June 25, 2009

Becoming Clarence (already there?)

This post was originally meant to hit the blogwaves around Father's Day in honor of my father. However, I stink at things and am just now getting to this post. So be it.

The other day I was doing something that I felt was important. I don't remember what it was, but I'm sure it was something of the utmost importance at that moment. While I was solving the world's problems, it was time for Hannah to go to bed. She was supposed to be going through her bedtime routine or putting away something before bed. As any 5 year old would do, she was stalling. if you don't pay attention to her, she'll take a half an hour to go to the bathroom and brush her teeth, spending countless minutes playing with the water in the sink.

So, doing what any father would do, I communicated my frustration to her from where I was doing what I was doing. That in itself is ok, I think. In all reality, the scenario probably goes like this: Steph expressed her frustration to me that Hannah was taking too long (ie. frustrated with me that I was letting Hannah take to long by solving the world's problems at my computer when I probably should have been up in the bathroom hurrying her along), which, in turn, I expressed my frustrations to Hannah, which generated the normal five year old response of, "I'm almost done!"

All of that said, the issue is not who was communicating or why they were communicating. The issue at hand is how I said what I said, which I don't really remember. All I know is that when I said it, there was a sudden horror that ran through my being because I sounded just like my father. You know the feeling. . . when you say something that you swore you would never say because it was something that we repeatedly said to you by one of your parents. It's a bad moment.

My wife is happy to point these moments out to me. I'll sneeze a certain way or let out a small little, "woo" for whatever reason and my lovely wife will say, "ok, Clarence." My mom is good at pointing these things out also. I'll be explaining to her something that I'm doing or a new piece of musical equipment that I'm looking to aquire, and she'll say, "you are just like your father!"

Those things sting a little, because when we are younger we really want to become our own person void of any outside influence. We want to be who we want to be.

As I reflected on the yelling moment, which in all honesty has happened more than I would like to admit, becoming like my Dad is not a bad thing at all. You see, my dad is a man who loves his family. He's not outwardly open with that love because he grew up in a time when men were tough as nails and didn't really show any emotion. But, I know that he loves us. You could tell it each day when he would get up at 5:00am to head into the factory to work on a metal brake for 10 hours a day so we had food on the table and a roof over our head. You could tell it when you asked him about a specific chord on the guitar--in about two seconds, he would show you 5 or 6 different options and then hand the guitar back, forcing you to work at it more. You could tell it when he would come home from work and hop into the Monopoly games, helping the one who was losing (normally me), and take a dire situation and win. You could tell when we were sitting around the dinner table eating whatever mom made--he would tell us it was goat or rabbit or something just to mess with us. You could tell it when he anguished over not having a job and not being able to provide for his family when the company he worked for for 26 years moved his job to another part of the country.

My father is a prideful man. He takes pride in his garden, planting seeds months before the garden is ready so the plants are big and strong when they hit the ground. He takes pride in making sure what he is doing is done meticulously and correctly--even if it means painting a board with the smallest brush possible to make sure its right. He takes pride in music--always on a quest for something better sounding. He took pride in carrying for our family with everything he was.

May I grow up to be like him. . . maybe without the yelling tone.

June 10, 2009

Jelly Toast

This morning I got up at 6:30am. This is nothing out of the norm. I was planning to head into the office early today to get my work done so I could get out early--today is our wedding anniversary! So, I get up, shut off my alarm, and begin to sleepily stagger to the bathroom to start my day. As I walk out of our room, I notice Hannah's door is open. This is not normal for her. So, I poke my head in cautiously to make sure she's ok. As I look I notice she's not there. This is very odd for the child. She's a good sleeper and she stays in her bed or room until we are up for the day. I figure she's in the bathroom. She's not there.

At this point, mild fatherly panic begins slowly sink in. I don't figure she's been kidnapped out of my own house while I'm sleeping across the hallway, but since the child is not in one of the two places she should be, panic is a common response.

Naturally, when you can't find someone in the house that you want to find, you start yelling for them. I called out for Hannah as I went down the steps, sleepily mind you, though the sleepies at this point had been panicked away. She responded, "I'm in the kitchen poppa, I'm making you and momma jelly toast!"

Now, the fact that she was making us jelly toast is cute and sweet. However, a 5 year old child waking up before 6:30am on her own without an alarm clock to make her parents jelly toast for their anniversary is rather concerning to me on many levels. One, how did she wake up so early on her own? Two, a five year old working a toaster that is right beside the stove on a step stool so she can reach everything holding a butter knife is an accident waiting to happen. What if she would have jammed the knife into the toaster? Three, what if the bread would have been moldy? She doesn't know to check for mold. Four and most concerning, Steph and I both slept through the child getting up, probably going to the bathroom, going downstairs, and making jelly toast? We have a baby monitor in her room which picks up the neighbors talking in their garage. We should have woken up.

So, at 6:30am, Steph and I sat in our bed and ate the best jelly toast ever made by an overly confident 5 year old for our 14th anniversary. If she's doing this at 5, who knows what she'll do at 10 or 20.

June 4, 2009


It is way too late to be writing a blog entry. It's really too late for anything . . . but I must write.

At about 11:00pm tonight, I got online to chat with one of our students at South about some family issues they are going through. We'd been trying to connect for awhile. Nothing in our schedules worked out except for chatting online. So, onto facebook we went.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of chatting online. I enjoy chatting with people. I've had some amazing conversations with people online on some old software like ICQ. I've been able to keep up with my friend, Marianne (who lives in the Philippines) through online conversations. It's all good. My problem is, once I'm online, I have a hard time logging out. Now, sometimes I get bombarded with chat requests. Everyone has that issue. Other times, I'm at fault because I like to catch up with my old students.

Tonight was no exception. In the matter of 3 or 4 hours I chatted with 7 past and present students from my youth ministry or camp. The challenging thing about tonight was that they were not all simple how's life, did you see the latest movie questions. They were weighty conversations, about life, relationships, forgiveness and so on. Good, healthy conversations about the present moment we are each living in. Good conversations about where God is prompting my friends, even in the darkness that surrounds them.

Tonight made me realize something. . . I'm not having enough conversations. I'm not having enough of the right conversations with those around me. I would guess I'm not even having the right conversations with myself. I'm too busy doing stuff, that while important, is still stuff.

Lord, help me to have more conversations. Help those conversations be centered around us learning to live under your reign in tangible ways. May you give peace to my friends as they struggle through life right now. Be their peace and hope.