Child

“He is known in the wild as Strider. His true name you must discover for yourself.”

That line is from a scene toward the end of The Battle of Five Armies, the third film in the somewhat bloated Hobbit series. I didn’t expect any great or profound truths to come to me while watching a fantasy movie–I was just simply trying to keep to my night shift sleep pattern while on sick watch over the family.

But. It was exactly 0105 when that elf-to-elf line was uttered, and then something occurred to me.

We don’t learn our true names until we pass from this world and stand before the throne of Christ. I think on that day, he will welcome us, and whisper our true names into our ears and hearts.

Clearly, that is no accident.

We go through our lives with some inkling of who we are. We know our given names, of course. Typically, they’re carefully considered by our parents. My first name, for instance, is after a friend of my father’s. It’s Thomas, as was his, but people called him Tommy. That’s what everyone called me as well, until I was old enough to decide I wanted to be called something else–which I thought sounded more mature (I don’t really care anymore, and nobody calls me Tommy anyway, except my siblings and a few ancient friends online).

But that isn’t my true name. It’s who I am here, not who I am in eternity.

Scripture assures me that I will be one day welcomed into Heaven, provided my name is written in the Lamb’s book of life. I don’t think that name will be Thomas Eugene Wilkins. I have no idea what it is, and in my opinion that doesn’t really matter anyway.

One thing I do know–one thing that matters to me a great deal–is WHO I am to God. Who I have been since that day in March back in 2000.

Until I get to Heaven–until angels carry me to Abraham’s bosom, that is the name I quietly speak to myself in my heart when I want to know who I am to God.

Child.

Hallelujah.

Listen to the words of this amazing song by Todd Agnew–it says close to what I’m trying to, but in a better way than I ever could.

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Glenn Beck Was Right

I read an article today that really struck me in the heart. It was from Glenn Beck, which kind of surprised me, and the title was “Loving the Right Woman Makes You a Better Man.” I could not agree more, and in the article, Beck says something else that I believe is also true for my own situation with my wife. Words to the effect of committing to his wife and committing to God were the two best decisions he ever made. He also mentioned that if he hadn’t done the former, he doesn’t know if the latter would have happened.

Beck has been married for 15 years, and I have only been married for a little less than 6, but I will say the same thing right now.

Committing to Jen is the best and smartest decision I ever made. Had I not done that, I do not believe I would be in the same place “spiritually” I am today. Had I not stood on that altar and made that vow to her and to God—before God—I would not be the man I am today, both literally and figuratively.

I believe now as then that God called me to this place, and this life. I didn’t expect it and I sure as heck wasn’t looking for it.

It happened because of my wife’s God-given Whitson boldness. I needed that, and if she hadn’t been the person she was, well. We would have screeched to a halt because I had made a vow to myself I fully intended to keep.

I wasn’t going to look anymore. I wasn’t going to try anymore. Not after the last time.

Am I good man, though? A good husband and father? I don’t know, but I sure want to be. If I am, it’s because of the love this bold and beautiful woman showed me. Take last Valentine’s Day, for instance. I had emergency gall bladder surgery, and she spent two days sleeping sitting up in a chair next to my hospital bed.

When this current thing with the Bell’s Palsy happened, I said something to her like when she said “in sickness and in health, she sure got more than she bargained for.”

She told me that was what she signed up for. For me. Sick, healthy. Me.

It’s being with her that made me realize just a little how God probably sees me. She just loves me, and never mind that I don’t come in the traditional packaging for a Ward Cleaver type of husband. She doesn’t see any of that stuff.

She sees me.

For who I am, not who I should be, or maybe would like to be. That’s enough for her. It makes me want to do better. Be better. She makes me see people differently, and think differently.

She prays for me constantly, as I do for her.

Sometimes we sit on the couch and we watch TV with the kids, sometimes by ourselves. I like to hold her hand, and look over at her every once in a while.

A few weeks back, I took a picture of her in her dad’s music room practicing for The Rock Christmas Eve service. She was going to be singing “Silent Night” solo, and she wanted to get it down. The picture isn’t a glamor shot–it’s just my wife after a regular day, beautiful as ever. It’s all her and I love it. Her hair is pulled back and laying across her shoulder. She has her head down and she’s looking at a piece of music or a chord sheet or something and she’s listening to the music playing on her dad’s computer, which you can see in the background. She’s just sung the words

Son of God, love’s pure light

And I have tears in my eyes as I take the picture. Because she loves God, and she loves me, in that order. I’m not embarrassed to say it, or feel it. I love her and I love God all the more because of her. She is the right woman, the only one for me. The woman in that picture changed my life, no doubt in my mind.

j

We’ve made a life, and a home.

We get to serve together most Sundays.

We get to pray together.

We get to laugh together (a LOT).

We get to raise our kids together.

We get to lift each other up.

I think Glenn Beck was right.

Loving the right woman makes you a better man.

Early Early Early

It was kind of a weird morning. I woke up about two because my wife woke up. I got up to use the restroom, and then I went back to sleep. I’m not sure if she did or not. Then I woke up a couple hours later to get ready for work, and the first thing I thought of were the two songs linked below.

A couple of years ago, Jorge, Laurie, and my wife did an almost a capella version of the first song, and it was beautiful. That was the melody I heard when I opened my eye (the other one was already open).

The next is an arrangement my hugely talented father-in-law came up with of an old(er) church song (When We Walk With the Lord). I just had the chorus playing in my immense melon over and over again. I don’t know, maybe I just got some of that direction people are always asking for.

We Are The Church

It isn’t our religious denominations or institutions that will change the world, even though many do great work and help a lot of people.

Those things aren’t the church.

It isn’t our church buildings that will change the world, either, even though many of them are grand and beautiful and house a lot of good people, not to mention good works.

Those things are churches, but they aren’t the church.

The church is made up of those people who actually know Jesus in their hearts, and follow him even though the cost is, or can be, very high.

The church is made up of people like us, and people like them. Doing the work The Lord arranged in advance for us to do.

For better or worse, we are the church.

Lets act like it.

Thoughts From The Park

I’m sitting here at the park and watching the boys play. They’re playing together for once, and they aren’t fighting. It’s been a pretty good day so far.

I’m thinking that they’re growing up so fast, it’s like a soft rope, slipping through my fingers. I wonder what kind of example I’ve been as a man? As a father? What kind of example will I continue to be?

I think of the example of my own father, who was close to the age I was when I got married and started my family. It wasn’t necessarily bad, I just think that people of his generation were different than they are now. And then he died when I was still young, just 16.

I think I learned more about manhood from my brothers-in-law than I did from my father. Mainly because I spent so much more time with them. Especially my sister Lee Ann’s husband, Phil.

I don’t think I ever thanked him, or my sisters, for being there for me when I was young. They saved my life in so many ways. They taught me how to treat women, and how to be emotionally available. Phil gave me most of my sense of humor. He also taught me how to relate to people in a way that puts them at ease, using the aforementioned sense of humor, mostly. And he taught me how to be a husband.

I’m hoping to give that to my boys. To show them how women should be treated. To be good and godly men, and husbands.

I think I do that by loving their mother, and letting them see. If that embarrasses them sometimes, I can live with that.

They also need to see me love God, and show them what he can do in a life–the changes that can bring. I learned that part from several Godly men and fathers who came into my life every now and then, always right when I needed them.

James Hogan.

Tim Wakefield.

Matt Botkin.

Merrill Roach.

Ray Traynor.

Ken Whitson.

John Whitson.

Zeb Ohland.

Paul Mondragon.

They made me realize how important it is to set an example.

It isn’t easy, and I probably should not expect it to be. Nothing good is.

So I will continue to love their mother, who is truly my better half, and the love of my life.

I will let God be my father, and example. I will love Him through the hard, and the ugly.

I will let him love me.

Brennan Manning said something once, to the effect that when our time comes, Jesus will ask us one question: did you believe that I loved you?

That may be the most important thing I can teach my kids.

God loves them. And when they believe that in their hearts, their lives will change forever.

Mine did.

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