husband and wife

The Demands of Love

sick kid

My wife and I had made plans to drop our daughter off at grandmas so that we could have an entire Saturday of Valentines Day festivities. It had been a while since our work schedule’s had synced. We were super excited to go hiking in the mountains, have dinner not involving sippy-cups and bibs, and going to watch a movie. I cant tell you when was the last time I saw a movie on the big screen.

The Valentine’s Day get away was brought to a screeching halt a few days prior due to our daughters vomiting. Claire was not feeling well Thursday evening but it wasn’t until she puked that we realize it was more serious. Friday she had puked again, only in the morning but we knew we wouldn’t be able to drop her off at grandmas if she had some kind of stomach bug. All hopes of a potential romantic get away ended Saturday morning when Claire clearly hadn’t gotten better.

We spent most of Valentines Day comforting our little girl. Claire, who is usually running around as if she had drunk a six-pack of red bull was very calm and subdue. We actually had her cuddling on the couch with us, which is hard to do because she is so active. We spent time comforting her as we watched a few episodes of her favorite cartoon, Sofia the First. My wife did some homework since we weren’t going anywhere and I spent most of my time taking care of the little one.

Dinner was one of our typical recipes that we rotate through every few weeks. We had some wine and dessert from an earlier grocery store trip. We rented a Red box movie that my wife had wanted to see for the last year. It wasn’t the Valentines Day we had hoped for but in the end it worked out.

As parents we find our plans interrupted constantly by our children. It can be frustrating, especially when you’ve been planning something for a few weeks. Yet, the demands of love require that we be capable and willing to be interrupted. As disappointing as it was to not be able to do any of the things we had planned, there was something deeply beautiful in spending time serving our sick daughter. By no means was it as glamorous as a romantic outing for the day, but it was what love demanded and what love demands is always worth while. I know I write about this concept often, but a willingness to surrender to ones desires is so necessary; especially in being a parent, especially as a man. At the end of the day Valentines Day is about spending time with those you love most. It is amazing how sickness can reveal our love for our family. The cleaning up of vomit, having your child in your arms for the entire day, or the simple pat on the back for comfort are gestures of love that say more than weeks of planning an outing, cooking the perfect dinner and buying a gift.

To love is to serve. To serve is to love. This is what love demands of us.

Advertisements
Categories: dying to self, fatherhood, husband and wife, Sick kids, Uncategorized, Valentines Day | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Metamorphosis

20140618-101304-36784599.jpg
I am changing.

I am not the same person I use to be.

There is a change. It is gradual, but noticeable.

When my wife and I first got married sometimes we would have different days off. My normal response was to rent a new video game and play it for an ungodly amount of time, or watch movies, or binge on TV shows. It was ok. I enjoy video games, movies and TV shows.

Every now and then I get a day where my wife and daughter will be away from the house. Sometimes I spend time watching TV or a movie, but most of the time I am thinking about things like house projects: staining the fence, painting the rooms I never got around to, dry walling the basement we had to gut, etc. More often than not it’s smaller things like taking the trash out or going grocery shopping or cleaning the house.

A few weeks ago I notice that I had a four hour window of time to myself and my immediate reaction was to do something for my family. It was strange in a sense. I think most of the time in a situation like this I would want to do my own thing, relax and let it be a easy day. Yet, there is stuff that needs to get done for our family. I recognize that my wife and daughter probably would say, “chill out and enjoy those four hours.”

However, there is this change in me that desires to serve.

“People that know about these type of things” say that most modern men don’t really mature now a days until they are in their mid to late twenties. Maybe I am maturing. Maybe this desire to serve is proof that this man has reached full manhood status. My response: about freaking time! I am 32.

In discovering fatherhood I am discovering who I am called to be – a servant. Not someone that aims to please himself, because although it is okay to use four hours for R-and-R I much rather use them to make my wife and daughters life better. I don’t know if I would have said the same thing a year ago or six months ago.

But today there is this change in me. It is gradual, but noticeable.

Categories: best self, dying to self, fatherhood, fathers, growing up, husband and wife, Transformation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cor Meum

heart in handIt is hard to believe, but my daughter turned a year old two weeks ago. I blinked and she had teeth, hair, and now she moves. Everyone says that the first year flies by and everyone is right.

My wife and I had a little birthday party for Claire at our home with family. Someone asked me, “How does it feel to have a kid?” I gave a simple reply, “its amazing.” It is amazing, but there is so much more to it than that.

This is what I was really thinking.

I feel like the moment my daughter was born my heart was ripped out of my chest. No anesthesia, no scalpel, no warning—ripped out. It was given arms, legs, and the ability to move. My heart was no longer secure and protected by my rib cage. It was out, exposed, and vulnerable. My heart was no longer mine. In this exposed and vulnerable state, I loved it and yet feared for it. My heart—I guess I should call it by her new name, “Claire”—is the most painful and most beautiful thing to ever happen to me.

Claire moves, falls, cries, laughs, and smiles. Each movement, action, and emotion tugs at me. It is an incredible metaphysical-like-experience. She smiles and I feel it, she cries and I experience it, she laughs and I enjoy it. The feeling of this walking, breathing, and exposed heart is much more sensitive. My heart has never felt like this before. I have never had it hurt or be filled with joy so easily.

It is something words cannot fully describe.

It doesn’t just end with Claire and me. My wife and I are united in this indescribable metaphysical-like-experience. We simultaneously feel when our heart falls and hurts herself. We can be overwhelmed by our heart’s piercing laugh and tear up at her beauty as we gaze at her. My wife and I are more vulnerable and exposed than ever before.

It is beautiful and excruciatingly frightening, but love always is.

The crazy thing is that when my wife and I have more kids this will happen all over again. As we all know we cannot give part of our heart to someone…it is all or nothing. So, if we have 3 kids, each one of them will have my heart completely. I can’t comprehend how I can possibly experience that amount of joy, pain, and beauty all at the same time, but that is what Grace is for.

If it feels like this while she is 1 year old I might just die when she is going out to the movies, is hanging out with friends, or—oh dear, God—when she goes out on her first date!

It is beautiful and excruciatingly frightening, but love always is.

Categories: children, daughters, fatherhood, growing up, home and family, husband and wife, Parenting | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Death Trap

photo

We have these really cool cut outs in our walls between the kitchen and living room. The stairs to the basement are what lie between these two rooms. When we first looked at the house we really loved these cut outs because they opened up the whole living room area. Plus they are really neat. My mother in law was the first one to notice that we would have to do “something” about those cut outs once we had kids. I stood in silence as she said this because it had never crossed my mind when we were looking to buy the house. Clearly we didn’t have children at the time.

Before Claire was born we bought and installed a baby gate on the stairs and just a few days ago I installed plexi glass on the two bottom wall cut outs (see in above picture). I figured the house was baby-proofed…man was I wrong.

My house is a baby death trap.

We had our 9-month doctor visit a few days ago and the doctor asked us about baby proofing the house. I thought my wife and I were doing pretty well. “We’ve had a baby gate blocking the stairs since Claire was in utero doctor. We are doing well.” The doctor smiled and recommended getting down to Claire’s level and checking things out from her perspective to see what could be a hazard. I did.

Conclusion: EVERYTHING is a hazard!

After army crawling on the living room floor I realized our TV entertainment unit is filled with all kinds of heavy blunt objects ready to crack my daughters skull open: X-box, Blue Ray player, Roku, ipod stereo thingie. All of these objects from a 3 foot height could do damage. The lint roller doesn’t seem dangerous, but I had a vision of her somehow impaling herself on it.

Next we have the wall corners.

Maybe its because I haven’t army crawled in a while, or I haven’t stubbed my foot lately, but have you ever realized how sharp wall corners are? Why haven’t we rounded these out yet? I hear talk of rounded cell phone screens, which clearly is necessary. Why haven’t we invented rounded wall corners? Someone please get on this!

Tablecloths are deadly.

Claire in her little walker-thingy runs around in it and is constantly walking over to the dinner table and yanking at the tablecloth. We catch it most of the time, but it’s just a matter of time before she takes a Willow Tree figurine to the forehead.  I can see it now as Claire goes to her therapy sessions, “Can you explain your phobia of faceless figurines to me again?”

The dog bowls.

Apparently, our dog’s water bowl is Claire’s personal water playing station. In her walker-thingy she casually goes over and begins to bathe herself. As much as I appreciate her desire for cleanliness the fact that she could potentially fall head first into said water bowl is a little scary. Not to mention she will attempt to go for the remaining bits of dog food on the other bowl to see what that taste like. It’s a drowning and choking hazard all in one.

I haven’t had a chance to army crawl the entire house yet, but I’m sure I will find more hazards. It is amazing to see how much of what we have in our homes could be problematic for the little ones.

I welcome any thoughts on the manner. Please join the conversation. You could be saving a child from a Willow Tree phobia.

 

Categories: baby proofing, fatherhood, fathers, home and family, husband and wife, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Telling the Story

IMG_0603I love telling stories. I’m going to be that old grandfather who tells stories over and over again, while the grandkids say, “Grandpa! You just told us that one!”

There is something about a good story that really can work a person’s imagination, help process through difficulty, or just leave us with a smile on our face. Stories are powerful.

I am very thankful for the “Little People” that Fisher Price puts out—especially the biblical ones. My father-in-law recently got my daughter Claire the Little People Nativity Set and she loves it. I can tell because they all are covered in baby slobber half the time. Baby Jesus is currently in a cocoon of solidified saliva.

Fisher Price has done a good job of creating these cute, little people. The facial features, outfits, and color design—they all do a great job at setting the scene. Yet, the toys in and of themselves don’t communicate the story. They are the cast of characters, the set, and scene. There still needs to be a storyteller.

Since we got this Nativity set, my wife and I sit with Claire and tell her the story of Christmas. We grab the camel, 3 Wise Men, and have them talk to one another. We pick up the Wise Men and have them give Claire kisses so that she can see that they journey to share love to the Christ child. We take Joseph and Mary and have her stare at them and tell her (with made up voices) “Jesus is our precious child and we love Him this much…” This line is followed by Mary and Joseph kissing Claire all over and we don’t stop until she smiles. Next, comes baby Jesus with His painted golden halo and saliva cocoon. “I came into the world, Claire, for you! I love you so much…” More kisses, more smiles from Claire.

As a Youth Worker I am saddened to see how many of our young people either don’t care or are bored by the story of the God who became man. In the last 13 years, I’ve realized that our young people don’t care or are bored by the story because we have stopped telling the story well. There is a lack of excitement, joy, and wonder in the telling of this story.

The storytelling has become dull. Think about it. How many times have you heard people talk about the Christmas story as if it were just another of BuzzFeed’s top 25 list, a matter of fact type thing that just is. “God became man. Can you pass the potato salad?”

Claire smiles and laughs when baby Jesus kisses her—she is introduced and becomes a part of the story. My wife and I change our voices, we place Jesus on top of the couch, sometimes He is on the Christmas Tree, or on the dog’s head. The story must be told with new ardor, new methods and new expressions so that it captures her attention. It is and will always be the same story, but the listener needs to hear it in fresh new ways. The ardor, enthusiasm, passion, etc. must be palpable. We are talking about the GOD who BECAME a MAN!! This story and the time uncle Willie used poison ivy at camp to clean his backside should not stand toe-to-toe with each other. The method and expression in which we share the story has to be fresh, especially for those of us who have heard the story so many times that it really doesn’t do anything for us. This doesn’t mean we change the story—we cannot—but, the way in which we tell it should be new. Paint/art, music, film, food, etc. are ways to tell the story. Humanity is so creative (click on the blue text)! We can come up with new methods easily; we just need to use our imagination and talents.

Claire will outgrow the baby Jesus kissing method and expression. My wife and I will need to come up with other creative ways to tell the story. Let’s face it, reading it from Scripture to her at the age of 1 or 2 isn’t going to capture it for her. The story must be told over and over again. When our children begin to show that they do not care or are bored with the story of God becoming man, it means we are not telling the story well.

May this story never seize to capture the imagination of our children. May you and I never seize to tell it well, because it is the greatest story ever told.

Merry Christmas to all of you and your loved ones.

Categories: children, christmas, fatherhood, fathers, fisher price, God, husband and wife, Parenting, Uncategorized, youth ministry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mommy Daddy Time

IMG_9062-1024x651The last couple of weeks I’ve noticed that my wife and I have been unable to spend a lot of quality time together. Claire is such a gift and we love her to death, but taking care of her leaves us exhausted. There are many nights that Claire goes to bed and we drag ourselves to bed as well. Recently, the only quality time we have had is watching episodes of a show called, “Grimm.” As fun as it is to watch, we realize that our relationship requires more than sitting in front of a screen.

One of the things that friends, spiritual directors, priests and anyone who has any kind of experience with marriage and family tell me is that the Date Night is crucial. Having a date night with the wife is absolutely necessary for our relationship as husband and wife—not to mention our sanity. The Date Night is great, but it now takes strategic planning, synchronizing of schedules, and the alignment of Mars and Jupiter for it to work. Most importantly, we need to actually have energy for it.

We are always tired.

I love going out with my wife or doing the cheap date night at home. The problem is our lack of mental and physical energy. We are both exhausted from work and Claire that doing something outside the norm seems like it will be way too much.

Did I mention we are both taking classes for our Master’s degree? Maybe we are sadistic—or crazy.

Yet, the Date Night is crucial. I know many couples that have said that not having a regular date night was a bad choice on their part. So, the Date Night is a must. Got it. Now we need to make it happen because mommy-daddy time is foundational to our marriage, and our marriage is what gives life to our family. Everything that our family will become will flow from how my wife and I love one another. This is an incredibly scary thing, but it’s true. How I love my wife affects not only our relationship, but also the entire atmosphere and development of our home. Our children’s happiness, peace, calmness, understanding of God, sense of compassion and trust will flow from how Jess and I love one another. The way Jess and I romance each other with the Date Night perpetuates the cycle of falling in love with one another; which keeps us discovering more and more about each other; which will cause our children to grow in an atmosphere filled with love.

Love begets love.

So lack of energy, masters degrees, children, etc. cannot allow us to drop mommy-daddy time. Claire and any future children will recognize sacrifice, selflessness, love, respect, joy, kindness, and much more from what flows out of our marriage. Our love will either lead our children to recognize all that is beautiful or the opposite. So mommy and daddy time is necessary for all the other times to come with Claire and the rest of the future members of our family. Romancing one another is so important.

So with that said, “Honey, grab a Red Bull and your coat. We’re going out and having some mommy daddy time!”

Categories: date night, enjoying the moment, fatherhood, God, husband and wife, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.