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It’s Like Pulling Teeth…Unless the Tooth is Ripe for Pulling

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Sometimes getting my two youngest boys to lay still and fall asleep at bed time is like pulling teeth. But then again, sometimes the tooth is ripe for the pulling.

A father has the pleasure of filling so many roles in the life of his children through the years. Role model, leader, teacher, coach, hero, confidant, counselor, journeyman, dentist. Yes…you read that right. I said dentist. It’s been awhile since I was a dentist here at home, not since SD was young enough to be losing teeth as a toddler.

Now that NE is 5, we’re in the losing teeth stage again, and the need for emergency dental work pops up now and then. It’s been so long since we’ve had loose teeth up in here, I was wondering if my skills would still be good enough to do the job. The trick is using the right tool for the job.

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Yes, I would have preferred the needle-nose pliers, but I have a 5 year old and a 3 year old who love “fixing” things…and apparently toy tools are not good for fixing things anymore…daddy’s tools are never where they should be when daddy needs them. So, we remember the first rule of firefighting…and fatherhood. Adapt and overcome.

Lo and behold, regular pliers will do the trick in a pinch. Yes, you were a bit apprehensive about this procedure. Can’t say I blame you. But when I whispered two words in your ear, your mouth opened right up. Two words you say? Ice & Cream. Nothing like bribing a 5 year old with ice cream.

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Yes. That’s a tooth in my hand. It came out much easier than SD’s did eight years ago…but then again, I had needle nose pliers back in the day. Quite the brave young man you’re becoming buddy…you were so nervous and anxious today about it falling out and losing it…I just couldn’t help but offer to be the fixer. I like being the fixer. Even more, I love watching you step out of your comfort zone. And I love being here to walk you through these steps in your life. I look forward to many more years of filling various roles for you as you become a man. If walking you through the next stage of your life is like pulling teeth, I’m gonna love it!

Love,

Dad

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A Christmas to Remember…I’m Gonna Miss This Some Day

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It’s been a good Christmas Day. Every Christmas Day is good, because we get to celebrate the birth of our Savior. But today was remarkably cooler than recent ones of memory.

It was a day of traditions. Early morning rising to read the Christmas Story.

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Opening presents and being silly.

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Cinnamon rolls for breakfast and baking sweets.

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Two hours of assembling your presents.

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Followed by a full day of watching you playing together.

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Making our own pizzas for lunch.

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Mom says she had fun teaching you how to play your new DS.

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I think she just used it as an excuse to have a little fun herself. 🙂

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We even had time to add a new tradition…that promises to become an annual one. You liked the first course of vegetables and bread with cheese fondue…but not as much as the fruits and “mallemows” with chocolate.

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It was definitely fun watching you try something new.

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And there’s nothing better than a belly full of chocolate to cuddle up and watch our favorite Christmas movies together before bedtime.

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It was indeed a Christmas to remember. I’m thankful for the miracle of the birth of Christ, and I’m thankful for days like today. I’m gonna miss this some day.

Love,

Dad

110 Cars of Faith

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“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1

“Dad, there are a lot of cars driving today.  I bet every car in the whole world is driving right here now.”

“Yeah, son there are a lot of cars this morning, but I don’t think every car in the world is right here…that would be a whole lot more cars.”

“Yeah, cuz there are 110 cars in the whole world, and that would be a lot!” (Imagine that said with the awe and wonder at how a 5 year old sees the number 110 as infinity.)

This morning, I was driving NE to school following an early morning doctor appointment when he said that, and it made me smile…and got me thinking about how much of a child I really am in my faith.  Have you ever found yourself putting limits on what God can do?  Silently thought to yourself, “this situation is hopeless.  I don’t see how this is going to work.  This is not possible.  There’s nothing we can do.  It’s just too much…too big for me.”

I remember the first Upward Sports season for us at FBCW.  When God laid it on my heart to bring this ministry to our church, I never envisioned starting the first season with 241 kids.  After all, there was a league being played at the same time right across the street with 250 kids already.  I planned for 100 that first season…and thought that would be a lot…I set my limits on what God had planned.  In season two, I planned for 300…and the league across from us disbanded, and we had 458 register.  By season three, I started dreaming big…and planned for 500.  God again demonstrated He’s bigger than we are, and brought us 518.  So in season four, I thought…I’ll show Him…and I planned for 600.  He brought us 621.  As we planned for the men’s Bible study we recently started, we ordered materials for 30 men, thinking that was more than enough…believing we’d never get 30 guys to attend this study…and 45 committed to the 8-week study!

These are just the most recent instances I can look back on in my life and see that I have a habit of limiting what I believe God will do.  Maybe it’s that my faith isn’t that strong or deep, but I think it’s also that in my humanness I can never really know how great our God truly is.  After all, our limited perspective feels like on most days this is all there is.  When we walk around this world we see things from a human’s eye…because that’s who we are…how He made us.  We can’t truly grasp what infinity is because we’re a visual people.  Even the universe we live in is defined by a boundary, so infinity seems an impossible concept to grasp.

Like 110 is the highest number known to a 5 year old, so it is with us.  We think that our vision limits God’s visions.  When what we need is to reverse that and realize that it’s God’s vision that sets the limits of our own understanding.  He placed in us a desire to know and follow Him, and limited our vision to what is seen for a reason.  The vision we have in us to see the unseen is only a small portion of what He placed within us.  I choose to believe He did so because if He had completely revealed to us the fullness of His vision, then of what purpose would faith be to us?  Anyone can believe what is seen…it’s the unseen that takes faith.  On this side of eternity, we’ll never fully comprehend the fullness of His vision and the limitlessness of His power and love.

When NE was first learning to count, ten was it.  That’s all the fingers we have, so that must be as high as we can count, right?  I remember the amazement at learning there’s an eleven…a twelve…and even more…but not seeing it made it hard to believe.  So to help him understand and believe, we hung a number chart on the dining room wall.  Numbers all the way to 100!  Wow!  As he mastered that which he could see, we again rocked his world when we revealed to him that it doesn’t end at 100.  Next is 101…102…103, and that you can keep counting numbers forever.  He had to learn (by faith) that it doesn’t stop at 100…to imagine a world where you can keep counting forever and ever.  Like his understanding of numbers grows over time, so does our faith.  Let your faith grow beyond what you can see…beyond what you feel…beyond that which you can understand and comprehend…beyond what you can grasp.  Because faith in what you can see and grasp is not really faith at all.

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:11-13

Love,

Dad

Gracious Father, I’m thankful that you’re not limited by my vision.  Forgive me for placing limits on what is possible through You.  May you continue to grow my faith through whatever means you find necessary to do so.  Please enlighten the vision within me to better see all that You would have me to see.  Ignite a passion within me to daily follow after you with all I am and all I have.

Amen

Spaghetti Smiles & Cotton Candy Mustaches

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Most people I know think it crazy of me to drive all the way across the state to Kansas City to watch an NFL game when I could stay in the Lou and watch one without the drive. What those peeps don’t know is that there is no comparison. I’ve watched a Rams game in person, and the experience pales in comparison to a Chiefs game day experience at Arrowhead Stadium.

The 5:00am wake up call this morning for a 6:00 departure is actually 2 hours later than I would prefer. It’s the first game for NE and SI, though, so I chose to take it easy on you…this trip. Eventually, we’ll be leaving by 4:00am though, so be ready. 🙂

There’s just something electric about coming within sight of Arrowhead Stadium…and pulling up to the entrance to the lot. It’s the culmination of all the excitement building over a three hour drive. It’s the sea of red all around you. The anticipation of what’s ahead. The atmosphere. The people. The noise and the sounds. The smell of thousands of grills cooking up everything from burgers and brats to shrimp, steak and lobster. It’s all that wrapped into one exciting moment that gives me chill bumps every time.

The haze that covers the parking lot before the game can’t be seen well in a picture, but once you’ve experienced tailgating KC style, nothing the Lou has to offer will ever come close.
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Game day brings good food.
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Good fun.
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And memories that will last a lifetime.
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And if you’re paying attention, you might just find a cotton candy mustache.
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Or a spaghetti smile.
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I had a blast today boys. Can’t wait to bring you back. Next time, I won’t forget to pack the headphones. After all…it IS Arrowhead, the loudest stadium in the NFL.
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And while someone going to a game in the Lou might be home long before us, it’s the long, quiet drive home that I get to enjoy one of the best views all day.
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Love,

Dad

When I Grow Up

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As we watched the Olympics last night, out of nowhere NE asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up.

To be honest, I haven’t given that very much thought lately. Most days, it seems like I’m stuck in a revolving door…not able to escape the craziness of our life for more than an hour here…two hours there. I’m not complaining, mind you…wouldn’t change a thing…just saying that my vision has been pretty short-term lately. Most days, I’m not able to see past the end of the day, let alone plan for tomorrow…next week…next month…15 years from now when I retire.

So goes my conversation with a curious 5 year old:

Me: “But I’m already a firefighter.”
NE: “No dad. When you grow up and don’t want to be a firefighter anymore, what do you want to be?”
Me: “When I grow up, I want to be a great daddy and a child of God.”
NE: (With a grin) “Not when you die…when you’re still on earth, not in heaven.” (I love the innocence found only in a child.)
Me: “Then I want to be a Papa.”
NE: Giggles
Me: “I want to be a Papa when you have children.”
NE: (Giggles louder) “but I already have a Papa…and a grandpa.”
Me: “Then you can call me Poppy.”
NE: Uncontrollable giggles

And as quickly as it started, you’re distracted with the runners on tv, and the moment is gone. But the conversation made an impression on me…and I look toward the future…not to what I want to be, but toward who I want to be. I want to be a man of integrity, honor and courage, humbly serving others just as Christ served. I want to be the kind of dad that leaves a legacy for your grandchildren…that they can look back at and be proud of. For now, though, I’m happy to live in the moment…and watch you dream of what you want to be when you grow up. Whatever that may be, I’ll be your strongest supporter. I love you buddy!

Love,

Dad

Run on Dudes!

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It dawned on me today why I “enjoy” running. Yes I sarcastically say “enjoy” because it’s not something I find pleasure in, except when I’m done for the day…it feels good to have accomplished a good run. In the sense of the way I use the word “enjoy” above, I find some satisfaction in running because I have a hope that it will improve my overall health and level of fitness.

I’ve been discouraged a little here of late because I’m not seeing the pounds drop off like I’d hoped to have already seen by now. It’s been over a year since I started running, and my weight has not really changed much…and my pace is not improving because the weight means it hurts more to run as much as I need to to maintain my training level. I know why the weight’s not coming off like I want, and I know what I need to do to change that…implementation is the part I’m missing. But that’s subject for another note.

Yesterday was NE’s 5th birthday, and he asked for a running hat…like the one I wear when I run, except red. Today as we were running errands, NE was wearing his new hat and SI was wearing mine.

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These two beautiful faces smiling back at me say it all. Watching the two of you running around all day, and then NE running your “race” around the cul-de-sac, reinforced for me that while I run for my own health, it ain’t all about me. I may never see the results I want to see in my own body. But the choices I’m making now are changing my family tree. Choosing to be active and eat healthier now are setting a better example for you in these young, formative years…setting a higher standard for you to live by than what I was previously setting. Watching you following in my footsteps, trying to be more active is doing my heart good…knowing that you want to live a healthy life…even if you don’t realize what that actually means yet. And that in itself is worth all the pain and hard work I put into my running. Even if I never lose another pound, if my being active keeps you healthy, then I did good. I pray that’s the case. Run on dudes!

Love,

Dad

Lawn Mower Train Rides & Caterpillar Tickles

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As I write this, we’re headed home from your grandma and grandpa’s house. It’s spring break, and we came down for a day and a half to visit. It’s nice being close enough that we can drop in for a day or so without driving all day. I like that we can spend some time in the country, letting you explore and have fun roaming the property freely. It’s the little things in life that remind me what matters.

Y’all just eat up the attention and find excitement in such “mundane” and “normal” experiences…things we adults take for granted…like it’s the greatest thing you’ve ever done. Watching as your grandpa pulls you around the yard in your wagons, hooked behind his riding mower like a little train, is like watching a momma duck and her little ducklings waddling behind, trying to keep up. He’s going so slow, even I can run faster…and we’ve already discussed how slow I run. Yet, the wonder in your eyes and the excited laugh that escapes your lips as you roll past…waving at me like you’re leaving on a 3 month cross-country trek…reminds me that this is the good stuff.

Watching your amazement and awe at seeing a real live caterpillar for the first time. The initial timidness and anxiety you have about the mere thought of letting it touch you slowly morphs into little giggles of excitement as I show you how it tickles to let him crawl on your hand. Then, watching as you so boldly carry him around, proudly displaying your new find, reminds me that this is the good stuff.

I love you all SO stinking much! Yep…lawn mower train rides and caterpillar tickles…this is the good stuff.

Love,

Dad

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