Saturday, August 16, 2008


I don't usually go around telling people I read People magazine (actually, my wife does... I just kind of glance at it, you know, when she's not reading it. So that's OK. I'm not culpable, just an innocent bystander).

But this week's issue has a wonderful article about how Steven Curtis Chapman and his family have been dealing with the tragic loss of their youngest child Maria back in May. I was moved by their honest words in the interview and the strong bond they have both with each other and with Christ.

What especially moved me was the story about the drawing Maria had been working on just prior to her death. It's a picture of a flower with six petals - apparently one petal for each Chapman. Only one of the petals was colored in. Steven says in the interview,

"She had drawn a flower with six petals with only one colored in, and she had written the word 'see.' And I knew God was there. We really believe that Maria's petal was colored in for a reason - that she is the most alive of us all. We kind of feel like we have these little bread crumbs left by God and Maria, things that mark the trail and say, 'Keep going. You're going in the right direction.'"

The article goes on to say that Steven's wife Mary Beth had the drawing tattooed on her wrist. The one colored petal represents Maria. Beside the picture on Mary Beth's wrist is the one word "see."

Perhaps Maria's drawing with the mysterious word beside it is a message for all of us. I think one of our hardest but most important callings as Christians is simply to SEE. We have to remember to "see" spiritual realities when tempted to focus only on the junk of this world. We have to remember to "see" people around us as the image of God instead of as interruptions and annoyances. And especially we have to remember to "see" Jesus now crowned with glory and honor (Hebrews 2:9), instead of growing weary with suffering.

What do you "see" in Maria's drawing?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Back to the empty nest again

This has been an eventful week. My wife and I drove up to Tallahassee on Monday to help our son Michael move into an apartment and prepare for his second year of college at FSU.

We enjoyed having him home all summer. One of the benefits was that he and a friend of his (who also shared our upstairs for the summer) took turns mowing the lawn for me! Now I'm going to have to go back to sweating it out behind the lawnmower every 5-7 days by myself again.

Seriously, though, it was great having Michael around for an extended time, after being without during his freshman year. I enjoy eating out with him and watching certain TV shows we both like. We are also both movie-holics. I forget all the movies we saw together this summer. The worst one was You Don't Mess with the Zohan. Please, don't see that movie. Don't rent the DVD. It's awful. If you didn't like Zoolander, you REALLY won't like Zohan.

Anyway, it took two cars and a U-Haul truck to get Michael's stuff moved into his apartment. We had bought him a bunch of new apartment furniture at Ikea here in Orlando. Have you ever been to Ikea? It's a regular metropolis. Enormous place. The good thing is, the furniture they sell is cheap and it looks good. I'm not sure how long it will last, but it looks good. When we arrived in Tallahassee it took a couple days to put everything together. Now his apartment rocks.

The directions they pack inside Ikea boxes are funny. I guess they're printed up in Denmark or Sweden or wherever Ikea is headquartered. There are no words, only pictures. It takes a while to figure out what the symbols are trying to tell you, but once you get them figured out it's actually pretty easy. I just wish they would name items with words that make sense in America. Like, the name of Michael's bed is "Malm." The name of his sofa is "Klippan." What is that supposed to mean?

So now it's down to Suzy and me again. The house is quiet, especially the upstairs. Nobody's coming home at 2:00 in the morning. We can park easily in our driveway. No Radiohead songs on the stereo. No Coke cans and water bottles scattered around. Now I can raise the thermostat upstairs again and save a little money.

I miss him already.