God, Superheros and Kids

Last week, Missy was in Walgreens with the boys. Jonah had on a superman cape and caught the attention of several of the shoppers. One guy walked up and said, “He has a superman cape on” as if Missy would have been unaware of this until pointed out by a total stranger. When you have two young boys, superheros are a big part of your life.

In case you haven’t ever played superheros with small children you have to understand the rules:

Rule #1 – Everyone has a narrowly defined role
Rule #2 – If you are the adult you are automatically the villain
Rule #3 – If you are the kid you are automatically good guy
Rule #4 – Adults, don’t try to be the good guy…Don’t rock the boat…just be the villain and move along. It is just better that way.


The reason superheros are so popular with kids (and even many adults) is that they capture our imagination. We envision another way of being, amazing powers that are extraordinary. In short, when you are a superhero you can do things that normal people cannot. Kids get that…So when kids role play this they often try things that they wouldn’t normally attempt. A kid who wouldn’t normally jump off a chair might just try it when he has his cape on. But there is more to the jump than the cape. They jump because they know their dad is going to catch them.

So what about us? Are we willing to take the leap, knowing God will catch us? No capes, no role play, no pretending. Just a real, close and trusting relationship with our heavenly Father who wants nothing more than to catch us because we had faith enough to make the leap.


Kids, Play and the Power of Narrative

millionmilesI have been reading Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, highly recommend it. This book is Miller’s reflection on working with producers on the movie version of Blue Like Jazz. Turns out, life isn’t like the movies…most of us wouldn’t make good movie characters. As Miller reflects on their take on his life and the producers’ need to spruce up his story a bit he realized his own need to live a better story than he had been living. Great book. I will share more thoughts on it later.

While reading this book I have been more in tune with the power of story.Turns out, it’s everywhere…everyday. This evening the our boys, ages 2 & 4 were playing. As I listened to the imaginative things they were saying, it dawned on me that when children play they create stories. Play is their work and that work often involves one of two things: the construction of false play narratives that are impractical and impossible. Second, play often co-opts existing narratives and changes some of the essential components of the narrative to be more appealing to them or try things out…like when they say things to their stuffed animal or younger brother that they hear their parents say.

So I hear the boys playing in Elijah’s room. Elijah is standing on his big firetruck. It was parked up against the wall, right under a brown tree we had painted in the nursery. Missy painted this tree when we set the room up for Jonah as a family tree, to be able to teach the kids where they came from. After we painted it, we hung pictures of family members on its branches so we could teach them who they (the kids) are, who their relatives are and where they came from.  So back to Elijah. He is perched up on the side of his firetruck, his back to the wall and says…”I’m Jesus!” Jesus on a tree, right? He is playing Jesus. Jonah says, “Put out your arms.” It was stunning. We painted that to show them where they came from. The tree hasn’t ever shown it more clearly than today when looking at that tree reminded me that God put his own Son on the cross for us. It is where we came from. It is part of who we are.

What happened next was play that was a reflection of real life…it wasn’t meant to be that but it taught me something important that I won’t ever forget. Moments later, Elijah got into a plastic bin and Jonah proceeded to push and pull Elijah around the house in that bin. He said it was Elijah’s car and he proceeded to “drive” him around the house. Aren’t we like that? One moment it is about the cross and identity and things of great significance…the very next we are back to our silly and senseless games! It is like going to church on Easter just to go back to life as usual on Monday. One moment, we are attentive to the story of the cross and the next something mundane and silly doing some sort of adult equivalent of pulling a 2 year old around in a plastic bin.


Some People Don’t Like Change

Missy was playing with some dominoes with Jonah yesterday. He found one that didn’t have any white dots on it. He asked Missy if she could put dots on it. She said she couldn’t. So then he asked her if Jesus could (not bad for a boy who just turned three, right!). She said, “Jonah, this one is just different.” Jonah’s reply…”I don’t like different.”

If you have spent any time around Jonah you know just how true that is. He can spot anything that is out of place. Sometimes he even gets a little upset when things aren’t routine. He really doesn’t like different. He is slow to adjust to change. How many of us are that way? We get something ingrained in our mind and don’t want to see it any other way. Change is going to happen in life. We have to learn how to work with it and even use it to the advantage of the kingdom of God. That doesn’t mean everything is a negotiable when it comes to faith, practice, morality and ethics. It also doesn’t mean that every single thing is fixed and absolute. Some things are and some things are not. We have to be wise enough to tell the difference.

Elijah’s First 12 Months in Pictures

Each of these was taken the first day of each month of his life (except for the first one of course!). Thanks to Missy for her persistence in getting these.

Jonah Said the Sweetest Thing

Last night as we came home from LIFE group Missy and I were discussing Elijah’s (our 11 month old) birthday party. At his party we are asking people to bring gifts for the local  Children’s Hospital (All Childrens) and Jonah was listening to the details. He went into his room, got out his bin of toy animals, and told us he wanted to give some of them to sick children at the hospital so they could feel better. That really touched my heart and I was really impressed he put all that together, having just turned three. My prayer is that we can raise him into a man of God who can keep that attitude and impact the lives of many through his joy and generosity.

Now I just wish he would feel the same way about letting his little brother Elijah play with his toys!

Elijah is Crawling

It is really great to see your child crawl for the first time. Now Elijah isn’t full out crawling. His crawling is more like dragging himself across the room with just his right arm but it is a start! Missy refers to it as the soldier in the movie who lost an arm and a leg and is scratching and clawing his way across the ground to save the day.

What is more Elijah is now able to foil Jonah’s toy ponzi scheme. Jonah will see Elijah playing with Jonah’s toys and go in Elijah’s room to get replacement toys. Then Jonah begins to get his toys back with great skill. Elijah never has a clue unless he is playing with something he really wants. It is really cute to watch them interact. Jonah loves him so much and tries to be such a big helper. What is more Jonah treats his stuffed monkey like a baby. It is all pretty adorable.

The Days of Elijah are Almost Here!

It is hard to believe we will be holding our new baby boy Elijah in less than three weeks! God has been so good to us. Missy is such a great mother and wife. I don’t know how she does all that she does. Jonah is such a great son and a joy to be around. That kid knows how to make us laugh. He wants our attention so badly. I hope he doesn’t turn into a class clown some day! Elijah is going to be a treasure in our arms. We value your prayers as these next few weeks go by before delivery. Pray for Elijah and Missy and their health. Pray for me that I can be the loving, supporting husband and father that I need to be. Last, please pray for us to navigate the challenges ahead that will help us mold these two boys into strong men of God who will be leaders for righteous purposes.

In honor of his birth here are the lyrics to The Days of Elijah that Paul and I wrote in our Harding Grad days. Just sing it to the tune of Days of Elijah (possibly the best rendition ever! 🙂 and it will all work out. Remember, all this is actually in the Bible so it wasn’t us just being crass:

These are the days of Elisha,
Sending out bears to kill men.
And these are the days of that naughty,
Bathsheba, bathing, seducing David.
And these are the days of Hosea.
He had to marry a whore.
These are the days of your servant, Jonah,
who won’t be the voice of the Lord.

Behold they come, lots of bears with claws.
Woman on the roof, taking her clothes off.
Hosea’s kids, lots of awful names.
Jonah’s in a whale, it’s all insane!

These are the days of Methusaleh,
When am I going to die?
And these are the days of that strong man,
Samson, he lost his hair and his eyes.
And these are the days of Isaiah,
God told me to lay in the buff.
And these are the days of Moses’, kids,
Mom, why’d you cutt off my stuff?


Refrain (added later by Charles K):

Bathsheba take your clothes off…(repeated over and over)