Monthly Archives: February 2012

My Chicken Valentine

Back in March, I told you about my daughter’s chicken question:

“Dad, how come we can eat some eggs and other eggs have baby chickens in them?”

…and my brilliant answer to that question:

“Married chickens have baby chickens. If the chicken isn’t married, it has eggs we can eat.”

In The Parlement of Foules, Geoffrey Chaucer writes:

For this was on seynt Valentynes day,
Whan every foul cometh ther to chese his make,
Of every kinde, that men thenke may;
And that so huge a noyse gan they make,
That erthe and see, and tree, and every lake
So ful was, that unnethe was ther space
For me to stonde, so ful was al the place.

Isn’t that beautiful?

I guess I wasn’t so far off. Who knew that the romantic pursuits of our feathery friends would have SO much bearing on the interaction of lovers in the 21st century?

Valentine’s Day was first recognized as a day to commemorate martyrs of the third century. They called these martyrs “Valentines.” In the 14th century, Chaucer suggested we observe the mating habits of birds and make them our own. If the birds are doing it…and the bees are doing it…so should we. In the 20th and 21st centuries, Hallmark and ProFlowers suggested we send people cards that involved no thought whatsoever on the part of the lover, waning flowers in pretty vases, and mysterious chocolate candies in satin-covered, heart-shaped boxes in order to profess something to our lovers we should probably profess every day of our lives.

On a side note: Thank you ProFlowers for reminding me every day—if not twice a day—to send flowers to the girl who broke my heart shortly after Valentine’s Day last year…Thank you! OK…so she didn’t break my heart necessarily…but I still don’t need to be reminded every day for a month how I once loved and lost.

What was once a day to honor those who died because they adamantly confessed their faith in Jesus has literally become a mockery where we imitate birds and initiate our spring mating practices by sending a card, a dozen roses, and a heart-shaped box of chocolates to our prospective chickens.

Love was the true motivation of these martyrs who are supposed to be memorialized on this holiday. These martyrs loved sacrificially in the name of Christ, and Valentine’s Day should still commemorate how their sacrifice helped spread the love of Christ throughout the world.

I’m not suggesting giving up Valentine’s Day as a day to love those who mean the most to us. This is just my suggestion…take it as advice from someone who failed miserably in this area and has learned a little from his mistakes:

Tomorrow, instead of following the example of a chicken or a barn swallow, follow the example of these “Valentines” who gave their life so that the world may know true LOVE—the love of Jesus Christ. Give sacrificially to your lover. If she desires quality time and you have difficulty sitting down for more than five seconds…sit down with her for more than five seconds. If he loves it when the house is clean but you’re no June Cleaver…clean the house for him. If she’s into gifts…put a little effort into the gift you’re giving. Sacrifice something for the sake of your love…be a martyr…be a Valentine.

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

—John 15:12-13

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Failure

I spend my Sundays leading the children’s ministry at my church and occasionally I make it upstairs for the early “traditional” service to worship and hear God’s Word. It’s difficult for me to engage in worship with traditional hymns and liturgical prayers. I realize that true worship has more to do with me than with the music or the style, nevertheless, it’s still challenging to find my groove. As a response to that challenge, I worship at Timberline’s Wednesday night service while my children attend their Rangers and Missionettes programs. Last night at Timberline, Pastor Dick Foth referenced Mark Batterson’s new book The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Your Greatest Fears and he had us write out, or reflect upon, our biggest dream and greatest fear, and then circle them with our prayers.

I was praying within seconds. It didn’t take me long to determine my biggest dream (true contentment) and my greatest fear (failure as a father, husband, and servant of Christ). As a divorced father of two, I often feel as if I’m already dwelling within my greatest fear. I’ve failed as a husband, I feel as if I’ve failed as a father by making the lives of my children more difficult in a divided household. Furthermore, when I read certain texts in Scripture, I feel like I’ve failed as a follower of Jesus. As I continue to circle my fears with prayer, I’m realizing that the two are connected. I can never reach my dream of contentment until I overcome my fear of failure. Once I completely circle my fears, I can move toward circling my dreams. I’ve also come to the realization that God hasn’t been perpetuating my fears. He’s confirmed—time and time again—through the affirmation of others, the emotional stability and resiliency of my children, the health of my relationship with their mother, my strength and compassion as a man and future husband, and the growth and maturity of my relationship with Jesus Christ—which has grown exponentially since my divorce. God has answered my prayers…it’s just sometimes it’s not the answer for which I’m looking; the contentment I desire seems to emanate from my failures. As David Checkett said, “Success builds character, failure reveals it” I’m not entirely pleased that God chose to answer my prayers to overcome my fear of failure by allowing me to fail and grow through it…but I recognize
it as such.

“My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents and I lay them both at his feet.”

—Mahatma Gandhi

I’ve been studying the patriarchs over the past month and one thing I’ve noticed is how often these men—who were chosen and blessed by God—failed epically. Abraham doubted God’s promise that Sarah would have a child, so he slept with his maidservant Hagar in order to manipulate the situation. Abraham and Isaac tried to pass their wives off as their sisters. Jacob lied to his father and stole his brother Esau’s birthright and blessing. Jacob had two wives, who were sisters, and two concubines. Levi and Simeon avenged the rape of their sister Dinah and murdered the inhabitants of an entire city. Reuben slept with his father’s concubine, Bilhah. Jacob showed favoritism to his wife Rachel and their sons Joseph and Benjamin. Jacob’s sons with Leah and his two concubines sold their brother Joseph into slavery. Judah slept with his daughter-in-law Tamar.

In Judah’s defense, he did mistakenly think Tamar was a prostitute.

By the time I reached Genesis 50, I didn’t feel so bad about my own failures. If God can provide true contentment for that group of misfits…he surely can provide it for me. I’m still not thrilled when God answers my prayers through my own imperfections and failures. However, I realized that I do tend to grow more through my failures than I do through my successes.  And like Gandhi, I consider them blessings and intend on laying them directly at the feet of God!