Beautiful Mess

May 31, 2018

These flowers are growing in my flower bed. I planted them a few seasons ago because my Sweetie loves daisies. I do too now. They’re very resilient and remarkably hearty.

I planted daisies so my wife would see them day after day and know that I love her.

But there are other less intentional results of planting daisies.

I see them and remember why I planted them. I see them in the winter time when everything is brown and dormant and I pull the old dead stuff away. I see them begin to come back each spring with those dark green leaves peaking through the mulch. I see them spread out and fill out and produce those little buds. I see the first flowers and know that there are many more to come.

But sometimes I just see the grass that I can’t seem to get to grow 3 feet away on the other side of the sidewalk and yet somehow thrives in the midst of the daisies. Sometimes I see that annoying nutgrass stalk that, if I pull it out, will somehow multiply and spread even more. Sometimes I see the dead leaves that I didn’t manage to get cleaned out of the flower bed very effectively.

When I look at the various parts of my life, I am beginning to realize that I tend to see the weeds instead of the flowers. I see the messes I’ve made and completely overlook the beauty in the midst of the mess.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying we shouldn’t pull weeds or clean the flower beds. But I’ve walked this earth long enough to know that there will always be more mess. But the inevitable mess grows like weeds from the same rich soil that yields the flowers.

What I’m getting at is that the mess is just a part of this world. The wonder of it all is that so much beauty can grow in the middle of the mess.

I probably don’t have to try very hard to convince you that this world is full of brokenness—mess. But I also don’t have to try too hard to convince you that there is so very much beauty right in the middle of the brokenness.

Yesterday I conducted a funeral service for a very dear, sweet lady who was a very faithful follower of Jesus and tremendous prayer warrior. That loss hurts for many of us. But the joy of the memories we shared with her and even the sharing of those memories together was genuinely sweet.

Sorrow and joy are not mutually exclusive experiences. In fact, I believe most joys have a tinge of sorrow—someone we long to have share them that is not able to do so, something that we know would make it so much sweeter. And most sorrows have tinges of joy if we’re willing to see and acknowledge them—having been loved well, having experienced something precious to lose.

I think that our brother James so long ago was challenging us to train our eyes on the joys among the struggles when he wrote these words:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the steadfastness of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1.2-3)

Look for the joy amidst the sorrows, the flowers among the weeds, the beauty in the mess. It doesn’t take away the sorrow or the weeds or the mess. But it does produce a healthy dissatisfaction with what is and a deep longing for what is to come.

And I believe that, the more we long for what will be, the more we will strive to make the mess more beautiful here and now.

Look at the picture again. Don’t ignore the mess. But see the beauty.

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That’s My Boy

May 19, 2018

The caboose.

That’s what I used to call my Danny boy, the youngest of the Peercy Posse. He was the one that would bring up the rear, the last car in the train.

Then he came home from his first day of kindergarten and announced that he didn’t want to be called the caboose any more.

He was always having to speak too loudly to try and be heard above the noise of the crowd of siblings. He has been bossed and occasionally bullied and sometimes left behind. But I have watched him learn to navigate the maze of people in our home as the one who would get along with anyone.

He has had some legendary one-liners – especially in his very young days when his vocabulary had outgrown his enunciation. When he flatly assured one of his brothers, “That’s hi-wa-wious. You’re hi-wa-wious” (hilarious), the car-load of people roared with laughter. When he felt his oldest brother’s words were contradictory to his actions, he informed me, “Dad, Mickey’s being a democrat.” (No political commentary intended, just confused the word democrat with hypocrite. Supply your own joke in whatever direction you want to take it.)

All along, despite his hindrance with Bell’s palsy and other frustrations, he has had this drive to be a part of something bigger than himself. He has grown up with a recognition of the need for community—the need to share life with others. He loves being on a team whether it’s a worship team or a soccer team or a leadership team or his biggest team, the band.

For his last end-of-year band banquet last night, he was asked to share some thoughts. He was honest and kind of emotional (which we know as transparency). He was clear-spoken and accurate. He owned old mistakes and celebrated grace (in his band director’s restraint from taking his life when he damaged a tuba at a marching contest while playing hackey sack). And he ended with one of his greatest strengths—pulling his peers together in their traditional “D-town” chant.

And the audience stood to their feet in appreciation of a kid showing his heart and sharing his passion and being real… and expressing what this whole band thing really is.

It was a proud moment for his old man. I was proud that he did without my coaching what I try to do all the time. Though he was so incredibly nervous, he put the fear behind for the greater purpose before him.

That’s my boy.

 

Sitting on the porch this morning reflecting on that sweet moment, I realize that this feeling of joy in my heart as I see that young man doing what he was made to do, what he was raised to do, I had a moment of recognition.

I have written much about the fact that God has taught me more about Himself through my kids than through any book I could read. And in this moment of reflecting on the pride and joy I felt over my son last night, I see this truth again so very clearly.

When we lean into that purpose for which we were created, it brings delight to the heart of our Creator.

To this end the Psalmist implored:

Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them. (Psalm 69.34)

As I sat and watched my son do just part of what he was made to do, my heart was full, saying, “That’s my boy!”

And so our Father, when I do what I was made to do, is filled with joy. No doubt He too whispers, “That’s my boy.”

Hanging Up The Hat

May 15, 2018

I like hats.

I wear a lot of hats. Some I wear to pretend I’m someone else. Some I wear when I do particular things or when I go particular places. There are different hats for different circumstances and different hats for different seasons.

I wear a lot of hats… figuratively as well as literally. By that I mean that I fill many roles for many different people. I am a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a friend, a neighbor, a pastor, a mentor, a board member. Occasionally I’m an actor and sometimes I’m a teacher and at times I’m a counselor.

I wear a lot of hats.

About 16 years ago I put on a new hat. I became a Band Dad when my oldest son signed up for band. When you connect that occasion with the fact that I was a band director for seven years before I started pastoring, you see that it was a significant thing to put on that new hat.

Tonight I will go to my last concert as a public school band dad.

It’s weird, I tell you.

I have been to at least a couple of public school band concerts every year since 2002. I’ve been to SO MANY marching contests and football games and band booster meetings. And the fundraisers—Oh my WORD the fundraisers…

I’ve traveled many miles, met many friends, and made SO MANY great memories through band. I’ve grilled more chicken breasts and quesadillas than I can count.

I’ve watched three of my kids find their spouses just like I found mine – in band.

I’ve seen two of my kids go on to earn some serious scholarship money through band.

It’s been such a huge part of our lives. And it’s not entirely over. We still have a few of our expanded brood significantly involved in band into the future. But my public school band dad days are coming to a close.

I’m hanging up that hat.

It’s a season that is coming to a close. And, with it’s passing, a new one begins. I don’t know all of the hows and whys and whens and wheres, but I know that there are great things ahead. I know that there are concerts yet to come that I can choose to attend as a pastor and friend cheering on the kids that he is so proud to support. And there are so many other ways to grow and learn and experience.

It’s hard to hang up this hat.

I like hats.

I wear a lot of hats.

As I hang up an old one rich with memories, I trust the next one I pick up will bring as much joy as the last.

To all of my band family, thanks for helping me enjoy this hat.