Why I Love The Scab On My Forehead

This last weekend, my family took a trip to Kennewick, WA to visit some family.  We always enjoy packing up the family and taking a little road trip now and again.

My boys were most excited to stay in the hotel…..mainly because of the pool and breakfast.  They also look forward to the extra candy, video game time and soda at restaurants (I know, we’re pretty horrible parents)…I don’t blame them, that’s exciting stuff man!

After we finally arrived to the hotel, stretched our legs and headed up to our room, it was time to hit the water baby!  We threw on our trunks, anticipating some good fun!

After splashing around a little, things started to get serious.  Our Ninja Turtle inner tube suddenly became a Frisbee and my oldest looked like a shot put, being tossed through the air, landing with a dramatic splash and tons of “do it again dad!” pleas.  That’s fun stuff right there!

Next, it was dad’s turn to show off.  I decided to show Ben my under water back flip skills…..funny because it’s not even an awesome trick, ha!  So, I proceeded to flip around in 3ish feet of water and SMACK!, I hit my head on the bottom of the pool.  It actually was my forehead and part of my nose that took the brunt of my stupidity.  The “oh man, that’s gonna leave a mark” thought came to mind as I came to the surface.  “Hey Ben, do I have a red mark on my forehead?”  “Haha, yeah dad and it’s bleeding too!”  Thanks for the sympathy son.

So there you go, I had to attend a graduation party with a face that looked as though it got beat with a bar stool.  Awesome!

Really though, I don’t mind the little war scars created by having fun with my boys.  Here’s my point:  I would rather have a tooth knocked out or arm broken or eye blackened or forehead scraped vs. missing out on memories, sitting on the sidelines while my boys quickly become men.  Although I’m a scabby guy now, I look in the mirror and don’t see a scab on my face (ok, I guess I do, it’s hard to miss), I see a fun time and good laughs had by all.  That’s what life’s all about!  That’s what being a dad is all about!

So, bring on the scabs, scars or whatever!  I look forward to many more over the years…..hopefully small scars though, I’m getting old.

God Bless,

Paul

 

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Memories and Onions

A few days ago, my mom gave me a large stack of papers.  She had been cleaning out some closets in the house and came across a variety things from my past.  Things like report cards, notes, artwork, stories and other stuff like that.  I brought it home and spent some time soaking in my past and reviewing who I was and who I am now.  It was a pretty revealing time for me.

Something that I’ve realized as I grow older is that my memory sucks.  I remember some random, weird details about my past, but there are a lot of blank and fuzzy spaces left to be explored.  I tend to focus on the here and now, forgetting that I was once a little boy who was learning about life, navigating heartbreak, absorbing harassment from bullies and attempting to avoid the pain of my parent’s divorce.  I forget that the concrete pad and basketball hoop in my driveway acted as a safe counselor, providing a consistent outlet to release my emotions and imagine a successful future.  I forget about the great times spent with friends, the loving sacrifices of my single mom and my enthusiastic, always-cheering dad at basketball games.  I need to be intentional about remembering stuff like this because these experiences have added to the story of who I am.

To put it simply, I’m like an onion.  Onions are a common metaphor used for illustrating the complexity of our personalities and rightly so!  As you look at an onion, you basically just see the outer skin and it’s round shape.  Once you peel back the skin and slice it in half, you notice the many layers hidden inside.  Piece by piece, you can peel that vegetable down, eventually revealing it’s core.  My memory works like that.  I operate as a whole onion most of the time, forgetting that I have layers and depth and experiences that have molded me into the “onion” that I am!  It’s beautiful really.

Sure, not all of the layers hold awesome memories…in fact, some of them are quite depressing.  I found crappy report cards with “needs improvement” plastered all over them and “I’ll be sure to tell Ryan not to pick on Paul anymore” notes from school administrators…I also found drawings and cards negatively written by a sad, angry boy…..me.

There were many positive things too, like encouraging letters from my mom and redeeming “Paul is making great improvements” notes from teachers and other things that represented my growth and ability to change.  Man, God sure had His wide, heavy, protective, loving hands on my life.  He still does.  I’m Grateful for that.

We all have a story friends.  We all have fond memories mixed with not-so-fond memories.  We all are human, imperfectly stumbling our way through life, doing our best.  Let’s not be so hard on ourselves, on our past lives, on our times of “falling short.”

There’s something to be said for facing our own selves head on.  To frame the picture of our lives and proudly display it for all to see.  We are each a unique painting, colors creatively, chaotically, yet purposefully splatted on a canvas.  We’re not meant to be hidden or subdued or ashamedly slid under the bed….we’re meant to shine, mixing our colors with those around us.  I need to work on this more.

You see, I believe many of the memories that I’ve forgotten have been intentionally buried deep to avoid pain, not lost forever…maybe they’re resting on God’s lap…or sitting in a jar on His nightstand and He’s sitting there with a big fatherly smile, handing them back to me as He knows I can handle them….as He knows others can handle them….yeah, I’ll go with that.

God Bless,

Paul

 

 

Why The Simpler Things Can Be Better

004Kids don’t typically care about fancy stuff.  As long as they’re entertained, they’re happy.

You know how it is….you spend a lot of money on a fancy toy, thinking the kids will be totally stoked and over-joyed…..and they may be excited for a moment…..until you come into the room and see them playing with a toilet paper roll, or a rock, or a box.  Meanwhile, that shiny, expensive toy is in the corner collecting dust.  Pretty funny.

A few weeks ago, I sent my wife away to the beach and the boys and I had a guy’s weekend.  We had a lot of fun eating junk food, watching baseball, bowling, farting, burping, etc.

Although we did a lot of fun things, sitting in the back of my truck, at the airport, eating burgers and watching airplanes was my favorite.  I think the boys enjoyed it too.  It was simple-fun, you know, memory stuff.

It seems like, at least with my boys, the experiences that cause life to slow down a little are what matter the most to them….the times where conversation is shared and time has no hold.

Don’t get me wrong, they love video games and new toys and shiny cool stuff.  Usually though, after a while, most of it ends up in the closet.

Finding that balance between shiny stuff and good ‘ol fashioned interaction is tough, especially in this day and age.  Kids are adaptable though and over time, they’ll follow our lead if we’re consistent and deliberate.

As a dad, I’m more interested in creating memories vs. stockpiling toys.  Hopefully my boys will find more value in relationships vs. stuff someday…..I think they’re on the right track.  For now, they’re just kids, figuring stuff out and I’m ok with that.

A great reward for me would be 20 years down the road….while drinking coffee or something, my boys start bringing up memories from their childhood.  The simple, good memories of laughs shared, experiences had and freedom felt.  I hope to experience this kind of reminiscing someday….God willing.

God Bless,

Paul

 

You Ever Do This?

Past and FutureI’ve been doing a lot of internal reflection lately.  I have these seasons where I evaluate who I am, what direction I’m heading and where God may be leading me.

I typically like to look to the past to see where I’ve been and who I’m becoming.

My writing has been inconsistent lately.  To be honest, I’ve questioned if this whole writing thing was just a phase, a season if you will.

So, I started digging into my life archives and remembered a time in elementary school, I think it was 6th grade or something.  We used to have free-writing times, where we could create stories and share them with the class.  I was kind of the class clown and my stories were pretty goofy.  I remember that they always made people laugh.  You know, characters falling off cliffs, swinging from vines and crazy, rough-boy stuff like that.  I remember my classmates being engaged in my stories and how easy it was for me to put my stories together.

I then remembered my college days.  How I threw a 2o+ page paper together in a few hours, in the middle of the night.  The words just flowed on to the paper and they actually kind of made sense!

Strangely, these memories encouraged me.  I’m grateful for that.

I’m a little different from other folks in that, while other’s live in the past and struggle with moving forward, I often live in the present and forget to use my past as a tool.  There’s so much to learn from our past….I’m discovering this more and more as I get older.

So, in regards to my writing, I guess I’ll just keep hitting these keys and try to remain open to the direction that my words take me.  Maybe I would actually be disobeying my calling if I didn’t keep my fingers moving.

The answer isn’t clear just yet, but I figured I would continue this weird path towards self-discovery, my writing and my calling.

God is good, He’s got this and I trust Him.

God Bless,

Paul

 

Campfire

campfirebeachsmallMy family just got back from a much-needed beach trip.  It was rejuvenating to say the least.

We ate, we laughed, we walked, we strolled, we kicked sand, we created memories.

I’ve wanted to have a campfire on the beach for a long time.  There’s something nostalgic about fires, sticks and s’mores.  Maybe it’s the sound of the ocean.  Maybe it’s the smoke-marinated clothes.  Maybe it’s the common bond of sitting around an open flame, sometimes silently.  I think it’s a mix of all 3.  Actually for me, there’s another factor……my sons.

For some reason, building a campfire on the beach is something that I want my boys to remember.  I want them to remember the long walk from the hotel to the beach, toting the wood, skewers and other supplies.  I want them to remember finding the perfect spot to gather.  I want them to remember crumpling up the paper, carefully placing the kindling and clicking the lighter.  I want them to remember the anticipation of dad finally opening the bag of marshmallows.  I want them to remember my hand on theirs as we gently, tactically toast up that perfect, toasty ball of sugar.  Lastly, I want them to remember the love shared.

There’s so many more “campfire” moments that I hope to share with my sons.  I didn’t learn a lot of “manly stuff” growing up, but I’m figuring it out as I go.

The actual “stuff” that I teach them isn’t what’s most important.  Love should be the fuel behind every memory.  Them sensing that love is what’s most important.

Someday, I hope to see them creating loving memories with their own families.  Maybe they’ll have their own “campfire” moments.  As long as love motivates them, even the simplest of times will ignite memories for generations.

God Bless,

Paul

She Was a Good Car

Selling CarToday, we sold our car.  It was our first new car and it still feels like we just brought it home.  We purchased it when life was much different.  I had just started a new job and we didn’t have any kids.

Fast forward 8 years and here we are…..we now have 2 beautiful boys, 2 & 6 years old.  My wife is now an AMAZING stay-at-home-mom and I am still working at the same great place.  Our new, inherited vehicle was my mother-in-law’s…..she passed away from cancer a few months ago.

Things sure have changed.  Ups, downs, career changes, health changes, life changes….pretty wild.

I’m gonna miss our car.  From the milk and coffee stains, to the cracker crumbs, to the apple juice splatters on the roof, to the beach trips taken, to the trips from the hospital with our freshly new baby boys…..good times.

I know it’s just a hunk of metal, but it was our hunk of metal.  It represents a large chunk of our lives.

So now it’s time to make new memories.  To spill more milk and spread more crumbs.  That’s how it works.  You close one chapter and begin another one.  It’s sad and fun at the same time.

I’m reminded today of how quickly life flies by….of how things never stay the same.  Most of all, I’m reminded of how temporary it all is.

I can’t imagine this world and our temporary conditions being all there is.

The only thing that lasts forever is my faith in Jesus.  My faith itself never changes, but the journey certainly does.  Each day is a new adventure and an opportunity to learn and make new memories.  God is good.

God Bless,

Paul