The other day, someone asked me to name my favorite book other than the Bible. That’s impossible for me because I have seven books that meet that standard: the ones that make up C.S. Lewis’ children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia.
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.
When I was growing up in south Mississippi, there were some Pentecostals who sold peanut brittle door-to-door and in grocery store parking lots. At one point in my childhood, I remember having a positive view of them because — well, they had sweets. But my dad took care of that really quickly.
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.
Last week in Chicago, a man found a newborn baby girl lying on the ground outside his apartment. Her umbilical cord was still attached and she was barely alive after suffering blunt force trauma. She died shortly thereafter, and police later discovered that she had been thrown from a ninth story window by her mother.
Last year, I went trick-or-treating for the first time in my life. Up until that point, as a matter of principle, I never even handed out candy on Halloween.
Whenever I visited my Aunt Susan as a kid, I begged her to let me borrow her camcorder so I could produce “TV shows.” A lot of my productions were my best imitation of NBC’s Today Show. And during the show, I did things like interview my brother Caleb about the Sears catalog, interview my cousin about the artwork on the wall, or engage in aimless monologues.
A lot of parents in Mississippi would have been disappointed to have me as their youngest son. I did not watch sports, nor was I particularly athletic. I did not hunt or fish; and although I did spend a lot of time in the woods, when I was out there, I was often pretending to be in Narnia.
If you’ve been to Washington, D.C., you know there aren’t any skyscrapers in the city (we have a building height restriction). The closest thing we’ve got is the Washington Monument, and at 555 feet, you’d imagine it’s the tallest stand-alone structure in the city. That would be incorrect – in fact, it’s not even close. That honor is held by the John Hughes Memorial Tower, a police radio tower on Georgia Avenue that bears a striking resemblance to the Eiffel Tower. And here’s the best part: it has been a great tool for explaining deep theology to my kids.
This morning, my daughters and I were talking about the birth of Jesus, and I was trying to think of a way to capture the wonder of it. I mean, it’s one thing to say “God became a man” – but I wanted them to get it, to grasp how bizarre it was that the God of the universe humbled Himself and moved into the body of a vulnerable baby boy.
One day, I was standing in the kitchen at my mom’s house, and for the first time, it occurred to me that my favorite music was the sound of tinkering high notes on a piano. So I rhetorically asked my mom, “Do you know what my absolute favorite music is?”
My wife and I live in Washington, D.C., a city that’s full of single men who aren’t ready to get married. If they’re anything like I was in my single days, their unwillingness to tie the knot has a lot to do with their unrealistic expectations. Now that I’m seven years into a happy marriage, if I could give some tips to all the single men about adjusting their hopes for life after the wedding, here’s what I would say:
A few days ago, my wife and I drove our daughters to their first day of school. I hardly noticed that my breathing was becoming shallower as we got closer. I didn’t want to notice it. “You know,” I said, “I’m not going to cry when we say goodbye to the girls today, but I understand why parents do.”
“Joshua! Caleb! Get out here quick!” Although it has been over two decades since I heard my parents yelling those words from the backyard of our rental home in rural south Mississippi, I still remember them fondly.
About once a week, I get the same question about my writing: “Where do you find the time to do it so much?” I can tell you this: it ain’t easy.