The God In the Hat

This Saturday is the birthday of the greatest author of all time. No, not Hemingway, Dickens or Tolstoy. The guy I’m talking about is way out of their league. When it comes to literary heavyweights no one compares to the one, the only Seuss.

In his 87 years on earth Dr. Seuss gave the world dozens of quirky, classic tales that are absolute masterpieces. Seriously, how many people do you know who have actually read Hemingway, Dickens or Tolstoy? Or read them more than once because they had to for a class? But Seuss? Everybody’s read Seuss, and most of us with kids have read him not just once but dozens of times.

Seuss is the reason I write because he made fall in love with words. But more that, I love Seuss because I feel like I’ve lived his stories.

Take The Cat In the Hat, for example. It’s the story of two bored kids trapped in the house on a “cold, cold, wet day.”

Then suddenly, out of nowhere, in bounds the wild, whimsical cat in the hat who turns their world upside-down. I love this story because I think sometimes God is a little like the cat. He loves to sweep into our everyday, average lives and create a little holy chaos.

Remember nice, respectable Mary, pledged to be married to Joseph? Her life turned upside-down when an angel appeared and said, “Hey, you’re going to be the mom of the Son of God.” Peter and Andrew were working the family fishing business when they had their cat in the hat moment. “Come follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” Saul was on his way to beat up some Christians when Jesus appeared to him in a blinding light and sent him off to tell the world about God.

Over and over again when I find myself comfortable in my faith, God loves to pounce. Just when I think I have life figured out, God gives me a shove, a challenge, an opportunity, an invitation to follow Him into unknown territory.

Like the fish in the story, who is a stickler for order, I protest and resist every step of the way. Yet without the interruptions of Heaven, my life is dull, my faith is shallow, and I never get to experience the thrill of truly being alive.

So happy birthday, Dr. Seuss. Thanks for all the fantastic stories and for reminding me to welcome the unexpected moments that lead to adventure and truly experiencing God.

Dose of My Own Medicine


Image: ‘My Old Medicine bottle/ jar collection’
Found on

Last summer when my six-year-old came down with the flu, I bought her some chewable ibuprofen  to break her fever.  It might as well have arsenic.  She hated the stuff.   She whined.  She cried.  She clamped her mouth shut.   But since it was the only medicine we had in the house, I had to get her to take it.  
I couldn’t believe all the drama over a couple of chewable tablets. It was grape flavor, for goodness’ sake.  How bad could it possibly be?  
A couple of weeks later I found out.  When the flu took me down, I discovered we had run out of grown-up medicine.  No problem, I thought.  I’ll just dose up on the kid stuff.  It would be like a trip to the candy store.  
Or like eating baking powder.  Or licking a garbage can.  It really was as bad as she’d said it was, so I did what any mature adult would do.  I whined.  I cried.  I clamped my mouth shut.  But eventually I just had to suck it up and take the medicine I was all too willing to dish out.  
Getting a dose of your own medicine is never a pleasant thing, not when you’re dealing with disgusting children’s pain relievers or when it comes to just plain, old everyday life.

Have you ever noticed how harsh we can be when we’re prescribing what we think is best for someone else, and yet we use a different measure when it comes to ourselves?

We look at people struggling in their marriages or trapped in a financial mess and say, “Serves them right.  If you ask me, they should just . . .”  And then we fill in the blank with our flawless advice.   We love to play armchair quarterback with other people’s lives.

Of course if we found ourselves in the same situation, the solution wouldn’t look so simple.  We’re quick to offer tough love to others, but when we blow it or end up in a jam, we expect the rest of the world to cut us some slack.

Maybe that’s why Jesus said to treat other people the way we would want to be treated.  Maybe that’s why he warned us about judging others.   Maybe God knows our tendency to dole out pills we’d never want to take ourselves.

So the next time you’re tempted to hold others to a higher standard, the next time you think  you would do a better job of running of someone else’s life, take it from me.   Be careful what medicine what you prescribe to others because you may end up having to take it yourself.  Just because the bottle says “grape” doesn’t mean it’s an easy pill to swallow.



Off My List


Image: ‘Moleskine Hack’
Found on

I have two daughters who absolutely adore each other . . . when they’re not locked in hand-to-hand combat over a toy.  It’s usually something that one of them couldn’t care less about until the other one decided to pick it up.  A couple of weeks ago, I told them how tired I was of seeing them arguing all the time.  I reminded them that their greatest treasure isn’t their toys.  It’s each other.

“That’s it!” my four-year-old declared.  “No more fighting.  I’m taking it off my list.”  Then she got up and marched off to her room, where apparently she has a to-do list that includes putting her sister in a headlock over a Barbie.

It got me thinking that maybe there are some things that we all need to take off our list.  For you maybe it’s avoiding conflict or, the flip-side, losing your temper with your spouse or throwing the past up in their face when you’re mad.  Maybe it’s compromising your values to get ahead at work or talking about people behind their backs.  Or maybe it’s just giving up – on yourself, on a relationship or on God.

Whatever it is, your life could be totally different if you drew a line in the sand and said, “That is off my list.”

For example, for my wife and I, divorce is off our list.  It’s just not an option.  Ever.  So, on those days when we don’t see eye to eye (I love you more.  No, I love YOU more!) it forces us to suck it up and work it out.  I might drive her crazy enough to push me off a cliff someday, but I know divorce is never on the table.

A wise king named Solomon once said, “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a person who lacks self control.”  In the ancient world, walls protected a city and all those who lived there from harm.

When we takes things off our list, we’re creating boundaries for our lives that say, “I’ll go this far and no further.”  We all need guardrails on our lives to protect us and keep us sane, and we all need a God who can give us the strength and conviction to actually live within those boundaries for our own good.

The great thing about taking something off our list is that it makes us find better ways to deal with whatever we’re facing.  It forces us to get creative and work out life as an adult . . . or as a four-year-old who is smart enough to realize that some things should just be out of bounds.