Emergency in Louisiana

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 8.51.10 AM

I am in shock over the emergency in South Louisiana. You may be used to hearing about the destructive nature of hurricanes in Louisiana, but this historic flooding is in many cases worse, even without a name. This post from Amy on Facebook does as good a job as any of explaining the tragic events that are unfolding in our home state:

This weekend I received pictures of places that have never flooded sunk in dirty rain water, and friends leaving their home by boat with their baby only to have to leave their new shelter by boat yet again due to flooding. This is not a result of a river overflowing into areas that people should be prepared or have a plan of action. This was a sudden disaster that has fallen from the sky on good people who could only respond by leaving everything they have with only the shirt on their back.

The people of Louisiana are industrious and community oriented. It is a culture that rooted on helping each other. This is evident in the number of personal boat trailers, not military or first responders, that can be seen lining Interstate 12 in order to travel across parish (county) lines to rescue those in need.

My prayers are with everyone effecting by this deadly disaster, and I hope everyone reading this will take part in praying, supporting and rebuilding the area affected by this flooding.

Drone video of Zachary, Louisiana, which is north of Baton Rouge, and where Amy and I lived for 5 years in our first home: http://www.wbrz.com/news/watch-drone-footage-documents-flooding-in-zachary/

Photos: http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/collection_dcee2a14-6242-11e6-bd0b-5f8d1a0ae432.html

Hardest hit areas: http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/weather_traffic/article_61a4103c-60d8-11e6-831b-9fc5381451c0.html

The First Day of School

first day of school

Thoughts from a dad on watching his baby become a little girl

Tomorrow Sophie starts her first day of school. Kindergarten is kind of a milestone for a parent that says the little baby that you brought home from the hospital is not a baby anymore. She is now a kid.

In some ways, it is hard to let go of that tiny infant that I used to lay in my lap and return coo sounds and funny faces with. But even back then, I couldn’t wait for her to start speaking, walking and growing so that I could see what she would become.

Letting Go

The first day of school feels like I am taking the first itsy bitsy step of letting go, and allowing her to be her own person. I am surprisingly excited to see how she does, but still wonder have I done enough to prepare her. I have done my best, but can’t help but feel that I know I have missed something. I wish I had more time to make sure she is ready.

On her own, will she become a leader or a follower? Will she use her high level of energy to be more productive than others or mischievous? Is my child one that will set the example or conform to the examples around her?

What about God? Will her love for God grow or diminish without her parents there to help guide her little heart? I wonder if she will treat others as Jesus would, or become a self-centered person?

Honestly, if I dwell on all these things, my eyes will get off of Jesus. I want to be intentional with my child, but I do not want my love and concern to become an idol. I do not want to be more concerned about how my child’s behavior reflects on me, than I am on protecting her heart in her shortcomings so that she doesn’t learn to live out of fear.

Be an Example?

A few years ago a friend of mine was telling me about how he was training his son to become a leader and an example among his pears. While listening, I thought, “That’s a good idea! I want my kids to be that way too!” But as he continued, he described the pressure this placed on his son’s shoulders, and how it almost crushed him.

Then I thought about how God speaks to me, and wondered if God could only tell me one thing what would it be? Would God first tell me, “Go out and be a leader and be an example,” or would He tell me, “Remember while you are out there that you are mine, you are loved, and I am with you.”? I believe the ladder gives the confidence to be the leader the latter mostly only adds pressure to become.

From this I have decided not to train my young child in being an example, but in being herself. I’ve tried my best to discern who I believe God is creating her to be and affirm that over and over again. That way, when the world speaks a lie over her, and tries to get her to conform, she will recognize the deception almost intrinsically right away, because it does not line up with what her father has spoken over her time and time again.

Here is an example of something I tell Sophie just about every night before she goes to bed:

You are so SWEET and so SMART.

You are so SENSITIVE and so STRONG.

You are my swee swee Sophie,

And I I LOVE YOU so much.

There is NO ONE like YOU,

And I think you are so BEAUTIFUL.

I started this when she about 6 months old, before she could even talk, or walk, and it has been interesting to see her blossom into a person that resembles these words. I have added some things to this as I learn new things about her, but the goal has always been to build her confidence in who she is, and not add pressure to live up to my standards for her.

Confidence Over Conforming

In the end, it is a having confidence in being who God made us to be that creates the best leaders, and not conforming to a standard of who we think others want us to be. I know I have missed a ton of things, and down the road will learn what I could have done better to prepare my daughter for school, and even independence. Right now I trusting in a God who loves her more than I do, and the hope that installing confidence in who she is will help her prevail the pressure to conform to the false voices in her life.

The Grace Police

Grace Police Pic

When does grace get out of balance?

While writing, Grace Is Not A Dirty Word, I wondered what the grace police might have to say about my mercy-filled musings. I wrote this post you are about to read before even releasing my new eBook. I knew that these hall monitors of faith would come, pocket protectors and all, to make sure that the rest of us don’t take part in grace gone wild.

This was not hard for me to figure out.

I was one of them after all.

The Bad Word Police

My daughter, Sophie, is somewhat of the bad word police. She makes sure no one ever says a bad word. The only problem is that what she calls, “bad words” aren’t actually bad words.

This started when she was in pre-k at a Christian early learning center. Here she was taught how to behave in a Christian school setting, and she quickly began to monitor everyone’s behavior and words at home as well.

Don’t be Weird

Her favorite target is the word “weird.” She must have been told at school to not call other people weird, because she would not let us use that word for anything. “Don’t say that word, daddy. That’s a bad word. Just say “different.””

No matter how many times we tried to explain to her that it is ok to say weird as long as you are not calling someone else weird, she just didn’t get it. So we stopped saying weird among many other not bad “bad” words. We talked around those words, because we didn’t want our local bad word police officer to stop us mid conversation and correct us.

Where’s Your Dictionary?

There was a time when I was the same way about grace. I felt that it was my job to have a dictionary on hand anytime someone talked about grace to make sure that they were using the word correctly, and didn’t mistakenly promote “greazy grace“.

In many ways, grace had become a dirty word to me. Looking back, I realize that even the translation of the Bible I read during that time of my life omitted many uses of the word grace in place of other phrases.

I was being intimidated by the grace police.

Using Dirty Words

At the end of Sophie’s first year in pre-k I made sure to let her teacher know how good of a job she had done instilling the value of not using bad words. She didn’t learn her nazi-like enforcement of proper word usage from us, so it must have been from the disciplined environment at her pre-k program. I even told her about how Sophie refused to allow us to use the word “weird,” and asked her if there was some problem with kids calling each other weird in her class.

“That’s so funny!” she said. “I never taught her to do that. In fact, one day I was on the other side of the room when Sophie heard me say, ‘weird.’ She stopped playing with her toy, and shouted across the room, ‘You shouldn’t use that word! It’s not very nice!’”

Controversial Grace

The grace police can be the same way. They love talking about the basics of Christianity over and over again, but not grace. If you mention grace too often, then you have become out of balance, and are telling people its ok to sin. Like my daughter, they make something that isn’t a bad word into a dirty word.

Christians talking about grace should be about as newsworthy as the sun rising, and as controversial as the sun setting. It’s foundational to our faith.

No matter how many times you try to explain what you mean by grace, the morality police cannot see past their own assumptions. That is why I have decided to just move on, and stop trying to defend grace, and just start offering it, talking about it, and enjoying it freely.

You see its not what the grace police are saying about grace that is wrong (grace is not a license to sin, grace is not an excuse to compromise, etc.), its their assumption that this is what everyone other then them means by grace when they talk about the subject.

It’s not out of balance to talk a lot about grace. Its out of balance to be out of balance. Being passionate about grace or feeling called to bring clarity to the subject doesn’t mean that you devalue everything else. It just means that you may have to deal with a few people yelling across the room, “You shouldn’t use that word! It’s not very nice!”