enamored and confused

There's a lot about Jesus I don't think I'll ever figure out. He had it made at one time. He did the craziest thing when he gave up the ultimate life to take on earthly life and all of its limits. God confined to skin, minutes and meals bamboozles me. Nothing but love could've forced him to do it. The more I think about it the weirder it gets. I'm still not sure what it is about me that makes me so worth it.

Knowing me the way He does, I can't imagine He expected much from me in return. He knows my limits. He knows I can't come close to returning all of the favors I've enjoyed because of Him. The fact that He trusts me at all just blows me away. But that's His nature. That's just what He naturally does - if a super-duper-extreme-above-the-laws-of-nature God can do anything naturally.

I'd never thought of God as being attractive. I was mostly told that He is rigid, harsh and perpetually angry. But I've found Him to be more ready to hug than to hit. He comes across to me now preferring to kiss than to kick. That makes Him very attractive to everyone who's been led to believe they must fear His wrath before they trust His love. Who would want to attach themselves to a deity who creates life, is life, only to make it painful and stomp it out? He gave us life in the first place so we can know Him forever.

I'll never figure Him out. No one will. So when I read the great scholars who knew Him well, but not entirely, I have to remember that they speak and write from the knowledge they have, but they don't know everything. No one does. No one can. From what I do know about Him, I love Him. From what I've learned about Him, I can't help but really love him.


my birthday gift

I've already outlived Jesus. Well, not in a technical sense. He was around long before my lineage began forming, and his life is not at all limited to the number of days his feet actually touched earth dirt. But I've awakened to more birthdays than he did while he was living here. And today is one of them.

This is a milestone birthday for me. As a matter of fact, this is a special milestone year for both of my kids as well. Christian becomes a teenager in June, and Casie becomes an adult of 18 years in November. I start a new decade today.

I'm not really big on celebrating my own birthday. Except once. When I was in the fourth grade I had been invited to a friend's birthday party. I enjoyed it so much that I thought I'd have one when my own special day rolled around. The games, the friends, the cake, the attention all appealed to me. So, as my own birthday neared I invited a boat load of friends over for a big KB birthday bash at the Bishop spread.

I did things sorta backwards. I didn't ask mom or dad if they'd sponsor such a shindig until the day before the big day. However, I'd already invited my A-list friends and they'd all gotten permission and filed the proper paper work to ride the bus home with me for the blowout party of the year. Dad said something like, "Ask your mother." Mom said she had planned a special dinner for the family and the next door neighbor kid. (He'd invited me to his party a few weeks before.) So the answer was, "Not this year sweetheart."

Now what was I going to do? The next day was party day. All of the friends I'd invited were expecting to end up at my place for games, treats and an all around good time. I couldn't cancel the party and disappoint them all. So I didn't. I kept thinking all day that I should probably call Mom and tell her that I was bringing a bunch of my buddies home with me. She deserved some sort of warning. But I didn't.

The bus ride home that afternoon was brutal. I was surrounded by good friends, but I kept thinking about my poor momma who was at home preparing a meal for the family, totally unaware of all that was about to be unleashed on her. At each stop along the way I considered abandoning ship. The eight or ten friends, whose parents had probably taken advantage of the opportunity for a night out without the kids, were oblivious to my worry. My brother Mark was anxious to see how I'd keep a happy face until the last friend left and the punishment was initiated.

Finally, the bus stopped and emptied itself in front of 2735 Old Irvine Road. I knew Mom was most likely in the kitchen, so I asked my friends to head to the backyard while I went in to get things together. I don't recall the exact exchange, but to the best of my recollection, the conversation went something like this.

Mom: Take your shoes off. How was your day at school? Did your friends all wish you a happy birthday?

Me: Mom, I have to tell you something.

Mom: I said take your shoes off. What is it you need to tell me? Hang on, there's something going on in the backyard.

Me: Mom, I brought some friends home from school. I told them I was having a birthday party. They're expecting cake and ice cream and games and stuff.

Mom: ...

Me: Mom?

Mom: Get in my purse, run down to the store and get as much candy as you can with however much money is there. I'll make some games or something. I thought I told you we weren't going to do this this year??

Me: I was too embarrassed to cancel my own birthday party. There's not much money in here.

Mom: We'll make it work.

And she did. We played home made pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and the candy was the prize. We all had tiny pieces of birthday cake. (She'd only made enough for the family and the neighbor kid.) As far as my friends knew, this was the original plan put into place the day the invitation was extended. Dad came home to a yard full of rowdy 4th graders, and Bro ended up joining in the fun. It ended up being the best birthday ever.

These days I'd just as soon my birthday come and go without any fanfare. But I have enough good friends who won't let that happen. Yesterday, my calendar told me I had a meeting in the State Capitol Building. When I arrived, the Governor and First Lady and most all of their staff, were there to celebrate my day with cake, punch and friendship. The kitchen staff at the Governor's Mansion where I work prepared my favorite lunchtime meal. And last night my best friend in the world deceived me and surprised me with a gathering of very special and close friends.

As the day goes on I'll hear from others. Casie has already wished me a happy day. I expect I'll hear from Christian when he wakes up. Mom and Dad never let this day go by without a call. My brother Mark faxed me a five dollar bill last year. It's an inside family joke. I may get a raise this year.

As much as I'd like to treat this day like any other, I have too many friends and family who love me enough not to let that happen. That's a beautiful gift for a guy like me.