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It’s a Good Plan

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Conversation with a 3 year old on the drive to preschool:

“Dad, why is dat pweece man parked dare?”

“He’s waiting there to see if people are driving too fast, and then he will tell them to slow down.”

“And he will take dem to jail?”

“No, he’ll give them a ticket for speeding because driving too fast is breaking the law.”

“Were you breaking da law when the pweece man gabe you a ticket too?”

“Yes. I was breaking the law.”

“But if you bwake da law, you will go to jail?”

“Sometimes, yes. But when you get a ticket, you don’t have to go to jail. You just have to pay the money.”

“If you will pay the money, den you will go to jail?”

“No, if you don’t pay the money you will go jail.”

“Did you pay your money?”

“Yes.”

“Cuz if you go to jail den we won’t have a daddy anymore. And den I would be sad.”

“I’m not going to jail son. But you will always have a daddy because no matter where I am, I’ll always be your daddy.”

“Even if you die?”

“Yes, I will always be your daddy, but if I die I won’t be here to see you.”

“Cuz you will be in heaven?”

“Yes.”

“With Jesus?”

“Yes.”

“Can I have ice cream after school?”

“I don’t think so. We’ll see.”

“But it’s a good plan!!”

“Hahaha!”

Hope Comes in Many Forms…Where I Am Today

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My head is full. It needs to do what it does when it’s full…vent. There is no order to what comes next, so be forewarned that I’m simply letting loose of the mess currently in my head. My apologies if what you read next is not what you’ve come to expect from me. I’m human, and this is where I am today. Writing is my outlet, so here goes.

Since Saturday, I’ve been in a sort of fog. Haven’t felt close to God. Haven’t felt like much of anything. Worship with dad and my brothers here at church on Sunday was okay, but I just didn’t feel connected to God, ya’ know? Last night, I was searching for the lyrics to a song that express how I’ve been feeling…and all I could remember was “oh God my God, your beloved needs you now.” I don’t remember the song, so it’s probably good that that’s all I can remember.

This morning, a text from my wife asked how I’m doing. I am…

Numb. Alone. Trapped. Spent. Drained. Overwhelmed. Lacking hope. Disconnected from reality…From life…From God. I’ve been better. I’ve been worse. I’ll push through though because that’s what we do. I just want to put closure to this period of life and move forward. I’m an action guy. Waiting is not something I do well. Too much waiting…not enough moving. I’m ready to crawl into the arms of my best friend and our kiddos and not have to make a decision or problem-solve for awhile. I’m ready to come home.

Dad, as you first read this, please know it’s not you or anything you’ve done or not done. It’s just my process. Being with you this week has been a blessing for me more than I’ve shared here yet…sharing that part of all this will come after we have some closure this week…and I hope I’ve blessed you in some small way by being here. I wouldn’t take any of it back or change my choice to stay…it’s just part of being out of routine…away from my wife and children…feelings I’m sure you either already have had, or will, soon after we all leave this weekend.

Yesterday’s hope came through an email from a dear friend on staff at church. The day before that, it came in an email from our Men’s Ministry leader, another good friend. Before that, it came daily in various emails, texts, phone calls and conversations with friends and family back home. Today’s hope comes from a thirteen year old angel…God has been employing her as my angel since the first day I met her in the hospital. Her momma sent me a text this morning that simply read:

Your daughter just prayed for you all by herself. It was so sweet. I looked over at the table and she had eyes closed, head bowed, hands clasped in front of her. And said, “Dear God, please keep my Daddy safe. Amen.”

So yes Lord, your beloved needs you now. Do not forsake me Lord. Your hope comes in many forms…and I have not lost sight of the truth that my hope comes from you. You have met my daily need for hope this past week and a half. SD’s prayer this morning has provided me the hope I need to sustain me today. I’ll take it. Thank you Lord for providing me hope though I deserve nothing.

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

Love,

Dad

Dancing Through the Snow…with a Beaver and a Prayer

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Snapshots of what happens when daddy is left unsupervised with three kids for 4 hours:

1. NE sings songs like his daddy. Just because we forget the words, that’s no reason to stop singing. In complete rhythm and tune, without missing a beat: “Dancing through the snow…and I wonder what comes next.”

2. Passing the urgent care I took SI to two weeks ago,

SI: “I went to that doctor before, and he said I have a beaver.”
Me: “A beaver!? You have a beaver? Awesome dude!”
NE: “No dad, not a beaver that eats wood, a beaver that you put the tempature stick in your mouth, and the beaver makes your head hurt.”
Me: “Oh. A beaver would be cool though, right?”
Silence. I think I stunned him.

3. I’m proud that NE has my debating skills…even when he uses them on me. Now we need to work on stopping while he’s ahead. In pleading his case for keeping his glass, chocolate milk bottle, I conceded and agreed to not trash it after he successfully pointed out that he rinsed it out with water and it’s not yucky anymore. Then as he takes the bottle from me and is walking away, he continues to argue his point…which occurs more often than not, and always ends with me saying “you successfully won the point son. Stop talking now or I’ll change my mind for no other reason than because I’m the dad…and I can.”

4. Dinner table conversation:
NE: “Mom says ____ is a bad word, and we shouldn’t say it.”
Dad: “I agree. I don’t like that word either.”
SI: “When we say ____, will momma spank our butts?”
NE: “No, momma won’t spank us if we say ____.”
SI: “Mommy and daddy will not spank our butts if we say ____?”
NE: “Nope.”
Dad: “If you don’t stop saying it right now, I’m gonna spank you right here in front of everyone.”
SI: “If I say ____, you’re gonna spank my butt?”
Dad: “Yes.”
SI: (with look of shock on his face) “Oh. Then I will not say ____ because I don’t want you to spank my butt if I say ____.”
Dad: “Thank you.”
SI: (after long pause) Why can I not say ____? Is ____ a bad word?”
Dad: “Yes, it’s a bad word, and I don’t like it.
SI: “Okay. I will not say ____, because I no want you spank my butt.”
Dad: “That’s great. Thank you.”
SI: “You’re welcome. Cuz I don’t want you to spank my butt if I say ____.”
Dad: “I don’t think you’re getting it son.”
SI: “I will get it when I say ____, and you spank my butt.”
Me: (fighting back a smile) “Yes son. Yes you will. While we’re here, I don’t like butt either. Can we say bottom instead please?”
Repeat conversation. Ugh.

At least there’s hope in the final moments of the night. For the first time in a long time, the boys played together for 20 minutes without the poking of any eyeballs, smacking of any bottoms, pushing each other down the stairs or belly bombs off the couch to break the other’s arms. I only had to raise my voice during bedtime routine once (yes…that’s an improvement…sad, I know). And rather than fighting for a spot beside me at prayer time, NE wanted to sit by his little brother and hugged him throughout the prayer…that he prayed. It’s been awhile since NE has wanted to pray, and he willingly offered twice tonight. I wish I could take credit, but I’m not into pushing my luck. At this rate, we’re overdue for an AFLAC claim. I should have invested in AFLAC’s heart attack policy. Odds are in our favor there. Night night.

Love,

Dad

I Like it Here

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The last week or so since I wrote Welcome to My Vulnerability has been pretty good.  I’ve been staying pretty busy…very busy actually.  This time of year gets pretty hectic with all of you in school and the Upward Sports season starting up.  Throw in some of the other ministries I’ve committed my time to, and I just don’t really have the time to sit down and spend much time writing.  I miss it.

As I write this, I’m watching Bubba play cars on the chair beside me before we leave for school.  I was clearing memory cards from the camera last night, uploading pictures and making room.  We had pictures dating back to the fall of 2010 on there, so I was getting a first glimpse in several years at what life was like back then  So much has changed since then.  Life is pretty good right now…even for all the hectic nonstop action we have going on during any given week.  I often think back on the times when y’all were kids and wish we could go back.  To a time when you were still learning to walk and talk.  After browsing through pictures last night, I realize I’m good.

Perhaps it’s because I have been so focused on preparing for the basketball season…so wrapped up in my rather large and ever-growing to-do list…that I just haven’t had the space in my head for much else…for any negativity.  I like it here.  I like being right here.  Right now.  In the moment.  I don’t want to live in the past.  Or dwell on it any longer.  The funk I’ve been in for much of this past month has kept me from truly enjoying every moment for exactly what it is.  Our life.  I’m ready to push the memories of that incident aside and move forward.  I like it here.  I like the present.  I like watching you play.  I like playing with you.  I look to the future with hope and confidence.  And with one eye on the future and one eye on the present, I have no eye left for the past.  And I’m good with that.  I like it here.

Love,

Dad

Roller Coaster of Love

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What is it about being a parent that incites so many varying emotions within such a short time frame? Did God intend parenting to be such a crazy roller coaster? I know He never said it would be easy…I get that. But how is it that I can I go from a Sunday night bed time that has me stressed to the ends of my tolerance for arguing, bickering, fighting and yelling…ready to throw in the towel and claim my prize as world’s worst dad…ready to take you to a stranger’s house and unleash hell upon them (because I don’t think I could do that to a friend)…to Monday morning less than 12 hours later, feeling sad that you’re all leaving me home alone?

I mean really! Just last night I was praying for a break. And now as two are safely on the bus to school, the youngest is wrapping his arms around my neck, hugging me tightly with “I Lub Ooh Daddy” coming from such a sweet little face. And, what is this new emotion? Is that sadness? How is that possible? Last night I was looking forward to a quiet, peaceful day, and now I’m wishing I could spend the day with you. No wonder I have grey hair. My own body is going crazy trying to learn how to love you. But I do. I love you! I just have to learn how to ride the roller coaster of love better.

Love,

Dad

P.S. By the way, it’s sarcasm. Meant to incite laughter, albeit however sick and twisted that might be. I would never actually drop you off at a stranger’s house. That would not be a safe and prudent parenting decision. No, I’d just leave you in bed and take a long drive to nowhere. 🙂 I believe deep down in the psyche of every parent that’s ever lived, a similar thought has crossed their minds at one point or another during the raising of their kids. The difference between parenting success and parenting failure is the thin line we walk between momentarily thinking it…and actually doing it. If you make it to adulthood with me not being incarcerated, you’ll know I chose the wiser path. And when you have kids of your own, you’ll finally know what I’m talking about.

My Run Journal – August 2012

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8/20
It’s time to get back to it. I haven’t run since the first of June, and it’s starting to affect me more than just physically. Lately, I’ve been stressed. crabby. grouchy. tired. inpatient. short-tempered. snippy. basically just difficult to live with. I just jogged two miles, and I couldn’t even make 1.5 miles without having to walk. Weak. I have 9 weeks to go till my next half marathon, and I’m determined to come within 5 minutes of my time last October. That’s gonna require some serious dedication. I think I’m up for it. Let’s roll.

A Garage Fire

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I jumped off the truck ready to go.  We were first in, and the garage was fully involved.  As my feet hit the ground running, I placed my helmet on my head and something wasn’t right.  It didn’t fit.  I instantly remembered you wearing it around the house a day earlier.  I had brought my gear home with me as I was at a different station the last shift, and in the few days I was home you enjoyed wearing it…playing firefighter around the house.  And I instantly remembered The Blessing in a Helmet.  No time to pause for a prayer tonight though.  Lots of fire and not much time before it spreads to the house.  Gotta get moving…no shame in a quick prayer on the go.

So I took the helmet off my head and readjusted it on the go, placing it back on my head just as the nozzle from the crosslay being pulled off the truck fell into my hand. It was a long stretch to the front door, so I went on air as I was walking to the door and made entry with my partner right behind me.  It was dark and smoky.  Visibility was limited…I could see my hand in front of my face and that’s about it.  As I lowered myself to a semi-crawl/walk position it wasn’t much better, but I could make out objects in the room.  I knew the direction I needed to go, and I turned right…toward the fire.

garage fire

I was making my way to the fire from inside the front door about the time this was taken by a bystander.

It took what seemed like forever to work my way through the first two rooms…it was probably 2-3 minutes from the front door to the fire.  At one point I looked to my right and saw the front window…I shouldn’t be seeing that…I should be further back into the house already.  A few more steps.  Why am I at what seems like a fireplace facing the wrong direction?  Another minute.  Man I’m breathing hard…I gotta slow down and conserve my air.  Keep moving forward…I can hear it now.  It’s getting louder.  I’m in the kitchen, I can see what looks like a cupboard.  A few more steps.  I’m in a closet.  No a bathroom.  Nope, a walk-in pantry.  No, this is a mud room.  Either way, it’s small.  And there it is.  Fire above me.

We start pulling ceiling and fire is raining down on us.  What a sight…we found it.  Let’s do this.  Water on the fire.  The guys behind me are pulling more ceiling, and it’s quickly obvious we need to move.  The fire is behind us.  It’s moving the attic behind us and threatening to move beyond our ability to control it.  As I’m backing out, I turn around and with the nozzle still in hand run into someone.  He’s trying to pull the nozzle out of my hand.  I resist and pull it back.  He keeps pulling and is yelling at me to give it to him.  Firefighting 101…don’t ever hand over your nozzle unless you’re prepared to never get it back.  It’s the Captain…I better give it to him.

After he hits the attic behind us I take my nozzle back and move.  We’ve found the door from the kitchen into the garage.  Still lots of fire out here, but I can see crews working it from the outside too.  Below me, just outside the threshold of the door is what looks like a wood platform.  I sound it and step onto it cautiously…yep, we’re good.  Let’s do this.  As I’m moving the nozzle back and forth, I hear a “pop” and see a bright flash to my left when the water hits the side wall.  Must be some live electric wires there…mental note…let’s stay away from that.  (Turns out later it was the main electric panel for the house, and I fried it with that short burst.  I was close enough, and using enough of a straight stream, that I’m lucky it didn’t juice me.)

We’re knocking a lot of fire down when I ever so slightly lose my balance.  Taking a quick step to my right, I put my arm up to catch myself on the wire railing…and it gives way.  I fall off the platform and catch myself on a wall about 3 feet from it.  I’m hanging off the platform, one foot dangling and one arm grasping for a hold of something to push myself up against.  I’m still holding the nozzle, with my left foot still on the platform.  My right foot is not touching the bottom of this hole, so I know it’s at least a four foot drop.  I’m looking down to my right, and I see fire.  Lots of fire.  It’s all I can see, and I know that if I fall off this thing I’m going to land in right in it.

I can’t put into words the various thoughts that crossed my mind in those moments.  Suffice it to say, for a few seconds I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it.  And if I did, it was sure to hurt like hell.  Would my kids still love me all burned and scarred?  Holy hell, I don’t really want to get burned today.  It’s amazing to me how quickly so many thoughts can instantly pass through the mind.  And yet all the while I’m struggling to stay up on that stinking platform.  I start yelling.  And I throw my left arm up in the air and yell for the guy standing on the platform to pull me back up.

I’m glad my partner was paying attention.  According to him, he was behind another firefighter who followed me out onto the platform.  He turned to look behind him and in the instant his head was turned, he looked back my direction and I was gone.  He stepped out onto the platform and saw me struggling.  Saw my outstretched arm and heard me yelling for help.  Moving past the other guy standing there he grabbed my arm and gave me the leverage I needed to pull myself up, as he pulled to assist me.  When I was back on the platform, I was sitting with my legs dangling off the front of it, like a kid with his feet dangling off the dock at the lake.

It was a great position to fight some more fire.  The last fire I fought that night was fought sitting on my butt.  Not for long, though.  The debris on that platform was still  burning.  And within moments, it was burning my butt.  Mental note…protective fire gear will in fact burn.  Might take longer to feel it on your tush, but it does burn.

Afterward, I walked through the house and got to see where we were in a better light.  Turns out my fall would have only been about 3-4 feet, so I easily could have pulled myself right back up.  I was never really in any danger of being hurt, and it certainly was not a close call, by any definition.  Just reinforces to me what’s important…and that when your helmet doesn’t fit, a quick prayer on the go never hurts.

Love,

Dad

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