Thursday, March 27, 2008

Things I find Myself Repeating

I've been trying to notice the words that seem to come out of my mouth most often as I continue learning to love people more deeply, be with them more intimately, listen to them more attentively, and point them to Christ's life more purely and practically. For what it is worth, here are some of the things that seem to come out of my mouth most regularly:
"I want you to have the best possible life." 
I mention this one first because it really gives context to the rest of my repetitions, but also to every relationship I am it my wife, my kids, my extended family, my church family, my neighbors...all the up to and including my enemies. I've not always had these words to articulate my desire for others, and I have found them extremely useful in explaining myself to anyone. Other phrases that I believe are synonymous with this, but oftentimes get misunderstood by people that I interact with, are things like "I want you to follow Christ," or "I want you to repent," or "I want you to let God guide your life." Overall, these particular words are truer to communicating the heart of what I want for everyone, and they seem to leave behind the baggage or offensiveness that some people attach to more 'religious' phrases. To my very churched friends, this phrase opens them up to think differently about what it means to follow Christ...and to my unchurched friends, they appreciate the love they see in my eyes for them and open up to the spiritual realities. By the way, I stole this phrase from my teacher, who said it this way, "I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full."
"All you gotta be is willing."
These words come from my deep seeded belief that God is actively at work, manipulating everything in order to make our joy complete by putting us right where He wants our hearts and in the world. I believe that God is completely obsessed with His own glory (by the way, I also believe He is the only one that can be this way and it be an act of love for everyone), and when He is glorified in us, we are so filled with wonder and awe that we become untouchable in terms of our joy. So many of us are so stuck with our world-conditioned view of what happiness looks like that we are too busy to "let" God show us His glory in any and all circumstances that might come our way. In addition to this being said to me at a very formational and revolutionary moment in my life, I see my Master having the same heart when he says, "O Jerusalem, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." I think Jesus is reflecting God's heart...a heart that is longing for our good, and all we gotta be is willing to let Him give it to us. This leads to a couple of my next commonly used statements...
"You have to believe."
Whenever I introduce the idea of "willingness," it is just soft and fluffy enough that many honest-to-God searchers and pursuers of life to the full argue with me. And there arguments, while cleverly disguised in oft-repeated phrases of their own like "God helps those who help themselves," and "But that is not fair," or "not practical," or "not realistic," are really just versions of their feeling the need to "do something". I'm not saying that there never anything to do, but most people I encounter err on the side of trying to "make miracles happen" instead of "letting them happen", and putting their limited but powerful energy into the productive work of "being the right kind of person" rather than "doing certain things right". Belief in what God promises is all over my savior's teachings, but my favorite one is when he sums up the essence of what our work for God is when he says, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent."
"I'll die one day, but I will not die before that."
Okay, okay...I actually haven't gotten to say these exact words yet, but they just came to me last week after I had a magnificent wreck while BMX racing. Admittedly, it hurt pretty bad, and I got some new, cool large one on my wrist advertising to the world that I'm not living the most cautious life. A sweet and beloved older sister of mine looked at me like mom's are supposed to, I suppose, and wanted me to rethink my involvement in BMX racing. I'm not nearly as extreme as some, but over the course of my life, I have had to explain my cliff-jumping, sky-diving, motorcycle-riding, mountain-climbing, hitch-hiking, old-car-buying-and-driving-across-the-nation and other adventure-taking endeavors more than a few times. So this is my new phrase that will come out of my mouth frequently to explain myself in this full recognition that I may have to be reminded of it when I finally do something too stupid, and too far, and pay the price.
More to come...I love you guys.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Shade Canon Mashburn - the 8 year old

"Can I have a Bible like yours for my birthday?" - Shade's request to me last night, the eve of his birthday
"I've learned a lot about You through Shade since you introduced him to me 8 years ago, God. I've learned about having a big heart, about passion for life, about being able to love anyone, about welcoming new friends who don't have many, about having a love for action and adventure." - my prayer to God tonight with my son on his eighth birthday
"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." - Jesus, in John 10:10, one of the two verses Shade wanted to memorize tonight before bed.
"Anyone who claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." - Jesus, in 1 John 2:6, the other verse
My day started at about 5:45am, with my oldest son Shade walking into my room with two big packages that came in the mail last week from his grandparents for his birthday, with strict instructions not to open them until today. I had told him to bring them into my room in the morning, because I wanted to watch him open them. Mom woke up, asked him what he was doing, he explained that he was going to open them when it's time to get up as he crawled under the covers next to me.
At about 6:30 we were all in the living room ready to celebrate Shade all day. He opened his two packages from Carrie's parents, with scissor help from sister Callie and little brother Jakin claiming each surprise as his own as Shade pulled them out. A perfect Mashburn kid start!
Mom asked if he wanted waffles or pancakes for his special breakfast, and he chose pancakes. We all got chocolate chip pancakes, but Shade got one in the shape of an "S"! He joyfully ate 'em up, and got ready for school with mom's promise that our presents would be his when he got home from school at 3:00.
At 11:45, Shade's lunchtime, he walks in with a crazy lookin' candle hat from his class that says happy birthday, and he sees his little brother and dad waiting for him with Chic-fil-a at one of the cafeteria tables, which pumped him up (and made all his friends long for chicken!). As if that wasn't enough, mom showed up 2 minutes later to join him. His smile just kept getting bigger. His 2nd grade teachers gave him 3 coupons for 3 free lunches at 3 different restaurants around town.
He got home to see his birthday bag from us, making a point to wait for his mom to be in the room before he opened it, instinctively knowing that his joy is greater when it is watched, shared, and observed by mom. He got a cool little arsenal of nerf guns (wish they made em so cool when I was kid!) and air-soft guns (those too!).
Just as he was finishing showing off his new treasures to his neighborhood friends, another package arrived in the mail. From family in Houston, this time. More joy in scissoring and opening and card-reading and Jakin-claiming. Shade decided to share with his brother right away this time.
After a lasagna dinner cooked by dad (frozen, of was out for the evening), the three kids hopped in the Blazer to go get some birthday ice cream treats for desert. Shade got one of those fancy chocolate covered bowl-cone things with 2 junior scoops of peanut butter chocolate ice cream with Reece's Pieces on top.
I neglected to mention that we sang Happy Birthday to breakfast, at lunch, when he got home, at dinner (twice), and now in the ice cream shop we are about to sing it again when Shade asks me to ask the ice cream lady to join in...which she did...making it sound a whole lot better, I might add (Mashburn's are loud, to be sure, but that's about it).
Then Shade seemed to be taken in by the momentum of it all...he stopped mid-spoonful and said, "Thanks, dad."
"Your welcome, buddy," I replied.
"Can we do a group family hug outside the door on the way to the car before we leave?" he said with chocolate mouth and smiling eyes.
"Sure we can!" I answered.
After a couple of more bites for everyone, Callie finishing her rainbow sherbet with hot tamales on top and returning from throwing her trash away, Shade continues his lavishing love and appreciation, "I love you guys."
"What?" Callie asked with a high pitched, inquisitive voice, because she had started a sentence just as he started talking (another unique Mashburn trait).
"I said that I love all you guys," Shade repeated, even sounding glad he got to say it again.
"Can we sing Happy Birthday to him again?" 4-year-old Jakin now asked
I looked at Shade, and with a hint of humility, but a welcoming smile, said, "Just whisper-sing it this time." Which we gladly did.
I brought 3 joy-filled children home tonight, and even the getting ready for bed routine was peaceful and pleasant. I purposely did Shade last, and as I got the first 2 to bed and approached him, he smiled from his room and said, "Thanks, dad. Can we stay up for just little bit and talk?" I invited him to follow me. He did so right down into the basement, right through the locked door of the prayer room. He ran over to his normal spot in there and pulled a blanket up over him, a tad cold, and looked at me sit next to him with anticipation.
As I pulled a box out, I informed him that "I have one more thing for you."
"It's a Bible!" he guessed, and I let on like he might or might not be right...but he was right.
It's pocket sized, soft leather, red-letter edition (with the golden edged pages, which he really liked). He pulled it out of it's box, smelled the leather, and said, "I love it!"
Thank you, God. Let him always love it...and more than that, let him always love who it points him to...and right along with that, Father, give him life to the full...the life it describes...the life of Christ.
We went up to his room with his last treasure of the day (it), and I with mine (him). We jumped in his bed to 'stay up for little bit and talk' when he said..."Hey, can we get my Bible and I memorize some scriptures?"
"Sure...which one?"
"I don't pick." And he bounded across to get his new book while telling me about some of the stories he was learning from his teacher in a Bible class.
"I'm looking for some red letters," he announced, and then he let me pick John 10:10. After nailing it, and putting the Bible back in it's new box, he wanted to do another one. "Two every night," he said.
"You'll know more than me in a week!" I exclaimed, and then said, "Two tonight, but only one on other nights...and we'll practice the ones you learned."
He was cool with that, and handed me the Bible to give him another one. "This is my life's theme verse," I told him as I turned to 1 John 2:6...and he nailed that one, too.
And now I sit writing about his day...I guess because I didn't want to stop celebrating him yet, even though he's down for the night.
Happy Birthday, buddy. You are a joy to so many, and I am so proud to be your dad.