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Thursday, August 15th, 2013
2 years, 8 months.
This weekend Mommy and I watched a well-acted, well-produced movie on Netflix called Friends With Kids.
It definitely more than earned its “R” rating. However, I still managed to appreciate and analyze the plot line and concept of the movie:
What if two people who were not at all in love decided to have a baby so they “wouldn’t have to deal with the complicated problem of combining romantic love, personal happiness, and kids?”
What if the dad and mom were “best friends with a kid,” but somehow with no emotional baggage and were free to go on with their lives with no commitment to each other other than their child?
In essence, the main characters of the movie (played by Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt) start out their experiment (with human life!) by saying that you can’t really have romantic love and personal happiness and still have kids.
Or kids and personal happiness and still be in love with the child’s parent.
Or kids and romantic love with the child’s parent and still personally be happy.
Obviously, I don’t agree with with those sentiments, but I completely understand what they’re getting at.
Those three things (love, happiness, and kids) are a challenging combo to balance.
As I’ve been writing to you about a lot here recently, I’m realizing that the least of these three is my personal happiness.
I talked about in “To Be More Like Clark Griswold On Our Family Vacations” how so much of what I let bother me is actually rooted in fear that I won’t get my way or be happy.
So for me, here’s the takeaway from the movie. It helped remind me that by default, parents are forced to prioritize love, happiness, and kids.
I choose love and kids, then.. my own happiness. (Or in my case, just one kid… for now.)
That’s not at all to say I’m not happy, because I’m very content and thankful for my life. But if I don’t put you and Mommy before myself, I’m not truly going to be happy anyway.
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Thursday, July 18th, 2013
2 years, 8 months.
Tonight as I sang “Amazing Grace” to you as a lullaby, you wanted to clear something up:
“What’s grace? Is that a man?”
You had caught me off guard, as I was trying to decide whether or not a second verse would be necessary before I could walk out and help Mommy finish folding laundry. That’s what I was really thinking about.
I replied, “Actually, grace is talking about God.” From there, I paused a moment, attempting to quickly analyze your understanding of God at this point in your life.
“God loves you,” I added.
Your instant response: “Me?”
It was one of the most sincere things I’ve ever heard you say. I was able to see firsthand what it’s like for a person to be told for the first time (and attempt to understand) that God loves them.
Whereas I’ve believed my whole life that God loves me and it’s far from a new concept now, tonight was the night that seed was officially planted in your mind.
The lights were off as I knelt next to your bed, but just the tone of your voice showed me it meant something to you to hear that God loves you.
I continued, “God made you. He wants you here.”
Without any hesitation, you laughed as you declared, “Bow-wow!”
Then you preceded to make truck noises.
It’s a start, anyway.
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Monday, June 24th, 2013
2 years, 7 months.
You have discovered the magic words:
“I love you.”
That even includes the times you say it when you’re simply trying to use it to your advantage.
Every night as I’m downstairs doing the dishes, Mommy will let you prop yourself up on the balcony of the staircase and yell to me, “Hey Daddy, I potty! I get an M&M!”
For some reason when you get tired and giddy at the same time, you gain this Austrian accent.
So it’s more like, “Hey Dah-dee, I pah-dee…”
A little bit later, after I’ve sang you three random songs, one of which is usually the theme song to The Lorax movie, I say goodnight and leave the room.
You wait until about 10 seconds after I’ve shut the door.
“Hey Dah-dee, I laaaahv yew!”
Even though it’s spoken in your unnecessary and cartoonish Arnold Schwarzenegger accent, I can’t resist.
I immediately open the door, kiss you, and tell you I love you too.
Knowing your plan to delay bedtime actually worked, you tell me even louder that you love me, even though you’re laughing and just trying to be funny at that point.
It’s funny how even though I clearly know it’s a ploy, I go along with it anyway.
Are you beginning to understand what the word “love” really means? It’s not something I can simply describe to a 2 and a half year-old in words.
Mommy and I can show you everyday, knowing that eventually you’ll connect the word to the action. But as far as the word really making sense to you 100%, I don’t think you’re there yet.
That doesn’t matter to me. Even if you’re simply processing what it means to love me, and what it means that I love you…
Well, that’s close enough for me. I’ll take it.
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Friday, December 14th, 2012
While I will always do my best to give you answers about life, there are certain things that just can’t be explained with a reasonable answer. Today will be most remembered as the day a gunman killed seven adults and 20 children at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
People ask, “Why did this happen?”
No one can give a reasonable explanation, because nothing about this incident was reasonable or explainable.
My attempt at an explanation is that some people in this world feel so broken, unloved, and numb that they give up on life.
The irony is, as hopeless and alone as they feel, they still don’t want to die alone.
It’s times like these that cause some people to ask, “If there is a God, why would He allow such an unthinkable event to happen?”
Others ask, “How could an event like this not cause people to turn to God, in the hope that there is a saving grace stronger than the depravity of man?”
In these moments we are forced to both contemplate and appreciate our own lives.
After all, we are the ones that still have the gift of life.
As messed up as it gets sometimes, we still share this gift. We still have the opportunity to love others as ourselves.
People who destroy the lives of others don’t, and maybe even can’t, understand this concept. I’m sure part of the reason is that they themselves weren’t shown enough love in their own life, but that doesn’t give them any excuse.
That’s why as your dad, I will always be teaching you the importance of making people feel special and included. If we all did that the best we could, maybe we could help create a butterfly effect where we passed along hope instead of despair.
I will teach you to seek out the lost, the friendless, the misunderstood, and the lonely. They need a good friend.
And I believe you will make a good one.
We can never explain events like the one that happened today. We can only do our part to quench the pattern of brokenness and fear with a pattern of love and hope.
I love you, Son. I hugged you extra close tonight. So did Mommy. We’re going to take good care of you.
Image credit: Shutterstock, Highway Gantry Sign.
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Monday, August 27th, 2012
My wife is the one in the relationship who is the stickler for pushing the toothpaste from the bottom of the tube.
Meanwhile, I am the one who doesn’t allow either of us to let the faucet to run while we are brushing our teeth, except for the brief moments the toothbrush actually needs to be rinsed.
I think it’s no coincidence that here in America, we play in our water (at water parks!) while people in much of the rest of the world don’t even have clean water to drink.
That’s not to say that if we simply reserved our water use, the people on the other side of the world would suddenly have access to the water they need to survive.
Instead, we have to be proactive to help them have access to clean drinking water. Today, I am honored to share with you a way your family can help families in Africa do just that.
This isn’t just a hopeful prayer: “Lord, please help the poor people in Africa.”
Instead, this is you actually helping the poor people in Africa. What an awesome way you can teach your kids how to help those who are less fortunate.
This past weekend I got to meet Wally from The Wally Show, my favorite radio show. They are a big advocate of a grassroots organization called The Blood:Water Mission that empowers communities to work together against the AIDS and water crises.
The Wally Show hosted a Lemon:Aid fundraiser here in Nashville so my wife and I took our son Jack to check it out.
As the sign behind me in this picture above explains, for anyone who bought a $1 cup of lemonade, they helped provide water to one person for a year.
For a $5 cup, they provided water to a family for a year.
For a $25, they provided water for one person for life.
And for $125, they provided water to a family for life.
As you can see, just a few American dollars still go a long way in Africa.
While at the end of the day I could care less about controversial parenting topics like circumcision and the cry it out method, something I am extremely passionate about is actually helping hurting families in less fortunate countries.
The Blood:Water Mission helps countries like Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia, and Rwanda to have water wells installed to provide clean drinking water for their villages.
Here’s a link to their website which explains all the ways your family can do more than just simply donate money to invest in these lovely African people, but also to get involved like the way I just mentioned:
Doing a Lemon:Aid Stand.
I will close with this perfect quote from Bono of U2:
“Where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die.”
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