We’re Old

My memory is quite faint of that 40th birthday party. It was a party for one of my parents, or maybe a friend of theirs. Doesn’t matter. What I do recall with clarity is how old my parents and their friends seemed to me then. I was disturbed by their raucous, red-faced laughter. That couldn’t be good for their hearts. At their age they should be careful. I marveled at their stamina as they partied hearty. They must have taken a nap.

Yet, here I am, just a few days past celebrating the 40th birthday of a friend. We had a loud and wild time, strapped into four-wheeled metal projectiles riding Lake Michigan sand dunes like crazy men. My parents and their friends ain’t got nothin’ on us. We felt so young and virile – no nap required.

Yesterday, my wife and I transported our eldest child to his first rented room. On a college campus. He begins his freshman year in five days.

We’re old.

Relatively speaking, we’re just entering middle age. My wife looks terrific. Me? Seasoning right on schedule. I’m glad she’s fond of thin, gray hair.

The release of our child to adult living is a wonderful grief. This morning, the open door to my son’s bedroom left an unobstructed view of a bed in which no one slept last night. The room is clean, but lifeless. Empty but for a few visual tokens, which I mentally redeem for good memories strung along nineteen years of vivacious existence. I meander through trial, triumph, experimentation, and failure while gathering armfuls of laughter and wisps of wisdom. 

Transplanted into academia, our man-child is anxious to unfold his wings. He’s freshly immersed into quick-made community, seeking safe familiarity while curious with the untried and unknown.

My parental mind frets: “So young!” Yet, I’ve lived enough to lightly grasp the relative nature of age. Each transition in our time-stamped march grants a natural pause to reflect and remember. To grieve and be grateful. To recollect and rest peacefully in the story we each write upon eternity. To value and savor our lives.

So tonight, the second night of undesired separation, I celebrate the release of my son to the development of his person. To the expansion of his soul for his Creator’s pleasure. To the joyful stewardship of his image bearing.

And all the while I wait, with great expectation, for the gift of joy that will come to this middle-age man as I release myself – and my son – to the Greatest Good. In that relinquishment comes rich delight.

In time.

How Big Are Your Ears?

I found another one today, resting on my dresser. It lay softly on a pile of receipts that await entry into our budgeting spreadsheet. Somewhat crinkled, dog-eared and covered halfway with penciled words was a sheet of lined paper. It was host to a writing assignment, now complete. My wife placed the paper there, offering me a chance to sample some homeschooling fruit. And this day, the fruit was sweet.

The assignment I ingested required one of our ‘students’ to write a descriptive paragraph about someone. My son chose to write about himself. A brave boy, he is. Below is what he wrote. As part of my “I won’t embarrass you on my blog” agreement, I’ll refer to my child as ‘Freddy.’

Freddy writes…

“Freddy’s general appearance is blonde hair, green eyes, roundish face, and an ear size difference. He is a born-again Christian and has a slight habit of eating paper. He is rather creative when it comes to making jokes off of what people say and is very intellectual. He’s not very good at drawing or art in general. He is rather accustomed to rules and does his best to follow them. He is also logical and, of his siblings, is most like his dad. Freddy lives in a modest family which always seems to have enough – and maybe a little more.”

Okay, stop. Just go do it. Go ahead. It’s okay. I did it too. Find the nearest mirror and compare the size of your ears. Yes, mine are different sizes. At least I know where my son gets his asymmetry. Unfortunately, this revelation has fostered an urge to stare at other people’s ears.

Ears and all, I appreciate the honest observations my boy made of himself. He’s done well with grasping not just his physical characteristics, but some of his behaviors too. I’m slightly disturbed by the paper eating (yes, we do feed him) but moved to gratitude at his recognition of God’s provision for the basics – and then some.

Not long ago, I met a super hero – and he was me. In the discovery of my hero, I learned how I’m tempted toward the innocuous comfort of mild-mannered citizenry instead of robust living in my God-given ‘superness.’ (read here for more super hero context) My son’s simple musings in his writing assignment entice me to know more about him. They also energize me to a quicker walk down my own path of self-discovery. I’ve been walking that path with intentionality as of late, and his words offer me freshness for the next leg.

I need that freshness because exploring who I am seems big. Intimidating. Unruly. Raw. But I’m coaxed through my fear by the promise that unsettled ground will soon level into a wide meadow of freedom. 

We are made to be known. Not known as in eye color or the proclivity to snack on tree pulp. But known emotionally. Known by our passions and desires. Known through experiences and relationships. Know in our longings and fulfillment. Known in our delights and in being delightful. Known for our being, not just our doing. 

Such deep knowing seems far off. Airy. Theoretical. But it’s not. In fact, I’m already known. Fully and wonderfully and delightfully.

By whom?


Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father…” (John 10:14–15a, ESV) Jesus knows those who love and trust Him. Not casually, but to the core. His knowledge of his followers is just like how He and the Father know each other. Pure. Whole. Trustworthy. Complete. Lovely. Peaceful. That level of knowing is spectacular. And it is ours. In God’s safe care, it is life.

God invites each of us to know Him in His knowing us. To bring Him our joy and grief and laughter and longings. To meditate and listen and rest and sing and write. To experience His presence in the mundane and the magnificent. To flourish as His craftsmanship without regret or shame or shyness of fear. To be super, not suppressed.

I am known, and I am grateful. From the secure place of Christ’s love, I can open myself to being known, and to knowing others. Knowing more, that is, than ear sizes.

Are You Listening?

Strong coffee. The smell of a campfire. A well-tensioned film. Belly laughs. Cutting with a sharp chainsaw. Crickets at dusk. Old books with cloth covers. Wrestling with my boys. Fresh-cut grass. A clever sentence. Candle-lit rooms. Shade trees in hot breezes. Neck nuzzling with my girls. The rhythmic roll of breaking waves. The flip-flap of Cottonwood leaves. My wife sneaking her hand into mine. The fragrance of springtime Lilacs. The dark quiet of morning. Weathered barns. Bacon.

All delightful to me. Satisfying. Pleasurable. Comforting. Restful. The tightness of life unwinds when I receive even staccatoed moments with such things.

Delights are divine gifts. Blessings for our human experience. In our image bearing of God, we delight because He delights. For certainly, God has much to delight in.

I wonder at the vastness of His created universe. We grapple for the edge of the expanse and close our fingers around more of the same void. Our place in it all seems miniscule, yet inspiring and wonderful. Unfathomable and delightful.

Still, with all that we see and have yet to uncover, the epicenter of God’s delight is not supernovas or Saturn’s rings. Jupiter’s spot or a shooting star. It’s not constellations or continents or crustaceans. It’s not anemones, butterflies or Redwood trees.

It is us.

We are His delight. We are the objects of His affectionate gaze. We dwell under the friendly sky of the Father’s love for His Son, Jesus. A love so strong and pure and holy that the Father and Son wanted to share it – with you, and me. And by grace, through faith, we can. It’s a wonderful, delightful envelopment. It’s also mysterious. Perplexing. Illogical. Incomprehensible.

Why, with all in which He could find joy, does God delight in me?

Didn’t He hear how I spoke to my daughter last night? Or observe how I was stingy with my time? Didn’t He notice how I received those compliments too proudly? How about the thoughts that exploded in my mind as ‘she’ walked by? Or the running list of selfish excuses? My retreats into silence? Those times I avoided conversation? Walked the other way? Looked away? Pretended not to hear?

God – how can I be delightful to you?

Even before the echo of this question wisps away, my doubts are chased by melodious tones. Soft, pleasant, peaceful sounds. Unearthly sounds. Divine sounds. Sounds that swell to a rapturous song. A song of delight. A song for, and about me.

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV)

My head can’t piece it together. Delight and love and joy and singing.

For me.


My life seems quite uninspiring. At times, undelightful. Still, the Mighty Warrior sings and saves. He releases heavenly strains that cascade upon my soul. My task is to listen. And believe. And rest. And feast on joy so graciously offered.

Despite my fledgling faith, I must do the hard work of seizing the truth and power of God’s delight in me. To be true to His joy-filled crafting of who I am. To acknowledge my worth through His Son. To respond in love, gratitude, and whole-hearted giving.
Our souls respire on our delights. We seek them. Work for them. Treasure them. Replay them. I yearn to accept and understand more of God’s love and enjoyment of me. His delighting not just in what I do, but who I am in Jesus. Delight that traverses moments when I’m a passive husband. An absent father. A neglectful friend. I’m a man who makes mistakes and messes and missteps. But Someone is always singing my song.

He sings yours too.

Are you listening?