About Last Week


Three observations from Dad’s desk about the last week:

It's a blur.1. Walking Dead – Flu-like symptoms. Concussion. ER visit. Concussion protocol. Boredom. Cabin fever. Ear infection. Crying baby. Up all night. Interrupted sleep. Go to work. Repeat.

Last week felt more like one long, long, long, long day than seven normal ones. We have washed hands, washed clothes, and cleaned door knobs to fend off spreading germs. We have helped one child get well, while the baby, despite our best efforts to comfort him, has been waking up 5-6 times a night – just because. We’ve had to raise the spirits of our daughter who suffered a concussion. No computer, TV, reading, loud noises (did I mention that the baby has been crying all night), or bright lights. She is so bored. My wife is tired and so am I.

The upside has been all of the texts, emails, phone calls, cards, visits and even meals. It all was very encouraging to us and we appreciate it. As a dad, it was sweet to see all of the prayers pour in around your children. As a husband, it was nice to see friends rally around my wife.

Prediction: This too shall pass.

2. Parenthood wrap – the show ended a six season run on Thursday.  I don’t share all the values of the Braverman clan, but I tuned in to watch most weeks because I found them interesting and spot on with their portrayal of the real life tensions and all the little moments that are part of a family. The cast, story, depth and delivery made it unique, compared to other offerings on the TV landscape. Parenthood, you were really good and you will be missed.

Prediction: The replacement show will suck, like most of what is on TV.

3. Super hype – I’ll watch the Superbowl and am leaning towards the Patriots, but I have no time for the 2 week hype fest between the conference championships and the big game.  Deflategate, Marshawn Lynch, Robert Kraft, media day – it’s too much (there are even betting odds on the color of Katy Perry’s hair for her halftime performance).

Predictions: New England – 31, Seattle – 22. Katy Perry hair color – black.

3.5 Perfection - Here is a bonus thing. My Kentucky Wildcats (I’d like to point out that I’m a native Kentuckian and alum) are 20-0 thus far this season. I won’t really start watching them until the conference tournament begins – it can consume you – but I am watching from afar.

Prediction: They will stumble, but win the title.

 

The Upside of Being Without Your iPhone


IPhone_5CThere was an upside of having my car and iPhone stolen last week just before a business trip.

My car, laptop and suitcase were quickly recovered, but my iPhone, which was in the front seat, was gone – most likely to be resold or chucked into the river. That was last Sunday night and it was not until later on Tuesday that I was full restored to the standard of the world. That means a I bravely continued with my planned travel, worked and lived without my iPhone for nearly 48 hours! That means, I made it to East Tennessee and back without a map (Lewis and Clark would be so proud), without texting, without placing a call, without picking up my iPhone every five miles to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.

Miraculously, I lived and realized a few things:

1. My anxiousness gave way to thankfulness - I would have normally felt out of touch while the fires of work spun out of control. I would have normally been dying to know what was transpiring and been anxious about not being able to know. Then I realized I had received a gift. I realized just how dependent I have become on this little box, roughly the size of a cigarette pack (cigarettes, it turns out, arent good for you either). When I saw my car drive off without me in it, many things occurred to me:

  • STOP!!!!!
  • What if they (there was 2 of them) hurt or kill someone?
  • They’ll trash my car…right?
  • They’ll crash my car…right?
  • What if my kids had been in the car?

This gave me some perspective. While I was pissed, I was thankful that – all things being equal – the damage done was minimal. In fact, the phone being taken from the car may have been a blessing. 

2. I noticed what was around me – East Tennessee is mountainous and very nice to look at all times of year, but it looks really awesome in the Fall. I noticed it, like I would have noticed it making the same drive 15 years ago without a cell phone to distract me. Also, the sunset was spectacular. I should have taken a picture…..but no phone means no camera. I guess it will have to stand in my mind as a glimpse of the world between me and God. I’ll take that. I’ll take more of that.

3. I cleared my head - No phone meant minimal distractions. It was just me, the road and the radio. I gave thought to what my priorities should be, how I should best spend the rest of my time, and other things that I needed to pay attention to in my life.

In the end, I was able to communicate with my wife via email and chat functions though the laptop from the hotel or whenever I pulled over. By late Tuesday morning, I was back online, but I am strangely nostalgic for the recent days of no phone.

Man, I miss those days.

My Dad and Baseball


My introduction to major league baseball.

My dad wasn’t a sportsman.

  • We lived on a farm, but he didn’t hunt, fish, or camp.
  • I don’t recall every seeing him on a boat, much less a canoe.
  • He didn’t shoot hoops in the back yard, throw a football or kick a soccer ball.
  • He didn’t care about race cars, horse races or track meets.
  • He didn’t swim, run or hike.
  • He spent plenty of time in bars, but he didn’t throw darts, play pool or cards.

Interestingly, we did share interest in one sport: baseball.

In 1981, our family took a trip to St. Louis. I remember going to the Zoo, botanical garden, science museum, a brewery tour and the Arch.  We happened to be in town on opening day for baseball and on April 11, we found ourselves in the upper deck at a busy Busch Stadium to watch the Cardinals take on the Phillies. The Cardinals lost the game, but I became a life long fan.

Here’s the thing – my dad didn’t even really like baseball. He never played and never encouraged me to play. Despite that, I had a glove and I would entertain myself on the farm by standing on the gravel driveway and kicking the rocks up to make a slight mound. From there, I’d throw tennis balls against a brick wall on the front of our house and field the ball as it bounced back. I’d do it for hours – didn’t have a lot of neighbor kids to throw with on the farm.

I wasn’t in love with baseball, but I kind of liked the idea of baseball.

Over the next few seasons, my dad took me to several games in St. Louis.  Sometimes we’d drive up and back in one day and other times we’d spend the night. We got to see baseball greats like Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Willie McGee, Jack Clark, and Ozzie Smith.  With the exception of Rose, he probably didn’t know the names of any current players, but he knew I knew them and he saw it as way to spend time with me and talk.

Ours was a 4 door and a darker green, but you get the point - big and boxy. It bludgeoned the air, rather than slicing through it like a knife.

Ours was a 4 door and a darker green, but you get the point – big and boxy. It bludgeoned the air, rather than slicing through it like a knife on the highway.

These weren’t especially great years for our family (divorce, bankruptcy, scarce resources) but my dad would gas up the big green Buick and off we’d go to Missouri. It was an escape. We’d pack light, and always have a couple of extra gallons of coolant in the trunk  in case the car overheated. The tires were out of balance and I remember we bounced more than we rolled down the highway. Once out of range of his favorite station, he’s let me choose the music. We would talk and he’d share with me stories from his upbringing and lessons he learned along the way, but mostly he’d just listen to me talk about whatever was on my mind. We needed this time together.

In St. Louis, he liked to stay at a hotel that had, at least to me, a very English feel (never been to England, so I am guessing). I remember it had a old looking bar and old school bar tender. I’d sit there with my dad and he’d get a Beefeater and tonic and I got a Cherry Coke. We ate burgers and I talked the poor bar tender’s ears off about whatever it was I was interested in at the time. He’d give me a little extra cherry syrup in my Coke because I “knew” so much and shared so freely.

The specific memories of the actual games we attended have faded, but I loved this time with my dad and sense of adventure it satisfied. I don’t know why he took a sudden interest in baseball…maybe he saw the opportunity he had before him to spend some time with his son…a summer adventure to the ballpark to take in the national pastime…what boy wouldn’t want that?

 

Filling In The Blanks


Wishes

Wishes

Recently, there was a baby shower in honor our our 8 week old son (he’s already a hit with the ladies). There were many gifts imparted unto the boy, but maybe the best thing he received was a collection of fill-in-the-blank cards called “Wishes for Baby.” They looked like this:

  • I hope you learn to______.
  • I hope you become______.
  • I hope you grow______.

When I read these, I had a couple of thoughts: what a blessing to have people share this with my son and isn’t this really how life should be?

The wishes we wish for people when they’re a baby – or on their birthday, graduation day, wedding day, when they’re terminally ill, going through something incredibly difficult – mean well, but can seem foreign or naive when cast against your current reality. It can feel like these wishes are to be kept in a box and only pulled out for milestones or emergencies.

Maybe another way of saying it is wouldn’t it be refreshing if these were the things we sought daily? I think if we did strive to grow in wisdom, love life and adventure, laugh a lot, and seek God, then all of the other stuff that robs us of our time – negative people, anxiety, fear – would take care of themselves.  

Admittedly, my fill in the blanks a lot of the time look like this:

  • I hope I don’t _____again.
  • I fear_____.
  • I am ______ at work/home.

These cards were a great reminder to me of what is important. After all, how can you argue with:

  • I hope you learn to love.
  • I hope you become the man God wants you to be.
  • I hope you grow old and laugh often.

Reading these cards reminded me (again) that we are more than _______.  The future is unknown, but why can’t it be brighter and better than our current set of circumstances?

Why should we settle for _____, when we can be so much more?