Love is Love

Sad Lonely Glad

My 16 year old daughter Jessica came home with a school assignment for her parents to write about a memory of her when she was younger. Brenda wrote the following and I cried when I read it.  Sad and lonely about years we cannot have back.  Glad about the woman my daughter Jessica is becoming.   Brenda gave me permission to share it here.  

When Jessica was real young, I found a cute little stuffed animal at a garage sale.  It was a little white kitty with a pink nose, a pink ribbon, and some pink thread that formed a little mouth. I had never seen anything like it before. She was not new, but still had plenty of life in her.  The most special thing about her was that when you moved her slightly or hugged her close, you could hear a little purr.  I bought it for a dime and gave it to Jessica. 

Jessica LOVED this little kitty and they were never far apart.  Some 2 year olds suck their thumbs or drag around a blankie, but Jessica had her little white kitty that she affectionately named, Tickles.  You always knew when Jessica was coming, because you could hear the little purring that was coming with her.

My early mornings were met not with the sounds of a pitter-patter of small feet, for Jessica would approach so very quietly, but the sound of a soft purring as together, Jessica and Tickles, would climb up into bed to cuddle before the day began.

It was not long before Tickles began to show the ware of being loved well, similar to the Velveteen Rabbit.  So I was elated when, while I was shopping at Target, I spotted a "new Tickles".  I couldn't believe my eyes . . . it was her, but with a full, clean body of fur and a loud, strong purr when she was tousled.  Jessica's 3rd birthday was fast approaching so I bought the brand new kitty.

Her birthday arrived and I gave my gift last.  Jessica was very surprised with the gift and in her sensitive and sweet way thanked me with a hug.  As a few days passed, it became very clear that Jessica was not enamored or impressed with the full, clean body of fur and the loud, strong purr of the new white kitty.  She loved Tickles and no new kitty was going to replace her.  

Love is love.

Many years have passed since that time.  Tickles is so fragile now, looking so thin and frail and spends her time in a safe place. Jessica enters a room alone now, but really not alone.  Her heart is tender and has great capacity for loving and being loved.  She is still not enamored or impressed by the outside trappings of others, but accepts and loves people the way they are.

Love is love. 


Death on a Mountain

Sad.  Lonely.

Dr. Mills was quiet but friendly.  On Thursday nights he was always the one who brought his 11 year old son Isaiah to flag football practice.  Most parents drop off their kids and come back an hour later to pick them up when practice is over.  Standing over in the corner of the gym wearing a baseball cap, Dr. Mills would always stay to watch the whole practice.

Isaiah is the best player on our team.  He's also the most fun to coach; not even so much because he's such a gifted athlete, but because he has such a great attitude.  Honestly, I love this kid and I've loved coaching him.  I love encouraging him.  I love teaching him.  I love looking him in the eye and seeing him smile.

Last night we got crushed.  I was physically at the game but I was not there.  Isaiah was not there either.  

Last week Isaiah and his father were skiing when Dr. Mills flew off the backside of an icy slope, suffered severe multiple injuries, and bled to death on the mountain.  The ski patrol resuscitated him but brain function was gone.  On Tuesday, Dr. Mills (Isaiah's dad) passed away.


Isaiah's life is forever changed.  His dad is gone and won't be coming back.  Isaiah will come to practice next week and there won't be a man standing in the corner of the gym delighting in him, driving home with him, sitting next to him in the car, and later tucking him into bed.

Isaiah is about to walk into the most life defining yet emotionally and physically turbulent years of his young life without his dad to walk the journey with him.  

The sadness and loneliness of this truth is overwhelming to me today as I write this. There will be teachers who take an interest in Isaiah. There will be coaches like me who take the initiative in his life.  There will be relatives who will seek to fill the vacuum that was created on that mountainside last week.  But no one will fill it.  Not like a dad can.

I'm sad today. And lonely . . . remembering back to what it was like growing up without my dad.  Praying for Isaiah and wondering how his life will be different now.


Called to Nashville

Sad Lonely Hurt Shame Glad

Lots of reflecting today.  Fourteen years ago I loaded up my wife (who had just given birth ten days earlier to our fourth child) and  drove a U-Haul truck  to a community where I knew one other couple . . . to start a church.

I was deathly afraid, but I knew God had called me to this. A year prior, God had spoken as clearly to me about this as He had anything else in my life.  I asked my best friend at the time if he would come with me to do it.  It took him a month to decide, but he said yes.

Over the next couple of years, I mostly remember long drives by myself in my 1986 Jeep Cherokee.  Sometimes I would drive for hours through Brentwood, Franklin, and surrounding areas praying, dreaming, and seeing.  “God show me what you want to do here and how and where You want to do it.”  I remember being so alone with so many of my thoughts and dreams about this church God had called me to plant.  I knew I was writing blank checks only God Himself could cash.

It was a WILD adventure with some unbelievable highs and unbelievable gut wrenching lows.  Some of my greatest joys in life and some of my deepest hurts. 

I look back now with much gratefulness for what God showed me through that season in my life. I am grateful for what He did in me and what I saw Him do in the lives of others.  But I am mostly grateful for friendships tested by fire that survived, deepened, flowered, and still enrich me today.

Fourteen years was a lifetime ago.  But I remember the beginning of the journey in that U-Haul truck like it was yesterday.


Sitting the Bench

Fear Sad Lonely Shame

I don’t know what made that so hard?

Last week I had to institute the death penalty equivalent for one of my boys.  He could attend his flag football practice but could not practice.  He could attend his game on Friday night but could not play.

Getting through the practice was not as big a deal to me although it was to him.  The game on Friday was a different story.  I was surprised by the battle that waged inside of me as I had to remind myself at least 100 times, “Follow through Dad.”  “Follow through!”

My little guy is good. Fun to watch.  A natural athlete.  I’ve been around athletics all my life at all levels and I know I’m seeing.  Some kids are good because they play hard.  Some kids are good because they’ve mastered some skills.  Some kids are good because God made them that way. 

God made him this way.

My son also loves to play . . . almost to a cellular level it seems . . . which is part of what makes him such a delight to watch.  I get a smile on my face just watching him run.  Watching him be who he was made to be.

It wasn’t easy for me to see him standing on the sidelines last night.  I wanted to see him enjoying himself. I wanted to see him smile that smile that makes the rest of his face disappear.  But I kept him on the sidelines for a game because I love him. 

I’ve got a Father who loves me too.  I imagine to Him, I must be fun to watch.  I’m good at some things because I work hard and some things because I’ve mastered some skills.  I’m good at some things because He made me that way.

I “get” what my Father is likely feeling when He sees me play.  Last night, I was thinking more about how He might be feeling when He has to sit me on the sidelines because He loves me.