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Fear is fun to blame

~ from Jon Acuff today ~
A few months ago I had a conversation with my wife Jenny at our dinner table. Here’s how it went:

Jon: I’m too afraid to write this book.
Jenny: No, you’re too lazy, but fear is fun to blame because then it’s not your fault.
Jon (and the chorus of millions): Grenade.

How many times have I blamed fear?
I’m just a shy person.
I don’t have the capability.
I don’t have the experience.
I couldn’t stand up to the dissenters.

When fear takes the fall, I don’t have to.

Fear is fun to blame. It excuses us from doing so many things we are meant to. Addressing them, fixing them, overcoming them.

Fear not, the angel said.
But I can’t…
I know you can’t, but God can.
Do you believe this?
Then be not afraid.
Let God be.

Fear is fun to blame. But courage is called for. All it takes is one. Who will go for me?

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Perfectly Proportioned

IMG_9847It’s empty now.
Empty of the thimble that belonged to Mom
and the fragile figurine. Gone is the
tiny pot with matching tea cups,
spattered in blue paint. And the
mini toilet seat with lifting lid.

Even the infant starfish
that accidentally tagged along
in our dive bag is somewhere’s else.
So many treasures,
gone missing or
set aside for later days.

It’s empty now.
As it has been for some time,
gathering dust and watching:
three children grow bold and strong,
several pairs of pups
playing and loving their ways into
hearts that will never be without them.
A father learn to lead without compelling
and a mother learn to follow without resisting.

It’s empty now.
And yet…

Each opening is perfectly sized:
More e’s than q’s,
more s’s than w’s,
but r’s and h’s, nearly the same.
The printer knows,
What runs low he replaces, because
What is receive without e’s?
What is suppose without s’s?

And I?

IMG_9849I am perfectly proportioned
for the letters meant
for the words I’m to share
in the notes, cards, and messages,
in the conversations and calls,
in the texts and emails.
Yes, even the poems, posts, and prose
are already supplied,
as are the comments, both
spoken and unspoken.
A work in progress, that listening.

“I’m not empty!” says the printer’s tray,
sounding a bit offended.
“I’m perfectly proportioned – to the very last letter –
to hold the words you will convey
with your life.”

I want to write the book my kids want to keep

My bookshelves are piled high with titles from the past. Books I purchased because they were assigned. Books I used for reference. Books I consulted. Books that taught me how. Books that showed me where. Books, books, books, books!

So many, in fact, that I couldn’t read many of the spines, because we were long past setting them neatly side by side. They were piled in front and slipped in between and laid on top. It had been a long time since we had visited these old friends. Couldn’t we dispense with a few?

In fact, we could. After sorting and sifting, the girls and I filled several boxes with the books whose time had come and gone. They were entertaining back then, but now they could belong to someone else. Except a few.

book shelves for kids

As I looked on, my girls set a aside a few of the books, a very select bunch. Some hard cover, some soft copy, some thick and tall and some thin and flimsy. The reflection of each of these shone in their eyes, a recollection, a fond memory, or a connection to the characters, I’m not sure.

“Oh Mom, we have to save Angelina Ballerina,” my nearly 25 year old daughter said.

“And Tacky, we have to keep him,” said my 18 year old, recalling the protagonist penguin who was the hero of her second grade classroom.

Somehow, over these many years, the impact of the stories has remained. Just picking up the book stirs feeling and memories they don’t want to give away. That feeling is theirs and not meant for another. These are keepers, these few. We must save them.

I must confess, there were a few I set in the keep pile as well. A Light in the Attic, Winnie the Pooh, Make Way for Ducklings, and a few others. Upstairs in her room, my middle daughter has sequestered many titles that are too precious even to risk to the basement shelves. Among them, The Pokey Little Puppy, I know this without even looking. That was the book she pretended to read to me because she had memorized all the words. It’s value is but memory and yet it’s alive and well twenty plus years later.

Now there is plenty of space on our shelves to see the scant collection of titles that remain. I scan the remnants and smile. What treasures these are.

I’m sure that their authors didn’t set out to write a “classic” or “great literature.” They just started with an idea and a page. And a love for children. Surely, that’s so, because they are loving them still, in a way still so tangible that simply hefting the book brings it back.

I want to love like that.

I want to write the book my kids want to keep.

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