Friday, August 28, 2015

Dream Big

In 2008 Joshua asked if he could have a trumpet. I gave him a little incentive: if he could run faster than a 10 minute mile I would buy him one. He did. Barely. We had a music teacher friend who offered to give him 6 months of lessons before she went back into full-time teaching. This very gifted and giving friend also volunteered to teach CJ the guitar and Jordan the recorder. And the three of them performed a song together at our neighborhood gathering for the 2008 Beijing Olympics:

But after the lessons stopped, the trumpet began to gather dust under Joshua’s bed. Until last year. I’m not sure what prompted him to get it back out again. But he did and he taught himself some Christmas songs. Then he decided that he wanted to try out for the Notre Dame Marching Band.

This video of the band really got him pumped

Joshua has more persistence than anyone I know. I saw it in his Tae kwon do, when he was breaking boards and then marble. He sticks with something to the very end and he doesn’t back down. He listened to the Notre Dame fight song, and played it over and over again until he could hit all the notes

Now we can't get that peppy tune out of our heads, and Daniel often hums it to himself before going to sleep at night!

Last week Joshua took part in Notre Dame’s marching band camp:

On Monday morning he went to see the results. 
He made it! And I couldn’t be more proud of him.

“God always rejoices when we dare to dream, In fact, we are much like God when we dream. The Master exults in newness. He delights in stretching the old. He wrote the book on making the impossible possible.
 Examples? Check the Book.
 Eighty-year-old shepherds don’t usually play chicken with Pharaohs…but don’t tell that to Moses.
 Teenage shepherds don’t usually have showdowns with giants…but don’t tell that to David.
 Night-shift shepherds don’t usually get to hear angels sing and see God in a stable…but don’t tell that to the Bethlehem bunch.
 And for sure don’t tell that to God.” 

(And the Angels Were Silent, Max Lucado)

I would add to Max Lucado’s list: Self-taught trumpet players who have never played in a band before don’t usually make the Notre Dame Marching Band. But don’t tell that to Joshua.

Dream big.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Let the Weary Rest

“The Ragamuffin Gospel was written for the bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out.
It is for the sorely burdened who are still shifting the heavy suitcase from one hand to the other.
It is for the wobbly and weak-kneed who know they don’t have it altogether
and are too proud to accept the handout of amazing grace.
It is for inconsistent, unsteady disciples whose cheese is falling off their cracker.
It is for poor, weak, sinful men and women with hereditary faults and limited talents.
It is for earthen vessels who shuffle along on feet of clay.
It is for the bent and the bruised who feel that their lives are a grave disappointment to God.
It is for smart people who know they are stupid and honest disciples who admit they are scalawags.
The Ragamuffin Gospel is a book I wrote for myself and anyone who has grown weary and discouraged along the Way.”

I discovered The Ragamuffin Gospel on the shelf of the home we are renting, and after the first few pages I found myself imagining how great it would be to camp out in this book all year. What a compelling introduction Brennan Manning wrote to his book, with the subtitle "Embracing the Unconditional Love of God." I especially love the part about the cheese falling off the cracker. That’s a perfect description of me.

These wonderfully-woven words of God’s unmerited grace meet me right where I am. And I just want to linger here and take it all in during this uninterrupted pause. While our big boys are at college and our little boys are in elementary school. And our daughter-in-the-middle is taking community college classes...I won’t be home schooling. 

God has given me what feels like the almost-too-good-to-be-true gift of time to drink deeply of Colorado's clean air, beautiful mountains and ever-changing skies. 

I don't need to keep shifting the heavy suitcase from one hand to the other. Now there is time to set it down. 

Charly and I have been to several conferences this summer, related to our transition from China to the US for this season of time. And we have heard more than once “You are probably more tired than you think you are.” 

So thankful for God's provision for our family:

This is the resting place, let the weary rest.” (Isaiah 28:12a)


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What About Bob?

Just over a week ago, we moved into the house that we're renting this year in Colorado Springs. It's huge and beautiful and some dear friends from China who were visiting us simply said, “1 John 3:1” as we took them on a tour. “Yes,” Charly agreed. “Lavish.”

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God.”

Lavish describes the way that God has been showering us with blessings.

Two nights ago, our family gathered together in our new living room to watch a movie that used to be one of our favorites when we lived in Tianjin, What About Bob?

Since then, I've been thinking about the word authenticity. Bob is such an authentic character. You can't help but like him and all of his idiosyncrasies. Everyone in the movie becomes captivated by him, except his psychiatrist Dr. Leo Marvin. 

Dr. Leo Marvin is a rigid, self-absorbed man whose relationships are all held at arm's length, He tries with everything he has to set appropriate boundaries with Bob, and fails miserably. His life mission then becomes to get rid of Bob—who is everything he is not—and he ends up having a breakdown.

Bob enters into his psychiatrist's life—uninvited--and is transformed. Within the community that embraces him, he begins to let go of all the fears that have paralyzed him for so long. He learns to love authentically, and he receives unconditional love (from everyone except Leo) in return.

This morning I started reading a book called Embracing Soul Care by Stephen W. Smith. The chapter on Soul Hospitality made me think about Bob.

“Many people know the feeling of being passed. Alone, without friends or community ties, they feel forgotten and without value. They need the attention that will heal their souls. Even the simplest acts of hospitality, offered at a point of need by unexpected pilgrims, can touch people deep within...

Sometimes the place of hospitality matters more than anything else we can do. In Christ's parable, the injured man wasn't offered a program or a book. He was taken to the place of sanctuary. It was a place of transformation back to health. Here, life flowed back into a badly beaten body and soul, aided by the healing hands of time, Likewise, love requires that soul injured travelers be taken to a hospital for the soul, a necessary respite for a weary soul. In this special place, the victim heals.

We all need the solace of an inn to reshape our souls, a place to talk, have oil applied to wounds, and rest. Where is your place? When you're revived, what place can you offer to others?”

Lavish love. Authenticity. Soul Hospitality. Transformation.

Would love to hear any thoughts you have on these topics.


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