Assumptions and Hurry …

old honda

We took my son to Outback for his birthday (his request).   The meal was excellent and I paid with my debit card (who carries cash anymore?).

I hurried to my truck to escape the cold, cranked it, and backed out.  I started to pull into the exit drive when I was cut off by old, beat-up Honda.  The driver, a man of another race, gestured to me but I couldn’t make it out.  I thought he was telling me he had the right of way.  In these circumstances, I assume the larger vehicle has the right of way.  My Ford F-150 4×4 was larger than his Honda.

It’s amazing how fast my temper can flare.  I’m a follower of Jesus and all, but right of way is my right.  As a character in Fried Green Tomatoes said, “I’m old and I have insurance.”  I was about to respond with my hand gesture, but I remember the church sticker on my rear window.  I decided it was better to feel quietly righteous.  With the speed of a super-computer, I built a negative, judgmental profile of the man.

The beat-up Honda man kept yelling at me and gesturing.  He was throwing his hands up behind his head.  I read it as frustration.  Finally, he pulled off and I started to exit when I saw our waitress running, waving my debit card in her hand.  I had left it at the table.

The whole narrative in my head flipped.  The man in the beat-up Honda was no longer my enemy; he was a Good Samaritan, trying to keep me from driving off without my card.  He had seen the waitress running into the parking lot and had figured out who she needed to get to.  I assumed he was a jerk.  Instead, he was a man of mercy.

There’s an old saying about assumptions I won’t repeat.  When we hurry, our worst assumptions surface first.  That’s why Jesus wants us to live an unhurried life.  Dallas Willard advised, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

To live an unhurried life means we have time and space to see a situation before we make assumptions.  We trust God is at work, taking care of us.  Panic and anxiety blind us to his solutions.  An unhurried life allows us to pause and see people as God sees them.  Could it be God wants to give you a gift you’re missing because you are in a hurry?

I wish I could find the man in the beat-up Honda.  I need to tell him “thanks” for slowing me down.  And I need to apologize for my assumptions.  Maybe I could buy him a steak at Outback.

I Can’t Imagine…

fbc sutherland springs

I can’t imagine, but I need to.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like at First Baptist Sutherland Springs, Texas last Sunday.  People gathered to worship and hear a visiting preacher while their pastor was out of town.  Songs were sung.  The Word was being proclaimed.  Then Devin Kelley came into the sanctuary firing his weapons.

What if I had been in the room?  Maybe I would have been the guest preacher, the most inviting target.  Would I have shouted for everyone to get down?  Would I have rushed the gunman to protect others? Would I have stared in shock, never believing this could happen?

What if I had been seated beside my wife and children?  Would I try to cover them with my body?  What if they were hit by a bullet?  Would I try to hold them and tell them I love them? Would I try to stop the bleeding?  How would I feel if while shots rained around me, I watched the light of life go out of their eyes?

What if I was Frank Pomeroy, the pastor of the church?  Imagine getting the call.  “Frank, I don’t know how to tell you this, but a crazy gunman shot up the church today.  We’ve got more than twenty dead.  And Frank, your daughter Annabelle, fourteen, she’s one of the dead.”  How does a man cope?  How does he eat or sleep?  Shock may be God’s blessing.

If I was Frank Pomeroy, I imagine I would be overwhelmed.  Literally every house in town needs pastoral care.  A hospital full of wounded people need a pastor.  There are twenty funerals to do.  There is my own grief for my daughter.  I would have to do ministry and grieve in the glare of national news coverage.  What do you say at each funeral?

I can’t imagine what it will be like for this church in the years to come.  Sutherland Springs is added to a list no community wants to be on: Columbine, Sandy Hook, Charleston, and Las Vegas.  After the satellite trucks have packed up and moved on to the next tragedy, this church will still be grieving.  They are experiencing the ultimate test of faith, the test of Job: Will I still seek God though I have lost everything?  Or will I curse God and let my faith die?

I can’t imagine what the first Sunday back in the building will be like.  Like closing the barn door after the horse is gone, I’m sure there will be plenty of protection.  But to be in the room where so many died, where evil was so manifest – I can’t imagine.

I can’t imagine.  God can.

God has to live with this sort of thing every day.  Because he is near to the broken hearted, whether they are in Texas or Pakistan, God sees this, enters it, and gives hope, strength, and comfort.  I can’t imagine the horror that God deals with every day.

Why doesn’t God put a stop to it?  C.S. Lewis said, “Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having…  If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will -that is, for making a real world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings- then we may take it it is worth paying.”

To truly follow Jesus means we need to imagine what God feels when tragedy happens.  Imagine how God feels when a shooter enters his church.  Imagine how his heart hurts when he sees bullets go through the bodies of his children.

Now imagine how much God must love us to send his Son to have nails driven through his body, so all this evil could be forgiven.

I can’t imagine, but I need to.

Refusing to Stand for the Pledge…


I approached fourth grade with dread.  Everyone knew the meanest teacher in the school was Mrs. Hendon, and I was assigned to her class.  That first day began as all school days did: the bell would ring, the principal would come on the PA system, and intone: “Please stand for the pledge of allegiance to the Flag.”  We all stood in Mrs. Hendon’s class, all except a one little girl named Audrey.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag…”  Why isn’t Audrey standing?  Doesn’t she realize that Mrs. Hendon is her teacher and Mrs. Hendon eats disobedient children for breakfast?

“… of the United States of America.  And to the republic…”  We glanced at each other.  What was about to happen?  Why wasn’t Mrs. Hendon exploding?  Maybe she had a time delay fuse!

“… for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible…” Surely any moment now, Mrs. Hendon would jerk Audrey up out of her seat by ear and cause her to grow two inches.

“…with liberty and justice for all.”

Then we all sat down.  No Mrs. Hendon explosion.  No explanation.

At recess, the boys got together and decided Audrey didn’t stand for the pledge because she was a communist.  We also decided that Mrs. Hendon was a communist, too, but she was faking it better than Audrey.

I don’t really remember how many days passed, but I know every day when we stood for the pledge, Audrey would stay seated.  We all thought in our hearts, “Communist!”

I think it was Charles Brown who said it out loud one day.  We had finished, taken our seats, and were ready to hear the announcements when he said, “Audrey’s a communist!”  Audrey put her head down on her desk and began to cry.

Then we saw the full wrath of Mrs. Hendon.  She turned toward us with clenched teeth, and scowl that made our crew cuts stand up straight.  If the wrath of God is anything like the wrath of Mrs. Hendon, I don’t want to ever experience the wrath of God.

“Be quiet!” she hissed.  Then she turned to Audrey and with great gentleness told her to go to the Sick Room.  This made no sense at all.  Though we knew communists were sick, we thought they belonged in jail.

Then Mrs. Hendon, slightly calmed, turned back to us.  Audrey, she explained, was a Jehovah’s Witness.  I raised my hand to ask what in the world was a Jehovah’s Witness.  I knew only of Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Catholics.  Mrs. Hendon said Jehovah’s Witnesses were taught it was wrong to say the pledge of allegiance.  They loved their country, she said, but they believe you should only make a pledge to God.

We were all thoroughly confused.  Mrs. Hendon saw our puzzlement, and went on to explain that liberty for all, which we had just pledged, meant that people like Audrey had the liberty not to say the pledge. Being an American, she said, meant you were free to worship God the way you saw fit; and if your religion said not to say the pledge, that was okay.

She must have realized she was not getting through to us.  Being free to disagree was not big among fourth graders in 1969.  Mrs. Hendon decided to put it in terms we could understand: “If I hear one of you making fun of Audrey again, I will spank you with my board of education.”  That we understood.

The rest of the year passed.  While we stood for the pledge every morning, Audrey stayed seated.  We did not call her a communist; in fact, we learned she was a lot of fun at recess and could clean your clock playing dodgeball.

The refusal of NFL players to stand for the National Anthem made me think about this.  I’m proud to be an American.  I stand for the pledge and say it loudly.  But I’m also proud that liberty for all means Audrey got to stay seated.  I’m also embarrassed, that I called her a communist, just because she wasn’t like me.

Jesus said, “Judge not, lest you be judged.”  Whenever I judge someone, it says a lot more about me than it does about them.

To Think It is to Do It – Sometimes…


I was taught to think something is to do it.  No doubt Mama taught me this so I could learn to control my thoughts.  It didn’t quite work that way.  Too often I would think something, and then decide since I already thought it, I might as well do it.  This explains the failure of many diets.

I went to Florida to celebrate my brother Steve’s 65th birthday.  To celebrate, we went to a gun show, one of his favorite leisure activities.  I collect books; Steve collects guns (I have more books than he has guns, but he is closing the gap).

We went our separate ways, for we have different speeds.  My approach is to do a quick circle, then go back to what I find interesting (I found a booth that had books on guns!).  Steve, much like our father, makes a new friend at every booth.  I mean, every booth.

We crossed paths after a couple of hours and he told me he found a gun he wanted: a 41 German Luger pistol.  I walked back to the booth with him (it was his birthday after all).  The seller, Steve’s new best friend), had just sold the pistol.  Steve missed out on his gun.

Being the compassionate brother I am, I reminded him of what Mama taught us: “You know Steve, Mama also said to think it is to do it.  So I thought about buying you that gun for your birthday.  In fact, I my mind I bought it and I have given it to you.  Now the least you could do would be to say ‘Thank you.’”

Without missing a beat, Steve replied, “I’ve already thought about writing you a thank you note.  It’s in the mail.”

We had a good laugh and teased each other about the gift and the thank you note the rest of the weekend.

But maybe this is one time when Mama’s teaching was incomplete.  Whatever action we take first forms in our mind, so we need to monitor our thoughts.  As I monitor my thoughts, I can reject destructive and unhealthy thoughts.  Every time I reject destructive and negative thoughts, every time I do not allow them to control my actions, I win.  I can think about eating a candy bar, but if I reject that thought, thinking is not the same as doing.

I wish I was the kind of person who never had destructive, unhealthy, negative thoughts enter my mind.  That’s why Paul called us to “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind… (Romans 12:1).”  My mind has been under construction for a long time.  At least the process has started.

What remains important, however, is that I recognize the harm that comes to myself and others when I allow the unhealthy, destructive thoughts to become actions.  Stopping those thoughts gives me a better life.

Pay attention to your thoughts.  Turn away from the destructive ones.  Don’t allow the harmful thoughts to become actions.  To think it is not the same as doing it.

Although, I still wish Steve would send me a thank you note for gun I thought about buying him.

Hef’s Answers


Dallas Willard, philosopher and Jesus follower, said all people are trying to find the answers to four questions:

  1. What is reality?
  2. Who is well off?
  3. Who is a good person?
  4. How do you become a good person?

Hugh Hefner died last week.  Founder of Playboy, he sought to redefine “what is a good life?”  How did Hef answer Dallas’s questions?

What is reality?  Hefner said reality is what is here and now.  Yet, there is a contradiction between his words and his life.  The Playboy brand above all stands for fantasy.  Beautiful women stared at you from a glossy page promising pleasure without commitment or complication.   That’s not reality.  Every human being needs love, acceptance, and security.  Playboy could never quite offer these in its pages.

Who is well off? According to Hefner, you were well off if you had the resources to live as you wanted.  Hef wanted to live where he made the rules.  Granted, his lifestyle was the envy of many.  Money poured in.  There were always potential partners for intimacy.  Hef repeatedly said of himself, “I am a lucky guy.”  “Lucky” is our culture’s word for “blessed.”  Yet his lifestyle did not age well.  Hedonism seems to suit the young and fit.  At some point, Hef’s life seemed creepy.  A man in his eighties having seven girlfriends in their twenties makes you wonder who was being exploited.  Maybe it was mutual exploitation: “Hey old man, pay our bills and we will give you a thrill.”  This falls short of “being well off.”  Where is the center of the soul in a bargain like this?

Who is a good person?  Hef saw himself as a moral person.  He said to live a moral life you need to make sure you do not harm someone else.  Before you rush to condemn him, realize we all have our own definitions of what makes a good person.  I fail at my definition every day.  Did Hef do better than me?  He certainly baited the hook for pornography addiction.  By making the sexual experience the pinnacle of human existence, other parts of the soul were ignored.

My brother Bob dated a girl in high school, Debbie, who became a Playmate of the month.  She died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at age 53.  Her body was not discovered for two weeks after her death.  Was there a connection?  Only God knows.  It does seem to me, however, that Debbie neglected parts of her soul.  She never made the connection that she was so much more than a body.

When any person is objectified, they are harmed.  Hef failed to a moral person by his own definition.

How do you become a good person?  Honestly, Hef was a little fuzzy on that.  He offered a life model that said, “Live as you wish, do not harm, and be admired.”  Though Hef would claim his life was dedicated to sexual freedom, the complete picture seems to be a life dedicate to yourself.  A life dedicated to yourself is a cul-de-sac.  You chase a pleasure dream around a circle.  If you catch it, you soon see something you like better, and start a new pursuit.  How many times around the circle before the thrill is gone?  A former playmate shared her experience of being one of Hef’s many partners.  She described the experience as surreal, because ultimately Hef would need to watch pornography to satisfy himself, while in a room of women.    This doesn’t seem to be the way to be a good person.

You may sense I am building up to a condemnation of Hefner.  I’m not.  What shames me is how much my life has been influenced by his answers.  Thought I am follower of Jesus, too much of my life is controlled by Hef’s values.  It is easier to entertain fantasy than work reality.  I find myself admiring the man who “has it all.”  I want to believe living a good life is about not doing things, instead of doing things.  How many times have I chased a dream, only to catch it and find out it didn’t reward what it promised?

Hugh Hefner’s life and death remind me to check my own soul.  Maybe the good life requires more than just looking out for yourself.  Didn’t Jesus say, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Which road was Hefner on?  Which road am I on?  Which road are you on?

What Happens in Vegas

(NY Times photo)

I could have been there.

I like country music.  If I had been in Vegas Sunday night, I might have bought a ticket and gone to the show in the shadow of the Mandalay Bay Hotel.  I could have listened to the music, swayed a little, and lived in a moment of joy.

I also could have been a target.  Stephen Paddock fired from his perch on the 32nd floor, killing 59 people and wounding over 500 more.  Authorities are still trying to figure out his motives, if insanity can have rational motive.

Shootings like this happen with alarming frequency.  Listening to news coverage, the question I heard most often was, “How do we stop this kind of thing from happening?”  Sherriff Joseph Lombardo replied with an answer we don’t want to hear: “Nothing.”

We live in world where evil seizes the soul and then seeks to destroy.  The destruction is sometimes towards self.  Sometimes it is toward others.  You see evil reaching out of a soul to destroy a career, a family, a marriage, a life.  Evil’s tools are addiction, fear, jealousy, neglect, denial, anger, and craving.

The evil that controlled Stephen Paddock can control you; it can control me.  Yet, we want to deny the reality of evil.

We’d like to make the world safe.  We’d like to have enough laws to stop this sort of thing.  Technology has given us the illusion we can build a world where nothing can threaten us.  We’re happy in that delusion until the next shooter opens fire.

Even if we acknowledge the world is dangerous, we try to convince ourselves we can respond.  I have no way of knowing this, but since it was a country music concert, I figure someone had a concealed weapon – legal or not.  There were police and security forces right there.  But a .38 pistol is no match for scoped rifle firing on automatic 400 yards away.  No matter how big your gun is, someone, somewhere, has a bigger gun.

Jesus told us things like this would happen.  This text is seldom taught or preached on, but it rings true: “Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish (Luke 13:1-5).”

We don’t like Jesus telling us the harsh truth.  Pilate was evil and didn’t care if he had to kill some people to stay in power.  Some unknown government official never took responsibility for tower maintenance in Siloam and eighteen people died (neglect is a form of evil, too).

Jesus’s message?  “Repent, or you will perish.”  I think Jesus was saying to us that it’s a dangerous world.  The only way for evil not to overtake you is for you to turn around and do life God’s way.  When you do life God’s way, evil does not control you inside or out.  You are not the person controlled by evil; when evil is done to you, even if you die , you know God has the last word on your life.  You can die in hope.

What happened in Vegas does not stay in Vegas.  It can happen wherever people are.  It’s an evil world.  When you are with God, however, evil does not win over you.  Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.

Walking Away…

walk away

A re-telling of an old story:

There was this young, hot-shot politician who was on the fast track. A sharp young man, he was shrewd enough that he wanted to cover all his religious bases. He had heard about a new preacher in town and wanted to be sure and get him on his side.

The young politician couldn’t help but be impressed with the crowd that surrounded the preacher at his regular preaching time. He was more amazed that unlike other preachers, this one did Q and A with the crowd. From personal experience, the young politician knew this took courage.

The young politician worked his way to the front of the crowd, nodding, grinning, and shaking hands as he went. His mind was flying about the best way to get the preacher on his side while impressing the crowd at the same time. Being a clever man, he hit upon just the right question. When the preacher paused for a breath, the young politician spoke up, loud enough so everyone could hear him: “Preacher, you are so wise! So what do I need to do to have the best life possible?”

The preacher looked at him with a dry smile and said, “Why are you calling me wise? Only God is wise. I’ll bet you already know the answer. Keep your life between the ditches. Don’t kill, sleep with someone else’s wife, take what doesn’t belong to you, tell a lie, or cheat anyone; and do right by your Momma and Daddy.”

With the perfect touch of humility and pride, the young politician said, “Preacher, I’ve done all that ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper.”

The crowd murmured approval, because this young politician had the reputation of being an upright guy. They looked at the preacher, certain he was about to heap praise on the young man.

But the preacher looked at him with a look that conveyed affection and truth. He said, “You’re missing one thing. Go back to your office and put everything up for sale. Liquidate it all. Empty your bank accounts. Take it all the money down to the wrong side of the tracks and give away. When you empty your bank account, your account balance in heaven will go way up! Once you’ve done that, find a spiritual adventure to go on.”

You could hear the air sucked in by the crowd. The young politician looked stunned. He’d come thinking he would get a high five from the preacher. Instead, he was blindsided by a reality about his life: He’d rather be rich than be right. He’d been born into money; it meant status and security. He didn’t want a spiritual adventure; he wanted an endorsement of his life as it was. The preacher didn’t cooperate with his agenda. With a heave of his shoulders, he turned from the preacher and headed back to the office.

Years went by. He heard how the preacher was lynched for his teachings down at the capital. Then there was the crazy news that after a few days, people saw him alive again. The crazy nuts that had sold everything and followed him were telling everyone the best life you could ever have would be to follow him. The now old politician still didn’t believe it, though every now and then an ache in his soul seemed to say: “Is counting my money all there is?”

The old politician had dismissed that thought so many times, it rarely came up anymore. But whenever it did, he went back to the day of his encounter with the preacher. He made the right decision, he reminded himself. After all, what would he have gained if gave up all his money and saved his soul?

(see the original version of this story in Mark 10: 17-22).

Lessons from an Earthworm…


Have you noticed the earthworms in the mornings?  In my neighborhood, they crawl up during the night (or after a hard rain), and make their way onto the street pavement.  I guess the asphalt looks like dirt to them.  They try to burrow into the asphalt, but they can’t.

Walking through the neighborhood one morning, I saw hundreds of earthworms curled up, dead.  They had got on the asphalt, tried to burrow, and then were gradually cooked by the sun as it warmed the asphalt.  Scrambled earthworms, anyone?

Then I saw one earthworm still alive.  The day was already warming up and he was wriggling for all he was worth (at least I think it was a he; who can tell?).  For some unknown reason, I felt compassion for the earthworm. Hard to say why.  After all, it is just one earthworm among hundreds.

I decided to rescue this earthworm.  I bent down to pick him up from the asphalt.  This is when the problems began.

My fingers are chubby and stubby.  When I pinched my fingers together to pick up the earthworm, there was a perfect earthworm-sized gap.  I couldn’t grab hold of him.

I don’t feel compassion often for earthworms, so I was going to rescue him if it killed him.  I crooked my finger and thumb to make sure there was no gap and tried to pick up the earthworm again.  I still couldn’t quite grip him, and dropped him.  I think his tiny mouth was screaming at me, “What are you doing?”

I would not give up.  I came in again, got a good grip… and pinched the earthworm in two.  Oops.  I remembered something from middle school biology: if you pinch an earthworm in two, both pieces will live.  So I tried again.  I’ll spare you the details except to say half a worm is better than nothing.

As I walked away from half a worm smooshed on the asphalt and half a worm in the grass, I ask our Heavenly Father what I was supposed to learn from that.

It came to me: Our Heavenly Father loves us so much he does not come to overwhelm us with his presence and power.  If he did, we wouldn’t just be pinched in two; we explode in the presence of his glory.

Our gentle Heavenly Father knew we needed an intercessor, someone who would come and be just the right size to rescue us, make us clean, and bring us home.  That’s why he sent his son Jesus.  Jesus – God with us – comes to each of us and says, “You matter.  You are important to our Father in Heaven.  Let me rescue you, forgive you, and bring you home.”

Stop wriggling in fear.  Jesus will come to you with just the right amount of power to rescue you.

Time for Peace…

time for peace

Chaos is quick; peace takes time.

I create chaos when I hurry.  I pack too much in my day.  This results in clothes not put away, a desk left a wreck, and meals grabbed on the run.  The house is chaos, my health is chaos, and I’m exhausted.

Peace requires time.  To live a centered life means carving time to put myself before God and listen, not just talk (ever thought about how chaotic our prayers are?).  Peace is found when I let the arms of God embrace me.   That means I have to sit still long enough to be in His presence.

It also takes time to think through my day.  The key to changing any human behavior is preparation.  If I want to lose weight, I need to prepare to eat well.  If I want to exercise, I have to prepare my schedule so I will have time.

Peace in relationships takes time.  It takes time to understand instead of blame.  Most of the anger in relationship is driven by urgency to fix this now!  What if I slowed down my urgency?  What if I trusted a different reality than the power of the nagging voice in my head that pushes me to solve an issue today?

It would mean I would have to clear out unimportant things, like pretending to have it all together; like trying to impress others; and like mindless time that is not restful.  Then I would have time to put things where they belong.  Then I would have time to listen.  Then I would have time to understand.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t do this well.  But when I do, life is better in the peace groove.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14).”

The world gives you a peace that is the temporary numbing of the deepest longing of your heart.  Jesus offers you a peace that centers on him.  His peace calms your heart.  His peace drives out fear.  His peace is peace for the deepest part of your heart.

If you want true peace, make time for Jesus.

Chaos takes time too.  John Wooden, the greatest basketball coach ever, said, “If you do not have time to it right, when will you have time to do it over?”

If you don’t have time to do a relationship right, when will you have time to do it over?  If you don’t have time to organize your life, when will you have time to do it over?  If you don’t have time for Jesus, when will you have time for a do-over with him?

The Last Sleepover…


Sleepovers were a way of life in my house for years.  When it was the boys, there would be all-night video game binges.  With the girls, there was giggling, dancing, and movies.  I lost count of the mornings I tiptoed over children sprawled out on the living room carpet, in the deep contented sleep of children exhausted by fun.

The sleepovers ended for the boys in high school, but the girls continued.  When Sarah left for college, I thought we’d seen the last of the sleepovers.

Sarah, my youngest, and two of her life-long friends – Heather and Noelle, reconnected earlier this summer.  They went out to eat and came back to our house.  When I got home, there were unfamiliar pillows and backpacks littering the hall.   Three grown young women were giggling on the couch.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“We’re having a sleepover!” came the reply.

“What are you watching?”

“The Hannah Montana Movie!”

A time warp engulfed me.  Had these young women slipped back to 5th grade?  All the signs were there: an open bag of chips, five plates and cups for each girl, and blankets covering everything but faces.

Just like in the old days, their desire to stay up was greater than my ability to stay awake.  I bade them “Good-night” and went off to bed.  As I faded into sleep, giggles continued.

It was the next morning when I realized things had changed.  They were all up at 7:30 (that never happened before, I assure you).  One had to go to work; another had to get ready for a trip; and another one had stuff to get done.  I offered to go get them doughnuts or Chik-Fil-A biscuits.  “No,” came the groans.  “We just want coffee.”

As they pulled out of my driveway, I thought of these remarkable young women.  I saw them grow up under my roof.  They’ve gone from playing with “World Traveler Barbie” to being World Travelers themselves.

In the crush of parenting, it’s easy to forget to be in the moment.  Older, wiser folks told me to enjoy the moments; they would pass too fast.  They were right.  Loving anyone means to be present with them.  Loving your children means enjoying the years that come by only once.

Our Father in Heaven is the perfect parent.  He teaches us how to “be there.”  One of Jesus’s names is “Emmanuel” – God with us.  God provides moments of joy and then celebrates them with us.

I admit I didn’t celebrate the moments as I should have.   But now, I miss the days of being the hero who brought the girls doughnuts (after sampling one or two for quality control).  I miss the days of them sleeping all over the floor.  I miss the days of dancing all-night long to “Dance, Dance Revolution.”

But for one wonderful night, there was giggling again.  There was one last sleepover.