Monthly Archives: August 2015

My Prayers Grew With Him


October 31, 1996 (Halloween), two days after his birth, I drove him and his mother home from the hospital.  During that drive I prayed.  And I prayed what I thought to be the most profound prayer ever prayed by a new father.  I prayed, God, don’t let me get in an accident and kill him on our way home!  I don’t know how many times I prayed that prayer during the 15 minute drive from the hospital to our home, but it is a short prayer and I am sure I prayed it hundreds of times before pulling into the driveway while the neighborhood was filling with costumed children out trick or treating.

Married for almost 8 years, I barely knew how to be a husband (still…?) much less a dad, and the profundity of my prayer life continued.  When he would be awake at night my prayer was, Lord, help him fall asleep already! I can’t keep my eyes open any longer! Then, after he fell asleep and I would be gently – oh so gently – placing him into his crib my prayers would deepen further into, Ok God, I putting him down now, keep him sleeping…

And, when his eyes would sometimes open after I laid him down I would have two very different, almost conflicting 3:00am thoughts/prayers that went something like this, God, I love this kid! God, do you hate me?!?!

As exhausting as those first years were, especially as sister and brother came along, they didn’t last long. And as Michael grew and developed, so did I.  I grew up as a dad.  Well, somewhat anyway.  What I do know is this, my prayers grew.  My prayers grew with him.

I prayed for his first day of school.  I prayed for tests.  I prayed for him when he got injured.  I prayed for forgiveness when I blew it.  I prayed he would forgive me when I blew it.  I prayed for his friends.  I prayed as the years went by.

My prayers grew from a starting place of praying for the immediacy of having his needs met (food, sleep, safety, love & shelter) in order that I might have some short term peace, to a place of learning to pray more deeply, for things of more significance and for the longview of his life.

My prayers grew in substance.  Today Michael is an amazing young man enrolled as a freshman in college and my prayers for him are much different.  I do pray for the immediate things still – that he would study hard, learn well, make incredible friends, be exposed to all sorts of great challenges that shape him, etc… But more than that, I pray for longterm fruit of the spirit in his life, for him to give himself to something significant, life giving and helps better the world God so loves.  I pray for lasting joy that overcomes in hardship and trial.  I pray that he would live in, and be a sharer, of the Shalom of God.

My prayers, they grew with him.

Overheard At The PGA

1st teeWe were all set to enjoy a beautiful day of incredible golf.  We both woke up earlier than expected and so Brad and I made our way to stands at the 1st tee of the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in WI.  Sitting on the top row of the stands we drank coffee and people watched while waiting for the round to start.

Neither of us paid much attention to the three gentlemen who made their way up next to us where they stood on the bench leaning against the back railing.  And then their conversation caught my attention…

They had spotted to young ladies wearing matching dresses.

It was clear, when I looked, that they were high school aged girls with their parents, who were also wearing clothes that matched.  The whole family was clothing coordinated for the day!

The conversation next to us was really more of a monologue with appreciative male noises of agreement.  As word for word as I can remember, it went like this:  Look, those two girls are wearing the same dress. (grunts)  I wonder if they always dress the same… (grunts) I wonder if even their underwear matches… If they’re even wearing any. (more grunts) And down the bleachers they went.

When I looked, the speaker was a man about the age of 50 – gray hair and all – with his two sons.

Brad and I chatted about the conversation we overheard and then how shocked we were that it was the dad making those comments to his sons.  But the conversation stuck with me throughout the day.

And it got me wondering.

It got me wondering as I watched groups of single middle-aged men watch other girls…

I wondered how often in their lives women feel like they aren’t seen as persons but as bodies.  I wondered how often they know they are seen as bright, intelligent, creative women and not just for the clothes they wear or their body parts.  I began to wonder about all of the ladies there at the PGA on Sunday and how often during the day they felt uncomfortable because a stranger in the crowd decided to check them out.

I also began to wonder about the dad and his sons.  I wondered if scoping out young girls was really life giving to him.  I wondered if he knew he was created for more than that.  I wondered if his sons were embarrassed by his words and what they were learning about how to be a man.

We are all gendered beings. God created us this way – as male and female.  But we are so much more than just the sum of our genital parts.

In an over sexualized culture it takes intentionality to break out of the conditioning we aren’t even aware we have experienced.  I recently read a resource indicating that the U.S. is responsible for 89% of the world’s online pornography and that a porn film is produced every 30 minutes.  This same book showed that the average age of porn exposure is 11 and that by the age of fifteen 1 in 13 girls reports having participated in some sort of group sex.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at the conversation we overheard.  And, out of the tens of thousands of people at the PGA Championship, it probably wasn’t an isolated incident.  Somewhere along the way this dad, and so many of us like him, was taught a way of being, and got stuck.  Stuck in a way of seeing himself and others.

To move past this we are going to have to reteach ourselves how to see.  How to see ourselves as more than our gender or genitals. How to see others as more than their gender.  To grow past this we will need to learn how to rethink our sexuality in the context of the whole of who we are.

And we will need to do this in the midst of the overwhelming sexualization of the world around us.

Learning Leadership From Horses…?

Craig & Demo2Demo was one of the seven horses we would take out on our ride that day. None of the horses, mind you, were your standard “trail ride” horses that just follow nose to tail while your butt gets sore for an hour. A mustang caught from the wild in Utah, Demo was different. Head strong, independent and a leader in the herd, Demo used to be called Demolition Man – you can figure out why. And I was about to ride him!

But before I could ride him, Craig (our host at Shiloh Ranch – a ministry to ministry families) needed to bring him in. But Demo wasn’t about to let a lead rope be put around his neck and head. He wasn’t about to submit to Craig. Craig wasn’t the leader, wasn’t in charge – Demo was. It took some time for Craig to get Demo separated from the rest of the horses into the smaller corral.

And there I saw a lesson for how God leads us.

Craig would get Demo moving in one direction around the corral by applying pressure. He did this by pointing, using his voice and waving the rope. He never hit Demo, didn’t abuse Demo and never became aggressive with Demo. After he would make several loops in one direction, applying pressure Craig would steer him in the opposite direction. Craig would do this with Demo several times and then he would suddenly stop and lower the rope, his arm and his face so he wasn’t looking at Demo at all.

He waited.

And when Demo didn’t respond, the whole exercise took place again. Sometimes the rhythm was different. The amount of time spent in one direction over another would change. And when it wasn’t expected, Craig would stop – and wait – until Demo moved.

Toward Craig.

Not immediately taking control by slipping the lead rope around the horses neck and head, Craig did something that made me curious. He wrapped his arms around Demo’s neck, nuzzled his cheek against the horse and gently loved on the beautiful mustang. Only then did Craig slip Demo’s lead rope on.

In those ten minutes I saw in Craig and Demo how God has time and time again been at work in my life.

Directing Demo in the corral was consistently done with deep respect for Demo: looking at him the right way, keep a proper distance, using his voice gently and firmly and never frightening or demeaning the horse. And then, when Craig would stop and lower his head, it was an invitation for Demo to draw near. And, when he was ready, he did.

God will often, with amazing love and respect, direct our lives by his Voice, with his hand or with circumstances. But God never forces himself upon us. And, when it is time, God invites us, again, to draw close to him – toward intimacy and purpose.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Mt 11:28-30

I wonder how God is inviting you to draw near to him today? And for what purpose?

Demo’s purpose that day was to give me a ride through some of the most beautiful countryside. And we had fun!