Sunday at the Casa

So yesterday morning we were getting ready for church and I got John ready first and sent him off to play while my wife and I got dressed. It was probably about 3 or four minutes later when he came back into our bedroom with brown powder on his face, hands, and shirt.

“What did you get into?” I asked, and told him to show his mother his shirt. “Show momma and daddy what you did.”

We followed him into the kitchen to see that he’d gotten my ice cream maker from the cupboard, and the cocoa powder from the pantry and proceeded to make himself some ice cream.

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After we de-powdered him, we finished up and headed off to church. Kids are funny. After we got home John and David played ninja for an hour or so and practiced throwing knives and stars at each other.

Sundays are awesome….

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Into The Sunrise

Every morning, I drive into the sunrise.

I check out my truck and pack up my laptop, then I load everything up for the hour-long drive into the Yuma outback to the test site. I plug my aux cable into my phone and into the port on the dashboard.

I select my Alaska playlist for the drive (it’s a collection of 117 songs I compiled for my TDY assignment early this year, and consists mainly of “current” praise and worship songs that stir something in me, or just plain sound good), and head out.

The sun is bright and glaring on my dirty windshield, but I’m driving slowly enough that if I came across a deer or horse in my travels, it would probably just glare at me and move on. Nothing stays clean out here.

I ride the YPG redline at 45 mph, and just before CSFR, two deer do cross my path, and they are practically flying, hooves dancing over the pavement and into the creosote bushes.

The road down range is long and straight, and as I head east I have plenty of time to think, and listen to music, and sing and pray and wonder why I’m not more grateful to be alive, and free, and employed.

I’m thinking about the kids today, and it occurs to me that it is possible to be crushed by love for something. They’re sleeping as I drive, and I realize there is no length to which I would not go for them. I would die for them. I would kill for them.

I think then about John 3:16, and wonder what that decision would have been like. Here, take my son. That’s how much I love you.

I can’t imagine that.

The sun is a kaleidoscope on my windshield, and I wonder about showing that example to my kids. How do I speak to them of spotless lambs and ultimate sacrifices when I don’t even want to give up a parking spot?

The music is all around me, and I begin to note lyrics:

empty handed but alive in your hands

wake up, child, it’s your turn to shine, you were born,for such a time as this

if I had no voice, if I had no tongue, I would dance for you like the rising sun

My tires hit the dirt and I slow down. I think about my wife and for the second time in less than thirty minutes I am crushed by love, and filled with amazement and wonder that this woman loves a hairy and broken beast like me.

And then I think about God, and am crushed by his love for me, too, but I’m also lifted up by it. My flaws are many, my faith and discipleship often weak. Over all that spread the strong hands of the carpenter, and his love is a vast blanket that covers them all.

As I turn onto KLM and draw nearer to the test site, Cuan Grande Es Dios comes on, and I almost have to pull over. I wonder if it’s like this for everyone?

I pull through the gate just as the song segues into a line from the chorus of How Great Thou Art. I think what a great arrangement it is, and then Monday yanks open the door of my truck and it’s time to work.

The Thing About Loss

The thing about loss that’s tough for the people who remain is that they are left with little more than fading pictures clutched in desperate hands. Scents on a pillow. That last bit of conditioner in the bottle you don’t want to empty. We grip those memories with desperate fingers–so much so that it’s easy to get lost in the long ago “better times,” and drown yourself in a sea of sorrow.

You can’t really hold on that well, though, because pictures are made of paper, not the flesh we desperately long to hold. Their smell leaves. We remember what was, and don’t want to think about what is, which is getting on with things, which we also must do, even in the worst circumstances. Yet Ecclesiastes also assures us there is a time to mourn, so we need to do that, too.

This present loss of my niece is a little more remote for me, because we had not remained close over the years. Yet I remember times when we were–long ago summer evenings spinning out in gossamer threads of books, movies, laying in the living room watching TV, and time spent with my parents. I remember how much they loved her. she was really more like the little sister I never had. I think of what it felt like to be young and I remember that with wistfulness while I mourn.

When I remember you, I will remember what it felt like to be young, and strong, with little knowledge of the world to come. I will think of vacations, long days with many books, trips to Disneyland, rivers, and backyard pools.

I learned something really important from all this: love your family while you have them. You won’t always. Only God knows when the day and the hour will come. Forgive trespasses, and shortcomings. None of that shit matters in the end.

My niece would have been 45 today. I really wish she was here, even if we weren’t gonna celebrate together. She was a really important part of my childhood, and even though she had her moments (don’t we all, though), she will be missed terribly.