I sat with the family around the dinner table tonight. In observance of Advent as a family we lit the first candle representing hope.
Hope… in the midst of losing Nicole’s grandmother last night at 6:42pm.
Hope… in the midst of an email from a friend whose wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Hope… in the midst of a flood of text messages letting me know that a close friend with a heart condition received 4 shocks from his pacemaker and is being rushed to the ER.
He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.
He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.
My two adopted daughters sat on my lap most the afternoon either drawing pictures, or typing on my computer, or playing games on my phone. I pretended to be busy on my computer, but I was really just watching them. It must have been 3 hours that they were in and out of my office just wanting to sit with me and be together. I can’t come up with words to describe how it made me feel. There was a sense of love for these girls that I don’t always feel, but the intensity of it was overpowering.
After dinner I watched a movie with my 3 oldest. Half way through the movie I went up to tell the 3 younger kids goodnight. Like every night I prayed with each of them. Tonight as I prayed with the three younger I was holding their hands and I felt the smallness of it in my hand. I felt how delicate it was in my hand.
The girls kissed me on the cheek in their usual fashion which is to mush their lips against my face leaving a bit of their spit on my face that I have to wipe off afterwards. Also, each one refuses to kiss the same cheek as their sister so I have it on both sides of my face. Tonight I took their kisses and left them on my face without wiping. I prayed for them like I usually do… “God thank you for Nevaeh and Mya. Thank you for making them my daughters. Keep them safe and give them rest.”
God made them my daughters. I love these girls.
Then I went to say goodnight to Brock. He was reading a book about the Incredible Hulk, his favorite super hero. I bent down and took his hand and I prayed, “Dear God, thank you for my son Brock… Keep him safe tonight and give him rest. Thank you for making him my son.”
God made him my son. I love this kid.
I went down to finish the movie with the three older kids. I had to get after Jack quite a few times because he always has a problem just watching movies. In fact Nicole and I had to get after Jack a number of times the entire day. After the movie I sent the 3 older kids to bed. First I went to Jack and had a talk with him about how many times I had to say things to him and correct him today. I know I probably sound like a broken record to that kid, but there is this ache I get in my chest for him. Probably because he is most like me, in all my worst traits, of all the kids. Insecure, fearful, unsure of himself… But he is strong beyond what he knows. I want so badly for him to realize that. I prayed with him… “Thank you Lord for Jack. Thank you for making him my son. I love him so much. Help him to realize you do to…” A prayer for my son. A prayer for me.
God made him my son. I love this kid.
I went downstairs to pray with Grace. Grace my daughter basically has me wrapped around her finger, and has since the day she was born. She has always been so beautiful to me. As she gets older her personality and characteristics start to jump out at me. She is strong, independent, funny, and unwavering in what she knows to be right. She hugs me like I’m her favorite person in the world. I held her hand tonight, hugged her and prayed… “God thank you for Grace… I love her so much. Thank you for making her my daughter. Give her rest and a good nights sleep.”
God made her my daughter. I love this kid.
Finally, I prayed with Derek. My first born son and one of the coolest kids I know. I feel our relationship in the beginning stages of transitioning from father / son to father / friend… In my most stressed out moments when I am about to absolutely lose control, he is there to make me laugh. Knowing he is almost 13 scares me… Those 13 years went so fast and in another 13 he could be married with his own kids and a home and all the worries of the world strapped on this his shoulders, much like his father. I prayed, “Thank you Lord for Derek. I love him so much. Thank you for making him my son. Give him rest tonight Lord and keep him safe.”
God make him my son. I love this kid.
I walked upstairs with the weight of the world wearing me down. I went to the fridge for a glass of whiskey to help quiet the noise in my head. Nicole walked over and hugged me and we just stood there in our kitchen for a moment. I think about our 16 years of marriage, the 6 kids we have, the jobs, homes, cars, tragedies and triumphs that have come along the way. I think about her grandmother passing. Her grandmother had less then a year ago lost her husband after many years of marriage. I think about my friend Rob and his death at the young age of 17. I think about my friend rushed to the hospital tonight with heart issues. I think about the email we got earlier from the friend whose wife had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. All sorts of beauty and brokenness rushing into my head at the same time.
I’m so thankful for life. Even in it’s difficulties. I find myself despairing at the thought that I could lose this. At any moment, this could all be gone. I could lose a child. I could lose my wife. My kids and wife could lose me. I could lose my parents… my sisters, my friends…
I wish I was better at living. I wish I was better and just seeing every moment like this. Like a precious gift from the hand of our Maker. I wish I was better at living every moment like it was my last. I wish I could see every moment for the gift that it is.
I have trouble believing I should look forward to some afterlife that is better than this. What I want is my life… and my life lived to the fullest without my inadequacies, fears, worries, stresses, anxieties… I want to walk in the garden with my God, while my kids play around me, and my wife walks with me hand in hand… I want freedom from this body of death…
Do not break me Lord… I am the weakest of reeds.
Do not snuff me out Lord… I am the weakest of candles.
Somehow the death of Christ on the cross is a victory over all that is broken. God help me to cling to that.