Wonderfully Different

I'm amazed when I remember
who it was that built this house.

The late Rich Mullins pondered God's creation and he was amazed.  He sang of winter streams, nesting wrens, silver moons, and falling rains.  His words, from his song "The Color Green," remind me to revel in the handiwork of God. 

My wife, children, and I feel quite blessed to call Alaska home.  We love this place.  One major reason for this love for our state is its beauty.  On Father's Day we went on a family hike.  We ventured on the Reed Lakes Trail.  As we climbed hills, conquered boulders, and crossed mountain streams, we took in the beauty - a sort of "stopping to smell the roses."  I do not tire of such delightful sites. 

While, due to sin (ours and others), we live in a Genesis 3 world, we recall the poetic rendering of the creation stories found in the first two chapters of that great book of beginnings.  God created the heavens and the earth, crafting a great display of His power; but not power alone.  He also revealed His creativity through variety.  Snowflakes are not the only things in nature that have no match.  All of creation, including you and me, are in a word . . . Different. 

Part of living your everyday life in an Ordinary way is to recognize your differences.  Yet recognition alone fails to complete the process.  We do well when we add to recognition, acceptance.  Accept, indeed embrace, your differences.  Use your differences as you live your everyday life for Christ. 
Borrowing the words of the recorded voice of the Mission Impossible commander, "Your mission, should you choose to accept it" is to ask yourself the following questions:
  • What makes you different?
  • How well do you embrace those differences?
  • What's stopping you from fully embracing your differences?
  • How can God use you because of your differences?
13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)

Changing Valleys

Go back to Mississippi; go back to Alabama; go back to South Carolina; go back to Georgia; go back to Louisiana; go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. declared those words during his celebrated "I Have A Dream" speech.  He called upon his hearers, having received encouragement and motivation in our nation's capitol, to return to their
homes, carrying inside them the hope for change. 

With his next sentence, King added:  "Let us not wallow in the valley of despair."

Too much wallowing occurs in the valleys of life.  In one of the best known passages in Scripture, King David testified . . .

Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me
Psalm 23:4 (NIV)
In his valleys, David sang. 
In his valleys, Dr. King kept dreaming. 
What do you do in your valleys? 

Wallowing is not the correct answer. 

Go back . . . knowing that somehow your situation can and will be changed.

Simply Caring

Reflecting on the discord and violence in our nation, Kathleen Parker, a columnist for The Washington Post, penned a provoking piece.  In her writing, she proposed that we can impact our world with acts of thoughtfulness.  She writes . . .
We can't un-crazy crazy, but we can each try to stem the madness.  It begins with simply caring:  By looking up from our cellphones and making eye contact; by asking the checkout girl about her day; thanking the garbage collector; doing favors without a scorecard; giving away money because someone needs it more.  Sometimes a small gesture of kindness can change someone's day - or life. (Alaska Dispatch News 06.18.2017)
I like the Ordinary actions that she proposes.  I recall the times when family, friends, and strangers have acted in such ways to me; and I smile.

Make it your goal today to share a small gesture of kindness with this world.

Primary Business

Two days ago, children presented hand-made cards, ties, pocket knives, money clips, grilling tools, and the like to their fathers.  As a father, I have always enjoyed receiving heart-felt gifts.  As a son, I am grateful for the gift of a good example set by my dad. 

The preacher of renown (and namesake of my place of seminary training), George W. Truett argued that . . .

“The primary business of parents is to train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

I commit myself to conduct such business.  I am thankful for God as I receive grace during my on-the-job training.  The business of training is not for the faint of heart.  I welcome all the insights at my disposal. 

Several years ago I came across such helpful insights, which are attributed to an elementary Sunday School teacher.  William E. Young, drawing from his years of experience teaching Bible stories and life lessons to first grade-aged children, counseled parents on how to empower their kids.  

Five Ways to Empower your Child’s Spiritual Growth

(1) Love him/her unconditionally

(2) Be available

(3) Forgive your child
“Continue to express your love
to your children especially when
it is difficult.”

(4) Model what you want learned

(5) Be intentional in your teaching

Well said, Mr. Young!

Who Would Disney Cast?

Along our journey from the Rock'n'Roller Coaster to the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, my family and I ventured through the Walt Disney: One Man's Dream exhibit.  Just past the school desk upon which, in second grade, Walt carved the letters W and D, one word caught my eye.  If you read my blog regularly, you can guess the word.  Ordinary.

In preparation for the debut of his new daily show, Disney spoke of his choice for casting Mouseketeers.  He said, "I don't want kids that blow trumpets while they're tap-dancing.  I just want ordinary kids."  I am not privy to the method Disney's people used to seek such would-be actors, but I know that from 1955 to 1959 (first run), ordinary kids brought laughter and smiles into homes nationwide. 

Why did Disney seek ordinary kids?  Since I can only guess, I will.

I believe he wanted for those who starred in his show to be, in a word, relatable.  Relatability produces a sense of camaraderie.  Surely Disney understood the value of camaraderie.  He knew that his show's viewers would enjoy "connecting" with those children on The Mickey Mouse Club.

I cannot sketch a cartoon-worthy mouse or design a world-renown theme park; but like Disney, I understand the value of camaraderie and connectability and how the latter and the former fuel each other.  Living the Ordinary Life includes intentionally living in such a manner that people feel you are one with whom they can connect.

Be connectable!

You Make Him Smile

The last note of the song still hung in the air as the gracious host who opened his home and Steinway to the young musicians addressed me with a smile and said, "I was watching you as you watched them.  I did the same when my kids played."  He was referring to my uber-focused attention on my daughter and youngest son as their fingers glided across the keys during the semi-annual recital.  Our host noticed my fixed attention and fatherly grin. 

My children owe their skill to practice and genes (my wife's, not mine).  As those two play piano and my other son plays guitar, joy fills me.  For one thing, I love music.  For another, and more important reason, I love them.  I enjoy watching my children using their talents.

Our Father in Heaven enjoys watching His children using their talents, too.  A minor (due to length of writing, not importance) prophet in the Old Testament told the Hebrew people of a great day of restoration.  In his words, Zephaniah wrote . . .

"[The Lord] will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing." (3:17 b-c)

Those words cheer me.  The thought of God delighting in me amazes me.  I desire to make Him smile.  With that pursuit in mind, I remember the words of Jesus.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

Play your piece.  Sing your song.  Serve Him faithfully.  Place your Ordinary life before God.

He smiles when you do.