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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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Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
One of the highlights of my day is always picking up Jack from daycare, because I know he will come running to me with a big smile on his face.
Then, he’ll cuddle up close to me like a koala bear as I hold him and collect his things before taking him out to the car.
With Jack, moments of cuddling like that are rare. It’s safe to proclaim, he’s just not a cuddly kind of kid.
I want to say that I wish he was. But that would be me being selfish.
Because he was designed to be an adventurer and an explorer, so it’s not in his nature to want to let me squeeze him like the Snuggles bear whenever I feel like it; which is actually quite often.
Jack wants to be led into swashbuckling missions. He wants to see the unknown. He wants to ride in the bottom storage part of the shopping cart at Whole Foods Market.
I have to let Jack be Jack, even if that means that at least for right now, I can’t just lay on the couch with him, being close and cuddly. Because that’s what I want.
So I accept that his love language is probably not physical touch.
Instead, I think Jack interprets love through quality time and acts of service.
That typically involves me exerting a lot of energy and burning a bunch of calories and not having much time to just chill out when I’m with him.
It’s not so much that I’m constantly having to entertain him; it’s that I’m constantly needing to engage him. Interestingly, the activities that best express my love to him in a way that he accepts as valid are the ones that most wear him out and cause him to need to take a nap.
Now I can understand even better why roughhousing with my son is so vitally important.
Chasing him like I’m a lion, then gently tossing him on the random air mattress in our living room is the equivalent to snuggling with him. That’s how Jack sees it.
And perhaps my subconscious realization of that naturally makes me want to play rough with him in the first place.
It’s been no secret that Jack and my dad have always had a special bond.
Even when Jack was only a couple of months old, he always appreciated my dad carrying him around the house, showing him the insides of bedrooms and the pictures on the walls.
What is it about that special bond between grandfather and grandson? It’s not just their same first and last name.
I believe it has a whole lot to do with the fact my dad does a perfect love of expressing love to Jack in a way that Jack can best understand it.
Remember the whole water hose incident last weekend?
Prime example. Put Jack and his Papa together, and they’ll figure out something fun to do.
My son isn’t the Snuggles bear.
But I do think he might be Curious George.
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Saturday, February 4th, 2012
I believe that most men are wired to appreciate and use formulas to get the job done. That’s definitely the case for me. I just want someone to spell it out for me so I always know what to do the next time I’m in that situation again. I hate having to guess.
Therefore, I will attempt to share my formula for writing a thoughtful and sincere Valentine’s Day card for your wife and the mother of your children.
This year, instead of rushing by the drug store the day before and scribbling in the card “I love you” while sitting at the red light, you can be prepared ahead of time.
You can even have her card purchased and filled out a week ahead of time. Nice plan, huh? Let’s do it.
1. Make it quirky. No matter how serious or funny the card itself is supposed to be, I always like to personalize the card. Like if on the front there are two cartoon cats who are in love, I write in “you” and “me” with arrows pointing to the appropriate characters.
No matter what the writing inside the card says when you buy it, you can always add to it, inserting a line with a specific example of something she did or said that was special and memorable.
2. Use the phrase “in love with you.” It’s a given that you will tell her in the card that you love her. But by proclaiming that you are in love with her, it resurfaces those feelings and memories of when you first fell in love with her and it shows her that you never stopped falling in love with her.
Just be sure you don’t say, “I’m still in love with you.” The word “still” makes the whole thing go south pretty quickly.
3. Use her name at least once. It’s so easy to get in the habit of calling her pet names or even simply nothing at all that you end up not calling her by her name. But there’s a lot of power in saying and/or writing a person’s name. So say her name, say her name.
4. Mention your appreciation of her motherly skills. We all know that parenting is a thankless job. So thank her for how good she is at it. And if your kid is too young to talk yet like mine is, add a little note from your child- pretending to speak for them.
Okay, the card is purchased and written. Now figure out where to display it on that fateful Tuesday morning. Maybe on the bathroom sink? Let it be one of the first things she notices, to help start Valentine’s Day out the right way.
One more thing, save this article in your “Favorites.” You may need to use this card-writing formula in the near future: her birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas, Arbor Day…
Image: Valentine heart candy, via Shutterstock.
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Friday, February 3rd, 2012
Alright guys, you don’t need my help here. You knew what it took to get her to fall for you in the first place. I’m assuming you’ve already begun brainstorming on how to make this Valentine’s Day special for the love of your life and the mother of your child.
So today I’m just here to offer up a few more decent ideas to throw into the mix, or remind you about, as V-Day approaches us. Here’s what I say about making Valentine’s Day special for her:
Keep it simple, thoughtful, and unique.
1. Buy a miniature cake from the grocery store for the two of you to share. They cost around 8 bucks and are essentially the equivalent of buying two of those trendy $4 cupcakes; which wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Chances are, she will be charmed by your “fun” and “cute” idea of throwing together Valentine’s dessert.
2. Pick up a special drink and serve it in champagne or wine glasses. Whether it’s your wifey’s favorite wine, cider, gourmet beer, or even just sparkling grape juice. The idea is to bring a touch of fanciness and class; yet so simply.
3. Personalize her Valentine’s Day card. I just did a more detailed article on this alone, but for now, what matters is that you write more than “I love you” on a 99 cent card. This is a great opportunity to reaffirm how you feel about her with words that will potentially stick around longer than the words spoken every other day. Seeing something written in black and white really has staying power.
4. Get her a sugary treat for later. It doesn’t have to be a box of chocolates. Maybe she prefers Twizzlers or Jelly Bellies. This aspect is like the stocking stuffer of Valentine’s Day. Plus, it’s just nice to have something leftover for the next day she can enjoy while she’s at work.
5. Oh yeah, the flowers. Honestly, I never spend a lot on these. The important thing is that you have them to display in a vase on the counter or table. Flowers are important because they last about two weeks longer than Valentine’s Day itself.
Notice how none of my ideas involve spending a lot of money or require too much effort.
Simple, thoughtful, and unique. That’s the man plan for Valentine’s Day.
Not to mention, by default, you’re teaching your son how to be romantic and/or your daughter what she should expect from a guy you would approve of someday.
Image: Man and woman as a happy couple together, via Shutterstock.
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