On Christmas Eve, shortly after “the nice man” drove to Nonna and Papa’s house to bring me the 2014 Lexus LS 460 to review, you and your cousin Calla both crashed for a much needed nap.
Under the care of your grandparents, that meant that Mommy and I, along with Auntie Dana (my sister) and Uncle Andrew, could do whatever in the world we wanted to on that cold yet sunny December afternoon.
Given that there was a brand new Lexus LS 460 sitting in the driveway, we hit the road!
At this point in the letter, I need you to start the soundtack, which is a song called “Flowers In Your Hair,” by The Lumineers:
It’s just that the pictures you’re about to see and the randomness of what you’re about to read is best complimented by such an appropriate song.
We decided to hit the mountaintop freeway, aimlessly headed towards Little River Canyon, where we took you in the 2014 Toyota Tundra we borrowed for your 3rd birthday.
I suggested we hang a left turn onto a barely visible side road next to an old fishing tackle shop.
Fate would have it, the four of us would happen upon a perfectly Americana-style, old abandoned church.
So we checked it out, as any young Generation Y parents would do.
The doors and windows were all gone. A “no trespassing” sign was nowhere to be found.
As we entered the church, it felt like a mix between Jacob’s cabin in the woods on Lost and being in a music video for The Lumineers.
All that we could find in the church was what was left of an antique piano and a once comfy chair.
I liked how the ceiling was painted a dull teal color, for no apparent reason.
How in the world has this place been left in tact all this time? No punk teenagers or meth heads have taken advantage of the situation.
Not even a killer brown bear.
Just an old abandoned church that surprisingly wasn’t creepy.
While I was exploring the place, I thought about all the people, who have all surely passed on from this life by now, but who knew that church as a major part of life.
They learned about God and the teachings of Jesus and the journey to Heaven. Those people made their way out in the ice and snow and sun to see their friends and fellow believers each Sunday morning. There is even a river behind the church where they surely baptized those who were lost but had been found.
That church was a big deal to them. I didn’t take it lightly to be standing on what, especially at one time, was holy ground.
So there you have it. That’s the kind of thing your parents do when you’re asleep and your grandparents are there to watch you.
Isn’t it weird to think that, in theory, I have a life separate from you? To think that I seek entertainment and nostalgia and new memories too…
You get that from me, you know.
Disclaimer: The vehicle mentioned in this story was provided at the expense of Lexus, for the purpose of reviewing.
P.S. Here’s a collection of my Toyota family reviews so far; just click on title to read the full story:
A week ago when I published “5 Impractical Ways To Save Your Family Money In 2013,” I intentionally left off one crucial way that I believe our family saves money. Maybe it’s not so much about it saving us money, as much as it helps us manage our budget with even more discipline and focus.
In fact, out of the 5 impractical ways I listed, I see this “6th way” as not only undeniably impractical, but the most important, for our family, at least:
For us, that means we give 10% of our paychecks to our church. From there, a lot of that money goes to helping people not only in our area, but all over the world.
Of course, that 10% of our income isn’t the only money we give to help others, because we help financially support other non-profit organizations that help people too.
But right off the top of every paycheck, we know that 10% of it goes to our church, which in turn helps other people.
I should be clear about something: It’s not that we have a 10% excess in our income. Not at all. Instead, we build our budget around the 10% we tithe.
“If you cannot live off 90% of your income, then you cannot live off 100%.”
If this can make any sense, we can’t afford not to tithe.
We believe that God will bless our family’s efforts as we acknowledge that what we have is not ours to begin with; instead, everything we have is what God has given to us.
So to “give back” 10%, technically isn’t giving back.
But I believe a lot of the importance of tithing has to do with the mindset it puts a family in. In the likeness of feng shui, tithing constantly keeps us mindful of where each dollar we earn goes.
Just like the importance of having a solid weekly budget on Excel, tithing helps us tell our money where to go, before it can tell us where to go.
Therefore, I think tithing is even a good idea for families who don’t go to church, as well as, those who aren’t particularly religious at all.
I would venture to say that a family who always gives at least 10% of their income to, at least, a charity that helps the needy, even if it’s not through a religious organization, is still going to find that they manage their money better than before they started promising to give away 10% of their income.
Sure, giving away 10% of every paycheck is pretty extreme and not necessarily normal.
But I suppose for a family who doesn’t pay for cable or satellite TV, or Internet on our phones, or for the fact we don’t really dine out, or update our electronics, I guess it’s not really that much of a shock that we automatically give away 10% of our income.
Everyone has their own approach to it that they feel most comfortable with and find to be the most effective. But I’m for certain that no parent disciplines their child in secret hopes of making them suffer indefinitely for their offenses.
Instead, we want our children to mature and become less selfish. We want the best for them. By doing so, we make the world a better place.
So here’s something I think is messed up about us as adults: It’s way too easy for us to want to see other people cursed and suffer when they offend us, rather than them being blessed and enriched.
If someone cuts us off in traffic, they are automatically a jerk who deserves to be flipped off.
No matter how good of a person they may be outside of that single moment. Forget about how hard they work for their family and how they help others out of the goodness of their hearts.
For cutting us off, they become labeled as idiots who have no hope of redemption.
In fact, in that heat of the moment, the thought of that person being redeemed is absurd. It’s natural and easy to generalize them into an evil and moronic imbecile who intends to make your life hell; or at least annoying.
Simply said, we want that person to suffer. Who cares about forgiveness, redemption, or reconciliation.
And then, for all we know, the next day we coincidentally see them at the gas station and they say to us, “Excuse me, but you dropped this.”
They hand to you your debit card which slipped out of your wallet. You thank them; neither of you even aware of the incident the day before.
We discipline our children to help them, not privately wish bad things upon them. Yet we so easily want to judge and punish those who slightly offend us or have the opposite view as we do on a political or parenting issue that doesn’t even personally concern us.
By the way, if you live in Nashville, I’ve probably cut you off before on the road. But only because you seemed to be going slower than you actually were, but I realized it only after I had already pulled out in front of you.
Oops. My bad.
Here’s a quote from my favorite song right now, performed by 10th Avenue North:
“Why do we think that hate’s gonna change their heart?
We’re up in arms over wars that don’t need to be fought
But pride won’t let us lay our weapons on the ground
We build our bridges up but just to burn them down
We think pain is owed apologies and then it’ll stop
But truth be told it doesn’t matter if they’re sorry or not”