Raising Preachers of the Gospel

When I met these two girls about four years ago, I knew two things:

  1. They are thieves. They love to take your heart and never give it back.
  2. They love the Bible.

If you know me, I have many kids. But none of my kids had that spark, that interest… that proclivity that these two girls had in the word of God.

From the moment, I met them I knew that I would give them every ounce of theological and doctrinal training, every note, every book, every podcast, every video that I had not just simply to raise preachers and pastors—although that is a small part of it.

I would train them up so that they would know that we can and do worship God through our intellect. Some people worship God in song or being in the midst of nature. I want them to know it is way more than okay to worship God with fully engaging your mind as well as your heart.

To see them thrive and grow in their thinking and engaging with God and others over the last few years has been a complete joy for me.

Praise God and amen.

Featured image courtesy of Mae Burke Photography.

Bittersweet Like Chocolates

There comes a time and place when your kids won’t need you anymore. I am not talking about when they hit 18 years old and out the door one last time. I am talking about little milestones along the way.

Take for instance, Elijah.

We call him Bubs because he is.
We call him Bubs because he is.

This is our Bubs aka Bubba aka Bubba Lub aka Too Bubs aka Bubbiest. He does everything full throttle with the nitro line wide open. Fast as freak. Articulate as hell. Lover of Dinosaurs, Mama, Siblings, and especially Baby Sister Ivy.

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As soon as he was weaned off Mama’s milk, I have had the sweet pleasure of putting him to bed every single night for the last two years.

That was two years of holding him in my arms. Two years of praying over him and blessing him. Two years of trying to memorize Bible verses while he snored away.

Two years of being my constant companion during my most intimate, personal, and quiet times with God.

Two years in this same old green rocker.

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Last weekend, that all changed. We rearranged rooms and roommates. Now he is paired up with his big sister who goes to bed around the same time he does.

He still has a friend to help him sleep (along with some not-so-sweet almond milk.)

But he doesn’t need me anymore to help get him there.

In the blink of an eye, I no longer have to hold him. No longer sitting with him while he slowly goes to sleep. No longer having to take 1-2 hours a night watching him sleep.

“Bubba, lay down and go to sleep. Gracie is here and I will be right outside if you need me. I love you. Good night.”

And just like that, he goes to sleep.

Gosh, I cannot believe it.

Perhaps he was already ready to go to sleep on his own. I am thinking that I wasn’t ready to let him go so quickly.

I am so stinkin’ proud of him but I am also so sad and I am going to miss holding him during nightfall.

So I pray over him:

May the Lord bless you and keep you, Bubba. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; May the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. 1

Always, Bubba. I love you.

Papa.

Notes:

  1. Numbers 6:25-26

Love Letter: Ivy

Ivy, my sweetest and most precious girl,

I could not begin to tell you what we were going through when we heard about you: death of my father, my grandmother, your Momma’s grandfather, and the passing away of your sister, Olivia.

These storms and the pains that we were going through in our own heart and souls tested the mettle of your Momma and Papa’s marriage and relationship and shook the foundation of our family to the bedrock.

Before we knew of you, it was dark. Joy was fought for and sometimes never won.

By announcing you, God reminded us that He is not far yet closer than a whisper. He promises hold infinitely true: eternal past, present and for the eternal future. He revealed that He has infinite mercy for us. He put on the most powerful display that we are indeed His kids and He is our Father in heaven. 1

He sustained us through your first three months in Momma’s tummy when we were so anxious about you making it since it wasn’t even a year ago that we lost your sister during the same trimester.

But even through the first half of you growing in the womb, your Momma never fell ill. Never got sick. Never got weak. With all of your brothers and sisters, well, it was a different story. We thought for sure your Mom would be too sick to even get out of bed or keep any food or water down. Nope. She was alive, happy, and strong. God is so good He heals and restores.

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Not only does He heals and restores the body but He went to work on my soul and our relationship. He began the work to heal my mind, heart, and soul and did the same for your Mom. In that, he gave confidence and peace to our family when there was none before.

And just like your brother, Eli, you were strong. Kicky and squirmy. And just like your Bubba, you stayed in your Mom weeks past what we thought was your due date. Smh. That might have been a mere indication—maybe even a prophecy—that you two were to be as thick as thieves. And by the Bub’s sweetness on you, I say that indication is coming to past.

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But no matter how late you were, we knew that you couldn’t stay in your Mom’s tummy forever :) We knew you would get here. We knew we would be holding you soon.

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And just like the pregnancy, your arrival was just as sweet. You woke us up at 3 am. It was time. Calls to your midwife, Lynette, were made. Texts to our family and friends were sent. Your Ganna, Amanda Panda, and Alisa Pizza were on their way to help with everything.

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Unlike the Bubs, we were able to take our time preparing our room for your arrival. No rush. No fuss. Breakfast made. Coffee poured. Siblings chilling.

And then you arrived. I was so ready to catch you just like I did before with Eli but your Momma didn’t want me to leave her side. I looked at her and was overwhelmed by her powerful love and gracious heart and breathtaking beauty. I thought about the incredible struggle and pain she felt in our marriage and in our lives to this point and we are still together. I decided I wasn’t going to leave her side. Not now. Not never.

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Besides, Lynette was a pro. You were going to be in great hands until you could get to your Momma.

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The moment you arrived: it was all the joy. The happiness. The sweet relief. The bliss. It was everything I could ever feel in one moment in time. I felt like cheering and yelling to celebrate your life and everything that the Lord has done in us and for us.

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And I couldn’t stop smiling. My cheeks hurt because my grin was ear to ear.

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Unlike your brother’s arrival, which was fast and furious, yours was what at one time what I called, “normal”, but that’s not it. Looking back, your birth was just like everything else your announcement brought: peace, calm, and joy.

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And your Momma. She never looked as beautiful as she did when she was able to hold you for the first time. She was all the love and joy and happiness and gladness that her little heart could hold and being poured out on you.

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I remember her cheeks and my cheeks were streaming with tears as I leaned over and kissed her deeply. I remember touching her face and looking into her gorgeous blue eyes and thinking to myself, “We made it!” God is so dang good to us.

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In the midst of an incredible storm in our lives, God sends you here. In so many ways, you are God’s mercy and healing for your Momma. You are God’s peace and restoration for our family. You are my prettiest and a joyful reminder that God is so mindful of me and He loves me so much.

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That’s why I kiss you with my very prickly lips a hundred times a day. That is why I dive my nose into your neck smelling your sweet baby smells. That’s why I don’t want our conversations to end. You are the best reminder of who God is and what he has done for us.

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I love you, my most gorgeous girl. You are my sweetest. My sweetest sweet. My Happiest Girl. My yin to Bub’s yang.

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I will always love you. I will always protect you. I will be there to make you laugh and hold you tight when you cry. And I will fight for you, and us, and we, and me until my very last breath.

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You mean the world to me. I thank God that you are a part of our lives forever.

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I love you, Sweet Girl

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Love for life,

Papa

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Notes:

  1. Hosea 2:14-23

Going All In

I was sitting here thinking the other day how amazing you are. That you’ve been a mother for 14 years. In that, you have spent nearly all of your energy and might trying to be the best mom you could be. You’ve spent almost that long as a wife and when you weren’t, you still tried be healed, be made whole and devoted your energy so that you can become the best wife ever.

IMG_3081I just wanted to tell you that you have accomplished what you set out to do. The fruit is in your incredible kids. They are the best bunch of kids I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. And by God’s amazing grace and your sweet love, they are my kids too. (Like I’ve done nothing and all of sudden, I get to be in their lives and they are a part of mine. Because of you, I’ve definitely won the parent lottery.)

And if you were trying to be the best wife, you’ve succeeded. The way you have loved me is way beyond anything I could have imagined. When I am trying to learn how to love, you actually live it. And it’s the strength of this marriage is the fruit of your love. We are strong because of Christ in you. It is evident you are a woman after God’s own heart.

There is no way we could be where we are without you. You are my Captain Amazing because you are amazing. Thank you for loving me and us and we. Thank you for saying yes. Thank you for your life.

You have a beautiful legacy.

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Thank you for letting me be a part of it.

I love you.

– J

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