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Archive for the tag “compassion”

Inaugural Observations

inauguration-celebration-american-flag-capitol-in-backgroundI had to grab a few things late last night at one of those 24-hour grocery stores. That concept seemed strange to me until I found myself roaming the aisles close to midnight.

I grabbed what I needed and was heading to the checkout when I noticed a man about my age shopping with his son. His son, I guessed, was roughly the age of my youngest son and all seemed normal at first. Then it became apparent the son had handicaps which required constant attention and care. I suspected the father was purposefully shopping with his son late at night to avoid crowds.

I couldn’t help but just observe from a distance. Their walk down the grocery store aisle was extremely slow. Every few steps, the father would have to stop and adjust his son’s position so they could keep walking down the aisle. With each adjustment, he would gently reposition his son and smile. Then they would slowly move forward again. I was amazed at the father’s tenderness and patience.

I suspect the very last thing they were concerned about was the inauguration. Certainly decisions made by government officials could impact their lives. Regardless, this father seemed committed to tenderly care for his son, no matter what comes out of Washington or anywhere else.

As I observed, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my Heavenly Father’s love and care for me. I often feel so spiritually handicapped, so lost, and in constant need of adjustments. You would think the Father would be completely exasperated and worn out caring for me. But He’s not. “See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).

The presidential inauguration is tomorrow. To say the least, it’s going to be very interesting. But our trust and confidence is not in governments. Our trust and hope is in our Heavenly Father. And just like the son being tenderly led through the grocery store by a patient and loving father, “You, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15).

Inaugurations will come and go until the end of the age. But God’s faithful love endures forever. Take a moment and read Psalm 136 and be reminded. It will help put concerns into proper perspective.

Lemonade Stands

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According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, summer officially ends on September 23rd at 4:21am. Yes, I agree that’s a peculiar date and time for summer to end but who are we to argue with old farmers?

Sadly, the end of summer also brings the season’s end to a beloved American pastime—lemonade stands—which inexplicably, are under attack by various government branches. No, I’m not making this up.

The government lemonade crackdown may have begun last year in Coralville, Iowa, when  police shut down little 4-year-old Abigail’s stand after she had been open barely 30 minutes. The reason? She did not have the required $400 permit. In Midway, Georgia, police shut down a stand run by three little girls because they did not have a business license, a peddler’s permit, or a food permit. In Overton, Texas, public outcry was so loud after two children’s (7 and 8) stand was shut down for not having the proper permits, the Chief of Police released “dash-cam” VIDEO of the occurrence.

The list of government shut downs of children’s lemonade stands has grown substantially over the years. So much so that websites like lemonadefreedom.com have opened up with news and videos to promote “Lemonade Freedom” throughout the land. So in the hope some government official will read this and have second thoughts on sending the police to shut down a child’s lemonade stand, I share this story.

I love lemonade stands.

In fact, my wife and children know it’s almost impossible for me to drive past a neighborhood lemonade stand. I’ll circle blocks, make illegal U-turns, and even try to sneak past a police crime tape surrounding the permit-less operation of a 4-year-old, just to get to a child’s lemonade stand. Then I’ll call my wife and kids and insist they drive over and buy some, too.

It goes back, of course, to my grade school days when I proudly opened my very own lemonade stand in my front yard. I was a proud and hopeful small business owner determined to make millions from the ten-cents-per-cup lemonade my mother made. It was back in the day when a young entrepreneur could set up shop in their own front yard without ever worrying about being busted by the Chief of Police.

I remember setting up the table alongside the street, making the signs, and wondering how much to charge for a wonderful ice-cold glass of lemonade; a nickel, a dime, a quarter? Could a cold glass of lemonade be worth a quarter?

Of course, mom helped make the lemonade and even supplied a small box of change. She helped me make the sign and set up the table in a spot where she could keep an eye on me from inside the house. Then, finally, it was time to sit in the chair behind the table and wait for the line of cars to show up, driven by thirsty people with an extra dime or two in their pockets.

That’s where a major flaw in my business plan was revealed. At age 11, I was unfamiliar with the “location, location, location” principle and Freakonomics hadn’t even been written yet. So I was on my own, on a quiet street, learning tough business principles the hard way. But dreams are beautiful and I never once considered our quiet street would not be teaming with thirsty drivers coming from all over Miami to drink my lemonade.

Long, lonely minutes crept by as I sat there anxiously waiting for a car—any car—to pull down my street. Then, when a car did come into view, nothing crushed my spirit more than watching it rumble past as I stood there with a cup of cold lemonade in hand and a hopeful smile on my face. (There’s just something un-American about driving past a lonely lemonade stand.)

But dreams die hard and I knew my first customer could be coming down the street at any moment. I would be ready. The minutes slowly ticked by and turned into a discouraging hour. Then that hour slowly passed into another hour, and another. The hot sun burned down, the ice in the lemonade pitcher quickly melted, and no one, not one car or person ventured toward my lemonade stand.

Mom had given me a nice apple to offer to my first customer as a special bonus. It had been nice and fresh when I had set up the stand, but now it too, was starting to look beat down from the sun and heat. Still, no one stopped. I was fairly miserable.

The afternoon wore on and I was dragging my head in discouragement. I was just about to close up shop when off in the distance, I noticed a car coming my direction. It was a familiar car. It was my dad’s car and Dad was in it. He pulled up to my stand and rolled down the window. “How’s business, young man?” he asked with a big smile. All I remember was bursting into tears.

The next thing I know, my dad was asking for a glass of lemonade. “Are you selling that apple, too?” he asked still smiling. I managed a “yes” through my tears but said it wasn’t looking so good anymore. “Looks like a great apple to me,” I heard back, as I handed it over.

I can still picture handing my dad the warm glass of lemonade and the sad looking apple through the window of his car. He leaned back and drank the lemonade in one long swallow, smacked his lips and then bit into the apple. “Wow, that’s delicious,” he said to my surprise. “I think I’ll take another lemonade.”

When he was done, he reached into his wallet, pulled out a bill, and handed it to the little boy trying to overcome his sobs. He said a big “thanks,” complimented me on the excellent lemonade and fine tasting apple and drove away.

He was around the corner and out of sight before I looked and saw the twenty-dollar bill he had pushed in my hand. In many ways, it remains the biggest sale I have ever made.

I have a sneaky suspicion my mom called my dad to let him know I was out there struggling to make a sale. I can see him dropping whatever he was doing at work and driving over as quickly as possible to buy some warm lemonade from his son. With tenderness and compassion, it was “Dad to the rescue” because that’s what loving dads do.

The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him (Psalm 103:13).

As my dad drove up our lonely street, I’m sure he knew the sad sight he was about to see: a little boy with a sad face and slumped over shoulders fully engulfed in his own private pity party. But as a loving father, he knew what to do.

For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust (Psalm 103:14).

I’m so incredibly thankful the Lord knows how weak and frail I am. I so often feel like I’m still that little boy at the lemonade stand down the lonely street with nothing going right. But my Heavenly Father is tender and compassionate. He knows I’m made of dust and always takes my frailty into account.

For His unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth (Psalm 103:11).

So the next time you see a lemonade stand—STOP—and remember the Lord’s amazing love, tenderness, and compassion for you. Then, pull over and invest in the hopes and dreams of a small child who is waiting just for you to make his or her day. It may just be the best decision you make all day.

What Mom Really Wants for Mother’s Day

 

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Apparently, what my mother really wants this Mother’s Day is a Miami Dolphin’s t-shirt. At least that’s what the email I just received says. I’m a bit confused, however, because another email said what my mother really wants is an iPad. Macy’s tells me she really wants a particular heart-shaped necklace and Sharper Image says she really, really wants a foot massage bath thing. JCPenney, on the other hand, says she just wants a tote bag.

I asked my mother about all the things these advertisers say she wants, which was news to her. In fact, when I asked her what she really wants, she said, “nothing.” That was great news because I have a whole lot of that. But then she thought a moment more and said, “a hug and card would be nice.” I just so happened to have an extra hug on me so gave her one of those early. Guess I’ll have go look for a card.

It is interesting how the older we get the less store bought gifts mean to us. Sure they’re nice and sometimes we really do need this or that, but words of love tenderly spoken or written on a card or letter are what mean the most. Expressing our heartfelt feelings to those we love is a very precious gift.

It is often said the Bible is God’s love letter to you and to me. What a beautiful thought. For many, Psalm 139 epitomizes this amazing love story in 24 short verses. It begins with an almighty God who examines our hearts and knows everything about us to the point of knowing every time we sit down or stand up, every step of our travels or even when we’re resting at home. The Psalm goes on to detail God’s intense attention over us and causes David, the Psalm’s author to rightly say, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!”

Then, verses 17 and 18 jump off the page, “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!”

Even now, though we have homes and families of our own, there is no doubt my brothers and I are constantly on my mother’s mind. Like Mary, who “kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often” (Luke 2:19), a mother’s thoughts are constantly on her children. (Some of us take up a bit more of her thoughts than others, but that’s another matter entirely.)

But as closely as a mother watches and loves her children, it cannot be compared to a loving God who “knit me together in my mother’s womb and laid out every moment of my life before a single day had passed” (v16). It cannot be compared to a loving God who knows what I’m going to say even before I say it (v5). There can be no comparison to a loving God who assures me “I can never get away from His presence!” (v7).

How beautiful that God made Moms in His image. That’s why they love so much, care so much, and give so much. My mom has been raising children now for well over 50 years and I’m glad to say she’s still at it. Some of us children, after all, still need a lot of looking after.

I came across this great quote from a famous painter you may have heard of. In just a few words he captured the incredible love and influence moms have on their children. “My mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.”

I love you, Mom. Where would I be without you?

Happy Mother’s Day.

P.S. Do I still need to get you a card?

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