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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

Pork Chops & Apple Sauce

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It’s a sad, bittersweet moment tonight. For about the last two years, SI you and I have had a mutual understanding. We’ve agreed that whenever I want, I can come to you for my pork chops and apple sauce fix, and in return I won’t abuse the privilege by doing it too much.  I don’t blame you directly for now believing that your belly button is NOT your apple sauce…that it’s apparently called a belly. Tonight when I tried to get me some apple sauce, you told me “NO” for the first time EVER…wouldn’t even let me try, as you tried to set me straight by correcting me and telling me “it’s NO apple sauce! It’s my “buy-eee!'”

I don’t know who told you otherwise, but when I find out who it was, I’m going to have a stern conversation with them.  I mean really!  Who would do such a thing?!  Ruin a daddy’s bonding moment with his youngest son?  That’s just rude!  At least you still have pork chops.  Whoever spoiled the apple sauce better never try to tell you that your pork chops are something other than just that.  Now I’ll just have to work harder at protecting your innocence.  Because I’m still gonna be coming to you for my pork chops AND my apple sauce.

Love,

Dad

Daddy Proud

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We started homeschool today. NE, you’re 4 years old and still enrolled two days a week in the preschool at church, but I felt led earlier this year to join the ranks of the many who’ve chosen home schooling over public or private school. When I put all the pro’s and con’s down on paper, it really was a simple decision, although it was not one I took lightly. This year is a trial run for us…an opportunity to test the waters, so to speak. I figure worst case scenario: it doesn’t work out, you’re still in preschool twice a week like you would have been anyway, and next year you’ll start kindergarten in public school. It’s like a free year for you and me to see how we do together in the teacher/student role. Although I was (and still am) a little apprehensive about it, I don’t know why. God’s the one who called me to do this. I’m not doing it because it’s something I particularly want to do. I’m doing it because God led me to. He knows what He’s doing.

If today is any inclination of how our year is going to go, I’m excited to see what God has in store for us. You did awesome for our first day! Although I had a 30 minute lesson plan ready, I’m a realist…my only real expectation was to be happy if I could get you to sit and stay focused on me for 15 minutes. At the young age of 4, that can be a challenge, and you’re so much like me it’s scary…stubborn, hard-headed and strong-willed, we want to do things our way. You did me proud today son. You sat at your desk and paid attention, tracing the letter “i” and repeating the sounds the letter makes and saying the names of the items in the pictures that had “i” in them. You really stayed focused longer than I’d hoped. SI, even you participated and repeated the letter and its sound back to me. You’re an amazing young dude SI! As we were wrapping up, NE, you were the one that encouraged me, rather than me encouraging you. I was a little flustered in my not being organized. The printer hadn’t been working to print the tracer page I wanted you to work from, I had supplies strewn all over, and my OCD was kicking in. You looked up at me and said, “Daddy. You a good teacher.” Even later that day as we were swimming, you asked me, “Daddy? We go inside and you be teacher again?” Two very “daddy proud” moments in one day! Yep, can’t wait to see what God has in store for us.

Love,

Dad

The “Wa Yay” on the Potty

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While not a note you may have expected from me, I like writing some of these daily memories down. Although, these notes are mostly for your benefit, I know that your mom and I will find some benefit and joy in them as we read back on your younger years after you’ve moved on with your own lives. So some of these notes are occasionally more for us than you. This is one of those:

SI, you’re 2 years old as I write this, and you’ve started to show interest in going potty on the “big boy” potty. Seems younger than I remember with NE, but maybe that’s part of having an older brother to watch and learn from. I’m sure that having someone to model daily life for you helps you become interested in things earlier than most. Makes sense anyway. Anyway, last night your mom put you on the potty just to see how you’d react to it. It wasn’t the first time you’d done it. You actually went potty on the big boy potty about a week or so ago at bath time. This time, though, as soon as you sat down you started pushing, and voila…you went pee. With the expected accolades and praise from your momma, you were ecstatic and immediately ran into the room to tell me all about it, flashing me in the process and pointing to yourself where the “wa yay” came out. Well done son! Well done!

Love,

Dad

A Weekend to Remember

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There is nothing that brings me more joy than spending time with you, my kids.  This past weekend, we held our annual Family Life Celebration weekend, our 5th year doing it.  It’s a way for your mother and I to celebrate each of you and your lives, how you’ve impacted our family so much…a way for us to celebrate the births and adoptions of each of you and rejoice in who you are and to just love on you for the whole weekend.  What a great weekend this year!

I truly enjoyed spending Friday floating on the river with you.  This was the 4th year we’ve done the float, and it was by far the best.  SD, I love the excitement you bring to everything we do, and floating on the river is no exception.  The way you embrace life with such passion and energy is refreshing and inspiring to me.  Watching your excitement as you have so much fun really makes it fun.  NE, you’re getting more and more brave, taking more chances this year than last.  Watching you grow and become more confident in who you are and what you want is really cool.  You’re swimming out farther on your own than ever before, and really coming into your own.  Throwing rocks into the water from the edge is a lot of fun.  I really am enjoying this stage in your life.  SI, this was your first float with us, and you really had a good time.  I had an even better time.   Having you cling to me as we float in the water keeps me young.  You are all energy all the time, and I love it.

The picnic on Saturday was a blast…hot and humid, but a great day.  I really love that we’re blessed enough to be able to do this for you every year, and I am already looking forward to next year.  Spending time with the three of you rejuvenates my soul.  Having a weekend where family and friends can come together to spend time with you and love on you is a true blessing, and I look forward to continuing this tradition for as long as we’re able.  Next  year, I’m thinking we need to incorporate a camping trip somehow.  Either way, the weekend is all about you.

Love,

Dad

My Quiver is Full

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I’m sitting here in a flood of emotion today, and it occurs to me that I think I was wrong in what started this passion for writing to you all.  When I started this blog in February 2011, I credited this post for the inspiration behind it all.  This morning, I just finished this note to SD, and as I sit here reflecting on the years gone by, I’m reminded of a little “song” I put together several years ago.  It’s been so long since I’ve seen it, it took me awhile to find it.  I call it a song loosely, because I have no musical talent…I couldn’t put together the musical composition needed to actually create a full-fledged song if I had to.  But, this is the song of my heart.  When I wrote it, I had a desire to really tell you…to show you through words and music how I feel about each of you.  I actually first wrote it shortly after NE was born, in August of 2007, and I went back after SI was born to add a section for you, adding your section in the summer of 2010, shortly after your first birthday.

It’s a dream of mine to be able to sing this to you one day…to have a song we could call our own.  Maybe a musically gifted person will read this one day and help us out with that.  🙂  For now, I’ll have to settle for sharing it here in letter form…if it never goes further than this, I’m good with that so long as you know it was written in love and lots of tears for each of you.  You each mean so much to me that words could never accurately display.  Without further delay, here is the inspiration that started it all:

Psalm 127:3-5
Sons are a heritage from the Lord,
children a reward from Him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one's youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their
enemies in the gate.

This song is inspired by each of my 4 “arrows

My Quiver Is Full

SD
When we took you in, my walk was weak.
Trapped in my sin, of God I didn’t speak.
Doctors said your heart was broke; needed repair.
To my knees I fell, in desperate prayer.
God’s plans are bigger than our own.
And now I know, it was my heart He needed to sew.
 
DW
Through no fault of your own,
Strangers came in; took you from your home.
I can’t grasp the pain you’ve seen, the hurt you’ve known.
God’s plans are bigger than our own.
It was I who needed healing, more love in my life;
He blessed ME when He brought you to our home.
 
Chorus:
As arrows for the warrior, our children are born
I’m the soldier He chose to reward.
My quiver has more than I ever dreamed
He’s given me more than I’ll ever need.
You’re the arrows of my quiver
Straight, strong, and true.
My arrow, my child from God
My reward from Him is you.
 
NE
Doctors said we’d never conceive.
In the world’s eyes, you were never s’posed to be.
The day you were born, to my knees I fell; cried like never before,
In awe of how perfect you were.
God’s plans are bigger than our own.
God’s gift to me…to bless me despite my sin.
 
SI
With news of you on the way, I laughed aloud; a sign from above
I needed more joy; more room still, for love.
Your laugh, your smile, you light up the room
God’s plans are bigger than our own.
In rhythm now, our lives in harmony
In you, God completed our family.
 
Chorus:
As arrows for the warrior, our children are born
I’m the soldier He chose to reward.
My quiver has more than I ever dreamed
He’s given me more than I’ll ever need.
You’re the arrows of my quiver
Straight, strong, and true.
My arrow, my child from God
My reward from Him is you.
 
My quiver overflows with my reward.
My child, you’re wonderful; beautiful.
Created in His image; phenomenal.
My quiver is full.  My quiver is full.




Love, Dad

What’s in a Word?

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What’s in a word? Thats a good question. Through the toddler years, as each of you has learned to talk, the mispronunciations of different words along the way has brought your mom and me much joy. As I write this, NE recently turned four, and I find myself reflecting back on these first four years. You each have your own style when it comes to learning to talk, and different words have caused you each your own set of difficulty. I wish we had done a better job of remembering SD’s first words, but we do have a few. What follows are the words we’ve found the most joy in through the years, in no particular order.

“Extodian” = custodian (NE) “I made a new friend today.” “What’s his name?” “I don’t know. He’s the extodian.”

“Flushy” = slushy (NE)

“Underrupded” = interrupted (NE) “You underrupded me”

“Misk it” = mix it (SI)

“Banilla” = vanilla (SI)

“Wad” = odd (SI) “I’m evens. You’re wads.”

“SupercalafragaLIPSTICexpealedoscious. (NE)
“bix-it” = biscuit. (SI)
“Hoxtabull” = hospital. (SI)

“My eye spells” = My eye spies (NE)

“Flick Flocks” = flip flops Started with NE and has been passed down to SI and up to SD and the rest of us. 🙂

“Poxable” = Popsicle (SI)

“opee meal” = oatmeal (SI)

“Gay el” = girl (SI)

“Para pepper” = paramedic (SI)

“Spink-a-wing” = sprinkling (SI)

“Horsey Kisses” = Hershey kisses (SI)

“Unappropriate” = inappropriate (SI)

“Hoxtable” = hospital (SI)

“Flick Flocks” = Flip Flops

“Long Cut” = Opposite of Short Cut
Self explanatory, huh? SD, you first said this to me about a month ago as we were walking across the church parking lot. We were running behind for the boys’ MDO Spring Fling, and I started out across the lot in a hurry to get inside. I was darting between cars and looked back to make sure you were keeping up. When I didn’t see you and called your name out, you hollered from about 6 cars away that you were taking the long cut. Touché. You got me there. Yes you are. 🙂

“He’s Zero.” = SD introducing her younger brothers before their first birthday
Okay, so this is more than just a word, it’s an expression. I just couldn’t leave it out though. SD, when each of the boys were born, you doted on them like any proud big sister would. You always introduced them by saying, “This is NE. He’s zero.” Who am I to correct that? Especially when you’re actually right. Zero does come before one. You rock girl!

“M’s” = M&M’s
This one is SD’s. You really love your M’s. It’s a vise you come by honestly. They’re my weakness too. As you learned what this little chocolate treasure was, you discovered your love for chocolate, and it was so cute hearing “M’s” come from your mouth that we kept this one. They will forever be M’s in our home.

“Walkie Talker” = Walkie/Talkie
I’ll admit…this is a silly word anyway. Back in the day when it was first invented, I’m sure it was awesome to be able to walk away from the big stationary radio and use a portable radio for the first time. Still…walkie talkie? That’s the best they could come up with? Nowadays, we call them handheld radios, or simply handhelds…in the fire service anyway. And right now, NE, you are fascinated with all things fire service. You all three enjoy sitting in the utility trucks at the fire station when you come to visit me at work. Why you enjoy “driving” the utility trucks more than the ladder truck I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the size of the big truck that intimidates you a little. Anyway, we’ve had some good times you “driving” me to fires, and we can’t just go to a fire without reporting in, can we? Good thing we have a Walkie Talker. Even better that you know how to use it.

“Whose” = Horse
SD goes horseback riding once a week, and SI, you are awed by the horse. You get as excited as she does when you see them. As I right this, we’re watching an episode of Sesame Street, and it’s all about horses. You’re awesome. Your eyes get real big, your mouth opens wide, and you gasp as if surprised, as you cover your mouth with both hands. Then you point at the screen and say “whose!” Love it!

“Nuggle” = Snuggle
SD, you’ll know that we still use this today, because it’s definitely a keeper. It’s always melted my heart when you crawl or walk up to me and ask softly “daddy? You nuggle me?” What dad could ever say no to some quality nuggle time with his beautiful baby girl?

“Snuggers” = Snuggle
NE, hearing you ask “you snuggers me?” as we tuck you into bed each night is priceless. Who could resist that? We do love our snuggers time! Yes, this one is a keeper too!

“Buggle Gum” = Bubble Gum
Confusing the “b” with the “g” is understandable…and cute. 🙂

“Mallemows”‘= Marshmallows
I’m laughing as I write this because I’m typing it out on my cell phone, and the auto-spell correct option on my phone recognizes the word and auto-completes the word for me after typing only “mallem”. Now that’s awesome! Who knows…by the time you’re in high school, it might be in the dictionary. Yes, it’s definitely a keeper. Quite honestly, if you asked for a marshmallow in our home, I don’t think we’d know what you’re talking about. Gotta love a hot chocolate with mallemows. SD, back in the day, you would eat through a bag like it was the last thing you’d ever get to eat. When we have them in the house, they don’t last long because when you wake up hungry in the middle of the night, they end up in bed with you.

“Crash” = Equivalent of a toast with our cups
SD, I don’t know what it is about crashing our drink cups together at every meal that has become a necessity for you, and I don’t remember how it started, but it’s cool. Some days, it’s just once…other days, it’s over and over in one meal. Either way, it’s become our thing, eh? A meal in our home is just not the same without it.

“Noggin!” = A Forehead Crash
I’m not sure how this one started either…no telling around here. I do know it can be painful, though. When I hear “noggin!” yelled out, I instinctively wince now. I’m not sure my head can take it if we keep doing this much longer.

“Snipe” = Snap
NE, you’re so cute. Mostly when you’re not even trying to be. You like to hide stuff in your hands behind your back. In your 2’s and 3’s, mama would ask you what you’re hiding, and you’d just look at her with a disheveled, sneaky grin…so she’d jokingly call you a little snipe. Around the same time, you were learning to get dressed on your own, encountering snaps and buttons along the way. Somewhere in there, snap and snipe blended and a snap became a snipe. Good stuff.

“But” = Button
Which brings us to but…while learning about buttons and snaps, button got shortened. Cute…till you would point out to various people in public with big buttons on their attire that they had a big but. Okay, so it was cute then too. 🙂

“Bak-a-baw” = Basketball
Actually, it’s everything ball. If it’s a ball, it’s a bak-a-baw. Baseball…soccer ball…football…tennis ball…doesn’t matter. And SI, you do love throwing a bak-a-baw. You can even take a rolled up dirty sock and make it a pretty good bak-a-baw. Tonight at the grocery store, you treid to use a cantelope as a bak-a-baw. You throw a mean bak-a-baw too. At just 22 months, your form when shooting hoops is spot on, and your fastball is painful at short range…painful because the accuracy isn’t quite there yet…you’re still a wild man with a bak-a-baw. We’re still in the early stages of this word, so it’s hard to predict if it’ll be a keeper or not…but it’s looking favorable.

“Hooker” = Trailer Ball
This one started as I was hauling the trailer for the Upward season in early ’11. NE, you’re fascinated with the trailer and my truck. Trying to explain that a towing ball is not like a basketball is hard. “It hooks the trailer up” is about all I could say to help it make sense for you. Man, I’ll tell you one thing, though…I wish I could have been there the day you saw Miss Rhonda from the church office in the parking lot and made sure she knew that she had a hooker. Ha!

“Lub” = Love
SD, I lub you too. I lub each of you more than I could ever say. I lub you so much I would die for you if it came to it. Only one man could ever lub you more than daddy, and He already did die for you. His name is Jesus Christ.

So, what’s in a word? I’ll tell what…some good laughs…some awkward moments…some pain…some new traditions…some love…and lots of great memories.

Lub,

Dad

P.S. – Words added below have come along since the original writing of this note and are noted with the date I added them to the list:

“Tamperine” = Trampoline – June 1, 2011
We had a trampoline for several years…until the weight from you and 6 of your neighborhood friends all jumping at the same time ripped the fabric around the springs, so we had to remove it from active duty. After about 2 years without one, I thought it’d be cool to replace it. So far, so good on that decision…because you all enjoyed breaking it in this afternoon. NE, to hear you call it a tamperine does my soul good. It’s hard to tell if the “p” is actually a “p” or a “b”, because every now and then I think you’re saying “tamberine”. Either way, it’s awesome! Thanks for the help putting it together, by the way…I couldn’t have done it without my awesome helper handing me springs!

“Which hand the penny?” = Just a guessing game – June 1, 2011
SD, just yesterday I remembered this game you used to play growing up. You started when you were in about the 2nd grade, and it’s been awhile since you’ve done it…I vaguely remember you playing it a month or so ago. When you get in my truck, you take a penny out of the cup holder, hide it in one hand behind your back and ask, “which hand the penny?” For the first year, you’d always have it in the same hand…still not sure how I kept guessing the wrong hand all the time…

“Wa Yay” = Water (or anything to drink) – July 21, 2011
SI, watching you learn new words is really fun for me. You already bring so much fun and energy to the family, and as you learn to communicate, it’s even more fun. You’ve been saying this word for a month or so now, and it applies to anything you want to drink…water, milk, juice, coffee…any liquid. Yes, even coffee. I started NE out on this about the time he was your age, and I’m paying for it still. It’s really a sippie cup with mostly milk and a splash of coffee, but you both like doing things I do, and drinking my coffee is no different. Hearing you ask for your “Wa yay” is awesome.

“Aww Tay” = “Oh Tay” (from the movie The Little Rascals”) – July 21, 2011
The Little Rascals movie is a regular in our van. You guys love it. We’ve watched it so many times, I have the words memorized, which is okay by me…it’s an awesome movie. SI, just yesterday in the van on the way to church, when the movie came on, you said “Aww Tay”, and it was AWESOME. Hilarious stuff! They say it in the opening scene, and you just kept repeating it. Your mom and I kept saying it too, just to get you to keep repeating it, it was that funny. Good stuff.

“Abble” = Apple (or anything to eat) – July 21, 2011
SI, when you first learned what an apple was and started calling it an abble, it was awesome by itself. Now, just about everyting you want to eat is either an abble or a cookie…regardless of what it is. Could be cereal, a sandwich, a hot dog, yogurt…doesn’t matter. It’s all either an abble or a cookie. 🙂

“Ploon” = Balloon – July 21, 2011
If I could find a way to spell how this actually sounds, I would. To simply read “ploon” doesn’t do it justice. Try to imagine the sound your lips make when you have them closed and blow air through them…kinda like when you give someone a raspberry on their belly. Until this morning, I thought it was just with the word balloon, but as I was writing this, you were playing a game on my phone and saw a picture of an airplane. When you saw it, you made the same sound when saying “plane”. When you combine your “p” and “l” into the “pl” sound, that’s what is sounds like…then just add the rest of the word afterward, and that’s what we got. Wicked cool.

“Coose coose” = Blues Clues – February 2012
SI, you’re enjoying watching this cartoon, and I’m enjoying listening to you say it.

“Gooby Doo” = Scooby Doo – February 2012
SI, you love your Scooby Doo. I enjoy how much you and your brother enjoy it, because it takes me back to my youth, when I watched Scooby Doo after school every day. You have some new rain boots with Gooby Doo on them, and you show them proudly, proclaiming these are “my Gooby Doo’s’. Ruh Roh Raggy!

“I DOO Myself!!” = Exactly what it says – February 2012
It’s always a bittersweet moment in the life of a daddy when his child starts doing things for himself. It’s a time when you’re learning independence, one baby step at a time. With that comes that “daddy proud” moment when I know you’re maturing and growing. Yet it also comes with the acceptance that the closer you come to being independent, the closer comes the time when you’ll not want my help. It does do me proud to watch you gain your independence and start doing more for yourself.

“I Funk!” = Hahaha…this one is hilarious to me – February 2012
Bubba, you crack me up dude! Your mom and I started this one, but you just have your way of making it yours. When it was time for you and NE to jump in the bath, your mom started saying, “Time for a bath. You smell funky!” I followed suit, and shortly thereafter you picked it up and ran with it. “I Funk!!” is what you proudly proclaim when you want a bath. Not many people would proudly proclaim they smell funky! You’re all boy, son…my boy!!

“Butt-Cheye!” = Butterfly – February 2012
SI, tonight you and I were reading a book together. It was a picture book, and you were asking “what’s this?” with all the pictures. When we got to the butterfly, this is how you pronounced it, and it cracked me up dude. Just had to add it because you make me smile, in more ways than you’ll ever know.

“Ahhff” = All – February 2012
Another SI-ism, this is one I love and will remember always. As in, “I drink my milk. I drink ’em ahhff.”

“Cockadoo!” = Rooster – February 2012
Another SI-ism, this one came out at lunch after church today. As part of the restaurant decorations, two parrots were hanging above the table beside us. You pointed and said “one. two cockadoos”. It took a while to convince you they we’re parrots, not cockadoos.

A Tank for Christ

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SI,

Let me first say that while I address this note specifically to SI, it is applicable to all of you, my children.  There are lessons in each of these letters that each of you can apply in your own life, regardless of who I am specifically addressing.  I chose to address SI for this one, simply because basketball is on my mind lately…

Yesterday was the final game day for the third season of Upward Basketball & Cheerleading at church.  Eight weeks of games, preceded by 3 weeks of practices and another 5 months of planning, preparation and work to lay the groundwork for a sports league that would minister to over 500 children and their families.  Eight months of basketball tends to mean that basketball is on my mind a lot, especially during the season.

SI, although you’re not yet two years old, I’m starting to see in you a God-given ability.  A talent.  A skill.  A gift.  I will sit here now and predict that you’ll be a natural athlete.  You’re built like a stud and have a strength like no other twenty-one month old child I’ve ever seen.  You’re all muscle and meat.  I’ve watched you pick up and move items that others almost twice your age struggle with.  You love to come underneath me while I’m standing and stick your head between my legs.  With your arms wrapped around my legs, your shoulders are in the back of my legs and you push.  You push with such strength and determination that you have knocked me off balance several times.  At 21 months of age, you’ve knocked a 37 year old man off balance, simply in your strength and determination to do so.  We walk around the house like that, you and I.  You pushing me like you’re giving ME a piggy-back ride around the house.  Sure, I could stand there and not walk with you, and you would only be leaning into me trying to push me.  But what fun is that?  Truth be told, I love it.  It’s our thing right now…you giving me piggy-back rides.  Tank.  Your newest nickname is now Tank.  Not sure if it will ever stick, but for now you are either Bubba or Tank.  I wonder if we’ll ever call you by your given name.

And it’s not just me.  Friends and family have commented on how well-built you are.  You’re heavy for your age…not overweight…heavy.  Like I said, all muscle.  If memory serves me correctly, your last checkup at the doctor was at the same time as NE.  He’s two years older than you, and you weighed only 6 pounds less than him.  I can’t tell you how many friends from church have told me how strong you are, and that your new nickname fits you well.  It was those friends who started confirming for me the athletic gift I started to see in you myself.

“Ball.”  If we put you in a room with two toys, a ball and any other toy in the world, you will almost always go straight to the ball.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a baseball, football, golf ball, soccer ball, basketball, tennis ball, or hackey sack.  Ninety nine percent of the time, you will go for the ball.  I love playing catch with you…unless we’re playing catch with a golf ball in the house…you’re dangerous at close quarters catch with a hard ball.  🙂

I haven’t personally seen this, but I’m told that in the nursery at church or at preschool, there is a shelf about six feet off the ground with bins of toys.  There are several Styrofoam balls from which to choose, and you generally walk in and go straight to that shelf and stand there pointing up at the toys saying, “Baw.  Baw.  Baw.” over and over again until someone comes over to get you the ball.  You then step back and start throwing.  And you keep throwing until you get the ball back into one of those bins, at which point you stand there pointing up saying, “Baw.  Baw.  Baw.”  over and over again until someone gets you the ball again.  And so the cycle repeats.  I’m told that there are days you spend hours doing this.  They say your arm motion and follow through is spot-on for the proper form for shooting a basketball.  I’ve seen it on occasion at the house, although we don’t really have anything set up at the house to help develop this skill.  That will soon change, and we will work to encourage you and help to develop this God-given gift.

While it is my prayer that I get to see you grow into a man and spend many years with you into your forties and beyond, when God takes me home is not up to me.  I started this series of letters to you all for a reason…with a purpose…that you would have some encouragement and wisdom from me should I be taken from this life before you’re ready…before I’ve imparted to you all the knowledge I would have you know to prepare you for adulthood and life outside the walls and security of our home, on your own.  Let me first remind you that regardless of whether or not you ever become an athlete, or are able to use this gift I see in you at this young age for God or not…I am proud of you, and I love you.  Not because of what  you do, but because of who you are.  There is nothing you could ever do to win or lose my love.  So, with that…

Michael Jordan.  By the time you’re old enough to read this and apply it, you’ll need to Google him to see who he is.  I’ve never cared much for basketball.  Never cared to watch it or follow it.  March Madness to me is just another month.  I can sleep to a basketball game on the tube as easily as if I were watching golf.  I’ll say this about Michael Jordan, though.  I liked watching him play.  He changed the sport.  He was unarguably among the best players of my generation and quite possibly among the best of all time.  He changed the game.  He made basketball look easy.

I saw a commercial today with Michael Jordan, and it’s what inspired me to write this to you today.  I want you to know that regardless of any natural ability or God-given gift you’ve been blessed with, to be the best at anything takes work.  No amount of natural ability alone will ever be enough to take you to the top of the class or the top of your career.  To be the best at what you do, regardless of what it is, takes work.  It takes practice…lots and lots of practice.  It takes sweat, pain, blood, tears, drive, commitment to work at it even when you don’t really want to.  It takes sacrifice.  Excellence always requires a sacrifice.  There will be days you want to play.  Days you want to sleep in.  Afternoons you’d rather nap.  Nights you’d rather eat junk food instead of healthy.  Days you would rather hang out with friends than practice.  Excellence requires sacrifice.

Excuses never lead to success.  Failure leads to success.  In your failures, you will learn.  In your failures, you will overcome.  It’s when you fail that you grow and improve.  You persevere through your failures.  Our mistakes help to shape our future.  I’ve been asked many times over the years, “if you could go back in time and change one thing…right one wrong…do one thing differently, what would it be?”  My answer has always been, “nothing.”  Who I am today, in all my good and bad is because of the mistakes I’ve made and the failures I’ve overcome.  Having the option to go back and change something takes away the life lesson and learning experience obtained through that failure.

I’m adding the video here so you can watch it.  Before you do, though, watch some of Michael Jordan’s highlights.  Research him and learn about him as a player and what he did to change the game.  See for yourself how he changed the game.  It’s only after  you do that that you’ll understand the purpose and meaning of this video…and the purpose of this note to you.

If you desire to be the best at what you do, prepare yourself for the sacrifice it will take.  And when you do, ground yourself in the Lord.  Stay close to His word and don’t forget that it’s not about you.  Use what you’ve been given for His glory…to reach others for the Kingdom of Christ.  Don’t forget who you are.  You’re a child of God.  Don’t forget what and who are important to you.  Don’t work so hard at something that you sacrifice the love of those closest to you.  Don’t make your passion to be the best your “idol.”  God always comes first, because God is still God, and God is still good.  He’s the Creator of the universe and the Giver of your life.  What He gives, He also takes away.  Don’t lose sight of the grace He showed others through His sacrifice on the cross.  Seek to show others that same grace…in all that you do.  And then, go for it!  Be the best you can be…in all that you do.  Be a Tank for Christ!

Love,

Dad

A New Bed

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As I put this site together and try to organize all of the random thoughts that cross my mind on any given day…all the things I would want you to know in my absence…all the stories of your childhood that you’ll enjoy reading to your own children, I’m remembering stories I’ve either shared with friends and family in person or as short Facebook posts…stories of the things going on in our life at any given moment in time.  As I start to add to this “Daily Grind” chapter, I’ve been putting a lot of thought and consideration into what the opening of this chapter should be.  I can come up with nothing better than the following story I originally wrote as a Facebook post on February 21, 2011:

We finally assembled the bunk beds for the boys that we bought back in December.  That was a 3 hour process that surprisingly, went rather well (I’ve always been better at breaking than building/fixing…hence the reason I’m not in construction.)  Tonight, our family night consisted of Ju driving the kids in circles in the parking lot while I was at the chiropractor for 45 minutes.  I’m usually a once-a-week popper of the spine, but life has kept me from it for 5 weeks, so extra maintenance required a longer visit than intended.

A quick run to the grocery store and Target for some plastic sheets for the new bunk beds and new shoes for the boys.  NE wanted nothing to with any shoe except Lightning McQueen.  The red lights in the lightning bolts on the sides amaze him, and he walked around all night saying, “Lie Queen.  Kachow!  Kachow!  Kachow”!  He rocks.  Afterward, we stopped at the pet store for some feeder fish for our Oscar.  At home, we all sat and watched as Oscar (Ostrich is his SD-given name) ate 8 of 9 within about 5 minutes.  The lone survivor found refuge in the corner behind the heater.  At SD’s instruction, I chased him out of the corner so Ostrich could get to him, but he found his way back to the safety of the heater.   I told her that he’s earned the right to live another hour or so, so we’ll leave him be.  Honestly, the older I get, the more enjoyment I get from watching this than from what’s on TV anymore.

It’s 9:45.  The boys went to “bed” at 8:00.  NE likes the new bed so far, although he gets scared on top so he’s up and down between beds.  Unfortunately, Bubba loves the new bed even more.  While he has moved from his crib to NE’s old crib/toddler bed, it’s not working out so well right now…he is NOT ready to be in a bed without 4 sides.  So, tomorrow I’ll add the 4th side back to it to convert it back to a crib.  He was bouncing on the toddler bed earlier and did a somersault out onto the floor.  Never once flinched and got right back up for more.  On my 8th trip to their room to investigate the commotion, Bubba is on the top bunk with NE.  He’s wearing his bike helmet. I guess he figures a somersault off the top bunk requires a little extra safety gear.  Note to self, I need to put safety bar over the ladder tomorrow.

On a subsequent trip, (by this point I’ve actually lost count…it was a lot!), I told NE to just let Bubba crawl in with him on the lower bunk if he kept getting in his bed and crawling in with him.  On Ju’s next trip to investigate the commotion, NE had indeed followed my direction.  Bubba was in bed with him…and had NE in a headlock.  I really need to convert his toddler bed back into a crib tomorrow.

On the umpteenth trip NE made to our room to tell us how SI has again crawled out of bed, I’m done.  I’ve moved into their room and sitting on the floor as I finish writing this.  I think we’re making progress. 🙂

As a postscript to this story, it’s March 6th.  Two weeks have passed since we put your new bed together.  NE, you’re not so sure about the top bunk at night yet, so you’ve been sleeping on the bottom.  I can understand that.  It is a big bed for such a small child.  Your little body doesn’t even take up 1/4 of the available space.  SI, I really should have listened to my own advice from the above story.  I still have not put the 4th side back on the crib yet, so you easily “escape” your 3-sided bed.  At least we’re down to only about 30-45 minutes of sending you back to bed before you finally give up the fight and let sleep get the better of you.  Every night, though, you wake up at least once…more often than not several times, and every night, the pitter-patter of your little feet fills the silence of the night as you make your way to our room.  Over and over again.

Love,

Dad

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