Archive for October, 2007

Meet Dorothy

October 19, 2007

Thanks to Jasmin for bringing to my attention that I haven’t blogged about the new baby yet. On September 24, April had Dorothy Abigail Carter, weighing in at about 9 lbs, about 19 1/4 inches long, and a very good eater.

The three big sisters are pretty excited about having a living, breathing, wiggly little baby doll to play with.


Of course, our schedules are wacked out now, since one of us hasn’t yet learned that daytime is for being awake and nighttime is for sleeping. But what can you do?

Don’t answer that… we’ve done this before and we know the whole gamut of opinions about how to parent a newborn. Incidentally, if you’ve ever had a child before, you’ve probably learned that experts on child rearing come out of the woodwork when you share even the slightest detail about your child’s needs. Everybody seems to think that, since they’ve had a child, they know exactly what you should do with yours.

But every child is a little bit different. The rules are just too fluid. So the next time you feel the urge to pontificate on the finer points of childcare, just bite your lip.

We’re all doing pretty good, by the way. Happy to have four healthy, beautiful children. When they become teenagers, you’ll find me on the front porch with a shotgun…

Living a Parable

October 7, 2007

Reading along further in The Greatest Story, I come to Luke 8/Mark 4 where Jesus tells the story of a sower who throws seed out into all kinds of different soils. Only one kind of soil actually produces much fruit, while the rest meet with failure for different reasons.

I can easily recognize my own history in each of the soils:

I have been the roadside soil, where the words of God have bounced off of me and done no good whatsoever. When I was a child I heard some pretty clear preaching from some genuinely evangelistic folks. Somehow it did nothing for me for many years.

I have also been the rocky soil, which received the word and showed an impulse towards God, followed by a complete obliviousness to his presence. I recall a time as a young boy when I was deeply moved by an experience at an Episcopalian camp. I came home and built a little makeshift altar out of sticks and wept and prayed and sang to the Lord. I never wanted to lose that feeling. I think I was twelve or thirteen. Didn’t last long, though. Didn’t take root. My adolescence quickly crowded out any spiritual inclinations and I went back to “normal.”

I’m pretty sure I know what it’s like to be the third soil, too. The older I get, the more I know what it’s like to have the worries of the world and the lust for things choking out all spiritual fruitfulness.

Come to think of it, I suspect this is why the kind of church life I have been pursuing for the last several years has such a hard time taking root in American soil. I suspect that we of all people are the most distracted by our own affluence. We are easily stupefied by our glittering shopping malls and digital entertainment. Our clothes, our I-phones and I-pods, our YouTube, our cable TV, our soft drinks and chocolate, our sex-and-violence drenched television shows. It’s no wonder we have a hard time seeing truly deep works of God among us.

I say all this with a heavy heart, because I don’t feel any of this strongly enough to give it all up. I kinda like my stuff. I get some relaxation out of it all after a hard day of trying to educate unwilling adolescents. These things grab us because they offer a measure of peace and pleasure.

So what do we do about all of this? Well, this parable makes me wonder how these soils became so different from one another. I have always felt that the main difference between each of these soils is that of preparation. Each one of them had been through different situations leading up to the planting of the seeds. One had no preparation at all. Another maybe had some once, but that was a long time ago. The one that bore fruit was the one that had been worked by someone into fit soil. Weeds had been removed; rocks had been sifted out. Probably some careful tending preceded this planting so that this one place would be ready to receive this seed and make good use of it.

I think the same things works for us. The times in my life when I have received His words with an open heart were the times preceded by some preliminary work on His part. He skillfuly choreographed a number of things which led me to the place that I was ready to hear what He had to say, and respond with willing and enduring authenticity. Some of what happened was unpleasant. I imagine tilling soil would hurt the soil if it had feelings.

So that’s what I’m expecting. I hunger and thirst for his righteousness, and I will never be satisfied with anything less. I have tasted of His goodness, and I’ll never be totally okay with substitutes. But He tends to arrange things so that our hunger moves to center stage. He tends to take the shine off of all the other things that would draw us, and then we turn to our true source of life and remember why we are here in the first place.

For my part, I’m going to try to spend some time listening to my insides, remembering the hunger that is there, and the need that I have to find Him and hear His voice inside me.

Most of all, I need to hear the sound of that voice. That is what we all need. It all comes down to that.

More on that soon…