The Green Frog Blog!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


  He was going to kill his self.  I remember listening to my Uncle talk about how the life of farming had overwhelmed him at one point.  Too many bills. Not enough rain. So he took a gun and drove out to a field, that was less than productive, with the intent to take his own life.  But God had other plans. That was 30 years ago. This was yesterday.
     She has had a tough season.  It has been one of clearing fields and planting.  The soil has been the hearts of her children.  She loves them. She fights for them.  She waters the seeds with her tears.  At times she blames herself for the slow growth but the watched pot never boils.  Her seeds did not appear active underneath the tough exterior of disobedience.  And what she saw on the outside scared her to death. Brown fields. Dust storms. The sound of insects waiting to pounce. She was broken.  And she believed it was her fault, that maybe this was too big of a mess for the Redeemer.
     She was in church. She was seeking God and even doing what he had asked. And at night she would dig in the dirt and put in more seeds. But her faith was waning. She believed, as did I, that the water of baptism would guarantee instant growth. But the ground hardened. All those precious promises of harvest became harder to grasp, harder to believe.  Doubt like night began to take its toll. Fear was calling her name.
     She spent the weekend still moving through the faithful motions of what a God fearing mother should do. After working all day Friday, she took them to parties and to hang out with a friend. They were less than grateful. The next night she took them to a church for a youth function. They were not impressed. The next day she took them to church for worship and even drug them to a vision conference in the afternoon. She was tired. But the ground was cracking open.
     There, with her friends and her children, they watched a movie called, Unconditional. At the end of the film, her pastor called all the children there to action by handing them a two dollar bill of their own to give to someone who needed to be encouraged, to someone who needed hope. (You should watch this movie)  But for the most part the weekend ended again with no progress. She watered the seeds again with her tears that night.
     Monday was  a typical hard day of being a working (farming) mother. She rushed to get them to school, went to work, came home to make sure they had something to eat and gathered her strength for a two hour Bible study of  her own discipleship. Her son was struggling with school and the house wasn’t clean. Laundry had piled up and the weight of life descended upon her like a foot on a worm. She was tired… and then she found something on her bed.  A note with a $2 bill attached that said,
To the greatest mom ever: Dear Mom I love you so much. I am a handful, believe me. I know I've been living with myself for 13 years but I know you will always be there through thick and thin. I love you so much. God loves you and so do I. From: Brice Capps 10-21-13"
God is faithful. Her strength has been renewed. And this sprout, this wonderful green sprout, is not a fluke. This morning I dropped him off at school and saw another leaf spring out. A young man had dropped his papers and several other kids were walking by but Brice… Brice stopped and helped him pick up his papers.
This is not by chance.  This is the product of love, discipline, prayer, and tears.  This is the product of what happens when a community (a church) farms together in the heart of a child.  Here are the verses we studied one day before all this happened:
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.  Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:7-9
Hilary and I both would like to thank everyone who encourages us in this season of planting. We will keep you updated on the Harvest.  Many tears of joy and praise have fallen upon this blessing.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


     Conviction. That is what I call a small white house across the street. A friend of mine grew up in that house. It was not a safe place for a little girl. As a matter of fact it was hell. I didn't understand just how bad it was until one night at the end of a Bible study on judgment. Crying, this girl approached me about how comforting it was to know that the father that sexually abused her would face a judgement. Her story is a horrific tale of incest, and other unspeakable acts that only occur in the worst nightmares.
      I was leaving to go to Lowe's the other day and pointed out the house and the man who lives there to Hilary. Our conversation moved from how does someone not kill that man to how does God not kill any of us. And then it shifted into how all sin is a concerted effort toward the same evil, both small and large contributions to Satan and his work. I mentioned that we have to think of sin, even small ones, as giving applause to the things that happened in that white house. Who knows how many times our harsh words have been the spark that started the fire that burned the forest in someone else's life. Sin is often a chain reaction. We have crosswords with someone that is upsetting and then they go home and take it out on their children. Every day that house reminds me of two things. One is that my sin aids the enemy that destroyed a little girls' heart. Two, kind words can rescue those who are trapped in darkness. Dear God, save me from planting in the wrong field and bind my heart to your Harvest. Forgive me. Forgive us all.

“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters."
Luke 11:23

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


     Sit down. Find a quite place. Then read how this vandalism transformed my thinking about God, how it changed my life today through a paint brush.
     As most of you know I live on a large, historic property that once was home to two majestic homes in Dyersburg.  As the property steward, I restored one home and have been working on the 6,000 square foot brick home built in 1865 for the last two years.  Just last year I replaced floor joists, did foundation work, fixed the electrical, replumbed the water main, repaired the roof, replaced three columns, etc.   This year I plan to fix the outside cosmetically with paint and some mortar work. Just last night I finished the exterior garage and went to admire my work again this morning.

     I found my newly painted door covered with rust red paint as was the concrete and several windows on the main house.  Profanity and gang signs were scrawled in several places.  My first reaction was disbelief quickly followed by anger.  I moved my meetings around and began the job of pressuring washing the steps, house, and windows.  I was amazed out how the paint actually came off with almost no trace.  It was amazing.

      I then remembered waking up to a storm and rain at 3:00am.  I was surprised because there was no forecast for storms overnight.  The wind was really blowing and it was even hailing a bit.  I then realized that while I was sleeping, God was giving me a hand.  The rain that blew against the house prevented the paint from hardening and made it easier to get off.  No weapon formed against me will prosper.   Lo, He is with me always.

      But what changed my life was repainting the door.  Everything but the door came completely clean.  As I was painting the door white again I heard, "I will make your sins white as snow," in my head.   The paint completely covered the stains.   I then started thinking about how patient God is and how much time he has invested in me.  I started thinking about how I often have randomly messed up His work and forced him to clean me.   For the first time in my life I think I knew how sin made God feel.   For the first time in my life I think I understood how much time and work has gone into Grace. I was not redeemed with silver or gold but rather with the precious blood of the Lamb!

      Then, still holding the brush, I was actually thankful that all this had happened to me, for what it had shown me.  But don't all things work together for my good when I love the Lord?

Follow up:   Just received the news that a life was saved both spiritually and literally through the sharing of this vandalism story. Thanks to everyone for passing the story along! Give God the praise!
"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20

Monday, January 9, 2012


$1 Scoop Ice Cream will start in February! Days to be announced. Could be as many as three days per week!! Rather than spend money on advertising we thought we would give our loyal customers a great deal and let them spread the word. If this creates the traffic flow we are looking for we will keep it all year long! So spread the word! Great deal for families, church groups, and an office afternoon snack!

Monday, March 21, 2011


Ashamed of his monstrous form, the beast concealed himself inside his castle, with a magic mirror as his only window to the outside world. The rose she had offered was truly an enchanted rose, which would bloom until his 21st year. If he could learn to love another, and earn her love in return by the time the last petal fell, then the spell would be broken. If not, he would be doomed to remain a beast for all time. As the years passed, he fell into despair and lost all hope. For who could ever learn to love a beast?”
                          ….from the movie Beauty and the Beast

I am the bread of life.  Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died.  But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”  ….Jesus

 had a wonderful Grandmother named Flossie who simply lived her life in pink-  pink housecoats, pink slippers, pink pants, pink blouses, etc.  She loved pink, and she was a bread maker.   Flossie had this incredible recipe for hand made yeast bread that was a million years old and must have had Moses’ stamp of approval. When she came to visit I remember her telling me, “Now Timmy don’t poke the dough it has to rise!  Of course you know I really wanted to poke the dough after she said that. Half the fun of a balloon is popping it.  Ok, all the fun of a balloon is popping it.  So what possessed me not to poke that dough is beyond me.  Maybe if I knew I could eventually eat a balloon I wouldn’t pop it either? Anyway, after letting it rise I also recall how she always pinched off a piece to seed the next batch of dough with the active yeast.  And the smell, well let’s just say I wanted to sleep on a warm bread pillow.   

    So the first time I heard Jesus say he was bread I imagined him as a warm, soft, pink, kind of guy that smelled really good.   And even the part about eating his flesh sounded good to me.  As a kid, I really wanted to take a bite out of Jesus.  Even my earliest memories of communion reinforced the idea that Jesus tasted good.   I had no idea just how good he really tasted.

     King David said, “Taste the Lord and see that He is good!”  My pet peeve is people who say they don’t like a particular food but have never even tried it.  Another pet peeve is people who believe everything that is healthy must taste bad just like a lot of people believe that God may be a good thing but his instructions are nasty.  We treat God like medicine.  One of the greatest challenges set before the church today is to deliver the correct, authentic, recipe of God.  The true, living God, is quite frankly irresistible and extremely satisfying.  There is a dangerous recipe of world mixed with religion being presented as God today, and when this generic religion is ingested it will literally make you spiritually sick.  A lot of people are disgusted with their faith, or even God, because their recipe is missing key ingredients.  We leave out things we determine are not critical, or too difficult to obtain, and then we expect it to still work.  We forsake discipline, accountability, tithing, service, etc. because we believe these are minor ingredients.  Leave the egg out of the cake and watch what happens. Although grace is instant, spiritual maturity is a process that comes from submitting our lives to the Word of God.  There are no short cuts.  The Word of God reveals the true character of God, his authentic values, and overwhelming attractive personality and this is why every Christian should first and foremost be a student of God’s Word.  The Word of God reveals that God is good and loving.  Jesus himself was adamant about setting the record straight about who his Father was.  The character of God has been under attack ever since the Garden.   Most people don’t love God because they are confused about who He is.  And the only way to know God is to first accept His true and living bread from Heaven, his one and only begotten Son who expresses his true, good, and loving heart for his children.

     Manna was special bread the Israelites were familiar with because it temporarily saved their ancestor’s lives during their trek out of Egypt.  The distance was 211 miles.  It took them 40 years, or they averaged 25 yards per day.  If you ever thought your progress in Christian maturity was slow, remember the Israelites.  They had been in a foreign land for years and you can take the Israelite out of the foreign land, but it takes years to take the foreign land out of the Israelites.  During these years of refinement God reestablished himself as Provider by supplying them with daily bread to keep them physically alive.  This special bread fell like dew on the ground every morning for them to gather and eat later in the day. Think about this: bread that saves our life, and keeps us nourished until we reach the Promised Land.  Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.”

     The last day of their enslavement before Pharaoh released them from captivity, an event called the Passover took place.   During this event the Israelites were instructed by God to mark their doorpost with the blood of a lamb as a proclamation of their faith in God’s deliverance.  In return their family was spared the death angel taking their firstborn son.  The instructions also included that they would eat the meat of the lamb during the night.   Think about this:  blood that is shed for sparing our lives as we partake of the flesh of what is saving us.   Jesus was the precious Lamb of God.

    God doesn’t hate sin just because we aren’t doing what He told us to do.  He hates sin because it harms his children.  Sin is contrary to the heart of the One who creates because it destroys what is created.  And the reason sin has such dreadful consequences is to protect us from being deceived about it’s ability to destroy.  Think about how pain is a good thing.  The pain in your hand let’s you know it is on the stove.  The pain in your eye let’s you know it has a bug in it scratching your retina.  Pain tells us to move our hand and remove the bug.  The consequences of sin create an awareness of our Fallen state.  So through the curse God creates an environment that is conducive to us becoming aware of the reality of our lostness and sickness.  The only thing worse than being lost and sick, is being both but not being aware of either.  We need help, and this is why we have a Savior.  This is why the Bread of Life and Lamb of God came.

      And the Bread of Life says there will be dessert in heaven, or we are not only rescued but we are celebrated in the Kingdom of God.  There are many mentions of a feast being prepared when a child repents and is found in Christ accepting the forgiveness of God that comes through the sacrifice of His Lamb.  The best story is the parable spoken by Jesus about the prodigal son whose misunderstanding of his Father’s heart has led him to believe he will be lucky to feed the pigs when he returns home and repents.  Instead He finds his father waiting, with open arms, and as he begins to beg for a job his father interrupts with celebration and welcomes him home by placing a robe on his back and a ring on his finger…and he calls him son.   God’s greatest mission is the redemption of his children, and his greatest joy is when they return.

    In 1981 Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped from her front lawn at the age of eleven.  Her stepfather witnessed the abduction and actually tried to chase the kidnappers on a bicycle.  For the next 18 years, Jaycee’s parents searched for their missing daughter, until 1999 when she was found alive being held captive by her kidnappers.   She had been sexually and mentally abused for eighteen years.  She had two children of her own fathered by her kidnapper.  How do you think Jaycee’s parents felt about her dramatic return?  How do you think God feels when his children who have been abducted and abused by the Enemy return safely home?  No wonder He celebrates.

        Birthday’s were a pretty big event when I was growing up.  We had a $15 budget.  I usually asked for a plastic tackle box and a Zebco 33.  I also got to choose a flavor for a cake.  I always asked for lemon with lemon frosting.  It was a simple pan-cake with about a quarter inch of smooth, creamy, delicious frosting.  In a way I like to think Heaven smelled like lemons the day I turned toward my Father.  It was my discovery of the fact that God could love the Beast because He saw the Beauty that led me to repentance. When I repented and returned to my Father a great celebration broke out with rejoicing in the Kingdom.  I remember falling on my knees and begging God to forgive me, praying that I might someone just squeeze through the door of Heaven and feed the pigs but I underestimated my Father’s heart.   That day, Heaven filled with the smell of lemon cake and my name was engraved on a gold Zebco 33.  And while He prepared a room for me with a warm bread pillow, the other Saints joined my beloved pink Flossie in cheering me on toward completing this great, sacred race now set before me.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.  And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?  If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.  Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!  Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. “…the book of Hebrews

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A SUFFERING GOD (Warning: graphic examples)


I have spent twenty years in personal, relational ministry with only seven of these as a paid staff person.   The other thirteen years I worked a normal job and committed my free time to the pursuit of young people in the name of Christ.  I can tell you this: ministry is breathtaking but heartbreaking.  During these years of incredible friendships and discipleship, I have also grieved greatly over the suffering of my friends.  I have become familiar with the pain of rejection and the almost unbearable burden of loving someone who self-destructs.  Although my heart has been hurt and my faith has been challenged, I have also had my mind renewed and my hope emboldened.  There were people I love, and still love, who choose not to follow Jesus, and there are many still who wrestle with accepting him as both Savior and Lord.  Part of their struggle could be connected to my poor leadership but I also know we both struggle because we share a common Enemy.  I have had a front row seat to the consequences of rampant sexual misconduct, the scars and wounds of physical abuse, the damage and destruction of drugs, and even the sting of death by suicide.  I have watched my friends suffer.  I have watched them bleed.  I have watched them cry.  I have tried, honestly I have tried, to love these people the best I know how and yet the suffering seems endless.  And yet it is in this painful process of loving others I have come to know the heart of my Father.   I know his heart is broken.  I know why his Son wept and I know why his Son had to die… because when you love someone your greatest concern is their suffering and your greatest act of kindness is to become personally acquainted with their suffering to enable your heart for their care and rescue.

     Almost everyone has heard the expression, “walk a mile in my shoes.” It means that to understand people it would be helpful to live as they live, experience life on their terms.  To truly love someone you need to know their story, you need to become familiar with all that has happened to them, you need to know all the pieces of the puzzle to get the big picture.  And it is fascinating that God looked down on man and decided to do exactly this, to enter into the human experience.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.”

    When we read the New Testament account of the life of Jesus a few things become very apparent.  One, as much as He missed his Father,  Jesus appeared to fully enjoy his experience with man in spite of the fact his visit was heartbreaking. You follow Him through the gospels and you find a Savior whose heart is aware of the crisis of his creation, a Savior who engages the marginalized people of society, a Savior who is actively loving, helping, and serving broken mankind.  He is not untouched.  He has children on his lap, women clinging to his leg, and men leaning on his shoulder.  For four thousand years he has endured the separation  of his children created by  sin and now among us again He embraces the moment.  With us He speaks the mysteries of God and talks about how man must be born again. With us He eats and drinks and talks about never thirsting or hungering again.   With us He leads us to repentance referring to us as lost sheep and precious coins.  With us He defends us and loves us by not defending himself as He is hung on a cross.  And when it comes time to say good-bye, Our Savior once again reaches out to touch us but this time He washes our feet.  (crying)  The Creator washed the creation’s feet.

    Two, He intentionally limited his power to familiarize himself with our human sufferings.   He did this to prepare himself to become not only a sacrifice for our sin but also the perfect high priest, our advocate before God. This is the equivalent of me playing Frisbee golf left-handed with my friends.  I am very good at throwing a Frisbee but I restrain my power to level the playing field, to make our fellowship more interesting and prevent resentment toward my ability, and, to demonstrate my heart toward them.  More than demonstrating his power, Jesus was intent on demonstrating his love. By practicing restraint He developed an intimate rapport with the disciples.  I once heard that the fullness of God is a beautiful equally fearful thing to behold.  The disguise of his humanness allowed him to slowly reveal himself at a rate that his followers could receive it.  Also by subjecting himself to our trials and tribulations, he acquired a unique perspective of our suffering and we acquired a unique perspective of how He responds to it.  Jesus has a unique connection to mankind because he endured the fallen human experience and He has a unique connection to God because he is His only Son.  Who then is better to reconcile us to God within the act of the Cross?   As He slowly revealed the heart of God over the course of his life He was preparing our hearts for the unimaginable and unfathomable beauty and horror of Calvary were no man can stand and every knee shall bow as we look at the full glory of Love.

     During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

     Jesus entered into our suffering to reveal God’s love toward us and He also came to show us how powerful the relationship can be when we love God back.  And if we are to love God wouldn’t it be helpful to walk a mile in His shoes like He did in ours.  Through ministry we enter the heart of God.  Let’s take a moment and imagine we have a son, and it is Christmas.  We have been busy all morning preparing a huge meal and putting special gifts under the tree.  We cannot wait for him to come visit.  It has been many years.  We miss him dearly.  We love him and think about him all the time.  Instead he has chosen not to come home.  Rather than returning to our outstretched arms he has chosen to rape, torture, and kill a young boy and then dismember the body. Our son is Jeffery Dahmer.  Jeffery Dahmer tortured, raped, and dismembered seventeen male victims during his lifetime.  His victim’s bodies, and body parts, were found hidden in barrels, freezers, shallow graves, and closets.  I seriously doubt when his parents held their infant son in their arms they ever imagined the horror that he would grow up to be a serial killer.  Nor can I imagine the pain of discovering the details of how their son had thrown his life away and the horrific pain he had created for so many families in the process.  Jeffery’s father actually reached out to him after he was incarcerated for his crimes and mailed him literature about the Gospel, signifying his broken heart and hope for his son.   Neither his mother or father ever recanted their love for their son, a son the world hated. He was bludgeoned to death after a few years in prison by inmates with broomsticks.  Several families of his victims made it publicly known that they approved of his murder.    Imagine how it would feel to watch a son you love become something that is so evil that people rejoice at news of his death.  God knows how Jeffery’s parents felt.  He watches his children throw their lives away every day.  And these are children He loves deeply.  He watches them cheat each other, envy their neighbors, kill each other, prostitute their young, rape their women, spit on their Redeemer, rip the flesh off the back of their Savior, and mock their King.  He comes to us in our prison of sin and we reach through the bars and we choke Him. (crying)   Now you know how God feels.  God’s heart is broken. 

     When we devote ourselves to the fellowship of ministry we get acquainted with the grief and suffering of God.  As we stand in the gap with our patient, powerful Father and experience the sweat and blood of actively participating in the redemption of his creation we cannot help but love Him even more.  I have a deep respect for God and I must tell you, I cannot imagine how much I myself have made God suffer.   I am prone to wander.  I am a rebellious Son.   Grace, grace, amazing grace.  I must commit to true repentance that I might bring my Father joy in the midst of this unbearable sea of sin and sadness. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


 “When I was a kid, my father had this dog that started to get all weak and sickly. He takes it to the vet, he examines it and says a maggot must have laid eggs in the dog's butt. The baby maggots have crawled up, now they've started to grow, and eventually they're gonna eat the dog alive from the inside. He says it should be put to sleep, because it's an old dog anyway. But father won't do it. He takes the dog home, he puts it on the bed, he reaches up into the dog, picking out the maggots with his finger, one by one. It takes him all night, but he gets every last one. That dog outlived my father. That's love, Sam.
                                          from the movie   Addicted To Love
He Loves Me,
He Loves Me Not,
Yes, He Loves Me

ur definition of love is often shaped by where our heart has been.   Much like how when I eat at El-Patio I smell like Mexican Food or when I’ve been to Java Cafe I smell like coffee, our heart is embedded with the aroma of our past.  Our heart is both a memorial and a current affair, an assembly of prejudices and inclinations based upon both truth and lies.  Like a wounded animal that will bite the hand that feeds it; the wounded heart cannot always be trusted by its owner.   If we seek true affirmation it must come from the outside, it must come from God.
    While growing up I liked fishing, I had an affair with candy, but I loved my dog.   Charlie was an adorable mutt that looked like a worn-out black and white bathroom rug.  He liked peanut-butter sandwiches and day old scraps but wouldn’t pass up the chance to feast on road kill if it was warm.  Charlie and I shared a common enemy: the school bus.   The yellow monster interrupted my summer vacations and tried to make a rug out of Charlie twice.   He did what I wanted to do: chased, barked, and tried to bite the tires.

     We were on a family camping trip at Loretta Lynn’s when I got the news that my father had shot and killed Charlie, something about worms.  It was a difficult night of crying in my sleeping bag wondering how my loving father could have shot my best friend.  He was the only animal I have ever felt like I loved.  He was the only animal whose loss made me cry.  And very early in life I associated love with loss and tears.

    Because we simply couldn’t afford the vet, I now understand my father actually acted in a very loving way by ending Charlie’s pain but back then I doubted his judgment.   I didn’t necessarily believe eating too many cookies would stunt my growth or sitting too close to the television would give me cancer either.  My parents who said they loved me just seemed to be taking the fun and friends out of life.  The dual role of loving and protecting is confusing to a child, especially a child looking for affirmation.  When I try to understand the dilemma of loving and protecting someone I think about a friend of mine who was recently on a foreign mission trip to the Dominican Republic. 
     While enjoying his last day on the beach with schoolmates, a few of his friends waded out from the beach into very large waves and, unknowingly, a very dangerous rip-tide current. The next few minutes unraveled into a fight for their lives while they frantically swam for shore.  One of his friends was unable to break free from the rip tide and was dragged out to sea.  For the next three hours his friends and nearby boaters tried to reach him but the large waves kept pushing them back.  His friend’s body has never been recovered.

      In many ways parents must feel how my friend and those boaters felt while they painfully watch the person they love fight for their lives.   They want to help but sometimes there is nothing they can do.  There is indeed a terrible ocean of circumstances that make the task of parenting difficult.  While some parents have the benefit of having been raised by strong “swimmers,” others simply reflect the weaknesses of their own up- bringing.   Some are able to overcome their inadequate childhood and establish new patterns of affirmation and love in their own families, while for others the wounds received in their childhood reemerge in painful waves that negatively impact their own children.   I personally feel like my parents overcame their personal childhood challenges but I realize for many it simply feels as if their parents never attempted to save them, and for some even still, that their parents held them under water. While parents may be limited in their ability, we must also remember they are trying their best to balance guidance with affection and sometimes this is a difficult task.   As a matter of fact, often the pressure to raise a productive child is so overwhelming the parents often forget the power of affection and affirmation and instead focus on discipline and training, or even worse, they do nothing.  Missing the critical affirmation and affection of a parent, the child walks into other relationships in life crippled, drudging along with low self esteem, or often with pain masked either in anger or self pity.

        In these critical years of childhood we are also beginning to define love.  What does it mean to love somebody?  What does love feel like?  What does love look like?  And we get some pretty bad answers. For the girl whose father whispers “I love you,” as he molests her, love is a painful surrender of control. For the boy whose parents gave him everything but time, love is cheap substitution of expensive things.  For the kids whose parents appeared to set on the sideline when pornography ripped a hole in their heart, when alcohol attacked them like a cancer, or when they painfully exhausted themselves chasing popularity, love is passive.     And we incorrectly superimpose our poor definition of love and less than perfect experience of our earthly parents onto God our heavenly Father.  Corrupting the character of God with the infusion of our poor earthly experiences is a huge, but common, mistake.
     Rose and I were hanging out at Java Cafe when I started thinking through what love was and how to love when I remembered something I learned from the Chicken Whisperer:  you’ve gotta feel loved before your ready to love someone else.
     Two of prettiest girls I know are Blackberry and Rose.  I’ve known them both for almost ten years and I’ve watched them ripen on the vine, having grown up into wonderful maturing Christian women.  They both in some way struggled with missing the voice of affirmation from their earthly father and the wound was deep causing them a large amount of pain.  While some of the pain was the simple feeling that their father never brought himself to bear, they admit much of the pain came from the collateral damage of moving from guy to guy looking for the missing piece.  Their fragile hearts were broken many times leaving them struggling with deepening feelings of insecurities.  

     Rose, is probably my favorite female in the world.  I call her Rose because she migrates toward “Titanic” challenges.   She dug down deep a couple years ago and figured out she could run a marathon and survive without eating meat.  Her body is a well-oiled machine and her hair reminds me of a shampoo commercial.  Her heart is soft like cotton but she can be amusingly stubborn like plastic wrap on cds sometimes.  She jumps on board insurmountable challenges like biking 100 miles as if it was a simple matter of will power and then tries to recruit me for these voyages of death.  When I bring up the facts that we struggled to make a few laps around downtown Dyersburg and that my cushion was sore for three days, she simply reminds me of that fact that Lance Armstrong is proof of the possibility while totally ignoring the obvious icebergs in our path, icebergs like Timmy has no cushion on his tushion.

       Although she is beautiful, she hasn’t always felt beautiful and even went as far as struggling with an eating disorder which might be a product of that missing affirmation from her father, or the absence of feeling truly loved at times.  It is so strange to watch a beautiful woman like Rose struggle with her body image but in the story of the ugly duckling we are reminded how missing a critical piece of information about ourselves leads to the irony of the majestic swan believing they are a misfit among mallards.
     All our lives we are either trying to get love or give love.  Our definition of love, especially in childhood, is either slowly formed, or distorted, primarily by our interactions with relatives.   Depending on how close these relationships reflect the true and pure love of God they can either equip us or cripple us.  In the absence of affirmation the question of “what’s wrong with me” lingers.  This question must be answered, or the crippled heart will inappropriately, under the disguise of interest, try to earn approval.  Thus the relationship constantly teeters on maintaining a certain level of approval.  Whereas a God affirmed person simply loves for the joy of loving, the doubting heart’s enjoyment of love is shifted to anticipation of how well the other person responds.  This is tragic.  A myriad of circumstances can limit or even completely eliminate any response.  And more often than not these circumstances are not even related to the doubting heart’s efforts.  If my business if failing, I will not be enthusiastic about a great dinner.  If my stomach is hurting, I will not be enthusiastic about a great dinner.  If I do not like asparagus, I will not be enthusiastic about asparagus casserole.  None of these are negatives related to the person preparing the meal but can be received in such matter because a certain level of approval is absent. The success of the relationship almost depends on the world being perfect.   With affirmation the heart is set free to love within a world that it less than perfect.  The discovery of true love is life changing enabling a once doubting heart to become a spring of living water.

     The Chicken Whisperer not only understood love, he defined love.  The Chicken Whisperer had a great father.   And the outside affirmation that came from his father enabled him to do something amazing:  it allowed him to affirm you and me, all of God’s other children, it allowed him to love us completely and deeply, it allowed to him to free us from doubt and enter into the joy for which we were created.   Jesus is the Chicken Whisperer.