Friday, November 30, 2012

It's That Simple!

“The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for” (Bob Marley).

Dear Tonya,

Happy Anniversary!

I find myself sitting here on our anniversary thinking about all the unforgettable times we have shared together.

Just thinking about these times makes me happy. But, more than just being happy, I am proud to be part of something extraordinary—you.

I was going to write a lengthy, detailed letter confessing my unconditional love to you, but that would be somewhat of a waste of time. It would be a waste to write a letter so extensive when my feelings remain so logically simple in my mind. It only takes a few words to clearly describe how I feel about you.

To everyone else who knows you, you are a bright, capable, caring woman who is beautiful and kind. Without you, their lives would be a little more difficult and a little less pleasant.

To me, you are a huge part of me. Without you, I would not be me. I would not faintly resemble the man I am today.

It’s that simple!

I love you with all my heart.



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Finding Joy in the Calendar

“You can never step into the same river; for new waters are always flowing on you. No man ever steps into the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he is not the same man” (Heraclitus).

Evan, my son, came home yesterday with his monthly calendar from daycare. On the calendar, his teacher includes things like “Pajama Day,” “Wear Red Day,” “Wear Green Day,” and “Watch Polar Express Day.”

Evan’s calendar is like precious gold or diamonds to him. He proudly carries the calendar in to the house every time we get it. He can’t wait to show the calendar to his mother. Then, we all have to sit around and read the calendar together, circling the days Evan can’t wait to enjoy.

This morning, when I woke Evan, the first thing he did was grab his calendar from where he left it last night. He took it to our bedroom to “read” while we got ready for work, reminding us again about the special days coming in December.

Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I was THAT exacted about my calendar. Can you?

My calendar is filled with meetings and assignments and due dates and responsibilities. There’s no pajama day or day set aside to wear red or green. Or, even to watch movies with my friends.

What if I approached my calendar as Evan does? What if I faced my responsibilities with the same excitement and enthusiasm? What if I circled day after day on my calendar and couldn’t wait for those days to arrive? I’m thinking if I did that, life might be far better than it is most months.

A river (or a month on a calendar) only passes once. I think I need to spend some time today going back over my December calendar. I am going to find some days to circle!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Kindness We Show (Or Don't)

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless” (Mother Teresa).

The other day, I found myself in a really bad mood. In trying to understand why, I’m not really sure what the cause was. It’d been a good day. Nothing major had happened, good or bad. No major stressors in life. Just another normal day.

But, I was still grumpy. More than a little on edge. And, I knew I was taking that attitude out on others around me.

I don’t like being like that. I’d rather be cheery and happy. I’d rather be nice to people and not that person that seems to thrive on being negative and angry. I’d rather be a positive influence on people and not a constant drain.

My wife often laughs at me for striking up conversations with so many people. I’ll talk with cashier at the grocery store, the person collecting tickets at the movie theater, even the person pumping gas next to me as I pump gas. I like talking to people. I like hearing their story.

If truth be told, I’d rather hear their story than tell my own. You may find that impossible to believe. With Facebook, Twitter, and blogging, it’s often easy for people to think you are an open book. But, with all the electronic media that we have today, we can be as open as we want to be and still never reveal the real us. That’s the great thing about the electronic word or printed word, you can share as much or as little about yourself as you desire.

That’s not the case with the spoken word. Those words linger, as if in a cloud hovering around us. People not only hear those words, they see us speak, they watch our body language. They interact with our lives. Our spoken words echo a long time.

I hope today that I’ll be the person I want to be and not the person I sometimes become. I want to listen and learn and see the value in others. I want to treat those around me with respect and love.

Lord, help me to be a listener and learner. Help me to keep my mouth shut more times than it is open. Use me as Your hands and feet and mouth and ears with those I come in to contact with today. Help me to be a positive influence and not that person people try to avoid. Amen.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

If I Had Hair...

If I had hair, I’d pull it out! Yes I would!

That’s how I feel many days being a parent.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my son. I really do. He’s so much fun and he’s such a good boy—well, he is fun almost all of the time and most of the time, he’s a good boy.

It’s those times that he’s not so good that drives me crazy.

One minute, Evan is talking back to me. Telling me what he’s going to do or not do. Telling me why I don’t know what I’m talking about. Yeah. It’s those times that I just want to scream. And, it’s during those times that I’ve lost it with him.

Then, just as soon as I’m ready to lose what little hair and mind I have left, Evan will look at me and say, “Daddy, you are the best Daddy in the world. I love you.”

In less than 60 seconds, I go from being ready to do bodily damage to his backside to wanting to hold him as close to me as possible and to tell him how much I love him.

This parenting stuff isn’t for the faint at heart.

I want to be a good parent. I want to be the best father possible. Yet, most days I find myself thinking about my shortcomings, failures, and the times I missed an opportunity to teach Evan something or to simply love on him one more time.

Those days haunt me. They really do.

I have one opportunity to get this right with my son. One moment in time. To teach him to be a man. To teach him to be a father. To raise him to love God. To love him.

Lord, I need your help to be the parent You want me to be. I need Your strength and wisdom. I am helpless without You. Amen.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Home Isn't Always Where the Heart Is

A Facebook cartoon I saw last week said something like, “Thanksgiving—the day family gets together—and you just hope the police don’t have to be called.”

Or, it said something like that.

You’d think that of all holidays, Thanksgiving, wouldn’t require police activity. Or fist fights. Or domestic violence. Or a cross word. But then again, shouldn’t that be the case with ALL holidays? Shouldn’t all families’ holiday get-togethers look like a Norman Rockwell painting on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post?

Yet, that is not the case. Too often, when families get together, the long-ago buried demons seem to rise to the surface.


It has nothing to do with Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day or any other holiday. It has nothing to do with turkey or presents. And, it probably doesn’t even have anything to do with that canned jellied cranberry sauce being served.

At the root of the problem seems to be the other 360-something days in the year. Or, maybe it has to do with the years and years of unresolved problems within the family.

Why do we believe that a family can come together for a meal or party or get-together and everything will be fine for those few hours? What leads us to believe that everything from the past will be glossed over as the dressing or stuffing is passed? Do we really think mean-spirited words, hateful attitudes, or favoritism can be covered over with faked smiles, a turkey from Kroger, or a preserved box of mystery meats from Hickory Farms?

A lifetime of anger, frustration, or disappointment doesn’t melt away like a stick of butter left on the stove. Those conflicts, whether spoken or swept under the proverbial rug, eat away any possibilities of joy or happiness.

Some people will say, “Smile.” Or, “Grin and bear it!” Or, “It’ll be over in a few hours, just suck it up and take it.”

Yet, over time, you can’t smile or grin and bear it or suck it up any longer. You just can’t. A clean break is needed. That’s about the only way to deal with it. Just walk away. Just wipe your feet and move on.

There are some people who will say that’s running away. Maybe it is. But, after a lifetime of seeking resolution and peace, and never being able to find it, you have to do something to preserve your sanity…and the belief in what you know is right.

This holiday season, as people talk about love and celebrate family, remember, not everyone is celebrating family. Not everyone is surrounded by love or joy or even peace when family is close by.

Rather than judging or sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong, just say a prayer for families that aren’t close. You’ll probably never know why they are estranged. Nor is it even your business.

Just realize that what you see took a lifetime to come. Only prayers can bring resolution. And, peace.