“Color with me, Daddy,” my oldest daughter said. “I prefer to draw a picture, but I don’t what to draw,” I said.
I was a sophomore in college when I began receiving a series of harassing emails from an unidentified person. Each one was loaded with expletives and insults that cut into my stomach like rusty razors, leaving me with a cold, sick feeling. The worst part was that it was clear that I somehow knew the person, who I assumed was male based on the tone of the emails.
Three years ago, my family was on vacation and I was in a gas station standing next to my two-year-old daughter. Out of nowhere, a dirty old guy with a long, white beard turned around and looked at her. “You’re a pretty little girl,” he said, and then he reached down and tried to give her some change.
The other night, I was putting my little daughters to bed, and I sensed that I needed to talk to them about shame. I figured we could discuss it the next day since it was already late, but I didn’t realize the Holy Spirit was prompting me for a reason. Before I left the room, one of my daughters said, “Daddy, a girl at school called me a mean name.” “What was it?” I asked. She covered her face with her hands and said, “I don’t want to say.”
In 2009, I was at a friend’s birthday party when my vision suddenly became distorted. I could hear and see everyone, but it felt like I was in a dream. About 15 seconds later, I came out of it. I walked over to my friend, who’s a doctor, and tried to describe what happened. “Maybe you’ve got superpowers,” he said, and we both chuckled. Soon thereafter, I stopped chuckling.
A massive evangelistic event was afoot in Washington, D.C. There was all-day activity, preaching, and Christian contemporary music. And there were Christians, lots of Christians. I stepped onto the Metro one night after work, and I soon realized some of the attendees of the event were on the train. In addition to looking like fanny-pack tourists, they were wearing Christian-themed t-shirts. Two middle-aged women in the group were quietly talking about their strategy for sharing their faith with strangers on the train….
When a horrific terrorist attack happens, the first question that comes to my mind is, How afraid should I be? I live in Washington, D.C., so it’s fair to assume that my family and I are, at any given time, at risk of being killed or injured in a terrorist attack.
I don’t have a lot of regrets from my childhood, but there’s one from fifth grade that still bothers me. I made friends with a second grader named Jennifer who rode my bus. She had a round face, a raspy voice, and a wild mop of wavy blond hair. And those eyes — they nearly disappeared when she smiled, which she did a lot — especially when she was talking to me.
Not long ago, I was at my favorite coffee shop visiting with an acquaintance who is a recently married, self-professing Christian. He has a new baby girl, so I asked how his daughter was doing. He pulled out his iPad to show me a photo of her, and what happened next was one of the most awkward moments of my adult life.
My wife is seven months pregnant, and we’re getting into that phase of pregnancy where something as simple as moving around can be challenging for her. I have no idea what she’s going through, and this pregnancy is showing me that I’m similarly incapable of understanding God’s work in saving us.
I can hardly stand to read my journal entries from my college years — it stresses me out. I was an extremely zealous Christian, and although I was genuinely seeking to follow Jesus, I got a little sidetracked during my freshman year.
I’ve had some stressful rehearsals as a worship leader in my church, but last Sunday took the cake. While my wife and I were on the stage practicing with the band, my daughters were running around the sanctuary pretending they were queens in Narnia. I noticed they were up in the balcony at one point, but I didn’t pay much attention to them. But then over the sound of the music, I thought I heard someone screaming.
Last week, a series of minor, negative events happened throughout the morning. It started with a bit of unexpected, disappointing news, and the dominos just kept falling from there. By mid-afternoon, my chest felt tight with anxiety, and my breathing was slightly more shallow than normal. When I got home, I made dinner for my daughters and tried to distract myself from the heaviness inside by checking my email and social media. It didn’t work.
This morning, I got down on the floor and played with Lincoln Logs for the first time my life. We got them for our daughters for Christmas, and my youngest daughter wanted me to show her how to put them together. In no time, I got lost in the process of building the perfect log cabin with her. I think there’s something beautiful that was going on with that.
Last week, I wrote an op-ed for Fox News Opinion called, “How to Know the Moment When You Really Got Saved.” I have never written something that provoked so many comments, personal emails, or Facebook messages. Fortunately, most of the responses were filled with awe at how completely God saved us through the blood of His Son, Jesus. And one of those messages, in particular, touched me.