Advice From a Father

I lost my father when I was just 12 years old. At different times I have felt cheated because of this. For instance, my brothers and I missed out on having our dad there to witness most every milestone of our lives. He was not there to see any of us graduate from high school. Likewise, he missed seeing any of us get married. Most importantly, he never got to meet any of his grandchildren.

Recently, I was speaking with a friend about some personal problems I have been having and she asked me, “what advice would your dad give you?” This is something I have never thought about. I’d never really had the opportunity to ask my dad for much advice. Ever since I was asked this question I have thought about what advice my dad would have for me today.

I am a father now and I look forward to guiding my child through the obstacles of life. This fatherly guidance is something that I did not have as I was going through adolescence, which is a critical period in any young person’s life. So, what would my dad have to say to me today?

My dad was a man with much integrity. He was also a person that doubted at various periods in his life. However, before he died I believe he was able to lay down his burden of doubt and was at peace. I’m a lot like my dad in many ways. I am stubborn, selfish with my time, and I have my own doubts that I carry.

I believe if I was to sit down with my dad today, he’d tell me to let go of doubt. I think with age my dad also would have become more giving of his time. He’d probably tell me that I need to be more open to this as well. Likewise, I am sure he’d probably let me know he is proud of me. This is perhaps what I need to hear the most. I often doubt my own abilities. I’d like to hear my dad say I am good at what I do. Hearing it from his lips might actually allow me to believe it for once.

My dad was skilled at so many ways. I wish I could have learned to do all of the things he knew how to do. His work was something in which he took pride. I think having some of his knowledge would make me more confident as a man. However, I have my own skills, which I look forward to passing down to my son. This will be a way for me to honor my dad’s memory. I’ll never be able to do the things my dad did. However, I know he’d proud of me for succeeding in life.

I don’t believe my dad is watching over me. I think he is spending eternity in Heaven where there is no sorrow. I have hope I will see him again. There are a lot of questions I have for him.

The Trash Bag Ladybug Monster

God usually teaches me humility in humorus ways. My latest lesson has involved showering. If you have been keeping up with my blog, you’ll know that I am currently undergoing treatment at home for a bone infection that I got through a wound in my foot.

I currently have an intravenous line in my right arm, through which Amanda administers antibiotics every morning. I also have a bandage on my foot that Amanda changes every other day. I am lucky to have such a loving wife that is willing to do this for me. However, she does like to have fun with me as well.

For instance, in order to shower I need to duct tape garbage bags around my right arm and left foot. This is to keep my foot dressing dry, as well as my IV line. The duct tape that Amanda chose for me has ladybugs on it, which look great with the black garbage bags. Once I am all suited up I look like the “Ladybug Trash Bag Monster.” I then “climb” into our shower, which is the size of a small phone booth. It is fortunate that my shower chair even fits in there.

Getting out of the shower takes a leap of faith, as I am never quite sure how I am going to stick the landing. This morning I gave myself a 9.0, as I did not fall. I also maintained pretty good form through the dismount from the shower chair.

After I am out of the shower comes the fun part, the removal of the bags. This involves ripping strips of hair off of my legs, and some hair from my right armpit. I am beginning to think I should just wax myself down. That way the agony of the tape removal would be lessened. In addition, I’d probably become more aerodynamic as I race through the house in my wheelchair.

Yes, I choose to laugh at these times. If I didn’t life would be a daily struggle. However, I know that God is there. Likewise, I know He sees my struggles. He uses these to keep me humble. I am often frustrated, but I take comfort in knowing God has never taken His hand off of my life. My duck tape with the ladybugs and those black trash bags are reminders that God has a sense of humor. He continues to care for me even when I fail Him.

An Open Letter to an Absent Parent

You gave birth to a sweet baby boy, however, your selfishness has kept you from him. In a few days he turns 5 months old. He has begun to smile, laugh, and chatter. He is slowly learning how to roll over. You are missing this because you cannot move past the stumbling blocks in your life. In a sense this infuriates me. In another it makes me hurt for you. However, it makes me hurt most for the precious life you brought into this world.

This baby boy is growing up in a home where he is loved. He is taken care of by two parents who are raising a child for the first time. I am sure we are making mistakes, and will in the future. However, you made the biggest mistake by letting this beautiful boy slip through your fingers. It angers me that you were allowed to have children, while my wife and I were not. Life is not fair, which is something your child will learn as he grows and matures.

I know life certainly must seem unfair to you. I am sure you have seen your share of hardship. You certainly have experienced hurt and heartache along the way, as every person has. I pray that you find healing. Likewise, I pray for the baby boy that you unwittingly gifted us with. Even if he is not our’s to keep forever, he has brought us so much joy in the few short months he has been a part of our lives.

Each month that you stall out on your legal obligations, you fill my wife and I with yet more uncertainty. Will we get to keep this little boy? Are we going to lose him after growing to love him like he was our own? These are questions that play over and over again in my mind. His young mind is beginning to see us as his parents. Are you going to take him back when he is just a stranger to you? How much will that destroy his psyche?

My wife and I knew what we were getting ourselves into when we took your child into our home. We welcomed him with open arms. We have fed him, bathed him, clothed him, and we have dried his tears when he has cried. Most of all we have loved him and nurtured him in an environment where he is thriving. You are missing out because you cannot see past your own wants and desires. I empathize with your plight. However, that does nothing to quell the anger I feel towards you. I pray that God will work on my heart to look past this anger. Likewise, I pray that He will give me a heart of forgiveness and love.

My Mother

On this Mother’s Day I wanted to share with you what my mother means to me. There are so many things that I could say about my mom. However, the most important thing that I can say is that I love her. She is a special woman who has taught me some very valuable lessons.

First, my mother lost her husband when she was 41 years old. She was left with 3 boys to raise on her own. My oldest brother was 17, at the time, my other brother was just about to turn 16, and I was 12. My father, being the excellent provider that he was, left our family with little debt when he passed away. However, my mother was working as a teacher at a small, private school and making very little money at the time.

Despite this, she provided a home for my brothers and I where we were loved. We also had most of the material things that other kids our age had. I do not know how she was able to keep our family together after experiencing such a devastating loss. My mother’s strength in the face of despair is something I will always admire.

Likewise, my mother’s faith in God never wavered after she lost the love of her life. She could have chosen to be bitter, but I never remember my mother giving into those types of emotions. She continued to give to others even when she had very little to give. I think this is something she learned from her mother, who was also a very giving woman. She always had time for my brothers and I when we needed it.

Several years after my dad passed away, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. However, being the woman of faith that she is, she never asked “why me?” She simply relied on her faith to see her through yet another hardship. Even through chemotherapy treatments that weakened her body and made her dreadfully ill, she never wavered in her faith. She just trusted that God would see her through the pain and anguish. He did bring her through that struggle.

Today, my mother is still working. She is a librarian at the local library. She is still giving her time and talents to the community. Likewise, she is still involved in her church. She too remains dedicated to her family. It has been over 30 years since my dad has been gone. In that time my brothers and I have all gotten married and are raising families of our own.

My mom was the rutter that steered the ship for our family after my dad died. She helped my brothers and I to stay grounded. I will admit my teen years were not easy ones. However, I knew I could always go to my mom with any problem.

One thing that both of my parents told my brothers and I when we were young is that we would never be able to do anything that would make them stop loving us. We were also taught by my dad to respect our mother. I know I have let my mother down many times, but I know she will always love me.

My mother is one in a million. She has been faithful to her God through so many trials. Likewise, she has remained a person that loves her family. It is comforting to know I can still go to her for advice when needed. Her experiences in life have given her wisdom that she is more than willing to share. Happy Mother’s Day mom, I love you!

Be Still

One thing that I have enjoyed while working from home is having the blinds open in the room where my computer is stationed. We have quite a variety of birds that live in our neighborhood. I have seen cardinals, blue jays, robins, and wrens, just to name a few. It is quite peaceful to sit and listen to the songs of these various birds. Before the world stopped, I rarely took time to enjoy the small things.

I’m used to having a podcast playing on my phone, or the sound of music from a radio. I think I have become accustomed to always having noise on in the background due to a problem I have with my left ear. I was diagnosed with something called Meniere’s Disease several years ago. This disease affects your inner ear and can lead to a range of symptoms, such as vertigo and hearing loss. As a result of the disease I have very poor hearing in my left ear. The one thing that I do hear in my left ear is my pulse. I have learned to live with this “annoyance.” However, it can be extremely difficult, especially if my pulse quickens for any reason. Having noise on in the background helps to drown out the constant pulsating in my ear.

The last few weeks I have tried to turn off the “artificial” noises during the day. This has allowed me to focus on things that are coming from the outside, such as the birds, as I noted above. I also can hear the wind blowing through the trees. Likewise, I can hear myself breathe. Yes, there is that constant pulsing as well. However, it is not as prevalent when I am focusing on the natural sounds coming from the world around me.

As I said above, the world has stopped. In many ways this is true. There are many people who have lost their jobs, there are those who have lost loved ones. Likewise, there are those that have lost their peace of mind.

I for one have struggled to stay positive as the world seems to have fallen into despair. Despite all of these things, I know there is peace to be found. God is there in the midst of the chaos. You may not believe that, which is your choice. However, I know He is because I hear it in the creatures that He made. Those birds outside my window are a reminder to me to be still. If God is concerned about even the smallest of creatures like a sparrow, He certainly cares for you as well.

If you haven’t taken time lately to be silent and listen to the birds, or to the wind, or to the sound of rain hitting the ground, just stop. Life is too important to ignore these “small” things. It is in these sounds that we can be reminded to be still and know that there is a God who loves us and is in control, even when life seems hopeless.

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