Tag Archives: daughters

What is your favorite hour of the week?

What is your favorite hour of the week?  I asked this question the other day on my facebook page after pondering it myself for a few days.  A week is made up of 168 hours.  With 7-8 hours of sleep a night (bed around midnight, up around 7), that leaves about 120 waking hours a week.  Don’t worry, I used a calculator to figure it out.

Of those 120 hours, I couldn’t come up with one hour that I could define as my favorite, but I could think of a few every week that I genuinely cherish.

Sunday 8 a.m. -12 p.m. – Worship.

Riverside United Methodist Church in Moline, Illinois

Riverside United Methodist Church in Moline, Illinois

Okay, so it’s more than one hour, and it’s work.  And it’s not always knock-your-socks-off, Holy-Spirit-filled, blow-the-doors-off-the-church worship.  But sometimes it is.  Sometimes the choir settles me into a peace that I wasn’t expecting.  Sometimes the preaching inspires me to think about things in a new way.  Sometimes the praise band gets me swaying and clapping my hands.  Sometimes the kids singing or dancing fills my heart with unspeakable joy.  Sometimes when I kneel at the altar with my wife and daughters, I am moved to tears of joy and sorrow, and I am empowered by God to be a better man.  Sometimes I break the bread and share the cup and I know that I am in the very presence of Jesus Christ.  Yeah, sometimes worship is just another hour.  Most of the time it is so much more.

Monday 8-10 a.m. – Daddy Lucy Day.

Again, not just one hour, but these are two great hours.  Monday is my Sabbath, which I guard with great resilience because it is Daddy-Lucy Day.  There’s even a Daddy-Lucy Day theme song, which is remarkably similar to the Howdy Doody Song.  My wife gets up in the morning and lets me sleep in, which is a remarkable gift.  She then takes our daughter kindergarten and volunteers there all morning.  This means I get to get two-year-old Lucy up in the morning.  I take her first back to my bed, where we snuggle for as much as an hour.  Then we go downstairs and I make coffee and breakfast.  We sit together and read some books, and watch some Sesame Street or Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.  Sometimes we are out of our pajamas when Sarah gets home.  Sometimes we’re not.  She never get annoyed if the pile of laundry has not been folded, and smiles at us even if the kitchen sink still has dirty dishes.  Those things can be done during a different, less favorite hour.  Incidentally, I think this time would be on the list of all four of us.  Ellie loves having Mommy with her at school, and my wife loves working with the students.  It might be Mrs. Larson’s favorite time of the week too (because Sarah is not only an amazing wife and mother, but an incredibly gifted teacher).

Monday 7-8 p.m. – Volleyball.

volleyball
When we fist moved to Moline, we were asked to be a part of a co-ed C-League Volleyball team.  The team of four couples – all with kids under 6 – have become our best friends.  We play hard, but we have a great time.  We have an almost perfect mix of competitive spirit and light-heartedness that makes it fun.  We like to win, but if we don’t we still have a great time.  Plus, we’ve improved a lot over the last couple of years.  Next Monday we are playing in the league’s Final Four!

Tuesday 6-8 p.m. Dinner with Friends

Our best friends and their kids come over every Tuesday for dinner. We say grace together, share a meal, then spend an hour or so talking and drinking wine while the kids play. The kids cry, they don’t like their vegetables, they make messes, they don’t share, they fight. We correct them. We don’t judge each other. We clean up. We hug. We share our lives; confess our failures; and celebrate our mundane, everyday triumphs.  We laugh and know that next week we are going to do it at their house, and it will be one of the best couple of hours of the week.

Wednesday 5:30-8:00 p.m. – Wednesday Night Alive.

Dinner is at church. After dinner the kids go do music ministries or to the nursery. I lead a Bible study. Leading Bible study is one of my favorite things to do. We sit in couches and chairs and open up the Scriptures to each other. Then we watch the Spirit move.

Friday 1 p.m-? – Hy Vee Salad Bar

One of the highlights of my week has become the Hy-Vee Salad Bar. I bring my computer, books, and a notepad. I eat a healthy, delicious meal. I work. I blog. I read. I drink coffee. I am at my most productive around people.  I leave full, but always happy that I passed on the fried egg rolls and pizza. The most unhealthy thing I have at lunch is the cream soup – which is always delicious.

How awesome is this outfit on this guy doing the Warrior One pose on my.yoga-vidya.org?  I'm so wearing that to my next yoga class.

How awesome is this guy doing the Warrior One pose on my.yoga-vidya.org? I’m so wearing that to my next yoga class.

Saturday 11-12 – Yoga

The early part of Saturday is pretty great too, but if at all possible, Saturday morning is going to include Yoga with our favorite instructor Sara. Yoga has become an important practice in our lives. Afterwards we feel stronger, healthier, and refreshed. My flexibility has improved tremendously, and much pain that I was developing from running has abated. It is also a wonderful hour of prayer and reflection as I whisper, “Come Holy Spirit” and breathe. I have had a couple of remarkable spiritual experiences during yoga practice. It is a powerful act of merging my spiritual and physical health.

Okay, so I had a few more than one favorite hour of the week. When I posted my question on Facebook, I received a variety of answers.  Many involved times of quiet rest, or even sleep.  A few picked the first hour of the weekend, or the first hour of the day.  One said “the present one.”  The first response was from C, who said, “What a great question! Seems innocuous, but might actually get to the heart of a person!” I think she’s right. People say all the time, “I don’t have time for…” The fact is, we have 120 hours a week and the way we fill them tells us about our priorities. Yes, life can get in the way sometimes. Circumstances can dictate choices that we wouldn’t otherwise make. But sometimes I fear we allow “I don’t have time for…” to be a convenient excuse.

What matters in your life? What do you love about your life? If you don’t have enough “favorite hours” of the week, then maybe it is time to take a hard look at things and start asking some tough questions. Loving God, living well, and doing good should lead to a life that is joyful and full of meaning. This doesn’t mean that we don’t have stress, but if we can hold onto those “favorite hours” then the stress becomes bearable.  I invite you to reflect on this question, and as you start to come up with answers, see if there is a common thread or theme.  See if there are ways you can multiply those hours.  Cultivate “favorite hours,” even if it has to start with “favorite fifteen minutes.”  Cherish the time you have, and guard your Sabbath rest.

My week is full of friends, food, family, and the Spirit. My life isn’t perfect, and I’m far from it, but when I look at the “favorite hours” of my week I realize that I am incredibly blessed.  I hope you are too.

I want to thank Natalie Bannon, who inspired this question in my heart. She writes a blog called Modern Mind Old Soul. Follow her on Twitter @NatalieBannon

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Growing, Grown, Gone

This is a poem that my Dad used to read every team party.  A more personalized version hangs on the walls in my sister’s, brother’s, and my rooms.  I haven’t read the original in years.  I do not know the author.  Spme have suggested that it was Erma Bombeck, who was an author writing about parenthood in the era my Dad would have found the poem, but I’ve never found this particular piece attributed to any one. Today a nephew turns 15.  Tomorrow my oldest turns six.  I try to savor every moment.

ImageOne of these days you’ll shout: “Why don’t you kids grow up and act your age!”
And they will.

Or: “You guys get outside and find yourselves something to do . . . and don’t slam the door!”
And they won’t.

You’ll straighten up the boys’ bedroom neat and tidy . . . bumper stickers discarded . . . spread tucked in and smooth . . . toys displayed on the shelves. Hangers in the closets. Animals caged. And you’ll say out loud: “Now I want it to stay this way.”
And it will.

You’ll prepare a perfect dinner with a salad that hasn’t been picked to death and a cake with no finger traces in the icing and you’ll say: “Now there’s a meal for company.”
And you’ll eat it alone.

You’ll say: “I want complete privacy on the phone. No dancing around. No pantomimes. No demolition crews. Silence! Do you hear?”
And you’ll have it.

No more plastic tablecloths stained with spaghetti.
No more bedspreads to protect the sofa from damp bottoms.
No more gates to stumble over at the top of the basement steps.
No more clothespins under the sofa.
No more playpens to arrange a room around.
No more anxious nights under a vaporizer tent.
No more sand on the sheets or Popeye movies in the bathrooms.
No more iron-on patches; wet knotted shoestrings; tight boots, or rubber bands for ponytails.
Imagine. A lipstick with a point on it. No baby-sitter for New Year’s Eve. Washing only once a week.
Seeing a steak that isn’t ground. Having your teeth cleaned without a baby on your lap.
No PTA meetings. No car pools. No blaring radios. No one washing her hair at 11 o’clock at night.
Having your own roll of tape.

Think about it. No more Christmas presents out of toothpicks and library paste.
No more sloppy oatmeal kisses. No more tooth fairy. No giggles in the dark.
No knees to heal, no responsibility.

Only a voice crying, “Why don’t you grow up,” and the silence echoing,

“I did.”

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To my daughters, P.S.

Here is my letter to my daughters.

I decided I need to add something.

P.S.

Girls, I felt like I needed to share this with you too.  There might be times when you find yourself in a precarious situation by no fault of your own.  There are people out there that are simply predators. While I believe that most predators use emotional pain and lack of self-love as a weapon, there are some that use simple brute force.  That being said, I hope to teach you the effectiveness of a well placed kick to the groin.  Or maybe I can let someone like Erin Weed, one of my personal heroes, teach you at a Girls Fight Back seminar.  I’m sure I’ll take you both to one someday.

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To my daughters,

Today is Valentine’s Day, and on this day there are a few things I want you to know about love.

First of all, I love God.  I love God with my whole heart, mind, soul, and strength.  There are times when I fall short of what that means in my life, but I try to make the love of God the driving force behind everything I do.  I know also that God loves me.  God’s love for me is stronger than my failures.  God’s love is steadfast and endures forever.  Because of God’s love, I am able to love.

Secondly, I love your mother.  I have loved her for fourteen years, and everyday that we spend together I love her more.  The love that your mother and I share is strengthened by our love of God.  As we get closer to each other, we get closer to God too.  She and I share a bond that I cannot fully put into words. You are a product of a love that is very powerful, and that makes you powerful.  Right now you are young enough and sweet enough to like it when you see us hug and kiss.  Usually you want to join in and turn it into a “family hug.”  Eventually you will probably think it’s “gross,” but you should know that it will never stop.

I want to raise you as girls that love God, and I pray that someday you will find someone that loves you as much as I love your mother.  It’s my job to teach you what that feels like.

It is terrifying to think of you growing up, because growing up can be so painful. It can be so dangerous, and I want to protect you from all of those dangers.  Yet I know that I cannot protect you by keeping you sheltered.  Right now your Mom and I are the most important people in your world.  I know that won’t always be the case, so I’m trying to make the most of it now.  I know that there will be people coming into your life.  Some will be positive, some will be negative.

Some will love you for who you are, and some will use you for what you can do for them. Some will laugh with you, and some will hurt you.  Some will appreciate your beauty, and others might abuse it.  The only way I can protect you is to teach you how to tell the difference.  It’s my job to teach you that love is never about jealousy, violence, manipulation, lust, or power, and that healing is always possible.

That’s why we have “Daddy-Daughter Date Night.”  That is why I read to you before you go to bed.  That is why we turn off the radio in the car on the way to preschool.  That is why we turn off the TV and play in the evening.  That is why I get home as soon as I can every night.  I want to take every moment I can to teach what it feels like to be loved unconditionally.

I love talking with you, listening to your stories, eating dinner with you, and treating you like you are the most important person in the world.  I love asking you about your favorite books, and teaching you about sports.  I love hearing about your friends, finding out what makes you mad, or happy, or excited.  I love holding you in my arms. I love the smell of your hair.  I love your slobbery, open-mouthed, 18-month-old kisses; and your surprisingly strong five-year-old hugs.  I love when you touch my cheek and smile.  I love to hear you sing.  I love hearing you laugh.  When you dance, I see heaven.

 

Someday I pray that you will find someone that loves those things too.  But first, you need to love you too.  Love your compassion.  Love your kindness.  Love your courage. Love your imagination.  Love your strength.  Love your dreams.  Love your intellect.  Love your body.  Love mercy.  Love justice.  Love humility.  Love your God.

You’ll never see me wear a shirt like this.  I understand the sentiment.  I understand what it means to want to protect you.  I will always want to protect you, but I hope that someday I will be able to let you protect yourself.  If I ever feel the need to go get my shot gun, it will be because of my own failure, not yours.

Happy Valentine’s Day.  I hope now you understand a little bit more about love.  It is, after all, what we are created for.

Love,

Daddy

P.S. Here

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Miss Representation

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. (Alice Walker)

The trailer below begins with this quote.  It reminds me of an anecdote I heard in seminary.  I don’t remember the exact details, so I cannot properly attribute the story.  My professor said (something like), “C.S. Lewis once said that, ‘Man’s greatest sin is pride.’ In other words, it is believing that being ‘made in the image of God’ is equal to that of being God.  This might be true, but another theologian said, ‘The greatest sin of man might be pride.  But the greatest sin of woman is lack of pride.'”

The video is about eight and a half minutes long.  It is worth watching.  Make no mistake, this is not a girls issue.  It is not a liberal issue. It is a human issue.  The objectification of women is damaging to both boys and girls.  Treating anyone as less than a precious child of God does harm.  It is the act of ignoring what is fundamentally true of all people: That we are ALL created in God’s image.

So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27, NRSV)

This is an issue that I’ve written about before in my blog Princess Paradox.  As a father of two daughters, I obviously have a lot of interest in how the media will affect their lives as they grow up.  As power as the media is, it is not more powerful than a loving relationship.  The movie is a warning.  It can help provide  a sense of urgency, and a better understanding of what we’re up against. It cannot be an excuse.  It is my duty as a father to make sure that my daughters know that they are smart, strong, courageous people that were created in the image of God.

I hope you take the time to watch this and go to the Miss Representation website to learn more.

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Derek Redmond’s Dad

You probably don’t recognize the name Derek Redmond.  You might recognize his story though.  He was a sprinter in 1992 Barcolona Olympics.  He was the British record holder and a contender to do well in the 400m.  He had an injury-plagued career, but as he prepared for the most important 45 seconds of his life, the announcer claimed that he was in the “best form he’d shown.”   About 15 seconds into the race, he tore his hamstring.  He crumpled to the ground in pain.  If that was the end of his race, no one would remember Derek Redmond, but as a trainer started to attend to him, Redmond got up and started limping around the track.  He was determined to finish what he had begun.  He was determined to finish the lap.

As he limped around the track, fans started to cheer.  Several attendants approached him, but he waved them off.  He was alone on the track.  A wide shot of him in the video below reveals a strange scene – one man hobbling and barely able to stand, not the usual group of amazing athletes speeding along the curve.  As he comes around the turn, the crowd is cheering him on.  They understand what he is trying to do.  They admire him for it.  But then something else happens.  Something extraordinary.  Something that until recently, I don’ t think I really understood.  Watch below.

A man comes out on the track.  We don’t see what he had to do to get on the track.  We do see him push past one person that tries to stop him.  He puts his arm around the wounded athlete, and the recognition on Derek Redmond’s face helps us understand.  This is his father.

This is his father who he drapes his arm around.  Suddenly, the emotions of the moment catch up to the pain and Derek Redmond buries his face in his father’s chest.  His father is now literally holding him up as another attendant comes.  This time the guy is more adamant, but there is nothing that is going to take the boy from his father.  You can almost read his lips, as he waves the man away, “Get the hell out of here!”  is what I think he says.

The two finish the race together while the stadium rose to its feet in appreciation for what they had witnessed.  Afterward, the father says, “Whatever happened, he had to finish.  And I was there to help him finish.  I intended to go over the line with him. We started his career together.  I think we should finish it together.”

Derek Redmond is now a motivational speaker.  On his website, he gives an interview where he describes his father as “My motivator, my hero, my pal, my bodyguard, my physio and my masseur some days.”  I have seen this video of him and his Dad before, but the other day I watched again – perhaps for the first time as a father myself.  I started thinking about Derek Redmond’s Dad.

My girls are too young to participate in competitive sports, but I’ve already began to dream about what their future holds.  I think about their lives as dancers, athletes, students, friends.  I think about the relationships they’ll make, the people they’ll know, the places they’ll go, and the accomplishments that await them.  Is the Olympics in their future?  Who knows?

As a father I can dream with them.  I can dream for them.  I can imagine myself watching my daughter in the biggest moment of her life.  I can already be nervous, waiting for her chance to shine.  I do not know what her dreams will be, but I can imagine being at the cusp of them, ready to emerge victorious.

What would it be like to be watching your son or your daughter run in the most important 45 seconds of their life, and then come up injured.  How much would it hurt to see her body lying on the ground, broken; her race over; her career over; her dream over?  How much would it hurt to think of the hours of practice, the trips to the gym, the diets, the training, the injuries, the coaching, the sacrifices that had all come to this point, and end with her crumpled on the ground waiting for the stretcher to carry her off the track so they could keep the schedule of the rest of the event?

Then, what would it feel like to see her get up?  I remember the first time she fell off of her bike, and I remember with pride the moment she got back on her bike and kept going.

As I watch this video of Derek Redmond hobbling around the track I can see my daughters, struggling to finish something that they set out to achieve.  When I dream their future, I don’t dream of them victorious.  I dream of them courageous.  I don’t dream of them with accolades and fame and money.  I dream of them with conviction and perseverance and strength.

And when I see Derek Redmond collapse into the loving arms of his father, I dream that someday I will be able to be there for my daughters.  I hope beyond hope that when they face a obstacle in their life that feels bigger than they can handle, that I will be able to be there for them.  I hope this in part because I know what it feels like to collapse into the loving arms of my Dad.

The fact remains, I might not always be there for them.  So I live every day teaching, praying, reading, dancing, laughing, and crying with them so that they know, and that they will always know that their Daddy loves them.  More importantly, I do these things so that they know, and that they will ALWAYS know that our Father, Son, and Holy Spirit loves them. Amen.

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Happy 40th Birthday, Big Bird and friends!

Big-bird

Today was the beginning of the 40th season of Sesame Street.

My daughter and I were watching Sesame Street together today.  This show, after 40 years, remains far and away my favorite kids show.  I loved it when I was a kid, and I actually enjoy watching it with my daughter now.

My strongest memory from the Street as a kid was when the grownups finally saw Snuffy.  I felt so bad for Big Bird for years as no one took him seriously.  He knew that snuffleupagus was real.  I knew he was real, and I felt Big Bird’s pain when no one believed him.  Today my daughter and I watched as Big Bird decided he was going to migrate to the rain forest.  As he was walking down the street, he started saying goodbye to everyone.  All of his friends were shocked that he was leaving, but he decided that the rain forest would be the perfect place for him to live.  As the “goodbyes” continued, I felt myself getting a little sad. Saying goodbye to Big Bird is like saying goodbye to a longtime friend.  Wondering if this was effecting Ellie like it was effecting me, I called her name.  She turned around, and the tears were streaked down her face.  I called her to me, and she crawled up on my lap.   “Are you sad?” I asked her. “No,” she said through her tears. “It will be okay,” she said and forced out a chuckle that sounded a lot like a sob.In the end Big Bird decided to stay.  He decided that the rain forest would be a neat place to visit, but he hadn’t realized that moving there would mean he couldn’t have playdates with Elmo, or have Cream of Birdseed soup at Hoopers whenever he wanted.  When he announced that he would stay, Ellie burried her head in my chest and gave me a huge hug.  Her hug left a wet spot on my shirt. I doubt that episode will be Ellie’s lasting memory of Sesame Street, but so many have one (the death of Mr. Hooper, the marriage of Luis and Maria are a couple – I’d love to hear yours). For forty years Sesame Street has educated kids about numbers, letters, friendship, vocabulary, shapes, and many other things while never talking down to them.  It has been entertaining and, with the possible exception of Elmo’s World, never annoying.  It is a show I loved when I was little, and a show I continue to love as an adult. Happy Birthday Sesame Street.  Share with me your memories – favorite characters – favorite sketches – favorite songs.

Here is a video of Snuffy being discovered by the adults:

And here is why this show is still great:

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Fish Funeral

I am preparing to do another funeral, but I’m struggling because I have been flipping through the UM Book of Worship and have not found a liturgy for fish. My daughter will be three in January. She has a pet fish named Dorothy (I think 95% of fish owned by kids under 5 are named either Dorothy or Nemo). It is sick.

It is a Beta. Once it was a brilliant red, with flowing fins and a swatch of glowing blue. Once it swam around her tank, eager for a couple of little pellets. We swore that she would come out from behind her rock whenever our daughter entered the room. We had some adventures with Dorothy. There was the time our daughter, while we thought she was napping, got the can of fish food.

She somehow unscrewed the top and gave Dorothy enough food to last about six years. Then she spilled the other half of the can in her bed. That was our first call to poison control (Beta food is okay for toddlers).

Our daughter was so excited when we brought Dorothy home. For months she kissed the tank good night and was very good about feeding her. Eventually, the novelty wore off, but she never stopped loving Dorothy. Over the last few weeks Dorothy has not looked so good. Ellie has been very concerned, and we have prepared her for the worst.

“Dorothy is very sick,” I told her. “She might die soon.”

Ellie knows a little about death. She has been to funerals. We have allowed her to see bodies laying in state. We talk to her about death. I’m not sure what she understands, but we haven’t hidden it from her. We feel that society does enough death-denying. We don’t have to participate in it too. Sometimes she asks questions or says things that give us pause. But we try to be consistent in telling her that eveything dies. Even Dorothy, even our dog, even Mommy and Daddy.

“Will I die?” she asks.

“Yes. Someday.”

“When I die, we can die together,” she says as she looks in my eye. Inside I agree. If she dies before me, there is no question that I will die too. Every parent that has seen their child die has died a little too.

“Ellie,” I say as I take her hands and look her in the eye. “We will all die someday, hopefully not for a very long time. And if you die, I’ll be so sad, but I know that you’ll be with God. But right now we are living, and I love you, and we can enjoy living every day and be thankful that we are alive.”

I don’t know if we have done the right thing in talking with our two-year-old about death, but I’m not afraid to talk to her about important things – big things – things she might not understand. The thing is, talking to a two-year-old about things makes you boil things down a little.

We live. We die. In between we do everything we can to love and laugh and and share and dance and sing and play. Through it all, God is with us. God is in our creation. God celebrates our triumphs, mourns our tragedies, and in the end, God is ready to take us home.

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I love you one

Today I after breakfast I rose from the table to go to church, and I looked at my wife and two year old daughter and said, “I love you two.”  My daughter said, “What about Basil? [our dog]”

So I replied, “You’re right, I love you three.”

My daughter smiled and said, “I love you one.”

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Girls Fight Back

GirlsFightBackThis post is dedicated to the women in my life.  It is dedicated to my daughter, my wife, my mother, my sister, my cousins, and my friends.  It is dedicated to thousands of women who have been made victims, and to the thousands of women who will never be victims because of the work of Erin Weed.  My current Site of the Week is the home of Girls Fight Back.

I met Erin in high school.  I knew her at first only as the girl that shaved her head.  Which she did to raise money for cancer research and to honor her friend that was going through chemotherapy.  We became friends as time went on and I came to know her as a funny, kind, creative leader of our class.

The following comes from her blog:

Erin Weed is a professional speaker, author, self-defense expert and Founder/CEO of Fight Back Productions. Her calling to the field of violence prevention and self-defense began in 2001 as a direct response to the murder of her friend and sorority sister, Shannon McNamara. After Shannon’s death, Erin abandoned her career in TV production to study with the best anti-violence activists, personal safety specialists and self-defense experts in the world. In January 2002, she began traveling the nation giving keynotes and seminars in schools and businesses. To date, she has spoken to half a million people with her uplifting and empowering message of staying safe from violence and finding peace in the process.

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