The Great Fairy Wand Rescue

When it comes to preschool ballet recitals, my family is a well-oiled machine.  Everyone has their job.  Christy and the grandmas get the girls ready.  I go early, pick up a bouquet of flowers, and save us all seats.

I’m always there when doors open to make sure we get the best spot.   The other dads pretend like it’s not a competition, but I know better.   Every guy understands that the measure of true masculinity is landing prime parking and seating for your family.  This hunting-gathering instinct is hard-wired into male DNA. 

I pulled up downtown at 5:30 p.m., just as the doors opened, and sprinted for the theater, barely edging out an elderly couple for five chairs in the second row.  Some over-achiever had beaten me to the front.  All in all, though, the second row was still an admiral position. 

Dancers didn’t arrive until 6:00, and the recital didn’t start until 7:00.  That meant I had plenty of time to sit back and relish my victory as the less punctual fathers settled for the third row and back. 

I glanced at a program I’d grabbed on the way in, and that’s when I noticed a problem.  The recital actually started at 6:30, a half an hour earlier than we’d thought.  No big deal.  The girls should be there by 6:00 so that just meant less time to wait.

My wife called right at 6:00 with the bad news.

“We’re here,” she said, “but we forgot Emma’s wand.”  Icy panic gripped my chest.  All of the ballerinas had fairy wands.  It was integral to the dance.  She would be the only girl on stage without a wand, and I was afraid that not only would it ruin her big moment, but it might actually throw her off.  We’d missed a few rehearsals because of vacation, and she was struggling to learn all of the choreography. 

We had to have that wand.  The only problem was that we lived a solid 20 minutes away without traffic. 

“We don’t have time to go home,” I said.  “This thing starts in 30 minutes!”  I looked back to the program and realized there were a couple of dances before her number that might just buy me enough time.   “Wait,” I said.  “I’m going for it.  I think I can make it.” 

I charged out the door, blowing by my family in the hallway.  I yelled over my shoulder, “Don’t worry. Daddy’s going for the wand!”  I had to make it.   I just had to. 

Once I shot off in my Honda, everything blurred, kind of like in Star Wars when the Millenium Falcon went into hyperspace.  I didn’t actually break any speed limits because I knew I couldn’t afford to get pulled over, but I drove more strategically than I ever had in my life. 

When one lane slowed, I whipped over to the other, drafting and slingshotting around cars like a NASCAR veteran.   I spotted holes in traffic, three or four cars ahead, and took advantage of every opening.  I prayed my way through dozens of green lights, begging God to clear my path like the Red Sea. 

I made it home in record time, grabbed the wand and headed back.  I hit every light perfectly until I got back downtown.  One block away from the theater I sat at a red light for what felt like an hour.  I was ready to just throw it into park in the middle of the street and run for it.  I knew I only had minutes left, if that. 

Finally the light turned and I slid into the parking lot, leapt up two flights of stairs and burst into the back of the auditorium clutching the pink fairy wand like the Olympic torch.  I felt like an ancient Greek warrior who’d made it through enemy lines to deliver a message to my commander.  Gasping and wheezing, I stumbled to the second row and handed my daughter the wand.

“Here, baby, Daddy made it.  I have your wand!” 

She looked at me and smiled. 

“It’s okay, Daddy,” she said.  “Miss Rebecca has an extra one.”

Miss Rebecca has an extra one?  Miss Rebecca has an extra one?  Okay, so I did all of that for nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  I was supposed to be a hero, but instead I was just some weird guy rushing around downtown Lexington with a frilly fairy wand.

But then I realized that sometimes acts of love are like that.  You can’t control the outcome or how other people will respond, but you do it anyway.  You make the effort.  You give the gift.  You serve and sacrifice to show people they matter.  Even if it sometimes feels pointless. 

The truth is, though, love is never pointless.  Even if the gift is rejected, it always reflects the heart of the giver.  If not, God would be the biggest chump in the universe.  After all, He created people to be in relationship with Him, but He also gave us the free will to blow Him off. 

Maybe that’s why the Bible says that love never fails.  It always hopes.  It always perseveres.  The simple act of sacrificing for the good of others makes me more like my maker.   Some days the sacrifice will be needed.  Some days it won’t.  But if I’m in the habit of living a lifestyle of love, I’m much more likely to come through when it counts.



Sounding Out Faith

My daughter floored me this week, absolutely blew me away. 

We sat snuggling in the big, comfy chair in our living room, a book opened in our lap.  Nothing new there.  I’ve spent way more time reading to her in the past five years than reading on my own.   I’ve been a rabid bookworm since birth, but Emma came into this world inheriting a double-dose of that DNA. 

Our father-daughter book club, however, shot to a whole new level when Emma turned to the first page and began reading to me. 

Wow.  I love those words. 

Emma.  Began.  Reading.  

It wasn’t just a word here or there, not just something she had memorized, but really plodding through word-by-word, sounding them out and telling a story. 

Sure she got stuck on some big words, but she was reading more than she wasn’t.  For someone without a passion for books, the pace would be maddening, but for a book-freak like me, it was pure delight. 

It’s like she’s the first kid who has ever learned to read. 

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy watching her learn to walk or talk or ride a bike, but reading?  Reading  blows them all away.   Those other activities are great – that walking and talking thing especially comes in handy – but if I had the choice in how to spend my day, the book would win hands down.

It’s my passion, and now it’s hers.  But it’s not just that she shares my passion.  We now share an ability to do something with it.    

I wonder if God feels the same way when I take the first awkward stab at doing the things He loves to do – giving generously, forgiving freely, loving someone other than myself.  He’s so good at it.  He’s been doing it for so long.  Me?  I definitely need help sounding out the big words – words like selflessness, faith and surrender.

My spiritual life is often like a five year-old learning to read.  Slow, halting, clumsy, but beautiful to the One who loves me. 

I can tell you from a father’s point-of-view, I only get frustrated with Emma when she gets discouraged and wants to give up.   Could the same be true of God?    

I genuinely think He delights when we love what He loves, but more than that, that He is thrilled when we begin to actually do what we see Him doing. 

Jesus had only one game plan for His life.  Keep an eye on His Father and do whatever He saw the Father doing.  Not a bad way to live.

I want to grow my passion for the things that make my Father’s heart beat fast.  I want to fearlessly take those awkward steps to doing what He does, and I want to turn to Him with confidence and ask for Him to help me walk through the stuff that’s too big for me to understand.   

God, help me sound out the big words of faith!

Sitting in my Father’s lap, there’s a whole world of stories to discover, and I don’t want to miss out on a single one.

Losing Your Marbles?

There’s nothing like an element of danger to do wonders for your prayer life.  Put most of us in a risky situation, and suddenly we’re praying like Billy Graham.  Take my friend Jenn for instance.   She serves as a small group leader for elementary boys. Can you imagine any more dangerous profession?

A few months ago, she got a lesson that sent her straight to her knees.   She opened her e-mail to see that the lesson required marbles.  Marbles!  She had led these boys long enough to know that they could weaponize anything.   Like miniature McGyvers they could transform the most common objects into implements of disaster. 
So, Jenn bowed her head and prayed a common mother’s prayer, “Lord, please keep them from throwing marbles at each other or getting them stuck in their noses.”
If ever someone needed an answer to prayer, this was the time.   Sunday rolled around and she was still nervous. 
When she sat down with her boys, though, she relaxed as she handed out the marbles and saw how excited they were to receive their toy. 
She told them firmly, “Do not throw these marbles or stick them in your noses.”  Seemed clear enough, right?  Unfortunately, she did not mention other body parts.  Then she made the mistake of glancing down in her supply basket to pull out her remaining supplies.