I’m a pretty smart guy, most of the time, but every so often I am presented with a problem where my thinking is so inside the box that I miss the incredibly simple solution that has been staring me in the face for quite some time. This happened to me twice this week. The first involved a situation where I was performing some work that I really should have hired someone else to do on one of my projects but my budget is already tight so there I was standing in the rain trying to determine elevations on a series of anchor bolts. I set the first row with no issues but realized that I had been pretty lucky in some of my guesses and that with slightly different conditions I would find myself in a situation where the math got pretty sticky. So, in my vast wisdom I decided to create a spreadsheet to do all the work for me; to take the guesswork out of what I was doing. It was an extra step but it significantly minimized the potential for error or rework. I went back to my office and devised a spreadsheet to do exactly what I wanted, then I took my first row of data (that I had gotten lucky on) and plugged it in to my spreadsheet to validate the output I was getting, it worked like a champ. Nevertheless, I still wanted to test its functionality on another set of real data before I went too overboard with it.
Fast forward a day and I still haven’t had the time to test my spreadsheet and now I am being pressured by my contractor to maintain a schedule and get the elevations set. Enter the part where I should have hired someone who knew what they were doing… and had the time to do it. In a rush, I sent my spreadsheet to my iPad and took it out for a field demonstration. I input the data and set all the elevations per the output. Satisfied I had performed well I moved on to the next line of anchor bolts and started collecting data while my contractor began erecting steel work on the bolts I had just set. It was not too long before one of the guys came over and said, “hey boss, something doesn’t look quite right.” I stared past him at the row of columns and, sure enough, something did not look quite right. We went back and took some measurements and somehow the elevations did not add up.
To keep a long story short I’ll put it this way, I spent most of Friday trying to figure out my error only to discover that, had I been part of the design team for the Mars rover my spacecraft would have splattered itself across the face of the planet in futile effort to land 380’ below the surface. To clarify, I made a mistake in a sign convention halfway through my calculations that impacted only half of the elevations I had previously set. “Plus is positive, minus is negative! Oh let me do it!”
This past Tuesday I experienced a moment that was simultaneously soul-crushing and incredibly uplifting… Strangely enough it had nothing to do with how I voted. Leslie was at a women’s group so I was home alone with the three kids, a terrifying thought on the best of nights. This was not the best of nights. It had been a long day at work (in a several months long period of long days) and the kids had been acting up so I abbreviated our goodnight routine to get everyone to bed a little bit earlier. I kissed the boys goodnight and went back into the living room to sit down and hopefully get a little more work done before Leslie got home. I had not even sat down before I heard Nicolas crying; more than a little frustrated I stomped back down the hall and opened the door. “Why are you crying,” I demanded. Stumbling to get out his words, “you didn’t pray with us,” he said.
We are over the nine-month threshold since we took custody of him. In many ways it feels like he has been part of our family for much longer than that, and while it certainly feels like it has been much longer, nine months is an incredibly short time to adjust for a child who has been twice ripped away from his home. On one hand it was awesome to see that in the short period of time he has been with us this has become such a comforting part of the routine that he cries when it is missed, but where on earth was my head that night when it became something I skipped!?
I am not a perfect parent, at times I’m not even certain I am a good one, but I am fortunate that God gives me grace. I also consider myself very fortunate that my children give me an almost equal measure of grace. Is it any wonder that Jesus himself expressed such a great value for children? In so many ways they are capable of being more Christ-like than we are. Perhaps that is why Christ said that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are like these. Their transparency, their ability to show forgiveness and grace, their ability to take joy (true joy, mind you) from such small and simple pleasures; this is what we are called to be like. Jesus loves the little children, and so do I; I consider myself privileged indeed to be able to learn from them what Christ wants us to be.
While I am not there yet, I will one day soon be the father of four children who will all be in their teenage years at the same time and while the Bible says that Jesus loves the little children, strangely enough it does not say that Jesus loved the teenagers. The Bible also does not say when exactly it was that Satan rebelled but, my guess, he was probably 14 or 15.