Why We Need Words and Actions

11136617_10206457512023468_6356891879295745781_nSo as we were driving to church one day, just Hudson and me, I said to him. “Hudson, Daddy loves you”. And Hudson had this funny little response, “He said Daaadddy (in that long drawn out way) you always say that!” And I said, “I know that buddy, I just don’t ever want you to forget that or doubt that.”

And he said, “Don’t worry Daddy, I know you love me because you wrestle with me, read with me, play Lego with me, we sit together and watch TV, you ride my bike with me, and play with me. I know you love me because we do all that together all the time”.

And that just made my day.

But I wanted to share it for a specific reason, what Hudson’s response reminded me of.  And it’s this: Actions confirm words.

And here’s what that means for me. It is important to say I love you, but it is so much more important to say it and show it.

For Hudson, he doesn’t doubt that he is loved, because he hears it and sees it. The consistency of Krista and I saying it and trying to show it as best we can, gives him security and confidence that he is loved.

And this is my larger point in writing this today. Are there people that you need to show love to today? Are there actions that you need to take to confirm what’s in your heart?

Hudson’s response actually made me think about those closest to me. Would Krista be able to rhyme off a list like that right away? What about Asher, or my neighbors, or my mom or whomever?

My point is: are there people that we love, that we need to confirm it with our actions? Because love isn’t love unless it’s acting, moving, and being put into practice. So today put love into practice and confirm at least for someone, that they are loved.

“Hudson why are my arms so long?”

Today I want to talk a little bit about a picture my son Hudson drew. Because it’s really meaningful to me, but also revealing of something to me too. Here it is:

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He drew this during his quiet time, came and gave it to me, and said, “Daddy that’s a picture of you and me hugging.” Melt your heart type of stuff as a dad.

But it got me thinking – when did we stop doing this?

When did we grow out of doing this?

We so often take the closest relationships to us for granted, rather than cherishing them. That’s what Hudson was doing. He was trying to show me that our relationship matters to him. He was trying to show me that he loves me. He was trying to show me that he thinks about me and appreciates  me. When did we stop doing that for others?

So often our tendency is to neglect or take for granted those closest to us. We don’t send thank you notes to our spouses, but we do to our employees. We don’t send flowers to our parents, but we do to our friends or new potential clients. What I’m saying is that somewhere along the way we maybe have lost something that kids seem to intrinsically know. That relationships are to be appreciated. Appreciated through gifts, cards, thoughts, actions, flowers, and of course, drawings with long arms and hockey stick feet.

So my challenge for all of us is this: to learn from the kids around you and appreciate your closest relationships – and here is the key – make sure they know it. Do something special today for them and appreciate them.

Because sometimes a little thing, like a drawing during quiet time, can just make your day.

Why 4 Year Old’s Are the Best Theologians

I think I might be raising a theologian, or maybe better put Hudson is teaching me to be a better theologian. Hudson shared this with me about his grandpa who died, but whom he desperately wants to see.

“Daddy you know Grandpa is coming back because he loved God, just like Jesus who loved God died and came back”.

Yep that about covers it, that’s Easter, resurrection, and good theology all wrapped up in one simple sentence. Sometimes the young are the smartest.

“God helps me get to the North Pole” : Theology from a 4 year Old

IMG_4512Today I’d like to share the work of my 4 year old.

Now I’m not sharing his work because he is an amazing artist, or because I want to sell his work or anything (although you’re welcome to buy it).

I share it because of something he had written at the bottom of the page.

God helps, “Get to the North Pole”

Now at first glance that is a very silly thing to say. It seems just like the type of thing a 4 year old would say. Except that this is actually a very deep theological statement, it’s just said in “Hudsonese”.

The past few weeks Hudson keeps talking about his grandpa, my dad, who died when he was just a few months old. He keeps talking about how he misses grandpa and wants to see him. So he asked where grandpa is, and I told him “Grandpa is in heaven”.

And because he’s 4 he had lots of follow up questions, “Is heaven far? Can we drive there and see Grandpa? Is it farther than Caleb’s house? Why can’t we see grandpa?”

And lastly, “How do we get there?”

We talked about this and the point he got was that God, because his love is so strong, can take us to heaven. And that heaven is far away, like the North Pole.

So when Hudson says God can help us get to the North Pole, it’s a comment on the power of God. That God is able to get us places we couldn’t get on our own. That the love of God is strong enough to draw us to heaven, and to bring heaven here. That God’s loving power is enough to do amazing things: like get us to heaven, bring reconciliation, cause resurrection, bring healing, bring hope, bring transformation, and of course, get us to the North Pole. 

While you might not see the phrase, “God helps me get to the North Pole” in any theology textbooks, it’s still a true statement. And may that statement give you hope today, just like it gives Hudson hope. That God’s love, power, and strength can change lives – and apparently get you to the North Pole.

Delivering Movies and Doing It Right

10562975_10154540150185643_1634620271199633372_nMy kids aren’t perfect…by any means. Just come spend a day with us, and you’ll see. Actually, just come spend an hour and you’ll probably see that. We’re not perfect parents by any means. We love our kids, and do our best – but sometimes it doesn’t seem to work. Asher and Hudson fight, Asher refuses to eat and screams, Hudson refuses to share and throws his toys, or like any parents the kids have a meltdown in a grocery store.

I have a theory that if our kids are going to meltdown and lose it…there is always someone else around to see it.

But all that aside, sometimes my boys get it right. And when they do it absolutely makes all the timeouts, all the talks, all the time spent with them just so worth it.

The other day our neighbor was sick, like really sick with a fever so he couldn’t play with Hudson. So we went back home, and Hudson disappeared for 30-45 minutes. He was quiet up in his room…too quiet. This is normally when we’d go and and discover that he painted his room, or he painted his brother or something.

But instead, what we discovered was he was making cards, getting his favorite toys together, and his favorite movies into a bag. And he came and said that all of this was for his neighbor friend. I asked him why he did this and he said, “Because Daddy, when people are sick we help them. That’s what you said right? Did I do it right daddy?”

And of course your heart breaks a little bit with happiness, and you say “Of course you did it right – let’s go give it to him”

So I write all this to say one thing. No ones perfect, and there are moments when we fail and screw up as parents. But there are also beautiful moments where they grow, get it, and so surprise you that it just makes it all worth it.

My Son the “Soccer Star”

I want to share something that’s kind-of-personal. I don’t think my son Hudson will ever be a soccer star like I hope. I mean maybe a miracle might happen, but it just doesn’t seem to be in Hudson. And here is why: he’s too compassionate.

Hudson doesn’t have that competitive edge that leads to real greatness in sport. Hudson is more likely to be found on the soccer field giving the ball to the opposing team (“here you have it – let’s share”), singing songs of encouragement while running around the players (“Go blue lighting!”), or upset that the team isn’t sharing back with the ball (“But daddy sharing is good!”).

So all of this leads me to believe that a future of soccer stardom may not be in his future.

But is this a bad thing? He might not have competiveness, but he has compassion. He might not have intensity, but he has generosity. He might not have that sports edge, but he loves to encourage.

All I mean by all of this is that kids are different, and each are shaped in a unique way. The point is to find ways for their uniqueness and special gifts to shine forth. For some that’s in competitive sports, and intense playing. For Hudson it’s not so much, at least right now.

But what Hudson is good at is coaching. Because that’s what he is doing right now.  He is teaching our second child Asher to play soccer. He is encouraging him, sharing with him, and playing great with him.

So he might not be a soccer star, but he might be a star coach. The point is we all have unique gifts; let’s not lament what’s not there, but encourage what is.

And on the plus side Asher has a competitive streak. He just tackled Hudson and took the ball, so who knows we still might have a soccer star in the family 🙂

 

The Joy of a Ziggle

What is a ziggle you may ask? Only the most amazing toy ever. Hudson has one of these at daycare, and just loves it. So I found it online, got it shipped, and Hudson had one of the best days of his life. Here is a video of him on it:

 

He loves the speed, he loves “ziggling”, and scootering around. He loves spinning faster and faster. He just has such a sense of joy with it.

Here is what struck me with Hudson. Do I get that amount of joy out of anything? I mean Hudson gets pure joy out of the ziggle? Is there anything that gives me that much joy in life?

I don’t ask that question in a downer way or depressing way. I would say I’m a pretty happy, and optimistic person. I ask that question out of a “depth or capacity” concern.

What I mean by that is this: have I through the process of living lost some of my ability to deeply feel joy?

Has my ability to fully experience joy been lessened by living life? Have I lost some capacity for joy, life, and love? Because Jesus is clear – he has come to give life abundant, full life, and joyous life (John 10:10). But have I lost some of that?

And if I’m honest, in some ways the answer to those questions are…yes. In some ways I don’t seem to enter into life as fully as Hudson.  I’m not as prepared as he is to shout with joy.  I’m not maybe as ready to experience joy as deep as he does. And for me this isn’t a guilty thing. This is just a real thing that I hope to change.

And here is how I’m going to change it in three steps.

  1. I’m going to pray and ask God for more joy. I don’t think I’ve ever really done this. But it seems like a good place to start. If you read the Psalms (like 51:8, 12) the writers are often asking for joy. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, so it’s something that we can be given more of.  Just like we can pray and ask for more patience and self-control. So why not ask for more joy? Seems like a good thing to get to me!
  2. I’m going to spend more time with my boys. I think if you find a source of joy, stick with it. And Jesus says that the Kingdom of God belongs to the childlike. So I’m going to learn from them how to enter the moment.
  3. Last but not least, I’m going to try to have more margin in my life. I’ve noticed the busier I am, the less joyful I feel. So I’m going to try to change this and really enter into the moment.

So those are some of the things I’ve been learning from Hudson, and I think it’s worth thinking about. Oh and there is one more step to finding joy…seeing if anyone makes an adult sized ziggle 🙂

Daddy You’re My Son

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Earlier this week Hudson woke me up from bed because we all slept in (Praise God!). And he said something a bit strange…”Wake up daddy, you’re my son. I love you. Wake up daddy”. And I said to him, “Hey buddy I’m your daddy, you’re my son. I’m not your son.”

And then he explained what he meant to me. Hudson went on to explain how I am his son, because he loves me. Hudson has somehow so associated the word love, and son – that they have become almost interchangeable for him.

And for me this is an amazing thing!

What it means is that I must use the words love and son in such close connection so often that Hudson hasn’t separated them. That for him they are almost synonyms. He believes that to be a son is to be loved, and that when you love someone they are your son.

And it just made me think – what if all our kids new this? I mean, what if they all knew deep down that to be a son or a daughter is to be loved? That being loved is foundational to their identity as a son or daughter? That because they are a son or a daughter they are loved beyond anything else and that – that love is certain and forever? What if the words and actions of our lives so tie together the words sons, daughters, and love that they can’t be separated? I think this is a beautiful goal and it is also a godly goal.

Because if we learn anything from the Gospels we should learn that in God’s Kingdom to be a child of God and to be loved unconditionally are intimately tied together. That being a son or daughter of God is so foundationally tied to being loved completely that they can’t be separated. 1st John 3:1 says this, “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!” Being a child of God is to be loved by God, and being loved by God is to be included and welcomed into his family. I just think that’s beautiful. And I think anytime we can model that love and inclusion in our own families is important too.

So obviously all of that is to say that I didn’t correct Hudson. So if he runs up to you and says you are his son, it just means he loves you deeply like a dad does a son. And that’s not a bad thing.

Daddy, Does Jesus Drive a Car?

10155716_10154023179635643_2268177282718299247_nThe other day Hudson and I were playing race cars. It was going great, and then he stopped and looked at me and asked: “I want Jesus to come over and play”. Because Hudson has a relationship with Jesus, he wants to play and connect with Jesus. This is a good thing.

But Hudson wasn’t quite done his questions. He was trying to figure out why Jesus hasn’t come over to play with him. So then he asked the next obvious question, “Daddy does Jesus have a car to drive or not?”

At first glance this question seems almost silly. We chuckle, and we grin. I sure did as my son asked me that question. Hudson wanted to know if Jesus lacked transportation and if that’s stopping him from coming over.

And so we chuckle a bit because the question seems so silly doesn’t it…because Jesus doesn’t need a car to visit us. It seems funny to think of Jesus needing a car, except that is exactly what the incarnation teaches us. That Jesus is human and experienced our needs as we do.

The point is, we are so accustomed to thinking of Jesus as the divine Son of God, that we forget or dimish his humanity. But if we forget Jesus’ humanity – Jesus quickly becomes distant, unapproachable, and irrelevant to our lives. So Hudson isn’t too far off in his question. He is trying to relate Jesus to his world, where people drive cars, play race cars, and watch TV. Hudson is just reminding us of Jesus’ humanity, which is something we need to be reminded of.

We do not simply follow a God who pretended to be like us, but one who became one of us. He became one of us, so we could become like him. This is just a good reminder that Jesus is both divine and human. We cannot forget either fact. To miss out on either side, is to miss out on who Jesus is. So I’m not sure how Jesus would get around today, but what I am sure of is that he would want to come over and play race cars with Hudson. So that’s what I told him, and then we made “vroom vroom” sounds for the rest of the afternoon.

Daddy I want to See Jesus

1546346_10153774735840643_1140271855_nEarlier last week as I was getting Hudson dressed we were having a conversation. And I told him that his mommy and me love him and Asher more than anyone else in the world. Hudson then said that he knows that and loves us too – and that “lots of people love him”. He then started counting off the people who love him, “Grandma, Nana, Papa, Cousin Caleb” and on and on. He also said that Jesus loves him. And I said, “yes of course Jesus loves you!”

And then he said something that is both profound and true, “But daddy I wish Jesus wasn’t invisible. I want to see Jesus”.

And I thought to myself how true. People need to not only hear about Jesus, but they need to see him. They need to see him through our actions, our words, and our deeds. My prayer is that as Hudson grows up, he will come to know Jesus through how I love him, how Jesus changes me, and through his own personal encounters with Jesus.

But the first step for so many people – before they encounter the Risen Christ themselves is to “see him”. And I think this is where we, as his followers, need to be intentional. Through our actions, our words, our deeds and our creative acts of love people can come into contact with Jesus through us. They can see him through us. This is both our privilege and our calling. We can be the hands and feet of Jesus. We can bring Jesus to people in tangible ways. We can not only represent him, but reflect him to the people around us.

And so I believe and pray that as I follow Jesus, that Hudson will grow up learning to not only see Jesus but encounter him himself. But I also know I have a huge role to play in this. I can be a hindrance or a help to his seeing and encountering Jesus.

So the question I’d like to leave you with is this: is your life helping people to “see” Jesus?

And maybe a better question: how can you live your life in such a way that people “see” Jesus more clearly through you?

Because Hudson is right – people want to see Jesus.