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Waiting For The Call?

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A truly excellent read.

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

Looking for Hope

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Although I cried again today just reading through my previous note, today I’m not feeling like I did when I wrote that. The weeks following the incident that started me in this crazy spiral of emotions had me feeling something different than what I feel today. For the past three days, I’ve felt a disconnect from reality, like I’m not part of what’s going on around me. I’ve had a rage filling up inside me. A rage I cannot explain. An anger that I’m finding it difficult to control. A frustration that is consuming me. I cannot get the images of that day out of my mind. But my anger is unexplainable. It’s as though I’m mad at the world…for what I don’t know. Mad at you…for something you didn’t do. Mad at myself…for feeling this way in the first place. I cannot explain why this incident is affecting me the way it is…and that angers me. It’s not the first time I’ve dealt with death on the job. I’ve held a lifeless child in my hands and not been affected like this. I’ve performed CPR on dozens of people who didn’t make it and not been affected by this. I’ve extricated people from cars who were mangled and without life and not been affected like this. Why this one? Why now? Why?

It’s only two days after the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and I’m angry at myself because what I am going through pales in comparison to what the responders and victims went through on 9/11. What I’m dealing with is not even on the same hemisphere as their pain and loss. How selfish of me to allow this incident to affect me like this. I had a good conversation with a pastor friend who reminded me that this is my own personal battle, that I have no right to try to compare it to what others face…because this is hitting me right here and right now in my world. Each person has to deal with their own, and comparing ours to theirs is not fair to us.

Yeah, okay…which hits home with me that I know all the typical answers. Logically, I know I’m going through a post-traumatic stress, triggered by this event. I know what stage I’m in. I knew what stage I was in when I wrote the above note immediately afterward. I know what stages lie ahead for me. I knew I was affected the moment I came out of the stupid hole. I knew when I sought guidance from my pastor the following day. I knew when I shared my burden with your mom. I know where I am in the progression of what I’m dealing with. What I don’t know is where to go from here. How do I carry this burden? How do I move on with my life? How do I walk through this? What good does God have in store for this? How do I get past this anger and rage to a place where I don’t feel like throwing my hammer through the wall of the house again?

I ain’t gonna lie here, child. I’m having a hard time with this. If I had known about days like today…months like this…when I signed up for this I can’t say with certainty I would have still done it. I can’t imagine pushing papers somewhere, or working a 9-5 desk job…or making widgets in a factory all night. I love what I do, and I’d go back in that cursed hole again tomorrow if someone down there needed me. I just don’t know how to get through this. I want to, and it angers me that I can’t…because I don’t want this to affect you. All I know to do is pray.

I pray that God would either lift this burden from me, or strengthen me to carry it. I pray that He guide me through this and help me move past this season. I pray that God’s will would be done through this and through my life. I pray that you don’t remember this season when you’re older. I pray this season is short. I pray that there are no more seasons like this on the horizon. I pray that if you do remember, you can forgive me for putting you through this with me…you’re the innocent victims in this…I had a choice, you did not. I pray that my words can be an encouragement to someone else…if the purpose of my burden is to help someone, then may He help me to carry and to share it. Just writing this has helped me some. I pray that when you face something similar in your own life that you struggle with (and you will), you would find some encouragement in knowing you’re not alone. Because it can feel like you’re alone. I feel isolated and alone in this. I know I’m not, but knowing that doesn’t change how I feel.

I’m looking for encouragement in the Word, and I’m moved to tears every time I listen to “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave. Tears of my own personal redemption. Tears of my scar being reformed. Tears of pain. Tears of hope. A hope that is only found in God.

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10:22-23

I will continue to place my faith and hope in the Lord, for I know He is faithful to see me through. I will press on, forging my way through this. And I’ll pray. Because it’s all I know to do.

Love,

Dad

The Good, The Bad, The Mowing

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I was mowing the yard today (after spending an hour fixing the broken lawn mower), and I was tired…and hot. To be honest, mowing is one of my least favorite jobs around the house. It doesn’t rank quite as high as Unclogging the Drain, but it’s pretty close. I know it’s good exercise, and for that I’m grateful…although I’d rather run a half marathon wearing a 20 pound weighted vest. But that’s just me.

I was mowing with a sense of urgency to the task…rain was coming. I knew I had only hours to do it, and this was my window of opportunity. Rain…awesome, life-giving rain. We’ve been in a drought here in the Midwest this summer. The grass had gone dormant, turning as brown as if it were dead…and the leaves on the trees have started turning and falling already. And as bad as a drought is for all the reasons a drought is bad, there is a blessing in it…albeit however small it is. When the grass doesn’t grow, there’s no need to mow. (See how I did that there with the rhyme…I didn’t even think that out before I typed it. 🙂 )

So I’ve saved a lot of time, work and gas ($$) this summer. And for that, I’ve been grateful, despite the condition of the grass and trees. And here I was, mowing in advance of the coming rain, and I found myself starting to complain inside…grumbling in my mind about how much I hate mowing the yard. And then the Holy Spirit does what He does…He brings Scripture to mind…

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There’s a time for everything…and there’s good in the bad, if we look for it. In the drought, I’ve saved my time, work and gas ($$) by not needing to mow. Earlier today, I didn’t enjoy myself out there mowing in the heat and humidity, but God sent the rain to quell the drought and provide life to the area (and an afternoon workout for me). Life is the same really…there’s some good in every bad we encounter. Sometimes we have to look hard to find it, but it’s there…if we open our hearts and minds to God and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us…and when He works in us, He works through us. For His plan. For His glory. Through the good. Through the bad. And yes, even through the mowing.

Love,

Dad

Time for a Change

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I’m not much into the whole “New Years Resolutions” thing.  I’ve tried it in the past, and I think for the most part, resolutions don’t last.  At least for me, it seems that doing New Years Resolutions are a convenience thing…something we only look at doing once a year.  How many New Years Resolutions fall by the wayside when the newness fades away and the reality of the commitment and sacrifice they require sets in.  While I understand the concept, the notion that making a change in our lives only once a year is not something I agree with.  I believe that if it’s time for a change in July, then make a change…why wait until the end of the year?  That being said, I do understand that the end of the year is a time to look back the events of the previous year…a time of reflection for what’s gone well and what’s not…what’s working, and what’s not.  In looking back on my 2011, I’ve decided it’s time for a change.

I have a lot of things going well in my life.  I certainly have no room to be disappointed.  However, I believe God has bigger plans in store for me…and for us as a family.  I believe that I’m holding myself…and our family…back.  It’s time for me to make some changes…to break old habits and start new ones.  I also believe in the plan.  Every successful person or organization started with a plan…and followed it.  There are several key areas of my life that require a change, so the new plan is this:

1.  Spiritual
I intend to spend more time with God, strengthening our relationship, and my dependence on Him.  To do that, I will:

a.  Spend one-on-one time with Him in prayer daily, away from the world…just me and God.
b.  Read through the entire Bible this year.  Your mom bought me a chronological Bible, and I’m well under way and enjoying my time in the Word.
c.  Take part in an adult Bible study, to deepen my understanding of the Word.
d.  Read the Bible to you more and spend no less than twice a week discussing it in more depth, even if for only 5 minutes at a time to start.

2.   Family
To ensure that my actions reflect my words…to show you how I value our time together and how much I value our family time, I will:

a.  Take your mother out on a date night at least once a month.  With friends or alone, does not matter.  It’s important for us to have a strong relationship with each other, so that our relationship with you is healthy.
b.  Schedule regular one-on-one time with each of you, at least once a month.
c.  Schedule a family outing at least once a month and take you on a family vacation.
d.  Ensure we continue to have dinner together at the family table no less than three times a week, preferably 4-5.
e.  Read to you more.  Both books you enjoy, and the Bible.

3.  Physical
To improve my overall physical health, I will:

a.  Run two half marathons and at least two smaller 5k or 10k races.
b.  Begin preparing to compete in a triathlon by 2013.
c.  Make healthier choices in my eating.

4.  Financial
To improve upon our financial position and provide a stable financial future for our family, I will:

a.  Start doing the family budget again and live within it.
b.  Make payments above the minimum toward the one debt we have left, the house.
c.  Go back to the “envelope” system, paying cash for most day-to-day expenses.
d.  Put a hold on unnecessary, discretionary purchases for 2012.

5.  Mental
To improve my overall mental health and reduce the stress in my life, I will:

a.  Read one book for every month of the year.
b.  Re-enroll in college classes toward completing my Bachelor’s Degree.
Prayerfully, and with the power of God through Christ who lives in me, I will make progress toward these goals…toward being the man God is calling me to be.

Love,

Dad

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