A Call to New York

I got a phone call from my mother today. She saw the kids in New York last weekend while she was there for a college graduation. She called on Sunday night to tell me something, but we never connected until tonight. She wanted to tell me that Caleb (my 10-year-old) told her that I didn’t like him because I avoid his phone calls.

It broke my heart.

I’m not the type that really likes phones. I actually avoid them like the plague. I love my email. Email can be answered at 2 AM in my underwear. Phone calls are done at inconvenient times. And right now, I have a lot of inconvenient times. So I am not avoiding Caleb (or Rebekah) on purpose, but I do generally avoid the phone. (They even called me at 10:30 AM on a Sunday… I was preaching… they know I have to preach…)

So I called them tonight. They were both doing fine. I talked to each of them for a few minutes. And when I talked to Caleb, I made sure that he knew that I loved him and that I missed him very much. The fact is that I do miss him (and his sister) very much. I hate the fact that they live there and I live here. I fight the guilt of having this great life with Robyn and Izzie while I am missing all of the great moments in their lives.

For instance, tonight Bekah had a concert for her choir. She is in a select chorus of hand-picked kids in her town. From what I have heard, she is pretty good. And all I want to do is hear her sing. I wish I could be part of their lives everyday, but that option has been taken away from me.

But I have to believe that this is all for the best. The fact is that I just want to be their father. I don’t want them to grow up and think that I don’t love them. I have no idea if it will all turn out okay, but I have to believe that it will be.

At least that’s my prayer every night.

Reflections from a Monday Morning Breakfast

The baby let me sleep in today. She got up at 5:15 again, but all I had to do was move her and put the pacifier in her mouth and she slept for almost another two hours. She finally got up at about 7:00 and had a big breakfast (for her) and a bottle. It was wonderful. More importantly, she was wonderful. The morning is so awesome with her. It is becoming our special time together.

The problem is that it reminds me sometimes of just how much I miss my other two kids. I spoke with the kids on the phone on Sunday afternoon. Neither one of them had much to say. They had just seen some of my family on Friday and Saturday, so we talked about that for a bit. But most of the time we spent talking was just for the sake of talking.

Being with Izzie everyday has reminded me of just how much I enjoy being a father and how much I miss having Bekah and Caleb in my life all of the time. I had gotten to a sense of ‘normalcy’ with them out of state over the past couple of years. But now, with a baby around all of the time, I have realized just how much I have missed.

So, today I feel a little bit sad for the things that I have missed. And I also feel a little hurt and angry at how I lost them. But I can’t stay sad for long. After all, it would be far sadder if I didn’t miss them at all.

So tonight I will go home to my wife and my littlest girl. I’ll give them both lots of hugs and kisses, and I’ll look at Izzie’s face and see hints of her older siblings in it. Then I’ll put her to bed and thank God that I have such a wonderful and caring family.

After all, having children is a huge gift and an even bigger responsibility… no matter how long you have them for.

Family Life

The baby is sleeping, but the damage has all ready been done. She woke me up at 5:15 this morning. As of right now, it is Sunday morning at 7:09. The baby has just fallen back to sleep, but I can’t. I have to get ready for Church soon. I don’t know what is up with her in the last couple of days. She has been waking up early, having a meal, and then going back to sleep. That isn’t a bad thing necessarily. It allows me to get her ready for the day and still gives Robyn a chance to rest in the morning, but she is getting up too early.

On another note, my mother and sister went to New York to watch my nephew’s fiancee graduate from college. While there, they went and got my other two children and spent some time seeing them. I need to call them this afternoon and see how everything went. Mom and Chris said they may be in Church this morning, but we will see. I wouldn’t blame them if they are not. That’s a lot of driving.

Robyn should be very tired today. She is just getting off a three-night stretch. She will have two nights off and then back for another three-night stretch. After all of that, she will be taking her final in Anatomy & Physiology II. For the next week or so, she will be a little stressed. I will need to make sure that things remain relatively calm until then. On the (very positive) plus side, she will be signing up for classes in the next few weeks for the fall semester. I am incredibly proud of her.

There’s is lots more to tell about family life, but I have to wait for the court order to be lifted…

Confused… but in a good way

It’s all just too confusing. I wish I could go back. I wish I could go back to when it all made sense. Back when there was such a thing as a Truth that I could understand. It was so much easier. It was all right there. Faith. Grace. Truth. It was all within my grasp. All I had to do was work harder, read more, pray better. It was there for the taking. I could do it… with the help of Jesus… but it could be done.

At least that’s what I thought. Now, I’m confused.

I have to remind myself that the destination and the journey are one in the same. With “Emergent”, it’s all about the story. And the story (let’s call it Creation) is still unfolding. That is one of the hardest parts of this Emergent philosophy to explain. Maybe it’s because it is so contrary to what I (we) have always been taught. I first became aware of Jesus Christ in a conservative setting (whatever that means). But the whole idea of an emerging story means that the Bible is only the first and second chapters of that Book.

I sat with a group of leaders from a large inner-city Christian community center last week and tried to explain this Emergent thing. I really noticed that we have a completely different lexicon. One of them said that they were worried about me, especially because I was in charge of a church. The funny thing is that the people in my church have been easier to talk to about this stuff than the clergy I know.

So I have to keep reminding myself (and everyone else I come in contact with) that it’s about relationships and not knowledge. Right?!?

I also need to constantly remind myself that it’s about US and not about ME. The trouble is that there is not a lot of US out there. Community is so hard to build. It takes so much time and effort.

Is it just me, or do you feel kind of alone in this work sometimes?

Music in Worship

I am always looking for new music for worship, but it has to be something that connects with unchurched people. I like to find popular music that can be considered Christian or spiritual when set in the context of worship.

For instance, my organist and I will be switching positions for a day in a few weeks. I will be doing the music for the service and he will be preaching. I did this so that I could try some music that he wouldn’t normally use. I will be using three songs from the Beatles (“Here Comes the S(o)n”, “All You Need is Love”, and “Let it Be”). I was also thinking about using “Revolution”. Several people have suggested using “Imagine”, but that seems a little too controversial. I say that as if using Beatles music at all isn’t controversial.

The church has always used popular music and put new words to it, but I was interested in using popular music without making changes to the words at all. I got the idea from a group of UCC pastors that designed an entire Communion Service using music by U2. They call it the U2-charist.

Are there other songs out there that people have used? I think of “Christmas Song” by Dave Matthews or “Jesus is Just All Right” by the Doobie Brothers. There have to be many more.