tuesday was the first day of preschool for our youngest and perhaps most rascally child. it was a long-awaited day, as he has long been saying that he gets to go to school when he turns three. well, he turned three in july, and was very disappointed that he didn't go right to school. then, last week, when his brothers started school, he couldn't understand why he didn't get to go, too. finally, the day arrived, and he was ecstatic.
he loved it. he came home able to say all of his teachers names (although Miss Bev became Miss Beb, a change i'm not sure she endorses). he was energetic in talking about all the things he did and how much he loved it. he returns to school for his second day today, and looks to continue his journey toward being too ridiculously cute for his own good.
i was nominated by at least three of you, if not more. i was trying to ignore them. but i wanted to put an end to it, so here it is.
i had ice cold water dumped on me.
the kids loved it, it was all in good fun, and i am amazed at how much money this has raised for research into ALS (lou gehrig's disease).
but i have to say this.
please don't wait until some crazy trend goes viral on social media to get off the couch and so something radical and passionate for others. it isn't about attracting attention to ourselves or giving out of some kind of peer pressure. we really ought to be known as people who are giving all that we have and all that we are to one another all the time. whatever your "cause" is - whatever it is that God has given you gifts for to meet some of the world's greatest needs - then throw yourself fully and completely into that arena, and serve with everything you've got. let's not just dump water or give a token to charity. let's live lives of selfless love.
last week i wrote a little bit about keys. i had to share that dramatic story of storms, skunks, and shredded screens. but, in the end, the story was really about a lost key.
i've got another great lost key story. well, this one wasn't so much "lost" as it was "locked inside my car in the middle of the 'hood in downtown pittsburgh.' i knew where the key was. right on the seat. i also knew where the lock was. in the down position. it wouldn't have been that big of a deal, except that we were dressed to the nines, on a night in which i had secret plans to ask shannon to marry me. on the one night of my life when i wanted to be super-suave, i turned out to be supremely stupid.
she still said yes.
and i still got to drive my 1985 ford tempo home, after the parking lot guy broke into it for me in about 1.37 seconds, not really boosting my confidence about the security of any locked items in my vehicle.
but sometimes keys can cause so much stress. i have lost my keys more than a couple of times, and sometimes i only think i lose them. please assure me that i'm not the only one who has had a panic attack thinking that i lost my keys, only to find them either in my pocket or right where i left them. i am having an aneurysm about losing my keys when the truth is, i've had the keys all along.
that's what i preached about yesterday. Jesus has already given us the keys. we don't have to earn them or go to church enough for them. we don't have to do 15 years of intense bible study or join a monastery. we don't have to do anything, really. when we, like simon, son of john (matthew 16) have the courage to boldly proclaim that Jesus is exactly who he says he is (the One our souls have been longing for, and the only One who can save us from ourselves and the broken mess we've made of this world), then we already have been given the keys to the kingdom. we don't need to search desperately. we don't need to call some spiritual 911 and plead frantically. we don't need to make a discovery. the keys are right there. you've had them all along.
the keys to what, exactly? the kingdom of God. the way of life in which love wins. the kingdom is here and there and everywhere that love is the guiding law. wherever mercy replaces vengeance, that is the kingdom. wherever hope sends despair scurrying away, that is the kingdom. wherever light dispels the darkness, that is the kingdom. wherever redemption grows its way through the broken places, that is the kingdom. you might say that kingdom sounds far-fetched. and you'd be right. it is downright crazy. in fact, it is completely upside down and backwards from most everything you've been taught. and it is very real. and not only that, but you've been given the keys to it. all you have to do is start living like you believe it. start acting like someone who actually believes that Jesus is who he says he is. not just the stuff that's easy or that comes natural to you. but the whole loving your enemies part. and visiting the prisoners. and taking up your cross. and following him. when you start to live like it is real, you will make the most crazy discovery of all: it is real, and you've had the keys all along. you're not locked out, looking in, like me in my 1985 ford tempo, all dressed up with no way to get anywhere. you don't need to rip any screens or break any doors. you have had the keys all along.
as cliche as it may be, i have to begin this post by saying
where in the heck did summer go?
just a couple of days ago, they stepped off the bus for the last day of school. i blinked a few times, slept in once, and now i am taking pictures of them getting on the bus again. congress needs to pass some legislation to slow july and august down. this has to stop.
however i feel about the fluidity of time (i am thinking of you, Dad and Uncle Jim), the cold, hard truth is that i drove away from that bus stop with an empty minivan, now the parent of a 2nd grader, a 4th grader, and (next week) a preschooler.
this really has to stop.
still, as much as the passage of time confounds and dizzies me, i love the beginning of a new school year: the smell of unsharpened pencils and the curves of a clean desk. there is the promise of wonder and exploration and learning. this is the first step of a new adventure; an educational road trip with sojourners and trail guides and breathtaking views, punctuating the step-by-step rhythm that isn't so much about getting somewhere in particular as it is about discovering the joy in the journey. so, in the midst of projects and vinyl bus seats and math sheets and memorization, my prayer for my children is for adventure and wonder; for discovery and a daring to ask the questions that will open up new vistas. it's going to be a great year!
and maybe, by next year, we will have figured out how to extend summer just a bit.
here are just a few pics (of about 740 that we took) from our recent vacation up at eagle rock resort near hazleton, pa. there was a beautiful lake there where we spent most of our time, and i just thought i'd share with you a couple pics of our fun at the lake, memories which we'll be cherishing even more dearly as school begins this week!