Generations The changing nature of fathering through many seasons

It seems like I am entering a new stage as a father. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say I’m already in the middle of it.

ian-papa-tom

Today is Father’s Day, and that has me thinking of what it means to be a father.

It’s certainly not just this particular holiday that stirred these thoughts. My conversations lately have been laden with question, wondering, weighing, judging my own thoughts and actions toward my children. This has been equalled by a deeper appreciation for the two men who are fathers to me. (And maybe even the generations before me, though the perceived impact is less direct.)

To raise a person is a humbling process.

The most notable changes (to me) deal completely with personhood. Years ago, I was mostly relied upon to change diapers, feed mouths, and manage the funding to pay for daily and yearly needs. As the Small Ones grew, so did my input to their lives. Reading, teaching, listening, discussing, reprimanding, exhorting, challenging, cheering. All these things I have done, and still do.

And through each stage, I have consistently—in times of reflection—become more aware of what my father not only did for me, but also felt and experienced, too.

ian-driving

Now I look at a young man—who, not coincidentally, mirrors my teenage visage—and wonder at how I am to continue to father him. Do I continue to decide for him, protect him, do for him? Yes. I think. But all the more (and he feels it, too) I feel a strong pull to release. To allow more and greater freedoms, to choose his own way—even if he is damaged, or damages in the releasing.

That goes against all I have done for a time that spans nearly seventeen years now. How can I change?

Then I look around me and see a boy of thirteen, his brother’s shadow, who longs to escape both that shadow and the close oversight of his father; and mother. Not merely to reject; nor rebel. More so to be. To be a person. Himself.

It is even becoming evident in my first daughter. She is “only” eleven, but wanting to be all of her oldest brother’s age, experience, freedoms. She can not. Time has not made her an equal with him. She will forever be chasing him. (Unless she relinquishes the chase of her own choosing.)

Beyond those Children-Becoming-People, we have three more Small Ones who laugh and play and love (and fight, and fight back) … and remind me of the familiar stage of fathering.

Through all of this, maybe especially as I am noticing the markedly different stage of relationship with my oldest children, I truly do grow in appreciation for my own father, and the father of my children’s mother. I often see the differences between each of them and myself—that’s so easy to do, no?—but in such times, I see the mirror of me. I smile at the thought that they have been here, too—and, on the whole, all is well beyond.

I am not yet old, but I’m moving toward it. I have less hair than I did before I was a father. My beard shows a few gray hairs, perhaps. But the men whom I call Dad proudly display in their faces and bodies the years of experience I hope to have. Watching their own children become and be People. Learning to navigate the new stages of relationship, as Dad.

It’s not bad. It’s more good than I probably realize. It’s not easy. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

All I hope is that my kids know—without doubt—that I will always love them, more than they can know (maybe until they have offspring of their own), and far beyond that, they are loved beyond knowing by their Creator.

If I can help them to know that, and to live in love because of that, these challenges will have all been worth whatever cost they have levied.

Then, blessing beyond blessing, the Ones God has given me to raise would know the same things I am knowing now.

If Jesus does not return, may that be so.

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Respect

respect

What is respect? What images come to mind when you hear the word?

Do you think of military chain of command, with each subordinate respecting their commanding officer? Or maybe a similar, thought slightly more informal respect, shown by a young person toward an elderly ancestor?

A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements

Ah… respect is elicited by some ability, quality, or achievement. So, maybe a professional athlete? Some people respect them for their achievements and abilities. Perhaps a graduate of a certain academic program elicits your respect? How about a well-known historical figure who accomplished great, world-changing things in their lifetime?

Definitely.

How about giving up your seat to someone who looks like they need it more? What about trusting someone with something (or someone) you really care about? And do we show respect when we listen to someone; really listen?

Have due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of [another]

Hmm. That’s different. That respect is due to another simply because the are. They exist. They are another created being, with feelings, rights, wishes and even traditions.

Our value is not (only) in what we have accomplished. Our real value is found in our worth to the One who made us. We are worth everything to him; his own life.

I overheard someone speaking about respect recently. It was a mother, scolding her young child, saying, “You have to earn respect!” While there is some truth to that (see definition one above) the greater truth is that this mother will not likely receive the respect she is hoping for from her child, because her words and her tone are not giving respect to the other person she is addressing.

It’s always interesting with children. I speak from parenting experience. Sometimes you just need them to obey. “DO WHAT I AM ASKING YOU… NOW!” But I fully believe that when we treat others with full respect, allowing them to make a reasoned, willing decision, a respectful submission to instruction will be the most likely result—even from a child.

Treat others just as you want to be treated.

And…

For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

What if we did it backwards? Like Jesus said in those last two quotes above. It’s not ‘Treat other people the way they treat you’, no… it’s ‘treat others the way you want to be treated.’ You first. I get to make the first show of respect.

giving-up-your-seatI’ve seen this in action as a school bus driver, believe it or not. I’m sure you have a picture in your mind of what it’s like on a big bus full of young children. And… you’re right. It’s pretty loud, energetic, fun, and crazy! But the drivers who have the best ability to control their busses, when needed, are those who look kids in the eyes when they first get on the bus and offer a genuine, friendly greeting. When things get out of hand, they address the unruly ones by name, firmly but respectfully, and most often, the measure of respect that is given is the same measure returned.

Of course I know this doesn’t always work. Maybe not even very often. But doesn’t it stand the best chance? Isn’t it just the right thing to do?

Jesus thought so.

We have chances almost every second of our lives to show another the respect they are due simply because God has breathed life into them. You’ve probably heard that we will be known by the way we love, well that’s really the same thing—respect is love, is respect. Think about others before you think about yourself. Treat the person next to you like the heir to the throne that he or she is.

(And it will come back to you in the measure that you give.)

So listen to your spouse. Show your teenager empathy. Give heaps of grace to your little ones. Look a stranger in the eye and give a genuine, friendly greeting. Do something for someone that costs you. Maybe even a lot.

We love—we respect—because he first loved us. When we know how much we are loved, then we can treat the people around us the same way. It’s the same principle, on a cosmic, galactic, universal (and beyond) scale.

You have earned my respect because you are God’s masterpiece, created anew in Jesus to do the good things he planned for us long ago. Done deal.

Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

Let’s try it. See what happens.

[ThisDay] City Living… Or Not

There were not too many posts published this day in GregsHead history. In fact, there were only four total. That made selecting a favorite a bit easier, but I believe I would have chosen this particular story against most competition, anyway. Please enjoy this little anecdote from a bedtime just a couple years ago. 🙂

City Living… Or Not

January 21st, 2012

we Campbells live in a thriving rural metropolis.

Nestled on the outer eastern edge of the once-vibrant technology town of Rochester, NY—R.I.P. Kodak—our town is home to nearly seven thousand people of various ilk. This is the place to be if you want to experience cultural, ethnic, religious, and economic diversity. We’ve got it all!

But for some reason, Kirstie decided this week that she wants to live in NYC.

“I am going to live in New York City some day,” she proudly announced to her Mom. “I just really want to live up high in the air, overlooking the city,” she explained to her Dad.

Neither Mom nor Dad can even stand the thought of visiting the Big City, so the expressed hopes and dreams of our seven-soon-to-be-eight year old daughter were (more than) somewhat repulsive to us. “New York City, eh?” we slowly pondered a loving response, “Well, that’s a long time from now, so we’ll see what God has in store when that time comes.”

(We were at least partially, and quite deftly, employing the fine art of deflecting/distracting from/deferring the less than desirable, far-off dreams of young children.)

Fast-forward to bed time.

It was a very windy night. This strangely warm winter has seen a few brief cold spells, and each time they’ve come, they were ushered in by a fierce wind. This night’s wind was particularly powerful—and noisy!

As I was hugging and kissing the girls, tucking each under their warm, fuzzy blankets, I could tell that the wind was very much on their minds. The house was creaking and various scraping noises could be heard on the street outside as sundry items were dragged great distances against their will by the forceful gusts.

“God,” I began, “Please protect this room tonight and its inhabitants from anything that might harm them in this wind.” I started to go into detail about what things God could protect us from, but at the first break in my thoughts I was interrupted.

“Do you think there could be a tornado?” Kirsten asked, with a hint of real concern in her voice.

“No, Kirstie,” I reassured her, “There really aren’t any tornadoes here where we live. It’s pretty crazy, but pretty cool, huh?”

The three girls nodded, and verbally affirmed my mostly rhetorical question.

A moment later, after giving some thought to what I had said, Kirsten asked, “Are there tornadoes in New York City?”

Jumping at the chance, I quickly replied, with great conviction in my voice, “Oh yes! There are always tornadoes in New York City. Really bad ones! All the time!!

“Dad!” Kirstie scolded, in the way only Kirstie can do. Her twinkling eyes looked up and met my big, silly-Dad smile.

I was still smiling at my innocent, yet clever, yet loving jab at my oldest daughter’s earlier proclamation, when the brief silence was interrupted by her younger sister, Julia.

“I am never going to live there!” she said in her very tiny, very matter-of-fact tones.

Caught a bit off guard, I enjoyed a deep belly laugh—we all did!—and then I gave Julia a big hug and said, “That’s my girl!”

If you know Julia, you know that this was perfect is so many ways! She knows what she wants, and she just says it!

I love seeing the personalities of our kids shine through, even at the earliest ages. Julia is a very “black-and-white” person; very matter of fact. And she’s incredibly cute! That response was just quintessential Julia, far beyond what I can relay in a few sentences.

I don’t know if we swayed Kirstie any that night, but we all did have a great laugh. She might still be on a mission to live in the big city. Or not. Time will tell.

But one thing’s for sure: Julia is never gonna live there!

OTHER POSTS from JANUARY 21st

Imitation: The Highest Form of Flattery [Memory Lane]

Each Thursday in August we continued the trip down Memory Lane—a feature that began the last week of July. I re-posted some of my all-time favorite stories that I’ve published here as part of celebrating ten years of blogging—August 2003 to August 2013. Some posts were taken from my published books, and others (like today’s) have only been published online thus far. You’ll find stories that are funny, stories that are sad, and several heart-warming moments from the life we’ve lived. If you missed any, you can use the series navigation at the end of this post to read more. I invite you to enjoy these moments from the journey with me, too.

The final installment of the Memory Lane series is a bonus for this Labor Day Monday. In our family, Labor Day weekend is reserved for a family reunion—as many of Jen’s family as are able gather at the home of the patriarch and matriarch of the family. There are plenty of visits to Memory Lane during these reunions, to be sure!

Today’s post features some great moments from the Campbell kids. There are many frustrating moments as a parent, but there are also many melt-your-heart moments. These were a couple of the latter kind. I was humbled when this happened, and it gets to me every time I read it.

This is just beautiful. Enjoy.

Imitation: The Highest Form of Flattery

February 8th, 2012

Tonight at the dinner table, our youngest boy—who bears a good deal of physical resemblance to his Daddy—was particularly tuned in to my every move. He was watching (and mimicking) everything that I did. When I leaned forward onto my elbows to rest my head in my hands and wipe the tired of the recent past from my face, so did Cam. Whichever way I moved, just about any posture I assumed, Cam followed to near perfection.

It didn’t take me long to notice, and when I did, well, I was certainly heartened by his quite evident love for his me, his Dad.

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, and I guess maybe “they” are right.

Paul also said that the people whom he introduced to Jesus should “imitate [him] as [he] imitate[s] Christ”. That thought came to my mind, and I hope that’s just as easy for them to see and to follow as my physical motions at the table.

The best part was when, once he knew that I knew he was imitating me—though for this moment, I had momentarily forgotten—I moved my dish aside, being done with my food. Moments later, Cameron moved his dish in front of me. Typically, when this happens it means he’s refusing to eat more (even though he probably still should). However, once I saw where he had placed it, it was exactly the same amount to his right as I had placed my dish! 🙂

Still makes my face and heart smile as I recall and type the story here. Such a sweet boy.

In truth, it happens quite often, the imitating. More than I’d like. Often I’m quite glad for it, and I hope that it continues. But other times it’s too revealing. It can be unpleasant to hear the way your tone returns to your ears through the mouth of your biggest 2-year-old fan. But, a mirror can also be your best friend. I am thankful for the mirror that my kids can be for me.

Firstborn son, Ian, is more like me than I admit at times. He is creative, talented, gregarious, frequently charming, and also stubborn, confident to the point of arrogance, and often unteachable. At times, I am like all of that, too—the good and the bad.

During a recent clash of our similar personalities, where I felt (maybe incorrectly) that I needed to press Ian on his apparently unteachable/rebellious position or attitude toward me at that moment, I asked, “Ian, what is going on? Why are you being like this right now? Why do you have no humility at all?” He quickly responded, “I really have a hard time being humble!”

Slightly taken aback by his astute observation and open admission, I paused, but only slightly.

Though there was only a slight moment in which Ian’s words were allowed to resonate, his sister, Kirsten—more than five years his younger—managed to slip in the kindest, and perhaps most profound words of encouragement recently spoken in our home.

“That was humble, Ian.”

The kindness and pure, caring heart revealed both by her choice of words and her delivery of them, as well as the depth of understanding of the concept of humility that was evidenced by her quick assessment is overwhelming to me. In the midst of what had been a very draining, tense, frustrating series of moments for me (and everyone else, I think) she spoke such words of life that I had to encourage her, “Kirstie, I think those were the wisest, kindest words I’ve heard spoken here today. Thank you.”

There is beauty in our brokenness. In the moments where we are weak we can be lifted up. Either by someone else who is somehow less weak for that moment, or by God himself whose grace makes us strong, even—especially?—when we are weak. Sometimes the truth of that is revealed in the words, from the heart, of a seven year old girl, or by the actions of a two year old boy.

I hope that I am mostly characterized by a love and grace—toward my kids (and wife) directly, as well as toward every person that I might interact with—that overflows from the Life I have in me in Jesus. I am not him, and I can not be perfect. I will choose poorly, I will fail. But even in my brokenness, I hope that my kids will get to follow my example as I follow Jesus. Even in the way that I handle the images I see in the mirror: be they glass, or flesh.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery. Perhaps children are the highest form of imitation.

This day, I am so thankful for the mirrors God has given me.


Bible references above are from 1 Corinthians 11, and 2 Corinthians 12.

Special Moments [Memory Lane]

Each Thursday in August we’ll be taking a trip down Memory Lane! I will be posting some of my favorite stories ever published here, part of celebrating ten years of blogging—August 2003 to August 2013. Some posts are taken from books, and others (like today’s) have only been published online thus far. You’ll read stories that are funny, stories that are sad, and several heart-warming moments from the life we’ve lived. If you missed any, you can use the series navigation at the end of this post to read more. I invite you to enjoy these moments from the journey with me, too.

This recent stop on Memory Lane is a reminder that life is so much more in the moments along the way than most of the other stuff we spend ourselves on, day after day, running into years. And just like last week’s post, Loss, I’m also reminded that the moments don’t even have to be “good”—or, what we’d usually call “good”—to be a special moment; a moment worth enjoying and remembering.

One of the greatest things about parenting is how much your own kids can teach (or remind) you about life.

Special Moments

November 2nd, 2012

Some days just have those moments.

Today has had plenty. (And not all good ones, mind you.)

Jen had a super-frustrating day with (she said) every one of the kids, who just wouldn’t listen to her at all. They only wanted what they wanted when they wanted it. Eventually, she just couldn’t take it anymore and walked away from what she was trying to do, attempting to clear her head.

(It was during this time that Jen decided to make soup, which is something she wouldn’t usually do, and without a recipe, which is something she definitely wouldn’t do! The best part? It turned out great! Was a nice “moment” for Jen to enjoy a great (tasty) bit of success in an otherwise hard day.)

At dinner, we came to another moment where I erupted into a very intense monologue full of very direct, clear reminders of things we’ve taught the kids since they came into this world. Very direct. Pretty loud. And I meant every word of it.

That was a moment.

Then Mom went out for the evening to do some shopping, but mainly to “clear her head”. Much needed, and hopefully she is being refreshed. (I’ll find out when she gets home!)

As the clean-up team took care of the kitchen (and the other two took care of the other rooms) I bathed the youngest two. They really needed it.

(Note: I am quite sick. Nasty head cold, stuffy, bad cough, just keep saying, “My head feels weird…” So… that makes for a more interesting bath time. Oh, and Cam is just as sick as me!)

That was a moment. (But not too bad, actually.)

The girls got their baths, and I got everyone dressed for bed and hair brushed and all that must be done. Then Alex got his quick shower and we were ready for the evening activity.

Tonight, it was singing.

I got my guitar, and a box of chord charts for worship songs, and we just started playing through them. Some the kids knew, most they didn’t. But that didn’t stop them from singing. And dancing. And smiling. And really LOUD singing!

That was a moment. A different sort of moment. (A heart-smile kind of moment.)

I encouraged Ian to get his bass guitar out, and Alex converted a plastic pumpkin trick-or-treat bucket into a percussive instrument, and suddenly we had a band. And even though we didn’t know the song to begin with, by the end of one song Julia had a huge smile on her face… and tears on her cheeks.

“I’m crying!” says little Julia Gayle. “Why are you crying, Julia?” I asked gently. “It’s just because of the singing!” She almost couldn’t believe that music could do that to you, but at the same time, she knew deep within her that it did do that to her.

That was a moment.

Then came bedtime. We usually play with a Dad-animated stuffed friend at some point. Tonight it was the stuffed friend, Baboo. (Cam’s name for his little red-white-and-blue doggie.) We laughed, we had fun, we hugged (Cam wanted two hugs..) and we prayed together for our family.

That was another moment. (After which Cam wanted another hug…)

Days are full of moments. Some are good, some are “eh”, and some are pretty bad (or really bad). I feel like today kinda had all of those for us. Maybe most days do. Sometimes we get tricked into focusing on the bad moments though and we miss the little good ones that are still there, or can be there if and when we look for them.

They’re there. They were for us tonight.

Keep your heart and mind and eyes fixed on Jesus, and he’ll show you the moments. He’s in the moments, actually. All of them.

And if we know that—and live that—that is what makes them special.

Natural Consequences

handsParenting is not for the faint of heart.

It starts out with no sleep, lots of messes to clean up (including many dirty bottoms per day), fussy meal times, and plenty of time just trying to figure out what makes this new person tick!

Then you reach the mobile stage and it become exponentially harder. Naps—a parent’s best friend in the early years—become less frequent, until they cease altogether. Here, the very early stages of exerting one’s autonomy begin with practice and mastery of the word, “No!”

And then, Mom & Dad are tired.

But the persistent, caring parent will see it through. Being consistent with expectations and consequences will help the young child understand what is required, and with proper instruction, learn what is good and what is bad. It certainly takes effort and ridiculous amounts of repetition, but in the end, the goal is establishing a foundation of respect (even love) for what is good and a healthy fear of what is wrong.

Then come the teen years.

We have a great teenager. Honestly, though we butt heads so much with our confident, brash, gregarious young man, he is heads and shoulders above many of his peers in many ways. (Don’t worry, I also frequently address humility and pride with our young protégé…) 🙂

However…

The biggest problem is this: when one is approaching adulthood, one begins to fancy himself as already sufficiently learned, thus shunning sage advice from elders. (Also, notably, one leans generally towards haste when of the male gender.)

And so, when I draw upon my nearly fifteen years of parenting experience, I often want to revert to previous parenting techniques—restrict! It’s very easy for me to observe and understand all the variables, and then establish the rules. “Don’t do that in response to this” or “Do this when …”

That’s easy, but is it really helpful?

The simple answer is, of course it’s not. The best way for anyone to learn is through experience, and even better, through failure. The natural consequences of our choices and actions (or inactions) will often teach us more than any lesson, speech, class, book, video, seminar… anything intended to train by instruction. Real life is nearly always superior.

Why then is it so difficult to allow natural consequences to instruct our older children? Not only would that be easier, in a way, it would also seemingly have better results, no? Is it maybe just me who struggles to allow poor choices to be the best teachers my son can have? Probably not.

Now, I’m certainly not advocating a complete relaxing of all rules. Surely there are some standards of behavior toward others in our home that must be upheld. But in regards to personal care, time management, taking care of personal possessions, work ethic, even money management, there may be more leeway. And, of course, aside from the general life skills—above all—we hope to instill in our children a good understanding of who Jesus is, and that they can trust Father with their whole lives. We won’t stop instruction, or offering advice, but might all be better off if Natural Consequences for choices and actions against that advice are allowed to teach rather than structured consequences, or stricter “rules”?

I really think that’s true. Difficult to put into action, but true.

Isn’t this a bit like grace? We are accepted—no, we were accepted before we even understood what grace is, and who Jesus is. We are sought out. Bought at an unfathomable price. The choice of the One who made all, owns and commands all … he pursues us. AND, he allows us full, unfettered freedom to choose to walk alongside him. We are not forced. So why do we persist in “forcing” our children?

I’m really not sure.

Honestly, this goes beyond parenting, doesn’t it? Why would we not want to allow more freedom—read: less judgment—toward others, if natural consequences are the best way to learn and grow? Rather than manipulative expectations of the others around us, perhaps grace and reasonable latitude are better for all—everyone; every time? At least, nearly every.

I intend to look for more ways to employ this philosophy. So look out—it might get a bit messy!

Somehow, though, experience has shown, the best things in life are often the messiest.

The Water Shoe [Memory Lane]

Continuing the series from the last week of July, we’ll been taking a trip down Memory Lane each Thursday in August! I will be posting some of my favorite stories ever published here. Some were taken from books (like today’s) and others have only been published online thus far. There are some funny, some sad, and some heart-warming moments from the life we’ve lived. If you missed any, you can use the series navigation at the end of this post to read more. I invite you to enjoy them (all) with me, too.

This was one of the most fun lessons in trusting God that we’ve ever seen actually worked out before our own eyes. It was truly incredible to be part of, and, all for only a tiny shoe.

The Water Shoe

October 29th & 30th, 2003

This collection of articles was written “real-time”, not after the fact (until the fact had actually happened) and so we wanted to present them that way, but we have put them together in one chapter calling it The Water Shoe. We still have the water shoe. It only cost us a few dollars at a Wal-Mart somewhere along the way, but it is now priceless for what—for Who—it represents. So, sit back and read the story of the day we found The Water Shoe…

Flowery Prayers

October 29th, 2003

I was humbled again. By my son Ian. I love it when he does that. Really.

We were praying, and sometimes Ian is a bit embarrassed to talk with God in front of people, even Mom and Dad. Tonight he was again, but He decided to.

A bit of background…

We went to the beach tonight after sunset (yes, the water was still quite warm!) and Ian and I were having a bunch of fun jumping waves. On one jump, over a large wave, Ian returned to the ground quite upset, and finally got out of him that he lost his water shoe!!! I spent 10 minutes feeling around for it, and looking around in the moonlit water. No luck. And all I could think about was the trust of Ian for his Dad to find his shoe (that seemed to me to be quite precious to him) and how I could not do it. So I kept thinking that God is in control of oceans. And I kept asking him to help me find it, wash it up on shore, or put it in my hand. Whatever he wanted to do for my son Ian who completely trusts both of his Dads. Well, no shoe, but I kept thinking that we should just come back tomorrow morning… so, I went back to Ian and told him that. And we are going to go back and look for it tomorrow morning.

So, fast forward to tonight, praying before Ian goes to bed. And Ian decides he can pray without getting embarrassed. He simply asked God to “please put the shoe on the beach so we can find it tomorrow. Thanks.” That was so cool.

The part that humbled me was not that. We continued to pray, and this time I was praying for our friend Kayla who is sick in the hospital with pneumonia. I thanked God for being big and powerful and asked him to help in many ways to heal Kayla, and to help Kayla’s Mom have peace as she trusts Him.

Simple. Plain English. That’s how I would talk to my dad, so that’s how I talk to my Dad.

But Ian wanted to pray for Kayla, too. So he did.

“God, we know that you are mighty, and powerful… and we ask you to… get the… to… uh…. (many words) … help the doctors get medicine to help Kayla’s body to get better. So she doesn’t die.”

Notice a difference? I did. Ian was getting all flowery (in his best four-year-old way… because I guess I do. I try hard to just be real with God. Guess I can try even more. I don’t want Ian thinking God is a distant, unapproachable God who only listens if we use the right words.

Thanks Ian for a fresh perspective.

Thanks Dad for Ian.

You are both awesome. (In different ways of course…)

Ian’s Shoe

October 30th, 2003

The Water ShoeJust a quick update on Ian’s shoe…

We got up this morning at 7am, which is like 3 hours before Ian usually gets up! We walked right out the door (Dad and Ian) and headed to the beach. We asked God as we walked to show us where He put the shoe… and we started looking. We probably looked for 30 min or so, up and down the beach where we had lost it. No luck. I finally told Ian, “Why don’t we go home and we’ll come back and see if God wants to give it to us later. Sometimes God likes us to learn to trust Him by waiting.”

So we did. We made it back to the beach around 1:30pm or so with the whole family, and started to look again. We were just having fun, too… but Ian really wanted to find his shoe. He said, “Ask God again, Dad!” I told him, “Yeah, I can’t do anything about this Ian. If God wants to give you your shoe, He will, if not, then we’ll just have to get another one.”

Within one minute I think, Ian had gone up to be with Mom (out of the water) and they started walking down the beach, and there were shouts of excitement… THEY FOUND IT!!! It was just sitting right in the beach wash (which Ian and I had checked at least 4 times earlier today).

Wow. Thanks God. You are the Wave Maker. The Oceans (and the Gulfs) obey your commands. And you love your children so much. We are amazed at God’s abilities and his love for us.

Hope you know that too.

From My Perspective

October 30th, 2003

I just wanted to add some more on the fantastic faith story of Ian’s water shoe. Just some thoughts from my head throughout the whole thing.

Can God Really Do It?

That thought obviously kept going through my head. In a way. You know, I really had no problem believing that God could bring Ian’s shoe out of the water and neatly onto the shore for us… but where my mind betrays me or gets me into trouble is on the “does he want to” side of things. I mean, what does God care about a shoe?

But He Cares About Ian…

But I kept coming back to the fact that it’s not about the shoe. It’s about how much God loves Ian—and even me—in this. He loves it when we come to him believing that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Faith Like A Child.

You know, I actually saw Ian’s simple faith waiver a bit. But it wasn’t as insecure as my wavering. I wonder if God would ever do something big and God-like for me… but Ian didn’t worry about that. He just wondered when it would happen. He knew God would do it. That was so cool. I did too actually. It was honestly some of the most confident I have been in a while, and I just smiled every time I was talking to God cause I really knew He was going to do it.

Moments of Doubt.

There were plenty of moments when I had looked and asked and found nothing where I wanted to just give up. And I would talk to God again and ask Him what should I do… lead me to the shoe. (That rhymed…) I knew that even if God did not come through with the shoe, there would be some awesome story of His provision. I was confident in that.

Celebration!

You know, I honestly thought I would celebrate more. But all I wanted to do was smile and worship God. We sang some, we shouted out “GOD IS AWESOME!” and just had fun. But in the end, we were really expecting Him to do it! We knew he could, and we thought he would. Amazing.

I think that is how God wants us to live. Completely trusting Him, even when it doesn’t make sense, or seem possible. There are so many chances we have in life to trust that God is bigger. Sickness being one of them. Our friend’s daughter is really, really sick. And they love Jesus. A lot. They are in a crisis of belief. Can God fix this? Will he? Does he love us? They know all the answers, but now they have to trust him.

God gave Ian his shoe back today so he will have a reason to trust Him in the future with bigger stuff. Our friends are dealing with a very tough situation right now, where they have to trust God. God has given them plenty of shoes. That is what they are holding on to, and taking comfort in right now—the shoes God has given them.

What are your shoes? Can you think of one? Or several? God gives us little markers along the way where we see Him very clearly working or leading in our lives. And it’s when we look back at those that we can look forward in trust. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Words of wisdom from the book of Hebrews.

Faith requires action. God gives us reasons to trust him (shoes) and then something happens where we have to trust him. That’s when we remember the shoes, and trust that He has another one for us.

Tonight, celebrate Ian’s shoe, and remember yours. And thank God for his amazing love and faithfulness. And trust him. Really trust him.

Life in the Rearview Mirror: Reflections on Life Lived by Greg CampbellThis post is a chapter in the book A Journey Shared: Selected Thoughts on Life from Greg’s Head from GregsHead.net by Greg Campbell, available through Amazon.com. If you’d like to purchase the book, please click the book title in the previous sentence. Thanks for reading, sharing, and feel free to add to the discussion in the comments below, or wherever else you can reach me.