Friday, April 16, 2010

More Fun

This is fun.

Not long ago I asked my three girls (my wife and two daughters) a ‘what if?’ question: “If you could pick one person or group to see in concert, who would it be?” I went to quite a lot of concerts way-back-when (especially the 70’s and 80’s), yet very few in the last bunch of years. But I’ve had it in my head that it was time to ramp all that up again, and to include my girls. Cool.

My youngest answered, “Taylor Swift—no doubt, dad.” My eldest said, “the Eagles—there’s nobody else, actually.” And my chief girlfriend said, “Oh, I don’t know. A symphony, sure, but, um, maybe James Taylor. . .and Carole King.” Naturally, they wanted to know why I was asking, and I said, “I don’t know. Just curious.” And that was true.

But then I went hunting.

To my shock, I discovered that Taylor Swift was playing at the Pepsi Center (in Denver) in early April, the Eagles in May, and, lo and behold, James Taylor AND Carole King were together in July. I was thrilled. But since I haven’t done much of anything like this in a long, long time, I was nervous. Why? I’m not sure. But when I asked my Father for a red, green or yellow light, He gave me a brilliant green. “Go for it, son,” is what I heard in my head. So I did. I found that tickets cost just slightly more than they did in the 1970’s. Right?

I surprised them (maybe shocked them) with the news, and a week ago last Wednesday, prepared to go to Taylor Swift’s shebang. God, who often seems to interrupt my thoughts(!), said, “I want you to have more fun. . .with me.” Immediately I knew it was Him. Sometimes when God bursts upon the scene in my head, His voice or thoughts come with incredible clarity and weight—like everything I’ve been wondering is suddenly answered and secured. I like that. As I wiped tears from my face, I said, “Okay, Father. Then could something incredible happen at tonight’s concert? Could Emma get to, I don’t know, sit at Taylor Swift’s feet, get so close that she could see her sweat, touch her hand, see if she has zits—that close? I would love for something beyond normal to happen for Emma and me.”

And off we went.

We arrived really early and poked about the arena, locating our seats and finally settling on pizza for dinner. Emma noticed a message on one of the giant video screens that invited fans (some 17,000 of us) to text a message to Taylor who would pick a few “winners” to be awarded pit passes. We figured that had to be good, so we began launching our messages. Mine was, “I’m here on a daddy/daughter date with my youngest, and it’s her very first concert.” Hundreds and hundreds of text messages began appearing and scrolling on the big screens: “I sing your songs all day long—and I’m a guy!” “I’m your best fan!” “My mom and I drove 13 hours to see you!” “I’m 7 years old, and you’re my hero!” Everybody wanted a pit pass.

Just after the first of three performances began, my cell phone vibrated with a message: Congratulations. You’ve won 2 passes . . . Without breathing(!), I showed my phone to Emma, who, after a couple of seconds, screamed a happiest-girl-in-the-entire-world scream. I did, too. Well, mine had a distinct air of masculinity to it, as you would expect. Yeah, we went nuts.

Security ushered us to the front, where we remained for the rest of the night. We were 3-4 feet from the singers and dancers and musicians—and 3-4 feet from Taylor Swift. She even said “Hi!” to Emma, who turned to me and said, “Did you see that?! She was talking to me!” We laughed and yelled and danced and thanked God 4,368 times. . .and I lost track of how many times thankfulness welled-up in my eyes.

That was one of the best nights of my life—mine and Emma’s.

I share this with you for two reasons: 1) You’re part of my life, and I want to live openly and honestly with you—it’s important to me. It hasn’t been instantly easy for me to have more fun with God, but I think I’m accepting His words to me by pausing to think of things I’d like to do with Him. Although it’s early in the have-fun-with-God game, I’ve noticed an odd belief that I should be working slavishly because, well, because. And I don’t like it. I want to grow in the delight of my Father, and I believe that means fun. 2) I wonder if you might want to ask God about your fun factor with Him, as well. Do you get caught in the demanding web of this world? Has fear built a house in your head from which to launch fearful and slavish thoughts? Have your days been a lot about doing only things that are productive, smart investments of your time, and logical moves that secure your future? Then I wonder if you’re happy with God. I don’t mean that to be at all condemning; I simply want to alert you in case you need a good alert.

Certainly, not everything with God is fun—duh. But there’s a lot that is. How about it?


  1. Victoria Thomas Gaines6:19 PM

    Ralph, I'm so glad you posted this. Thrilled to hear how God blessed your time with Emma at the concert...daddy/daughter dates are a great idea!

    Your writing confirms that I need to be released from what others think when I take time to enjoy a creative outlet like painting, drawing, or jewelry making. These pursuits don't seem to register very high in "ministry work" and I've even been told not to "waste my life" by pursuing such things, even though God has placed this creative drive in me. So for years, I wouldn't let myself have any fun. But whenever I slip into my studio/office to create something or write, I come out energized, refreshed, and grateful. Surely this is good. I thank God that He gives us such gifts to enjoy and share.

  2. Debbie Foulkes6:22 PM

    I think life is supposed to be fun. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Denise Maynard6:23 PM

    Precious! And it makes me with God...I think I'll be open to that more. Thank you for the encouragement. A bit of it happened yesterday...I liked it!

  4. Cheryl York Olmstead6:25 PM

    This is awesome. I've certainly never thought about asking God for fun. But I will-starting now. And, may I spread it to those around me!

  5. Lori Carroll6:27 PM


  6. Kerry Walsh Wooten12:34 PM

    This is beautiful!! Praise God for memories with our kids!

  7. Bonnie Crigger12:35 PM

    This made me cry...for various reasons. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Retha Badenhorst12:35 PM

    Great storie!!! LOVE it!!!!! Love you and your beautiful family!!!

  9. Sue Humphreys Thompson12:36 PM

    I'm w/Bonnie--this brought tears to my eyes! And I so believe in God wanting us to have good things that I expect them--but then, deep inside, I find myself hearing my mother's voice: "Don't get your hopes up." It is a FIGHT to be free and say, "My hopes are way up there, Mom! They're in the stratosphere, oh yes!"

  10. Laurie Troublefield10:14 AM

    Was I maybe having too much fun with Him before? Maybe He's balancing mine out now? HA HA HA! Love you and love the story...I had read Emma's version already but I ALWAYS love your dad's heart! Look forward to talking with you soon!

  11. Cindi Estep10:15 AM

    Thanks for sharing! Yes, we are not only part of one another's Life but because we are One we are as He is in perfect Union with One another! Fun is good!