How much..


Sometimes, I’m a terrible father.

My daughter is eight years old. She’ll be nine in just a few months. We’ve been reading together regularly at night for the last several years. And Monday night was the first time we’ve ever experienced the warm and wonderfully tender book, “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney.

I know.

With this level of carelessness, why do they let me raise children?

I actually had never even heard of the book until the other day. I was listening to a Taylor Swift song (don’t hate!). This particular song makes me cry every time I hear it (before you judge, go and listen to it yourself. If it doesn’t bring tears to your eyes – especially if you’re a parent – then you have no soul). Anyway, one of the lines in the song is “I love you to the moon and back.” This intrigued me. Was it something particular to this song or a quote from somewhere else? So I googled it. And sure enough, it was loosely taken from this book about a little nut brown hare and his father.

Instead of reading it, I searched for it on youtube (this is 2013, y’all!). I found it and watched the entire animated story unfold. In the book, the child goes to great length to let his father know just how much he loves him. Each time, the father shows his son he loves his even more. The final thing little nut brown hare says to big nut brown hare before he dozes off is “I love you right up to the moon.”

The father’s whisper to his already sleeping child is, “I love you right up to the moon…and back.”

What I loved most about the story is the idea of family members trying to “outdo” each other with their love. There are so many prideful, selfish, unhealthy ways we see competitiveness play out within the family. It’s nice to think about what it would look like if we all “competed” within our families to love each other the most boldly, the most daringly, the most sacrificially, the most completely.

I knew I had to share this with my daughter the first chance I got.

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When I was young, time was like water from a garden hose.

Flowing freely, limitless supply.

I could afford to run it all day long.

Play in it, wash with it, drink from it, water the flowers.

I had all the time I needed…

That was then.

Now, time is like water contained in a bucket.

It’s limited, and the portions I choose to drink from, play in, wash in, and water with represent a much larger percentage of the total I have left.

My children are like two sponges dipped in my water bucket.

They soak up time.

The older they get, the smaller the sponge gets, and the less time they soak up.

These sponges are in my hands, for now. The water contained in them all the time I have left with my children.

And I’m going to squeeze out every drop of joy and laughter and truth and goodness I can.

Until the water, the time, is all gone.

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Where I am

Let’s face it, in life there are certain people we just like being around more than others. Our hearts are connected, by DNA or some other strong bond, and life is better, fuller, funnier, more fulfilling when we are with these people.

The more time we spend with them, the better life becomes.

Sometimes we’re forced to go long stretches away from those we love the most. Sometimes, they’re gone for good. All of the time we’ve spent investing in the relationship, all of the positive results of the investment become either temporarily or permanently unavailable.

One of the great tragedies of this life is that we almost always eventually end up living apart from those we love the most.

In the gospel, we see this reality closing in on Jesus and his disciples.

In John 13, the scriptures say, “Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”

Jesus understood the ramifications of what was about to happen to Him on the lives of those who were closest to Him. The ones who loved Him most. His understanding led him, in chapter 14, to make this tender and beautiful promise to his friends: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Jesus gets it. He knows the power of being close, the importance of sharing the same space, the beauty of physical togetherness. What Jesus knew and understood took me a long time to figure out. I’ve lived long enough to finally learn life is richest and best when we spend our fleeting moments on this side of eternity with those we cherish and care about the most.

I think somewhere in my subconscious, I’ve known this all along. There have been opportunities to “advance my career” in other states over the years, and we walked away from those opportunities every time, mainly because of this truth:

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