Monday, August 27, 2018

10 Years as a Parent

Isaac turned 10 today.

Guys, that’s like 2-whole-hands-full-of-fingers-years-old! I have to say that I think I have the absolute best son in the world. He’s bright, funny, sensitive, kind, ornery, and he’s discovering the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle art of sarcasm). So many times, Suzanne has looked and me and said something along the lines of, “He is ALL you. I kind of wish there was a little of me in there somewhere.” – These moments usually occur when Isaac is being overly-dramatic about something he does or does not want to do.

I’ve officially be in this parenting-game for a whole decade.

10 years, that pretty much makes me a parenting expert, right?

Today has me feeling a bit reflective. I can’t help but think back over the last 10 years, and especially those first couple weeks, where Isaac kind of got off to a rough start.

What’s interesting is that during that time, I was posting frequent Facebook “Notes” (Remember those?) letting the masses know of Isaac’s progress. Thanks to the wonders of technology (Time Hop) I can travel back and see exactly how new parent Zach was experiencing these events.

So, since I have this solid 10 years under my belt, I thought I’d unpack that first note I wrote, and offer a few thoughts to 2008 Zach. And because Facebook doesn’t really do the whole “note” thing anymore – how about a blog post?

**Original post will appear in black – the “wisdom” of 2018 Zach, will appear in red**

August 27, 2008
Hey everyone

In case you didn't know -- Suzanne had the baby!!!!

His name is Isaac David Fleming

He weighs 8lbs and 6oz (yeah... he's a beast)

He wasn’t really a beast, and 8.6 is not an unheard-of baby weight. 2008 Zach, you don’t really know what you’re talking about. You don’t know a lot of things. I know that you are just really excited and super-scared, so you’re using humor to cover. Isaac wasn’t due for another 4-5 weeks. You happened to be at the hospital for a scheduled appointment. You left the exam room to grab something from the car, and when you came back in you heard the Dr. say, “Well Mrs. Fleming. We’ll go ahead and admit you now, and you should have the baby sometime tomorrow.” Weirdest.Moment.Ever.

But... here's the thing

Because he's a bit premature -- he's having some trouble breathing. He is breathing on his own... but it is taking all his strength to do so

Because of that ... and because Suzanne needs to get her blood sugars back under control... Suzanne has yet to hold Isaac (as you can imagine, this is really hard for her)

The doctors tell us that the next 24 hours are critical

There will be so many times in the next 10 years that you will feel like the moments are “critical.” That first year you will sneak into his room at night, just to make sure he’s still breathing. You’ll want to call the hospital every time he sneezes, and YOU will turn into the over-protective one. You’ll find yourself wanting to transform into the “helicopter parents” you make fun of. Listen to Suzanne. She’s got some kind of super-natural wisdom in these moments, and she tends to be rational when you are acting like a complete nut-case convincing yourself that Isaac might not be ready for Preschool, or Kindergarten, or his first sleepover, or riding his bike down the sidewalk, or playing in the backyard unsupervised.

The moments are important – and you won’t get them back. Enjoy them – but dude, take some deep breaths, remember who you are, who God is, and stop confusing those roles. These moments are important, but not critical. 

They think that the reason he is working so hard, is that there is still some fluid in his lungs. So if they can clean themselves out ... Isaac will be able to come home with us (tentatively) in 3-4 days.

Yeah, this was not true. Again, you were kind of being a crazy-man. You were convinced that every nurse was intentionally making Isaac cry. The reality was that you had all of these new “Dad emotions” which you were experiencing for the first time, and you had no idea how to handle them appropriately. So, some nurse fed you a line about 3-4 days. Probably to get you to leave her alone.

But... if it turns out that because he's premature (35weeks) his lungs are still under developed... that it could be another 2-3 weeks before he can leave the hospital....

It was like a week-and-a-half.

So this is our request... for your prayers

You have all been so faithful already ... but we are asking you to continue!

This part makes 2018 Zach a little emotional. I don’t know how parents, how families survive without a community around them. Specifically, a community of faith. 2008 Zach, you will be blown away time-and-time again by the ways your church family will continue to be faithful.
You’ll watch the Moms and Grandmas take turns holding Isaac in the Nursery, the church treasurer insist that Isaac call him “Papa Phil”, the Sunday School teacher who will give Isaac his first Bible, and countless people from your faith community who will babysit and encourage you in the next 10 years.

You’ll also see those in your faith community come along-side him to train and correct when he needs it. What you’ll feel is supported, like you and Suzanne are not in this alone. You’ll see a group of people who are MUCH older invite Isaac to celebrate with them once a year, because they all have birthdays on August 27 – and you will thank God again and again for this faith community.

You will also see your parents transform into “Grandpa & Nana” and “Papa & Grandma” respectively. The words of Bill Cosby will then make perfect sense, “These are not the same parents I grew up with. You’re looking at an old person, who’s trying to get into Heaven now.” Your parents (both sets) will encourage and support you and Suzanne in the next 10 years in ways you can’t begin to imagine! And your kids (yeah, Spoiler: Isaac won’t be the only one) will LOVE them!

The faithfulness will continue.

Pray that God would work in amazing ways over the next 24 hours

Pray that Suzanne, as a mother, would be able to hold her son

God worked. You both got to hold him. It was a beautiful thing. It will be okay.

Oh, and in the next 10 years, Isaac will continue to be your “snuggler.” Even though he is definitely “ALL BOY” – he will curl up next to his Mom as she reads him a book, and you will pick him up and carry him back to his bed after a bad dream – so many times!

Again, we want you to know that we love you...

and that besides this pesky little breathing thing... Isaac's looking great!

2008 Zach, the next 10 years are going to fly by. You’ll feel like it was just yesterday you were sitting in Panera Bread, across from Wesley Hospital in Wichita, writing this first note.

Here’s what 10 years as a Dad has taught me: I’m really don’t know what I’m doing. I’m pretty much making it up as I go. That’s it. That’s all my wisdom.

But I’ve also discovered that this is pretty much the experience of EVERY parent. The kids don’t come with an instruction book. (and don’t say the Bible). 10 years has taught me that parenting is really just being present, showing unconditional love and support, correcting and disciplining, reminding them of who they are in Christ, and praying desperately that your decisions now will not put them in therapy when they’re adults.

2008 Zach, it’s just a phase…so don’t miss it. Put your phone down. Don’t miss a moment to capture an image. Don’t cry over spilt milk (I mean this literally). You have an incredible kid. Being his Dad is the absolute best. Enjoy it! Enjoy him.

Your friend in time,

2018 Zach 

**ohh…and someday, when Isaac is a toddler and Carmen Zeisler wants to take him to The Well and the Library, make sure he goes to the bathroom first**

Friday, January 12, 2018

Tweeted....and deleted

I tweeted, and then I deleted – you ever do that? There were approximately 4 hours between when I posted, and when I deleted the post and its accompanying comments.

Here’s my story:

Like many of us, I read the Washington Post article concerning comments made by our President that insulted countries (and the people who live there) by calling them “shithole places.”

I read the article in shock. I instantly had two impulses. One was to close the Google Chrome tab, and sit at my desk silently fuming, until I had prayed through it a bit, and was ready to move on with my day. This was the impulse that was reminding me that no good can come from commenting on this. No good can come from posting anything about this. This is the impulse that sounds a lot like my wife’s voice in my head reminding me that I’m a Pastor in a small community.

I had been alerted to this article/news story by a friend of mine on Facebook who earlier this morning had posted, “All you right-wing so called Christians still cool with Trump?”

When I read his post, I thought, “Huh, wonder what that’s about.” So I investigated, found the Washington Post article and the continued story with President Trump denying that he had used this language.

As I sat at my desk mystified by what I was reading (“Is this real life? This didn’t really happen, right?”) I, again – had the impulse to walk away. The impulse to stay silent, and move on – and then I had another impulse – one that was propelled by my friend’s post.

This impulse told me to post.

To speak up.

To stand up and say, “This isn’t okay.”

This impulse is propelled by very real concern that we’re losing the next generation of Jesus followers.

We’re losing them.

Millennials, Generation Z….we’re losing them.

We’re losing them with things like the 2016 election – where politics and some skewed form of Christianity are so entangled that it becomes convoluted, confusing, and so opposite from Jesus and the Kingdom of which He spoke.

We’re losing them when the church stays silent in the midst of the current #MeToo culture.

We’re losing them because we’ve become the “Empire.” And when you’re the Empire, it becomes difficult to make sense of a message that was written by those on the underside of power.

We’re losing them.

And so this morning I went with the impulse to post. And then four hours later, I deleted it.

I deleted my post because it had become hijacked and trolled, and like many of you I was simply watching the comments as a form of entertainment.

I deleted the post because I believe I had set out what I intended to do: tell those who have become disillusioned with Jesus, church, God, Bible, etc… that the Gospel is still good news, Jesus cares about the marginalized and the outcast, and that I think he’d have some things to say to anyone who is dehumanizing entire people groups.

I set out to speak word to the millennials in my community – the young adults who are starting families and opening businesses and who are sincerely questioning Christianity and what it has become in 2018 American culture.

I set out to speak a word to “Generation Z” the students I work with each week. It was a prophetic word to not give up on this big beautiful dynamic inclusive faith called Christianity.

I set out to speak another word to my children – because I’m still so scared that they will look at the narrative in the world today, and the response of the Church (or lack thereof) and they’ll bail.

I listened to the impulse that told me to speak up – and I will continue to do so, because I believe that if we’re truly following Jesus – we can’t afford not to.

For the record: My original post is still on Twitter @zfleming01

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Charlottesville: A Letter to my Children

To my children,

Being your Dad is one of the best things in the world. Your Mom and I love you so much, and we do our best to teach what it means to love God and to love other people. We try to demonstrate and teach: integrity, kindness, compassion, understanding, and grace. As well as: grit, boldness, determination, and perseverance. We believe that hope and faith are real, and that those realities can be lived in. Again, we do our best to model these things, to teach these things, and to create a home where these things are championed.


There are moments when the events of world around us leave us questioning what it looks like to teach you well. There are moments when we find ourselves grasping for reason and explanation – only to come up short. The past couple days have been filled with these moments.

The horror that took place in Charlottesville,  Virginia leaves me feeling heart-broken, mad, confused, mad, a bit depressed, and did I say mad?  The more I read/see, the more I look at you (my kids) and try to figure out how I’m ever going to explain this.

Now, in all actuality, you are 9,6, and 5-years-old – so part of me wants to just pull you in close, turn on a Disney movie, and create a bubble where you can live forever – free from any form of terrorism, racism, bigotry, or hatred.

But I can’t. I won’t. To do so would only add to the problem. And so – in whatever ways you might hear about the events of Charlottesville (or others like it), here’s what I want you to know:

1.  I’m sorry.
I’m sorry you must experience this. I’m sorry that we live in a world that’s broken – and that sometimes that brokenness expresses itself in ways that feel life-crushing and hellish. I’m sorry that you have to witness such vile hatred. I’m sorry that you even have to ask questions like, “Daddy, why does that group of people hate that other group of people?” I’m sorry that this is the state of the world that you’re growing up in. I’m sorry.

2. Racism is taught.
I remember when you (our oldest child) were in Preschool. I remember you coming home from school one day and asking us why a girl in your class had skin that was a different color. “She’s browner than me”, you said.

That was such a special, pivotal moment for your Mommy and me. We got to explain to you that there are so many different colors of skin in the world – and that it’s a beautiful thing. We explained that no color of skin is better or worse than any other. We told you that we believe that every person is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” You responded with, “Oh, okay. Cool.” And the you went back to playing cars on the floor.

You see kids, racism has to be taught – none of us are born that way. No one is born believing that one race is superior or inferior to another. That’s learned behavior. And when you look at the horror that is Charlottesville, what you are seeing are a lot of people who were taught very specific (WRONG) things about race and equality.

Now, while racism has to be taught, “Privilege” is inherited. It’s easy for those of us who would be considered privileged to be blinded to the reality. This doesn’t excuse it – but it’s true. I confess that this is where I find myself. Understanding my own privilege and its implications for the world around me….is like waking up. The sooner more of us wake up, the sooner we can identify privilege when we see it. Maybe you (the next generation) will wake up a litter faster than the generations before you.

3. Some things are wrong/EVIL
There are things that are wrong – and shame on me if for some reason I have not been bold enough to tell you that. So….just so we’re clear:

Racism is wrong
Bigotry is wrong
Xenophobia is wrong
Homophobia is wrong
Being a Nazi is WRONG

Unfortunately you are living in a world where some of your leaders, your teachers, your pastors are unwilling to stand up and proclaim these things (and those who would carry out actions rooted in these ideologies) as EVIL and WRONG. 

Don’t be afraid to stand firm and fight for justice and equality.

4. Jesus can still be trusted
Part of me fears that eventually, you (my children) will look at situations like Charlottesville and decide, Screw it, I’m out.” You will see white supremacists attempting to justify their own bigotry by pointing to God, and you’ll decide that if that’s who God is – then you don’t want anything to do with Jesus, Church, God, Bible, etc.

Kids, that’s not who God is. To say it bluntly, those people clearly don’t know much about the God they claim to follow.  Because the god they claim to follow - I don’t believe in him. He doesn’t exist.
The God of the Bible – is a God whose very nature is love.  “If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen” – 1 John 4:20.

Jesus (the ultimate picture of who God is) also told us that if we really want to follow God – then it starts by loving him, and loving our neighbors. Neighbors – those around us. Those who are like us and those who are NOT like us. Those who look like us and those who are “browner.”

And kids, here’s the other thing: Even when you’re mad (like I am right now) Even when you are watching as leaders remain silent, and EVIL seems to be winning – our response (as followers of Jesus) should never be to return violence with violence.  Again, you are 9, 6, and 5-years-old and you understand this. If one of you gets hit by your sister, you know that the solution is not to hit her back.
You know that you can’t overcome violence with more violence.

To believe you can is a myth – and it’s a part of the problem in Charlottesville.

Kids, I believe in you. I believe in the future I see in your eyes. I will continue to teach you about Jesus – who is making all things new. Charlottesville is not the end of our story. Evil, racism, hatred…these things will not win.

I promise.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses 
and on your gates.” – Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Confession

There’s this story in the Bible about this religious leader who questions Jesus about who he’s supposed to love. More specifically – who is his neighbor.

So Jesus tells him a story

A story about a man who was traveling on this tiny dirt road when he is attacked. He is beaten, stripped naked, and left for dead.

This unconscious traveler is laying on this road, with no distinguishable features. He can’t speak – so you wouldn’t be able to decipher an accent, and he has no clothes so you would not be able to tell what region he’s from.

He’s simply lying there – on the verge of death.

So in this story, there are a few people who pass this severely wounded individual

The first two people who come upon this guy are the religious leaders

They both look him over, and they determine that it’s probably a safer, more proper, holier course of action to simply go around this guy and not touch him (after all – touching a wounded man from who-knows-where could make them ceremonial unclean)

So they leave him




And then a Samaritan comes upon him.

Samaritans – the lowest of the low


Samaritans…people of a different nationality

A different culture

For us, the way Jews felt about Samaritans is the same way we feel about Islamic extremists

And so this Samaritan stops, bandages the man’s wounds, puts him on his own donkey, and then takes him to an Inn where he pays the innkeeper to care for the man.

He also tells this inn keeper that he will return later to reimburse him for all expenses.

Jesus finishes this story and asks the people around him, “Which person was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”


Inaction speaks volumes. Sometimes in the quest for “Holiness” those of us who follow Jesus, can miss the very Jesus we claim to follow.

Saturday evening in Orlando 49 people were killed and 53 were wounded in a horrible act of prejudice. In the wake of this terrible tragedy the entire LGBT community lays on the side of the road, while I step around them.

When conversation comes up – I offer my “thoughts and prayers”

I can only assume that the Priest and the Levite prayed for the wounded man in Jesus’ story (as they quickly and carefully stepped around him)

Hear me (especially Christians) – I’m not negating the power of prayer. As followers of Jesus our response should always be for prayers of comfort, of restoration, of hope, of justice.

But I’ve become so afraid of being “ceremonial unclean” – I’ve become so afraid of the repercussions of being labeled “light on sin” that I look at our wounded, broken LGBT brothers and sisters – and I simply keep my mouth shut…and I pass to the other side of the road.

For shame…

Now – I can attempt to justify my silence, and say that the “Internet webs” was so inundated with “Christians” saying some truly asinine crap to the LGBT community.

I watched people defend their guns.

I watched people make it about Islamic extremism.

I watched people twist the Bible and the character of God in such a despicable way, and suggest that this horribly tragedy was somehow punishment for sexual orientation.

So… I watched all of this, and part of me thought – “There’s no way  I’m throwing my hat into that ring.”

But I was wrong.

I should have.

I’m sorry.

I chose to offer silent prayers – and pass by on the other side of the road.

All of this has been my confession.

And so to my LGBT friends

I stand with you.

You and I live in the same broken world. We experienced it together last Saturday – and we will continue to experience it.

But I believe that last Saturday is not the last word

And it’s not the end of the story

I believe that brokenness can be restored

I believe that death always brings life

That resurrection is real

I believe that hate

And prejudice

And violence

Will not last – because they belong to death

And death doesn’t win

Love wins.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Happy Birthday Suzanne!

This started as 140 characters. A “Tweet” – to wish my wife a happy 33rd birthday. But then I realized that my bride of 11 years deserved more than 140 characters.

So it became a few sentences. A paragraph I would post to Facebook – wishing Suzanne a happy birthday.

But the more I thought about Suzanne

The more I thought about the person my wife is – the way she continually demonstrates unconditional love towards our children and me.

The ways she strives daily to care for our family

This woman who wakes up every day at 4:00 AM to work toward a Master’s degree.

This individual who (daily) teaches me about what grace looks like

This amazing person who I am so blessed to do life with

(I realize that “Blessed” is like this super-cheesy Christian buzz word.  – but I mean this word in its most literal, purest sense. I’m not lucky or fortunate - it is a gift, it is charis (grace), It is a blessing)

Before I knew it, I had more than a few sentences.

I had this over-whelming urge to write and write and write – My urge was to explain that so much of who I am (when I’m at my best) is because of Suzanne.

There are these moments when she sees not who I am in the midst of my selfishness or cynicism, but who I was created to be – the new Creation that God is forming.

She inspires me.

She pushes me.

She holds me accountable.

And she encourages me.

I can lead our family – because she is my partner.

And so… today of all days, I want to find the biggest platform possible, and yell at the top of my lungs – “Look how amazing this woman is! Today is her birthday, she should be celebrated!”

There’s this proverb in the Bible that talks about the characteristics of a “noble” wife. And I read these words, and it’s like this writer is describing the woman I married. Don’t believe me? Just take a look a few sections…

“A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life….
She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy…
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." - Proverbs 31

Suzanne, today I “honor you for all that your hands have done.” Thanks for loving and partnering with a ragamuffin like me. I love you.

Happy birthday!

Monday, March 21, 2016

"There are no great things, only small things with great love."

If I’m honest, I’ve been in a spiritually dry spot for a while now. All my journal entries look and sound the same. They are all various forms of me begging God to move.

Begging God to see fruit.

Begging God to reignite passion – to make it “how it used to be.”

One of my former undergrad students was in town today, so I took him to lunch. We sat together and ate Chinese food and I asked him about life.

We talked about his passion for the country of Costa Rica, and his plans to return their long-term in a ministry capacity.

We talked about his family, and the tension of feeling “stuck” with simply punching our 40-hours on the clock at a dead-end job, knowing we’re created for so much more!

It was just really good to spend some time together, hearing how God has been working in his life. I’m proud of him, and I’m proud of the man he’s becoming.

We had finished our meal and I suggested that we get going. He told me there was one more thing he wanted to talk about, and he began rolling up one of the sleeves on his shirt.

He then showed me his new tattoo. It was this beautiful picture of a lighthouse. He talked about that for him; he understood the call of followers of Jesus to be light in the world. Like lighthouses; symbols of hope and stability for those trapped in rough waters.

Then he pointed to five rocks that were at the base of the lighthouse. He explained that those five rocks represented my family.

I was doing my best to hold back tears as I asked him, “Why?”

He simply said that Suzanne and I had been there for him in ways that provided support at a time in his life that was full of rough waters.

I thought back to the time he was referring to.

I knew what he was talking about.

A few years ago he stayed in McPherson for the summer to work 3rd shift at a factory. His life at the time was a combination of confusion and heartbreak. 

But here’s the thing – I didn’t remember my family doing anything remarkable or super spiritual for him. I certainly don’t remember us doing anything that would lead to the amazing honor of this tattoo.

All I remember is that we had a college student who was living with us that summer, and the two of them would spend countless hours in our basement.  I remember inviting him to join us for dinner any time he was in our home.

I don’t remember any amazing, super-spiritual moment where the clouds parted, and a dove descended. I simply remember Suzanne and I telling him that our house was a safe space, and he was welcome anytime.

I remember my daughter Karis, praying every night for these two college boys who would often join us for dinner.

I remember inviting him to come cook us Gallo Pinto after he had returned from a semester in Costa Rica – so we could hear about his experiences.

I don’t remember any great things. I just remember small things. I remember thinking that I care about this young man – and I believe in him.

And so this afternoon I sat, trying to hold back tears like a middle school girl… as God answered my prayers for fruit.

I’ve spend a lot of time lately wondering if I’m too old for what I do.

I used to be the just-out-of-college youth pastor, and now I’m one of the oldest in the community – working alongside other youth pastors who I either had in class as an undergrad, or ministered to when they were in high school.

All of these realities get thrown into this giant internal dialogue, and I end up with a lot of self-doubt.

God is patiently, gently reminding me that it’s not going to be “how it used to be.”  Because, I’m not how I used to be… and that’s okay.

My calling is to a community.

And ministry is slow.

Ministry is patient.

Ministry is like seed in soil, or yeast in dough.

Ministry is a calling that Suzanne and I share together.

Ministry is caught by our children when others gather at our table.

Ministry is inconvenient
And messy
And heartbreaking
And frustrating
And it can leave you feeling beat-down…. wondering if it’s worth it.

And then someone shows you a tattoo, and you’re completely humbled.

And at the same time - reminded that Jesus can be trusted.

And there’s nothing else in the world that you could see yourself doing!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Where we’re going…we don’t need roads!

I love Back to the Future!

If know me at all – this shouldn’t come as surprise to you. The movie trilogy is, hands down, my absolute favorite.

I remember watching Back to the Future for the first time. I was probably around 7-years-old, and my Dad had rented the VHS tape from “Carousel Video.”

I watched that movie and was instantly obsessed with skateboards and awesome guitar solos. I wanted to be Marty McFly. The movie was rated PG at a time before the creation of PG-13. So I added some words to my vocabulary that I probably should not have. In fact, I remember asking my Dad what a particular phrase meant. He informed me that it was another way of saying, “The son of a female dog.” What he failed to tell me was that this was inappropriate and should not be repeated….ever. This led to a rather lengthy time-out at daycare when I called another kid a SOB.

 In November of 1989 Back to the Future II was released. Sitting in the theater, I remember watching Marty and Doc exit the DeLorean in 2015 and being completely enthralled!

The future!

Flying cars, power-laced NIKE shoes, self-drying/adjustable jackets, and hoverboards! The future was going to be amazing! I remember sitting in the theater and doing the math. In 2015 I would be 35-years-old. I would be so old! “That’s pretty much 40!” I thought.

Back to the Future II created this reality that was brightly lit with lots of neon colors (and have I mentioned, hoverboards?!?) – It made 9-year-old Zach giddy.

I came home from that movie and practiced hood-sliding across the edge of my bed as I pretended I was following Biff in order to get back the Gray’s Sports Almanac.

The following Spring Back to the Future III was released and the trilogy was complete. To this day, the third film is my least-favorite, and I really only watch it for the last 20 minutes. However I admit that the ZZ Top cameo and the one-liner about learning to shoot at 7-11 are both funny.

Tomorrow is October 21, 2015. At approximately 4:29PM Marty McFly and Dr. Emmett Brown will burst forth in the sky and arrive “in the future.”

I have been waiting 26 years for this… “The Future. I’ve gotta check this out, Doc!”

As I compare the thoughts of a 9-year-old Zach to those of a 35-year old Zach, a funny thing happened on the way to the future…

I grew up.

And I don’t just mean in the obvious, that was 26-years-ago, kind of way.

I mean that I’ve grown up and come to understand the importance of faith and hope. There is a God who is in the process of restoring all that we see. I’ve learned that truth and beauty are to be celebrated.

I have also become bitter and jaded and cynical. I am an adult with a job and a car and a mortgage. I have been hurt by people, and I’ve hurt others.

I’m not the wide-eyed kid in the movie theater scarfing popcorn, imagining what I would do if I was stuck on a hoverboard in the middle of a pond (Because we all know that hoverboards don’t actually work on water.)

Maybe that’s why these movies appeal to me.

Maybe that’s why they are still my absolute favorites.

Maybe they spark a sense of wonder and awe that are easy to lose when you “grow up.”

Want to know one of my favorite parts of growing up? The thing that 9-year-old Zach didn’t see coming:

I’m a husband and a father.

I have a wife and three amazing children, and one of the coolest parts is that I now get to introduce my 7-year-old son to the world of Back to the Future!

Isaac's interpretation of BTTF II
I get to watch these movies again through his eyes… as he sits glued to the TV, imaging himself out-smarting Biff and his goons, and driving the time machine as it hits the wire at just the right moment!

My son helps me connect with my 9-year-old self, and he reminds me that it’s all possible. For him the future is still bright and neon. I get to teach him about hope and faith, and in the process my cynicism and bitterness begin to fade.

We’ve made it. It’s now 2015.

I don’t have the flying car I thought I’d have

Or the NIKE shoes

Or the hoverboard

I can’t rehydrate a half-pepperoni, half-green pepper Pizza Hut pizza

But I can sit with my kids.

I can see the world through their eyes, and begin to imagine what it will be like for them, 30 years from now (It’s a nice round number.)

I can encourage wonder and awe

Creativity and compassion

Beauty and truth

And I can instill in them that,

“…Your future hasn't been written yet. No one's has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one!”