Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc.

Here I am at a 5K last June—very calm, I'm sure! I run barefoot. And, no, it's not because I can't afford shoes.

We just got through a stunningly gorgeous spring weekend in Atlanta, which included a trip on Saturday to the Big Creek Greenway. The greenway is a 7-mile trail—paved or with boardwalk—that follows the eponymous Big Creek through Forsyth County. (There’s a similar greenway in nearby Alpharetta and Roswell.) I run, Lisa walks, and my three kids ride their bikes. We’ve done this together as a family for the past few weekends.

A couple of weeks ago, we purchased a new bike for my daughter, Elisa, who outgrew her previous one. She and my son Townshend rode alongside or near me the whole way. At one point, when the two kids were a short distance ahead of me, a pedal on Elisa’s bike fell off. She and Townshend were trying unsuccessfully to repair it when I came upon them. I stopped, turned off my iPod, and helped them put it back on.

I didn’t think it was any big deal, of course. But while I was helping them, Elisa said, “Dad, you’re being unusually patient.” Townshend said, matter-of-factly, “Elisa, he’s always calm when he’s running.” He paused. “And when he’s drinking coffee.”

There’s a message here: Am I frequently un-calm and impatient, even around my kids? Ugh!

In my sermon today, I spoke briefly about my Lenten practice of fasting once a week. I skip breakfast and lunch one day a week and drink only water until evening. The hardest part of fasting for me is not having coffee first thing in the morning—or at mid-morning, noontime, and early afternoon, etc. You get the point. I said:

If, on those days in which I’m fasting, I’m a little more short-tempered or a little more irritable or a little grumpier, it’s not really because I didn’t have food or coffee. It’s because food and coffee usually mask some bad stuff in my heart that is now coming to the surface—stuff that I need to deal with.

More than anything during this season of Lent, I’m trying to deal with these things. Maybe I’ll reach a point at which my kids won’t find my patience so unusual!

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