Character Study


The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 2:9 NIV



Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3 NIV

Personal Parables

Flashes of Brilliance

In my attempt to be a good mother, I check in with my college son with a text or phone call on the weekends. Saturday was no exception as I sent the simple message, “Hi.”

He replied, “Light saber fencing can’t talk.”

Two images flashed through my mind. The first was a disheveled version of Obi-Wan Kenobi in a Skillet T-shirt and faded black jeans. The second was a little boy, holding one of three toy light sabers and standing beside a garbage can.

That second one was a brilliant parenting moment.

A mother becomes concerned about the childish barbarism of her sons pummeling one another with plastic, collapsible weaponry. She grows weary of replacing such cheap replicas to appease them. She runs out of patience and bandages. Consequently, she demands her sons collect their light sabers and throw them in the trash. The youngest, still believing everything in life is a game, tosses his treasure aside without a moment’s hesitation. The middle one releases it with relief and regret. He is learning that wielding any weapon requires self-control. The oldest experiences realization’s impact. Loss comes as a result of unwise actions, especially begging for a toy he is not yet responsible to use correctly.

Thankfully, children grow. Mothers can, too.

That first image brightened my countenance and my parental perspective.

A smile crosses my face knowing my nineteen-year-old still believes everything in life is a game. Rather than experiencing the regret of poor college-life choices, he is relieving stress with self-control. My former brilliant parenting moment is confirmed in knowing he learned from my correction at the garbage can.

He tossed aside a temporary treasure without losing lasting understanding, responsibility, and wisdom.

In my next brilliant parenting moment, I typed back, without hesitation, “Carry on!”

Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6 NASB




It is Homecoming Weekend.

I could have gone to my twentieth college reunion. I thought the family might trek down to our oldest son’s college and take in the festivities there.

Instead, I find myself sitting with my nineteen-year-old on a park bench by a pond near one of my favorite coffeehouses. While the changed leaves drift from branches and skitter along the path, we chat.

So, looking back, we did well to home school you?

I’m more prepared than most of the guys I know.

He reveals new perspectives from those years like rings on a crosscut-stump. We discuss the reason we transplanted ourselves from the public school playground to our own backyard, the thin drought years when we almost gave up, the thick saturated times of learning that sustained us.

No longer an acorn or swaying sapling, this solid oak tells about discussing politics and religion with his college friends. When he expressed his not-condone-but-neither-condemn belief, one said, Finally, a Christian who gets it! That’s why I like you.

I’m just doing what I’ve done since I was six, he says to me.

I remember planting that seed his kindergarten year–You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but you do need to be kind to everyone. It is good he reminds me. I realize I have forgotten my own words of wisdom recently.

On this Homecoming Weekend, I see how his branches still intertwine with mine, yet reach and spread to make his own patch of shade. My bark is a bit craggier than his, but the pattern matches. He remains rooted, here and there, right where he belongs.

Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Proverbs 19:20-21 NIV