Tag Archives: Family

Lipstick and Six Years

Victim of a Shepherd Circumstance

This post begins exactly were the last one left off.   It was about seven o’clock in the morning and I believe the post ended with this line, “Now, off to clean up the lipstick  Shepherd just used to paint the carpet and himself! No joke – Julia is going to love this one”!  As I was finishing things up, I looked over to see Shepherd at my side, maroon lipstick all over his hands, giving his uh-oh uh-oh speech with an inquisitive “how in the world did this happen” expression on his face.   Since you can’t find lipstick at a BassPro Shop, I knew this was a job for Julia.  I walked back to the bedroom to wake Julia up for an amazing morning.  Her day began with a blurred view of my face and the muffled sound of my voice saying, “Babe, how do you get lipstick out of carpet? And by the way, happy six-year anniversary”! Yep, that is how far we have come in six years! No longer are anniversary mornings beginning with a good sleep-in, followed up with breakfast in bed and a peaceful cup of coffee.  It is now a 6:30 am wake up call from a two-year old down the hall, a uh-oh, and lipstick in the carpet that jump starts the anniversary.  The battle to celebrate six amazing years of marriage was officially a go!

Valentine’s Day and our anniversary day are big productions in the Faught marriage.  These days are usually celebrated by a weekend getaway, fancy dinner, or a crazy fun date night.  This is just one way we try to keep each other and our marriage first.  After six years, really after having two young children, these special days have become something we desperately have to fight for to make good on.  We have to fight our children, stress, sickness, and ourselves to happily celebrate these special days. 

Our day began with no rest or relaxation.  We jumped right into cleaning permanent lipstick out of the living room carpet.  We then continued to chase around, for some unknown reason, an extra ornery Shepherd through the house.   We had a lovely non-peaceful breakfast with scrambled eggs, toast, sausage, and tears being thrown on the floor.  Shortly after breakfast, the decision was made to attend the annual Siloam Springs Dogwood Festival.   So, we have a dirty house, a toddler on the loose, a crying newborn, and a mission to head out the door in less than an hour.  Of course, this creates an opportunity for an explosive marital conversation on who is going to do what and how we are going to get out the door with a clean house, babies packed, and diaper bags in tow.  We then leave for the Festival and return for naps.  Three hours later, Shepherd wakes up from his nap with a fever (this explains his extra craziness).  Not only does he wake up with a slight fever, but we have family pictures to attend with Julia’s family that includes 8 children, 6 out of the 8 being 2 years old or younger.  There is one word to describe family pictures with 8 young children and the word is INSANITY. 

So, here we are after a long stressful day wondering if we will even celebrate our big day.  Our plans for using family for babysitting are useless, since you can’t have a sick toddler around everyone else’s kids.  Our anniversary date night out on the town was doomed and it looked like we would be regulated to a big glass of wine and an early arrival to a good night sleep.  Thankfully, Julia had a backup plan and an amazing anniversary present for me.  Since I am extremely paranoid that life and children will come before our marriage, Julia gave me eight envelopes filled with pre-designed date nights from The Great Date Experience, provided by Married Life Online  (I highly recommend checking the website out, and more to come on this in the near future).  What an amazing idea and relief to a paranoid husband! We ended up putting the boys down early and using one of the envelope date nights for a home date to celebrate six years.  It turned out to be one of the best dates we have enjoyed in recent memory.  

A wise mentor once told me that marriage gets hard when you have multiple kids and each spouse is stressed from the events of the day.  It is at these times that your marriage is truly put to the test.  So many times throughout the day Julia and I said to each other, “We are not going to let this lipstick bother us!”  Wether it was lipstick in the carpet, food on the floor, a tense conversation about family duties, sick kids, or family pictures, we were going to fight for our anniversary and marriage.  Thankfully, by the grace of God, we conquered that battle and we have hope to win the war!

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Bending the Rules

Some say he is cute, adorable, loving, sweetheart, precious, silly.  Some say he is smart, active, ornery, crafty, mischievous.  Some say he is his Dad.  As for myself and Julia, we say he is just Shepherd.  He is the kid at one moment standing beside you after church, as you talk with friends, and the next moment he is up on stage banging on the baby grand.  He is the kid that as you go to the bathroom, he seizes the opportunity to make a run for it and heads out the front door; leaving you to return to an empty house and jump starting you into “freak out” mode.  All the while he is chillin’ at the neighbor’s house.  He is the kid at 7:00 am in the morning who is sprinting back and forth between the living room ottoman and the front door.  Culminating in giving the front  door knob his best Tarzan scream and swing!  Yes, Shepherd is not the most content child and he sure does know how to experience life to its fullest.  You could say he is a slightly strong-willed child!  Although Shep does keep us constantly on the run, his comical and sometimes tiring energy opens our hearts to more laughter and our eyes to more wisdom.

Shepherd’s age and active personality has required us to become more disciplined in our disciplining.  At a certain point you begin to recognize that saying, “Shep! Shep! Shepherd! Jonathan Shepherd! Jonathan Shepherd Faught!” does not prevent your child from conducting the mischievous task at hand.  So, we have begun to clearly communicate and warn Shepherd once of the impending consequences.  If Shepherd continues in his mischief, he gets into trouble.  One of our latest “warning sessions” turned humorous and enlightening.

We store our DVD player and DVDs in a small two door cabinet adjacent to our sofa.  Usually, the two door knobs are Shepherd proofed, a.k.a. rubber banded shut.  At this particular moment the cabinet, for some reason, was not Shepherd proofed.  Of course, Shepherd was drawn to the DVD cabinet like a magnet, along with his usual partners in crime Bob and Larry from VeggieTales and Woody from Toy Story.   So, off I went to warn Shepherd and steer him clear of trouble.  I bent down to his level and gently and clearly warned him to stay away from the DVD cabinet.  I made sure he knew that if he got into the cabinet one more time he would be in trouble.  How did Shepherd respond? He, without hesitation or reservation, immediately picked up Woody and began using Woody’s arm and hand to open the cabinet door!  So therefore, it was no longer Shepherd who was getting into the DVD cabinet, but it was Woody!  Now, I know the Woody picture is a little freaky, but this picture perfectly captures the moment.  I was stunned, caught off guard, and truly amazed.  All I could do was laugh and walk away.  I should have disciplined Woody, but sad to say, I was not as quick-witted as my 23 month old son!

While the latest Shepherd incident was pretty humorous it was also revealing.  I was amazed at the sinful nature of man and how it shows up crystal clear in a 23 month old.  Like every other toddler, Shepherd lives for the moment.  In an instant, he would choose the temporary excitement to crack and shatter VeggieTales DVDs over the longer lasting enjoyment of watching a VeggieTales DVD.  And as he showed with Woody, he would bend the rules or even break the rules to achieve his temporary desire.  Oh, how we all succumb to this sinful nature!  A nature that dismisses God’s plan and structure for eternal pleasure.  It is a nature that will vehemently break or recklessly bend God’s eternally provisional order to achieve temporal pleasure.   

I am reminded of a C.S. Lewis’s quote from Weight of Glory,

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” 

Our desires are too weak not too strong.  Our strongest desires are for fleeting pleasures and our weakest desires are for the eternal pleasures.  

So, what is our escape from this trap?  How do we overcome that which is rooted in the depths of our heart and soul?  The best answer I could find comes from  Ezekiel 36:26-27,

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you,  and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules”. 

 Sign me up!  Don’t we all need a new heart?  Don’t we all need to be regenerated?  Don’t we all need to be born again? (John 3:1-8)  I am so thankful for the grace and mercy God has bestowed on me in transforming my heart and life.  Now, I pray every day that he would extend the same grace and mercy to my two sons.  I pray that He would open their eyes to recognize the difference between temporal and eternal;  that God would transform their hearts and set them free to pursue Christ and His eternal promises and pleasures!

Now, off to clean up the lipstick  Shepherd just used to paint the carpet and himself! No joke – Julia is going to love this one!

Ezekiel 36 – John 3:1-8Ephesians 2:1-102 Corinthians 5:17Titus 3:1-8


A Summit of My Own

 

 

Every summer a group of men from our church take a trip to hike a 14,000 foot mountain in Colorado.  The name of the trip is creatively and cleverly dubbed The Man Trip.  This  trip is a “Man Trip” in every single way.  All done within 72 hours the round trip covers 1700 miles and spans over 25,800 feet in elevation change.  Some guys take off from Arkansas on an early Friday morning, arrive at base camp Friday evening,  hike the 14er on Saturday, and return home by Sunday evening.  Seems a little crazy? Absolutely, but this is what happens in a trip that includes over 20 men and 0 women or children to slow them down! 

I set my eyes on conquering Man Trip 6 months in advance.  I gained “clearance from Clarence” (aka Julia), scheduled a day off work, and decided on a training regimen. Of course, a trip like this takes some training to develop leg strength and respiratory stamina to handle the mountain incline and the thin Colorado air.  So, my training goal was to conquer the dreaded JBU stairs. The stairs located on the John Brown University campus are 100 hundred steps that have a monstrous incline.  I planned to conquer the stairs by running 10 up and downs with out a break; I was certain this would prove my readiness for Man Trip!  

In the six months leading up to Man Trip several hurdles were thrown into my path to impede my training and the hurdles convinced me to abandon the manly excursion.  The first hurdle was a badly sprained ankle, acquired in a pick up basketball game with kids half my age!  After a long and slow recovery,  I was still determined to conquer Man Trip and I quickly resumed my training regimen.  The second hurdle came way of a mysterious alignment to my healthy foot, later to be diagnosed as planters fasciitis, just another form of  getting old.   I could barely walk the stairs a month prior to the trip.  The third hurdle, everybody at work began to take vacations the week of my excursion – perfect timing!  And yes a fourth hurdle 10 foot tall was thrown my way.  It was a little tap on the old shoulder from Julia distributing the notification that Man Trip took place on “ovulation weekend”!  Of course she handled the notification very graciously and it was a notification that included no hint of a guilt trip.  She gave me total freedom to go or not go on the trip. 

He wasn't meant to clear this hurdle!

The fourth hurdle was different from the three previous hurdles.  A few months earlier Julia and I decided to try for our second child.  In our experience, this decision always brings its ups and downs.  We quickly received news we were expecting not one child but two.  In the same week we learned of our expectations, we lost our expectations.  So at the notification of “ovulation weekend”, I began to recognize a sovereign God moving.  As the last hurdle was thrown up, I recognized the three previous hurdles were cleverly placed by a higher being.  I recognized the fourth hurdle was not meant to be cleared and I gave up on my goal of conquering a Colorado mountain.  I knew God had something in store for us and sure enough he did!  We found ourselves expecting once again!  

As I look back on this time and examine all the hurdles placed before me, I began to contemplate one of the greatest theological debates of all time.  The absolutely sovereignty of God and the free will of man.  While I can not answer all of the questions that surround this long-standing debate, I do know what I have experienced.  It was a human choice to train for Man Trip, it was my human choice to jump the first three hurdles in my path, and it was my human choice to stop at the fourth hurdle and choose another path.  A different path that accomplished what God had planned before the beginning of time.  I experienced human will miraculously running in stride with divine will  to achieve God’s ultimate plan.  A plan that is greater than our hearts could ever dream. 

The heart of man plans his way,
   but the LORD establishes his steps.  Proverbs 16:9 

My plan was to gain myself the summit of a mountain. God’s plan was to give me a Summit of my own.

                                                      David “Summit” Faught


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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