There was an empty seat at our Christmas dinner table that year. Grandpa passed away on August 17, 2008, leaving a huge vacuum in our tight-knit family. Grandpa was not just any “grandpa” to me. He was the Best Man in my wedding, my roommate for 14 years as I grew up, and my mentor & friend who taught me that there has never been a better golfer than Tiger Woods.
Eight of us sat around the Christmas tree, remembering that the year before it was nine of us. Mom and Dad had special gifts for us three pairs of “kids-and-spouses” to open at the same time. Mom was sure to mention that these must be opened last. We all held the gifts and curiously opened them together once all the other ones had been unwrapped. Then we froze as each of us, along with our loved ones, began to cry. Inside the beautiful wrapping was a quilt with a note that said in part, “This quilt, made of Grandpa’s shirts, pajamas, bathrobe and jeans, was made with our love and tears for all of you to treasure and remember. ~Mom & Dad”
I am looking at the quilt right now. It is like looking at different parts of Grandpa’s life. I can remember different experiences and memories with him in each square. The brown and yellow plaid shirt is the one that I left at his house one time. He liked it, so he adopted it as his own. The bathrobe reminds me of his last Father’s Day, sitting in Grandpa’s room watching Tiger dominate the U.S. Open with an injured leg and listening to Gramps joke and laugh with me, my dad and my son. The gray wool shirt is the one he would often wear to church to dress up. Grandpa loved God and everyone knew it. The jeans are tired and worn out. He mowed, painted, nailed and built. Grandpa was a hard worker all of his life.
Grandpa’s quilt represents a life well-lived by a Godly man. Each fabric is woven with years of experience and Godly wisdom that my family and I can model. When I grow old, I wonder what my quilt will look like. The decisions I make today is the yarn that knits those squares. If I am to pass on a meaningful legacy and heritage to my children, my choices happen now. I just pray that my quilt is as rich, full and inspiring as Grandpa’s.
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For a kid going to school in the morning, you’d think there would be a few necessities: clothes, lunchbox, backpack, shoes to name a few. But I realized a few months ago that my daughter may not have the same qualifications as me for a successful day of learning.
We all got in the car to leave and headed off. We weren’t late, but I had a meeting at school that day, so there wasn’t extra time to stop for coffee or anything like that. The drive was pretty normal and sports talk radio was on for all to enjoy or ignore. Then about 12 minutes into the ride, Reese informed me of this little tidbit: “Dad, I don’t have my shoes.” Have you ever really not known what to do as a parent and a million choices of what to do go through your mind at the same time? That was me at a stoplight while wondering how she did not notice that she was walking out to the car in bare feet. Continue reading Teaching Good Choice-Making: When I’m a Parent and I Don’t Know What I’m Doing
The most meaningful gift I have ever received is currently worth $2.99. One year when I was a kid, my family was having a particularly tough Christmas financially. We lived in a 2-bedroom apartment with my Dad, Mom, 2 sisters and Grandpa. Needless to say, no one got an X-Box or an LED TV that year. We had a Charlie Brown sort of a tree and some simple decorations that my mom had cobbled together.
We don’t do the “one present on Christmas Eve” thing in my family. We do the “all presents on Christmas Eve” thing. That night, my youngest sister passed out the gifts around the tree to each person in the room. That was her job and it still is, even though she’s 34 now. My lone gift was an envelope. Taking turns, everyone opened their presents and it finally got to me. I tore open my little envelope and found a note. The note was just a piece of paper with a handwritten clue on it. The clue led me to another clue in a different part of the apartment. That clue took me to another clue. In my PJ’s, I scurried from clue-to-clue, covering all 700 square-feet of that tiny apartment.
Continue reading Encouraging Our Children: What Every Kid Needs at Christmas
“I wake up each morning and live my life to honor Jesus. I’m just thankful for each day.” ~Grammie
Renee’s Grammie is 92, going on 32. She is sparkly in every way: her smile, her fashion, her laugh, her personality. There is not a room she enters that doesn’t light up. She has spent her life making others feel better about themselves and spreading gratefulness in so many ways.
This was never more evident than last week when Grammie had an accident and broke her shoulder. This is a serious injury for anyone at any age, let alone someone 92 going on 32. Tests were done, arms were poked, and x-rays were taken. The result is that she simply needs to rehab the shoulder as much as possible while managing the intense pain that comes with that.
Continue reading Gratefulness: 92, Going on 32
One of my favorite movie scenes is in “Hook,” the 1991 Peter Pan adaptation. Robin Williams plays a grown Peter who is now a stressed-out workaholic lawyer that has long since forgotten about the carefree fun of his childhood. This is until his lifetime nemesis, Captain Hook, kidnaps his children as he is forced to return to Neverland to rescue them. When he arrives there, he realizes that the only thing that has changed is him. His friends are still young and happy, and no one recognizes him, until a young boy curiously approaches him. It’s one of his old friends. Peter kneels down to the boy’s level and they look into each others eyes. There is silence as the boy takes Peter’s glasses off. He grabs his cheeks and squeezes the skin on his face, all the while staring at him. He intently examines his teeth and nose. Finally, a huge smile overtakes him and he exclaims, “Oh, there you are Peter!”
Continue reading Seeing the Best in Our Kids: There you are Peter!
“Many of us prepare the road for our kids; what we should be doing is preparing our kids for the road.” This quote was courtesy of Ray Johnston, Pastor of Bayside Church in Roseville, CA.
There seems to be quite a tension for us parents when it comes to protecting our kids and letting them experience failure. The truth is that many of us hurt deeply when our children fall on their face, literally or figuratively. However, the other side of this coin is the simple fact that life will not be easy for our kids, just as it has not been easy for us. One day, we will not be there for them and they will need to be ready to succeed, fail and face challenges.
“Many of us prepare the road for our kids; what we should be doing is preparing our kids for the road.” ~Ray Johnston
Continue reading Teaching Independence: Preparing Our Kids For the Road