The Girl…..and a father’s love

The girl.  My girl. Daddy’s girl for sure. I’ve stated it before in reference to my son and it still holds true, every age is my favorite age with my kids. It’s always an adventure.

A friend of mine and his wife who already has a son, just had a girl.  He catches me the other day and says, “Hey, you have both.” “That’s the dirty rumor.”, I reply. He asks sincerely and expectantly, “What’s the difference?”  His question is more to the point of differences in how you raise and interact with a girl child as opposed to a boy child. Far less to do with plumbing which is obvious. Truth is, we could talk for hours on the differences and still never begin to scratch the surface of the differences.

Boys are boys, but, boy howdy, girls are GIRLS, and my girl is all girl. My sweet lady and I wanted a little girl first. I even went so far as to, when we discovered we were having a boy first, mope for two weeks solid lamenting the fact of a boy first. I’m glad we had the boy first because it makes me appreciate the differences all the more.

She was perfect when we brought her home. All pink and pretty and deeply rooted into that special place reserved for daddy’s girl from the moment she breathed air. The fact that she was our second and ultimately destined to be our last made us less fussy over the little things. She shared the same place as the boy in only getting quiet and going to sleep for daddy instead of mommy. For the first couple years the wife swore she was out to exclude her from the family by hook or crook. She’d ignore my wife both willfully, purposefully and blatantly at every opportunity. Daddy’s voice and attention was all she would listen to.

She’s tough as nails to boot. She puts on a different face to the world these days but daddy has always known the truth. One particular day I was picking her up from daycare. There she sat in the office in a chair, eyes swollen and red and snot everywhere. I ask the girl at the desk if there was a problem. She looks at me and coyly states, “We had a bit of a meltdown earlier. Nothing major.”  Turns out she was told no to this thing or that and boom. Vesuvius. I told the little girl not to fret. No is a common term in our household. I then advised the young lady to be on guard because, “she’s sneaky mean.” “That a terrible thing to say about your child!”, she replied but the truth was the truth. What is sneaky mean you may ask. Did you ever play football at a friends house with the neighborhood kids? There they are all in a pile wrestling over the ball. All arms and legs and hair and teeth. As the pile dissolves one kid as he or she as the case may be, gets up, they put their knee in someones thigh, or elbow in a throat, or a thumb in an ear, accidentally on purpose? That’s sneaky mean.  There’s a good three or so years between the boy and the girl in age. I can still see the boy playing quietly in the floor with toy X as the girl walks by him and unprovoked, whacks him in the back of the head and keeps toddling along as though nothing had every transpired. At no time did her hands leave the ends of her arms. Magic. Sneaky mean. It’s because of this that when other men, mostly non fathers of daughters, comment that I’ll be waiting, firearm in hand, for the boys as they come courting that I just shake my head and say I have no worries of that. She is fully capable of twisting any boy on the planet into a knot.  Whoa to any boy that hurts her physically or emotionally. When she gets done with him there won’t be much left to go to prison for.

She’s always has been and still is, daddy’s girl. We loved to play the game of I love you more. Back an forth until finally she would say, “You win.”  Of late, I tend to be the one who say you win first, much to her delight, but always knowing she is the real benefactor.

There is a lot more drama these days as well. As I said, she is all girl. All pretty and pink and flamboyant and expressive. Some days it will exhaust you in a nano second. Others, it is pure joy to watch. Never boring. Never. She has the most personality between the two kids by a country mile. She’s more of a walking sight gag or a spit take than a well crafted premise with a punchline that makes you think but she can make you laugh just as well.

She’s creeping up on womanhood. A fact her father is both lamenting and welcoming. I fear the trials she will face in middle and high school. Girls can be so brutal to each other. Sometimes it’s little better in adulthood. Men fight battles on a physical plane more so than the psychological warfare the female species are masters at. The mental and physical torture of becoming a woman is an alien world to men and so her mother will pull the bulk of the duty for that. My job will be to be, well, daddy. A safe haven, a gentle hand, an open ear if it comes to it. I welcome it though because she will be a beautiful woman both on the outside and more importantly on the inside. She has a kind heart. She loves God like no other child I’ve seen. A practical and genuine faith that causes her dad to swell with pride and be ashamed of his own lack of faith all in the same instant. She is graceful and clumsy, joyful and thoughtful, gabby and personable. She’s not yet a tween in years but getting there. She is my girl. The best girl. Wrapped up cozy and tight in daddy’s heart from the first minute she breathed air. She is one of the three best things in my life. I don’t deserve a girl this sweet, a boy this fine or a wife that loves me this much, but I have them and so I’m a man with much to be thankful for.  As she is about to be eleven I’m especially thankful for the girl. My Girl. I love you baby girl….I love you more….you win….(i win).

Christian World View….Hardship

I just finished a book. A decidedly none Christian, world view, self actualization related book.  First, before the outcry begins, let me say there is nothing inherently wrong with books of this ilk. It was an interesting read and one that I chose purposefully because of the subject matter. It involves a multi-millionaire, a navy SEAL and working out.  I’m pretty much broke, I’m not working to become a major Adonis but I am always interested in military men, their thoughts on life and their stories especially. Perhaps I’m wishing for something to have happened in my past that never did. I’ve been told I would have thrived in military arena and I regularly get thanked for my service or asked if I’m military or law enforcement. I’m always quick to clear up the confusion but still take a level of pride in being seen that way.

That being said, this particular book had some interesting quotes from the SEAL who was a main character in the story line which have had me thinking for many days and drawing correlations between these statements and my Christian world view. You should know first that I stink at being a Christian. I say that because I know myself very well, am extremely honest about my short comings and know that when others want to debate my standing as a Christian they will have plenty of evidence to both prove, and in their own minds, disprove my right to bear the moniker.  Truth is I’m not perfect, don’t pretend to be and a person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still.

Still, I wanted to take a few of these statements made by the SEAL and draw some truth for the Christian viewpoint with them and at least show where my mind is at on such matters.

A Christian friend of mine was sharing a conversation he had with a non believing friend. The friend has a moral viewpoint. Do well to others, harm no one, be good and moderate in all things. The golden rule if you wish to use that as a guide. The friend has just recently been diagnosed with a form of cancer and is at a loss for why, after he has been so morally good all his life, should something like this happen to him.

My heart breaks for the friend of my friend. That they are dealing with such heart break both personally and physically. Platitudes are of no redeeming value to persons in his circumstance. One can only love them and help where possible and allowed. As a Christian the power of pray is real to me so prayer will be offered as well.

It causes one to think how one views and deals with hardship from a Christian point of view. Scripture tells us that God causes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). This is a statement of Gods grace and mercy to every man regardless of belief. That God cares for His creation regardless of their allegiance to Him or not. I find myself often being tempted to ask why me but I quickly remember, why NOT me. Just because I am a Christian does not exempt me from hardship just as being morally good would exempt my friends friend from having cancer. I am nothing special. I can’t do anything to earn something that can only be acquired as a gift.

The SEAL might make several statements: “If it doesn’t suck, we don’t do it.” OR. “Everyday is a challenge, otherwise it’s not a regular day.” OR “You can get through anything, because everything has an end.”

IF IT DOESN’T SUCK, WE DON’T DO IT: Hardship sucks. That’s a bit indelicate but so is life. It’s hard. We rub up against stuff in our daily life that is dirty, prickly, uncomfortable and just down right gross. Yes, there is beauty, and light and joy in many areas of our lives but we rarely notice them if there isn’t a polar opposite that makes sure these good things smack us in the face like a wet frying pan. Hardship sucks but it is part and parcel of living. We will experience death, injustice, confusion, slander, heartbreak, loneliness, bitterness and on and on and on in our lives on a regular schedule. Some days more bearable than others but as regular as the sun and moon. It just is. Therefore, EVERYDAY IS A CHALLENGE, OTHERWISE IT’S NOT A REGULAR DAY. As a Christian, I am taught through scripture that I will have hardship (1 Peter 1:6,7; James 1:2) It’s how I look at that hardship or more importantly how I will handle that hardship that is of great importance. I am an alien to this place. Not little green man from Mars or I’m from another planet alien but that this is not my original home. I am a spiritual being spending a set amount of time here to be sent back to a spiritual existence when my time here is done. I belong to God. I have accepted His free gift and placed my faith in His one and only son and rely on Him to provide for me both physically and spiritually while I am here and for eternity to boot. So, anything that I am facing here, broken down car, a broken relationship in my family, bad job, good job, rich or poor, physical specimen or cancer patient, is to be faced with Him at the helm, understanding that I have zero power to change anything and that regardless of the outcome He has a purpose for all of it. Therefore, YOU CAN GET THROUGH ANYTHING, BECAUSE EVERYTHING HAS AN END.  Cancer has an end. Either you are healed or you die. Broken relationships have an end. Either they are mended or they are not. Name the issue, the trial, the drama, the disease and regardless of what it is, it will end. Sooner or later, happy with it or sad about it, it will end. I just have to endure it. I had a work friend that was fond of saying all he ever had to do was be black and die. I’ve used the same phrase only changing my race to be white and die. Invariably, some wisenheimer with add, “and pay taxes”.  I remind them, no, they have to catch me to pay the taxes, the rest is without discussion. I can endure anything understanding that eventually it will end and most importantly, that God, in His infinite wisdom and will, is using that to bring glory to himself, or to train me in some way, or to use it as a way to minister to me or someone else, or any combination of the three He wants to put in play.

I’m grateful for my life. It is often messy and complicated. Uncomfortable and at times near unto unbearable. However, I know that He loves me more than I will ever be able to fathom on this plane. That He gave His only son to take my place and that He has a plan for me. I won’t understand everything. Hardship is hardship just like joy is joy and peace is peace. I just want to honor Him in the journey.

So this is Christmas…..

So this is Christmas, what have we done….

It’s been a long ago day when John Lennon sang those words. As I sit here on the morning of Christmas Eve in the silence of my pre-dawn home. The wife, the kids and even the dogs are all still studying the insides of their eyelids.

I’m struck by the world I live in. On one hand the daily do of living with a wife, two kids, now two dogs, a mortgage, a job and all the other cacophony of “stuff” that invades and pervades this experience that I call a life.  On the other hand, the world at large. Terror, war, anger, racism, bigotry, perversion, deceit, and brokenness on so many strata that it defies the ability to number them.

So this is Christmas. Me safe in my own little world within a world. Watching over me and mine. Hoping more than praying that all will progress well. While the rest of the world tries diligently and consistently to destroy itself in every form imaginable. So this is Christmas.

What have we done? I’m going to resist the easy path of pointing fingers at the world and naming the litany of ways it has diverge from a path that could have held it together if not allowed it to be or at least seem more humane. That’s way too easy. No, I think I’ll just realize and state it, to my own shame, that for the world to be better, I must be better. For me to be better is to be more like Jesus Christ. You may remember that man. He has lent his name to the season we are currently celebrating.

So how do I do that? How do I be more like Christ? A profound question indeed. It will be different for me in many ways than for you reading this. Some ways will be the same. I need to read, understand and apply His word more and use my words less. I need to think as He has shown me to think more and lean on my own understanding less. I need to put away my own sense of self. My perceived rights to be honored, to have a station or position in this world. He must increase and I must decrease. I need to make more of him  and less of me. When I am slandered, or mistreated or tested severely; I need to remember that these trials will bring about endurance and perseverance and that these will in turn bring about a peace that this world will not understand.

I am here for only a little while. I am praying that God will, through the work of His Holy Spirit, produce in me not only a faith, but a walk, a lifestyle, that will not just make me better, but will make the world better. Not just from the outside, or for the now, but for all eternity.

So this is Christmas, what have you done……

Merry Christmas.  May you have a very happy New Year.

Old systems….systems to come

When we live by the system that is going instead of by the system that is coming, we take a risk.

This system, the system of man that we live in now is passing away. For the believer this is something that we give credence to, acknowledge, but, I fear, think very little about. There are rules in the current system and we know them. Don’t tug on Superman’s cape. Don’t spit in the wind. Don’t pull the mask off the ole Lone Ranger to quote a song. Don’t eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge or you die. We can follow, and do follow the known rules. Just when we think we have it figured out. We’re playing it safe. Turns out, we’re taking an awful risk after all.

What risk? Where are we missing it?

I believe I am missing the mark in two ways. First, overtly by playing the odds of sin. We all have our “pet” sins. The besetting sin. The one we can’t seem to muster the energy, the concern, the resolve to walk past. It may be a small thing. When I say a small thing, I mean by comparison to other sins, or other people’s sins, or what society is currently looking on with disdain or tolerance. I tell myself the lie. This is nothing major. It comes and goes. I can stop. Have stopped for a time. Sure I returned to it but I can stop again….for a time. We play the odds of God’s Grace and Forgiveness and bet we’ll be accepted and not rejected. Loved but not punished. Forgiven but not held accountable for our, in truth, bold defiance. I have children of my own. Would I allow that to happen with them? I am keenly aware that I am not God. His ways are not my ways and his thoughts are not my thoughts but that is not a disqualification for this line of thinking. Look at it from this point of view. If I did parent my own children in this manner; what type of product is most likely to be the outcome? A petulant, selfish, narcissistic, brat of a child. Sadly, sounds familiar. Sounds like me in relationship at times with my heavenly Father.

Secondly, is not remembering, with every breath I take, that there is another system that is coming. I will live in this system until I die. At least 50 years and the odds say up to 80 or maybe more. I will live in the system to come, for eternity. I need to be thinking like the new system, talking like the new system, loving like the new system, walking as though I am already in the new system. I’m not as good at that as I want to be. Not as good as I hope to be.

I see people, some very recently, that have no knowledge of the system to come. They speak like others are less because of their sex, their race, their societal strata or economic level. They don’t know any better. I do. I’m struggling  to live in this system and walk in the system to come. I don’t fear much. I do fear the risk I continue to take playing the odds of sin and forgetting that there is another system that I need to be practicing for.

Lord, by Your grace alone I have not crashed. I have never lived by the rules of this world, but I often play the probabilities. Show me where I have been testing You so that I may abandon it. Reveal to me what I am doing that is permissible but not beneficial. Amen.

Wedded Bliss…Yep!

TWENTY-ONE years! Amazing.  As someone would surely say, That is a long time to be married to the wrong man.  You hear a lot of marriage jokes: “We’ve been married 15 years and it’s been the best 5 years of my life.” OR “We’ve been married 5 years and it’s been the best 20 years of my life.”

Jokes are jokes but this twenty-one years has never been a joke. A ton of laughter, but no joke.

My wife, my bride, my honey bunny, my sugar booger is truly one of the greatest blessings of my life. I hate to say it but I don’t deserve a wife that loves me and puts up with my silliness as much as she does.

Who knew some twenty plus years ago that it would be this fine? I had high hopes.  I meet her at church. She is so very fond of telling the story on me that I ignored her for a time. Truth was I thought she was older than me. I had dated, very briefly, a girl who was a number of years older than me, and, in a word, it was weird. I knew real clear, I didn’t want to walk down that road again. We went to a singles retreat and during the ice breaker I had the epiphany that she was younger and it was on like a chicken bone from there. I had to do a lot of fast talking and clearing up my mess and even had to divert another fella onto another prospective girly girl to make sure he wasn’t gonna beat my time.

I still remember our first date. We were going to go to lunch and then the Planetarium but soon realized the Planetarium was closed. It was my birthday, right before the 4th of July and so there ya go. We ate at Keifer’s (still love that place) and decided to see a movie. Sleepless in Seattle. Major chick flick but it got me down the road for a second date and we were good from there.  I knew she was the one inside of about three dates. She came to one of my softball games once. The guys were razzing me for bringing a date to the game. I told them, “Guys, this is a down chick.  Watch this. Hey baby, call the hogs.” to which she promptly stood up and gave a loud Suuuuuewheee Razorbacks cheer.  The guys stood there gobsmacked and I beamed because I had the cool girlfriend.

We peeked around the edges of the engagement talk for all of 6 months when I proposed to her. I had just gotten a huge promotion but was about to leave town for the next couple months only being home for a weekend about every two weeks during that span. I knew I couldn’t leave without asking her to marry me. I didn’t know the day I was going to ask her that she was having dental surgery and was half looped out on pain killers when I got to her apartment. Some would say that was all part of the master plan. I say, you take your gifts as you get them. As inauspicious a start as that was, that was no omen of the times to come.  I spent the first year worried she would leave me just because it didn’t measure up to her expectations, but we married and have had one heck of an adventure through those twenty-one years.

Seven years of fun and travel and enjoying each other. The birth of the boy, who still brings great joy, frustration and entertainment on a daily basis. Then the girl, who also brings more than her share of drama, intrigue and stellar facial expressions to the mix. Two of the finest and greatest joys in our daily lives. We would be lost without them, although getting lost for a bit is always welcome on the journey.

We’ve seen the death of both our father’s and the continued aging of both our mothers. We’ve been fat and lean, both physically and financially. We have cried our hearts out a time or two. I’ve made her head spin around in anger like a scene from The Exorcist only three times in those 21 years. Two of those prior to the engagement and wedding and one inside the first year. I’m nothing if not a quick study. More than anything we have laughed. We laugh, really laugh, every day. Mostly at the kids or the dog or just the ridiculousness of this fallen world in general. And from time to time at each other, but the laughter has been there always. Like a steady current in the river. As sure as the sun rises and sets.

She is my very best friend. If given the opportunity, she is the first and highest on my list of people I want to hang out with. Preferably sans children. She gets me better than anyone I know. She loves me just a little less than Jesus and that’s the best second fiddle I can play. She is gracious, funny, beautiful, hopeful, supportive and amazingly talented. Do I really have to mention the cakes?

I don’t get everything right in my life, but by the grace of God, I aced it on this one thing. Glory to God for it. I ain’t that good but He is.

Happy Anniversary baby.  Straight up, I love you with my whole heart.

 

An excellent mimic….

Being born and raise, or reared as some may say, in the south, I certainly have my share of a southern drawl. It runs the gamut from mild to syrupy. Depending on the language being used, the person I’m speaking to or the circumstances I’m in, my accent or drawl will fall somewhere along the spectrum.

As a senior underwriter for a national insurance company, I would travel to many parts of our united states and would often find myself in the same situation. For a time I was privileged to visit the great state of Minnesota for many months. There I would train agents and support staff alike on new programming and processes they would use in their offices in a large classroom with some 15 or so computer terminals.  I would direct them on the process of using the programming and what the individual changes from previous systems were and how this affected their process flow, etc. All of these units would work off of one server so screen changes would be slow and not simultaneous for each desk top so one must fill in the time to keep peoples attention. I suppose I should note this was in the mid 1990s and technology was not then what it is now…..duh.

The same general conversation would always be had.  “Where were you born in Minnesota or did you live somewhere else in the north?”, they would ask. “I was born in Mississippi and have lived there all my life. Why would you ask?”, would be the reply. “You don’t sound like you’re from the south.”

I have, I guess I would classify it as, a bad habit. I naturally pick up the accent of whomever I am around. Predominantly, without even knowing that I’m doing it. So in Minnesota it was a lot of Oh ya, you betcha and so forth. In Nevada, I actually pronounced Nevada the way a person from Nevada would pronounce it. Didn’t know there was a difference? Well, trust me, they would let you know all about it if you said it incorrectly. Whether in California, Florida, Minnesota, Nevada, Illinois, or any of the nine European countries I traveled in while a junior in college, the result was the same and ultimately I would have to correct someone. Many times they would not believe me. Not until I got on the phone to speak to someone in my offices in Mississippi and all the honeys, sugars, darlins came flowing out would they finally believe I was telling the truth. I’d also tell them, with a level of sadness in my voice that the company had made me start wearing shoes about a year earlier and that I had just broken it off with my sister a few weeks prior so that accounted for much of the loss of long vowels and loose dialect. Most laughed.

So why is this even remotely important? Well I find that I’m not just a gifted mimic for languages and accents but for life. I’ve been guilty of being a mimic of Christ. But, that’s a good thing right? To act like Christ acted? To devote yourself to a set of values that Christ portrayed? Surely you’re not saying that is a bad thing, right?

Yes, yes I am. Here is the issue. In truth, I’m called to be devoted to a person. The person of Jesus Christ. Not a set of values.

What difference does it make whether I’m devoted to values or to a Person? It’s not the way of Christ that leads to everlasting life; it’s the Person of Christ. It’s trusting Him to produce the spiritual life in us, not trusting in ourselves to produce the spiritual life by our own effort.

I could not understand this difference at first. The distinction seemed inconsequential. Yet as I learned more and more, the difference began to come into focus. It’s a huge distinction. For those who want to know God, it’s the dividing line. Do you know it?

Jesus says simply, “‘Follow me.’” When we are weary and burdened Jesus gives us rest—not our values. He says, “‘Follow me,’” He does not say “Follow my principles.” It’s His life that connects us to God, not emulating His “goodness.” If we imitate His life but don’t know Him personally, we will become exhausted. We can see that which is good, right, and pure, but we do not have the power to live up to it. Only Christ in us can live up to it.

Today church pews are filled with well-meaning people—people who sincerely want to be Christian. But they are confused. They believe (and their church often confirms) that the Christian life is a commitment to a set of values. Who would question such a noble thought? Jesus would. He said, “‘I am the way. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6). Not through values.

It’s not imitation that leads to everlasting life; it’s surrender. It’s not guessing what Christ would do and imitating Him; it’s acknowledging we cannot imitate Him at all. It’s accepting that His blood was spilled on the cross because we cannot imitate Him. It’s to surrender our will, heart, mind, soul, and strength to the Person who died for us.

It’s not what we follow, but who we follow; not a set of values but a Person. It’s not “the life I live in the body, I live by these values.” It’s “the life I live in the body, I live by faith.” Faith is confidence in the Person of Christ and the atoning work He did through the shedding of His blood for our sins, not in the merit of living up to a set of values.

Well-meaning people often begin their pilgrimage committed to His Person, but later place their faith in what they do for Him (the seen) instead of what He has done for them (the unseen). But, “We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). If you live by sight, you will lose the joy of your salvation.

Are you committed to a set of Christian values, or are you committed to a Person for your salvation? If you began your pilgrimage by receiving Christ, are you still living by faith, or has your confidence returned to a set of values?

The boy…and a father’s love

The boy. My boy, is 13 now. He will be 14 in about another 60 or so days. My boy.

Every age of a child is, in my opinion, the best age. When he was a baby and I’d come home late in the evening from working all day and his mother, my precious wife, would look at me and ask, “Can you please get him down? He won’t go to sleep for anything.”  I’d sit down with him and set him in the crook of my arm. She would get up and go to the back of the house. Gone all of 5 minutes. Come back and he would be sound asleep. Lord how that made her so mad. I loved it. My boy, knew he was safe with daddy and sleep was as close and safe as the crook of my arm in that chair of mine.

When he was going for his first day of school. I with the wife made the trek down the hall to his class and told him how proud we were and what a big boy he was. It was as tough a fight as any I’ve ever had in my life to get to the end of the hall and turn the corner before I cried like a man who had just lost his best friend. He was growing up and I didn’t like it, Not one bit.

There have been a few years where I wondered if he would ever be a man of any repute. That age where thinking is not much beyond the end of their nose and apathy reigns. This was tough but he was still my boy, and I couldn’t shake how much I loved him.

So here we are at this age. We are changing.  He and I. He is growing a personality. One I actually like. His sense of comedic timing is getting more finely honed. This pleases the father who is a frustrated stand up comic at heart. Lord knows we will laugh at anything and at the most inappropriate moments. I can’t think of death or dying without thinking of my father’s funeral preparations. As we walked through the display of caskets and discussed options and what Pop would really have wanted, we happened upon a case with a small galvanized pale and a small spade for planting bulbs and the like. As my brother walked up and asked what I was looking at, I replied, “The starter kit I suppose.” That was the end of it. We laughed until we cried and cried because my dad would have laughed harder and louder than any of us at that one.

The boy has what I call “a little dirt on his lip”. The makings of manhood that some boys get and all boys cherish. He informed me the other day he wants to grow a beard like mine when he can. Okay then. You go buddy.

He’s been working with me a bit these past few months. I have a side job working POP at service stations. It’s nothing major but it keeps me supplied in mad money to fuel the hiking, camping, hammock obsession and anything else that hits my fancy. He went with me back in May an helped on a few out of town stops. This was an excuse to have a long ride where we could talk through some girl issues he was having and to remind him that some of his friends will do things he isn’t personally ready for and he has my permission and support to tell people to stick it if they pressure him on anything. Anything. From kissing to drugs to general matters of disobedience to religious thinking. Tell them to butt a stump and come talk to dad or mom. We won’t let him be pressured into anything. Not even the stuff we want him to do. It was a good time. I listened, he talked. He listened, I talked. It was a moment I have longed for since he was a baby in the crook of my arm. Seeing my boy face life’s milestones and ease casually and confidently past them knowing he is as safe and secure as in the crook of daddy’s arm.

I had surgery a bit ago and when the POP job came up again, I told him, “I will need your help, more so than last time. I’ll pay you for the time but you gotta help. This ain’t play time, we are working, like men”.  So the weekend came and I took the first couple of the 32 stops we would make to show him his part, address the concerns he may face and issue the warnings of the particular dangers that come with doing this type of work. We go to places that aren’t that safe and get approached, often, by folks with false intentions and less than pure motives. I don’t fear for myself, and fear would be the wrong term to use when it comes to what my son may see or experience. He just needs to keep his head on a swivel and know where he is and everyone one else around him is. At all times.

We set to work. He was a tremendous help. Focused, efficient, pride in service and function. We got so much done in such a short time. I was in awe of him. He worked like a man. A real man. No complaint, no silliness, asked when he was unsure of anything and did an excellent job at everything I tasked him with. Another moment I have longed to see. A boy developing a fine work ethic. I got mine from working the milk route with my dad in the summers and evenings after school as a kid. Younger than my boy, but caught the same skill from my dad.

The relationship is changing. I’m still Daddy and daddy rules all but most of the time we’re more like a couple buddies out for a ride, goofing on each other, playing at life and talking freely about any subject. This is now my favorite age. He is handsome, and kind. Compassionate, thoughtful about the things worth thinking about, silly, funny, polite and happy.

I knew it the day he was born. I would never be the same again. I marveled then as I marvel now, that I can love another human being this much. This deeply. This hard. To the bone. To the marrow of my being. He is a fine young man. One of the three most precious gifts God has been gracious enough to give me. I don’t deserve a son this fine, or a daughter this beautiful, or a wife that loves me this much. I don’t deserve any of it, but I have it, and I am so very grateful. For all of them.

My boy. I’ll wish for him the same thing my father wished for me. That he will be a better man than me. His odds look far better than mine ever looked against my father. He really is something to be proud of. My boy.