my wife.  I received this picture of her with our youngest son on a snowshoe fieldtrip. 

Then another picture came from a good friend who witnessed
another fieldtrip – one of a beloved four-legged creature. 

Gray days, while gray, sure can provide great play in the snow days!

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but crushed spirit dries up the bones –
Proverbs 17:22

To Rule the Pool

Judging from the generous smile on his face as he glides through the water, propelled by each backstroke, my youngest son loves to swim.  Early last week, as I walked to the staircase at the pool where he and his poolmates practice, I stopped to admire the trophy case.  Some motivational posters serve as the backdrop to the golden figures representing champions and runners-up.  One poster, for a reason that will be clear to you, caught my eyes' first notice. 
"The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra."

Good point, perhaps.  One expects calls for extraordinary in the sports realm. 

Another poster caused great pause, however.  (Remember, I am quite the fan of Ordinary and I cherish the words of God.)  The mantra printed in progressively enlarged letters read .. .

"The meek may inherit the earth . . . but they'll never rule the pool."

Never mind the comparison of realms of dominion; is swimming faster really that important?

Swimming like Phelps, dancing like Astaire, gracing the strings like Paganini, investing like Buffett - each an achievement to celebrate - is a temporary "rule."  For those who choose the pursuit of Ordinary, times of rule can be fun; yet the rule beyond the pool guides their journey.  Celebrating the Ordinary requires a unique worldview - treasures in Heaven and the like.  Such a worldview provides fuel for the challenging journey of life.  In this life, Ordinary devotees find this view essential for living out the high and, at times, arduous call to . . .

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
                     1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

Keep swimming . . . 

One in Christ Jesus

On January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was born.  On January 18, 2016, our nation will observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  While his life was cut short in April of 1968, Americans and people of nations inspired by his legacy recognize the positive impact he made upon our world.  He witnessed and experienced the oppression of a people by those in their shared land.  Then he addressed the problem with, primarily, his gifts of leadership and language. 

His most well-known speech continues to inspire readers and hearers.  With words of conviction and vision, King shared his dream.  In his goosebump-inducing conclusion, Dr. King depicted the results of true freedom.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:  “Free at last!  Free at last!  Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed of a day when All of God’s children would join hands and sing.  In communities of faith, cities, towns, and neighborhoods, his dream is a reality.  But not in all.  As you live your life, do so with commitment to build community with all of God’s children.  Even if you really dislike holding hands and you sing off-key, help – in your way – to make the Dream come true.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:26-28 (NIV)

Exceptional Children

The line is so thin that hapless Christmas letter composers cross it without knowing it.  The previous sentence is my attempt at offering the, so-called, “benefit of the doubt” to those who send us year-in-review letters detailing the brilliance, prowess, and extra-Ordinary nature of their offspring. 

Blue Ribbon     First Chair     4.0 GPA     Graduated with Honors

You get the picture, I trust.

Why do parents spotlight their children’s successes?  They have their own particular reasons.  I am convinced that while the individual reasons exist, a common theme unites their efforts – The Devaluation of Ordinary.

With a sense of shame, those who fear Ordinary admit under their breath that their son plays third chair or their daughter made JV.  A cap and gown not adorned with tassels earns less applause. 

Before my post turns into a rant, I wrap up with two words of advice:

  1. Read J. Ellsworth Kalas’ book, Parables from the Backside, chapter 3.
  2. Cheer for May ’16 grads who earn a 2.5 GPA.