Category Archives: Fathers

If You Had A Father….

If You Had a Father…

…and you did, if you’re still standing in this world. Mine is a good man, who worked hard, because that’s what a real man did for his family. He had one little boy, then another, and a third, and finally my mother got an ally, my baby sis. Dad was a basketball star, a talented carpenter and cabinetmaker who built our first house with his own hands in his “spare time.” If he was quiet, he was affectionate and a mountain to aspire to as a child.

Dad and me age 2

Dad and me, 1958.

We wanted to be like him. We were in awe of him, And he was there, always there.  Even if he traveled, he always came back. Not all Fathers live up to that, but if they don’t, they aren’t really Fathers. The fathers God gives always show up, hang in there, are there for you. Yours might have been Uncle Joe or Grandpa or somebody you weren’t related to, but they always came back.

My wife had a father like that—engineer, Dale Carnegie graduate, never came out of the room without being dressed for work at the mill. No complaining, no excuses. If it’s hard, overcome it. If it’s broken, fix it. If you can pay for it, it isn’t a problem. We’re in this world to do for others, not ourselves.

My father in law, Forrest Johnson, with my two oldest girls.

These two men, along with a pretty long list of men who “fathered” me in sports, church and school, grandfathers and neighbors and Sunday School teachers, fathered me.  “Fathering,” to me is this: you take responsibility for the people you love. You protect the weak. You help and defend the helpless. You stand up for what’s right and mend what’s wrong.

Fathering means helping little boys and girls know what a good man acts like. It means sacrificing, working, helping and coaching. It means helping them grow up when you’re still growing up yourself. It means doing whatever you can for your children because they come first.

If you had a father, and if you’re functional, you did. Even if that father wasn’t your biological Dad. If a man adopted you, looked Read the rest of this entry

“Sixty is Just Alright”

It’s a good time to polish up friendships, love family, forgive, thank and bless.

So I turned sixty, and for some reason the people around me celebrated for a week.  I know with Ebola, the Ukraine, ISIS  and Israel causing the end-of-the-worlders to crank out their book my firthday isn’t a big deal globally, but it has been to me.

Sixty

Sixty is alright for sure.

Over the last five years I have laid to rest a close friend, a father-in-law (who was a second father to me) and a mentor and colleague I have known for 21 years and was my predecessor.  The Shadow has been around lately.  I have grandchildren.  There is likely more life behind than before me years-wise.  You know—morbidity hangs around.  Joints ache a little more.

You’ve poured a lot of concrete by sixty.  Decisions, patterns, character, and events harden into tracks out of which it’s hard to escape.  On the other hand, those same tracks give a certain comfort and stability to life.  It’s hard to break them up.

The upside has surprised me, though.  A certain amount of “I just don’t care about that anymore.”  I don’t care very much at all what others think about what I think.  I don’t need to correct them all Read the rest of this entry

Asking Good Questions: A Sermon for a Young Parent

 I’d want them to know my love was so strong that no matter how bad it gets,

how far down they go, who leaves them and abandons them, I won’t. 

13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.    

Looking at a newborn is a pretty overwhelming reality.  It is the age we are in.  Vickie and I were sitting outside in the

waiting room, getting more anxious by the moment for our daughter and her husband and a little one.  Being born is

from cdc.gov site

from cdc.gov site

dangerous, not guaranteed, and full of anxiety, no matter what reassurances we are given.  In fact, the greatest advice from the OB to our daughter the last two months was, “Don’t Google.”

We don’t know how to know what to do with all the information.  In the old days, they took the mother, the father paced outside, and  the baby arrived.  It was the first inkling of what you had—boy or girl.  No paint colors until you knew.

Now, you have more knowledge about this infant than the NSA has of your cell phone.  But what to make of it?  Truth is, there is still a place where we cannot intrude with knowledge, and it is the miracle of life itself.

But don’t get me wrong.  It’s great to know.  And here’s how we got the word.  We’re sitting there, grandparents, waiting, worrying, praying.  Getting texts from our kids and friends—praying for you, hoping, let us know, that sort of thing.  And we occupy ourselves by answering these as we wait.  Naturally, we are watching the other occupants of the room.  A waiting room is pure democracy.  Rich, poor, well-dressed and barely dressed, country and city, every Read the rest of this entry

Memories of Dad

There were times as a young man when I complained to myself

A memory of Dad…where do you start?  I have pictures in my mind.  First, of looking up at this tall, silent man.  Looking up in fear sometimes, in awe most of the time as he went about life.  He was strong, good, quiet, rarely angry with us.  I looked up when I read his scrapbooks, hook shots flying through the air, frozen forever as the ideal athlete.  Playing catch in the backyard or playing basketball while he watched, always the same.  You were the mount Everest of my childhood.

I have pictures of you with tools, hammering, sawing, sweating, up on ladders, on the roof, in the garage, in the yard.  You weren’t still very much.  I wanted to be like you. When I got married and got desperate enough, I got a job pulling nails and then driving them.  You gave me my first hammer.  I still have it, by the way.  I barely knew which end was which, but I always watched you as a boy, so I tried to draw on that and learned enough to do for myself and become a certified carpenter, which convinced me that preaching and air-conditioning was a pretty good way to go.  But still, you showed me how to use my hands.

Pictures of you at the store, day in, day out, working long days, all day, nearly every day, and never really griping about it.  How tired you must have been!  But, come the next day, up you got, out the door and on about your business.  It was a mystery until we all did our time on the McCrory’s Christmas chain-gang in the toy department. Then we wanted it to be a mystery again.  But I would watch you, handling things, helping people find what they wanted, setting up displays, really enjoying it, to tell you the truth.

I have pictures in my mind of you at my wedding, at my ordination, reading my charge, coming to see us.  You stood around at the edge of all the noise and stories and excitement and grinned, taking it in, feeling no need to say much, but delight shining from your eyes.  My girls adore you for your sweetness and gentle spirit.

Oh, and what would I do without those images of you sitting in the bedroom in the evening, by yourself, plucking that black Sears Silvertone electric guitar, singing, “I Want to Go Home” and Hank Williams.  You gave me bluegrass and my first guitar and the love of music.  Mother gave me method and lessons, but I have you to thank for playing by ear and the instinct for improvising.  The joy of your retirement years has been sharing music together, rediscovering the music you knew as a young man.  How I wish Uncle Paul were still here when I could really enjoy it!

Hear Gary’s song, “Daddy Never Said” from his permanent world of pretend album [clilck here to listen] 

And I remember some pretty short but wise proverbs you gave me.  “We’ll be there when we get there.”  “People do what they have to do.”  Lots of stories.  And as far as jokes, some of the worst groaners I’ve ever heard.  Corny, but we told them to our kids anyway.

There were times as a young man when I complained to myself that you were so busy and I wished I could have had more time with you.  But now I look back and see that my life is full of images you gave me.  Work, family, music, faith.  Plenty of good things for life.  And I realize what a big, cool shadow you cast over my life in the heat of growing up.  You were always there to provide for us, show us, and delight in us.  I am grateful and I love you.