Concert craziness is not limited to The Road

XM display of Rod's name and song title.So yesterday we proved that it doesn’t matter whether a concert is six hours or three miles away. Something will go wrong.

First, for those few who might still be interested, the clothing story had a typical conclusion, I suppose. See, packing for the bus is quite different, we have quickly learned, from packing for a normal, stay-in-a-hotel kind of trip. We don’t use luggage. Pretty much everything stays on hangers that we hang on hooks outside our closet, and “foldy” things like socks and the babies’ clothes are piled into a laundry basket. As I work to let go of my controlling tendencies, I decided while in the kitchen packing food that I’d instruct Rod to get the clothes. I said, “All you need to get is the basket and bag on our bed and the clothes hanging on the closet.” Let me just tell you: he only got his clothes from the closet hook. Mine? Those were still hanging safely there when we made it home.

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Dads

I wanted to post this on Father’s Day, but like most holidays, I was tied up with my family. It was a nice day for Rod that began with breakfast in bed (nothing fancy, just his preferred peanut butter and mayo – ew – and a Coke Zero). Randa and Kaity joined us, of course. Josh and Paige are usually in Myrtle Beach during the week of Father’s Day, and this year was no exception. However, I got them to leave notes for Rod before they left, and they called bright and early, here in spirit.

We had a nice church service and a low key afternoon (Rod binged on Andy Griffith, Deadliest Catch, and Cops before taking a nap), then met up with my Dad and Mom for dinner.

I have loved watching my husband love our babies. I had a gift in seeing the kind of father he was before we married – he is a great giver of quality time. But seeing him love our girls has been a special gift to me. I love that even at their young ages, he is part of what they have going on and has his own special traditions with them. I also love that I get to see my Dad interacting as “Papa” to Randa and Kaity. He frequently will stop in the middle of a visit and say, “This is what it’s all about.” My Dad definitely does not realize how wise he is.

However, in the midst of all the celebration, there were some other dads occupying my mind, and before the 2008 version of the day is too far past, I want to introduce you to them:

The first was a 25 year old bachelor when he found out he was a dad… to a one year old son! I guess when observing from outside, that might seem to someone like a soap plot, but it is not always that way. This guy was a cop, military, tough. But a cherub-cheeked, blond-curly-blue eyed boy brought his heart out to his sleeve. And eight years later, this father is on the eve of fighting in court to raise his little boy in his custody. I am not going to discuss details or blame, but I will say that this little boy – especially dear to me as he is my nephew – needs and deserves to feel happy and safe and free of grown-up worries. I could not be prouder of my big brother for the kind of dad he is, and however things work out, I know he is the absolute best dad that my nephew could have. Will you say a prayer for them with me tomorrow?

The second dad is one I have never and probably will never meet. He is a father of six, but just a few weeks ago, his youngest was lost in a tragic accident. I won’t print his name because I am not trying to capitalize on what happened, but if you are at all familiar with Christian music, you know. This man was on my mind all day yesterday, especially as Rod and I listened several times to a song he wrote for his little girls, one about enjoying the moments as they come and letting go when that time comes. We prayed for this man yesterday, and his family, as we wondered what the horror of losing a child must be like. I fret now just when Kaity or Miranda “graduate” to a new level, because I know it means they are one tiny bit less “mine” whenever they learn some wonderful new thing. I can’t imagine what the pain must be for parents who bury a child, even when they have the great hope of Heaven; I only thank God for being our Heavenly Father, one who somehow, makes everything okay for us.

There are other dads we tend to think of when this time of year comes around. Rod has said goodbye to the three men who shaped him as a child – his Pawpaw, his uncle Chet, and finally, his “Pop.” None of these men was Rod’s natural father, but they were all precious and essential to him, and though I truly did not get to know any of them, I thank them for their parts in teaching Rod to be the kind of daddy he is. We also think of those “surrogate” dads who have been there for us or our children in fun times and trying times and lesson times… Del, Mort, Grizzly, Uncle Rick, Uncle Frank, Uncle Larry. And finally, I can’t help but think of a man I lost a few years ago, not because he died, but because of those kinds of unexplainable twists relationships take. I had one Papa growing up, who was generous and kind and funny and taught me how to ride a bike. I don’t think I will ever get him back in this life, but I carry his silly songs and World War II knowledge and the patient, welcoming spirit he once showed with me, and I will pass it to my children.

Because God’s fatherly love is the kind that teaches us a most important lesson: that love is an action and it must be passed on. Love is a also a risk, and it can be used to hurt us through death or broken relationships or just time and distance. But ultimately, it is the greatest gift available to us here on earth. It means we must forgive when no one is saying “I’m sorry.” It means passing forward the kindness and letting go of the injustices.

To all the dads I speak of here, whether you are here, in Heaven, or somewhere unreachable to me, thank you for the love you have given.

“I’m calling for you…”

(Yes, there is a funny conclusion to the ‘clothes left at home story.’ But it’s not for today.)

When Rod was singing Sunday morning, I realized something. One of the covers he often does is “Beulah Land.” He sang it as his dad’s funeral almost three years ago, and it’s become very special to him. If you don’t know the song, it is all about going to Heaven… how going home to that side makes all the struggles of this world, the struggles of our faith, more than worth the ride.

I have never been a ‘heavenly-minded’ kind of girl. I enjoy life. I like its challenges, adventures, friends. I love food and music and movies and summer and making memories. My whole life I have said that I don’t want the rapture to come until I could live… be the best I was supposed to be… and… get married and have babies and see them grow.

Well, as it turns out, even by age 31 (which, you know, is the new 17, or something like that), I have lived a LOT. I have had two careers. I have inherited children and then birthed a couple of miracles. I married the best man I know and our life together is one big adventure. And Sunday morning, as that man sang the words, “I”m looking out just across that river to where my faith is gonna end in sight; there’s just a few more days to labor, and then I’ll take my Heavenly flight” – I realized something: I am ready for that place.

To my non-Christian friends, let me disclaim here: I am not contemplating suicide! But wow, the way this world is going, it’s hard to fathom how much worse things can get (and we know they can always get worse). I believe Jesus will not return to us until all of heard, and I know there are parts of the world still waiting. Even so, the natural disasters that kill tens of thousands, the wars and genocides that seem to have no end, the hatred displayed between fellow humans, and the utter lack of solutions to all of it… maybe it won’t be, maybe it can’t be, much longer until God says, “Enough.”

This isn’t a profound statement about the world I am making here. It’s just a profound realization for me. As a parent, I am blessed to be watching my kids at very different and very special times. Josh has one more year of high school, and then his ‘real life’ begins. Paige is just starting high school and will be figuring out who she is. Miranda is heading (like a freight train) toward two, and every day she learns things that blow my mind. And my sweet Kaity… she is almost 4 months old, still full of innocence and mystery, and I find myself wishing more and more I could hold her in that place.

I know my parents had the same fears and wonders about us when we were young. I know they wondered what kinds of futures we could have in a world that seemed to be getting worse every day. It makes this 31 year old feel a lot older to say I don’t understand the thoughts and values of a lot of “youth today.” I worry that no matter how much I teach and model and love my babies, they could fall completely away from what I believe is the Truth, from the road that will lead them to Beulah.

As a Christian, I know the best I can do is pray that won’t happen. As a mama, I know that I need to take every moment I can to love them not just with my love, but with that Jesus gave me. And as a woman… wow… I feel myself longing for Beulah Land.

IF…

No, this isn’t a pretty graduation card poem.

I am sitting on the bus feeling SICK to my stomach.

I have never gotten carsickness, but…

IF working on the computer while riding on the bus starts making me carsick, I am screwed!

I am trying to eat some carbs to “coat my stomach.”