Archives For life

I’ve double-bag caddied for 36 holes on 100 degree days.

I’ve worked 70 hour weeks in the office.

I’ve mowed a dozen lawns in one day.

But, there is nothing that could have prepared me enough for the toughest job in the world…

Parenting.

These past few days my wife Brooke has been out of town thus entrusting our two and a half year old and 11 month old to my so called capable hands.  I’ll admit that I have had help as my mother is a saint for coming in town to help.  In these past two days we have looked at each other and said “How does Brooke do it?”

There have been moments I have been proud of this weekend.  There has also been times that I’ve had to ask forgiveness of my mother by stressing out and taking things out on her.  I have to do that often to my wife as well so my poor mom is taking it for the team.  Hey even Clark Griswold got to lose it here and there in National Lampoon’s Vacation.

I can only come up with one conclusion.

It is time to lighten up and enjoy this process.

I thoroughly love my kids and the being a dad no matter how hard it can be sometimes.  This weekend we’ve gone to the pool twice, taken fun walks with our dog Winston, ran around the yard, made up a small inflated pool on our deck, created art, listened to music, ran around the mall, and yes I confess we even watched a little of the PGA Championships and a St. Louis Cardinals game.  This is just part of the dad life I suppose and I’m still getting used to it.

I’d propose an end to trying to do this parenting thing alone.  Even if you are divorced raising children, you are still not alone. The earlier we admit that we can’t do it all and all of it perfectly, the better off we will be.  The more we rely on friends, family, and God to take care of us and give us patience, creativity, and forgiveness, the more fun we will have. I am ready.

If you are single reading this or are married without kids just watch and observe the parents out there.  Learn from their mistakes, learn from their successes. Parents can’t imagine life without kids, it’s an adventure.

Both kids are taking naps as I write this by the way.  Why am I not napping?  Yep, because there is always something to do.

I’d love to hear some of your parenting stories and lessons.  How do you get through the hardest days?

PS  If you need a good piece of entertainment as a married couple with kids, watch Date Night with Tina Fey and Steve Carell. Last but not least if you didn’t catch the “The Dad Life” video, you’ll love this.

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.”

riverrunsthroughit

 

Have you ever been asked the question, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

If you have been asked this question in an interview or casually been by a friend, it is much tougher to answer than you think.  It stumps many who haven’t thoroughly thought through it. I’ve always been intrigued by it and recognize that it is extremely challenging to answer during some seasons in life.  Most often I think in context and began looking back at my life. Most of the time it didn’t turn out exactly how I thought.  But, I believe that many answers are found in the past. With the World Cup going on, let’s take a look at the last 20 during those years the World Cup occured.

Recently, I re-read Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.  In the book, Miller shares how when we look at our lives as is, it really isn’t that interesting.  But, if you think through it as one would in writing a screenplay for a movie, many of the parts pieced together can be quite an interesting and at times adventurous story.  In those parts of life, the drama and action are brought to life for the observer, reader, or watcher.  So, I started to think through my life as a story just as Don analyzed his very own.  I cannot remember every single thing like when I drove to school on day 267 in 1996 or on day 145 in 1999 when I debated whether or not to see one movie versus another.  Pictures do help, though but unless you have a detailed minute by minute journal of your life, you just won’t remember those things.

It is the memorable scenes that stick out.

Brooke and I on top of Mt. Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany

Here are my memorable scenes from the past 20 years:

1990…West Germany won the World Cup: I was 12, Saddam invaded Kuwait, I quit football and took on golf and soccer as my main sports, I remember my sister being on Student council, and I can’t remember much else.

1994…Brazil won the World Cup: I just came through a rough 1993 as a Freshman in High School, moved from Kansas City to St. Louis, discovered the amazing story of To Kill A Mockingbird (reading it in KC and STL), found friends at Young Life and they found me, I found Christ, and am still great friends with those with me in Young Life to this day. 1994 represented my “character arc” in many ways.

1998…France won the World Cup: I was a Sophmore at the University of Evansville, locked Stan Musial’s keys in his trunk while working at a country club in St. Louis(good times), I remember trying to ditch my Christian legalism and really try to understand grace in that year.

2002…Brazil won the World Cup: Great friends like Heath Hildebrandt, Rick Ewing, Josh Lang, Mike Schwacker, my father and others watched the World Cup games in the middle of the night and got to see USA make it to the quarterfinals.  The world was getting used to being “post-9/11.” I worked for a film distributor in St. Louis and was getting used to life post-college.  I also met Brooke and we began a friendship and the following year became more.

2006…Italy won the World Cup: Went to Spring Training to see the St. Louis Cardinals and they won the World Series later that year, Brooke and I celebrated our first year of marriage, we traveled to Germany for the World Cup to meet up with our friends Tobi and Curtis, saw my cousin returning from fighting in Iraq, and also traveled with my sister and brother-in-law.  During the group stages of the World Cup, we watched games in city squares with thousands of other people.  There is nothing like it in another country.  I also remember desperately trying to find a bathroom in the German Medieval town of Rothenburg. Oh the things that stick out.

2010…We shall see who wins.  This year has been interesting reflecting on what has happened since the last World Cup.  I got married in 2005, we have had 2 wonderful girls, moved across town, and I started a job in publishing, which I love and can see myself doing forever.  The year continues to surprise me.

Watching Germany play in the World Cup at a crowded market in Munich

So, what will the scenes of 2014 look like for us?

For me?

In 2014, I’ll have won my second Oscar, saved children and puppies from a burning house, win the US Open in golf, while finding time to cure malaria or some other disease.  Good pipe dreams but you never know what God can do.

In truth, I’d like to be in Brazil for the World Cup, see my oldest daughter graduate Kindergarten, be back to Hawaii with my wife (we spent our honeymoon there and we love it) finish writing a book, and plan out a round the world trip for the family for when they can “remember” it a few years later.  Who knows?  But it’s fun to look forward to what’s next.

In 2014…

Where will you be?   What will you be doing?  Who will be with you?

Envision it like a scene in a movie and describe it.