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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

I Want to be your All Pro Dad

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Originally written December 4, 2010

I got to spend three hours today at the All Pro Dad’s Day event with NE at the St. Louis Rams training facility. Let me say it was by far the best three hours I’ve had in months! I got to see the NE that I know for the first time in about 3 months come back…

NE, you have been struggling recently to find your place in our family. Let me make it clear right now as your father and the God-appointed leader of our family that you do not have to “find” your place amongst us. Your place within our family was established when God breathed His life into you and was solidified for us the day you were conceived. Your mom and I accept you and love you for who you are, no matter what you do along the way.

You have been struggling to find yourself amongst life in a household with your siblings. Your big sister and bubba take so much of our time and energy, that we have not been able to provide you with what you consider to be your most precious asset – our time. And it is indeed a precious asset, a responsibility to provide that I do not take lightly. As you grow, I pray that you will come to understand why your sister requires so much extra from us, and it is my heart’s desire that you grow to have a compassionate heart for her and not resent her for what she’s taken from you, our time. I see in you a heart that thinks of others. You share what is yours with your sister and brother, as much as a three-year old is able. Every time I give you a treat, like a piece of candy, you think to grab one for both SD and SI. While you three have your sibling rivalries and conflict, YOU are the one that comes to their side when someone outside of our family is hurting them. You have stood up for SD and SI with the neighborhood friends…kids twice as old and three times bigger than you. The day you did that made me so proud.

Lately you have been acting out aggressively in what I believe is your effort to get our attention, to get us to interact with you more. I have received the message and heard your plea. I am here. I will give you more positive interaction. I will give you more of my time. I will make time for you alone, away from your brother and sister. I will help you find your “thing”. SD has her Therapeutic Horsemanship every week, and right now bubba has being a one-year old on his side. Stuck in the middle, you don’t have your “thing”. It has become my passion to help you find your “thing” and to let you have it without having to share it. Today at the football event for dads was the first step toward that goal. The first step among many as we venture down this path together. You should have seen the way your face lit up when I told you the night beforehand…

I was tucking you into bed, I’d just read your bedtime story and we’d said our prayers together. As I was covering you up, I said, tomorrow morning I have a meeting and will be back after lunch. When I get home, how ’bout you and me go play some football together?”. You looked at me with a small smile, then looked over at bubba in his crib. Then back at me again. I said “bubba can’t go, just you and me?” you replied inquisitively, “sissy too?” “nope, jus you and me are going to play football. Sissy and bubba can’t go.” the smile on your face reached ear to ear and you kept saying “yeah!” over and over again.

Although your apprehension when we first arrived was warranted, you eventually warmed up to being in such an intense environment. We had to stand outside in the freezing cold on a windy day for 20 minutes to get in the door. Although you ha a heavy coat and my stocking cap on, you were frozen. There were a lot of strangers, and I appreciate that you don’t like strangers. That’s a GOOD thing, especially for a three year old. At about 30 minutes in, when I finally realized that your pleas to go home were actually you telling me you had to go potty, we fixed that problem and tried to return. The cheap frisbee the gave us as a door prize fascinated your imagination, and we broke from our group to play catch in the center of the field. For 2 1/2 hours straight, we ran and played, stopping only to lie down on the 20 yard line to draw monster trucks…

Image vs. Character

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Originally composed on July 21, 2010

My time here on this Earth always has the potential to be cut shorter than I hope and plan, and my fear is that I will either not have the opportunity or not take full advantage of my opportunity to communicate to you what I want to teach you as you grow into adulthood. My hope in leaving you these notes is that if I am called to be with the Lord before I am ready, you will have some record of the life lessons I hope to have taught you before my departure. The following was posted on a blog and Facebook by Randy Alcorn. I found it on July 21, 2010. While the words below are not my own, they echo what I would want to say about this topic. While reading it, all I kept thinking to myself was, “if I could communicate the difference between image and character to my kids, this is what I would want to say.” I love you more than I could ever say!

Love,

Dad

Randy Alcorn –

With the recent allegations against actor Mel Gibson, there’s been a number of responses to his situation that cry out for an eternal perspective. (When Gibson released his movie The Passion of the Christ in 2004, I wrote a review of the movie for our quarterly newsletter, and a follow-up response based on some of the things I said in my first article about Gibson. In both articles, I wrote, “Pray for him, absolutely, selectively agree with and support him, yes, but don’t make him—or anyone else—Christianity’s poster boy or spokesperson…Every time Christians get mesmerized by and try to capitalize on fame and celebrity, it ends up hurting them, biting us and undermines rather than elevates our Lord.”)Although these following principles about image and character are pulled from an article I wrote years ago about O.J. Simpson, they still prove just as true today as they did then.

The difference between image and character.
Image is what you are on a football field, in a movie, and in Hertz commercials. Character is what you are in the dark, when no one but God is looking. What are the traits it takes to get and stay famous? In many cases the answer includes a mammoth ego, self-absorption, and an impassioned craving for public approval. These very traits that compel one to pursue fame both reflect and produce a private inner life lacking in substance and integrity.

Anyone can look good in front of an audience, or even in front of their friends. It’s an entirely different thing to stand naked before God, to be known as you truly are on the inside. “Do not consider his appearance or his height . . . The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

The difference between a hero and a celebrity.
Fame is one thing. Virtue is another. The two aren’t even remotely related. In fact, the more famous you become the harder it is to cultivate and retain virtue. Being a hero is something entirely different than being a celebrity. Celebrities are just people with good looks, talent, money, and the ability to draw attention to themselves. Heroes are people who stand courageously for what is right, often against the tide of public opinion, and at great cost to themselves.

Many public figures have proven long on image and short on character, just as many faithful servants of God have been short on image and long on character. Politicians are celebrities. But if they steal from the country, cheat on their wives, and promote the ruthless killing of unborn children, no one in their right mind can consider them heroes. (That many do so simply demonstrates our society is not in its right mind.)

When you and I stand before God and give an account of our lives, the ability to run with a football or manage a company or write a newsletter article will mean nothing. Our dependence on Christ to cleanse us of our sins and empower us to a new way of living will mean everything.

The difference between a self-made man and a God-made man.
We value a man who is independent. God values a man who is dependent on Him. We value a man who marches to his own beat. God values a man who marches to His beat. We value a man who is his own authority, who makes up the rules as he goes. God values a man who submits, who follows those unbending ancient rules made by Another. We value a man who believes in himself, who makes himself great. God values a man who believes in Him, recognizing He alone is truly great.

The difference between high self-esteem and accurate self-esteem.
People often say, “I can’t believe that [insert name of a person in the news] is capable of such evil.” Of course he is. So are you. So am I. We’ve fallen for the old lie, propagated by secular humanism and modern psychology, that man is basically good. But we’re terribly arrogant and naive to believe this. Read Romans 1-3 and see what God says about the human condition. Look at human history. Look around you. We’re all capable of horrendous evil. The man who thinks he is incapable of adultery and crimes of hatred and passion is not on guard against them, and does not call upon Christ to save him from them.

Years ago I read a fascinating and chilling book by Robert Lifton, The Nazi Doctors. As a psychologist interviewing former Nazi doctors and their surviving victims, he hoped to discover what made these “monsters” tick. What he discovered was much more frightening—the fact that these were in fact quite ordinary men who, given the opportunity, did horribly evil things. As long as we consider the Nazis monsters, we can separate ourselves from them. It’s only when we realize that we ourselves are of the same stock that we can come to terms with our capacity for evil and our need for Jesus.

The difference between Hollywood values and values that really matter.
Years ago, on the day after O.J. Simpson’s “chase” on the L. A. freeways, I was attending Promise Keepers in Portland, with nearly 30,000 other men. (Another 5,000 were turned away—there just wasn’t room.) Here, like the quarter of a million other men attending Promise Keepers gatherings that year, were men gathered to uplift the very values and power for righteous living that O. J. Simpson so desperately lacked. Men were learning about God, about taking responsibility, about loving and serving their wives and children.

The event went by in Portland largely unnoticed by television news that night. All those men at civic stadium did was commit themselves to being faithful in their homes and churches and communities and society, to keeping sacred promises in the daily grind of life. These men wanted to cumulatively build a track record of faithfulness to God and family. They wished to become heroes, if to no one else, to their own children. Small acts of daily faithfulness don’t make the news. But they matter much more than what does.

Commitments like the ones those men made that night will give our children, our churches, and our society an example to follow unmatched by that of any celebrity. A life enthusiastically applauded in the final day by the only audience that ultimately matters…the Audience of One.

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