Friday, July 13, 2012

Mr. Poops

Disclaimer:  the following could be construed as distasteful and disgusting and should not be viewed by the weak of constitution or those with a delicate stomach.  Nor should this reading be viewed by young children as such viewing might promote degenerate behavior.  In fact, the author should stop reading immediately before continued writing of this post is impeded by the offsetting of remembered "gag-reflex".  Viewer discretion is advised.

One day this week I arrived home hot and tired and after greeting my bride with a kiss and a hug, I set my bag down and went in search of the little faces that would help to wash away all of the cares from my day.

My bride informed me that my oldest was next door swimming.  My daughter came running out of her room and hugged me.  Joy.  I love this part of the day.  Austin, however, would not come immediately to me.  I said "hi buddy" and he returned my greeting as he continued to pick up cars from the floor in the hallway.  He hurried past me and then back again as he went down the hall to his room.  I could tell by his demeanor he probably had been in trouble and was instructed to clean up.  Then it hit me; an odor that was repugnant and disgusting.  I looked at my bride quizzically.  "What is that?"  Her face mirrored a similar confusion  and the same thought struck both of us. 

"Austin?  Do you have to go potty?"  He sheepishly muttered something from his bedroom and we could both tell from the tone of his voice that he thought he was in trouble.  Uh-oh.  This usually means he has done something worth being in trouble.  "Austin, come here."  As he came around the corner, it was apparent on his face that he knew he had been caught, but we had no idea what we had caught him in.   "Austin do you have to go....."  There was that odor again.  "Come here Austin".

He began nervously coughing as he approached.  My bride turned him around and looked in his pants and nearly gagged as the odor immediately filled the hallway in concentration.  His pants were full and overflowing with excrement and it was evident he had been roaming the rooms in this condition for some time.  "Austin?  Why did you potty in your pants?" she asked, worried for his health.

We never expected the answer we received.  "Because I angry and I wanted to."

My emotions went from "poor little guy didn't quite make it to the bathroom" to "YOU DID WHAT?????" in a furious flash.  My bride asked the thoughts I was thinking as anger stole speech from my tongue.  "Why would you do this?"  The answer was the same.  "Because I angry and I wanted to."  We obviously had a few things to say to our soiled son - but they would have to wait as we had to get him cleaned up.  The stench was overwhelming.  Tonya went to the bedroom to garner clean clothing and I took Mr. Poops to the bathroom.  I then heard her exclaiming in dismay and shock from the other room and left my son as I ran down the hallway.  At the foot of his bed was a small pile of his recent gifting where he had evidently started his rebellious "I'll show you" rant by squatting on the floor just before filling his pants.  We were both outraged and shocked at our son's actions.  This is one of those times where your children hear you say their full name with volume and force. 


My daughter, by now intrigued by the commotion came running in.  "What?  What's going on?"  We told her to leave as we tried to absorb this foul new chain of events.  "What happened?" 

"Austin pooped on the floor!", we chimed in unison.  Her reply took this series of events to a new level.  "Really?", she said.  "Well he peed on my carpet too!"  Tonya and I just stared at each other, open mouthed.  Our sweet son, had used our daughter's area rug as urinal.

I later learned that my son had been asked to clean his toys up prior to my arrival.  Like most 6 year olds this was not on the top of his list of "most-funnest-things-to-do-ever" and after repeated episodes of disobedience he finally relented with the threat of losing his beloved Mario Brothers game for the evening.  His simple response - poop his pants and pee on his sister's rug.

You can imagine bath time was not that fatherly Norman Rockwell warm bonding moment.  Cleaning off a six year old boy who not only purposefully soiled himself but then walked around in it for an unaccounted-for-amount of time was not the best thing I did that day.  In fact, it probably rates as one of the least favorite things I've ever done.  One can only imagine how well that filth worked its way into all of the "nooks and crannies" of human anatomy when allowed to on an active little boy.  Three days later I am still disgusted by the experience, my son is still sans Mario Brothers, and Lydia is still teasing him about wetting on the carpet like Figaro (the dog).  But I've gained some perspective on the affair. 

Austin's actions were not just the lashing out of a rebellious 6 year old who did not want to clean his room.  A phenomenon that is common with foster and adopted children is they will often push the envelope of obedience and known consequences just to see what the parents' reactions will be.  They will frequently do things as if to say "See what I just did?  What are you going to do?  Do you still love me?"  They are constantly testing the depth and integrity of the bonds of commitment of their new found families when all they've ever known is fear and abandonment. 

And there is the picture of us all.  How often have we rebelled against our Heavenly Father, tested His love for us?  Some go to extremes by engaging in actions or lifestyles they know to be harmful to self or others, all to say "Do you still love me?  Will anyone still love me?"  His answer is always "Yes, more than you can possibly imagine or know."  Some refuse to give over the reigns of their lives, refuse to submit their wills, convinced no love could undo their past.  Existing in the filth of sin, they ignore the plea of the Father "Please come to me, let me clean that off of you and make you whole and healthy." 

I love my son, though I honestly was not feeling compassion as I cleaned his filthy naked body in the bathtub that night.  God, thankfully,  loves each of us with great compassion even when we continue to test that love; even when we continue to say to him "Do you still love me?"  There will be judgement for actions.  There are consequences for choices.  Rebellion is sin and sin coils around us with deadly ramifications if we continue to permit its existence in our lives.  But our Father is continually pleading with us to let the blood of His Son wash us clean from all of this, let Him cleanse us spotless, righteous, and blameless.  There is nothing cleaner than God's clean. 

So  you threw a tantrum, you squatted in a corner and rebelled, did that thing that is harmful to you, said those words you shouldn't have, hurt that person, or made that choice.  He'll lovingly clean you off, set you on your feet, and put you back on your right path.  You don't have to remain Mr. Poops.

"But if we are living in the light of God's presence, just as Christ is, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin.  If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth.  But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong."
1 John 1:7-9  NLT

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Summer is flying past and I am barely holding onto the ride that is my life.  Commitments at work, commitments in the arena of public elected offices I hold, and most importantly commitments at home - all of them play a daily tug of war for my thoughts, my energies, and my time. 

At work I am being asked to undertake more responsibilities than most of my co-workers based upon my skills and work ethic.  This is not a self-pat on the back, it is simply my values brought into the workplace.  The cost is often increased deadlines and stress. 

I hold two elected offices representing local and state library boards.  Committee meetings regularly interrupt my weeknights.  Budget meetings, policy revisions, local and state law review, countless hundreds of miles driven for board meetings;  all of these time away from my home, the faces that comprise my fan club.

At home, my bride and I have undertaken a project to renovate the interior of our home.  We have big plans ahead of us, all contingent upon the proper layout and finishing touches of our "remodel".  It was to have been completed in May.  It is mid-July and we've been 1/2 done for 6 weeks.  My garden is neglected.  My house needs painted.  I need to build a fence in the back yard this year.  I need to get a new roof installed prior to winter... the list and the stresses goes on.

In the midst of all of this:  Africa.  God's calling upon my heart to visit and minister to our kids at the Ludlati care point in Swaziland is sure.  I felt it strongly in January at our first team meeting.  I felt it again in March.  I felt it during the garage sales in April, May, and June, during the Apron Auction fund raiser and subsequent team meetings.  God has continued to confirm it in me even when I've had doubts.  Where I've been ready to cash in my chips at times for lack of resources or will, God has opened every door, supplied every need, and placed this journey at my feet with the words "I want you to step into this".

Now, two weeks from stepping onto African soil with escalating pressures in every arena of my life, the enemy of my soul softly chants "Unworthy."

"You are not worthy of this honor - you do not belong with this team.  You did not do enough to garner this privilege.  You are not prepared for this journey.  You aren't even holding your life together.  You are not doing a good job at work - you aren't going to make your deadlines before leaving.  You are not a good father.  You are not a good husband.  You are negligent of your family and leaving them in a terrible state.  You are doing a substandard job at your elected positions.  What do you think you can possibly bring to those who know daily neglect, hunger, and isolation when you can't even reconcile your own privileged American life?  You are failing in every realm.  You are unworthy even of your Father's love - your actions and failures have proven this." 

Oh enemy of my soul, liar of liars, enticer of mens' hearts and minds.  As a roaring lion you prowl.  I am so thankful you have been defeated.  Too often have I given you credibility.  Too often have I listened to your beguiling half truths and misspoken falsehoods and walked them out to their disastrous conclusions.  Too often have I ignored the power of my Father's unfailing love.

"Unfailing love" - this phrase is used nearly two dozen times in the Psalms in reference to God's love for us.
(Psalms 13:5, 23:6, 31:7, 32:10, 33:5, 36:5, 48:9, 52:8, 59:17, 63:3, 86:15, 89:2, 90:14, 130:7, 138:2, 147:11 - to name a few...)

Unfailing - Absolute; Boundless; Consistent; Continuous; Diligent; Endless; Eternal; Faithful; Inexhaustible; Persistent; Solid; Sure; Trustworthy; Unlimited; Unrelenting.

Read this definition again.  Done?  Now read it again, out loud.  Let it take shape in your thinking.  Unfailing is permanent.  It is immovable.  It is unshakable.  It is not swayed by circumstance.  Unfailing simply does not fail.

I am worthy, but not because of me. Because of Him, because He resides within me. I am called His temple, His habitation.  I am loved, but not because of any action or merit of my own.   His love for me is based solely on the simple truth of who He is and takes nothing of who I am, my past, my accomplishments or my failures into account. It does not matter if I claim a thousand souls for his kingdom in my life or simply one. It does not matter if I enjoy continual successes or endure continual failures, if I perfectly obey his every command or break his every law.  I cannot affect or change His love for me because He is immutable, unshakable, and eternal.  My response to His Word is an indicator of my love for Him, but does not alter or change His love for me.

I am worthy; worthy to live the life He has called me to, an abundant overflowing life.  I am worthy to live in the arenas He has placed me in.  I may not choose the circumstances around my life, but I can choose the foundation upon which I build my life - the foundation of His Word, of regular time and fellowship with Him, of thanksgiving and praise towards Him.  When built upon this, my life is built upon Him and He cannot be moved or altered. 

I can choose to listen to His Word which tells me I am more than (greater than, exceedingly above) a conqueror through Christ (Romans 8:37).  I can refuse the lies of the enemy, the whispers in the dark that prey upon my insecurities and misgivings.  Instead of focusing upon my lack of strength, abilities, and capacity, I can choose to focus upon what God's Word has stated about my position in Him as Adopted Son, Joint Heir with Christ, armed and equipped with everything needed to walk successfully in this life, the effective abundant rich life that God has called me to.  Any whispered notion contrary to this is in my mind and heart is, in a word, "Unworthy".