How I Found God At Disneyland – Todd Stocker.com

disneyland__130426203418My kids skipped in a circle on the neatly packed bricks of the square at the entrance of Disneyland.  Kellie was fussing with the stroller and I was checking our wristbands as the hundreds of other families readied themselves for a fantastic day.  It’s a magical place, truly it is.

We bounced from one ride to another, seeing the life-sized characters of Pocahontas, Buzz Lightyear and, of course, the Mouses.  With each new turn, my kids’ eyes grew as the wonder, aromas and excitement of the theme park reminded them that ‘happy’ still exists on the planet.

I recall this time because I need to.  I allow this memory to roll on my mind’s movie screen because it is required.  The reel reminds me, not of the happiness of my kids or the shared experience of my family, but of the powerful joy I felt seeing my kids exuberant.  When their faces glowed, mine shone brighter.  When their giddiness was uncontrollable, so was my laughter because at some point, I found greater joy in my kids’ happiness than in my own.

This is how God sees you.  He loves to see you giddy.  He loves to witness you shine.  He loves it when his creation in your life causes that wide-eyed wonder and he giggles when he slips a miracle or two into your schedule and you come out beaming.  Even when your life steps in gum or the ride makes you queasy, he is there — like any good dad — reassuring you that its all okay.

At the end of the day, all three kiddos were asleep, on top of each other, in a stroller meant for one.  We exited the park with the other thousand families.  As I pushed, another father pushed next to me with his kids bundled like mine.  We caught eyes, smiled, and shared a moment because we both realized how awesome it was to show our kids what a wonderful life it could be.

“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17

Peace!

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Makenzie: Five Times Now, Today.

32638547100I’m up earlier than normal again.  The last few weeks have stolen hours of sleep from me, most likely because of today.

Five times now, I’ve endured the turning of this calendar page without my oldest daughter Makenzie.  Five times now, this day has kept me from work, from happiness and from others.  Five times is five times too many.

39437192100I spend this day, like the four before, pondering.  Like Mary in the Bible, like many others of whom I now know, I think deeply on the meaning of tragedy that befalls us.  Like my fraternity of other parents who’ve lost their children, I pace through the same pictures and videos that fib and tell me she’s still here.  I want more.  I wonder what life would be like if Makenzie had not died in the car accident.  Would it be a good life with her?  Would she be safe?  What would she be doing?  How many lives would she touch?  Would she be in love, married? Would I be called “Pops” by her beautiful child?  I wander the halls of these questions today and I miss her.  Random pecks on my cheek.  Goofiness. Snorty laugh.  Graceful dance.  I miss all of it.

Five times now.  And I have to.

Yet even in the cloudiness of this day, God meets me.  He flips through the pictures with me.  He laughs when a shot reveals Makenzie’s goofiness and He tears when He feels the hurt I feel.  Even five times now, He does the same.  And my sorrow is His sorrow.  My hurt is His hurt.  He endures with me and promises good from bad.  Five times now, He has been faithful.

Makenzie on Easter Day!

Makenzie on Easter Day!

So today, I will spend most of it simply with God, talking about my ballerina and foolishly asking Him what she’s doing in heaven.  I will find a corner in a coffee shop nestled in an old river town and buy Makenzie an iced Frappuccino – she loved those.  It will be the 5th one I’ll end up throwing away, un-drunk.  And in my ache, God will meet me as the clock digits 8:08 tonight, the time of the accident.  And I will be grateful that Makenzie is alive and safe, waiting with God who loves her more than I possibly could.

Peace!

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OUR NATION IS VERY GODLY

Believe it or not, our nation is very godly.  Ask most anyone on the streets of New York, Boise or Sacramento and they’ll elude to the fact that they have “God” in their lives.  Enter into a conversation with church-goes and church-haters and you’ll discover that “God” that drives their life.
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The question is, “who is your god?”  Study our Nations recent history and you’ll find the god of greed, the god of desire, the god of ambition and the god of the unrestrained.  Read the online babble and news about our nation and you’ll discover people more polarized than ever before with liberties being attacked all in the name of the god of safety.

Everyone has “God”.  Many have many.  Some have few.  I have one.  He is a God that informs my life decisions in ways that stun me.  He is a God that shapes, crafts and weaves the seams of my day.  He is a God who is real, alive and lovingly holds me accountable as a good Father would his son.  And I enjoy my walk, holding onto the hand of the God who has told me who He is in the script of a 66 book letter.  The message of that letter to me is, “Todd, even though you followed yourself and denied me, I still love you and have given you life!”

And he signed it with the blood of his son, Jesus.

What god are you following?

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Peace!

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My Makenzie Drift

img_0699_7264bOne of the most difficult experiences for those of us whose kids have died is to relate to our other “earth-walking” kids.  That’s what I’m ‘drifting’ about most recently.  Not that I wish they were like Makenzie or that they acted as the same, but I reactively want to talk to Makenzie about how awesome Nathan and Maddie are.  I wish I could see the three of them together again – laughing, fighting, goofing around.  I wish I could email Makenzie or text her to tell her about the latest song Nathan wrote or the cute boy about whom Maddie’s twitter-pated.  I wish that somehow I could get her a second cup of coffee at the Starbucks at which I’m now sitting.

It isn’t to be.  She won’t get to hear Nathan’s music or do girl-stuff with Maddie.  But She is sleeping in the arms of Jesus which, I suppose, is much grander an experience that dawdling with us.  For now, I just have my wishes and dreams that tend to drift me into a vacant gaze out a nearby window.

The chatter of two teenaged girls snap me back from my drift.  I like those drift-moments.  Some would say they’re daydreams.  Whatever.  They sit well with me because they remind me that there is more to my life than the urgency of the now.   There is “then” as well.  And sometimes, God brings my thoughts there so that I can have peace here – all riding on the wings of my Drift.

Peace!

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Is Our God Withdrawing?

The talking heads of our society are dukeing it out. “The reason Connecticut happened is because there are too many guns.” “No, there aren’t people who are allowed to responsibly carry guns.” “It’s a mental health issue.” “It’s a security issue.” Back and forth the seeking of the reason behind last week’s tragedy is the focal point of our nation (at least for the next few days until we go back to arguing about the meaningless things of the day). God

But what if the reason wasn’t mental or physical or even spiritual. What if the reason statistically, more and more tragedy is hammering on the shores of America’s society is because God is removing Himself from us. What if God is finally saying to us, a once Christian nation, “You have chosen to leave me and forsake me. You have taken me out of the fabric of your great tapestry of Democracy and replaced me with a self-seeking focus, a personal mission for power and an all-consuming heart of greed. Therefore, I will lift my hand of blessing and protection that was the bedrock of for your Constitution and allow the evils of darkness to spill into waterways of your life.”

No, God does not love us less. No, God does not leave us or stop providing for our daily needs. And yes, chemical sickness is a real ill of our fallen human state. But God does allow pain and heartache to happen to nations who have decided that it is an offense to even utter God’s name in public places.

So go ahead and argue gun-control or gun-allowance. Point a finger at someone else, ignoring three other fingers pointed back at you. Dribble your hate and one-sided opinions that seem to mark our generation as of late. For me, I am on my knees for our nation’s leaders, that they would turn to our only hope – the God who is slowly withdrawing.

Psalm 9:17 “The wicked will go down to the grave. This is the fate of all the nations who ignore God.”

Malachi 3:7 “‘Return to me and I will return to you,’ says the Lord.”

Feel free to share or comment!

Peace!

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PRAYER: WHAT IF GOD SAID “YES?”

Yes, there I go again.  Rushing into a busy day, grabbing my keys, my wallet, my phone and my pride.  I’ve got many important things to do.  I’ve got a calendar full of meetings and a mind full of noise.  And yet I forget to fire up the most powerful app that far exceeds any developers ability – Prayer.

I think we got prayer wrong.  Not the importance of it, not the holiness of it, but the use of it.  We pray too shallow.  “Lord, help me get through this meeting.”  We pray too scheduled.  “Now I lay me down to sleep…”  We pray too small.  “Lord, I need help finding a parking space.”

What if God would physically stand in front of you and verbally say, “Ask me anything you’d like.  No limits.  Go ahead.  I dare you.”  What would you ask for?  A fixed relationship that, from an earthly perspective is completely broken?  A job promotion that you think is too far out of your grasp?  A dream house, car, vacation?

Now ask yourself – WHAT IF GOD SAID “YES?”  He could, you know.  He could say “Yes”.  He could blow away your dinky prayer.  He could far surpass what your tiny brain could wish for.  And if He gives you the small requests of your passing thoughts, wouldn’t that make you wonder if you should have asked bigger?

Question:  If God said YES to your dreams, what would that look like?  Write a comment below …

Peace!