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Archive for the tag “fatherhood”

Award Winning Book

Fun summer reading. “Monkeys In My Coconut Tree” by Ed Thompson, is a compilation of fun, easy-to-read stories of fun, family, and faith. It was a Reader’s Favorite 2016 Silver Medal Winner. So come on, check it out. Read some of the reviews and download your copy by clicking HERE. (Also available at Amazon.com, iTunes and others.)

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What Do I Know?

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Five years before my daughter, Abby, was even engaged, I wrote a song with my friend, Don Koch, called, “What Do I Know?” The song is about a dad’s emotional struggle about giving his daughter away. Of course, that dad is me.

I knew the day was inevitable and tried to project my emotional state. Even then, the thought made me my heart sink, my knees weak, and my eyes wet. I jokingly told her I’d be doing her wedding via satellite.

When I wrote this song, however, I never once even imagined she’d fall in love with an Aussie and move to Australia. So her wedding events and day were filled with an extra amount of emotion as our window of time together would come to a sudden end with her moving to the Land Down Under.

In the hundreds of photos taken by the wedding photographer, most of me were as you see below. I assured Abby they were not sad tears. I was and am thrilled for her and her new adventurous life with Alex. They make a great team. God is good.

With the exception of the “lanky and juvenile” part, I think I got it pretty right. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get a Kleenex. I’m about to watch this again:

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Sheet Trouble

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My wife has the flu. So last night she suggested I may want to sleep in the guest bedroom. “The only thing is,” she explained, “you’ll need to put sheets on the bed.” She then drew me a map as to where to find the sheets in the hall closet, took some NyQuil, and went to sleep.

Soon after I found myself standing beside the guest bed trying to determine how to put the sheet with the curved elastic corners onto the mattress. “I have a college degree,” I said to myself trying to figure out which side of the sheet was the length and which side was the width.

I managed to get one curvy corner over one side of the mattress on the foot of the bed and then stretched the other curvy corner to the top of the bed only to have the bottom side pop off. Undeterred, I put the top side on and then stretched it down to the bottom only to have the top side pop off. “I must be using the wrong side,” I told myself. So using my suspect math skills, I spun the sheet by a quarter and tried again. Same thing.

I stared at the sheet looking for instructions or at least arrows pointing in the direction the sheet is supposed to go. Talk about a manufacturing oversight. I spun that lousy piece of sheet on the bed at least 15 different times trying to find the right configuration but the closest I ever came was to get three corners. That’s when it occurred to me I must be using the wrong sized sheet.

I followed my map back to the closet, pulled out a new sheet with elastic corners and tried again. This time, I managed to get all four corners of the sheet onto the mattress even though the elastic corners were desperately searching for some crevice they could cling to. When I laid down, everything seemed to work when suddenly, all four corners simultaneously popped off and enveloped me like a giant cocoon.

I was laying in my white cocoon considering checking into a nearby hotel, when I realized I didn’t care if the lousy bed sheet was on correctly or not. After all, I spent my entire freshman year of college without bedsheets and was certain I could manage until my wife got over the flu. Besides, the cocoon was perfectly comfortable and even eliminated my need to use the other sheet in the set – the one without the elastic corners.

Engulfed in my soft cocoon, I started thinking that perhaps I had stumbled onto something that would be perfect for the “As Seen On TV” section at Walgreens. “Why pay for two sheets when all you need is one?” would be my slogan. Then, in my very expensive Super Bowl ads, you’d see happy people jumping into their beds in slow motion only to be lusciously swallowed up in fluffy white cocoons of cotton on top of bare mattress pads.

I must admit it was rather gratifying knowing I could help millions of men who would never get their elastic cornered sheets to stay on without staple guns. With that happy thought, I pulled a pillow into my cocoon, drew a soft blanket over the top, and fell asleep. Solving problems for millions of men, after all, is exhausting.

No Ugly Crying

Abby & Dad

see the short video here: http://youtu.be/n72tZR-yrR8.   Photo by kallimaphotography.com

The night before my daughter got married on December 28, she handed me a small gift. Appropriately, it was a handkerchief. It was monogrammed with these words, “No ugly crying. I love you, Abby.” She knows me well.

Abby didn’t want me to see her until it was time to walk her down the aisle. As the minutes passed and the hour drew near, however, I was beginning to panic. I felt like a gurgling volcano ready to explode in a horrific blast of ugly crying.

A good friend, who also knows me well, saw me pacing. “Have you seen Abby?” he asked very concerned. All I could do was shake my head, “No.” He heard the volcano gurgling and said, “Oh no. This is not good. You’ve got to see her…now.”

So it was that a few moments later I was outside the room where Abby was waiting with her bridesmaids. I stood there waiting, alone with my thoughts, when the volcano started to erupt. I pulled out my special handkerchief and tried to read the words but all I could see was, “I love you.” Then the volcano blew.

I was desperately trying to compose myself when I turned to see Abby walking toward me. What a sight. I have never seen anyone or anything so beautiful. She was radiant; absolutely beaming.

It’s hard to stop a volcano, but Abby did. She looked me in the eyes and with great confidence and conviction, said words of love that will forever touch my heart. And somehow, the volcano stopped. (Click here to see the short video.)

The next thing I knew I was standing beside her before family and friends with a lump in my throat, but a confident smile on my face. We were standing together before a loving God who brought all of us to this point and who promises to see us through every twist and turn of life.

So I put her hand into her soon-to-be husband’s hand, gave him a hug along with a few private words, kissed Abby one more time, and took my seat beside my beaming wife. As we watched our daughter get married, the pastor (my older brother) recited this wonderful blessing from the Bible:

“May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Without a doubt, December 28, 2014, was one of the best days of my life. I am greatly blessed.

 

Father of the Bride

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Abby & Alex engagement

I am a father of the bride.

And, no, I have never been able to watch the “Father of the Bride” movie without tearing up. The scene that always gets to me is when Steve Martin (the dad) is playing basketball in the driveway with his daughter (played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley — now the wife of one my favorite country singers).

As they reminisce, the scene keeps flashing back to when the bride was a little girl playing with her daddy and all of a sudden I’m a slobbering basket case. When that movie came out in 1991, my little girl, Abby, was all of one year old and it all seemed so far away. But even then, I think she was secretly scheming to leave me one day.

So of course, I have no idea how I’m going to get through the wedding. It doesn’t help that they will be living in Australia, roughly three airplanes and some 24 hours worth of flight and airport terminal time away. In my mind, she was going to get married and they would live in the house next door — or even better, he could live next door and Abby could stay in her own room in my house.

The truth is, I really am very excited for her. I even like the creep she’s marrying. His name is Alex and I tried not to like him, but he won me over. His love and care for my daughter calms my heart and there is no question she is crazy in love with him. He is God’s ideal choice for my daughter and they compliment each other so well.

I wrote a song a few years ago envisioning the day some guy would ask me if he could marry my daughter. I knew the day was inevitable and I knew then, as I know now, I would be an emotional mess. It’s called, “What do I know?” Part of the lyrics go:

So now he asks me, “Will I give her away?”
My head is swimming, I stammer to say
“Will you love her forever?”
My world is spinning so
What do I know?

(NOTE: You can go to iTunes and download the song for $0.99 and help me pay for this wedding 🙂

It has now been over 30 years ago that I asked the extremely cute, sweet, and smart Vermont girl to marry me. How I pulled that one off remains a beautiful mystery. Of course, I was totally oblivious to any pain or struggle her father may have been going through giving his daughter away to some creep from Miami. But he did and I am forever grateful.

Now it’s my turn.

Abby’s big day is almost here and I can’t help but think of the very first wedding all the way back in the Garden of Eden. The passage in Genesis 2:23-24 explains that when God brought Eve to Adam like a typical man, he looked at her and after he picked his jaw up from the ground he mustered a profound, “At last!”

Adam then pulls himself together and goes on to say, “This is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh. She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.'” The passage concludes by saying, “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife and the two are united into one.”

December 28th is almost here. I think I hear Alex saying, “At last!”

Grace & Traffic Signs

As usual, I was running a bit late taking my kids to school during my carpool days. I always had specific instructions not to be late.  But of course, I always was.

On this particular day my daughter, Abby, who was thirteen at the time, seemed relatively unfazed by our tardiness. Besides, she had me to blame.  My youngest son, David, however, who was ten, believes if he’s not five minutes early, he’s late. So while Abby and I were relaxed in the front seats, David was stewing in the back.

By the time we got near the school, the line of traffic was backed up for several blocks. “See!” David said exasperated, reminding me why Mom said to leave the house early.  We were inching along when we came to a side road that would enable us to circumvent an entire block or two of traffic. “Turn here, Daddy,” Abby said.  Immediately behind her, however, David, yelled, “No!  Mom said you can’t turn there because of the sign.”

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The sign in question simply read, “No thru traffic. Residents only.”  I paused for a moment considering the various interpretations of the word, “resident.”  Recognizing my hesitation, Abby began excitedly yelling, “Turn, Daddy, turn!” while David in the back seat yelled in horror, “No, Daddy, no!” I felt like Pinocchio with two opposing Jiminy Crickets.

I turned, of course.

I well understand why Oscar Wilde famously said, “I can resist anything except temptation.”  For a moment I was thrilled with my decision feeling certain I would circumvent dozens of cars and perhaps even get to school on time.

That’s when I saw the flashing lights.

“See!” David yelled out in anguish, clearly miserable with the foolishness of his father.  Abby and I looked at each other with big wide eyes.  Then we turned around and looked at David in the back seat. He was so visibly angry and upset, he looked as if someone ate his bowl of ice cream, left his baseball glove out in the rain, and canceled P.E. for the rest of the year.  And for some reason, this sight caused Abby and me to explode into fits of laughter.

About this time the officer reached our car and asked, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” speaking loudly to overcome our loud laughter snorts.  “Of course I do,” I said trying to compose myself.  “You saw the sign?” the policeman asked, apparently not accustomed to people being happy about getting a ticket.  “I most certainly did,” I answered, “but I turned anyway…because she made me” I exclaimed, pointing at my daughter who was wiping tears from her cheeks. “But my son told me not to,” I continued, “and now he’s so mad we could fry and egg on his forehead.”

The officer peered into the back seat and saw the steam rising from David’s ears. “Oh my,” he said, a bit perplexed with the stark differences emanating from the front and back seats.

Then the officer did the most unexpected thing.  He scratched his head, peered back in the car, and then smiled. “I can’t give someone a ticket who’s in such a good mood,” he said.  “Besides, looks like you have enough trouble in the back seat.”  With that he asked me to not turn there again and wished us a good day.

By definition, grace is “kindness we don’t deserve,” and I certainly received some from the police officer that day. But grace has far deeper and grandeur meaning. Christians define grace as “God’s unmerited favor.” The Bible describes grace as a gift we do not deserve, but one God gives us anyway. Church hymnbooks are filled with songs expressing the wonder of God’s amazing grace. The full impact is expressed in this succinct Bible verse, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

Grace is a beautiful thing.  Receiving it from others will make your day.  Receiving it from God, however, will make your eternity.

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