And Justice For All?

No, I’m not talking about the Metallica album.

Nor the Declaration of Independence.

That's Mayra in the blue. She deserves a response from her fellow citizens.

I’m talking about a little girl in my community named Mayra Ortiz. She’s fourteen years old, the daughter of an American citizen, and she’s in danger of being deported.

How, you ask?

Simple: a combination of bureaucracy, misfortune, and the selfishness of the American people.

I’m not stupid – I realize that immigration has been an issue in this country since 1492, and it’s not one that we’ve always managed well (just Google “Trail of Tears“, “US wartime internment camps“, and “Elian Gonzalez” if you don’t believe me). I know that there are no easy fixes, and that a policy that will not only make fiscal and jurisprudential sense, but common sense, will require a deft mixture of political capital and innovative solutions, both of which seem to be in short supply in our modern governmental climate.

But what grieves me, as a citizen of this country and as a father, is when I read a story like Mayra’s – where a little girl who has done nothing wrong becomes victim to the very system that is supposed to protect her.

Look, we need laws in this country, but we also need them to make sense. Right now, immigration (both nationally and here in Georgia) doesn’t make sense of any kind whatsoever – we spend the majority of our time yelling at one another for being idiots instead of stopping to listen to one another and working on a solution. This group wants to shoot illegals on sight, while this one wants to give them a nice house and free taxpayer money, and that’s not even coming close to the real views that are out there on the extremes.

And in the midst of the cacophony, what’s just and right fails to get done.

I don’t have great solutions to the issue of illegal immigration, in part because it’s such a huge issue with so many different ramifications connected to it. To choose one course is to choose against another, and I know the analysis paralysis that comes with that responsibility. I’m not asking for us to create a law that will please everyone, mainly because I’m old enough to not believe in magical unicorns.

But what I am asking is that when the laws we currently have are creating a miscarriage of justice, we as a people need to stand up and take notice, and not just turn our head or surrender to nasty rhetoric. We need to pay attention to the human lives being affected by our government and let the government know when it’s wrong. We need, for moments such as this, to quit worrying about how the government can serve me and my needs, and consider how it should function: as the protector of our people, not our whims.

Right now, a little girl is being railroaded, and there are plenty of people who are content to let it happen, some because they don’t want to get involved, others because they are blinded by a convenient self-serving rhetoric that serves only their own best interests. As Edmund Burke is credited with a saying, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

I would say that sums up my thoughts, but for this one haunting voice that keeps repeating the same refrain; it is the voice of Jesus, asking, “What man is really good? There is none good but God.”

May He have mercy on us.

Children Need A Legacy Of Dreams

Give your kid the power of dreams. It's even better than an Xbox...

Spend enough time with small children and you’ll learn an awful lot about the power of the imagination. My daughter has dual citizenship in the real world and her dream world, and she’s not alone: watch most kids who are younger than second or third grade and you’ll see that the worlds they inhabit aren’t necessarily our own.

That changes around the time we begin preparing kids for the teenage years. Somewhere around fourth or fifth grade we begin telling the kids that it’s time to “get serious” about school, homework, life. We begin the subtle indoctrination of the Great Adult Lie: that the world functions in a highly specific way that requires stringent obedience to certain hierarchical rules in order for a person to survive. The programming requires the limiting of the imagination to be successful, and we’ve developed quite the toolbox of pruning shears:

“It’s great that you love playing baseball, Kevin, but honestly – there aren’t that many people who can realistically say they have a shot at the major leagues. Just enjoy the game for what it is.”

“That’s a nice painting, Emma, but you need to think about what you really want to do with your life. You can’t make a living as a painter.”

“I’m proud of the work you’re doing with these underprivileged kids, Stuart, and I think you’re making a real difference in their lives. This will look great on your college applications and resume.”

“You can always minor in theater, Sandra, but you need to get your degree in a field where you can earn a real living.”

Looking back, I can understand how every person who ever said anything like this to me was only looking out for a child they believed to be a hopeless dreamer. And they were right to do so, not because I was a dreamer, but because I was undisciplined.

But now, as a grown man and as a father, I can see how their efforts to teach me also robbed me of a great gift. I can also see which people weren’t trying to help me at all, but were merely projecting their own fears of failure, their own lack of confidence, onto me. I can honestly say that the people most invested in me wanted big things from my future; the people who saw me only as a number or a challenge wanted me to just go away.

And unfortunately, I went away. I don’t blame anyone other than myself; I never really wanted to fight for my dreams, believing that my life would be better served by my pursuing a safer route. Never one for confrontation, I took the path of least resistance and have spent many nights wondering “what if?”.

The biggest “what if?” goes back to college: in one of my final semesters at UGA, I took a class on writing for publication. The course grade was based solely on producing a portfolio of writings that would be suitable for publication in any major commercial or trade magazine, literary journal, or newspaper. We spent the semester honing critical essays, reviews, personal essays, investigative reports and op-ed pieces, and when it was all said and done, the professor pulled me to the side, held up my portfolio, and said, “You need to submit these.”

“I will someday,” I replied.

“No. You need to submit these now,” he pressed. “I know someone at The New Yorker who would print you in the next issue if you submitted.”

You can guess how much I believed him. Or, more accurately, how much I believed in myself.

My story is not unique. Almost anyone reading this has traded on a dream at some point in their life, has taken the security or comfort or convenience of the known over the unknown. It’s part of human experience.

What’s telling, however, is that not many of us ever rise above those decisions. How many of us continue to believe that dreams are things to be held lightly, while security is pursued with reckless abandon? How many of us choose a life of small successes in the hopes that they might equal one or two big dreams come true?

Perhaps, for some, there is wisdom in that – to be continuously successful in small things. But there are those out there whose hearts burn for that big dream, that one massive imagination stirring event that makes the soul sing at the thought of it. And for those people, the successful small life will never satisfy. They will always wonder “what if?”, even in the middle of a good life.

I spoke on the phone to my brother this morning. He has been offered an opportunity to sing tenor for a southern gospel quartet. It’s a legit offer, and something he’s been dreaming about his entire life: the chance to sing, on stage, for the glory of God. To sing on records for the glory of God. To live his life as music for the glory of God.

Basically, his dream called him on the phone and said, “Come chase me.”

Now, here’s where this little diatribe must address the rules of dream-chasing. Remember up above I said something about not being disciplined enough to chase my dream? That must be addressed, because dream-chasing is not living a reckless life and chasing after every changing breeze. Dream-chasing requires intelligence, discipline, confidence, and situational awareness; in short, you have to know who you are as a person, what your dream is as an ideal, and the ways that dream can might come to fruition.

You also have to know if it’s a dream worth chasing. A true dream, a God-given dream, is a dream that does something for others. That’s what separates dream-chasing from materialistic hedonism – accomplishing something another person will be blessed or inspired by. Hedonism is pursuing only what satisfies yourself.

Here’s what I told my brother, and it’s advice that holds true for me, you, or anyone else: as a human being, you only get so many opportunities. When they come, you owe it to yourself, your family, and future generations, to evaluate the circumstances and decide whether or not the time is right to pursue your dream. If you have kids, this doubly applies; how can we ever expect our children to try anything if they’ve never seen us try ourselves? Children need a legacy of dreams to inspire them to dream for themselves. The world will do it’s own work to beat their imagination out of them; we, as parents, need to do what we can to build that imagination back up, and part of that means chasing after our own dreams when the time is right.

My brother’s specific circumstances might, at first blush, seem to dictate that he should say “No, thank you” and quietly go about his life as scheduled. But “No” is an easy word, a cheap word. “No” is a coward’s word when said by someone with a God-given dream.

And cowards don’t inspire. Cowards don’t create.

I told my brother to pursue his dream, but to do so with the intelligence and savvy that his years of experience have given him. I told him to not say “No,” but to say “Yes, with God’s help.”

Our world is in desperate need of people who dream big dreams and pursue them, wait for the moment, and then seize them like a conquering hero. We need people dreaming big dreams for the hungry, the sick, the forgotten, the abused, the poor, the homeless, the oppressed; we need people dreaming big dreams for the frightened, the ones who gave dreams up as the dominion of a child. We need people dreaming big dreams to show us that the world as we know it is not the world as it should be, and while some may content themselves with rationalizing this world away, we don’t have to settle for what is.

Not when we have the power to create what can be.

It’s a life and a legacy the world, and especially our children, need and deserve.

Father Fail

My morning as a father.

I had trouble communicating with my son this morning. He was being difficult with Rachel, yelling at her over her decision to cook his frozen strawberry waffles instead of serving them to him ice cold. Rachel, ever the good mother, was trying to patiently explain that the waffles had to be cooked else they’d be inedible.

Jonathan wasn’t accepting her logic. He kept throwing his hands in the air and jumping about in a circle, like a deranged dancer, shouting “No! No! Afful! Afful!” until I lost my patience and intervened.

“Jonathan!” I boomed. “You go sit on the couch right now!”

He stopped, mid-“Afful!” and looked at me. Then, without a word, he hustled into the den and sat down on the couch. I walked over to him and stood there.

It was an intimidating move, I’ll grant you that. I know my son loves and respects me and on occasion I use that weight to gain a parental advantage. Sue me.

“Jonathan,” I said, my voice stern and cool, “you sit on this couch and don’t move. You’re in timeout for not listening to your momma.”

Then, just for effect, I repeated myself: “Sit here. And DON’T. MOVE.”

He nodded his little blond head and I went into the kitchen to refill my coffee cup. Rachel went into the bedroom to get her running shoes on, and as soon as she passed by and was out of his line of sight, he hops up and begins to climb off the couch.

I see this from the kitchen, coffee in hand. And in reacting, I make a bad decision. I choose to yell at the boy. Not just yell, mind you, but to raise my voice and alter my tone to one that an adult would use with a disobedient dog.

“Jon-a-THAN! I said SIT DOWN.”

I caught him so off guard that he didn’t sit down – he just collapsed in a heap where he was, then shimmied his way back to a sitting position.

Rachel came out of the bedroom and looked at him. He sat there, face downcast, hands folded in his lap. She then walked into the kitchen and looked at me.

“I wish you wouldn’t yell at him,” she said.

“Sometimes that’s the only way to get his attention,” I countered.

“Still, I don’t want him to grow up and be aggressive like that,” she said. “There’s better ways.”

This all happened two hours ago, and it’s still on my mind. There’s better ways. Better ways of disciplining my son. Better ways of communicating with my son. Better ways of teaching my son about what it means to be a man.

And better ways of being a man my son can imitate.

I try not to make any bones about my life as a father, about my relationship with my kids. I try and share with humor and candor and reflection the many challenging things that a father faces on a daily basis. And, more often than not, I try to make myself look somewhat good in the process. Sure, I toss in some self-deprecating humor to keep from painting myself as superman, but I never really throw out the truly ugly things I do, in part because they’re ugly and in part because people don’t respond well to ugliness.

And I tried to do that with this post. Tried to find a way to make it funny. There was an avenue, but in making this funny, I would have made it insincere. Phony. Ugly.

Better to share my father fail than to try and pretty it up. This morning, I made a mistake with my son, and it’s hurting my heart. Thankfully, fatherhood is not one moment fixed in time, but the accumulation of moments throughout a life, so I’ll have ample opportunity even today to make better choices in how to discipline, communicate with, and teach my son.

Perhaps the greatest blessing of all, those opportunities will be afforded me because my son is still young enough to not hold a grudge; he’s still young enough to know only that he loves me because I’m his dad and he’s my son. It’s a portrait of grace, is what it is.

And I’m not going to ruin it. Father’s fail. But failure isn’t permanent.

Thank God.

Crackpots, Mayans, and What the Rest of Us Should Do

Homer Simpson, prophet.

The world is coming to an end. And I’m not just saying that because gas prices are as ridiculous as our government. We really are heading for an old-fashioned, kick-the-tires and light-the-fires end-of-all-that’s-good-and-holy apocalypse.

The only question, it seems, is when?

A little disclosure: as a Christian, I sincerely believe that one day this world will come to an end, and a new world will be brought into being by the Almighty God. Some people call it crackpottery, others call it delusional wish-fulfillment, but I call it faith and have no problem sharing why I believe it.

Now, before you go shutting me up in the nuthouse, take a moment to realize that it’s not just Christians who are into the end-of-the-world predictions. Whether you’re one of the many who go in for Universal Entropy, or the self-inflicted wounds of humankind (greenhouse gases, global warming, Lady Gaga), there are lots of folks in the “we’re not gonna make it” boat. We seem to feel, as a species, the finiteness of our days, and we worry (justifiably) about what will happen when we reach that particular moment in time. And the fact that most people believe the end is out there but unknown leaves us with a certain amount of tension.

Enter the Mayans. They had a calendar that predicted the world would end in 2012 (though some now suggest we’ve been reading that calendar wrong, and the date is a little later than previously thought – which is good news for those of you who just bought homes). Now, if you’ve ever been to Barnes and Noble store, you know that calendars are a dime a dozen, and most have pictures of cute cats or scantily clad ladies in them to get your attention. The Mayan calendar just has a bunch of dates. So they did what anyone with a PR issue would do: they went Hollywood.

Suddenly, everyone’s talking about the Mayan calendar. Everyone’s talking about the world ending in 2012. Tension relieved. Timeline set. More people decide to rent.

But lately, a small Southern radio network (an aside – a question I would love to ask God: why do these kind of nuts always have to be from the South? Can’t we get crazy religious Yankees for a change?) has been making headlines with their claim that the Bible clearly states that all Christians will be raptured on May 21, with the world coming to a definitive end on October 21, 2011.

They blog. They billboard. They broadcast. They are adamant about this.

And, strangely, they’re still accepting donations to get the word out.

As a Christian, part of me understands their desire to get the message of Christ’s return out to the masses. I can see that their belief is so strong and so sure that they are willing to risk humiliation and degradation to save souls. I can appreciate their passion.

But it’s their arrogance that smacks me in the face. The Bible says that only God knows when the world will come to an end, and that even the Son of God, Jesus Christ Himself, didn’t know the day or the hour (Mark 13:32). And yet these folks are saying that, through their diligence and study of the Bible, they have discovered the secret mathematical formula for determining all end time events.

And the formula for Coca-Cola as well.

Seriously – don’t listen to stuff like this. Don’t pay attention to the hyper-crackpots among us who insist on sowing fear and pestilence into the souls of others, no matter how noble their reasons might be. The world is coming to an end, but as Jesus pointed out in His sermon on the mount, worrying about it ain’t gonna do much for you:

“So don’t worry, saying ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly father knows you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore, don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:31-34)

Honestly – if we’re going to listen to an authoritative voice on what God’s thinking, aren’t we better off listening to Jesus?

*Special thanks to Scott Garner for the inspiration on this post. Though we may be far apart on our beliefs, his wit and candor on this inspired me.

Guest Post: Pregnancy, Pain And Hope

Not too far from my house, inside the city limits of Loganville, there’s a street that looks rather rundown. A mixture of houses and mobile homes line the sides of this street, and when you drive down it with someone who’s never seen it, you can almost feel the uncertainty that suddenly takes over. It’s only when you reach the end of Pecan Street that you’ll hear that first timer exhale, inhale and say something along the lines of, “Wow. I can’t believe people actually live down there. That’s scary.”

Scary. Uncertain. Uncomfortable. These are the words we reserve for the places we can’t bring ourselves to visit, those places where “normal” people just don’t go, places that frighten us into the belief that, since we can’t really affect change there, our presence isn’t required. Places light the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Or the slums of India. Or the home of a reformed prostitute looking for a new life for her and her child.

Naomi Zacharias McNeil* has made it her life’s mission to not only go into those places, but to bring them light and hope. Through the ministry of Wellspring International, a not-for-profit ministry that responds to the needs of women and children at risk, Naomi and her partners have changed countless lives in places where change was either thought impossible or of little consequence. A quick reading of the projects on the Wellspring website tells you that not only is change possible, it’s dramatic in its impact.

Naomi has chronicled her experiences with Wellspring in her first book, The Scent of Water: Grace for Every Kind of Broken (available for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Naomi’s distinctive voice combined with her own personal struggles have created a book that is at turns a heartbreaking and revelatory look at the damaged world we live in. Following on the heels of Mother’s Day, I thought it fitting to ask Naomi (who’s pregnant with her first child!) to share her observations on life and motherhood, brokenness and grace.

If you enjoy Naomi’s post, please consider purchasing her book or visiting the Wellspring donation page. Her work is well worth supporting with more than just words and affirmation.

*(In case you’re wondering, yes – Naomi’s dad is Ravi Zacharias. But Dr. Zacharias will tell you what Naomi is doing around the world is an original and unique ministry born of Naomi’s vision and determination.)

Naomi Zacharias McNeil

My husband and I were sitting around their table in Oxford, England, eating a home-cooked dinner with a couple who have become good friends in a short amount of time. We were sharing stories from childhood, and while many brought laughter, only one story brought tears to my eyes. Perhaps it is because I am pregnant and teary eyes have become more familiar; perhaps it is because it was such a good story. Likely it is both, and the heightened sense of emotions from my version of normal served to help me appreciate a fullness to this story.

Our friend is of full-blooded Italian heritage, born and bred in New Jersey. He has the fabulous last name and tell-tale northeast shore accent to clearly attest to both. When he was about 6 years old, he was in a neighborhood field playing soccer with boys much older, bigger, and more self-assured than he was. He tried his best to play, but their taunting soon ran him off the field- perhaps Forrest Gump style- and all the way home. His mother greeted him at the door, and as her little boy approached her with tears streaming down his cheeks, she asked what happened. “Those boys say I’m not tough enough,” he said with such a sincere sadness, trembling lip and insecure defeat it must have ripped at the core of her heart.

Placing one hand slowly on her hip, she leaned down so her face was an arm’s length from her son’s.  With her other hand, she tapped her chin and said softly but defiantly, “Hit me.” His eyes widened in objection and he shook his head, absolutely no. “It’s okay,” she said. “I’ll be fine, I promise. Just take a swing right here,” she encouraged, she insisted. After multiple objections, her son somewhat uncertainly tried out his little right hook. She drew her hand up to rub the reddening mark on her face gently, and with a beaming smile the Italian mama said, “You’re plenty tough enough, I know you are.  Go back out there and get in that game.”  And off he ran. He finished that soccer game with boys who were still older and bigger, but that was all they had on him.

The point of the story is obviously not to encourage any kind of violence, and must be appreciated in its context, in its culture, and exactly for what it is – a mother’s belief in her son and her willingness to incur her own bruise in order to demonstrate to him a strength she knew he carried within himself.

I am pregnant with my first child, a son. There are many ways to experience the miraculous in life, and this is a present one for me.  I marvel at what the human body has been created to do- how my baby tells me when he’s hungry, how I can make countless choices each day to provide for him before I meet him, how in this 7th month it has been explained to me that the dramatic increase in my discomfort is because the little one has received the chemical release that tells him to turn his body to prepare to enter the world; how the fact that I trip multiple times a day and have adopted a waddle I was sure I would not is because my ligaments have responded to his signal to give up their resistance, and so feel a bit more like spaghetti. All of these things are fantastically wonder-filled to me.

I haven’t met him. But I worry I will have passed on my least favorite feature to his perfect little form; whether he will like me; if I be able to soothe him when he cries; if he will be ADD in school; what I will say when he gets his heart broken for the first time; what it will feel like when I reach up on tip-toe to hug his neck; what I will do when he comes home and says the older boys said he can’t play their game.

What I do know is that I deeply want him and love him from a place so far inside I can’t point to it; that I would give any part of my body or heart to ensure his safety and happiness; that my life seems so purposeful when I eat or sleep or laugh; that we’ve had countless of conversations just between us while his little fists or tiny feet thump against my ribs and I tap back; that I hope he has his father’s perfection of face and gentle heart.

I know that new fears have introduced themselves into my heart, that my very job now seems loaded in a new way. My involvement and awareness of global pains has now heightened as I’ve got a new kind of fight, a new investment dramatically out of proportion to his three-pound weight.

I look at the overwhelming presence of billboards, commercials, images and dialogue that serve to objectify women and insidiously worm their way into the heart of men; and one day, into the heart of my son before he is even old enough to have any clue what it is they seek to compromise in him.

I know that he is entering a world where over 12 million people are currently in forced labor and forced prostitution through trafficking; where pornography is multi-billion dollar industry, and that the ticker on news channels streams consistently of another natural disaster, another civil war, terrorism, political wars, poverty, hunger, discrimination. I know that few of these things can be “fixed,” and those that can be restored take years, patience, prayer, and an act of faith and persistence. I also know every single one of those things is  worthy of all that and everything more.

Since I began working with Wellspring International to respond to the needs of women and children at risk, I have to be honest in saying that life has an ever-present sadness. Oddly, what was present before wasn’t really an every-present happiness, but it was a naivete that allowed for easier living I suppose. Easier, and emptier. Yet this sadness is at times a weight that feels like it gets the best of me some days, but one that refuses to settle at the ocean floor of my being. Instead, it’s like the pendulum of a clock that keeps me working and serves to fuel the passion and calling God has given to me. It is a determination, the inability to forget and go back to simple.

And now with the miracle of a new life, a life that is part who I am in every sense, and part my husband and therein ever present reminder of my greatest gift in my life, I have a new immense responsibility and desire to protect this little human from the world itself- a world I am compelled to participate in. I want to protect him from it; I am somewhat defeated in already knowing I cannot fully do so.

As we considered his name, his baby décor, our parenting style, whether or not we agree with controversial Baby-wise methods, our mission statement for our child is to, with God’s help, raise him in a way that will break our hearts anew by opening his eyes to the world before him and teaching him the discipline, values, and strength he must find to face it.

Some days my heart will beat tears of joy as he experiences treasures of beauty from a life that takes in all the wonders- an airplane flying overhead leaving a trail of white puffy clouds behind, his fascination rather than impatience at bustling activity around him, his delightful first taste of freakishly blue ice cream, belly-shaking joy at a silly face I can make that will make him laugh over and over and over again. As he grows older, it will be in helping him to be a good friend, to learn what to defend and when to lay down his fists for the numerous fights and heartaches life will send his way from Kindergarten, Junior High, and forever onward. It will be to help him discover who he is- his talents, his uniqueness, to recognize his God-given purpose that will be different to mine in so many ways, his need to own his mistakes but overcome them. His ability to see into a person- to learn what it is that defines character; not to necessarily surround himself with those who have never fallen, but those who learned the discipline of standing back up. To instill in him his sobering yet compelling opportunity as a man in his private and public life to demonstrate a longed for and needed healing respect,  protection, appreciation, and honor to women that has been lost and minimized, corrupted and excused by culture in its accepted perversions and epic global personifications. I want to try to show him what it means to love; the honor and challenge of compromising, yet not compromising yourself or an other. I pray we will show him how to look at a world far outside his own borders and experience, to participate in the injustice he sees regardless of whether he is its victim.

I say this with the beginnings of pangs of understanding- may he live a life, not that is easy or free of pain, but that is intentional, purposeful, that is full and introduces him to peace, grace, and wholeness- the wholeness of a humanity he is part of and of the Creator that brought him into being for a purpose greater than himself.

I will have opportunity, both seen and unseen, to point to my jaw and help him find his strength.  Sometimes it will bruise the outside, always and to varying degrees will it bruise the inside. For I will ache at what he must see and what is my calling to try to guide him through.

I am reminded of this every day when I sit at my desk or board a plane to a new destination. Staying informed through the articles I read, exposing myself to the conversations with victims of injustice and seeking to understand a horror-filled story, trying to raise support for legitimate and urgent needs that keep me awake at night, continuing to recognize the real-life examples of a powerful grace that can heal wounds and empower wounded individuals to keep walking. It has crossed my mind to back off of it, to fill my mind with more pleasant things. Work has not been easy of late- my mind, my body, and my heart are somewhat tired inside. His presence tempts me to justify a reason to stop.  But it also tells me why I cannot.

Yesterday was my first Mother’s Day. My husband gave me pink tulips, my son woke me up with a few treasured thumps in my belly. And I am aware he is already teaching me. He gives me another reason not to give up. He furthers a conviction to try to participate in something that brings healing to the countless wounds found in life- because he remind me of life, of what makes it matter, of why I agreed to venture from the safety of my mind to publication and the scrutiny of reviews, and of a world in which I long to contribute something meaningful and good.

Because, in my ever so small capacity, I want to try to introduce that healing and remarkable all-sufficient grace I know can be found; that I have experienced and witnessed through stories with happy endings we long to hear and in those with different kinds of endings- but equally powerful stories that we need to hear.

Because I want to learn the meaning and living of the very things I want to teach my son.

And because I think that doing so is one of the universally -shared callings in all of our God-scripted stories.