FATHERS’ DAY THOUGHTS

[NOTE:  THIS POST IS A REPEAT FROM 2017; BUT IT CAPTURES THE THOUGHTS I HAVE REGARDING MY DAD AND MY TWO SONS-IN-LAW AND, IN MY MIND, BEARS REPEATING TODAY AS WE CELEBRATE A DAY TO HONOR FATHERS.  HAPPY FATHERS’ DAY TO ALL OF YOU DADS, BUT ESPECIALLY TO MY DAD AND SONS-IN-LAW]

I’ve heard all my life that “any man can be a father, but it takes a special man to be a dad.” I believe that to be true and I’m fortunate to see three generations of dads in my family right now. I’m blessed to have my dad still with us and I look forward to seeing him later today. I’m confident that anyone who knows my dad could not come up with anything bad to say about him even if they wanted to for some reason. His integrity and character are unquestionable; he is kind and patient to everyone, and if anything would try his patience it would be raising two boys who pretty well covered the spectrum between being okay at times to fighting like cats and dogs at times. Daddy has ALWAYS been a “dad”. Other than my wife, he is still the person I run to when I need advise, or when the car breaks down, or when I’ve had a bad day. He is the man I wanted to emulate as I was growing up and it is still my goal to be like my dad. It is also a goal I realized some time back that I would not achieve but it is still my goal. He and Mama laid the foundation that has held firm throughout the euphoric highs and the devastating lows of my life and I’m so thankful for them and the job they did preparing me for adulthood.

The next generation is me. I know I’m a father, and I think I’m a dad, but truthfully you’ll have to ask my two daughters that question. Nothing makes me prouder or happier than seeing my two baby girls as adults with their own families. When I think back on all the struggles we’ve had over the years and see them now, it was worth it. It was worth every sleepless night when they were babies and the sleepless nights as they emerged into adulthood as well as the sleepless nights when they struggle with life’s problems and crises like we’ve just experienced. My heart breaks when theirs does and celebrates when theirs does. George Strait’s song captured it best: “Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love…. it’s a love without end, amen.”

Now, I get to observe my two sons-in-law as they are dads. It’s a different role for me; a role of observation more than participation. I’m always here for them and happy to discuss anything with them, but I try to keep my mouth shut unless I’m asked. These two fine men are on point now with their “daddyhood” responsibilities and appear to be doing an excellent job. I love these two men and am enjoying watching them as they “daddy” their children.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my heritage. I have very fond memories of my grandfathers- two of the finest men you would ever meet. And they laid the foundation for my Mama and Daddy. I even have faint memories of three of my four great-grandfathers and I can say the same about them. How blessed I am to look backwards to see such outstanding dads in my family while looking ahead to see two more coming through the good times and bad times of being a dad.

Happy Fathers’ Day, Daddy. And happy Fathers’ Day to my sons-in-law. I love you men very much!

JUNE 8

Forty five years ago Robin had just graduated from high school and I had just completed a spring term at Auburn. It was a Saturday, but not just any Saturday. I washed and cleaned up Daddy’s 1969 Pontiac that morning and went to get a haircut early in the afternoon. The photographer was expected to be at Mama and Daddy’s house at 4:00 or 4:30; so I had to be dressed and ready by that time. I didn’t have much to do between getting a haircut and waiting for the photographer to arrive.

Robin, on the other hand, had an extremely busy day. Our florist had booked another wedding the same day as ours so Robin actually had to make flower arrangements and boutonnieres during the day and be dressed and ready for the photographer after he finished at our house. I had nothing to do but think about the wedding; Robin didn’t have time to think about it at all. I think we were both wrecks by the 6:30 start time.

But the wedding was great; nobody passed out, there were no unusual events. Just two kids exchanging vows and planning to live happily ever after. And we have; well, not everything has been happiness. We’ve had our share of hard times; a couple of times that I wondered if we would make it through and still be husband and wife. The odds were not in our favor because of our age (20 and 18) and inexperience. I had not learned how to communicate well (I’m still learning) and we brought some baggage into our relationship as everyone does.

About 10 years ago I had a Christmas present video made for Robin with a dozen or so of our favorite songs and pictures and videos that looked back over our time together. It gave me a great opportunity to look through old photos and videos and reflect on our years together. In the video I recorded a message to her wishing her a Merry Christmas and I told her that my intent was to review our life together and capture the good times and the “not so good times”. But what I discovered along the way was there just weren’t that many “not so good times” and even when there were we had always found a way to work through the difficulties; and that having survived those times had made us even stronger and closer.

wedding day

WEDDING DAY JUNE 8, 1974

 

Steve's iPhone SE 134

PRESENT DAY

 

Robin, when we were first learning to express our love for each other I told you with a song that “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me”; it was true then and just as true today. I told you forty five years ago that I want to spend the rest of my life with you by my side and that is still true today also. Thank you for forty-five indescribable years and for the ones still ahead. As long as you are with me I know the future years will be even better than the past. I love you; HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

https://youtu.be/9II2J0n4IuU

BRICKS IN THE WALL

In 1979 Pink Floyd released a song called “Another Brick in the Wall” and it actually hit number one on the charts. I always thought the song was a little strange and made no sense. I went for a bike ride yesterday, set my iPod on shuffle and wouldn’t you know it, the song came up on the playlist. Still curious about the song’s meaning I looked it up this morning and here’s the answer (I don’t really have a source to give; I just googled “the meaning of..”)

“The wall refers to the emotional barrier Waters built around himself because he wasn’t in touch with reality. The bricks in the wall were the events in his life which propelled him to build this proverbial wall around him, and his school teacher was another brick in the wall.”

That helps explain the song, but it isn’t exactly what I thought about when I heard it. I actually thought it is an analogy of our lives. If we compare our life’s purpose to building a brick wall then we add another brick to the wall each day; or if we consider events in our lives to be bricks, we could add several bricks in a day. And the wall is what we produce or leave behind after our lifetime of laying bricks.

We are each building a wall unique to us; we have been given a plan for the wall and we may have served an apprenticeship of sorts if we have had great mentors. I’ve had several superb mentors but my wall is riddled with mistakes and events that have resulted in major flaws. We have a finite time period to complete our wall, we just don’t know how long that is. That point was driven into my thoughts this weekend as we hit the two year mark of Carter’s death, and the tragic automobile accident that claimed the lives of Rod Bramblett and his wife. Rod was the radio voice of the Auburn Tigers athletic events for many years and was only 53; his wife Paula was 52. And of course Carter was a little over three months.

Laying bricks is hard work and requires training and skill. One doesn’t just decide he wants to be a brick mason and goes to work the next day laying bricks. Building a worthwhile wall with our lives is hard work as well and we must train continuously to improve our skills.

Best wishes to you today as you continue to build your wall.

TODAY

“Life’s too short to wake up with regrets.  So love the people who treat you right, forgive the ones who don’t and believe that everything happens for a reason.  If you get a chance, take it.  If it changes your life, let it.  Nobody said it’d be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.”   Dr. Seuss

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”   President Franklin Roosevelt

“It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.”  Dr. Seuss

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

“There are two great days in a person’s life; the day we are born and the day we discover why.”  William Barclay

“Every day is a gift.  Receive it with eagerness.  Share it with joy.”  Unknown

“You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.”  Mary Tyler Moore

Two years ago today, we said good-bye to the Little Man we had just begun to know and love.  In many respects, it is a day “which will live in infamy” in our family’s life.  And we’ve discovered since with each “new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”  We have also realized that day two years ago changed our lives; that it has not been easy but it has brought many valuable lessons that have improved our lives.   Today, I refuse to “wallow in the mire” (The Doors, “Light my Fire”), but I will pause, reflect, honor and pay tribute to Carter and be grateful for his impact on my life.  I will celebrate his life, though far too short and I will be thankful for the opportunity to have known and loved him, to have held him and kissed his chubby cheeks.

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  Psalm 118:24

Phoenix

 

CARTER’S STILL AT WORK

It’s true that Carter has been gone for two years (May 25), but his influence and impact are still at work (in my life anyway). I’m sure this is true for others in our family but I can only speak for me. Here are some ways Carter is still at work in my life:
1.   I focus more on gratitude. I try to be thankful for every day that I’m given because tomorrow may never come. I’m also thankful for my family and I try to let them know that more often than I did prior to Carter’s death.
2.  I attempt to avoid procrastination. Some may disagree with this, but I try to avoid procrastination for things that I deem important. Things that others may think are important, are not necessarily so for me, and I do tend to still procrastinate doing anything about those types of issues. For instance, writing is important to me; I may have nothing to say that is important to anyone else but it is still a high priority for me and I try to write something routinely without skipping many days.
3.   I worry and fret less. I’m learning to accept the fact that there are many things in my life that are beyond my control. I have no influence on most of what happens in my life, and if I can’t control or influence those things I’m learning to accept that and live with it. I may not like it and I may gripe about it, but I am trying to eliminate those behaviors from my life. I’ve asserted that “life is too short to drink bad coffee”; but really life is too short to spend time worrying and fretting over anything.
4.   I’m trying to spend more time learning and understanding how God wants me to live and what He wants me to accomplish with my life. This is an ongoing process and won’t be finished until I die. There are still far too many times that I try to force my opinion and execute my plan; but I’m working on it.

I am so thankful for the Little Man who helped open my eyes in the short time he was with us.

Phoenix

 

 

“TIME HEALS…?”

For most of my life I’ve heard the phrase “time heals a broken heart.” I’m not sure how I feel about that statement now. I do see how one can make the assertion; I think I’m better prepared to face the second anniversary of Carter’s death than the first, and truthfully, I think I will be able to cope with the day’s stresses better than a year ago.

Equally true, my heart is still broken; it is far from being “healed” and I really don’t think it will ever be healed. We must decide how to define “healed”. The dictionary definition is the past-tense of heal which is “to become sound or healthy again.” Some synonyms are cure, restore to health. Another definition is “to alleviate a person’s distress or anguish (‘time can heal the pain of grief’).”
When we lost Carter the pain was so intense and consuming. Our bodies and our minds could not tolerate that kind of stress forever (it would be a pretty short forever if we tried). So we instinctively began the process of coping and adjusting to a new normal. That does take time and maybe that’s the message the old saying was trying to convey.

But that isn’t healed. My heart is still broken; I expect it will always be broken but I am coping better after two years than after one year. This statement should not imply that everything is fine. I’ve been on an almost uncontrollable eating frenzy (my reaction to stress); not exactly what a diabetic needs to do. Combine that with the absence of a consistent exercise routine and the result is definitely not the direction one would desire to go. Looming ahead in early June is my next blood test and doctor visit; not enough time to reverse what I’ve been doing to improve results.

If the first two years are an indication we will relive “hell week” in our minds several times with frayed emotions. We’ll grieve for Carter, his mom and dad and we’ll think about what he would be like now. We will also drop some flowers into the water somewhere at 3:08 ET, the time Carter was pronounced dead. We’ll celebrate his short life, weep and grieve for his absence, and then we’ll try to put the pieces of our lives back together and move forward.

Phoenix

 

 

PAUL’S ALLS (Conclusion)

Chapters 13-16 in Romans contain instructions on how to live the Christian life.   The church in Rome comprised of Gentiles had no knowledge of the Jewish law, no knowledge of the prophecies of a coming Messiah, and no knowledge about following the teachings of Christ other than what had already been passed on to them.

Chapter 13 begins with, “EVERYONE must submit himself to the governing authorities…”

13: 7 “Give EVERYONE what you owe him.”

14: 2 “One man’s faith allows him t eat EVERYTHING, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats ONLY vegetables.”

14:7 “For NONE of us lives to himself alone and NONE of us dies to himself alone.”

14: 10-12 “You then, why do you judge your brother?  Or why do you look down at your brother?   For we will ALL stand before God’s judgement seat.  It is written, ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘EVERY knee will bow before Me, EVERY tongue will confess to God.’  So then, EACH of us will give an account of himself to God.”

14: 18 “… because ANYONE who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by man.”

14: 19 “Let us therefore make EVERY effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification…ALL food is clean but it is wrong for a man to eat ANYTHING that causes someone else to stumble.”

14: 23 “…EVERYTHING that does not come from faith is sin.”

15: 2 “EACH of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”

15: 4 “For EVERYTHING that was written in the past was written to teach us…”

15: 11 “And again, ‘Praise the Lord, ALL you Gentiles, and sing praises to Him ALL you peoples.’”

15: 13 “May the God of hope fill you with ALL joy and peace as you trust in Him…”

15: 18-20 “I will not venture to speak of ANYTHING except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done- by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.  So from Jerusalem ALL the way around to Illyricum, I have FULLY proclaimed the gospel of Christ.  It has ALWAYS been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known….”

15: 29 “I know that when I come to you, I will come in the FULL measure of the blessing of Christ.”

15: 33 “The God of peace be with you ALL. Amen.”

16: 4 “They risked their lives for me.  Not only I but ALL the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.”

16: 19 “EVERYONE has heard about your obedience…”

16:26-27 “…but now revealed and made known through the prophets’ writings by the command of the eternal God, so that ALL nations might believe and obey Him- to the ONLY wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.”

This quick walk through Romans shows that Paul doesn’t use these words lightly; there may be some exaggeration in some places (“EVERYONE has heard about your obedience…”).  Probably not a true statement but it serves to make a point- that the church at Rome was well known among Christians for their obedience and they had a good reputation among the other followers of Christ.

How about us?  When we use these words are we exaggerating or drawing some conclusion that cannot be proven?  Let us choose our words carefully, for once spoken, they cannot be recalled.