Letter to my Children: But that was the Style!

Dear Evan, Adeline, and Malina,

A few years from now, while you are doing your Saturday chores (hint hint) you will stumble upon some pictures of your Mom and I.  You’ll stare at those pictures as if you were holding an ancient artifact. Oh you’ll have a great time laughing at the way we dressed, wondering if we were just as embarrassed to be seen in those clothes then as you would be now.

What you don’t realize is at the time those photographs were taken, the clothes we were wearing were actually the clothes that everyone was wearing.  What you now see as ridiculous was considered, “in style”.  As teenagers, we beg, borrow, and steal to be “in”, only to find out (just a few years later) that we are now “out” only to realize a few years after that (somehow) we are back “in” again. That’s the thing about popular fashion, it’s a constantly moving target designed to keep you ready to spend your parent’s money so you can look like everyone else.

So have a great laugh at our expense, but never forget this children….that one day….

One day someone will look at you in a picture, and see you in those clothes that you just had to have, and they will laugh and laugh. You see time is the great equalizer, and given enough time, you too will find yourself trying to defend your fashion choices to a group of teenagers who look at you like you were wearing a clown suit.  You will try to explain to them that you were actually “in” and “cool”…. but it won’t work.

I look forward to that day, children, when a younger generation looks at your skinny jeans and neck scarves and Toms shoes and says to you the immortal words of every passing generation, “what were you thinking?”

Enjoy those pictures.

Love,

Your Dad.

This post is part of a continuing series entitled, “Letters to my Children.” You can learn more by clicking here.

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Letter to my daughter: Something you said

Typically the “Letters to My Children” series runs on Fridays, but I’m finding that there are always things that come up during the week that I have to get down on paper. So I am writing a letter on Wednesday and Friday this week.

Dear Adeline,

You were in the car with me today as we dropped Evan off at school. On the way back, we were talking about the weather, the clouds, and storms. Then, after a few moments of quiet, listening to the hum of the road, you started talking again. “Hey daddy….if we were in a boat….and um….and there was a storm….Jesus would, Jesus would just walk out on the water and rescue us.” You said this as you made the walking motion with two of your fingers, walking them up your arm.

“That’s true honey” I said. A moment of silence. “Because Jesus will rescue us from every storm” you said.  I started to laugh. Not because what you said was funny, but because I was amazed. You soak in everything at this age, from the conversations that Mommy and I have, the stories we read before bed, and the lessons you learn in your bible study.  I was also amazed because, at just three years of age, you spoke a truth about life that you don’t fully understand yet. At this age you are learning the lines to a story you have not had a chance to live. It’s like outlining a picture that only time will allow you to fully color.

Adeline, I don’t know what the picture of your life will be, but whether you are three or thirty-three, what you said today in the car will always be true. If you find yourself in a storm, Jesus will always walk out to you….always.  While you may still have to face the storm, you will never face it alone.

Thank you for the reminder.

Love,

Your Dad.

This post is part of my “Letters to My Children” series. You can read more about it by clicking here.

Letter to my Son: Why you need your Sisters

Dear Evan,

Right now you don’t fully understand why it is you have or need a sister, let alone two of them. Some days it may appear that your sisters exist to get in your way and touch your things. The three of you are learning how to live together under the same roof, with access to the same toys.

I know, because like you, I grew up with two sisters. A few things I learned very early growing up with sisters. 1. They cry a bit more than I am generally comfortable crying.  2. They have more to say than I generally feel comfortable saying.  3. They enjoy a different version of make-believe and pretend than I do.

I know a brother would have been nice. But you and I don’t get to decide those sorts of things (and don’t expect a sibling of any kind at this point).  But, Evan, believe me when I tell you that you need your sisters, both now and in the years to come. What can seem like an inconvenience at this point will in time prove to be one of your greatest assets.  Growing up with two sisters can sometimes feel like you are on the outside of a strange world looking in….that never changes. But all of that time spent up close with your sisters….all of the confusion and frustration that comes with trying to navigate those relationships will ultimately make you a better man….and one day, a better husband and Father to your own children.

You and I have lots to learn about Women.  Much of that education will come from your family, and from Adeline and Malina in particular.  I owe so much of how I see the world, how I view other people, and even the way I communicate, to growing up with sisters. One day, you’ll see as I do now, that sisters are a gift we brothers often take for granted.  Rarely do I tell them just how much I miss them….and how deeply I love them.

So for now, you don’t have to wear the wig or pretend to be the “student” or the “daddy”.  But it wouldn’t hurt to take Luke Skywalker on a ride in the Barbie mobile once in a while.

Love your sisters….they will always be there for you.

Love,

Your Dad.

This post is part of my “Letters to My Children” series. You can read more about it by clicking here.

Letter to my children: 22 Minutes

                                                          

Dear Evan, Adeline, and Malina

22 minutes.

That’s about how long one of your T.V. shows lasts without commercials (or at least it was when I wrote this). It’s not very long. But in that short period of time, most of life’s situations appear to be fixed, changed, or overcome.  That’s the problem with television shows. It’s not that they show too much, it’s that they don’t show enough.

T.V. doesn’t show you that sometimes decisions you make have consequences that may continue on for years. A 22 minute episode doesn’t show you that trust, once it is broken, takes a long time to earn back.  A cast of (seemingly) independently wealthy kids who appear to go to school 3 hours a day once or twice a week, doesn’t show you that you will have to wait and save and work very hard for the things you want.  Relationships take time to grow and following Jesus is a life-long journey.

Just don’t let what you see on a scripted T.V. show fool you in to approaching life this way, expecting that which takes a lifetime to show up magically and on demand.

Life is full of ups and downs and failing and succeeding. Within all of that there is great opportunity to learn, and remember, and grow….but growing takes time. Compared to the rhythm of a show on T.V., real life is hard, but it is also beautiful.

So don’t stop, no matter how long or how hard your journey. Learn all that you can from all that you experience. But remember, your life is not filmed, “before a live studio audience”….but rather an audience of One.

Live your life in God’s love and by God’s Spirit, and every step you take in life will give you more than any 22 minute story could tell.

Love,

Your Dad.

This post is part of my “Letters to My Children” series. You can read more about it by clicking here

I am a human trafficker

The unfortunate truth is that most of us (whether we were asked to or not ) contribute to the sin of human trafficking, we just don’t realize it. It’s seems impossible to imagine that we contribute to something so horrific.  And yet….we spend money on Christmas decorations or certain brands of shoes, or electronics that make our lives more comfortable, not realizing that such comfort comes with a price — and that price is the men, women, boys and girls who work unreasonable hours in harsh conditions, often against their will, so that we can decorate a tree or sync our phone with our laptop.

Then there is the sex trade, that stretches around the world and across our town.  Young girls, forced into dark rooms, to experience day after day unimaginable terror at the hands of their captors and “clients”.  To think that I have anything to do with any form of slavery makes me sick, and brings me to my knees. It also reminds me that if I am not part of the solution, then I become part of the problem…..This cannot happen.

So instead of asking, “what can I do” and therefore do nothing, I decided to take a step toward the fight.  For my birthday I started a site to help raise funds to support the A21 Campaign and the work they are doing to fight the slave trade.  It’s a site you can visit, and give a secure donation online.  Please….consider joining me in this fight by clicking here to view my families’ site, learn more, and give a gift of any size.

To learn more about the A21 Campaign, go to www.a21campaign.com

To see the size of your slavery footprint, go to www.slaveryfootprint.org

If you have a moment, please share this post with friends you know who will not stand for being called a “human trafficker” any longer.

Read this blog or you will die: A Blog about blogging from a blogger

There is a fine line between being compelling and being melodramatic. I’m pretty sure the title I used for this piece crossed it.  This is the life of a blogger. You want people to read what you write, but you are one of millions who have something to say.  The internet is the wild west of ideas (and blogs). Everyone seems to be fighting for a corner of this market. So we turn to over-the-top titles to draw people in.  Suddenly I find my self using tactics ordinarily reserved for gossip papers at grocery check out counters.

You have to make it sound urgent, so the person feels like they have to click on the title or they will miss some piece of information they must have.  Usually, it helps to have a list of 5 things a person must know in order to live a healthy life, a spiritual  life, or just a better life than their neighbors.  Now if you can find a ‘key” to making life work, that is even better….it makes it sound like there is only one and you hold it.

Just about the best thing you can do is come up with a title that makes a person’s index finger twitch, and then finally click the mouse that opens up the portals of wisdom flowing from your “retro-fitted” themed blog page.  And just about the worst thing you can do is craft such a title and then have nothing with which to fill in the space.

People will check out the magic potion you are selling until they realize it’s only dish soap.  They find out there are no secret “keys” and it usually takes more than 5 easy steps to the life you’ve always wanted.  Relationships take time to work through and God doesn’t seem to care if I have that Lexus. Now who am I to offer a critique on blogging techniques? Well I bring literally five months of blogging experience to the table. But, before you discount me, allow me to share my little arsenal of future blog titles:

1. God’s treasure is for you….here’s the map!

2. The one trick I learned to turn your children into the Von Trapp family (complete with dance number)

3. The “look” to give your wife to make her headache disappear (this one involves a video demonstration to fully explain said “look”)

4. Joel Osteen is the Anti-Christ: The truth behind the smile

5. Do NOT do any yard work until you read this!  (sorry….couldn’t resist)

Do NOT do any yard work until you read this!

Please take a moment to read about the nightmare I recently went through at the hands of an alien invader no bigger than my fingernail….it may just save your life, and the lives of those you care about.

I was outside blowing leaves with one of those backpack blowers. You may be asking why I am just now blowing leaves in April, but it’s a long story and it makes me look lazy, so let’s not get sidetracked.

I was walking the backyard, blowing a wide swath through the November leaves, pushing them into the woods. I was so focused on where those leaves were going, that I failed to recognize I was walking headlong into an ambush, arranged by a nemesis that waited patiently for me to step in to their trap.

For over a week now, little inch worms have been arriving, gathering, spinning webs and waiting patiently.  I’ve been watching them, taking them down whenever I can.

So I was watching the ground, and did not see the 1.5 million worms that had gathered in the tree, hanging all around me. As I’m walking I feel something land on my head, I reach up to find it’s a worm.

Looking up I then run head first into another worm.

I spin around to feel one crawling on my neck.

I turn the other way and there are two worms in front of me who appear to be mating (why are they mating??)

At that moment a worm drops from the tree, and lands in between my glasses and my eyeball. I squeeze my eyes shut, hoping the sheer force of my lashes will crush it. Worms are now dropping all around me, like tiny kamikazes determined to defend their way of life.

I use the backpack blower to fight my way out, as the dangling spawns of satan continued to torment me. I look down to find worms all over my shoes. I’m struggling to clear the webs from my head and pull the little parasites out of my arm hair (why must I be so harry??) It’s then that I feel a worm drop down the back of my shirt.  I drop the handle of the leaf blower, which is still blowing full blast, bouncing up and down off of the ground. I reach for it when I feel a tiny tickle moving around the waistband of my boxer shorts.

Now I am dancing around, the leaf blower still flapping in the air, as I attempt to grab the worm without sending it even lower.  I can only hope that my wife does not come out at this moment, to see her “shining knight” whimpering like a small child and jumping around the yard. I get control of the leaf blower, and run toward the door of the house. I open the screen door and run headlong into an inch worm web, that I had just cleared out 30 minutes earlier!

I stood in the sun room, visibly shaken. I looked out at that tree, still draped in inch worms and their webs, daring me to come back for more.

I’m told that if I wait a little longer, the worms will burrow into the ground, and be gone until the fall….I will outlast them.

But the point here is clear….Guys, you must suspend all outside yard duties until such a time as it is deemed safe to do so….your wife will understand.  But if you must go out there, be sure you keep your eyes open….and wear a belt.