Home

There’s a Onesie in the Rescue Pack

Leave a comment

In September, 2001 I was just five months into my initiation to the fraternity called fatherhood.  Like millions of Americans, I watched live as the the second plane crashed into that tower, and I knew instantly…that our lives would never be the same.  In the months following the  attack on our country, being a father took on a completely new meaning for me.

For starters, I reevaluated my faith and my commitment to God.  I recommitted my life to Christ and vowed to raise my family in the shadow of His Word.  Quite literally, a life-altering turn for me that continues to have ripple effects as I see my children growing closer to Jesus as they navigate their own faith walk.

On a lighter note, I began preparing our family for survival during and after an emergency.  There’s a saying in the emergency services field, that really is sound advice with many life applications.

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

This was back in the days when SD was still a toddler navigating preschool.  She was really into the cartoon “Go Diego Go”, and our favorite character was (and still is if you asked me today) “Rescue Pack”.

Diego Rescue Pack

Diego’s Rescue Pack

Able to change into anything Diego needed at any given moment…”a parasail or kayake…a zipline, a snowboard…whatever you need“, Rescue Pack had our back.  So it seemed logical explaining to a 4-year old toddler that the backpack I was setting up as our emergency “go-bag” was our “Rescue Pack”.  And so it’s been called ever since, even as it grows into multiple bags to accommodate a growing family.

I knew it’d been a while since I’d updated it, but I hadn’t realized it’d been this long…

boys, not babies anymore

Back when they fit in the palm of my hand

Yes…the last time I opened the bag packed with extra changes of clothing for every member of the family, you both apparently were able to fit in Onesies.  Arguably, I could hold you one-handed back then.  What a nostalgic afternoon last week held for your mother and me as we looked through that bag.

You’re both growing so fast that it’s all I can do to hold on to and embrace each moment as it comes.  Because one moment lends to another and another.  The moments in your lives are coming and going so fast.

There’s a duality to the mind of a parent that I pray you are able to experience one day.  In my mind, you will always be my little men, just learning to walk as you climb up onto my lap to rest your body on my chest for an afternoon nap.  At the very same time, I’m able to see you as the men you will become…boldly and courageously living out your faith as men of God with careers, wives, and children of your own.  It’s that duality that allows me to love you in the moment…while raising you to become the men God is calling you to be.  There will always be the dad in me who misses those days when I could hold you in the palm of my hand…and there will always be the dad in me who anxiously awaits the man you will become. The challenge is striving daily to recognize you for who you are now…young men navigating a world unlike the one I experienced at your age…and to not take one second for granted.

Really, this was just a fun opportunity to look back and write you to simply tell you that I love you…more and more every moment I am blessed to be in your lives.

Love,

Dad

Advertisements

My Kids and Oxen…Getting Dirty. Yes, I Went There.

Leave a comment

I almost missed it again this morning.  I’d skipped right through it and was two verses past it when I quite literally heard the Spirit of God whisper in my ear, “go back and read that again.”

“Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.” – Proverbs 14:4 (NLT)

I’ve read this particular verse in Proverbs probably a hundred times or more and missed it every time.  After a few minutes reflecting on that verse, I was left with more questions than answers:

“What am I doing to reap a harvest for God’s kingdom?  I mean what am I REALLY doing?  Am I living in a way that reflects Christ living in me to those around me?  How dirty am I willing to get to do the work God’s called me to do?”

Planting, sowing, tilling and harvesting a crop is dirty work.  And yet, we are called to it…put here on Earth to reap a harvest for God’s kingdom…to bring Him glory in everything we do…to point the lost to Him.

“‘Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory.  It was I who created them.’” – Isaiah 43:7 (NLT)

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NLT)

Spoiler alert!  The lost aren’t generally in the most pristine and cleanest of places (by our standard of clean anyway).

In actuality, our first priority in reaching the lost should be in our homes.

As parents, we’re on the front lines doing battle to win the hearts and souls of our precious little ones for God.  And make no mistake moms and dads…it IS a battle.  A battle that takes place both in the spiritual realm between God’s angels and the forces of evil…and a battle that takes place in the physical realm between us and the influences a fallen world has on our children.  As we seek to hold our children close long enough to instill in them Godly character and moral truths, Satan is working overtime through the world around us.  He is working to pull them farther from our reach into a cycle of sin that can only be broken when they truly realize and accept their brokenness and complete dependence on God.

Dads, as a father of three boys and a special needs girl, I can assure you that raising kids is messy work.  I get it, I know.  It’s emotionally cluttered and chaotic…littered with drama.  Drama we don’t like and would just assume avoid every chance we get.  I mean honestly guys, who among us wouldn’t “rather be fishing”?  Fatherhood is heavy-laden with emotional turmoil and baggage that wears us down…leaves us inpatient and unkind.  It’s scary and often times traumatic.  It’s heartbreaking and gut wrenching.  It’s late nights and early mornings…with sleepless nights in between.  And that’s just the emotional side.

It’s just as physically relentless and cluttered.  You show me a dad who’s never navigated the minefield of Legos and Hot Wheels, and I’ll show you ten more with the battle scars to prove otherwise.  For the mom reading this, when you look at the living room littered with toys, the couch covered in Cheerios, the syrup-covered dining room floor, the endless loads of laundry, the kitchen sink overflowing with the day’s dishes, the bathroom you wouldn’t let a stranger use, let alone a close friend who stops by unexpectedly, the ransacked-looking bedrooms and kids running around half-dressed with bubble gum stuck in their hair…have faith that “Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.”

You WILL one day wake up to a clean house with no laundry to wash, no dishes to clean, no floor to mop, no bathroom to sterilize, no toys to pick up.  No giggles to enjoy.  No children to play.  For the dad reading this.  You wanna make an impact in your kids’ lives?  Don’t let mom be the one to do all the dirty work.  Let’s man up and get in the trenches with her in managing the homestead, eh?

Because like it or not, we are right where we are called to be…whether we’ve fully accepted the role or not.

“Children are a gift from the LORD;  they are a reward from him.  Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.  How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!  He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.” – Psalm 127:3-5 (NLT)

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)

Do you see it?  To get an ox to plow the field and do the work that’s hard, it has to be trained.

“It’s easier to train oxen when you start when they’re babies.  In addition to being smaller and easier to handle, you gain their trust and respect from the beginning.  They’ll trust you and your judgment just as they would trust their mother.  If you are careful in how you handle them (never abusing them, but never letting them get away with anything) they respect your dominance and will not challenge your authority when they are older and much bigger”  (excerpt from “Training Oxen: Start with Calves” by Heather Smith Thomas via http://www.countrysidemag.com)

The ox doesn’t become strong after one planting season.  It takes many seasons to develop its strength.  It has to be trained, and then only after years of training is it strong enough to do the work well.  Much like an athlete who has spent years training for his sport, the ox is stronger for having endured the training.  Likewise, our kids are being trained.

The question we have to ask ourselves as their father is, “who’s training them?”

Are we training them for the work God will soon call them to?  Or is the world training them to resist Him?  Are we preparing and equipping them for success on the front lines for God?  Or is the world preparing them to rebel against Him?

As dads, we have to be on the front lines in the mud with them (mostly figuratively, though many times literally).  We lead from the front, not the back.  To win their hearts and minds, we have to be involved.  Engaged.  Committed.  Standing steadfast and consistent.  Intentional in our actions and words.  Every. Single. Day. Without fail.  There are no breaks in fatherhood.

It won’t happen overnight. It won’t happen this week, this month, or even this year.  Through many years of training, though, they will grow stronger.  They will come out the other side stronger for having endured it.  Stronger spiritually.  Fully reliant on God.  Through our consistent love (which is more than affection…it includes discipline, but that’s a note for another day), we will have reaped a harvest in our children.  A harvest that will go forth and reap another harvest when it’s their time.  The question that remains is, “how messy are we willing to get?”

What we’re called to do isn’t easy, by any definition.

“Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path.  And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” – Galatians 6:1 (NIV)

We’re being asked to work in the mess without getting messy.  To work the field without getting any of the field on us.  To be in the dirt without getting dirty.  How is that possible, you ask?  Only by the power and grace of a God who loves us enough to get messy for us.  It’s by the blood we’re kept clean and holy.  Even when we fail.  It’s by the cross we are found pure in God’s eyes.  It’s by the Son we can do all things.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

I’m gonna go jump in the dirt.  Who’s with me?

Love,

Dad

You Deserve A Better Happy Birthday

Leave a comment

SI,

You came up to the firehouse so we could celebrate your 5th birthday together. As a family. I wish we had taken pictures. I regret that…because I so dearly want to look back on today some day and see a smile on your face at some point during your visit.

I’m sorry that halfway through your birthday dinner I had to leave for a house fire up the street. I didn’t want to go any more than you wanted me to leave. But I’m glad you stayed and waited for me to get back.

I enjoyed watching you open your presents. The smile on your face always brings one to mine. And that laugh…I simply love and adore your laughter, buddy. I enjoyed singing happy birthday to you and eating ice cream cake with you. I’m sorry that halfway through building your new Lego plane I had to leave again, this time for a car accident. I’ve been looking forward to building that together with you since your mom and I bought it last week. I like hanging out with you…doing stuff together. Leaving in the middle of that time together hurt me.

But I’m glad you stayed and waited for me. It was comforting to feel you hug my leg as soon as I jumped out of the fire truck, even over my bulky turnout pants. That feeling was…indescribable. And one I will cherish forever. You didn’t see it, but I cried a little then. And I’m crying now as I type this. Because you deserve better.

I’m so sorry that this job I once loved with every fiber of my being has cost so much. I’m sorry it has left you waiting for me to be present in your life. I’m sorry that I’ve had to put strangers above you on days like today. Your birthday means so stinking much to me, and I love you so, so very much son. So much so that tears are uncontrollably running down my face as I type this…I’m sobbing like a baby, and I’m powerless to stop it. You cannot begin to imagine the depth of my love for you, your siblings and your mother. I pray that you can forgive me for days like today and not hold them against me. And that one day you will also feel the same kind of love, with children of your own. When you do, I pray you’ve chosen a career that doesn’t find you missing the important days in their lives…days like today…leaving you feeling like I do now.

I’m so sorry son. I hope and pray you had an awesome birthday, despite my absence. You certainly deserve it. You deserve better.

Love,

Dad

Dating Number Two

Leave a comment

Dinner and bowling…
20140401-115254.jpg

Some arcade games followed by ice cream…
20140401-115334.jpg

And lots and lots of silliness…
20140401-115424.jpg

It was a good night bud. We need to hang out together more often. I love you, and will remember tonight for a long time.

Love,

Dad

Bowling Bubba

Leave a comment

It was a good first date night Bubba. You’re one super cool dude and a lot of fun to hang out with. Looking forward to doing this again soon.

20140324-204357.jpg

20140324-204420.jpg

20140324-204441.jpg

20140324-204504.jpg

Love,

Dad

I Can’t Call My #3

2 Comments

Some days I just want to call her.  And then I realize that even though she’s still #3 on my phone’s speed dial, it just can’t happen.  There is no  speed dial that will connect me with her now.

There will come a day when you’re grown and out on your own that you wake up and want to call your mom, but get wrapped up in the business of your day.  You’ll put it off, and then before you know it months will have gone by without having heard her voice.  Don’t be that guy.  Don’t do to your mom what I did to mine.  She has always been, is now, and will always be your greatest fan and there for you whenever you need her.  Even if it’s just to hear her voice.  Don’t wake up one day wishing you could call her but knowing you can’t because she’s gone.  Well over a full year after her passing, she remains the top commenter on this blog.  She always had my back.  Always.

This woman right here…your granny…she loved each of you, with so much passion that I just can’t even write about it…there. are. no. words.  If ever there was an example of what “All In” looked like, it was her love for you.  I’m saddened to the point of tears as I write this, knowing how much of her life you missed.  She always had your back.  Always.

Mom

Mom & SD in March 2008

Mom

Mom with NE and SI in November 2009

mom

I Miss You Mom

I miss you mom.  That is all.

I’m Missing a Wheel, But Not The Point

Leave a comment

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a note…been busy living life.  Today, I’m just checking in long enough to share my favorite part of this last week.  Last night, I got to hang out with all three of you for a couple hours, and we played Legos…building creations with our imaginations.  That was, by far, the most relaxing and fun night I’ve had in a couple weeks.

Hanging out with you is fun for me.  I don’t always show it, but I’m going to keep working on that.  I’m still learning the value of disconnecting from the outside world for awhile so that I can better connect with you.  I have a lot of forces competing for my time, and I know from your perspective it can often seem like I place spending time with you near the bottom of my priorities.  I want to assure you, though, that I may not always show it, but YOU are the most important of those forces to me.  Last night was a good wake up call for me…just chillaxing with you and creating with our imaginations…making up stories about our creations and just being silly.  Smiling.  Giggling.  Laughing.  Bonding.  I gotta get me some more of that.

20140207-204522.jpg

Props to SI for having the heart and spirit of a giver!  Dude, I couldn’t have built this thing without you.  Literally.  I was a wheel short.  I tried for 20 minutes to use the pieces we had left to make it into a 3-wheeler instead, but couldn’t find a way to get the front wheel mounted facing forward.  I finally said, “I don’t think I can make this work with just three wheels…I don’t know what to do now.”  Bubba, you just looked right at the pieces I was holding…looked back at the two you had…one with wheels and one without.  And you said “dad, you can have mine.”  And proceeded to take yours apart to give me a wheel.  There.  Are.  No.  Words.  Don’t ever change buddy!

Props to NE too for your creativity in helping me to piece together various parts of my creation…but also in telling stories about yours and mine throughout the night.  Your imagination is inspiring and just simply fun to be a part of.  Others are…and will continue to be…drawn to you for it.  Don’t ever change buddy!

By the way…one of my favorite memories of being a young boy your age is of playing with Hot Wheels and Legos.  It does this daddy proud to watch you enjoying the same now, 30+ years later.  Secretly between just you and me…last night brought out a little of the kid still in me.  I’m looking forward to doing that again.  Soon. 😉

Love,

Dad

Older Entries