On the 2nd half of your monster truck road tripin the Toyota Tundra to celebrate your 3rd birthday, we stopped by an old abandoned amusement park, called Canyon Land Park, right outside my hometime in Fort Payne, AL. Here’s an old vintage postcard of the place in its prime:
In the likeness of the Dharma Initiative on Lost, this random amusement park thrived from around 1973 to circa 1983; until the place shut down. It even had a skylift that went over the canyon as well as a mini zoo featuring exotic animals!
Canyon Land Park has remained virtually untouched for 30 years.
The only exception I know of was exactly 20 years ago in October 1993, when my church’s youth group rented out the old (creepy) facility for a Halloween, for something called Hell House. (A Christian version of a spook house.)
One of the reasons I wanted to stop by the place is because exactly 40 years ago, Nonna and Papa (my parents) went on one of their first dates there.
It made sense to include what’s left of Canyon Land Park as part of this monster truck road trip, as it obviously had something to do with you and me even being here in the first place.
Turns out, there wasn’t a whole lot to see, as we parked the truck outside the rusted barb wire fence. I was able to make out what used to be a putt-putt golf course, but that was about it.
For all I know, there are black bears and wild hogs living in those old brick buildings that at one time brought in thousands of tourists. Maybe one day someone will purchase the land and make it the seemingly awesome and unique amusement park it once was.
I wish there would have been more to show you there, but at least the event served its purpose: to go off the beaten path in a “monster truck” and make an adventure of some things in life that most people don’t get to see every day.
We still had one more final stop on our monster truck road trip, though.
To be continued…
Disclaimer: The vehicle mentioned in this story was provided at the expense of Toyota, for the purpose of reviewing.
I recently realized something: I haven’t really been praying specifically for you. Instead, I’ve been mainly just lumping you in with our family.
Subconsciously, I keep asking myself, “What else should I pray about aside, from his safety and that he will have a bright future? He’s only 2 years old.”
That’s pretty much all my prayers for you have been about: Your safety and your future.
But beyond that, on a daily basis, what else do I want for you? What should I ask God for on your behalf?
I’ve been thinking about this all week and I guess the thing is, until I take the time to write it down, I won’t know the answer.
It’s like I get so used to the habit of praying ad-lib style, that I hardly take the time to map out my thoughts and translate them into prayers.
So while this prayer will surely evolve as you grow older, here’s my prayer for you for right now:
“Heavenly Father, thank you for my son Jack. Please protect him from harm and give him a bright future.
As for his interactions with others today, I pray that in his young age as he is developing his skills to communicate and share, help him to love others as himself.
Let him be a friend today to those who need a friend. Let him be encouraging, strong, and yet still humbled.
Bless him as he learns today about colors and shapes, words and numbers, and all Your creation in between. I pray He will see Your truth in this life and that he will see Your love through me.
Lead me today, as I lead him. I pray in Your name, amen.”
The obvious thing I can’t help but think about as I see this prayer, is the last line. Jack, it’s true you are both a gift and a responsibility.
Sure, the older you get, the more responsible for yourself you will become. But as for now, I am overly mindful of the role I play in your life.
I don’t take my role as your dad lightly. Therefore, I’m very deliberate in how I raise you. That includes how I discipline you, communicate with you, entertain you, engage you, and teach you both small and important lessons in life.
The light doesn’t just one day switch on, and suddenly, what I do as your dad suddenly starts really mattering.
You’d think he was just a big Beatles fan like his dad, until he continues:
“Martha- where’s Martha? Jesus! There’s Jesus. Jesus sleepy.”
For the past 23 months, Jack has been exposed to a children’s story Bible for bedtime. But now that he can piece sentences together and recall names of different characters, his children’s story Bible has never been more relevant.
His Bible is officially his favorite book. Why wouldn’t it be?
Plenty of camels, horses, sheep, and bearded men in robes to keep the attention of a 23-month-old little boy.
I think it’s hilarious/awesome that Jack has memorized the cartoon representations of at least a dozen men of the Bible. The only real distinction between them is the color of their beards and robes.
Tonight during story time as he sat in my lap and read to me, he made it his mission to find Mark. The problem is, even I couldn’t find Mark.
So I turned to a page where Jesus was feeding the multitudes from a little boy’s bread and fish. I figured with all the bearded men surrounding Jesus on that page, Jack would think he saw Mark somewhere in the crowd.
Not so much.
As I put Jack to bed tonight, it was kind a struggle for me to get him in sleep mode.
“I want Jesus! Jesus!” he cried, literally.
What he wanted was for me to let him take his children’s story Bible to bed with him, like he would his Elmo doll.
I just didn’t see that being a very comfortable situation in the middle of the night.
So Jack did settle for Percy the Train instead.
What’s interesting is that today during my lunch break, I mountain biked across town to the LifeWay store. I was just curious…
Do they sell a Jesus action figure, or even a plush doll?
But I sort of have a feeling by the time this story really ends, I’ll find one for him.
If you’re friends with me on Facebook, then you know that A) I talk about my son a lot and B) I love discussing politics.
This election is epic! Here we are, deciding which man we believe best represents our own code of morality and decision-making.
For me, the most interesting part is regarding the discussions I’m hearing about the religious beliefs of the candidates, particularly from conservative Protestant Republicans.
Up until 3 years ago, before becoming your neighborhood friendly Ron Paul supporter, I was a Republican and I voted that way every four years.
Like many other conservative Protestants I knew, I voted for the Republican candidate, if for no other reason, because he was pro-life.
While I am still very pro-life, my focus is no longer on choosing the “better Christian,” or in other words, the most conservative Christian candidate.
Here’s the irony: Many Protestants don’t consider Mormons to be Christians; some of the biggest reasons being because Christians believe that Jesus is equal to God and that Jesus was physically raised from the dead. (My understanding is that Mormons don’t believe those things.)
In other words, certain Republican Protestants are voting for the “better Christian,” though, by their own definition of what it means to be a Christian, the man they will be voting for is not actually a Christian.
Instead, they’re voting for the man who best represents their particular Christian values.
This is the first election in a long time where Republicans don’t have a Protestant Presidential candidate to stand behind.
(The only Catholic President in American history was JFK, who he was a Democrat.)
What if Mitt Romney was a conservative, pro-life agnostic instead of a Mormon?
How “non-Christian” can a Republican Presidential candidate be and still be backed by the conservative Protestants as the “better Christian” candidate?
Of course, I keep having to put “better Christian” in quotation marks just to be clear that I personally I am not publicly judging their allegiance to Christ; I think if I did, it wouldn’t be very Christian of me.
Similarly, I think it’s unfair to demonize a President just because he’s with the “wrong” political party.
President Obama is not evil. Nor was George W. Bush. They just happened to be the first two Presidents we’ve had since the Internet has been relevant to mainstream America and since blogs have been subconsciously influential to the masses; so these recent Presidents have been much more rapidly criticized.
It can be so natural to call their actions evil when you’re part of the opposing political party. In the process, the whole other political party in that case becomes evil too.
In other words, either half of America is evil; it just depends on which side of the fence you’re not.
Like I said in the beginning, we as a nation, as parents of children whom we are trying to instill our own morals into, are trying to vote for the man we believe best represents our own code of morality and decision-making.
Sure, our own personal religious beliefs should play into that. But at least for conservative Protestant Republicans, it’s not as simple this time around as choosing the “better Christian.”
So, will America choose a Christian or a Mormon for President in 2012?
I don’t feel threatened by how the government defines marriage because I firmly believe in the importance of separating church and state.
Do certain conservative believers in the Christian god have exclusiveness over the right to marriage, as recognized by the American government?
If so, then it’s time to start converting any non-Christian couples before they wed.
There is marriage as recognized by the nation I am a citizen of; then there is marriage as recognized by the particular religious faith I belong to.
Two separate things… and the first one is not something I’m too concerned with.
Though it makes me feel good that my wife took my last name.
It’s actually pretty funny to me when the same people who complain about the Ten Commandments not being displayed in government buildings can not even name all ten of the commandments.
And I always think it’s ridiculous when I hear that “they took prayer out of schools.” No. No they didn’t.
(I’m assuming “they” is referring to Communists and this is the year 1985?)
As the dad of a toddler and the husband of a Christian woman, I pray while holding them both each morning before we go our separate ways for the day. When my son Jack goes to his daycare, I don’t expect them to have prayer for him there.
If I want to teach my son to pray or to learn the Ten Commandments, then it’s my responsibility as his dad to teach him in my home.
I laughed pretty hard recently when I heard a guy complaining about the Presidential support of “legalizing gay marriage,” saying that it threatens the sanctity of marriage and the future of America.
The most obvious reason his viewpoint was invalid is because he unashamedly admits to watching pornography regularly and says there’s nothing wrong with flirting with other women in bars because at the end of the night he’s not going home with them, he’s going home to his wife.
Here’s what I know:
I’m protecting the sanctity of my marriage by loving my wife the best way I know how. That includes not coveting other women, keeping strong and open communication with my wife, spending quality time with her, and being the best dad I can be to our son. Oh, and prayer, too.
But not the kind endorsed by the government… because, you know, the government took away prayer from us.
Here’s the video I stole from a friend on Facebook that inspired this article. Now handing the mic to Julie Borowski: