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:
I won’t quote the whole thing here, but the last few lines of it really stood out to me:
“Two thousand years have come and gone, and today He is the central figure for much of the human race. All the armies that have ever marched and all the navies that have ever sailed and all the parliments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this “One Solitary Life.’”
It’s pretty fascinating to me that if Jesus wasn’t who He claimed to be, which is the Son of God and the predicted Messiah of the prophecies in the Old Testament, then He was simply the most famous and influencial deceiver to have ever lived on the earth.
That means He’s fooled millions of people in the past couple thousand years. That means, back in His day, he caused quite a political uproar over… nothing. In that case, it was all just a hoax.
As C.S. Lewis famously put it, Jesus is either “lunatic, liar, or Lord.”
But again, if He was simply a crazy man or false prophet, He’s the most famous and influential one there’s ever been, to simply have been just a man.
Or, Jesus really is who He said He is, and He’s still the most famous and influential man who has ever lived.
This is the same man who this time of year is better known as the baby born in Bethlehem.
The way I look at it; even if at the end of my life I was wrong about God this entire time and when we die, we just die and that’s it, I still wouldn’t regret having believed. Because if nothing else, I had a sense of hope amidst all of life’s uncertainties.
Throughout all the traditional Santa and reindeer stuff we enjoy this time of year, I’m still distracted by the Jesus part of Christmas.
If Christmas was simply about candy canes and snowmen, and still managed to be this big of a deal to everyone, I would really be questioning why we celebrate it.
But I know the basis of this holiday season is deeper than that, and even more than just “the spirit of giving.” It still comes down to a baby in a manger who went on to live the most famous and influential life… ever.
And as I raise you to believe in Him, if He was really just a liar or a lunatic instead, I guess that makes me one of those things too.
That’s definitely the case at my job in the office. I don’t assume I’ll get a raise simply because I’ve been employed there for a certain amount of time.
I see it more of an old school concept that you get a raise based on time. Instead, I work with the mindset that I need to daily show my employer that I’m one of the most proactive, diligent, and creative workers there.
Basically, as I prove myself more each day, I’m rewarded with new tasks and responsibilities- in other words, more hard work.
The concept is that I will eventually hold so many responsibilities and successly completed projects that a new pay grade will eventually be unavoidable.
Until then, I’m working hard and being rewarded with more hard work.
I wish I could tell you that life was easier than that. I don’t think it is.
The thought of ever retiring seems not only impossible for me, but it simply seems like a joke; not just because I have no faith in the Social Security program. It’s also that I can’t imagine not feeling the pressure of accomplishing tasks all the time.
I’m afraid I’m one of those people who would die within a year after retiring. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
Therefore, I plan to stay moving and active.
As I write all this, I can’t help but think about how this mindset makes me think of being a parent. With each new phase I complete, like the get-no-sleep phase when you were a newborn, I graduate to a newer and more advanced job.
Nearly three years ago I was cleaning bottles, whereas these days I’m helping you potty train.
If the reward for a job well done is more hard work, then that means hard work is rewarding. Weird concept, but I get it. Actually, one of my favorite books in the world is Ecclesiastes, which is widely believed to be written by the wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon.
This sums it up for me in a way I can appreciate:
“5:18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.”
If that’s how I see the world, and how I see life, it would seem difficult to feel entitled to much.
Needless to say, I am your daddy. That means the reward for being your daddy is, being your daddy.
There are no other cell phone parts anywhere else around. Just the keyboards.
Are cell phone keyboards hot on the black market right now?
Did a cell phone keyboard bandit run across your school’s parking lot, carrying hundreds of them over his shoulder in a giant sack, that happened to have a slit in it, causing many of them to fall onto the ground?
That’s the best explanation I can come up with.
Needless to say, you’re pretty fascinated by the mystery (and possible government conspiracy?) of these cell phone keyboards.
Our new daily tradition is that every time we now get out of or into our car in the school parking lot, you like to get down and count them.
Today when I picked you up from school, your teacher Ms. Lauren updated me on the funny thing you said to her this time:
“Ms. Lauren, there’s cell phones in the parking lot. I counted them. There’s 10 of them!”
You’re right. You indeed count 10 of them each time.
It is because of the cell phone keyboards that I now officially know you can count to 10. Because you do it at least once a day now.
Even without meaning to, you found a way to test out what you learn at school.
I think it’s safe to say that cell phone keyboards may be the most peculiar thing you will ever use in the process of learning to count.
As for the mystery of how they got there, I guess we’ll just have to ask God when we get to Heaven one day.
I’ve written before about how I pray for you. Today, I want to tell you about how I pray for myself, as your dad.
First, I pray for wisdom, more than anything; because if God grants me wisdom, I am better prepared to handle any future blessings or challenges that come my way.
I pray for wisdom to guide me in life, as a husband, a daddy, as a steward of time and money, and as I attempt to be a decent human being in general.
Life would be so much easier if things were predictable; if life came with a literal play-by-play instruction manual. Instead, by praying for wisdom, I hope to gain maturity to know how to handle each situation; as I build upon what humility as taught me in the past.
Therefore, I also pray for humility.
Though there are many wise sayings about pride, this one by Yogi Bhajan is currently my favorite:
“When ego is lost, limit is lost. You become infinite, kind, beautiful.”
The older I get, the more I realize what really matters in life… and that’s serving other people. Like I wrote you yesterday, I am now very consciously aware of not letting my own specific beliefs on politics, religion, and even food, get in the way of that. So when I speak of what I’m passionate about, I want to be inclusive, not exclusive.
Plus, on the flip side, I figure that the less people in life I give the authority to hurt my feelings, the better. It’s like that great quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Which brings me to the last element of the trifecta of my daily prayer, as a parent:
Every day, I expect for situations in life that will force me to choose to put my wisdom and humility to the test. If there’s not something new I can learn about myself in the process, and if there’s not something new I can learn about overcoming my pride and helping others, it’s then that I should be worried.
Therefore, I need grace on a daily basis. I need grace to land the falls that are sure to come.
I believe that God passionately opposes pride, but gives grace to the humble. Without wisdom, I wouldn’t desire to become humble. But if I am humble, I want grace, God’s favor, along with the humility.
That’s all I’m going to say about wisdom, humility, and grace today… otherwise what I am saying could come across as being prideful.
So I will end with this.
These three things I pray for are also what I hope to share with you on a daily basis, from father to son.
I want to share my wisdom by teaching you, my humility by serving you, and my grace by giving you mine.
After all, if I’m asking these things from my Heavenly Father, I must be wise, humble, and graceful enough to give them to you first.