Habakkuk. Major of the Minors.

The last few months have been marked by a lot of change… most of it not what we hoped for. We are at a time of much uncertainty, and an apparent turning away from the principles and morals that have guided us as a people and a nation over the years. In the secular world, this shouldn’t be too surprising.

Our trend is toward  violence and a loss of value of human life. Freud claimed there were two forces at work in the psyche, the Libidinal, or life drive, and the Thanos, or death drive. The Apostle Paul said that there were two wills at war within him:  the old nature that was Hell-bent and the new nature that yearned for God. It was so powerful that Paul said he had to put it to death daily. Sadly, more and more people are choosing not to fight. If they are not partaking in the self-destruction, they are trying to find scapegoats rather than address the human condition.

In the nation of Judah, sometime around 621 BC, a temple prophet named Habakkuk was complaining to God about this very same state of soul within his nation. He was asking God one of those questions that has the potential, when answered, to make you wish you hadn’t asked.

He asks God the same question my oldest put to me last week:  “Why does God allow evil to go on?”  Answer:  really complicated.  I’m tempted to say, “go ask Mom”–just kidding.  God has a plan that is bigger than our understanding of the times that we’re in.  His ultimate goal is to bless His people, but sometimes He has to remind them that they need Him.

At the beginning of chapter one, Habakkuk is impatient for justice because all around him, he sees corrupt leadership and the wicked prospering.  God has a plan.  Oddly enough, that plan involves the Babylonians.  If we were looking for an analogy for the use of the Babylonians as a disciplinary tool, they are about one step short of God hitting the reset button.  They aren’t the nuclear option, but they’re no slap on the wrist.  After conquering a country, they would take the leadership as slaves back to Babylon with fishing hooks through their noses.  The people that were left in the land would be displaced and moved to a part of the country they weren’t familiar with so there was no sense of place or permanence, and all the wealth of the land would go to Babylon.

In chapter 1 verse 12, Habakkuk asks God, “You what?  With whom?  I know how bad I said we were, but these are idolaters–where’s Your mercy for Your chosen people?”  In Habakkuk 2:2,3 God lays out His plan.  He tells Habakkuk “you’re going to have to be patient.  I know they’re idolators, I know they’re bad.  In due time, their wicked deeds will be visited back on them.”  In the following verses, he describes Nebuchanezzar’s pride and Belshazzar’s drunken carousing.  With eerie accuracy, God describes the end of the Babylonian empire and the yet unwritten future of His people.

In chapter two, God gives Habakkuk two pieces of reassurance.  In 2:4, he tells Habakkuk, “My righteous one shall live by faith.”  This verse is so important that it is quoted in Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:37.  The idea being that no matter what was going on, the righteous live by their trust in God, not mankind or circumstance.  The final bit of reassurance He gives him is in verse 20:  “the LORD is in His holy temple, let all the earth be silent before Him.”

Habakkuk wraps up with a prayer of praise which puts any Hollywood depiction of the power of God to shame.  If Hollywood tried to recreate the prayer, they would exhaust their budget.  The scope is unimaginable.  God is crushing the evil and shooting out rays of light. He is riding down His enemies in a vengeance ride that would put Wyatt Earp to shame.

Habakkuk ends the prayer in verses 16-19 in a way that sounds right up to date with our day.  He says he will wait patiently for the LORD’s justice to be fulfilled even if things seem bleak.  In verse 18, he says, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD.  I will be joyful in God my Savior.”  In verse 19, he reminds us of who should be in our driver’s seat:  “The sovereign LORD is my strength.  He makes my feet like the feet of the deer, He enables me to go on the heights.”  This reminds me of a very literal translation of one of my favorite verses, Isaiah 40:31:  “They that bind themselves to the LORD will have their strength renewed.  They will soar with wings as eagles, they will run and not tire, they will walk and not grow faint.”

So there it is:  whether in Habakkuk’s day or our day, rather than looking around us and becoming depressed by the corruption we see, or jaded to the violence, perhaps a better tack would be to remember that the LORD is on the throne, and He is our refuge and the One in whom we put our trust.

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Fatherhood: an honor and an obligation.

Yesterday afternoon, Aiden and I began a journey together. It is a journey that will go on beyond my lifetime. It is the journey of manhood.

This journey is as individual as the people walking it. In our case, because of our faith, we are turning to the Bible for guidance. There are many books that would be good to use, but given Aiden’s interest in the Bible, and that it is the source book for all those others, we chose it as the final authority.

I knew this journey was coming…but I wanted Aiden to tell me that he was ready to take it. He started this journey after church yesterday as we sat in our kitchen. He said, “Dad, I wish I had a gun.” I asked why, and it came out that his vision of masculinity was of a man who has a wife and children and the means and ability to defend them. I pointed out that many people who do not act in a “manly” fashion have a gun and or a wife and children. I told him that in the context of masculinity these were signs of the acceptance of responsibility. I told him that what really mattered was following God and taking our example of masculinity from his perfect example, Jesus Christ.

I asked Kirsten to describe manliness and she basically said the same thing as I did, although it might be good for her to write a post about that sometime. At that point I asked Aiden if he wanted to do a Bible study with me about what it means to be a man.

Not only did he want to, but he was excited to. He ran into his room and set up an area for us to study. We sat down together and over the next hour we went over a chapter of Psalms and several other scriptures that laid out a Godly vision of masculinity. At the end we prayed and agreed to set up a time to study every week. He was so excited that he didn’t want it to end. One thing that came out while he was praying was how much he enjoyed spending time with me.

Tonight when I came home from work Aiden ran out to meet me. Today he took a commentary, two Bibles, a translation text, and a bunch of other Bible paraphernalia and put them in our “study” area. He had even written a rather intense agenda for us for tonight.

For you dads out there, you are vital to the understanding your boys will have of what it means to be a man. As Aiden and I have already discussed, we are also the visible representation of God to our families. We are His boys and He expects us to act like it. Our authority in our children’s lives comes from Him and carries with it the responsibility for how we exercise it.

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High Point

The highest point of my parenting journey is happening right now, and doesn’t even involve me.

Earlier this afternoon, Aiden was telling Dean about stuff he wanted to do to be “manly,” so Dean asked him what he thought it meant to be manly.  After discussing it a bit, and asking me for my perspective, Dean asked Aiden if he’d like to do a Bible study with him to discover what it meant to be a man.  Aiden thought that was a great idea, but that they needed a building or special spot.  He put two chairs in his room, got his Bible and a highlighter, and he and Dean are sitting in there reading and discussing different verses and manliness.

Every time Dean puts the end of his pen up to his mouth, Aiden does the same.  He looks up every verse and highlights it.  Dean’s arm is around his shoulders, and Aiden leans his head against Dean’s shoulder and talks about the Psalms and what kind of man David was.  Unbeknownst to them, I watch through the open door, my heart overflowing at the sight of my man coming alongside our son and guiding him in a way I never could.

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More Tough Questions

As the kidlets get older, their questions have gotten a lot heavier.  It’s impossible to prepare in detail, because I just never know what they’ll come up with, so I’ve “prepared” to just be honest and age-appropriate.  If they know enough to ask the question, they shouldn’t be brushed off.  I’m not a fan of the “I’ll tell you when you’re older” response…but that’s another blog post.

The other day, Aiden told me he didn’t think the new neighbor had a dad.  Having spent a little time talking with his mom, I knew she was divorced and that the boy’s dad shows up infrequently.  So I told Aiden that the neighbor had a dad, he just didn’t live with them.  That led to the following conversation, in which I did NOT discuss infidelity or abuse as reasons for divorce because he’s SEVEN.  I was floundering around, trying for simple and age-appropriate, remember!

Aiden:  Mom, I can’t remember what divorce is.  What is it?
Me:  Well, it’s sad.  It’s when a married couple decides they don’t want to be married anymore.
A:  If it’s sad, why do they do it?
M:  Well, sometimes there are a lot of problems and they just decide they can’t fix it.  Sometimes one of them says they don’t love the other person anymore.
A:  I can understand not being able to fix something, but I can’t understand not loving someone anymore.

I wanted to weep for joy that he can’t understand that.

Posted in Family Life, Kidlet Sayings | 3 Comments

Native Garden Adventures

Tonight I tossed together a random picnic dinner–the highlight of which was dessert in the form of still-warm peach crisp– and drove down to the Native Garden in Pt. Defiance Park.  While the park itself is popular and often crowded, this fully-fenced gem of a garden hardly ever has more than a small handful of people in it–and by that I mean it’s usually just us.  There’s a little gazebo in it with a table, so we spread a table cloth and put out the random food.  Let’s just say it wasn’t the world’s most well-mannered meal–the kids kept jumping over the side, sandwich in hand, to investigate a bird more closely or examine a flower.  Every time Ronan heard a bird, he’d yell, “Get the bird book!”–never mind that we couldn’t actually see it.  Once we had eaten some semblance of food, they were off.

Norah sketched the pond area, then a flower, then joined her brothers in “adventuring”–up the hill, over the creek, through the meadow.  Lots of running, imitating bird songs, watching deer, and general exploration.  The kids were loathe to leave, but we are so glad we left when we did.  Just as we were about to leave the parking lot, a deer caught our eye and we sat for a couple minutes watching it.  When it disappeared, we headed down the hill just in time to see two bald eagles that, because we were on a hill, were level with the car windows and maybe 50 feet away.  I stopped in the middle of the road as they swooped down, fighting over something one was holding in its talons, and then the angry birds (crows) came and they separated and flew out of sight.  Honestly, it was like something out of a nature film.  I’ve seen a lot of bald eagles, but never that close, and never doing anything but looking patriotic on a tree branch or  soaring far above.

On the way home, Aiden informed us that he wanted to start a journal and record his life.  Obviously, great idea.  But I know how much he hates to write–not the story-telling part, but the actual physical writing.  I’m sure it’s because his brain goes so much faster than his hand–I can’t always keep up when he has dictated stories to me.  Getting him to write more than a sentence is like pulling teeth.  It’s the one area so far in this home education journey that I’ve wanted to pull my hair out over.  So, of course, I suggest getting a special journal, and talk about what a wonderful thing that would be to keep writing in it and have a complete record of his life.  Since it’s 8:30 at that point, it wasn’t happening then, but he said he wanted to start as soon as we got home.

We walked in the door, and he asked for index cards.  I got him some, and he asked me to write for him.  I said nope–your journal, you write.  And he sat down and started writing.  Without asking me to spell anything.  In crazy-good handwriting.  I nearly fell off my chair.  He did eventually ask for spelling help, because he’d look at what he’d written and knew something wasn’t right.  But he wrote more than he’s EVER written in one sitting.  He also glued a maple seed to one of the cards, and the space left for a label was tiny, so I agreed to label it with “My brother found this.  It’s a maple seed.”  Here is what he wrote:

Aiden   Age 7
We just got Home from the Native Garden.  It must have been 5 miles.  We saw 2 bald eagles fighting on the way home.  I saw them peck each other 2 times.  Today was an awesome day…except the part where we had to go home.  🙂 LOL  We ate dinner in the gazebo.  I am getting bored.  I am going to bed right now.

While I sat with him, answering spelling questions as they came up, we chatted.  Once he started laughing, and said he’d almost made a “triple ‘m’.”  I said I’d done that once, and he wanted me to show him. I told him I’d just accidently added an extra bump.  He looked confused and said, “But 3 bumps isn’t a triple ‘m’–a triple ‘m’ would have 6 bumps.”  I stared blankly at him for a few seconds before I felt like a complete English major;).

He also told me that he doesn’t want to go to college (yes, this is after I told him that he can never, ever, ever put emoticons or “LOL” in a college paper) because I couldn’t come and he’d have to sleep there and take naps and have quiet time there.  Upon discovering that he could absolutely sleep at home AND go to college, he thought it worth considering.  He wants to take artist classes and be an artist.  It’s such a vast departure from other things he’s wanted to be that I tried to dig deeper and find out what kind of artist:

Me:  So do you want to be the kind of artist that draws pictures or designs buildings?
A:  I want to draw stuff and make sculptures and stuff.
M:  You mean like Michelangelo or Leonardo Da Vinci?
A:  Yes!  Da Vinci is who I was thinking of.  I’m quite a big fan of his.  He…(A lists off a bunch of stuff Da Vinci invented, came up with pre-cursors for, etc. that I didn’t even know, so can’t remember to list them because my brain is obviously far slower than his).

Aiden didn’t go to bed until 10:30.  I’m so glad I let him journal and talk instead of enforcing a decent bedtime.  I’d never have known he didn’t want to sleep at college or that he wants to be like Da Vinci.

Posted in Family Life, Home Education, Kidlet Sayings | 3 Comments

Phoebe the Guinea Pig

So yesterday, the eventual had-to-happen occurred.  Our guinea pig “got dead,” as Ronan put it.

Ronan wept and wept, the poor little guy.  Norah was sad, asked if we could get a puppy now, and then cried over having to bury her rather than keep her in the house.  Aiden immediately went scientific and explained *why* we couldn’t keep her in the house while she was dead.  Norah’s reaction was the most complex–lots of questions about how and why she died, what would happen to her now, etc.  She took comfort that she probably died in her sleep and not in pain, as we (thank you, God) didn’t hear her squeak-shrieking in distress.

The kids each went in and looked at her, and the boys gave her a couple final pets–Norah was too freaked out by the fact that she was dead to pet her.  I cut appropriately-sized paper to tape on the shoebox that was her final resting place and the kids decorated it with pictures of Phoebe and beads.

Aiden chose to help dig the hole, and he and Norah put the box in the ground.  And yes, I tied it up in a plastic bag (“to keep the box nice”).   While digging, we turned up a Phoebe-shaped rock that is now decorated like a guinea pig and placed as a memorial stone.

And now…let the nagging for a puppy begin.  I previously answered that request with the fact that we could not get a puppy while we had Phoebe–how’s that for lack of forethought?

 

Posted in Family Life | 6 Comments

Update on Where We’ve Been

Yes, it’s been a long time since we posted.  I do think Dean has a post or two in the drafts folder, but to summarize since last post:  Aiden turned 7, Christmas, January doldrums, a big snow in there somewhere, a 4-day trip to Discovery Bay, a trip to the ER for Dean due to a gallbladder attack, and, on Ronan’s 4th birthday, gallbladder surgery for Dean and subsequent time off work, and now I’m busy working on this:  www.bulldozerbooks.com.

As penance for not posting for so long, here’s a pic of the kids on our Discovery Bay trip.

Image

Posted in Family Life | 3 Comments