Family

Today my wife and I celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary while we are on vacation.  As all couples, we have had struggles and challenges, but with those adversities, we came out stronger and closer.

We have had several family members to pass away, including a tragic accident that took my wife’s mother 3 months after we got married. We dealt with challenges in getting pregnant,  disa

ppointment when tests returned negative and blown away when we were told that we were having twins.

We have both had struggles and challenges with our careers, but throughout each challege, we came out stronger and closer together. So tonight as we celebrate our anniversary with our friends and family on our last night of our vacation, I am just thankful for the life that I get to live.

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As a child, I just wanted to be older. As I get older, I just wish that I were younger. Growing older has it’s perks, being able to do more things, but it has it’s downfalls, like responsibilities.

Growing older also shows how life really is and how we once viewed things, maybe not really be real. But it also shows up the important things in life. Possessions are not as important today as they were when I was 5.  So as I type this, I’m exchanging text messages with my God Father, who is going in for a major knee replacement surgery tomorrow. Normally, that big of a concern, however with his history of heart issues, he is going to be required to stay a few extra days in the hospital. But I realized as we were texting, that he was feeling the same as I was, concern, worried, hell, scared.

Growing older, these are the worries and concerns that our parents dealt with, not us. They shielded us from these worries, because we needed to play, not think about someone that I have known and loved for 35 years might not make it tomorrow through this surgery. The surgery is at a top medical facility in the US and has a team of Dr’s that are some of the brightest in the world, so even though I am nervous, I am confident that he will come out ok.

Growing older isn’t as fun as it seemed as a child.

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I was on Facebook over the weekend and saw the headline pop up in my news feed: 20 Tips for Creating a Family-Centered Life and it immediately caught my attention.

I think that in this day and time, even with the best of intentions, it is often hard to have a family-centered life. But, and this is important, but with a little effort, a lot of the things that were listed are definitely attainable.  I think that this list of 20 is awesome and could have gone even higher, but I wanted to reflect on some of these items individually.

1.    Mom and Dad have a consistent date night alone together at least once a month.  – This is HUGE! Parents, before you were parents, you were a couple. You have to have adult time. You have to remember why you came together in the first place to create this family. Without each other and working together, you become seperate units that will wake up one day and question why you are even together.

3.    Entire family gathers for dinner at least 3 times a week. – I grew up in a home that when I was young, we ate every night at the table and as my family grew apart, so did dinner time. My wife and I have it a point, to sit down with the boys every night at the dinner table while they eat. We try to eat at that same time as well, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. But if nothing else, we are there together, asking the boys questions, engaging with them and hopefully setting examples for when they have children. We usually put on some music, something low key, often times Jim Brickman.

9.    Dad prays with each of his children before they go to bed each night. – I FAIL at this one, big time. This is something that I have really struggled with and have tried to do better about. But this is a big one and one that I really want to do better on.

10.  Weekly church attendance. – Again, as a family we have FAILED this one. We were really diligent about this for the first 2 years of the boys lives, but the last 8 months, we just have falling into a pattern of not going. And a bad pattern at that. We’ve made excuses, but really at the end of the day, this is on my wife and myself. We’ve talked about doing better, but we have to talk less and get back into the habit of going.

12.  Dad’s job does not keep him working a lot of late nights or weekends. – When I am home, I am home. No work on the weekend or night, unless it is an emergency and thus far, there have not been any emergencies that could not wait until the next day or at least until after the boys goto bed.

13.  Entire family has at least one week of vacation time together per year.  – This is really important. This years vacation might look different, but we are still planning on getting away for a few days. It is important to have family time and even more importantly than that, to have family down time away from home.

17.  Dad personally knows all of his children’s teachers and is involved in the PTA. – I’ll go a step further than just school. I think that it is crucial for Dad’s to also goto their children’s doctor appointments. I’ve been to every Dr. appointment, except for 2 and I’ve been to every Parent Teacher conference for the boys. It is important as Dad’s to be involved in our children’s lives, because how can we expect to raise them, if we are missing information and not informed.

A family-centered life is an important foundation in my children’s lives. I hope that they will one day recognize how involved I am and will do the same when they have children.

 

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There are things that happen in our lives that we can not explain. There are things that happen in our lives that will stay with us forever and today is that day for me. 5 years ago today, my mother in law was killed in a tragic car accident. There are things about that day that I can tell you about, but a lot of it is a blur, but here are some of the things that I do remember:

  • I remember that it was snowing and had started snowing earlier that morning.
  • I remember getting the phone call from my father in law while I was sitting at work after lunch..
  • I remember listening to Mark Schultz’s Remember Me when the phone rang.
  • I remember sitting back down, putting my head down and crying. Crying for the loss of an amazing person, but crying because I was going to have to go and tell my wife of 3 months that her mother and best friend had just died and it was going to break my wife’s heart. It was going to change her forever.It was going to change us.
  • I remember the 8 miles from my office to my wife’s seemed like 180 miles.
  • I remember calling my wife’s best friend and telling him, as he was a 2nd child to my wife’s parents.
  • I remember not being able to talk for 10 minutes and only being able to cry in front of my wife.
  • I remember my wife asking if we were getting a divorce, because I could not stop crying. That would have been easier I think.
  • I remember the drive from my wife’s office to her Dad’s house seemed like forever.
  • I remember her father coming outside when we got there to hug my wife and myself.
  • I remember a family friend that grabbed me and held me as tight as he could, and I finally got to grieve for a few minutes.
  • I remember the outpouring of people that came to the house that night.
  • I remember waking up after 15 minutes of sleep and having a feeling of calmness come over me.
  • I remember the silence in the house.

Here is the song by Mark Schultz, Remember Me, that I was listening to when I got the call, that Monday afternoon.

Sometimes things do not make sense, especially when death is involved. I can say that after a lot of struggles, my wife and I learned a lot of amazing lessons from this. My wife and I are closer. My wife and I have two amazing little boys. My wife my and I often talk about that day. We talk about what we were doing, we often cry and then  we talk about how much we miss her mom. We talk about how she would be with the boys and how much she would have loved them.

But tonight, I just think that we have to look for the Remembrance of God in the form of sunsets and people. We have to take each moment as it is our last. We have to over use the words “I Love You”, because you never know when it will be the last time that you will use them.

Remember me
When the color of the sunset fills the sky
Remember me
When you pray and the tears of joy
fall from your eyes

I remember and can not, nor will I ever forget. I just hope that when it is my time, that Jesus will Remember Me.  And I hope that one of the first people that I get to see when getting to Heaven, is my mother in law, so I can tell her all about her grandsons.

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Today/Tonight is Christmas Eve. A night that is holy for those that are believers that Jesus was born on Christmas day. But, it is also something more than that. It is the day that kids look forward to all year, in hopes that they have been good enough for Santa to come for a visit.

This year for Christmas Eve, we are doing something a little different. We will be staying at home and starting our own family traditions. In the past, we’ve stayed at my Father in law’s house, but this year, we wanted the boys to wake up in their own bed. My wife and I have spent a lot of time talking about traditions that we each had growing up as children and things that we wanted to start doing with the boys and I think. After church, we’ll head back to the house and have dinner, put on new Christmas PJs and watch a few Christmas movies.

For my wife and I, we are getting to witness for the first time that joy and excitement in our boys faces when they see Santa on TV.  I don’t know that I can even put into words how excited I are to see what Santa is bringing the boys, but if I had to guess, there will be a lot of trains appearing Christmas morning.  But just seeing the boys faces light up for the first time after Santa comes, I don’t know that I will be able to put into words how excited I am going to be.

 

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Growing up, the Friday after Thanksgiving, my family would venture out to a Christmas Tree farm and cut down our Christmas Tree. It is just something that we did, don’t know why? But it was our tradition.

You see, I don’t have a lot of great memories from growing up because of issues between my parents, but the memories that I do have pertaining to going to cut down a Christmas Tree are some of my favorites.  I remember that my sister and I would pill into the back of our station wagon, yes, I just outdated myself, and we would go and cut down a Virginia Pine.  My sister and I would each pick out a tree and then our parents would decide which tree we cut down and took home. I sometimes don’t remember what I ate for lunch today, but I can remember running around the farm finding a tree just like it was yesterday.

As I have gotten older and even when I moved to Texas, I continued that tradition of going to cut down my tree after Thanksgiving. But, when I got married, I got married to someone that grew up having an artificial tree. I don’t ask for  a lot and I’m pretty accommodating, but I draw the line at artificial trees for Christmas and out of the 8 years that we’ve been together, we have a form of a live tree 7 of the 8 years.  And I say somewhat of a live tree because, for 5 years, we’ve purchased table top live Fraizer Fur trees.

But this year, this year was different and it was my wife’s idea. One day before Thanksgiving, she mentioned about us going to a Christmas Tree farm to cut down a tree for the boys. She thought that they were old enough and big enough, to not take down the tree. So, that is what we did, except for going and cutting down the tree, as we found a local farm that had some pre-cut trees. And thus far, the boys have loved the tree.

Every morning, as we bring the boys down to the living room, the first thing that they say, most time even before we get to the living room, can we turn on the lights? The boys have really seemed to enjoy the tree and lights and we even let the decorate the tree.

So to the start of new traditions and a future of getting a Christmas Tree together as a family and starting the Christmas season. And more importantly, I hope that this starts a family tradition for the boys, that will carry over to when they grow older and have families and children and can pass down this tradition as well.

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Tonight, as I watch my boys run around the living room and laugh, my thoughts are filled with the shootings that took place in Colorado tow nights ago at the Batman premiere.

The shootings were yet another case of senselless violence. And yes, there will be plenty of time to debate gun control in the future. But tonight, let’s take a moment and hold your kids and loved ones a little tighter and give them an extra kiss.  Treasure these moments and be grateful for the time that you have together.  And tonight, say a prayer, not only for the souls that were taken away from this world way too early, but for their families that are left behind. As they will never for the events from that night. And their lives have forever been changed.

 

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Saturday’s are becoming more and more our family day. We take a more laid back approach to the day. Cleaning, grocery store and we try to get the kids to the park or at least spend some time outside.

It is important to spend time together as a family. Our weeks are jammed pack with work and meetings, so my wife and I have really tried to make our Saturday our family day. I hope that as our boys get older, that they too look forward to family day as much as I do.

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My grandfather, the boys Great Grand Father and I were talking about how when he and my grandmother were married, it cost him $3.00. And then he was telling me stories about his time in WWII and coming back to North Carolina and buying a farm. And then a year later, my father was born.

These are stories that I will treasure forever and I only hope that my boys are old enough to really get to know my grand father. You see, he and I talk almost every Saturday, no matter what. We talk about his father, my great great grand father and what he was like. My grand father also talks about his mom, my great great grand mother, who I only vaguely remember, as she died when I was 5 and the pranks that he would pull on her. And then my grand father always likes to do two things on each call, 1) tell me stories about my father when he was a child and 2) give me some words of wisdom about raising my sons. Today, he shared with me that he had prayed that I have a son, but that he guessed that he over prayed since we had twins.

Every time you put those boys in my grand father’s arms, he lights up.  And even though he only sees them once every few months, he makes the most of his time with them. He talks to them as though they are my age. He tells them stories about what I was like as a child. He tells them about his wife who passed away several years ago, as he wants to make sure that they know who she was. He walks them around the house and shows them pictures, tells them stories and loves watching them smile.

I know that I have only a few years left of these Saturday calls, so I hope to get as much information from my grand father, because this is my heritage and my son’s heritage. The story about being married for $3.00 to my grand mother, I was the only one that he ever told that story to. These are the stories that I can’t wait to tell my sons when they get older.

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