Monday, December 29, 2008

Made Up Words


My oldest son, Brehm, has always had an interesting relationship with language. 

Some of you may recall a previous post when I mentioned that he takes after his daddy as a “talker”. 

Because of his intense verbosity, he often tries and says things whether he knows how to say them or not. 

This was particularly troublesome when he was learning to talk. 

Some of my friends have had toddlers that sound like they’re speaking a foreign language when they’re learning to talk.

One such friend had a son who, I would swear, spoke perfect, emphatic German. 

Sadly, we were not so lucky.

Instead of sounding like 1940’s Nazi propaganda, our son said real English words. 

The wrong ones. 

Very wrong ones. 

I recall one incident at a playground where my, then 2 year old, son began calling his friend’s name from the top of jungle gym. 

“Nichole”, however, came out sounding like a racial slur and not the intended name. 

I realized that no amount of explaining would make the other parents at the park believe that he merely had a pronunciation problem.

Nor did I think that they would believe that he hadn’t learned that language from me.

Especially since I was wearing my “Bama” t-shirt. 

I scooped him up, shoved him in the car and drove away. 

Apparently, in my mind, looking like I’m abducting a child is better than looking like a racist dad. 

As he’s gotten older, his clarity of speech has improved but he still searches for ways to express himself.

Even it means making up words. 

Which brings me to the other night. 

He had just gotten out of the bathtub and was putting on his pajamas.  I had recently arrived home after being gone for almost a month and so he was being very affectionate.

I’d missed him too so I was happy to be snuggly. 

He asked me to help him put on his pajamas and, after I did, he said, “Dad, you’re very helpful”. 

It was classic Brehm. 

Very matter-of-fact. 

But then he said, “You’re goodful and niceful too.” 

I didn’t correct his grammar. 

In fact, I think that those are two words that should be added to the English lexicon. 

It also showed a shocking amount of linguistic insight on his part.  

If being “helpful” means that you are full of help, then, it stands to reason, that “goodful” would mean “full of goodness”. 

So, because I’m a big geek and love words, I started thinking about other “full” words.

And here’s what I found. 

They either describe their object or they describe the response the object invokes. 

So, for example, words like “beautiful” and “helpful” mean that something is full of beauty or full of help.  Whereas words like “wonderful” and “dreadful” mean that something inspires feelings of wonder or dread. 

Confusing, I know. 

Welcome to my brain. 

And, since I was thinking about “goodful” things, I began to think about whether or not I could use the word “goodful” to describe God.  He is, after all, full of all that is good.

But “goodful” still falls short. 

God IS good. 

That phrase doesn’t just explain his actions toward us (though it does that as well). 

It’s a definition. 

“Good” is defined by God and not the other way around. 

So I’ve been meditating on the goodness of God.

Maybe it’s because we’re all in a season that seems filled with uncertainty that it’s been so meaningful (full of meaning) to rest in the knowledge that God is good. 

Regardless…I’ve found it to be “goodful” and “encouragementful.” as well.  

Monday, December 22, 2008

Home For Christmas


Have you ever been away for so long that going home felt like going on a trip?  
That's the strange situation in which I find myself today as I double, triple, and, because I'm my mother's son, quadruple check my suitcases.  
You see, after 22 days away from my family, I'm finally going home.  
What makes it extra special is that, because of the above mentioned phenomenon, what will technically be a Christmas "stay-cation" will feel like a vacation.  
And a good one at that.  
And so, in the spirit of having a vacation, I'm taking a a break for this week.  
Of course, the grand irony is that I'm telling you that I'm not going to blog this week by writing on my blog.   
But that's OK.  
My generation likes irony.  
How post modern of me.
So...Merry Christmas to you all and I'll be back next week.  

Monday, December 15, 2008

Zurich and My Christmas Wish


I tend to be a big baby when I get sick. 

If have a cold or a sinus infection, I load up on over-the-counter meds and try to tough it out. 

Ok…that is, admittedly, a newer ability.

My wife will laugh when she reads this because she’ll know that “newer ability” means “within the past month”. 

I’ve never been a good sick person.

Laura, however, can wait until her sinuses explode the front of her face off before she goes to the doctor. 

She comes from hardier stock. 

Her father is hardiest of all. 

His advice is to drink a soda and beat the sickness into submission by sheer act of will.

My “will” is lucky if it says, “oh yeah?” to a sniffle, but against a heavy weight infection? 

It doesn’t even go one round. 

And, for me, nothing is worse than the stomach flu. 

Just typing the words (swallow) makes me (swallow) feel queasy (go lay on the floor).

Which is why, when my wife called and told me that the kids have been throwing up, she also said that she was glad that I wasn’t there. 

As it was, I was paranoid that the “bug” would become digitized and make its way to me via cell phone. 

Of course, the fact that I’m in New England and the kids are sick means one thing:

Missed work…

Almost a week of work. 

Missed work equals less money and less money results in worry. 

I’m not sure why we worry. 

God has been faithful to provide for us on countless occasions. 

Maybe it’s an attempt to control the uncontrollable. 

There’s a novel idea. 

Let’s worry about things we can’t change. 

And now, Johnny, tell them what they’ve won!  A beautiful, sunny trip to Ulcerland!

Sometimes I’m just not that bright. 

Anyway, in order to understand how puking kids and smaller paychecks show God’s glory, I need to back up one week.

Last Thursday, after we had a very non-spiritual phone conversation about our finances, Laura went and got the mail. 

There was a check in our mailbox.

From our friends in Zurich. 

Whenever I say “Zurich” and “check” in the same paragraph, I feel the need to explain that our friends are not spies, arms dealers, or stupidly wealthy American lumber barons hiding money from the IRS. 

They’re a musician and a frog doctor. 

For real. 

The memo on the check simply said, “Prompted by the man upstairs”. 

They meant God. 

Not Heinrich, the chain-smoking guy in the flat above them.* 

They had no idea that the kids were sick. 

They had no idea, nor did we, that Laura was about to miss a week of work. 

They were simply being obedient to what they believed God was telling them to do. 

And God knew what we needed. 

Before we knew we needed it.

But God, in His great love for us, saw fit to provide proactively. 

And yet, that pales in comparison to what God was up to in a Bethlehem stable. 

You see, while most people saw a baby in a feeding trough, God was entering our world to provide a way for us to have a relationship with Him again. 

Whether we knew we needed it or not.

Before I was born, or even aware of the depths of my own depravity, God was entering human history to provide for my redemption. 

And not just mine, but anyone who believes and accepts that free gift.

That’s really the gift of Christmas. 

Not gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Not ipods or a Wii. 

But Jesus. 

And so my Christmas wish echoes the words of the famous carol.

“Let every heart prepare Him room.”

 

 

 

* No offense meant to Heinrich. 

I have no idea if he’s a chain smoker. 

 

Or if he even exists at all.  

Monday, December 8, 2008

Zero and The Journey


Right now I’m staring at a blank screen. 

The empty, white rectangle hovering in its Microsoft Word window seems to taunt me, daring me to fill it.

You see, after writing for almost a year, I’ve finally hit a writer’s block. 

I’ve got nothing. 

Zero.

It’s not that God isn’t doing anything in my life. 

He is. 

And it isn’t that I don’t have anything to share. 

I do. 

The problem is that I feel the pressure to take what God has been teaching me and make it humorous and entertaining to read. 

So, in the spirit of honesty, and since I don’t have a funny story for this week, I’ll just share how God has been challenging me. 

It’s no secret for most of you that my season with Osterville Baptist Church is coming to an end. 

This is bitter, sweet, exciting, and scary. 

It’s sweet because the amount of time that I’ve had to spend apart from my wife and kids has been totally inconsistent with what I believe about family. 

It’s bitter because I truly do love and care about the people I’ve been serving for the last year and half. 

It’s exciting because I know that God has something in store. 

It’s scary because I haven’t the foggiest idea where I’ll serve in ministry next. 

We’ve also been wrestling with our preconceived notions of what God’s plans for us might be.

I think that we always assumed that God’s plan would involve better health, more money, a bigger house in a safer neighborhood, and nicer clothes. 

No part of that assumption is Biblical. 

If God chooses to bless us with those things, then we’ll be grateful.  The challenge to us has been to remove that presumption from our minds so we can clearly hear God as we seek him for our next step. 

For anyone who has wrestled with these things, you know how hard that is to do.

And so, in the midst of this season of transition, Laura and I have been praying for peace.

A lot.

Not “peace”, as in, “everything is smooth sailing”, but true, Biblical peace…even in the middle of hard times. 

Even this morning, as Laura called to tell me that our youngest was throwing up, we found ourselves asking God for peace.  And as much as I’d like to tell you that this story has a nice happy ending, as you can tell by the tone of this post, I still feel unsettled and afraid. 

And I think that that’s an OK place to leave it for now. 

I don’t think it’s OK to stay here but I don’t think we should be afraid to visit.

Especially during Advent.

Because the whole idea behind this season is anticipation, longing, and tension. 

The fearful, difficult, but expectant journey to Bethlehem.

 

 

Monday, December 1, 2008

Apples, Chocolate, and Advent


I love apples.

In fact, it’s not uncommon for me to be seen munching away on a tasty Gala or Honeycrisp. 

This is not, as you might suspect, due to the fact that apples keep doctors away (though with my current co-pay and three kids, I wish that were true). 

No. 

I just love apples.  But, my favorite incarnation of the apple is my wife’s amazing apple pie. 

No one makes a pie like this one. 

Even though I’m more than handy in the kitchen, I tried to make the filling this Thanksgiving and botched it pretty bad. 

She even makes the crust from scratch with butter and lard. 

Yes, lard! 

There’s enough animal fat in that crust to stop your heart, but it’s flakey and tasty and I would eat two of them in one sitting if I let myself. 

And the filling…oh the filling! 

An exotic blend of cinnamon, clove, and allspice, vanilla, and rum…truly I don’t think a better pie exists. 

My love of apples might have a deeper root though. 

My name IS Adam and, in the same way I could eat my wife’s apple pie until my stomach exploded, I do recall a distant relative, with my same name, who had a problem with apples. 

Also, I grew up Jewish, and apples are pretty significant symbols in the Jewish culinary tradition. 

On Rosh Hashana, I used to eat apples dipped in honey to symbolize the hopes of a sweet new year.  But, since it’s so much like apple pie filling, the use of apples on Passover is my favorite. 

It’s a blend of apples, cinnamon, honey, walnuts and wine. 

Strangely, because of its consistency, it’s a symbol of the mortar used while “my people” were in slavery. 

Sweetness and slavery are a funny combination. 

This is what I was always told about that: The apples and honey remind us of how sweet freedom is, and how sweet the promises of God are. 

Which leads me to Trader Joes. 

For anyone unlucky enough to have never experienced this shopping phenomenon, let me explain. 

Trader Joes is everything you like about Wild Oats, Whole Foods and Fresh Market but priced for normal people. 

“Healthy food for real people” is the slogan I came up with. 

Joe, you’re welcome.

I’ll let you know where to send the check. 

So anyway, they finally came to their senses, and built one here in Nashville. 

Laura and I went to check it out, and came home with more than we planned. 

This included two advent calendars for the boys. 

Inside are all-natural chocolates for each day until Christmas. 

The boys were very excited when we explained it this morning.

If we use the words “Christmas” and “chocolate” in the same sentence, they’re on board.

So as I sliced apples for their lunches today, I started thinking about the connection between Passover and Advent. 

Both remember our bondage.

Both involve longing for deliverance.

Both find their ultimate, redemptive, fulfillment in sacrifice and a miracle of God.

Even more than that, there is the sense of hope that permeates both celebrations. 

We allow the remembrance of what God HAS done to give us hope for what He WILL do.

So, if you’re like my family, and will be eating a daily dose of chocolate to celebrate the season, let it be a reminder of the bondage we were in (or in the case of chocolate….the bondage we are still in) and let us thank God for the hope that we have because of Jesus. Chocolate and apples ain’t got nothing on that.  

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Blended Holiday


When I was a child (or young’n, as they say down here in Tennessee) we had distinct seasons. 

I’m not talking about winter, spring, summer, and fall. 

I’m talking about holiday seasons.

For whatever reason, it seemed like there was actually a marketing pause between holidays. 

But now….now there is a distinct climate change. 

Blame my carbon footprint if you must, but there is a noticeable “global warming” of holiday merchandising. 

And by “global” I mean “American”. 

It started slowly. 

Halloween decorations started showing up in stores around, say, late September.  Thanksgiving had a nice long run from November 1st until we all woke up from our turkey-induced comas. 

Christmas always enjoyed a pleasantly festive hoorah.  Or, if you were Jewish, like my family, you had eight whole days of gifts, dreidels and fried foods. 

New Years was next with the appropriate revelry. 

Then, a pause for a dignified remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. 

Valentines, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, April Fools, and The Fourth of July were all checkpoints along the way.  But, like the proverbial frog in a stockpot, the heat is being turned up and no one seems to notice. 

Nowadays, Halloween is blended with “back-to-school”, Thanksgiving has gone the way of the dodo, and, if my predictions are correct, we will soon see a line of Easter themed, candy hearts in stores for Valentine’s day or people dressing as Santa Claus for Halloween. 

Even worse, we may see the blending of holiday names into unholy, inbred marketing unions:

Hanukwanzamas.

St. Eastentine’s Day.

The Fools of July.

Oh The Madness! 

When will it end?

This year, however, there is an overlap that I feel is most appropriate. 

Thanksgiving blends with Advent.

The first Sunday of Advent falls on the weekend of Thanksgiving.

Isn’t that perfect?

Doesn’t a holiday dedicated to thanking God for His amazing provision flow seamlessly into a season of praising God for sending His Son?

After all, THAT is an expression of God’s ultimate provision. 

In fact, of the four Sundays of Advent (Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy), has anyone noticed the conspicuous absence of “Thanks”? 

Why?  

I believe that it’s because thankfulness is assumed.  If God has given you hope, peace, love, and joy, you would think that one would be thankful. 

So that’s my “Thanksgidvent” hope for me, and for you.

That as we sit and enjoy our turkey and football (you can’t forget football!), no matter how humble or princely the meal, that we would remember the pinnacle of God’s provision, Jesus Christ. 

And we’d give thanks.

 

Monday, November 17, 2008

Deliverance Hamsters and The Geckos


Back when I was twelve years old, my middle school class had hamsters.

We began the year with two, but by June, we had a small tribe.

It was a good lesson for health class. 

It was also a good lesson for genetics, since the two original hamsters were closely related and thus produced mutant spawn.

Please know that when I use the term “mutant” I’m not talking about the cool “Spiderman” or “Fantastic Four” kind of mutants. 

I’m talking about the kind showcased in the movie “Deliverance”. 

These were backwoods, rural Appalachian, scary hamsters. 

It wasn’t pretty. 

Some of them were blind, some had stumps instead of legs, and all of them would pee on you when you tried to pick them up. 

So…come the end of school, the teacher asked who would like to take them home for the summer. 

No one wanted them. 

I, having not yet seen “Deliverance”, thought they were mildly cute and enjoyed the sound of their dueling banjos. 

I took them home. 

They lived about a month. 

I wish I could say that they died of complications due to their “inbredness”.

Unfortunately, they died from my neglect. 

One morning, I cleaned their cage out (it was one of those cool ones with two levels and a tube connecting them) and thought it would be nice for them to have some fresh air.  So I placed their nice clean cage in the shade on the deck, so that my little, incontinent friends could enjoy the morning breeze. 

But then things went South. 

My mom and I got in a fight over something (I can’t remember what) and then discovered that we were late for an appointment.  We ran out the door and rushed off. 

Now, here’s the funny thing about planetary movement. 

The spot where the shade is in the morning is not where the shade is in the afternoon…..what with the rotation of the Earth and all. 

And so, we returned to find our furry wards baked inside their cedar chipped habitat by the noonday sun. 

It was truly as terrible as it sounds. 

We gave them a proper burial by the shed in the backyard. 

Fast forward to this weekend. 

Laura works in a middle school where the science teacher has several animals for the students to enjoy.  This includes two gecko lizards named Izzy and Lizzy. 

Since our kids love animals but don’t have any pets of their own, we volunteered to keep them for the weekend. 

They came with instructions. 

1) Pick them up from behind their front legs. 

2) Don’t grab them from behind their front legs.  You’ll crush their lungs.

3) If they get scared, their tails will fall off. 

4) Handling them, looking at them, or taunting them, will scare them.

5) If they get too cold, their tails will fall off. 

6) Reading this list will make their tails fall off. 

With my history of killing class pets, I was a nervous wreck. 

Brehm, however, LOVED them.  His favorite thing to do was to hold them firmly, but gently, in his hand and pet their backs.  Apparently the geckos liked this because their tales never fell off. 

They would just rest in his hand while Brehm watched TV. 

Eventually I relaxed enough to let them climb up my shoulder and onto my head. 

They looked just like the Geico gecko but they never offered us insurance. 

I guess they considered us a risk. 

Lately I’ve been fearful that God is more like me than like Brehm. 

That He will start to do something to bless me but then get distracted and leave me to bake.

I’m not sure why this is. 

Everything in the Bible and everything I’ve experienced these past few years indicates that I can trust God.  That he will not neglect me the way I neglected those inbred hamsters. 

And so this weekend I’ve been praying that I would be more “geckoish”.

A fragile creature resting in strong but gentle hands. 

I’ve also been thankful. 

Mainly I’ve been thankful that, no matter how scared I get, I don’t have a tail that can fall off.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Security


I, like many men, have a super-spy fantasy. 

In this imaginary world, I appear to be an ordinary, mild-mannered citizen but underneath that innocuous exterior is a lethal, highly trained man of mystery and intrigue. 

While I know it’s a pretty common daydream, I admit that I’m a bit embarrassed about it. 

I’m embarrassed, partially because I’m a grown man with a ridiculous imagination and partially because, as anyone who knows me will attest, there is nothing lethal, highly trained, or mysterious about me.

But I’m working on that. 

Thus far, the efforts to increase my “spyness” have included:

1. Increasing the level of black in my wardrobe

2. Keeping my eyes opened for a good pair of sunglasses. 

3. Begging any friend who owns a gun to take me to the shooting range.

I know none of these things will have the CIA knocking on my door like, say, learning fluent Farsi, but, hey….I can hope. 

AGENT 1: “Mr. Moritz, come with us.  The President needs you.”

ME: “It’s about time!”

The problem with this fantasy is that, in recent years, I’ve become increasingly self-examining. And nothing ruins a good fantasy like asking yourself “why” you have it in the first place. 

It’s kind of like asking what’s in a hotdog. 

Once you know, you don’t enjoy eating them anymore.  

And so, for example, it’s not enough that I realize that I prefer Starbucks or I actually enjoy shooting guns. 

I have to ask myself “why” I like those things. 

Do I like overpriced coffee because I REALLY like it, or am I seeking some sort of identity in being seen holding a white cup with a green mermaid on it?

Do I REALLY like shooting with friends or am I seeking some sort of affirmation of my masculinity and the sense of personal security that a gun can bring? 

Truly, if left to my own devices, I’d make myself crazy because, like the Bible says, a man doesn’t even know his own heart. 

Only God does. 

And so, I’ve had to ask God to reveal my motivations to me…in all things.  And sometimes the answers God shows me are mixed. 

I actually do like Starbucks coffee and enjoy the ambience of the store. 

Yay!

But I also feel “rich” when I drink it and so I tend to crave it when things are tight financially and I want to pretend that they aren’t. 

Doh!

The same is true with guns. 

I truly do enjoy them.

Yay!

But part of the enjoyment is that they are an easy antidote for fear because they make me feel powerful and cool.

Doh!  Doh!

With both of those scenarios, the key is security. 

If I’m not careful, I can become a security junkie.

I like to feel comfortable, safe, and in control. 

I don’t like stress or difficulty. 

And, while I know that God is the ultimate source of security and refuge, too often I seek that elsewhere.

But the reality is that, whether it’s a cup of coffee, a firearm, a 401K, stylish clothes, or a President, if my sense of hope and security is in anything but God, it’s misplaced. 

And that’s a worship problem. 

That’s a trust problem. 

Now that I’ve gotten you all to be as neurotic as me about your choice of clothing and coffee let me say this:  None of the things I’ve mentioned are “bad” (for the record, I’m typing this as a wonderfully delusional Americano steams sweet nothings next to me). But I believe an essential part of being a follower of Jesus is that we ask Him these sorts of questions and then pay attention to the answer.  We need to allow the great lover of our souls to reveal the inner workings of our hearts, and then let Him bring healing so we can find our rest in Him.

And that’s where security is found.

Now if you’ll excuse me, the President needs me.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Plumbing and The Violinist


Part I:

About a week ago the weather in Nashville began to change.

Having grown up in the Northeast, both my wife and I welcomed the cooler temperatures with gratitude.  There is something severely wrong about serving turkey on Thanksgiving in shorts and a tank-top. 

Like most people, fall weather makes me crave certain foods.  

Unlike most people, those foods include parsnips and brussel sprouts. 

I know it sounds crazy but you can blame Rachel Ray. 

She taught me about roasted brussel sprouts and root veggies and I was hooked. 

The sprouts are pretty easy to prepare but the root vegetables need to be peeled. 

This led me to one of the many lessons of home ownership. 

The average garbage disposal does not like to have large amounts of vegetable peels shoved down its gaping, grinding throat. 

Mutiny will ensue. 

Thus was the case, about a week ago, when I was making a batch of (drool) sprouts and roots. 

That’s when our sink backed up. 

I flipped the disposal switch hoping to move things along. 

The water “vortexed” and then spun to a lazy halt peppered with chunks of parsnip and carrot peel. 

I sighed a frustrated, “Of course!” and began to figure out how to fix the problem. 

We have a two-basin sink and water flowed down the unclogged side without a problem.  Therefore, I reasoned, the blockage must be between the basins, in the pipe that comes out of the disposal. 

This led me to lessons number two and three of home ownership:

2. You never know as much about plumbing as you think.  And

3. Before you attempt to remove your garbage disposal…empty the water out of the sink. 

A roll of paper towels, two saturated dish rags and copious amounts of nonsensical muttering later, I sat with my entire garbage disposal disassembled and strewn across my kitchen floor.

I looked down the pipes, I checked the disposal and could not find the cause of the block.

So I put it all back together and ran the water. 

It backed up again. 

Now, you would think, that sloshing backed-up dishwater all over my face would have drilled lessons two and three (outlined above) into my brain.

If you thought that, then you would have thought wrong. 

Another roll of paper towels, three more dish rags and a flurry of muttering later, I began to expand the focus of my hunt. 

Against all reason, I start disconnecting all the pipes under the sink. 

And that’s when I found it. 

It looked like a normal, unassuming pipe from the outside, but this one was different.

Where the garbage disposal fed into the drain from the other side of the sink, the pipe had a divide in the middle, greatly restricting the diameter of the pipe. 

And that half of the pipe was jam packed with parsnipy coleslaw. 

I cleared it out, reassembled the pipes, reconnected the disposal and ran the water. 

It drained perfectly.

 

Part II:

Back when I was a kid, my parents used to host traveling students at our house.  From “Up With People” kids to roaming string quartets, we always had an open door.  It gave me an amazing opportunity to meet people from all over the world.  Countries like Switzerland, Sweden, and Texas found their way into our lives. 

They taught me about alternate guitar tunings and how to iron a shirt. 

It’s the latter of these that is pertinent to this story. 

Since the classical musicians that stayed with us often wore tuxedoes for their performances, they had developed several ironing shortcuts.

One particular Italian violinist explained it this way, “If they never see what’s under your jacket, why iron it?” 

It seemed to make sense.  Why fix what no one will see. 

This same lesson was reinforced, later in life, by a boss who said, “don’t waste time sanding the top of a wardrobe.” 

The essence of these statements is this: 

What you don’t see won’t hurt you so don’t bother fixing it. 

I wish I had let that lesson apply only to ironing and sanding furniture. 

But I didn’t. 

For a long time, anything I could hide from other people got left alone.  I didn’t work on it and I didn’t let God work on it either.  But, like the pipe and parsnips, God, in his mercy, let things get backed up.  

He had to disassemble, and examine….everything.  Not just where I thought the clog was.  God even had to take apart the places that seemed to have nothing to do with it.  

That was the only way to get rid of the clog and get things flowing again.  

While I know that, when He was on Earth, Jesus was a carpenter, sometimes I think He might be a plumber as well.  

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monsters


I can still remember Brehm’s first, major night terror.  It was Halloween night, 2003. 

I was on the road (I can’t remember where) and my phone rang.  

It was Laura.  

She sounded frightened. 

You would be too.

She was a fairly new mom, her husband was traveling for work, it was Halloween, and that’s when the screaming began. 

This wasn’t the normal, “I’m scared” kind of scream. 

This was the “Freddy Kruger is real and he’s killing me” kind. 

When she called me, she was holding Brehm in her arms, his eyes were open but they didn’t see her, and he just kept screaming. 

I felt so unbelievably helpless and so did she. 

So we prayed. 

It was a real, desperate, scared, prayer.

Brehm started to calm down, his eyes focused on Laura’s face and then he fell back asleep. 

I wish that I could say that that was the last time he had a night terror. 

It wasn’t. 

Fortunately, the next several times, I was home. 

It was actually worse when I was home since there was an expectation that I would be able to help our poor son.  I couldn’t, and that just made us both feel like failures as parents.  We should be able to make our son feel safe.  Right? 

Well, as soon as Brehm started talking, we began teaching him to pray.  That way, if the monsters came at night, he could ask God to make them go away. 

This, of course, resulted in us running around our house “chasing” monsters and telling them to leave.  If he thought he saw one, we would ask God to make it go away and then, we’d chase it out the front door. 

He isn’t scared anymore. 

Now it’s Elijah who’s scared. 

He doesn’t have night terrors, but he sees monsters everywhere. 

They’re in his room.

They’re in the half-bath.

They make appearances at school like guests on a monster version of David Letterman. 

Everywhere.

The problem is that he is our little pragmatist/materialist.

Brehm quickly understands abstract concepts.  Elijah wants the “hands on” approach. 

So here is a real conversation we had the other day. 

“Daddy…I’m scay-ahd…monsters.”

“Well, buddy, do you want to pray and tell the monsters to go away?”

“No.”

“I really think that would help.  Jesus can make the monsters go away.”

“Flashlight.  I want a flashlight.”

“Jesus is better than a flashlight.  The Bible says that he’s the ‘Light Of The World’.  Doesn’t that sound brighter than a flashlight?”

“Flashlight.”

“Flashlight it is then.”

He is, after all, only three.

But I’m not.

Yet I still pick the flashlight sometimes.

I still pick the temporal band-aid instead of the eternal solution.

Sometimes I still close my eyes and hope the monsters will go away instead of squaring my shoulders, allowing Jesus’ light to shine in my life, and never being scared again. 

I would rather live life with a glow-stick than flip the switch and let the whole room be flooded with light.

God’s been teaching me to let His light shine in all areas of my life, especially the dark closets where the monsters live.

He’s been proving to me that, whether it’s the literal devil or the monstrous potential of sin in my own heart, He is the ultimate monster killer.

The reason I don’t just tell my kids that there’s no such thing as monsters is that I would be lying.

And they would know that I was lying. 

Whether they’re the invisible kind, or the kind my friend’s FBI neighbor puts away, monsters are real. 

Saying otherwise would just be me, trying to make myself feel better.

Believing in monsters won’t hurt my children.

Believing that monsters can’t be killed will.