(theology from my 5 year old)

We were sitting in my truck together outside of the Florida Mall in Orlando 2 days before Christmas. Ammaw and Pop (Grandma and Grandpa) were inside grabbing a few gifts. We had just picked them up from the airport. For my 5 year old son and me, it’s in these times of just casually talking together that we have the most significant conversations. And so it happened that day.

We decided to pray together for a 3 year old boy suffering from Meningitis. He is related to a friend in our church family. Caleb prayed for him to feel better and for his parents not to be too sad. Our prayer sparked a conversation in which Caleb said 2 very profound things.

I asked him if he knew that the Bible says we are to never ever stop praying. He said he did not know that. I asked him if he thought that meant just talking to God. He said it must mean listening to God, too. I asked him did he listen to God. He said yes. I asked him how he heard God speak to him. Here’s what he said – “I just hear him, Daddy. I just hear him in my mind.�

That led to me telling Caleb how thankful I am for him and how much God uses him to make me better. I asked him if he knew that – that he made his Daddy a better Daddy and a better person. He said he did know that. Then he said – “I make you better by slowing you down.�

Caleb definitely does make me better by slowing me down, making me remember daily what really matters. Thank you Caleb.

Here’s to us all listening to God and loving one another and making each other better. AND, having more of a 5 year old outlook.

Happy New Year!

(the good old Christmas letter)

Well, as we wrap up presents and another awesome year, here are a few of the Dukes family highlights from 2006. Hope you enjoy! We are so very thankful to know a God who came near and who continually shows His love to us through family and friends!

CALEB had a big year of firsts!!! He started off the year with his 1st ever soccer league at the local YMCA. We all went together on our 1st ever cruise (a Disney one nonetheless thanks to some dear friends). He attended his 1st ever basketball camp. He had his 1st day of school (Pre-K). He got his 1st bike and learned how to ride it. He learned how to swim. This fall, he turned 5. He still loves trains and space shuttles. And, his favorite thing to say right now is, “I have a brilliant idea!� He continues to be our pride and joy.
Chr 2006
This year, KATEY GRACE turned 2 and began to really show her personality as the sunshine of our family. All the talking she already did became understandable. We especially enjoyed her peaking out from the curtains in our room on the cruise and declaring “Surprise!!!� Every time a camera was around, she welcomed it with a big grin and a cheesy “cheeeeeeese.� The cutest of all is probably her invitation to play hide and seek. She looks at you with her stunning beauty and captivating blue eyes and asks, “One, tu, tree, po, pie?� Translation: “1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (will you count and come find me)?� She also has grown quite fond of Larry and Bob and all those wonderfully funny Veggie Tales. She makes the “twos� so terrific!!!

2006 also brought us a bundle of love named ABIGAIL, born November 4th. She showed her fashion and style, coming a week late but perfectly healthy. Caleb and Katey have fallen in love with her, and they both love to hold her on the couch. She definitely looks like her older brother. In fact, when Caleb prays, he says, “God, I love that you made Abby to look like me.� We all agree, as he says, “She is soooo sweet.� Katey has noticed the sweet baby she is and calls her “sweet girl� all the time. We are very blessed with our 3rd and can’t wait to get to know her more and more!

Jen and I are so thankful and so content with all the treasures God has given us. Most of all, for the grace given to us in Emmanuel. We are thankful for our marriage and our strengthening oneness. We are in awe of the gift He has given us in our 3 little ones. We are also very thankful for our family and friends. Almost daily, we pinch ourselves at the blessing we have to do life together with our loving church family. Jen walks very closely with so many of the ladies and young moms. She is so sharpened by each and every one of them. She still feels much like an RN as they call with questions about kids and pregnancy and more. SHE ABSOLUTELY LOVES IT and feels so valued in those friendships! As for me, I am so grateful for our leadership teams, the men’s group I’m in, and the many men and women I am learning from in the marketplace and beyond. You can read more about it all by going to www.westpointchurch.org and www.restorationconcept.com.

As you reflect on the year and maybe get out your old Christmas letter, I pray that you will know the God who came near more dearly and follow Him more closely.

MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

(our responsibility to humanity)

you may have recently seen a Liberty Mutual commercial with the branded marketing theme of “responsibility.” unreal commercial. you can check it out by clicking here to see the ad on the website of the firm that created it.

it made an impression not only because it is a solid commercial with a distinctive marketing focus, but also because i have been giving a lot of thought lately to the need for people to simply be responsible for one another – caring for one another and giving ourselves away. i am finding as i walk with people that many of us have not come to understand the values that we are and the value that we can speak into another person’s life.

that’s why what Jesus teaches makes so much sense to me. our culture speaks of love and respect that is earned. Jesus taught love and respect that is given. think about it – what are we saying about our value if we insist on earning love and respect. we are saying people are not valuable enough to be given love and respect from me. what does that say about my own value if i do that?

maybe we should reconsider. maybe the declaration of the cross was that i am worth dying for, and maybe i could express that same declaration in the way i responsibly care for the people i walk with in the daily and the ones i want to too often forget about that i never see.

thanks to Liberty Mutual for challenging us to be responsible. now, let’s do it.