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Joy Through Genealogy

February 12, 2014 — 2 Comments

I am a shameless Downton Abbey watcher (yes, man card revoked). If you are not familiar with the show, Downton Abbey is a dramatic portrait of a fictional early 20th century English family who live in an enormous manor in Yorkshire. It is run by The Crawley family and led by Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham. Throughout the series, the family endures a world at war, courtships, marriages, babies, death, and a collision of societies within the walls of Downton. Most importantly, the series focuses on the struggle of the family to figure out a clear heir to the estate.

Downton Abbey’s storyline reveals the importance of family legacy whether rich or poor. As the family looks ahead, they are finding it difficult to forget the past and how to honor those before them. Meanwhile the world is changing around them at increasing speed. It is an amusing series that can often feel like a soap opera but is well-written and highly entertaining.

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Along with watching Downton Abbey this week I have been humming a few tunes. One that won’t escape me is Andrew Peterson’s Matthew’s Begats. It is from Peterson’s popular Christmas album, Behold the Lamb of God. Growing up, I have read the book of Matthew in the Bible and glossed over the first chapter multiple times, clueless to its importance. The pseudo-bluegrass song by Peterson is designed to teach us about the genealogy of Jesus and brings a child-like smile to me every time I hear it. Listen to it here:

While most likely neither you nor I own an estate like the Crawleys, we all do have a family lineage here on earth. Like the Crawleys, I find myself full of worry some days about if I will be able to take care of my family properly and ensure they live a safe and secure life. Then I realize that I am wrong to believe that narrow view of family where life’s true happiness and security resides. For those of us who have chosen to follow Christ, we have a family that continues into eternity. I am reminded when I look at my genealogy, I am an heir of Christ. I do not deserve this but he freely gives it to me.

Romans 8:17 reminds us of the importance of this genealogy,

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

Read the genealogy below one more time in Matthew 1.

Matthew’s Begats reveal that the legacy is through us. There is no need to worry because I am part of his legacy. You are his legacy. We are his legacy.

1 The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:

From Abraham to David

2 Abraham fathered Isaac,
Isaac fathered Jacob,
Jacob fathered Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah fathered Perez and Zerah by Tamar,
Perez fathered Hezron,
Hezron fathered Aram,
4 Aram fathered Amminadab,
Amminadab fathered Nahshon,
Nahshon fathered Salmon,
5 Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab,
Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth,
Obed fathered Jesse,
6 and Jesse fathered King David.

From David to the Babylonian Exile

Then[c] David fathered Solomon by Uriah’s wife,
7 Solomon fathered Rehoboam,
Rehoboam fathered Abijah,
Abijah fathered Asa,
8 Asa fathered Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat fathered Joram,
Joram fathered Uzziah,
9 Uzziah fathered Jotham,
Jotham fathered Ahaz,
Ahaz fathered Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah fathered Manasseh,
Manasseh fathered Amon,
Amon fathered Josiah,
11 and Josiah fathered Jechoniah and his brothers
at the time of the exile to Babylon.

From the Exile to the Messiah

12 Then after the exile to Babylon
Jechoniah fathered Shealtiel,
Shealtiel fathered Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubbabel fathered Abiud,
Abiud fathered Eliakim,
Eliakim fathered Azor,
14 Azor fathered Zadok,
Zadok fathered Achim,
Achim fathered Eliud,
15 Eliud fathered Eleazar,
Eleazar fathered Matthan,
Matthan fathered Jacob,
16 and Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary,
who gave birth to Jesus who is called the Messiah.

 

March 26th, 2013 marks the 10th Anniversary of the Airborne assault during OPERATION Iraqi Freedom to establish the northern front. That invasion was the first sortie in a conflict of a different kind than those that came before. For one, today’s military is made purely of volunteers. Therefore, unlike previous wars, it is harder to personally know someone who fought in it. For another, the Iraq War changed how we understood wars to be fought. The demarcated battle lines of World War II or the Cold War were replaced by an invisible enemy. Even the name “The War on Terror,” suggest a combat of ideas more than adversaries.

I am thankful to come from a family of many whom have proudly served our military. As I’ve written before, although I have not served, I believe it is a mission of mine to tell their stories. That’s why I would like to introduce you to my cousin, the young 2nd Lieutenant Shane Kelley, and share a piece of his story.

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Meet my cousin, Major Shane Kelley. In this picture he is being promoted to Captain in Afghanistan (courtesy of Major Shane Kelley)

I was blessed to see my cousin Shane just a couple of weeks before he left for Italy to join the 173rd Airborne Brigade. The war in Iraq was looming, and after 9/11 some called the men and women insane who volunteered to be the first in harm’s way. Yet, he was determined to take on this new challenge in life. It was inevitable that Shane would face combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Shane had finished college earlier in 2002 and was in Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at Radford University. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Infantry after graduation, and attended Officer Basic Course, Ranger School, and Airborne School before heading to the 173rd Airborne. In a conversation before he left, we spoke a lot about what was ahead in the Army. He had been training for four years, and he told me, “Dave, we are ready to go. We just need a mission.” Soldiers aren’t meant to be idle. They are created to fight and protect. And my cousin was ready to go. A few weeks later, he boarded a plane for Italy; he was on his way. I’d read enough books and watched enough movies to know that our conversation may have been the last conversation we ever had.

The first words Shane heard from his first Company Commander were,

“Welcome to Italy, we’re jumping into Iraq.”

It was time and immediately he and his fellow soldiers went into preparation. They were about to embark on the largest combat airborne operation since World War II (1000 troops). The jump was also the longest combat operation in airborne history, over 1800 miles from Vicenzia to Iraq.

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Preparation for the jump in Aviano (photo by Sean LaFrenier)

I remember sitting at my desk at work when the invasion of Iraq began. What a dichotomy between what I was reading in the comfort of my warm office and my cousin literally stuck in the mud in Northern Iraq!

Later, Shane was asked to keep a blog. He recorded his jump experience in the post The Six Jump Chump. I think it is one of his most fascinating stories. Shane recounted,

…this five-hour flight seemed to last a month. Some slept. Some reviewed notes. Some even cried. I spent the time envisioning the mission on the ground and reviewing all of my tasks in my head.  Eventually we snapped every snap, buttoned every button, hooked every hook and tightened every strap of our equipment; each of us now weighing an additional 140 lbs. on average.

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C-17s lined up at the airfield (courtesy of the 173rd Airborne)

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Soldiers seated on their C-17 during their long flight to Iraq (courtesy of the 173rd Airborne)

It was Shane’s first jump from a C-17, and he stumbled and hit the side of the plane on the way out.

I slowly began to spin… and then quickly began to spin, until my risers freed up and I was now ready to control my decent to the ground.  I looked up and checked my canopy, thankfully seeing a fully open parachute above me.  Now time to look below me and… PLOP!  My feet sank into the mud below me… I was already on the ground.

Next up was finding everyone in his platoon while carrying over 100 lbs of gear through the mud. With that jump and those steps, Shane’s war, and his military career, had begun.

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A soldier from Shane’s company in the 173rd Airborne taking a kneel in Northern Iraq the morning after the jump (courtesy of the 173rd Airborne)

I still have the letter that Shane wrote to me from Northern Iraq describing the jump, and I will cherish it and share with my own girls when they are older.

I am thankful for my cousin Shane as well as all of those who have sacrificed careers, families, limbs, and even their lives to protect us. We live in a complicated and gray political world, but I am inspired today by his words to me before he left for war.

“We are ready. Just give us a mission.” He went on to serve two more combat tours: one in Afghanistan (2006) and once more in Iraq (2009).

Shane-Iraq w platoon on donkey

Eternal thanks to my cousin Shane as well as the multiple others, including his lovely wife Tiffany, who have served to protect us. It has been a joy to play together with Shane as children and as adults see each other find our ways.

*****Tomorrow, I will be posting an interview with my cousin, now Major Shane Kelley. You will hear from him directly and learn more about his experience.*********

Recently driving I heard the radio tagline for a Christian station that said “Safe for the whole family.” Sounds nice, eh? Seems reassuring, right? It’s as if Walt Disney was speaking directly to me and it felt really soft like a cashmere sweater in the fall. I am a marketer so I can appreciate someone trying to create “emotion” and “security” to bring me in and feel good about my choice. In this case, I was listening to a radio station.

I am quite cognizant of what I expose my girls to when it comes to culture, especially music. What parent doesn’t want his or her children to be safe and live as pure of a life as possible? On earth we are realists too and recognize there is only so much we can control when it comes to exposure. The moments our children step away from us, the more the world becomes their experience, not our experience. But they watch my wife and I carefully.

I live in a suburban area full of safe activities but most of it is about staying in a box. This box is full of safe things to do. Drive a safe car. Secure the right job. Protect your kids at school. Do your homework. Check off the list as it goes on and on. I think Satan ultimately wants us as Christians to stay in this safety box. I fall for it constantly and think that this is purely the good life and what is wrong with that?

Life can easily become a “safety dance” because we love to justify our security and dance around what is behind it.

God wants something different from us.

He wants to unleash us in a way that he unleashed his son for us. 

John 14:6 Jesus made it pretty clear about the path. And it ain’t easy.

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

 

If we are truly going to take this call seriously we must step out of this box, dance differently and do work that takes us into the wild. I’m learning that it doesn’t mean you have to quit doing all of those things I mention above. They are good things and I believe God blesses them as long as we don’t worship them and hide behind them.

My modern-day fictional suburban hero, Lloyd Dobler, said in the movie Say Anything,

I’m looking for a dare to be great situation.

Let’s take Lloyd Dobler’s advice. Let’s get dangerous and seek God’s greatness. Let’s seek greatness in the way Jesus truly calls us.

May you have the passion and bravado of Ernest Hemingway and the faith and sensibility of C.S. Lewis in your journey to dance freely.

 

What dreams are you holding back on because it feels risky or perhaps dangerous? 

Recently, Brooke and I were finally able to sit down and watch The Descendants (2011) starring George Clooney.  Alexander Payne directed this authentic portrayal of a family dealing with loss and betrayal in the setting of beautiful Hawaii. I have always been a fan of Payne’s earlier films, About Schmidt and Sideways. His films are far from plastic Christian family films and are R-rated, full of characters who are busy, frustrated, but also have had a taste of what joy could look like in life by their ambitions.  These three movies are representative of a fallen world yet a world full of real people with real flaws we all can relate to.  Any movie willing to remove the mask I can appreciate. I’ve written about this before but in all of art, I try to look at where Christ can teach us about how to live, even through a movie like The Descendants.

Years ago I asked an older friend of mine how he was doing with his kids.  He said something like “You know, I have been spending a lot of time with my kids but the hardest part isn’t that, it is how to best engage with them.” I wasn’t a father then but it stuck. I thought of my own parents and the times we bonded best and it was almost always when there was true engagement through conversation, experience, and genuine discussion.

The Descendants reminds me of how I am supposed to be engaging with my kids. As I write, my girls are only 2 and 4 but it seems evident that if I don’t start doing this now, it will be more and more difficult to do like what we see in George Clooney’s character.

As a parent, I am learning these 5 things about what I need to do to be a good parent:

  1. Be present. You can’t be a parent without first establishing that you are there for them. Your job may be important and incredibly busy but there is no more important job than being there for your little ones.
  2. Listen. The more I ask the girls questions, the more I discover about their hearts through what they like and don’t like, etc.  Sometimes this requires me to be extra attentive when they start talking about the most trivial things but they want our full attention.
  3. Be patient. There are days that my kids won’t want much to do with me. Sometimes they just want their mom more (like what The Descendants implies).  Never feel like what you are doing is a waste of time because by being there for them, there will be the right time when they come to you.
  4. Pursue. Don’t be too frustrated if they push you away. Continue trying to engage. Whether kids admit it or not, they want us as parents to show continual interest and keep that hand extended no matter how bad things get.  You may have a broken relationship with your child and I can’t imagine how hard that would be. Give healing some time and never stop your pursuit.
  5. Join them. Go on adventures together. I read a great story in Meg Meeker’s book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters about a father who despite not having a good relationship with his daughter, he did what he knew best and took her camping. Even the trip it didn’t solve everything, the shared experience broke barriers and opened up the relationship to grow again.
Sometimes there will be smiles.
Sometimes there will be pain.
But it is all in the joy of parenting and a reminder that we never should give up.
God has never given up on us. 

Ditching the Pacifier

April 11, 2011 — 12 Comments

The past few weeks my lovely wife Brooke and I have been talking about a strategy to get rid of “The Pacifier”.

Duh duh duh…

Yes, any parent out there knows exactly what I’m talking about.  The pacifier is just about the best and worst invention created for a young child.  We have a 19 month and recently turned 3 year old.  We knew that if we tried to get rid of these things both would need to do it at the same time.

No turning back.

Truth is we have been trying to do this ever since our oldest was 17 months old and our youngest was born.  It just didn’t stick. They love their pacifier.  It soothes them.  I get it. I like a nice cup of java every morning because it does something similar to me. Our girls call the pacifier a “Bobby” anyway.  We keep asking “Who is this Bobby?!?!”  Can we punch this kid because we hate this thing you so eloquently call ‘Bobby’?” Our oldest girl just picked up the name “Bobby” from a friend of hers.  It has stuck.  (In the future I sure hope she doesn’t date some guy named Bobby because I’ll immediately dislike him.)   Nevertheless, I read here about 150 other variations of names that kids call them.  I hate them all and you should too.

As suggested by some friends (I think), we bagged up all of the pacifiers in our house and took them to a toy store.  We promised the girls they could exchange their pacifiers for a baby doll of their choice. We tipped off the person at the cash register that we’d do this and when we made the “exchange of goods” the girls had no problem whatsoever.  But we knew once nap time would come all hell would break loose.  Oh and it did.  The house became like “Nam” as portrayed in the movie Apocalypse Now.  It’s been pure psychological warfare since with lots of crying.  The kids scream out for their beloved “Bobby” and we fight the urge to give in.  When faced with stressful situations like this I get a little bit like Clark Griswold and well…lose it.  If it weren’t for Brooke’s patience with me (her other man-child husband), I don’t know how else we would get through.  Brooke and I have been committed to this so despite the kids’ screaming fits we’ll get through it.  Last but not least, we prayed for strength and lots of it.  God has delivered.

It has been almost 3 days since “Ditching the Bobby” and all is quiet on the Western Front.  We suspect that most of this week they will still ask for it.  It’s a lesson in life I suppose.

I pray that our oldest girl doesn’t lose her naps because of these but this is all part of the growing up experince. She’ll get through it as will we.

My advice to other parents out there.  You’ll make it through. We all will.

On July 26th, my mother, Barrett Martin Schroeder turns 65.  She may or may not want me mentioning this milestone in a blog but I am proud of her and thankful for those many years she has been in my life and impacted it.  She represents a living legacy to both my sister Sarah and I.  We are readers because of her.  We try to be forgiving to others because she is of us.  We have traveled so much because of her leading the way.  We are educated because of her (and Dad).  We are a close family because of her example.  Yep, we even look a lot like her too.  Both my sister and I have kids now so we feel that it’s our responsibility to continue on a living legacy and always tell her story.  We love you mom and have a Happy Birthday.  Here’s to many more ahead.

And yes, I’m sorry I threw a plastic chair at you when I was 5.

Me, Mom, Sarah, and Dad

Last year when my father turned 65, he sent out this letter to everyone and I hope you will enjoy it.  He is the definition of “nostalgic” and loves looking back to figure out what “today” means.  It’s no shock about why I love history as do they do too. I hope you enjoy as it is quite humorous.  He is the “real” Dave Schroeder.

Some Thoughts on Turning 65

Sunday I celebrated my 65th birthday in Chicago with Barrett and our daughter Sarah.  While I did not say anything to them, I kept on thinking “What was it like in 1944 and how can I explain it to my children and grandchildren?”

For the first 14 months of my existence, I live with my mother in the second floor apartment in South St. Louis.  The apartment had a kitchen, bedroom and living room.  The total square footage was about as big as most people’s family rooms today.  We had a radio and a phone for communications.  The phone was a “Party Line” which meant we shared the line with two or three other households.  Today if you said Party Line your probably meant 1-800-GOT-SEXX.

We did not have a television for almost seven more years and that was a big box with a round black and white screen.  No HI DEF.  There was no Internet (I am a few years older than Al Gore), nor e-mail, Twitter or Facebook.  We communicated by writing letters.  I still have the one from my dad when he found out I was born.  The reason he was not in my life for those 14 months was that he was in England waiting to be shipped to the Ardennes in Belgium to fight in the Battle of the Bulge that December where he was wounded just a month later.  I recently asked a young man checking me out at an office supply store if he had heard of the Battle?  He replied, “No, but I am going to study it next semester as I am taking “Ancient and Medieval History.”

I finally met my father in January of 1946.  Instead of flying home from Europe in six or eight hours, he came home on a “Troop Ship” which took six to eight days and then had to take a train from New York to St. Louis which took another couple of days.  Legend has it that I leaked all over his uniform.  Those old diapers just don’t measure up to today’s Pampers.

When dad got home, we did not have a car and it took another year or two before they were available because of rationing.  My Grandfather Moberg had a car.  I figured he was rich.  Dad took something called a trolley to work or we walked to shop at the neighborhood store right around the corner or took the trolley to Tower Grove Park.

We finally got a house in Webster in 1951.  Three bedrooms, all brick for the whopping price of $15,000.  We had to build on a garage a few years later with the help of my parent’s friends.  It is amazing what you can get for a few cases of beer.  But life was good and we were happy.

I was not happy when I had to repeat 1st grade.  Since I started in the city school at midterm, when we moved to the county, I was a semester behind and could not read.  Best thing that ever happened to me!  I went form being the youngest kid in the class to the oldest and I learned how the read, write and do math.  Little did we know at that time that our principal, Mr. Rose, was doing the dirty deed with Miss Bright my third grade teacher.  It was a big scandal years later.

No need to cover the high school or college years or the forty-one years since then.  Today I am married to my college sweetheart, Barrett, and we have been blessed with two wonderful and productive children, Sarah and David.  They have continued blessing us with two grandchildren and another one on the way.  Yesterday, we actually saw a Sonogram of the soon to come grandchild.  Did we have those in 1944? (since then, she was born and doing well)

And to top things off, our children and their spouses gave me a Garman GPS for my birthday.  Without it, I never could have found my way back from Chicago.

God bless all our relatives and many friends.  It is amazing how fast 65 years can fly by.  But I feel like I did thirty years ago other than a few aches and pains.  I can live with that, as I have been blessed.

Age 65 is a lifetime away for Sarah and I but a lifetime of memories to build and share.  We are already started.

Where do you see yourself at 65?

What do you see yourself doing?

Who is with you?

What do you see as your living legacy?

It is incredible that it has been 21 years since A River Runs Through It released.  I was a mere 14 years of age and trying to figure out what the world was about then.  To be honest, I have not ceased that pursuit. The tears still run down my face when I watch this beautiful film.

The movie is timeless and I’ve always thought it as one of my top 10 favorite movies. Robert Redford beautifully narrates the film.  You can sense his voice connecting with the author as one looking back at life reflecting on the journey and what one has learned. To add, Mark Isham’s score completes the emotions on-screen. I listened to the soundtrack when writing this.

The story is from the perspective of Norman Maclean played by Craig Sheffer and his interactions with his family after he comes home from college in the 1920s. His brother Paul played by Brad Pitt in particular is wild and rebellious but the connection between them remains deep as does their heritage as Macleans living in the beautiful state of Montana. I don’t have a brother but I’ve come to appreciate what it means to care for someone no matter where they are or how rebellious they may be. My uncle is one whom I love and now could be near meeting his maker (since writing this post, he passed on July 2nd, 2010, his birthday). My mother has been like the character Norman and my uncle in his later life has been the character Paul. It has not been easy and in many ways the whole family has wanted to give up on him. But we have not. There is a conversation between Paul and Norman that illustrates my mother and uncle’s situation.

Paul: Couldn’t you find him?
Norman: The hell with him.
Paul: Well, I thought we were supposed to help him.
Norman: How the hell do you help that son of a bitch?
Paul: By taking him fishing.
Norman: He doesn’t like fishing. He doesn’t like Montana and he sure as hell doesn’t like me.
Paul: Well, maybe what he likes is somebody trying to help him.

Anyone who struggles to help a loved one might understand this line from Paul, “Maybe what he likes is somebody trying to help him.” Paul is speaking of himself if you follow the story and Norman immediately understands. I pray that it doesn’t get this way for my daughters as they grow older but I would never give up as my mother (nor their 93-year old mother) never gave up on my uncle.

There is another important line in the movie spoken by Norman’s father in one of his last sermon: “And so it those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them – we can love completely without complete understanding.”

I feel as if I’ve been rescued many times by my friends.  And I have even tried to rescue a few.  My mother has been such a great example of how to love completely without complete understanding.

This is why it is so important to love and forgive.  We live in a broken world.  Lower your expectations but remain hopeful.

A fish may rise.

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.  The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time.  On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”

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