Monday, February 21, 2011

For My Son, Joshua, on his 13th birthday

On February 12, 1998, at 8:56 in the morn,
Joshua Eric Grogan came into the world, our family of three was born.

Bright eyed and full lipped, you worked that room, it was definitely love at first sight,
We marveled at those little hands and feet, and thanked God for such beauty and light.

Your orderly personality burst forth, as you were born on your exact due date,
And you screamed and screamed at the top of your lungs, if your milk was a tad bit late.

The obsession with order carried on as you grew, you lined up every toy that you had,
And if anyone messed with that line, oooh, swift justice was served—it was bad.

In God’s ultimate wisdom, He brought you a sister, as opposite from you as could be,
You—serious, she—silly, You—orderly, she—not so much, if you were Bert, she’d definitely be Ernie.

Those early years of clashing between you and your sister, I felt like a referee,
But over the years you’ve grown close with she and her brothers, I think that you’d agree.

The years have gone by in a blink of an eye, it pains me to say ‘your thirteen’,
Yet I am so proud of the man you’re becoming and the good qualities you have gleaned.

I want to point out three men in the Bible whose character I see in you,
First would be Paul, and then Daniel and of course, Joshua—for whom we named you.

Paul was known for standing strong for what’s ‘right’, something that you’re known for,
He never backed down or feared what would happen because Christ was at his core.

He penned the words ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’,
When running, you’ve penned those words on your shorts to give God all the glory,

Perseverance was Paul’s strength, a mental toughness resulting from God alone,
You, too, exhibit this God-given trait; cultivate this seed that’s been sown.

One last thing on Paul—God changed him from rule-follower to ‘always err on the side of grace’,
He went from rigid to flexible, from judgmental to loving, remember this as you run your race.

Daniel, he’s next, he prayed three times a day, his consistency was like no other,
I am proud of the prayer warrior you, too, are becoming, remember that it always covers,

Daniel was also a man of resolve, never once trading truth to be cool,
Stand firm on truth—don’t ever give in—may you dare to be a Daniel.

Lastly, the man for whom you were named, Joshua, he was the guy,
Prayerful, humble and fearless he was, he followed hard after Christ,

Now know these qualities you too can possess in ever increasing measure,
When you remember that ‘down is really up’ as you fall on your knees in prayer,

Joshua was the ultimate leader, directing his crew into the Promised Land,
As you lead in our home, on your teams, and in school, remember to always lend a helping hand.

In closing, I just want to say, I love you, I am so proud of who you are,
Continue to seek the LORD with ALL of your heart and I know that you will go far.

Joshua, YOU ARE A JOSHUA—and one last thing you must forever know:
“Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go!”

Monday, February 7, 2011

Real Love

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."
— C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)

This quote is convicting to me. I want to be vulnerable so that I am more loving. Too often, I am fearful of being vulnerable because I do not want to experience rejection. I am like this with people who have knowingly or unknowingly hurt me with their words or actions in the past. It is a defense mechanism that wells up immediately, unfortunately. I do not want this to happen. It is just a habit that is now hard to break.

Sometimes I am not vulnerable because I am too prideful. I do not want to appear needy. Pride and fear--the two emotions that usually go hand in hand and keep us from experiencing Jesus and others fully. I pray daily that these two emotions would lessen in me and be replaced by a spirit of humility and faith.

Real love is messy. Real love experiences conflicts but does not sweep the conflict under the rug and ignore it. Real love talks things through and doesn't punish you if you don't see eye to eye. Real love is not surfacy--it is willing to go deep and discuss real issues of the heart. Real love chooses to love those that are different. Real love doesn't show favoritism. Real love pursues a relationship with you and makes you feel special. Real love encourages and spurs on. Real love shows up even when it is inconvenient. Real love chooses to forgive. Real love spends time with you just because. Real love doesn't hold grudges. Real love admits its weaknesses. Real love confronts but does so gently. Real love doesn't lie. If it sees sin, it calls it sin. Real love doesn't always feel good because there is pain in growth. If it 'feels happy and good' all the time, than it is not real love.

Real love always puts others before self. Real love doesn't boast in achievements or accomplishments. It is unconditional. Real love doesn't shrink back in fear. It is courageous. Real love is not stagnant or dull--it is changing, moving and growing--it is exciting.

Real love goes the distance. Real love transforms. Real love was experienced fully through the Cross. It was costly. It was painful. It was unselfish.

Real love is raw.
Real love is real.

Real love is vulnerable.

Real love is worth it.