The Boys

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Jack & Aidan

It’s hard to believe Aidan is already seven days old.  A week ago, I was holding him for the first time.  Today, I can’t imagine life without him.  I remember being amazed when Jack was born how quickly I fell in love with him.  I’m happy to say the same holds true the second time around.  I love those little boys with a love I never knew was possible.

In a couple of days, Jack will turn two. Until then, Laura and I get the joy of saying we have two boys under the age of two.  As a total aside, it’s pretty hilarious to see the looks of sympathy, pity and confusion we get from people when we say that!

Jack and Aidan both need their diapers changed constantly.  Neither one can feed themselves.  They don’t have a clue what’s in their best interest.  Crying is common.  Sleep is frequent for them but rare for us.

They are also incredibly joyful, trusting, loving and happy little people.  Jack can’t get enough of Aidan, constantly wants to know where he is and will go ballistic if you try putting him to bed before he can kiss Aidan goodnight.  Aidan is a little trooper who has already made a huge mark on our family.

They are totally helpless but totally trusting.  Inadequate but have everything provided for them.  Selfish but loved.  Sacred but safe.

And Jesus tells you and me we must see ourselves the same way to enter the kingdom of God, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.“(Mt. 18:3)  That runs deeply against our human nature.  It’s wired into us to grow up, be good at something and earn your place in life.  Jesus invites us into something different – the wonder of grace.

The gospel is the story of a perfect God becoming sin on the cross so that sinners could become perfected in God’s sight through faith in Jesus.  God doesn’t expect us to get our lives together, impress Him and earn His favor.  He’s totally certain we could never do that on our own.  He’s comfortable with our helplessness, our inadequacy, our fears and our selfishness.  He offers us life not because we’ve earned it but because He’s earned it on our behalf.

So many of us strive to act like we have it all together.  Maybe we’re trying to impress others and maybe we’re trying to impress God.  Either way, it’s exhausting. And unnecessary.

I don’t hate Jack and Aidan because they need Laura and I.  If anything, it makes me love them more.  I love being strong for them, teaching them, lifting them and protecting them.

But I also love knowing I have a Father in heaven who is strong when I am weak (2 Cor. 12:9), who fights for me (Ex. 14:14) and who will provide for me (Mt. 6:26).  Honestly, I don’t think I could be strong for my boys if God wasn’t strong for me.  That’s our privilege as followers of Christ – to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.“(Heb. 4:16)

It’s okay to come to God as a helpless child.  In fact, it’s the only way to ever find Him.

Keeping It Real

Last Friday, I wrote about the plans Laura and I had for the weekend – we were getting away for 24 hours to build into our marriage.  Honestly, I hope a lot of married couples were inspired to do the same whether you have kids or not.  But I would also guess there were some people who read that post and felt discouraged.  If you were in that second group, this post is for you!

Maybe your marriage is in trouble and you were depressed to realize you really wouldn’t want 24 uninterrupted hours with your spouse.  Maybe you were frustrated that your spouse never suggests something like this.  Maybe it was an unpleasant reminder that you aren’t married yet and the whole idea just seemed like a cruel fantasy.  Maybe you read it on your phone at the end of a long day while making dinner and listening to the kids fight in the other room.

It’s amazing how quickly comparison kills our joy.

Social media puts the comparison trap in front of us on a daily basis.  There’s always somebody doing something awesome in my newsfeed.  Someone’s always in the Caribbean.  Someone is always getting promoted, buying a house or going on the “BEST first date EVER:)!!!!”  We compare all of that to our boring, ordinary lives and feel miserable.  My friend is surfing in Costa Rica and I’m doing an expense report…wow, I hate my life!

The problem is we’re comparing our real lives with an idealized version of someone else’s.  I’m writing all of this today because our little getaway wasn’t as ideal as you might think.

  • Our night away started with a quick trip to Urgent Care.  Laura has asthma and pregnancy can exacerbate it significantly.  When I left for work on Friday morning, she sounded fine.  By 1.30 in the afternoon, she sounded like an 85 year old smoker who couldn’t breathe.  One breathing treatment, a new prescription and a few hours later we finally got to the hotel much later than planned.  Not exactly the fairy tale beginning you might have imagined.
  • For the record, God didn’t bless us with an unexpected upgrade to the Presidential Suite.  We were in what is probably the smallest room in the hotel.  No big deal but don’t fall into the trap of believing God only shows His love in unexpected blessings.
  • We couldn’t agree on a good place for dessert so we ended up the only customers in some cupcake shop splitting a gluten free cupcake (it was all they had left).  For the record, I believe it was gluten free because it was baked before the discovery of wheat!
  • On Saturday morning, a simple conversation about schedules turned into a fairly significant and at times heated disagreement about some issues that had been building up for awhile.

Before you get too depressed, let me say our disagreement morphed into one of the best conversations we’ve ever had about our marriage.  By the end of that conversation, we both felt more united and excited about our marriage.  So, the weekend was not a bust – we had a good time and were super grateful to get away.

Steven Furtick makes this point so well, “We struggle with insecurity because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”  Don’t fall into that trap – enjoy the life God has put in front of you today.

24 Hours Away

Laura and I love Jack so much that we’re going away for a day without him.

As strange as that might sound, it’s true.  Later today, my in-laws are coming into town to watch Jack so Laura and I can break away for a night by ourselves.  We’re not doing anything all that exotic – we’re just taking 24 hours to be together, to sleep in and to have dinner without anyone interrupting to announce they just peed.  May sound boring to you but we’re really excited!

I understand that not all parents have someone to watch their kids and I get that a night in a hotel isn’t financially possible for every couple.  So, my point is not that you have a bad marriage if you don’t do something exactly like this on a regular basis.

My real point is this: a healthy marriage is the greatest gift you can give to your kids.  As followers of Christ, our most significant responsibility to our kids is to raise them in a home rooted in the gospel and pointing them to Jesus.  Don’t miss the connection between those two thoughts: your kids will learn more about the gospel from your marriage than from your church!  If that’s true, then our kids need us to prioritize our marriages.

Taking time for yourselves isn’t a selfish luxury.  It’s a vital gift to your kids.

Christ Centered Routines For Kids

In yesterday’s sermon, I read a little excerpt from “The Jesus Storybook Bible.”  If you have kids of any age and haven’t picked up this book, I would highly recommend it.  If you’re interested, you can learn more and order a copy here.  I honestly think you and your kids will benefit from this resource.

Whether you order the book or not, here’s what really matters: start developing routines in your kid’s lives that point them to Jesus.  Pray with them, read the Bible to them, talk with them about Jesus, worship with them and teach them to see the world through the lens of the gospel.  Many parents wait too long until their kids are too old before they start working on these routines.  When Laura and I had Jack, we decided that if we were going to get the timing wrong we might as well do it on the early side.  So, we started reading Jack Bible stories and praying with him well before he had a clue what was going on.  At the time, he was way more interested in eating the pages than hearing the story!  Even today it’s not like he’s started writing his own psalms or anything like that.   But he definitely insists on a Bible story and prayer before he goes to sleep at night and I love it!  My prayer is that these simple routines will blossom into a life saturated in God’s Word and immersed in prayer.

If you have kids and aren’t creating these kinds of routines, not only are they missing out but you are as well!  Praying with my little boy is one of the best things about being a dad.  I’ve never once regretted making time to read Jack a Bible story or pray with him and I doubt you will either.

You don’t have to be a spiritual giant to pour into your kids.  You just need to prioritize their spiritual development and make time to pour into their little lives.  When you do, you’ll find it’s totally worth it!