Why It’s Pointless To Bargain With God

Dear Lewis,

Our family has spent the past few weeks getting ready for a major change. For the next several months we’re going to live with your grandma and grandpa. I don’t want to scare you, but I do want to be honest with you – you’re going to live in the suburbs for a while.

Lewis, sometimes you have to spend seasons of your life in places you’d rather not be. I can assure you, if God leads you there it will be worth it, and you will get far more than you bargained for.

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What I Learned From Tarzan’s Dad

Dear Lewis,

This morning, you took a giant step toward becoming a man: you watched the 1999 Disney movie Tarzan. As the movie played, we played. We wrestled, rode your tiger Wheely Bug, built towering edifices of letter-embossed blocks, and, when our stomachs growled, we ate chicken and beef while not wearing shirts.

In short, we behaved like men.

By the time the credits began to roll, and Phil Collins sang his final song, you were exhausted. You, my fierce jungle man, laid your head across my lap, and sucked on your pacifier. As I stroked your hair I replayed the movie in my head. The storyteller in me identified the movie’s theme, the story beats and plot points.

However, the dad in me zeroed in on the lesson learned by Tarzan’s father figure, Kerchak the gorilla.

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It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times

Dear Lewis,

Yesterday you embarked on an epic adventure. You left the apartment around 9:30am and walked 8 blocks to the train stop. As you rode along, you watched the world around you with wide-eyed wonder. Your first time on the train you rode the rails like a pro. Two trains, one transfer, and forty minutes later you arrived at the airport.

But your adventure had only just begun.

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You’ll Get There: A Letter From Dustin Dean

Dear Lewis,

I’m Dustin, one of your mom and pop’s friends.

Now, I don’t know if I’ll be around one way or the other to get to know the amazing young man I have no doubt you’ll become, but I’ve had the pleasure of being your dad’s friend for some time now, as well as your mom’s, and Uncle Nik’s. I even flew back to Kansas City and St. Louis to meet your Nani and Papa once upon a time.

Today is the party celebrating your first birthday, and also the first time I’ll have the pleasure of meeting you. I asked your old man what you might need, or what he might like to see you get.

Now, I asked him to keep in mind who was asking. Mostly because I’m almost always broke – and left to my own devices I might have gotten myself in trouble.

Long story short, I’m kind of a jackass.

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The 135-Day Life Of My Hero: Corbin McHenry

Dear Lewis,

I have a handful of heroes. Most of them you’ll meet at some point in your life. There are three, however, you probably won’t. I’ve never even met them. But they’ve changed our family forever.

Corbin, Kara and Shane McHenry came into our lives while you were still in your mom’s belly. Corbin was born on April 4th, 2013 with a rare genetic condition called Trisomy 13.

Trisomy 13 affects almost all the organs, so doctors say the condition is incompatible with life. The doctors told Corbin’s parents he had less than a 1% chance of being born alive.

Lewis, with God, statistics can be overcome.

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The Plan Of A Lifetime: A Letter From Papa

Dear Lewis,

I’m in an airplane as I write this, flying with your Nani to see some good friends in a country called Guatemala. When you get older you and I will go visit them, and we can climb a live volcano and throw stuff in the lava just to watch it burn (your Uncle Nik and I did that once and it was awesome – except when I burned my eyelashes and eyebrows off and thought for a minute that I was blind).  We’ll tell your mom that we’re going to Ted Drewes for ice cream – by the time we’re found out we should be halfway to Mexico.

Anyway, I wanted to write you to tell you about something that I am just now beginning to understand about God, something that I would have never begun to grasp if it weren’t for your dad and you.

Here it is: the God of the Bible is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It may not sound that exciting to you, so let me tell you what I mean.

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When We Recognize God’s Voice

Dear Lewis,

It finally happened. There’s not a doubt in my mind. It took 5 months and 11 days, but it happened.

Your mom called this afternoon to talk about buying a basket she’d found to hold your toys. When I responded, she couldn’t hear me because you were making loud cooing noises and excited squeals. It took her a minute, but she got you to be quiet, and we finished our conversation.

A few hours later she called again. And, again, she couldn’t hear what I was saying because of the noises you were making.

Right before I left work your mom called to ask if I’d stop off to get a pizza for dinner. As I tried to ask what toppings she wanted you started in with your high-pitched squeals and Gollum-like cackles.

Your Uncle Josh called while I was waiting at the pizza place. We had a good chat that ended right as I was opening the door to our apartment. I stood in the entryway, arrested by your bright eyes and broad smile. That’s when your mom said it:

“He recognizes your voice.”

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Wisdom Literature: Put Me in the Zoo

Dear Lewis,

Once upon a time there was a man who was rarely seen without a book in his hands. He loved all kinds of books. Classics, like The Brothers Karamazov. Epic fantasies like the Lord of the Rings. Books by spiritual giants such as C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton and D.L. Moody.

Then, the goblin prince was born. The man who loved books was charged with becoming the goblin prince’s servant, caring for the prince night and day. For months the servant was unable to read the books he loved.

One day, while the man was scrubbing the prince’s dishes he felt a tug at his pants. The prince had brought his servant a present: a hardback book. Although it was small, brightly colored, and written by an unfamiliar author, the servant was grateful for the chance to read again.

So the servant escorted the goblin prince to the royal play mat, and then began reading Put Me in the Zoo, by Robert Lopshire.

The story would change the servant’s life forever.

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Silent, Not Absent

Dear Lewis,

I’ll admit: a lot of the gaps in my letters have been because of laziness. This last week was different.

Your Uncle Josh was in town, so we hung out with him as much as we could. Most of Sunday we were with Uncle Dago and Aunt Niki. You and I spent Monday night walking the city while mama was at a yoga class. I’ve been a little under the weather the last two days, but we’ve still watched your favorite show, Frasier, when I haven’t been sleeping.

What I’m trying to say is that I haven’t had a lot of free time to write this week because I’ve been busy being with you. As you get older and life gets crazier this is probably how it’s going to be most of the time. Since this is my special way of conveying my thoughts and love to you I’ll understand if you’re disappointed by my silence.

I’ll understand because that’s where I am with God right now.

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A Novel Failure

Dear Lewis,

The average novel is approximately 100,000 words. As of tonight I am at 1500 in my current one. That means I’m only about 1% of the way there. But I’ve made it farther than 99% of people ever do.

Ray Bradbury once said you have to write a million words of fiction before you know what you’re doing, before you’re a real author. Total, I’ve penned over 300,000 words of fiction, so I’m over 30% of the way there. My 300,000th word was better than my first, but the first was no less important. The first led to the second, which led to the 300,000th.

That’s putting a positive spin on it. The fact remains: so far, I’ve failed to write a good novel.

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