I wanna be in the Light

 

 

Light pouring in from the window this morning provided a great example to attempt answering some questions Ava had.

Occasionally (probably more than that) we give quick answers that fall way short in explaining something on a level kids can understand.

Ava might smile and nod but then she wakes up with more questions, like she did this morning.

So here’s the plot:  Last night after a long awesome day at Six Flags, we were talking about the friend we brought with us, Anna Grace, and how our friends will influence us in good and bad ways, and how we need to choose those friends wisely.  Some friends might be more like role models for us to look up to with our ultimate (most important) desire to be like Jesus!
So we used her friend Anna Grace (who at 13 yrs old modeled incredible behavior at Six Flags yesterday) as a strong example of someone to look up to and how to behave, which we learned this morning can be confusing for an 8yr old.

She translated this to mean she should be like Anna Grace and maybe not be herself. As if she wasn’t enough and we wanted her to be different or we didn’t like who she was, which she revealed to me with eyes full of tears.

Broke my heart to smithereens.

I quickly said, “Oh Ava, no way sweetheart, there is only one you and we LOVE who you are.  We wouldn’t change you for the world.”

I continued, “Acting like someone and looking up to someone, as a way to behave, are 2 different things.  When you see Jesus reflected in someone, that’s a good person to be friends with and look up to, because they will influence you and ultimately you want to be like Jesus!”

Understanding this at an early age is HUGE but difficult to communicate.  How the people or things we let influence us will be reflected in our lives one way or another etc.

So while I was fumbling through explaining this, the light was dancing off our feet… and the idea came to me…  Or God just knew I was needing help!

I began moving my feet in and out of the light.

When my foot is in the light, it is reflecting light and when it’s in the shadows, it is covered in darkness.

God desires us to be children of light and have relationships that encourage us to be in the light as well.

As this started sinking in she asked who I looked up to, so I listed several people like our pastor Andy Stanley, my dad, Steven Curtis Chapman and a few others, also giving her examples of friends I have chosen to be good influences on me even as an adult.

“Mommy doesn’t want me to ‘Be’ these people, but loves when I have good men in my life influencing me, to help me grow as a husband and father and follower of Jesus.”

“That’s what we meant when we were using Anna Grace as an example and as someone we were very impressed with… We clearly see Jesus in her, and that’s a great thing!  She is a great friend to have and to look up to!”

her facial expressions revealed she was understanding and growing in that very moment.

We told her to expect us to be pointing out people like this for many years to come, because the people we are friends with WILL influence you and as a result WILL leave something with you… And we want it to be as light-filled as possible.

So we took that picture above, smiled and went on with our day.

And now as I reflect, at the end of the day, this was an unplanned moment, but so grateful we had it, 1 talk out of 10,000 I’m sure I’ll get to have.  And I’m pretty sure I learned more in explaining it than she did.

Here’s some scripture I used to unpack it with, as truth from God’s word not just her dad’s opinion 🙂

“Do everything without complaining and arguing… shining like bright lights in a world of darkness”
(‭Phil‬ ‭2‬:‭14-15‬)

“God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all…. And if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other”
(1 John‬ ‭1‬:‭5-7‬)

“If we walk with the wise, we will grow wise; but a companion of fools will suffer harm”
(Prov 13:20)

To wrap up, I quoted the once popular DC Talk song, which says it best I think:

I wanna be in the light,
as you are in the light.
I wanna shine like the stars in the Heavens.
Oh, Lord be my light
and be my Salvation
’cause all I want is to be in the light.

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Jenner Opinions and the Talk about Town

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There is SOOOO much “wisdom” on public display currently, regarding a topic most didn’t care about the day before.
Or maybe you care, but when did you become an expert on it?
Honestly, it’s like a Golden Corral Smorgasbord of what everyone thinks.
And the quality is about the same.

I read the bible too, but didn’t realize its intention was to have the pages torn out, balled up and thrown at others.
It’s as if someone changed how a doughnut was made, we got ticked and all suddenly became expert doughnut makers.
(doughnut is the 1st thing I thought of cause I’m hungry)

But for real, how dare someone in a broken world, act in a broken way, because they are… broken?

How dare someone else show kindness or forgiviness to someone else “undeserving”, as if they had been shown that themselves… pssshhhh….

What’s that? You’re not clear on what is right or wrong or what Jesus would do?
So rather than voice your confusion or anger at the broken stuff… you just show kindness and save your opinions?
And let me guess… you got attacked for that too.
Not bold enough in your page from the bible flinging…

I’ve seen a lot of opinions (scriptural and not) flying around like deflated footballs, but this is all I keep coming back to regarding opinions:

“Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you…” – James 1:19

Most of us get angry and then start typing.
I know i’ve done it.
Even had to wake up and delete it in the night before you read it smile emoticon
But, we blog, tweet, post and share our opinions or some scripture that supports our angle… and while that is permissible, it just feels… not wise… when I step back and just look at it all.

That scripture above offers no opinion on the topic, rather an attitude we should have that requires self control.
Something that seems to fly out the window when we get our angry opinion rolling like a hamster wheel.

Regarding the talk of the town, I wonder if the world would stop turning if we were to be slower on the quick-draw opinions and false wisdom, parading it around to feed our closet arrogance of how much we think we know?

Read that verse in James again, pause on your opinion today and see how that time could be better used face to face, letting your ears lead the way.

To quote my friend Carlos Whittaker “It’s better that way”  –  but than again… this is all just my opinion.

You’re missing it

I recently introduced my girls to one of my FAVORITE movies as a kid…
Hook, starring Robin Williams.

I once again felt all the wonder that I felt as a kid watching it.  How hard I tried to fly.. When no one was looking.  But that’s not the point of this post.
(Though I still hope flying is a reality in Heaven and If it’s not, since we can’t die in our new bodies, you’ll surely find me jumping off things “flying”)

Okay back to the point.
There’s a scene that I didn’t fully understand or appreciate as a kid.
It’s the moment when Peter is about to accept a phone call when his wife grabs it and launches it out the window.

At this point in the movie, he has consistently given Brad (work friend) first dibs on his attention. Missing his son’s big game and being distracted during his daughter’s play.

So finally, they are in London and a bad news phone call come through that angers Peter.
He blows up at his family and his wife has had enough.

That’s when this moment in the video happens.

I don’t want to miss it.

But I know I am… and more than I want to admit.

I don’t want to get anyone on the defensive here so I’ll only shoot at myself.
It’s not wrong to work. And you will HAVE to miss things, just a reality of reponsibility and children don’t fully understand that we can’t do anything, anytime they want.
That being said, it’s not the important things that steal my attention away and rob me of the special moments.
It’s the things I deem more important than they actually are that rob me.
My phone isn’t the enemy, just the messenger.

Confession: I have blown up, raised my voice and said things I regret.
And though it’s so clear to see when I’m watching this clip, how awful it looks and terrible that Peter takes things out on his family, when he is so clearly wrong, I still so easily miss it in my own life.
BTW, Apologizing as an adult to your kids is HUGE, and I’ve had to do it, but that’s not the focus of this post.

Distractions.

The phones have updated but the distractions are the same… So we have to choose.
We answer texts and scroll through instagram when someone is talking to our face.
It’s rude, but we do it. We grant someone else not with us, the permission to interrupt us.
We may not think we mark everything as urgent, but we give it the attention only real urgent things deserve. I’ve done this, I am guilty.
But I’ve had it done to me, and I NEVER LIKE IT.
I feel unimportant or boring to that person.
So… how do our kids feel over the 10+ years we get when they actually care and want our attention, as she says in the snippet.

The beauty of this movie is not just Peter’s discovery of who he really is, but in realizing the trade off he was making, while he still had time to change and make his days count.

An interesting thought:
If we could see our live’s in a movie right now, would we see ourselves as a dialed in parent, engaged in those fleeting moments or would it be clear to the audience “you are missing it!”  Are we aware of what we allow to consistently steal our attention?  Worse, are we aware but just don’t care cause we are numb.
I think Peter cared and was even aware, but needed a wake up call.

Maybe this could serve as a small little wake up call…. So… WAKE UP!!!

There’s still time… Don’t miss it.

2014-2015

New year is coming at us fast.
We are in Toronto, Canada where my wife is from, celebrating this year!
Love it here and LOVE my wife’s family.
Of course I have missed mine dearly and as usual, We have all been sick but still grateful to be here & invest in the memories my kids will cherish forever.

It’s 9pm, Reality check time… Lots to reflect on, but no time to do it.
I am currently taking a…. “Potty break” …and so I thought I’d use the 10 min of quiet time wisely.
One little girl is teething & being passed around like a piece of the richest chocolate cake, while the other 2 are playing a dance game!
*Pause for Instagram:

Shine bright like a diamond in 2015 Or try… #AvaTruthDarnell #RosalinGraceDarnell

A post shared by Casey Darnell (@caseydarnell) on

So I just found a brief moment to Reflect and type out all my thoughts in the next 10 min, compiled over a year!

This past year… 2014… Will be one I never forget as it carries many stories I will tell forever… Border stretching stories:
– we moved… 4x (long frustrating story)
– we faced our first real sickness with a child, lasting a very LONG scary month.
And though we came out healthy on the other-side, we learned much about ourselves and God used it to grow us beyond our “borders”
– I became a dad of 3 daughters when Eleanor Love was born Aug 5!!!!
She arrived in a very intensely scary way w/moments of fear I’ve never experienced.
(Way beyond my borders!)
– we put Ava in public school… Huge scary step for this private school raised boy. (Border alert)
– finally sold our home and bought a permanent one (included in moving 4x)
– finished out strong with a 20 hr drive to Canada to celebrate Christmas and the new year….
– and then last night I had to explain the difference between boys & girls to Ava…. The beginning of many long talks I will have on this matter in our home filled with GIRLS……….
Borders officially obliterated.

So there’s this popular song that says “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders… Take me deeper then my feet could ever wonder”

Quick note:
It’s way more enjoyable to sing then experience.
However… The reward, though painful at times, is worth it.

I sing a lot of songs that speak boldly of many things.
However, the older I get, and as the responsibilities grow, the more cautiously I sing them… With a focus like passing a hot cup of coffee to someone in a moving car.
That’s what this song kind of is to me.

Beyond my borders?!?
Borders bring a sense of what’s known and safe. Words like comfort and peace with ease of expectation come to mind.
This song is a BOLD request to make… But one that is heard by a more then ABLE God!
Because in these moments we learn, His power is just beginning when ours is ending.

And so, 2014 brought lots of joy and pain in these border moment.
Those 2 kind of held hands and skipped along together as we went through the year.

There’s so much My wife & I are learning I couldn’t hope to include it all in this post.
Nor have we come to the “hoped for” conclusion of many things still up in the air.
Lessons that will carry over into 2015 for us to learn.

In the end… I just want to say, He’s been faithful.
“My redeemer has been faithful and true” (SCC always says it best)

We don’t know everything about God and how He works and how he chooses to this or that…. And not do other things we beg for.
But we have decided at the end of 2014, He is still the one we will follow.
Not without doubts or fear.
Not because we are super spiritual or christian know it alls. (Though I act like it at times)
And definitely not because we think 2015 will be a “better year.”

Because….
We believe He is with us.
Never leaves us.
Cares for us and Keeps us and…
Keeps His promises
Until the day we arrive safely home with Him.

“My heart will sing and my soul rejoice” for His unfailing love has again proven better than life.

So,
May 2015 continue to bring Him glory ’cause,
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” Joshua 24:15

Happy New Year everyone!!!!

Casey, Anisa, Ava, Rosalin & Eleanor

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Glorious Interruption

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* Available on iTUNES HERE 

In 2008, a good friend of mine Ted Lowe asked me to help him with an idea he had for a Christmas Married Life event.

He wanted to call it “Glorious Interruption.”
The story of how the birth of Jesus, gloriously interrupted Mary and Joseph’s plan for their life and their marriage, and how that same baby, later would give up his life to gloriously interrupt ours.

So the hope was to have a song that would accompany this special night at our church and really drive the point home.
I was so honored he asked me and am grateful to finally share the song now…
6 years later!!! (reason: I signed a label and publishing deal, had a couple more babies, released a few other records and just kinda… forgot… to share the song.)

FREE RESOURCES:
Through the years I’ve been asked often about a track or lead sheet to play the song, so I’ve included those as well.
The lead sheet/lyrics are free below.
When you buy the song on iTunes it comes with a performace track as well to sing wherever/whenever you want!

To read/download the full story with musical accompaniment, visit:
http://marriedpeople.org/couples/2014/11/glorious-interruption/

AND check out @TedLowe for excellent resources for the marriages in your church!

LEAD SHEET:
Glorious Interruption(RHY-Ab) (right click to download)

LYRICS:
So many plans we had for tomorrow
All of them replaced by what happened today
How can it be that you are here with me
When all our dreams have been changed
It feels like a weight I never could carry
And so I pray you’ll give me the strength
Is it real that now we must leave and go away From everything

Glorious interruption
by the Son of God, the Messiah
Jesus, how precious is the life you will give up
To be part of us

Looking at you
how could we imagine
The love you’d bring
that we had not planned for
And though it seems you needed us
now we know that we We needed you more

Glorious interruption
by the Son of God, the Messiah
Jesus, how precious is the life you will give up
To be part of us

Become all that we know
Become all that we need
You are our only hope
You are our everything
So Draw us ever close
Show us who you are
The savior of the world
We’re holding in our arms

Shine Like Stars – Time to #BeRich

I love my church so much and am continuously blown away that I get the opportunity to play and write music sung in rooms full of the best people around.
One of my favorite things our church does is something called Be Rich.

Quick back story:
Be Rich is our annual giving and serving campaign—when our 6 churches in metro Atlanta and 24 partner churches domestically and internationally unleash a wave of generosity in our communities and around the world through our nonprofit partnerships—
that began in 2007 as a response to 1 Timothy 6:18,
“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds,
and to be generous and willing to share.”

So this year, when I was presented with the opportunity to contribute through music
– I was FLOORED.  I love writing songs and when I get the chance to write for something special like this, it’s humbling and exciting!
The song is called “Shine Like Stars” and is inspired from Philippians 2:15 and the theme Andy Stanley is taking us through for this year’s initiative.
We believe that what this verse says is true, that in self-centered culture, when we put others first, we will SHINE LIKE STARS!
The song had to be written and recorded quickly and the entire process took a team of rock stars to pull it off like Jared Hamilton, Evan McLaughlin, Todd Fields, Brad Bretz and so many others across all the churches.
Ultimately the song exists to help capture the theme and encourage us in the days ahead as we move forward in love and generosity that we believe can change the world –and the reputation of the Church in the world!

You can download the song for FREE here:
http://howtoberich.org/freesong/

And then maybe check out how else you can be a part either with our initiative or in your own local church and community! #BeRich14

“Shine Like Stars” Lyrics:

VERSE 1
A new day is dawning and love is on the move
For all who are broken, a light is breaking through
To the wounded and weary who’ve had enough
Hope is not that far

CHORUS
Wherever we are, We shine like stars
Wherever we go, We will take your heart
Carrying freedom, Bringing your kingdom to all the world
Cause when we love one another, we light up the dark
Wherever we are
We will shine like stars
Whoa oh oh oh oh, oh oh oh

VERSE 2
With one spark of kindness, the healing begins
Where dreams have been shattered, let hope shine again
In the here and now let compassion rise
Let mercy come alive

BRIDGE
Stars that light the way
Burning like a flame
With every act of love
Your Kingdom comes

For in us you put your light
And what was dead is now alive
Like a city on a hill
We will shine

Evidence of God: conversations with my daughter

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“Daddy how do we know where God is if we can’t see him?”

Children just know how to drop these questions on you at the craziest times.
Like this morning running out the door for school, which was actually “Walk to School Day!”
How convenient.
She also wanted to know about Satan and if he was still alive and where he was……. Soooo…… Yeah…..
I hadn’t even had coffee yet and Ava coming on strong with these big questions at 6:15am!!!
How do you even begin?!?
So on our brisk walk to school, I dove in… “Ava you know how when you can’t see me or I’m not here, you can see the evidence of where I’ve been?”
“Daddy what’s evidence mean?”
“Well Ava…. uhhhh….”

These are the moments that always stump me the most, trying to explain what certain words mean that she doesn’t understand but are needed to explain what I’m explaining!
Then I get down a rabbit trail explaining that word and then next thing you know… We are talking about penguins.
That didn’t exactly happen this morning but if you are a parent, you know what I’m talking about.
A child’s serious questions followed by limited attention span and constant drifting imagination.

I continued…
“Ava you see my pants over there and my shoes by the door and my dinner plate from last night… Yes daddy needs to clean up better… But you see all that stuff?
That’s the ‘evidence’ or stuff that tells you I was here and so if you walk in from school and don’t see ME, you can see my STUFF so you know I was here… I left evidence!”
“When we leave for school, mom will get up and see your bowl here in the kitchen and know what you had for breakfast and know you were here won’t she?! Even though she won’t see you. So just like that, all around us we see the EVIDENCE of God, where he’s been and what he’s doing.
We see His handiwork in sunrises and in beautiful creation just like I see your paintings hanging on the fridge.”

Psalm 19 says, “The heavens are declaring (painting or singing) the glory of God and the skies are shouting about his artwork!” (My version don’t sue me)

“Ava, we also see God on display with every act of kindness and love.
Every time we forgive or choose to put others first we see the evidence of God on display!”

James 1:17 says “every good and perfect gift is coming down from the Father of heavenly lights”
We can actually see God everywhere if we are looking and pay attention.

We talked a little more about question 1 and then came question 2!!!

“So daddy how do we know where the enemy is? Is he still alive?”

I told her in the same way we see the evidence or proof of God, we can see the same from the enemy.
We talked about how there are dark things in the world that are not how God originally wanted or created them to be but how a group of angels disobeyed God and were thrown out of Heaven. Since then they exist to ruin God’s created things and temp us to live our lives in darkness instead of light.
“Ava, You know how when you don’t tell the truth or when you do something you know you shouldn’t, you hide from us? Or how Rosa yesterday hid in the closet cause she pooped her pants?! (Gross!! But understandable) Just like Adam and Eve we feel ashamed and when we hide, we always hide in darkness.
The enemy loves darkness and wants us to run to it instead of running to God & letting Jesus love for us bring light into our lives.
So just like we see God in the good… We can see the enemy in the bad “stuff” of this world.
Everything that is not how God designed it to be and is broken from sin, is part of the enemies art-work.”

I told her how the enemy is very much active and still trying to destroy God’s plans and tempt us to live meaningless lives and not live for the things that God loves.

Where is he?
We don’t know for sure, but we do know he’s NOT everywhere like God.

He’s not near as powerful as God and though we don’t see Angels, good or bad, we know God’s word tells us they exist and are all around.
But most importantly we know God will crush the enemy.
You know how songs talk about conquering or defeating and winning?
Those are the words that remind us God will have the final say over our lives and this world… Not the enemy.
That’s the GOOD news!

“We don’t worry about the enemy and what he’s doing and we think on God and what He’s doing and trust Him… With all our questions and when we are afraid and even when sometimes it seems like the enemy is winning…
We remember what God’s word tells us… That Jesus stands in victory and so we have victory with Him!”

So, I did my best and honestly the conversation wasn’t as smooth as how I typed it here. A good bit of pausing and stuttering took place.
I had to fight back allowing any tone of frustration sneak in when she would ask what a word still means that I clearly explained 🙂

Also, in case I’m giving the impression I just farted out my opinions on the matter, I put some scripture references below that are what I drew from when trying to speak with confidence to my little 7 yr old.

I believe everything I said, though I question things myself and often let what the darkness is doing get more of my attention then what the light is doing.
I forget sometimes that though it seems the enemy is winning…
He in fact, is not.

We are seeing the evidence of war, of good and evil, but It’s a war already won. And I’m grateful I could tell Ava that this morning.

Upon which she saw the picture I took of the sunrise above and said, “Look dad, it’s God’s pants!”

How’s that for theology!!!

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Just a FEW References:

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. God has made a home in the heavens for the sun. (‭Psalms‬ ‭19‬:‭1-4‬ NLT)

Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?
But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15‬:‭55, 57‬ NLT)

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭2‬:‭10‬ NLT)

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭6‬:‭12‬ NLT)

(LONG reference but worth reading!)
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭18-22, 28, 31-32, 35, 37-39‬ NIV)

….there are many more, so please feel free to add in the comments below, but this is a good starting point.