Letter to my church family

What follows is an update I just posted on my church’s Facebook page, to my church family. I was thinking of them when I wrote it, but I know this blog is read by many dear friends who care deeply for me and my family, so if you’re one of those people, this is for you as well.

Hello church family. I am in my room at Beaumont, a beautiful private room with a wonderful view. I will be receiving IV steroids over five days. Apparently there is some chance that I will be allowed to take the last couple of days at home, but this is uncertain. I will meet with my MS doctor and this floor’s attending physician in the morning.

As many of you know, this flareup actually began in October. I have had very few healthy days since then, and it seems to have culminated in this — the worst exacerbation I have experienced in my 22 years with the disease. I am so looking forward to lots of rest, peace, prayer, meditation, reading, and solitude during my time here. There is even a Starbucks in the food court, so Christy has assured me that fine coffee will play a part in my healing. It has been so long since I have been a whole person. I hope to do much healing in this mandatory down-time so I can return to you whole (or at least partially whole!), and lead us with an energy and enthusiasm that I have mostly lacked all these long months.

When I think of you I am flooded with a sense of my great and good fortune.

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Achieving Work-Family Balance, prt. 2

balance

Image courtesy of Steven Bowler, licensed under Creative Commons

In my last post I dealt with the fact that achieving work-family balance is a problem for both men and women. Today I want to deal with specifically how to achieve this balance.

Men and women both begin achieving work-family balance by listening to their spouses.

If you married a person of good will, your spouse is not a bad person and isn’t telling you you are out of balance just to make you feel bad. In fact, your spouse is telling you your work-family balance is off because he/she is feeling bad! Your spouse loves you and wants to have you around. This is a good thing. After all, don’t you want to be wanted? If your spouse is complaining that you are not available to your family, chances are good that in some critical way you’re not. This means that listening, not arguing or defending, is what is called for. What is it that your spouse is seeing in you that you’re not seeing in yourself? If you’re the complaining spouse, be gentle. If you are receiving the complaints, do your best to listen non-defensively. The more open and gentle you can both be, the better. This is difficult work, but it is connecting work — the most important work you do in relationships.  

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The Almost-Suicide of My Daughter, prt. 5

Kyra, Anna, and Erin carving pumpkin

Kyra, Anna, almost-sister Erin Webster

 

[This is the true story of the darkest few months of my life. I hope and believe others can learn from it. It revolves around my daughter Anna, and Anna has reviewed and given her consent for me to post each of the parts in this series. It is her desire for others to learn from her experience. She has blogged on this experience from her perspective this week as well.]

Christy, who until this time had been tense but fairly stoic, began to cry as we walked — stunned, through the sterile halls at White Pines. Things like this don’t happen in good, supportive, loving families. Do they? Her tears turned to sobs which turned to gasps and by the time we were outside she couldn’t go on. Literally. She doubled over there on the sidewalk, and for a time, could neither move nor be moved. She had taken charge and gotten our family through this terrible time on the homefront, and now was a time for grieving. I didn’t know what to say. I just stood there, numbly and dumbly, holding her hand. Decades of counseling experience, teaching, pastoring, critical incident work, and a lot of degrees on my wall added up to less than nothing as I stood paralyzed and silent. I had been insufficient for my daughter and I was insufficient for my wife. I couldn’t see signs of Anna’s depression, or prevent her attempt, and now there was nothing I could say to console my wife. I couldn’t hug Brittany and Kyra tightly enough to shield them from what they would have to walk through. I had never, and have never, felt so powerless, so ineffectual.   

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Being Daddy

girls

Me with my girls, who are not thrilled that I used this somewhat old picture

Dear girls,

I haven’t sat down and written you a letter in a while, so I’d thought I’d take a minute to tell you how deeply you are loved.  And I’m putting it on my blog for the world to see.  I’m so proud of the people you are, and that you’re continuing to become.

Watching our old home movies has really gotten me thinking this past weekend.  I didn’t even want kids!  You girls all know that.  But from the minute Brittany was born, I was hooked on what it feels like and what it means to be the daddy of a little girl, and I was blown away to realize that Kyra coming along didn’t mean I had to love Brittany less.  My capacity for love just increased.  Then it increased again when Anna was born.  Then it stopped increasing because – well, because mom and I made darn sure of it.  [Read on, girls.  No more yuckies.]

So what does being a little girl’s daddy mean?  It means that no matter how bad you screw up, you’re still someone’s hero.  It means that even when you’ve acted shamefully, forgiveness is there before you even ask.  It means kisses and cuddles that come without strings, without condition, without limit, and without asking – they’re just there.  Always.  It means people who are heartbroken when I leave town, who sleep a little less and a little lighter, who ask mom a hundred times a day when I’m coming home.  (She reassures them, despite the fact that she’s sleeping less and lighter too).  It means still hearing those voices when I return – voices that have changed but that are still music to my ears.  “Daddy’s home!”

It means having a chance to set the standard for who you will one day fall in love with and marry, showing you what it means to be cherished and treasured.  It means loving you enough to not give you everything you want.  It means going to sleep at night knowing that no matter how bad my day has been, all is right with the world, because three little bodies are safe in their beds.  It means seeing you emerge from your room in the morning, hair every which way, a rosy blush on your cheeks, and taking a mental snapshot, hoping I will be able to replay it every day after you’re gone, and already knowing it’s one of the things I am going to miss the most.  It means sitting next to you at night talking about your day and hearing what’s up in your worlds.  It means being the one you come to when your heart gets broken, and the one who reassures you a thousand times a day that you are (empirically, in point of fact) beautiful.  It means looking at your mom and being astonished at what she and I have accomplished together, knowing we’ve tried hard to be good parents but let’s face it – we weren’t good enough to account for any of you.

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The 15 best things about being a grown-up

photo by fayebatka

Recently a friend of mine posted on Facebook about missing that feeling we had when we were kids of flying every time we would run or jump.  I hadn’t thought about that for a long time, and I realized I miss that too.  But then it quickly occurred to me that I would never trade the pleasures of adulthood for the pleasures of childhood.  Here, to me, are the best things about being a grown-up.

1. Sex.  What else could possibly go in the number 1 spot?  After this one, all the rest are just icing on the cake, but I’ll list them for you anyway.

2. A great cup of coffee

3. Discovering you have the house to yourself

4. Watching your kids become who they are, and taking a little bit of the credit

5. Going to bed whenever you want to – every single night

6. Saturday morning breakfast and dinners out with the one you love

7. Going to work and using your talents to become all you were meant to be

8. Investing your life into the lives of others

9. Old friends.  Friendships get sweeter as the years go by.  Children don’t have old friends.  Or old anything.

10. Making your mark on the world

11. Being able to appreciate simple things, like bumping into an old friend at the grocery store, or some of the stuff on this list.

12. Not needing constant stimulation (radio, TV, texting, friends over, etc.) in order to get through the day

13. No homework.  We read what we want, when we want, even IF we want.

14. Building a house, making a home, having a family

15. Being able to appreciate what it felt like to be a child in ways you never did when you were a child