Culture

Border Crises Abound and The Children Suffer.

The border crises continue! Will they never end? Once again, please do not think I’m engaging the political gamesmanship regarding illegal immigration. Rather I’m begging and praying for the rescue of children.

Please, please read the USA Today article at the following link for the latest update on the long standing border crossing crisis regarding littles.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/nation-now/2018/05/25/immigration-children-separated-families-lost-column/643793002/

Spanning two administrations, government bureaucracies have failed hundreds upon hundreds of innocent border crossing children… miserably. I’m not speaking of dreamers or 19 year olds currently attempting to cross, but little tykes nestled in Mama’s arms or held by her hands. They are innocent. They are held in camps. They are often taken and separated from their family. Whatever any others motives may be, theirs are innocent. They just want their Moms, Dads, and peace. For the sake of the children, we should replace the broken cisterns of failed government intervention with a coalition of NPOs like Samaritan’s Purse and Sisters of Mercy. This long standing siege, through which thousands of children have been failed by our broken bureaucrats, will not end until “we the people” quietly, humbly, come together and stop allowing the two sided government to take turns being egotistical, self-absorbed, and wreckless. We need leaders who lean right who are other-centered enough to say “The right is not always correct,” and leaders who lean left who are other-centered enough to say “The left is not always correct.” We just can’t take much more of today’s left vs right warfare. The cost is too high. Neither do we need old-fashioned political compromise.We need leaders who embrace contrition. We need a 1000 Mother Teresa’s before we ever need another Barak Obama or Donald Trump, another Rachel Maddow or Sean Hannity, or even another Stephen Colbert or Dennis Miller. For the sake of the children we need revival.

P.S. Also, please see… https://rickileebrooks.com/2014/07/14/permission-to-help-children-in-need/

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Bible, Life's Moments

Protection From Above

I’m not sure, but I think my son, Daniel, once had shades of Snoopy lingering in his thoughts. You know, that particular image of Snoopy perched in a tree like a vulture keeping watch over everything below. Ready to pounce. Ready to provide. Ready to protect.

It’s okay. I got this.

It happened during that period of time when a mom and dad begin to nudge the responsibility and self-discipline training to the next level. Daniel was about 10 years old. Vanita and I had discussed some timing issues and some method issues regarding Daniel’s training. One of the items we chose was to leave him at home alone for a half hour or so.

“Daniel, we need to run to the store real quick. Matthew wants to go. Of course, Jessica is coming with us. Would you like to go or would you like to stay here and look after the house?”

Now all ya’ll know where this was designed to go. And it did.

“Really? I can stay here,” he asked.

“Yes. You’ll need to be very responsible. You know the house rules, right?”

“Yeah, I can do it!”

“Right, we know you can. So, okay, we won’t be long.”

Driving away produced no small amount of stress, but drive away we did. Training goes like that. A little older…a little more instruction…a little more responsibility…a little more autonomy to achieve success…a little more grace for the slips…and a whole lot of praying. We drove away with the stress and moderated it with the praying.

All these years later, I’m happy to report success. Back then, well, let’s just say I wasn’t always so sure.

We were anxious to get home, but we gave Daniel the time we had predetermined. We pulled into the drive way…and the excitement began. Daniel came on the run…not from the front door, not from the back door, but from up in a tree.

The tree was one of his favorite toys. It was one of those classic climbing trees. Situated just off the front porch and overlooking the front door, it provided a low branch for a swing and a tall climb for rambunctious kids. Apparently, it also provided Daniel with a fantastic ninja position.

“Dad, Dad…Mom, I saw this lady. I saw her.”

“What lady, Daniel?”

“The lady, the lady walking up the street. I could tell she was gonna come to our house.”

“Did she come to the house?”

“Yeah, I knew she would.”

“Oh, Daniel, did she knock on the door or anything?”

“Uh-huh, I knew she would.”

“You didn’t answer, did you? You know you’re not supposed to do that.”

“No, no, I didn’t. I couldn’t.”

A little bewildered, we just kind of stood there looking perplexed.

“I couldn’t answer the door. Instead, I said, ‘Who goes there!?’”

“What,” his Mother asked.

Daniel answered, “I said, ‘Hey, who goes there,’ and the lady jumped and screamed. I took care of it, Dad.”

“Daniel, wait, wait. What are you talking about,” I asked.

“Well, when you left, I was kinda scared, but I wanted to take care of everything, so I decided to climb the tree. That way I could be safe and watch over everything. So, I grabbed the hatchet…”

“The hatchet? Daniel, what? Why the hatchet? You know it only has certain uses and I need to be around when you use it,” I said with a nod to authority. On the inside, though, I knew where this was going and my Father/Daddy/Papa/Dear ‘ol Dad pride meter was climbing at break-neck speed.

“Yeah, the hatchet, Dad. (Breathing kind of fast) I was a little scared, but I knew I had to protect everything, (breathing a little harder) so I got the hatchet, (taking a gulp of air) turned everything off, locked the doors, put the key in my pocket, and climbed to the top of the tree. (Big breath, from corner to corner his smile stretched as far as the east is from the west). I did it Dad. Everything’s okay.”

“And the lady,” we asked.

“Oh, after she screamed and asked what I was doing in the tree, she left.”

Just like that, it was okay. It was okay.

Mom gave him a big, long hug.

I gave him a high five.

It was okay. Still is.

In just less than two weeks, Daniel will marry the lady for whom he has been praying, hoping, and looking for since he was a teenager. Her name is Abby. Daniel will perch over her. He will protect her and provide for her. He will pray with her, play with her, plan with her, and parent with her. He will be passionate about her. peaceful for her, and patient with her. Because he has such a wonderful Dad. No, take it easy, I’m not talking about myself. At night, before falling asleep, he’ll check in with Dad. After each long day he will say, “Dad, Abba Father, I did it. Everything is okay. The house is locked up. Abby is safe. (One day, hopefully) The kids are okay. I did it, Father. Everything is okay. Thank you. Amen.”

Here’s the important part…

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Update: Daniel and Abby, happily married, love one another and our Lord more and more everyday, help others and their little Rachel to do the same thing, and expect a brand new little baby boy any day now!

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Life's Moments

Before She Leaves

Prodigal. The word itself stirs fear in the hearts of moms and dads.

Why not? We bring them into the world. We teach them to crawl. Then they walk. Running and jumping and leaping and playing and poking and prodding come next. We love them. They hug our necks. We make sacrifices and they soak up everything we give.

As they grow, we tell them, “You are the light that pushes back the sadness of my days.” All the while that ugly, painful, frightening word lurks in the recesses of our minds. Prodigal. Prodigal. Prodigal.

Oh, God let her not be a prodigal.

And tonight, as I spend this last bit of time praying for my daughter before she leaves for Bible College in the morning, I stare that ugly word down…and I thank the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit…because she is anything but a prodigal.

“Further up and further in,” Jess. You are a light that reflects a greater light.

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Adversity

The Mother of All Water Fights

The fresh air and beautiful sunshine of early February were a joyful pause in the midst of a long, wet and gray winter. The relief from old man winter’s grasp renewed my expectations for life. A day earlier everything seemed dark, but the coming of the dawn sun brought light of another kind. It was a gift from God.

That winter had been unusually stressful. The difficulties my son faced day to day seemed too large to overcome. His impulsiveness and hyperactivity stirred most people to anxiety. Few in his life could refrain from pointing out his weakness and fault. In pain, my wife and I endured the long winter with him. His heart was broke and ours was breaking.

One night, during early February, when the days were sunny and warm and the nights were crisp and clear, I slept like I had not slept in weeks. There was no tossing and turning. My mind seemed unusually calm. My spirit rested. Shortly before the morning alarm erupted, I dreamed.  If the dream’s author was not God, I would be surprised.

Standing atop a very tall building, I looked below into the crowded city streets. People moved quickly and strategically. If not all, then most were engaged in the mother of all water-fights.  They tossed water-balloons. They carried water-guns. They held hoses streaming water at full force. Some even wielded high-tech water devices only found in dreams and only used in George Lucas films. There were hundreds and thousands. The odds were several thousand…

…to one.

The one was my little boy.

In the crowds of the city’s chaos he stood alone. From my vantage point high above the city streets, I could not reach him. All I could do was watch as he moved between the cars, as he dodged one water blast after another, as he drenched his opponents, and as he maneuvered himself with the tactics of a special-forces soldier.

Oh, how my heart stood still. Remorse and pride commingled in the depths of my emotions.  Suddenly, I began to cheer. Words of encouragement fell from my lips.

“Go, son, go.”

“Yes, yes, that’s it. Look out, he’s coming up on your left.”

“Alright! Way to go! Great job!”

He took on so many. He stayed in the battle. He fought a good fight. Finally the numbers overwhelmed him. From front and back, from right and left, he took water, shot after shot, until he was drenched. The odds against him were just too great.

Sitting in the middle of the street, people standing all around him, he looked up. His eyes met mine. A lump formed in my throat. Tears gathered in the corner of my eyes. “Oh no,” I thought, “not again, not again.”

We looked at one another. Our eyes met. I expected sadness. But…but…he smiled.

He smiled! He didn’t cry. He didn’t frown. He didn’t stomp his feet. He smiled. All I did was cheer. He did the hard work. He engaged the battle. He met the resistance of a world filled with uncaring and uneducated enemies. He won. He won! He may have been drenched. He may have been overcome by the sheer numbers. Yet, he had his victories. He won.

As I awoke, I felt the tears running down upon my pillow. Pulling myself from bed, I stumbled into his room. His breathing was soft. His face was relaxed. His sleep was peaceful. The dawn once again brought early February sunshine. The light of the morning broke the night of darkness. The Light of the World broke the spell of darkness. My son had an advocate, a cheerleader. If no other would stand on his behalf, I would.

I bowed in thankfulness to our Savior and I realized then my son had an even greater advocate. His name is Jesus. And that greater advocate was calling me to be like him…filled with grace and compassion.

How about you? Do you need an advocate? Do you need to become an advocate? Start with Jesus.

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Bible, Life's Moments

The Dreaded Wood Stove of the Family Room

Toddlers never cease to amaze me and usually astound me.  I have a few twitches to prove it.

In our old home there were certain items that had been “forbidden” to our little ones.  For instance, the ever lurking and always fascinating electrical outlets were always labeled “Authorized Personnel Only.”  I could just see it, I would turn my back for the briefest moment and one of them would plant a giant, slobbery kiss on one of those little electricity spitting menaces and…ZOWIE!!!  “Waaaaaa!”  “Child, haven’t I told you…”  (Most fortunately, this one never happened to us, but I’ve been told other parents actually suffer nightmares from it.)

No we have not endured any electrical exhilaration, but there was something else.  That something, for our oldest son, was a high and looming object in the corner of the family room.  Black, hard, austere, I’m sure that from his vantage point it looked to be a mighty fortress just waiting to be conquered.  It just stood there.  To him it must have been almost mystical.  From the top there arose a tall tower.  In the front there opened and closed a creaky-hinged door.

Like any fortress it never seemed unprotected either.  Always, always, our son knew the guards were not far away.  Giants they were.  Sentries on the prowl.  Never mind they were also known as Mom and Dad.  When it came to that thing they were like Ninja.  For a toddler this all added up to high adventure.  The pages of a Little Golden Book turned themselves in his very own house.

Yeah, that’s it.  You guessed it — the Dreaded Wood Stove of the Family Room!  Many was the time our oldest heard the order being issued by one of the sentries.  “Thou shalt not touch the wood stove; for in the moment you touch it you shall surely feel much pain and scream thy little head off.”  But, remaining true to his species, he constantly marshalled his forces (two teddy bears, a purple pig, and a funny looking lion).  He developed strategy and plotted tactics.  Finally, he would launch a full frontal assault on the “Fortress Wood Stove.”

See, like every human, our son hears from the “United Front of Dark Espionage.”  It seems their reports are always contradictory to the commands of the sentries who stand their ground on behalf of the Great King.  Filtering through the airwaves, or brain-waves, or whatever, comes that age old intelligence report:

“Have they indeed said, ‘You shall not touch the wood stove?'”

Our son, would peer across the vast plain of the family room.  His brow would wrinkle.  Pondering.  Mulling it over.  He would then hear the final message:

“You shall not surely feel great pain and scream thy little head off.  For in the moment you touch the wood stove you will be like them.  You will really know things then.  You will be your own boss.  You will be in control.  Yes, you will say when it is the best time to eat and sleep.  You will decide whether it is good or bad to break your mother’s fine china.  You will be like them!”

Then, sadly, our son would heed the report.  With a shrill scream and flailing arms, he would launch that attack.  Complete with diversionary tactics and commando like energy, his invasion upon the “Fortress Wood Stove” looked bound for success.  Five feet.  Four feet.  Three.  Two.  One.  Only inches left.  The screaming was about to begin.

Suddenly, from out of nowhere would come the long arm of a sentry.  Swooping down, Mom or Dad squelched the rebellion as suddenly as it had started.  The battle ended.  Nothing remained except the retreat.

“Why, Papa, why?  How tum tan’t I tush it?”

Good question, huh?  It’s no different then yours or mine.  Or Adam and Eve’s.  Though we rebel, God forgives.  Though we run, he never loses sight of us.  Though we fall, he picks us up.  It takes time to learn when we’re little.  It takes time to learn when we’re big.  Life and death, light and darkness, obedience and rebellion crowd the adventures of history and everyday living.  Sometimes the learning is painful.  Sometimes we’re spared.  Sometimes, if we are open to it, God will prevent us from touching the heat.  Because he is holy and full of grace, we can be equipped to accept the freedom of saying “No!” to the Fortress Wood Stove of the Family Room.  It begins by saying “Yes!” to Jesus.

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