Sunday, December 21, 2014

Smite Buttons and Dirty Clothes

In his commentary on the Letters of John for the NIVAC Gary Burge from Wheaton College shared an experience that broke my heart. It read:
Last spring I was explaining to an introductory New Testament class Paul’s view of grace as it appears in Galatians…. Then I tried an experiment. I asked all forty students to write a one-page essay analyzing whether their lives had been shaped by the threat of law or the wonder of God’s grace. I was devastated by the results. Over 90% of the class admitted privately that the possibility of God’s disfavor and wrath had shaped their Christian outlook since childhood. God’s unending love was not foremost in their minds, but his possible displeasure was. Christianity, they reported, was really about following the rules. When I told them it was not, you could hear a pin drop. Some privately commented that this was the first time they had heard such “good news… The following was written by a 21 year old student who is a strong, knowledgable evangelical… ‘I feel like God punishes me for sins all the time. I feel that there is always something I am being punished for. I know that is impossible because there are not enough minutes in the day for God to punish us. I probably should not call it punishment, but that is the way I feel about God’s justice. I know of God’s love and blessings for me and for that I am eternally grateful and thankful. But I live with this fear that one mess-up and I will be punished again.’ After one such explanation of God’s unmerited love, a mature student told me, ‘I’ve never heard anything like this before.’” 

These words hit home to me in part because I have the same view of God. I must do good so as to avoid His wrath. It is as if the Far Side Cartoon depicting God is sitting in heaven in front of his computer watching our lives, just waiting to press the giant “Smite” button in front of him is true.  He is just waiting for us to screw up so that he can “get us.”

And how often is our obedience of God motivated by fear. As if God is not some sort of cosmic bully intimidating us into submission. That isn’t the type of submission that brings Him the most glory. CS Lewis once stated, “You cannot by law make man good.” He is right. Law doesn’t change your heart. You obey the law because you fear the consequences. You are afraid of the speeding ticket, a night in jail, or a hefty fine so you drive the speed limit, you don’t steel from the store, and you don’t vandalize public property.

But your heart is no different. In fact, Paul argues in Romans 7, the law by itself triggers rebellion. Be honest: You push the speed limit. You take some office supplies from the storage closet. You would do things differently if you weren’t afraid there was a cop around the corner.

What Jesus does for us is not like the law. It is a different motivation. The law pointed to our need for a savior, sure, but once the savior comes there is no condemnation for those who are found in Him (Romans 8:1).

Because of Christ, obedience doesn’t come because of fear of God’s punishment. It comes out of a sense of gratitude for what Christ did for us. It comes because the love he has shown us is so great that it overflows into the way we interact with others. Our love of God is not a fear based morality. Instead it is motivated by his grace and righteousness.

I am off on Fridays, and often I find myself doing the laundry at our house. It is amazing how many clothes 2 little girls can go through. The other day I was picking up a pair of pants in my oldest daughter’s room and noticed that they were inside out. I picked them up and simply told her that it would really help me if she would do her best to keep them right-side-out. That way, I wouldn’t have to fix them before I washed them. I didn’t make a rule. I didn’t raise my voice. I didn’t threaten to take away her iPod or TV time if she didn’t comply. Just a simple statement, I turned and walked out of the room. I didn’t think anything about it.

Until a couple of days ago.

My wife, Jodi was in a hurry preparing the girls for bed. Bath-time and brushed teeth were the agenda of the moment. As Jodi was preparing bath water she noticed Emma very carefully taking her pants off. She was going slowly and making sure that her pants didn’t turn wrong-side-out. Jodi chuckled and asked her what she was doing, and she matter-of-factly told her about our conversation.

As Jodi walked in the living room to share her recent encounter with our daughter I couldn’t help but swell with pride. Sure, I could have made a rule. I could have made threats. I could have established a law in our house with consequences so great that I could force my little girls into submission.

And they would have complied. And I would have gotten what I wanted.

But her obedience was not because she feared repercussions. Her obedience was because she wanted to please me. Her obedience was because she loved me. And she knew that I loved her. And that brings her daddy joy.

I think God is like that. I think that when we obey him, not because we fear his smite button, but because we are filled with his great love, and filled with the same love for him— it brings our daddy joy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Has anyone in born in the 2nd half of the 20th century ever whitewashed anything?

I honestly wouldn't know what it was if it wasn't for Mark Twain.

I like to drink coke.  By coke, I'm not necessarily meaning Coca Cola, but carbonated beverages in general.  I drink them too much.  I've just about decided to switch to diet cokes, or water, for my health.  But I'll probably just keep pumping good old fashioned fructose corn syrup into my body, slowly killing my pancreas and kidneys.

So today, I was sitting at my desk enjoying a nice cold Coca Cola.  It's Christmas time so the can has Santa on it.  Aside from the Polar Bears or cans commemorating an Auburn national championship, it is my favorite Coke can... it makes me feel festive.

Then I glanced at the clock, it was time for me to go and pick up my children at school.  In fact, it was about 5 minutes past when I'm supposed to leave.  I jumped up, grabbed my keys and wallet and ran out the door.

But my mind was still working on whatever essential project that I was working on while back in my office.  I cranked my Yukon, and tore off out of the parking lot toward the school.  As I turned onto Bethlehem Rd I reached down into the console cup holder and grabbed the red can that was sitting there.  Placing it to my lips and taking a giant swig I came to realize that this was not the coke I had been drinking in my office.  But a coke that I had not finished and left in my car... last week.

It was like a mixture of dirty water mixed with awfulness.  It wasn't entirely warm, since it had been hovering just above freezing all day outside, but it wasn't entirely cold either.

I nearly wrecked the car, set the can back down and uttered my discontent aloud.

I looked down at the can.  It looked like the one sitting on my desk.  The advertisement was the same.  There stood Santa staring back at me.  But the promise of soda refreshment was never realized.  Inside the can was a flat, rotten version of the promise.  It was flat out gross.

In Matthew 23:27-28 Jesus says to the Pharisees, "Woe to you, scribes, pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.  So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."

Just for your information, whitewash is a solution of lime and water used for painting walls white.  Essentially, Jesus is saying that you can put lipstick on a pig, but behind the facade its still a pig.

I wonder how many of us are just like that.  We dress up in our nicest clothes and apply the most appropriate social filters to our tongues when we come to church or come around our church friends.  We learn to speak the lingo, we learn when to stand and sit, how to get our kids to Kids Worship, and even put some money in the plate every now and then.

But then we walk away from the church context and the filter comes off.  And the true climate of our heart is exposed.

We are often no better than the pharisees.  We look right.  We say the right things.  But inside we are unchanged.  We are hypocrites.  We are filled with lawlessness.

We look ok.  But what is inside is just flat out gross

God, may our lives reflect your grace.  Change the climate in our hearts as you continue to transform us into the pattern of your Son, Jesus.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Story Before the Story: Part 3-- The Price to be Paid

Grace is free.

I'm so thankful that its free.  I'm thankful that I don't have to be good enough to find God's favor.  I'm thankful that I don't have to earn his love.  I'm thankful that He loved me so much, that He acted on my behalf-- even when I was steeped in sin-- and saved me from myself.

But Grace isn't cheap.  In order to restore a right relationship between you and God, a penalty had to be paid.  More specifically, your penalty had to be paid.  A debt was owed that you couldn't fix.

And so Jesus paid for it on your behalf.  By dying on the cross.  A cross that your own sin condemned you to carry.

Grace is freely given by God, but it wasn't free... it was paid for by Jesus.

And when we share with others about receiving this wonderful Grace bestowed upon us by a loving God, we tend to want to err on the side of it being free.  Requiring nothing of you but a repentant heart and a humble spirit.

But we leave out a very important part.  Yes we are saved by Grace alone, but a saving Grace, is never alone.

In other words, Grace changes you.  When you receive it, you are never the same.

After Jesus finishes his humility lesson with the Pharisees, and warns them about missing God's invitation into he banquet, he then begins to explain to them about this free, but not cheap grace, and how it changes you.  In particular, how it changes your priorities.

Luke 14:25-27
Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple."

Now, some enemies of the Bible have taken this as an attack on the family.  But we have to take into consideration the entire testimony of scripture.  Jesus clearly teaches that you are to honor your father and mother (see Matthew 15:4), so there must be something that the modern reader is missing.

The term here translated "hate his own..." is not meant to be taken literally, but is a Hebrew idiom expressing comparison.  In essence Jesus is saying in order to be his disciple, he (Jesus) must become your single most important priority.

The gravity of this teaching sometimes gets lost in our modern culture, where familial relationships can be strained and where selfishness seems to trump the love that we are instructed to show our fellow man.  But to a Hebrew reader, this statement would have been paradigm shifting.  In that culture, your relationship with your family would trump all other relationships.  Jesus is now asking them to do the exact opposite.  He must be first.

And in making this statement, Jesus draws us into a great tension.  As Bob Utley puts it, "Grace initiates and provides, but receivers must make a life-altering, priority choice."

Luke 14:28-33
"For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?  Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,  saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’  Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?  And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.  So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple."

Essentially, when you become a follower of Jesus, it demands a shift in priorities, thinking, worldview.  Everything changes.  Perhaps it doesn't all change at once, but becoming more Christ-like is what we have been called to do.  I'm afraid that too often, well-intentioned pastors leave this part out.  As a result, we have built churches that are full of people who simply want just enough of Jesus to save them from Hell, but not enough to actually change the way they live.

Salvation is free... but it will demand your life.  You need to know the cost before you take the plunge.

I can remember when it dawned on me how cheap we had made God's grace.  I was leading in Vacation Bible School and was listening to a presenter present the ever famous ABCs of salvation.  Don't get me wrong, the ABCs are a great tool to help explain to children repentance from sin and salvation in Jesus Christ.  "A" stands for Admit.  I must admit that I'm a sinner.  This is great because unless we know our need for a savior, then the Good News isn't good news its just OK news and OK news doesn't save you.  "B" stands for Believe.  I believe that when Jesus Christ died on the cross he did so to pay my debt that I have incurred for my sins.  Then comes the letter "C."  All the curriculum makes "C" stand for Confess.  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord then you will be saved (See Romans 10:9).  But perhaps we should begin (and I have) teaching it differently.  "C" stands for Commit.  That means that I'm committing my life to following him.  I'm making him my number 1 priority.  He is first.  He is the boss (This, in my simplistic opinion, is the modern equivalent of the word Lord... we don't live in a feudal system anymore, and it is difficult for some people to grasp the concept of Lordship).  I look to him, first.  I'm with Jesus.  He is, to put it in the songwriter's words, my all in all.

Grace is free... but make no mistake about it,  it will cost you everything-- and that's a good thing!
And this text, sets the stage for my favorite Bible lesson in all of God's word.  Luke 15.

Monday, November 03, 2014

The Story Before the Story: Part 2--Don't Miss the Invite

I think that Jesus' lecture on humility must have been a little bit uncomfortable.  I mean, can you imagine how the host felt, or how individuals who had jockeyed for position at the table must have felt when this carpenter/rabbi from Nazareth starts calling you out on your bad behavior.  It must have felt a little bit like the time you asked that woman when her baby was due only to have her tell you that she wasn't pregnant.


And so you can imagine that the conversation needed to be diverted quickly.  So we find a Pharisee doing what Pharisees do best-- they turned it back to "churchy talk." (Actually, Pharisees weren't the only people particularly skilled at this, just see the woman at the well in John 4 when Jesus points out her sinful lifestyle.  She's pretty quick to bring up "churchy talk" as well.)

Luke 14:15
When one of those who reclined at the table with him heard these thing, he said to him, "Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!"


My wife accuses me of not hearing her.  She doesn't accuse me of not listening to her.  Any fool can see that I'm listening to the words that she is saying.  What my wonderful wife is getting at when she says I'm not hearing her, is that I'm not understanding the intention, heart, or emotion behind the words.  In other words, she is talking, I'm listening, but we aren't communicating.

Here Jesus is laying some great theological truth about how we should interact with one another.  He is implying truths about the character and nature of God himself.  The Pharisees and religious elite are listening.  But they aren't hearing him.  And this comment reveals either their lack of intellectual ability to draw conclusions from Jesus words, or their sheer lack of desire to believe this man sitting in front of them.

But regardless of this fact, Jesus will not be deterred.  Much like with the woman at the well, Jesus takes their misguided statement and uses it as a teachable moment.

He tells another story.

Luke 14:16-24
But he said to them, "A man once gave a great banquet and invited many.  And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is ready.'  But they all alike began to make excuses.  The first said to him, 'I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it.  Please have me excused.'  And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I must go examine them.  Please have me excused.'  And another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.'  So the servant came and reported these things to his master.  Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, 'God out quickly to the streets and lanes in the cities, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.'  And the servant said, 'Sir, what you commanded has been done and still there is room.'  and the master said to the s servant, 'Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.  For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.

As I write this, I just accepted an invitation to a free luncheon at the Tyson Foods plant here in Union City.  I never pass up an opportunity for free food.

I can't imagine why these men would accept the invite, and then when the time comes, ask to be excused.  Aside from the honeymoon guy, I can't think of an acceptable reason to avoid a banquet like this.

But there is more to the story that meets the eye.  As Jesus is talking with the Pharisees, one mentions, the Kingdom of God.  It was (and is) popular tradition to equate the Kingdom of God with a great feast.  Personally, I like the analogy, because I love food-- but the Jews knew very well what Jesus was talking about when he began referencing this great banquet to which many were invited.

It wasn't about a meal at a Pharisee's house.  This was about the coming Kingdom of God.

Jesus states that many (including the Pharisees) were invited, but when those first invited ignore the invitation or blow off the event, then the master invites those least likely to have been invited before.

And it ends with a chilling statement.  None of those invited before will taste the feast.

In short:  If you miss the invite, or blow off the party-- you don't get a second chance.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Story Before the Story-- Part 1

The Bottom of the Pile
I am amazed at how God inspired his word to be written.  Each verse finds itself placed specifically in a larger section, which often are divided into chapters and found in complete books or letters written by men thousands of years ago.  Each book then finds itself in a broader meta-narrative that spans the entire collection of writings from Genesis to Revelation perfectly telling one story.  

A story of redemption.

A story about sinful men, who, in spite of their best efforts cannot rectify their broken relationship with God.
And a story about a God who relentlessly pursues these men, even though they don’t deserve it.

That having been said, the very unique thing about Luke chapter 15 is that it finds its place in this story, immediately following Luke chapter 14.  It sounds intuitive to say.  It seems like any first grader with any ability to count could lay this deep theological truth in your lap.  But too often in society, we are led to believe that all there is to a story is  22-minute bit of film seen on a popular sitcom, or a 30-minute sermon given by a pastor.  But ask any Hollywood writer, or any well-prepared preacher and you will soon discover that there is much more going on behind the scenes.  There is more to the story.  There is back story; there is context.

And so, before we dive into losing, and looking, and partying.  We must begin with the story behind the story.

Luke 14:1-2
One Sabbath, while he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees they were watching him carefully.  

The story begins with Jesus at a feast.  The Bible tells us that he is at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees.  He is obviously a person of importance.  He is a powerful leader in the community and a member of the religious elite.  When it came to bubbles of power, in the Jewish world, they were all present in this room.  Apparently, it must have looked like some kind of political conventions.  I imagine a room where people didn’t really like to be around each other, but put on a smile and shook hands and jockeyed for position so that their picture could be made with the President.  And the reason they have gathered together?  To watch Jesus.  

Does Jesus know this?  Of course he does, but none the less he is there— in the midst of this political-religious battle of egos.  

And then Jesus does something, that is both amazing and just a bit funny.  

Luke 14:3-6
And behold there was a man before him who had dropsy.  And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?”  But they remained silent.  Then he took him and healed him and sent him away.  And he said to them, “which of you , having a son or an ex that has fallen into a all on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?”  And they could not reply to these things.

Knowing it is the sabbath, and knowing that he was surrounded by a group of individuals who had just gotten finished straining the gnats out of their wine for fear that they might accidentally break the law— Jesus asks them a question about the Law.  And then (in their eyes) he breaks it.

Of course it isn’t against the law to heal someone on the Sabbath.  But to the Pharisees, Jesus’ actions must have created an turmoil known only by the likes of Dave Ramsey at a MasterCard convention.

They were so confused the Bible says that they don’t even reply.  In fact it says they couldn’t.

But Jesus was just getting started.

Luke 14:7-10
Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’  Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 

He then started calling them out.  Starting with his host.  He points out that they weren’t at this meal in order to experience fellowship with one another.  They simply wanted to see what Jesus might do, and be seen by others watching to see what Jesus would do.

He who exalts himself will be humbled.  He who humbles himself will be exalted. (vs 11)

The idea being planted in the Pharisees head is simple.  

Making it to the top of the social ladder doesn’t get you closer to God.
Your position in society, in the church, in your job, in the government— even your ability to adhere to the rules— none of that matters when it comes to God’s love. 

In fact, when it comes to God’s economy, there is only One at the top.  

And it isn’t us.

If you want to really know what is on God’s heart… you can't just look at the top of the heap; you have to look at the bottom of the pile.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Are You Going To Sit Down?

Ok, I've had enough.  Please stop posting pictures of your feet while you recline in a chair, relax on a beach, or swing in a hammock.  I'm a red blooded American that really doesn't have time to relax, so I'd appreciate you not rubbing it in my face.

We have two kids.  They both are in gymnastics.  They both have practices twice a week for 3 hours.  They are both in school.  They have homework, people!  And my wife is a school teacher which means for 10 months of the year she is grading papers and writing lesson plans, and the other two months are spent researching better ways to teach those smelly-underdeveloped frontal lobes called middle schoolers how to conjugate verbs and write essays.

The other night, it all came to a head at our house.  We had just spent all day rushing about from obligation to obligation and had (finally) gotten the girls to bed.  It was around 9pm and Jodi began preparing for the next day when I asked her this question:  "Are you going to sit down?"

My wife is an amazing woman, she is able to do so much, with so little help from me.  I'm amazed by her ability to do.  But I'm afraid that my question diagnosed a bigger problem.  We don't take enough time to really... I mean REALLY... rest-- we honestly don't have the time.

And the problem doesn't just exist in my house.  It's a national epidemic.
A new survey of employees finds that only 25 percent of employees with paid time off took all of their vacation days last year.  What's worse, 15 percent took none of their vacation days at all.
It appears that we are so afraid that we might miss something.  So afraid that our kids might miss something.  So afraid that we will be left out.  So afraid that we won't live our lives to the fullest.  So afraid that we may get passed over for the promotion, lose the big deal, or disappoint our bosses that we refuse to even take off the time that has been promised to us.  On average, the American worker receives only 13 days of vacation time annually.  Compare that to countries like Germany, Britain, and France that receive over 3 weeks of paid time off, and some developed nations that allow for up to 4 consecutive weeks of vacation during the Summer.

But I'm in the ministry-- the Devil doesn't take a day off.  But should Europe really be our model?  But I really love my job-- I don't mind working.

First of all, the Devil shouldn't be your role model.

Secondly, I get it, Europe doesn't have the best reputation when it comes to fiscal development... but what if they are on to something, the medical studies seem to back them up.

Lastly, I would be willing to bet that you could do your job better with a fresh mind and relaxed body.... just sayin'.  And if you're like me, what that means is a vacation where I actually... well... rest.  My last vacation involved us visiting friends in Texas.  We stayed in another person's house (and they were very gracious to let us have their own bed) and then frantically drove all over the DFW metroplex to make sure that we saw everyone that we needed so see.  It was frantic.  Then, just as my mind was beginning to shut off work mode (I still checked emails and texts and Facebook messages while on this said vacation), it was time to load back up in the car and head home.  I have never taken more than 1 week off at a time.  I suppose I'm too afraid the world would stop spinning if I didn't answer my phone for a week.

Let's be honest, peeps.  We have created idols of ourselves.  We certainly take ourselves too seriously, and we absolutely believe that we are more important than we really are.

Ouch!  That hurt a little bit.

Now, if you're not a follower of Jesus Christ, then what I'm about to say here is optional.  If you are a disciple of Jesus, then you have to listen and apply this simple truth to your life:


Yep, its one of the big 10.  Jesus would clarify this Old Testament Commandment in Mark 2:27. 
 "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath"
Let me sum this up in the Jeremy International Version: God built in some rest time for YOUR OWN GOOD.  He didn't create rest time because you needed a time-out.  He didn't create rest time because He needed a nap.  He created rest time because He created your body, and He knows what you need!

Perry Noble in his book Overwhelmed says it best:  "The Bible calls those who will not work lazy, but it calls those who will not rest disobedient."

So, perhaps I shouldn't be so upset with all the pictures of relaxing feet.  In fact, maybe I should find a hammock- or a beach- somewhere close and finally sit down myself.  I suppose this will have to do until then!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

I think she's doing a pretty good job...

Well, Mother's Day is Sunday, and this morning as I sauntered over to the store to pay my annual tax to Hallmark I had a little bit of time to reflect on the events of last night.

Every night, we go through a very familiar routine at our house that involves some Bible reading, prayers, and various tucking in rituals.  Last night, Emma, my 9 year old had something to tell me.

There was a little boy in her class that had been bullying her and her friends at school.

As she began the story, I immediately was filled with an angst that can only be understood by over-protective parents like myself and mama bears.  I imagined phone calls to the teacher, and other parents.  not to mention various anti-bullying campaigns on multiple social media outlets-- but for the time being, I figured I would just listen to her story.

I'm glad I did.

She continued that one of her friends had gone to the teacher to tell, and the little boy became angry.  He made a couple statements like "I wish I had never been made!" and "I wish I wasn't on this big ball of crap!"

I then watched as my daughter's eyes filled up with tears.  She told me that she went to him and said, "God had made him very special, and for a very special purpose, and God had made this world for us to enjoy." 

Then, in an effort to sound parental-- not wanting to pass up a teachable moment-- I encouraged my daughter to remember that no matter what people say or do, there is almost always something more going on.  There is probably a story.

And she said, "Everyone has a story, dad."

It appears that she wasn't going to miss out on that teachable moment as well.

I then left the room only to find my her mother busily cutting up fresh fruit to go in our daughters lunches for the next day.  Jodi was in a rather foul mood for some reason... now I know, husbands, its never a good idea to ask why your wife is in a foul mood for fear you may be the reason, but I asked anyway.

She actually had begun to believe that she was failing as a mother.  Due to some of the events in the day that led to both of her girls crying, she had decided to place blame on herself and bear the burden of their tears.  She explained that she just had experienced some parenting fails.

So I shared with her Emma's story.  I think she's doing a fabulous job.

She gets up early and prays for our family
She tirelessly cleans and cooks
She handles the household finances-- well I might add
She fixes boo boos and owies
and kisses foreheads and bruises.
She runs bathwater and rinses hair
She can french braid anything in any way.
She drives the safest swagger wagon around putting more miles on our van than most over the road truck drivers put on their big rigs.
From gymnastics to dance to art to playtime
To a faith that has been passed on to the next generation
              And is being passed on to their friends...

Jodi Powell... you are an amazing mother!  Don't ever forget it.  God has placed that inside of you, and I love watching you daily navigate the difficult waters of motherhood.  There is no one that I would rather raise my children with than you.

Happy Mother's Day,