hate//love

I was overwhelmed with emotion today.

Today I saw hate.

Today I saw love.

Today I shed tears over both.

I cried for fear that hate would take over the world.

I cried remembering that love has already conquered and won.

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gospeled // a car wash

Yeah I’m not sure it’s a real word either: gospeled. But I think it should be a verb. When Jesus came, he came proclaiming gospel, good news about the kingdom. I think when you tell people about the good news, you gospel them. But I also think that over time, we’ve limited the good news to a small part of the larger whole. Jesus came to preach the good news of the kingdom coming. In the coming kingdom, there is full restoration of creation. It’s not limited to your sin is washed away. There is a new creation, old gone, new comes. We can talk more about that in person if you want.

This past Sunday was Mother’s Day. After all that Kristen has been through in this last year, you’d think I would have made this the most memorable Mother’s Day ever. I’m really bad at that kind of thing though. Basically Kristen got to just get whatever she wanted…within reason. Fortunately she’s wonderfully practical and doesn’t mind the opportunity to acquire what she wants rather than having to take back a gift that I “knew she would love.”

This really has nothing to do with the story.

The night before, I got a message from a friend that said, “I don’t know anything about holding babies, but I could wash your cars tomorrow if that’s something that would help you out.” At first I didn’t know what to do with this. It was late Saturday night and I was sleep deprived. The more I thought about it, however, the more I thought about how consistent this was with everything we have been speaking towards for the last year with our gathering at the Irish Bred Pub.

We have used phrases from the ancients like, “Blessed to be a blessing,” and explored God’s intention with that phrase, that Abraham wasn’t supposed to hold on to the love God was lavishing on him, but he was to be a conduit to allow that to be poured out on all the people he encountered.

Over and agin we have talked about tangibly blessing our neighbors and our community, because Jesus didn’t just talk about loving people well, he actually did things to demonstrate that he loved them. How could I turn down a car wash if my friend was willing to love us in this way. Kristen loves the car to be clean, and that is clearly not high on the priority list right now.

So, he came over to wash our cars. Not one, not just Kristen’s…but the mess that is my vehicle. If you’ve been in it, you know the challenge he accepted. At first I tried to stay outside with him and help where I could, but honestly, babies were up and it wasn’t practical. And he said, “Go be with your wife.” I wanted to earn his help though. Problem is, it doesn’t work that way.

My friend gospeled us. He spent three hours between both cars. He went over every part of our cars meticulously. There was not a crack that wasn’t clean that was accessible to be cleaned. I was blown away. I’ve seen “professional details” that did not look this great. I took my shoes off the first time I got in it was so clean.

He had a gift and he found a practical way to bless us, to love us well. It was such a clear picture of someone saying, “In the kingdom, people just do good things. I’m going to do it ‘as unto the Lord.’ When I live in light of the good news of the kingdom, I’m going to love you well and find ways to tangibly bless you. Here’s what I’ve got.”

I was blown away. It’s been nearly a week and I’m still telling people, “That’s it. That’s kingdom living. Small, reproducible, loving acts, intentionally loving your neighbor in practical, tangible, actual ways, just because. That’s the gospel at work. It may seem small, but it’s not. It’s huge.”

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Cash // master teacher

The other day we were in the back yard. It’s normal again finally. Keeping a two year old entertained inside the house for hours on end while three other little ones require so much attention is difficult. But now the weather is perfect again to just throw open the back door and the screen door and say, “Free reign. Just don’t hurt yourself.”

Of course it’s never really enough to go play by yourself when you’re two. You need someone to come with you. I don’t mind. I love the outside as much as he does. Kristen’s good about making sure we’re all out there together, not wasting away inside when there is so much beautiful weather to take in.

We have these amazing neighbors which we are continually getting to know. More and more we’re relying on them for help with our new additions. One neighbor in particular is what you might consider a cycle enthusiast. I’m pretty sure he rides every day and if he could go without having a personal vehicle, he would. So he bought Cash a strider bike. Its a bike with no pedals. He learns how to balance because his feet are on the ground and he can pull them up whenever he wants. Essentially, it’s a flintstone bike. It’s taken some time for him to warm up to it.

Last week, however, one night I said, “Hey bud, you want to ride your bike?” Fully anticipating the usual, “no,” he shocked me with “Ye-es.” (Cash, in typical southern child speak, can make three letters into two syllables.) So we got the bike out. Furthering my surprise, he was actually pretty good at riding around even though he had not even attempted to ride in a couple of weeks, like future BMX stuff.

That is, until he found a hole in the yard where his front tire got stuck. He looked at me for help, so I steered him out of it. He went back and let the front tire get stuck again. We got out. He went back and got off the bike and stood in the hole and looked up at me and said, “I’m stuck Papa. Pull me out.”

This hole is certainly big enough for both of his feet to be in. But I’m really doing other holes a disservice by comparing this hole to legitimate holes. We’re really talking about a divot in the ground really, a place that’s slightly lower than the ground around it.

Nonetheless, my two year old was helping me feel the gospel fresh again. Last year I heard this phrase, “Preach the gospel to yourself daily.” You’re broken, Jesus loved you too much to leave you where you were. God himself came in the flesh to rescue and renew all of creation through the work of Jesus on your behalf. Cash was helping me that day hear the gospel again.

We have this tendency to go back to our brokenness. We get help to be free. We go back. We get help to be free, we go back. Over and over again. Honestly, it doesn’t even have to be something massive, just one of those places where we’re making life about us instead of his glory. Stuck is the only word for it. All I did was reach my hand out when he said he was stuck, grab his hands and pulled gently. He just came right out.

Sometimes it’s going to take a whole lot more than that. Sometime there will be much pain in coming out and a lot of filth to wash off. No matter. I would have gone back a thousand times to continue getting him “unstuck” (but he got distracted and the lesson was over with).

I keep returning to the simplicity of that night. “I’m stuck Papa.”

“That’s okay, son, I’m here. I’ll pull you out.”

The love never changes just because I go back to the hole and get stuck again. It’s certainly strange to look at the rescue and in some ways show such a lack of gratitude and go back anyway, but the love never changes. Besides that’s a post for a different day.

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they’re six months

Did the millennium happen in 2000 or 2001? I’m of the mindset that there was no year zero. That’s just weird. We start with one, we end at ten. But I don’t do the maths so really I can’t be confident. But based on my position which is admittedly shaky from the outset, the answer to the question is 2001. You know what, it doesn’t really matter. Until yesterday when I started thinking, “The triplets were born on October 31st, (not Halloween babies, Reformation Day Babies, thank you Martin Luther) April doesn’t have 31 days. Are they six months on the 30th of April, or is not official until the 1st of May?”

To be safe, I waited until today to post if officially. To be safe, we’ll party both days.

The first two and a half months have recently been flooding back in and if I’m honest with myself, they’ve been incredibly difficult to process as the emotions can be a bit overwhelming at times. Even last night chatting with a friend, I just had to stop for a bit. It’s surreal at times. You almost want to ask, “Did that really happen?” Even the thought of going to Birmingham is a bit strange to me, maybe filled with a bit a fear of having to go back to the hospital unexpectedly or something.

Nothing about Birmingham is just a city to me anymore. Oxmoor Road is not just a connector. It’s where that Mexican Restaurant is with the awkward parking that we would go to in order to escape for a bit. It’s where the pharmacy was where we bought allergy medicine and had prescriptions filled. Every time people mention Birmingham or a part of that city, I have a memory connected to it.

-If I took that road it will make the trip to the hospital 30 seconds shorter.
-That’s where I took Cash once because he woke up from his nap and we had to get out.
-John and I took a walk that night over there. I got a hat.
-Mark picked me up to go to that Piggly Wiggly the first week to get food.
-We got pizza over there when my brother and his family came to see us.
-That’s where Dad and I went to look for a van.
-That’s where we went to buy a van.
-We took Cash to the zoo there one day.
-That’s where Lynn and Buddy took us that night to get away.
-I ran into the nurse that took care of Kristen after delivery down there.
-Oh yeah, we lived over there for 2 months.

Don’t get me started on the people. People that loved us deeply through every step of that most difficult journey, some that we’ll never get to see again who told us to hang in there and would hold our babies for us when we had to have a break. Thank God for the people and the relationships that were so significant.

But the beauty is, it’s part of the story. It’s part of a grand story. A story bigger than us that they’ll contribute to in their own different ways in the future. They’re already a part of so many other people’s stories here in Auburn.

They’re six months old and we’ve celebrated this much life. I don’t know what’s next, but triplets were never in my plans anyway, so I’ve kind of stopped worrying about what’s next. For now, we celebrate six months and we pray for another day (I think I’ve prayed that before). And in the meantime, we look at pictures like this and weep that God would be so good to us, overlooking our brokenness and lavishing love on us, calling us sons and daughters and giving us sons and daughters.

This one is shortly after birth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas. (So technically almost two months old).

 

 

 

Last week.

 

 

 

 

goofy face

 

 

 

 

 

followed by close up.

 

 

 

 

 

Yeah, so happy six months (and possibly six months and a day. I’m not sure. Maths is hard).

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triplets // Jude

Jude farts…a lot.

 

 

 

 

 

loudly

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