Thursday, March 31, 2011

Partnership by the Poolside

One of the many benefits our family has received from my time as a director at the YMCA was the opportunity to participate in all the programs the Y has to offer. From basketball to gymnastics to summer camp our boys have done it all. Although the children typically have been able to pick and choose what they want to do, we did have one mandatory program- swim lessons.

All of the boys have taken to the water in different styles. Logan was a bit reserved at first but soon came to the conclusion that swimming was fun. Isaiah attacked the water from day one. Even now his motor goes into overdrive when he jumps in the pool. Simeon, however, has been a different story. This past summer, we had a frightening experience at a public pool. From across the pool, Lydia and I watched as Simeon hopped out and took off down the waterslide into deeper water. I started running around the pool, a close friend heard Lydia yelling for help and began splashing through the water towards Sim, while the lifeguard continued to sun herself just five feet from where Simeon was struggling. Simeon was probably under the water for about ten seconds before we finally reached him. Needless to say, he was a mess. He wanted nothing to do with the pool for the rest of the day and wouldn’t leave Mom’s side.

That experience validated our desire for our kids to learn to swim and respect the water. So, as in the past, we enrolled the kids for swim lessons. To Simeon’s credit, as we prepped him for lessons in the fall he really didn’t show fear or trepidation leading up to the beginning of the session. That all changed when we got in the Y and walked to the pool. Simeon began to cry, he desperately clung to me and begged not to swim. I quickly informed him that he would be safe and that he had no choice because boys in our family need to know how to swim.

Two seven week sessions went by and our thirty minute lessons were still full of tears and fear. As parents, Lydia and I were struggling to be encouraging and yet still instill a sense of determination. At the start of the third session the lesson schedule changed and it wound up that Logan’s class ended at the same time Sim started his. After his shower, Logan sat down next to me. He wasn’t there for ten seconds before he asked if he could go down and sit next to Simeon. What happened next was one of those moments that, as a father, I will never forget.

Logan sat down and got as close to Simeon as he could. He put his hand on Simeon and began to encourage him, make jokes with him and act goofy. It was amazing, thirty minutes of love from his big brother and Simeon was having a grand time. That moment was a turning point. Since then there literally has not been one tear shed by Simeon in the pool.

As I was thinking about this moment the other day I realized how much Logan’s spirit reflects how we want to approach partnership at G.O. Ministries. You see, Logan wasn’t a great coach or instructor but he had a desire to see his brother succeed. He gave what he had to help Simeon. Logan gave encouragement, laughter and love. At that moment and time it was perfect.

When we look at ourselves and it can seem we don’t have much to offer. The truth is that in Christ we have all we need. For us, a partnership is just an investment in the life of another. The formation of a relationship based in Christ’s love where two or more are working towards a common goal. Because of the incredible partnerships that exist between North American individuals and churches and their Dominican or Haitian counterparts, many children and adults are finding hope daily to strengthen and further the Kingdom.

As I look back at my life, there have been quite a few times when I was the one in the pool crying. Fortunately, there always seemed to be a big brother on the deck telling me I could do it. I hope and pray that when you are in the pool crying, a big brother comes along to partner with you. And, may you be blessed to sit at the side of a pool and pour out love to a little brother who is convinced he is drowning.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Scripture Memory Challenge 3/15

This past week has really been about love for me. I don't know about you but I want to love God more! I want to be so deeply and passionately in love with our Savior that he is ALWAYS on my mind. Yesterday, on the way home from CrossFit at 7am, I was praying that God would show me how to love him more. After Logan got off to school and while Macy was eating breakfast, I sat down to do my reading for our small group. Our group is currently working through "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. Wouldn't you know that this week's chapter is "When You're in Love"? More than just a coincidence in my book:) In the book, Francis Chan includes an excerpt from "God is the Gospel" by John Piper. It reads:

"The critical question for our generation- and for every generation- is this: If you could go to heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?"

Wow. That's a good question. It reminded me of another similar question I read just last week in "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World" by Joanna Weaver.

"A Test of Love

St. Augustine once preached a sermon in which he proposed a kind of self-test to see if we truly love God:

'Suppose God proposed to you a deal and said, "I will give you anything you want. You can possess the whole world. Nothing will be impossible for you...Nothing will be a sin, nothing forbidden. You will never die, never have pain, never have anything you do not want and always have anything you do want- except for just one thing: you will never see my face."

Augustine closed with a question:

'Did a chill rise in your hearts, when you heard the words, "you will never see my face?" That chill is the most precious thing in you; that is the pure love of God."

Again, wow. I hope you felt that chill. That you desperately long to see the face of Jesus.

As I read further into the chapter "When You're in Love" Francis Chan offers this encouragement, "The fact is this, I need God to help me love God........It is a remarkable cycle: Our prayers for more love result in love, which naturally causes us to pray more, which results in more love."

...(Deep breath)...

I don't even know what to say....

I guess that leads me to my next verse. I have chosen to memorize Ephesians 3:17-19. I have loved this verse for a long time and I pray it for myself, Derek and our children. But, as I memorize it over the next couple of weeks I am going to pray it for you too. I pray that you may fall deeper and deeper in love, and that you will be filled with the fullness of God.


Ephesians 3:17-19 (New Century Version)

17 I pray that Christ will live in your hearts by faith and that your life will be strong in love and be built on love.18 And I pray that you and all God's holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ's love—how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is.19 Christ's love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with the fullness of God.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Scripture Memory Challenge 3/1

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV).
I love this verse. How many times do we feel weary or burdened? I know I often feel like I could use some rest!! But, this scripture reminds me that our rest (& strength) comes from being yoked to Christ. When we are close to him and allow him to guide our steps, we will find everything we need.
Stay close to him and allow him to carry the burden!