On Christmas Eve, shortly after “the nice man” drove to Nonna and Papa’s house to bring me the 2014 Lexus LS 460 to review, you and your cousin Calla both crashed for a much needed nap.
Under the care of your grandparents, that meant that Mommy and I, along with Auntie Dana (my sister) and Uncle Andrew, could do whatever in the world we wanted to on that cold yet sunny December afternoon.
Given that there was a brand new Lexus LS 460 sitting in the driveway, we hit the road!
At this point in the letter, I need you to start the soundtack, which is a song called “Flowers In Your Hair,” by The Lumineers:
It’s just that the pictures you’re about to see and the randomness of what you’re about to read is best complimented by such an appropriate song.
We decided to hit the mountaintop freeway, aimlessly headed towards Little River Canyon, where we took you in the 2014 Toyota Tundra we borrowed for your 3rd birthday.
I suggested we hang a left turn onto a barely visible side road next to an old fishing tackle shop.
Fate would have it, the four of us would happen upon a perfectly Americana-style, old abandoned church.
So we checked it out, as any young Generation Y parents would do.
The doors and windows were all gone. A “no trespassing” sign was nowhere to be found.
As we entered the church, it felt like a mix between Jacob’s cabin in the woods on Lost and being in a music video for The Lumineers.
All that we could find in the church was what was left of an antique piano and a once comfy chair.
I liked how the ceiling was painted a dull teal color, for no apparent reason.
How in the world has this place been left in tact all this time? No punk teenagers or meth heads have taken advantage of the situation.
Not even a killer brown bear.
Just an old abandoned church that surprisingly wasn’t creepy.
While I was exploring the place, I thought about all the people, who have all surely passed on from this life by now, but who knew that church as a major part of life.
They learned about God and the teachings of Jesus and the journey to Heaven. Those people made their way out in the ice and snow and sun to see their friends and fellow believers each Sunday morning. There is even a river behind the church where they surely baptized those who were lost but had been found.
That church was a big deal to them. I didn’t take it lightly to be standing on what, especially at one time, was holy ground.
So there you have it. That’s the kind of thing your parents do when you’re asleep and your grandparents are there to watch you.
Isn’t it weird to think that, in theory, I have a life separate from you? To think that I seek entertainment and nostalgia and new memories too…
You get that from me, you know.
Disclaimer: The vehicle mentioned in this story was provided at the expense of Lexus, for the purpose of reviewing.
P.S. Here’s a collection of my Toyota family reviews so far; just click on title to read the full story:
I won’t quote the whole thing here, but the last few lines of it really stood out to me:
“Two thousand years have come and gone, and today He is the central figure for much of the human race. All the armies that have ever marched and all the navies that have ever sailed and all the parliments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this “One Solitary Life.’”
It’s pretty fascinating to me that if Jesus wasn’t who He claimed to be, which is the Son of God and the predicted Messiah of the prophecies in the Old Testament, then He was simply the most famous and influencial deceiver to have ever lived on the earth.
That means He’s fooled millions of people in the past couple thousand years. That means, back in His day, he caused quite a political uproar over… nothing. In that case, it was all just a hoax.
As C.S. Lewis famously put it, Jesus is either “lunatic, liar, or Lord.”
But again, if He was simply a crazy man or false prophet, He’s the most famous and influential one there’s ever been, to simply have been just a man.
Or, Jesus really is who He said He is, and He’s still the most famous and influential man who has ever lived.
This is the same man who this time of year is better known as the baby born in Bethlehem.
The way I look at it; even if at the end of my life I was wrong about God this entire time and when we die, we just die and that’s it, I still wouldn’t regret having believed. Because if nothing else, I had a sense of hope amidst all of life’s uncertainties.
Throughout all the traditional Santa and reindeer stuff we enjoy this time of year, I’m still distracted by the Jesus part of Christmas.
If Christmas was simply about candy canes and snowmen, and still managed to be this big of a deal to everyone, I would really be questioning why we celebrate it.
But I know the basis of this holiday season is deeper than that, and even more than just “the spirit of giving.” It still comes down to a baby in a manger who went on to live the most famous and influential life… ever.
And as I raise you to believe in Him, if He was really just a liar or a lunatic instead, I guess that makes me one of those things too.
This evening while Mommy was buying groceries, you and I played with the Dollar General version of Play-Doh, called Craft Dough.
With your 5 pack of Craft Dough came a very rare color… black.
You decided to make a camper for your Dodge Ram pickup truck, so you began stuffing the bed with black dough.
In the process, you picked up your St. Peter action figure and his boat, and stuck them in the back of the truck, then stood Jesus on top of a couple containers of Craft Dough nearby.
You ended up nixing the whole camper idea altogether and I got to hear the dialogue of the new plot line:
“Jesus, I gotta drive my truck and take my boat. Do you want to go?” Peter asked.
“No, I’ll just stay here today,” Jesus replied, in your falsetto voice.
I immediately began imagining a new kids’ show which featured favorite Bible characters in a modern day setting.
Yeah, that wouldn’t go over well at all…
But just the thought of Jesus and Peter as buddies who drive pickup trucks and take the boat for a spin out on the lake, instead of the familiar “walk on the water” story everyone knows, it’s pretty much hilarious to me!
In the process of trying to find Biblical action figures last Christmas, which you asked for by the way, I noticed there weren’t a lot of toy companies that made them.
Not only is there probably not an abundance of toy companies who are willing to make religious action figures, but there’s also the fact that those toys may very well end up in random activities which are more likely to show up in the lyrics of a Country song than they are in a sermon.
To be honest, I’m suprised it’s actually taken you this long to crack me up with your inevitable and accidentally humorous (and somehow seemingly inappropriate?) use of Jesus and St. Peter action figures during playtime.
You’d think he was just a big Beatles fan like his dad, until he continues:
“Martha- where’s Martha? Jesus! There’s Jesus. Jesus sleepy.”
For the past 23 months, Jack has been exposed to a children’s story Bible for bedtime. But now that he can piece sentences together and recall names of different characters, his children’s story Bible has never been more relevant.
His Bible is officially his favorite book. Why wouldn’t it be?
Plenty of camels, horses, sheep, and bearded men in robes to keep the attention of a 23-month-old little boy.
I think it’s hilarious/awesome that Jack has memorized the cartoon representations of at least a dozen men of the Bible. The only real distinction between them is the color of their beards and robes.
Tonight during story time as he sat in my lap and read to me, he made it his mission to find Mark. The problem is, even I couldn’t find Mark.
So I turned to a page where Jesus was feeding the multitudes from a little boy’s bread and fish. I figured with all the bearded men surrounding Jesus on that page, Jack would think he saw Mark somewhere in the crowd.
Not so much.
As I put Jack to bed tonight, it was kind a struggle for me to get him in sleep mode.
“I want Jesus! Jesus!” he cried, literally.
What he wanted was for me to let him take his children’s story Bible to bed with him, like he would his Elmo doll.
I just didn’t see that being a very comfortable situation in the middle of the night.
So Jack did settle for Percy the Train instead.
What’s interesting is that today during my lunch break, I mountain biked across town to the LifeWay store. I was just curious…
Do they sell a Jesus action figure, or even a plush doll?
But I sort of have a feeling by the time this story really ends, I’ll find one for him.
Today, it’s basically ironic to think of Valentine’s Day as anything other than a romantic celebration. But for the majority of its existence, the holiday was intended to honor men who died for the sake of their faith in Christ.
So now I wonder: Can Valentine’s Day be used to celebrate love for all people, in brotherly and sisterly ways? I say it should. Because simply, loving God means loving others.
As a follower of Christ, I am fascinated with the way Jesus answered this question:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a]38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:36-40
I acknowledge the Bible is full of things I have a hard time understanding or accepting, yet I continue to believe despite my lack of competence. But seriously, the thought of truly loving my neighbors (everyone else beside me) as much as myself may be the most difficult part to grasp.
Is it even possible? And yet, Christ said that is the 2nd greatest commandment.
Man, that’s tough. It’s definitely easier said than done for a guy like me who has enough issues battling selfishness when it comes to my own flesh and blood: my beautiful son.
If I can’t get over myself enough to love my son like I should, how am I ever going to love those who annoy me as much as I love myself?
Being romantic for Valentine’s Day is the easy part. If only that’s all there was to it.