Christian Living family

When Daddy is Away

It’s inevitable.

All of the chaos happens when I leave town. 

On Monday afternoon Kristen dropped me off at the San Diego airport. All was calm and under control in the McLane clan. Leaving Kristen for 5 days with Megan, (10) Paul, (7) and Jackson (4 months) was hard. I really didn’t want to leave them. We all wished I didn’t have to do this trip. Not because I was dreading going on the trip or being in Minnesota but simply because it’s been so long since I’ve been away. And I’ve really loved being home more.

At the same time we were prepared for daddy to be gone for a few days and for Kristen to manage the kids, and the house, and her job, and the kids school. (They go year-round, getting out July 15th) The older two are growing very independent… helpful even. In many ways, when I’m gone is like an exam. Can they handle more responsibility? Let’s hope so because they need to! 

I checked in with Kristen Monday night when I landed in Minneapolis. All was calm and everyone was tucked in and sleeping away.

My Tuesday was rushed in visiting with all of my fellow co-workers at YouthWorks, meetings, the normal. Then I got a call from a weird 619 number. I let it go to voice mail but quickly checked it. It said, “Mr. McLane, this is the nurse at Darnall Elementary School. We have Paul here in the office and he’s been injured on the playground. We’ll need you to come get him as soon as possible. Please call us right away.”

My heart leapt and sank at the same time. My instinct told me to grab my keys and go get him. But my reality was that I’m a 4 day drive away. I quickly connected with Kristen, who was dashing to get him.

He had broken his arm in an accident on the playground. Our first ER trip as parents and I missed it.

Kristen and I exchanged a hundred text messages while they were at the ER. Paul and Amy, dear friends, came to the rescue and took Megan and Jackson for the afternoon. While Paul waited nearly 3 hours to get an x-ray and a cast… I wasn’t there. 

It seems like this always happens. Important things happen when daddy is out-of-town. Last year, Kristen was rear-ended while I was on a trip to Washington state. I’ve missed kids losing teeth. Or winning an award at school. Or epic small group nights with major breakthroughs. Doctors appointments when Kristen was pregnant. Bed times, quiet times, crazy times, thrills, spills, shrills, and the immediate stills of realizing it’d all be OK.

When daddy is away stuff happens. Life doesn’t stop at home. It’s inevitable. And it kills me. And while I know Kristen is a trooper/super power mom/amazingly strong woman who can handle it all I want to be there, with her, when these things happen. I want to be there.

What does this have to do with you?

Our Heavenly Father is the same way. While He never leaves us sometimes we go far from Him. And life moves on. Stuff happens, chaos reigns, victories occur, and sometimes bones break. For every bed time, quiet time, crazy time, thrills, spills, shrills, and the immediate stills of realizing it’ll all be OK– Our Heavenly Father wants the intimacy of sharing those moments with us.

His heart breaks for His children when they are away from Him. He wants to be there.

Maybe it’s time for you to come home? 

So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20

I’m going home tomorrow to Kristen and the kids. But maybe today you need to go home and be with your Father? 

family illustrations Photo

Printable Lent Signs

Click to see full-size

This week we taught our kids about lent. So now that lent has begun, we wanted to make sure that we kept the long 40 days in front of us.

With that in mind I made some sweet signs to hang up around the house. That way, if we see someone cheating we can kindly remind them of their commitment to fast from the thing we have chosen as we prepare, as a family, for Easter.

If you’d like to download your own sign, I’ve added both a generic pdf and the original Photoshop files to my free downloads page. (Click the image below)

[download id=”14″]

For the record, here is what our family is giving up:

  • Megan – Reading in bed
  • Paul – Creamy peanut butter
  • Jackson – Everything but milk
  • Dad – Carbonated beverages
  • Mom – Twitter
  • Stoney (dog) – Chasing Lovely
  • Lovely (cat) – Bringing rodents in the house
  • Radicate (hamster) – Hiding treats
youth ministry

Climbing Trees

One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to climb trees.

Photo by Sugar Frizz via Flickr (Creative Commons)

From first grade to sixth grade the most consistent place you’d find me (When I disappeared, which was all the time!) would likely be up in a tree. Until fourth grade it was all about hanging out with friends (literally) and seeing how high we could climb or if we could be quiet enough that adults would walk by and not notice us. When we got a bit older we got more brave and would try to jump from tree to tree. It was a place where I learned how far I could push myself as well as if I could trust myself as I explored various trees.

But in my later elementary years I discovered the trees could be a wonderful place to be alone. They became a place to perch and listen to birds, watch squirrels, and one of my favorites… read books. I remember reading Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn and Shel Siverstein poems and everything by Jules Verne in trees. It was high in a pine tree in my back yard that I discovered that a book could take me somewhere far from home in the space between my ears.

My childhood wasn’t filled with horror but it wasn’t a parade of awesome either. Like a lot of families today– we had our messes. And for whatever reasons hanging out in trees and loosing myself in a book (or later, in a video game, or at the golf course) was a form of respite or escapism from the hard realities of my situation. While escapism is probably not the best way to deal with everything, disappearing from a place of disorder to one of order was healthy.

As I work with emerging adults who have lives strikingly similar to my own experience I wonder what their places of respite are. I’d like to think its our youth group or times when we’re together doing something fun. But more likely, they are off to their own set of trees, wherever that may be, to find sanity in chaos.

What was your place of respite as a kid?

How would you discover the place of respite for the students in your ministry?