I hope you don’t tire of me using my daughters as muses for my blogs.  Because they’re brilliant at it.

It happened again last night at the dinner table–one of my favorite times of the day.  It’s like warming your hands at a fire at the end of these longer, colder fall days, after being busily scattered in five different directions: at school, teaching English classes with refugees, sharing a great sub from Mario’s at Rick Imbordino’s house over lunch, playing soccer in the rain, then coming back together to share our stories around the warmth of God’s presence at our table.  As a dad and teacher, I often try to take advantage of these times by asking questions to nudge us beyond the light, lovely and often silly conversations which can characterize our mealtimes together.  My wife’s been reading Skye Jethani’s book With lately–through our discussions together about it, we’ve been especially challenged to consider how we choose to live out our relationship with Christ:  under Him, over Him, for Him or with Him.

So, in light of Skye’s book, I asked my girls to think about their day and how they experienced God with them.  Without a moment’s hesitation, Ellie piped up first:  she said she felt God helping her to figure out how to spell the word “beginning” in class yesterday–what a simple, meaningful way for a first grader to acknowledge God’s help in her life–when I think, so often as proud parents, we’re prone to fawning over “how smart she is”, letting her take all the credit.  Anna then responded by sharing how God helped her to make a friend and be a friend.  Finally, Maggie commented how, on the bus ride home, she noticed a particularly beautiful stand of trees, aflame with the colors of fall, moving her to admire God’s beautiful creation.  All three girls, within a few minutes, able to clearly articulate beautifully appropriate examples of their Immanuel–“God with them”.

As I think about God with me this morning, I’m inspired by:

  • the simple joy of lighting three candles in the front of Warrenville’s sanctuary, celebrating a dad (after 40 plus years!), a daughter and a son-in-law, committing their lives to following Christ in the last two weeks.
  • a man named Vince calling me at the church office last week to ask for prayer for his recently diagnosed lymphoma and celebrating the good news today that his throat tumor has noticeably shrunk
  • the good news that God is using dear Sally Miller as a prayer minister at a local hospital, in the midst of a demanding internship, to help people in crisis remember God with them in some of their darkest moments
  • receiving an e-mail from former colleagues who met in Cambodia, now married, and joyfully serving both God and children with facial deformities at Koutiala Hospital in Mali
  • the growing burden in me to pray for the people of Blanchard Alliance Church and to inspire them to do the same as they live their life with God everyday where they are.

How has God been with you lately?

Maybe you can warm somebody’s hands with your good news around the table tonight.