The Emotions of Summit

 I will admit it, I am on the more emotional side.  I don’t know what it is, maybe it is the strawberry blonde hair?  It doesn’t matter if it is getting fired up or being excited, I tend to experience the full range of emotions.  Usually, my emotions are worn on my sleeve and I am told my emotions can easily be seen on my face.  I will also admit I do shed the occasional tear watching a movie, watching Extreme Home Makeover (I now refuse to watch the show), hearing sappy stories, singing certain praise songs (especially In Christ Alone), experiencing big moments in my life, and hearing/seeing big moments in other people’s lives.  Okay, so maybe I tear up more than occasionally!  It does seem as though fatherhood has brought out my emotions more than ever before and I think often of Jimmy Valvano’s quote from his famous “Never Give Up” speech. 

“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

I can’t say that my emotions move me to tears every day, but I am finding it comes more days than not.  But Valvano’s quote does remind me of the fact that there is nothing wrong with being emotional.  

The most recent overflow of emotions in my life, of course, came with the birth of my second son, Summit.  Yes, the expected tears did flow, but something unexpected happened with my emotions.  There were two emotions that remained prevalent throughout different times of the day.  The interesting thing wasn’t that I experienced two emotions at one time. Rather it was a rare instance in life when I simultaneously experienced two emotions that reside on complete opposite sides of the emotional spectrum.  I can’t think of many times in life that I have experience two complete opposite emotions at the same time.  Although experiencing these emotions were different and unexpected, it felt amazingly perfect for the moment.  Thankfully, there was a camera in the room to capture the collision of two opposite emotions.

PRIDE AND HUMILITY

Holding My Two Boys for the First Time

 

 

 


The Advent of Shepherd

 

Surprises?  Totally my thing!  Keeping surprises?  Totally not my thing!  Secrets?  I don’t want to know them, because it’s hard to keep them!  Presents?  They’re made to be found before they’re wrapped!  Presents are meant to be opened before Christmas day!  Sometimes telling people about their present is actually better than waiting to watch them open it!

Dealing with anticipation, by far, is not my greatest attribute.  So, you can imagine my anticipation and frustration in waiting for my son to come into this world.  I felt like a 5-year-old boy tortured by being forced to look at his Christmas present everyday for 9 solid months.   Imagine the agony of watching the present slowly grow and actually move without being able to take a peak.  The worst part, not knowing exactly when Christmas day would actually come!

Our First Glance at Shepherd

This future son consumed my thoughts and prayers.  What would he look like?  What would he act like?  How much sleep would we get?  Would Julia make it through everything okay?  Are we ready to provide for a child?  God, give him a heart for you.  God, help him be healthy and strong.  God, let him get here safely.  For 37 weeks I lived and dreamed to see the day he would take his first breath.  Many things bought, many books read, the house and nursery prepared.  Then Julia, for the first time in the existence of our relationship, randomly and unexpectedly cleaned out the freezer!  This could only mean that the day had come, he would soon be here. 

Shepherd’s arrival prompted me to think about the two advents of Christ.  First, I wondered about God as a Father sending His only Son to redeem the creation that was lost in Eden.  There must have been so much joy and excitement to fulfill his first promise to restore man, earth, and ultimately destroy death. 

God says to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel”.  Genesis 3:15

 So much joy and excitement that it  outweighed the knowledge He would be separated from his only begotten son.    The knowledge that knew He was sending His Son into a world that would  betray Him, beat Him, and scandalously murder Him.  This thought helped me catch but a glimpse of how much God truly loves us.  It is unfathomable to think how He makes such a sacrifice with such joy, with such excitement. 

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…”   Luke 2:10-11

Secondly, my anticipation and preparation for Shepherd made me consider how I was anticipating and preparing for a greater “coming” to this world, Christ’s return.  I began to ask several questions.  What was my relationship with Christ?  Was it moving, growing, digressing, or even stagnant?  Was I allowing Him to prepare me for his return?  Was I moving along the path of progressive sanctification?  Was I still being transformed?  Was I surrendering all of my life in exchange for a loving pursuit of His?

At the time, the answers to these questions were eerily humbling.  I realized my need to allow the Holy Spirit to move and transform me as a son, a friend, and a husband.  I needed His guidance to leave footsteps I wanted my son to follow.  Footsteps that humbly headed towards the cross and prepare for a greater advent than Shepherd’s, the advent of Christ.

As I look back over the last two years, it is an amazing wonder how God used Shepherd’s coming to transform my life.  I can truly say that getting ready for my son’s arrival has propelled me to prepare for the greatest “coming” of all.  He has a little child to make me a better follower, leader, son, friend, husband, and now father.  My hope and prayer is that Christ will use something in life to do the same for you.


Double Team

Double team was the strategy going into the 21st day of May in the year 2009.   The four years previous to this day Julia and I were on the court shooting a friendly game of Horse.  There was a lot of valuable time spent together communicating, planning, and growing through life.  Those four years of Horse were absolutely amazing and a time to be cherished.  Shot after shot and game after game, I grew to love Julia more than life it’s self.  God showed me there was no other person on this planet that was a better match for myself.  Where I missed the lay up, she nailed it.  Where she struggled with three ball, I called nothing but net.  Together we were the best at creating and mastering the trick shot. If we where to play another team in Horse, we couldn’t be beaten, we couldn’t be separated. 

Then Shepherd on that 21st day of May in the year 2009 walked on to the court.  This baller brought a new game to the playground, and we were no longer playing Horse.  It was a full-fledged pick up game of 2 on 1.  Shepherd’s height was deceiving, but he quickly revealed his mad skills.  The only way Julia and I were going to make it was if we used the double team.

Luckily, we could see Shepherd coming from 9 months away.  We had a lot of time to worry, plan, and prepare.   I say worry, because I absolutely loved our four years of playing Horse.  I didn’t want to flush all those hours and memories down the drain, because a new baby came to the playground.  I feared Julia, being an amazing and loving mother, would forget about me.  Also, I feared we could both be so consumed with Shepherd that we would forget about each other.  See, I know that after 18 years Shepherd is walking off the court to go play his own game.  When he does leave (or the last child leaves), I know we are back to playing Horse and I want to know my partner!  So, double team was our plan and it worked well.  We worked closely as team and were both ready to jump in when the other was exhausted.  My fears were relieved after a year and a half when I looked up at my teammate and realized we were closer than ever before.  Sure, 2 on 1 one had its highs and lows, but I was glad I was playing the game with Julia and Shepherd.

Those of you who have experience playing 2 on 1, what are some suggestions for keeping your marriage the main priority? 

Van Damme and Rodman Suggestions:

  1. Double Team – two parents involved is easier than one parent.
  2. Make time for each other and make sure you have a date night often!
  3. Weekend trip – take the kid with you at times, but leave them behind at times.
  4. Strict bed time for the little one – this gives you time for yourselves in the evening.
  5. Guy time/Girl time – everyone needs a break and don’t keep tabs!

Oh, but wait this blog is not over!  I can see another baby boy making his way to the playground and he will be here in a matter of days.  The game is about to shift from 2 on 1 to 2 on 2.  Goodbye double team!  Man to man here we come!  So, of course I have my jitters about the new game to be played.  Honestly, this man to man strategy looks tough and grueling at times.  There won’t be many timeouts and rests on the bench will be short.  I know there will be ups and downs, but I have faith in my ole Horse partner and the good Lord to care us through. 

Does anyone have any advice on the man to man strategy?  And what about those who are down one man and forced to play zone?  Please comment because we need the help!

WARNING: Do not watch the movie Double Team!  I am certain any movie with Dennis Rodman and Jean-Claude Van Damme is horrible!


Matchbox Car

As a father, one of the days I have looked forward to for so long was the day I would walk in the door from work and have Shepherd scream from the top of his lungs, Da-da Da-da!!!! Then run into my arms to give me a great big huge tiny hug. The funny problem and great disappointment was I expected Shepherd to be jumping with excitement upon my entrance at a week old. So, you can only imagine the anticipation and excitement I had for this great moment in life. You can also imagine my disappointment upon 12 months of Shepherd’s existence when Shep would take a break from his activity to give me a lackadaisical “wut up” nod as I came through the door. Then almost without hesitation, he would quickly refocus his attention on playing with his toy, watching his cartoon, or eating his food.
This routine, much to my chagrin, continued to happen on a daily basis, until that one day. It was truly an unexpected and surprising day in every way. The day was mid February and the temperature was 75 degrees, the sun was shinning with no gray in the sky. I walked through the front door to hear the voices of Julia and Shepherd in the backyard enjoying their release from being imprisoned in the house by long cold winter days. I quietly stepped out on the back porch to see Julia watching Shep bent over in the grass playing with his favorite matchbox car, Buzz Lightyear, Bob the Tomato, and Larry the Cucumber. I whispered in a quiet voice, “Hey!” Shepherd jolted up with both hands high in the air, dropping all his toys upon hearing my voice. He turned around scream “Da-da, Da-da!!!” and then baby sprinted into my arms for that long-awaited great big huge tiny hug.
That moment was just as good as I had dreamed for years and anticipated for all twenty months of Shepherd’s life. But that moment became so much more when God allowed me to see it though a different set of lenses. I saw a Creator and His most beloved creation. I witnessed the beloved creation playing with and loving other parts of creation more than the Creator. The view showed God faithfully and continually seeking us by whispering, “Hey!” I felt a fragment of what He must feel when His most beloved creation throws down their favorite matchbox car, their Buzz Lightyear, their Bob the Tomato, and their Larry the Cucumber to run into His arms for that great big huge tiny hug. I can’t imagine what our God feels when we glorify Him over His creation, when we worship the Creator instead of creation. It made me wonder, reflect, and ask what was my matchbox car, Buzz Lightyear, Bob the Tomato, or Larry the Cucumber? What did I worship and value more than listening to my Creator, studying my Creator, praying to my Creator, spending time with my Creator, or just simply glorifying my Creator? I urge you to ask the same question.


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