Thursday, June 28, 2012

As I live and breathe ...

My mother used to use that entry line as she was about to speak about something unique and special to her. It is a term used frequently by people from the South. It is a term that, as I sit here in the still darkness of a still quiet house, has come to me as I awoke thinking about this amazing thing called family. 

As you might recall, our son and his wife are in the Dominican Republic leading a team on a mission venture and my wife and I are keeping their three children with our other two grandkids thrown into the mix on certain days.  Five grandkids ages nine down to almost three; as I live and breathe I have never been more astonished, amazed and thrilled to be able to watch what children are capable of, how their minds interact with each other and how each of them are so uniquely wired and yet so wonderfully entwined with each other. I am equally breath-deprived in watching the patience, the organization and the love my wife, their Grammy, has shown through this whole multiple day adventure for it surely is an adventure.

As I live and breathe, I  have never been more amazed at how children find ways to play together, in how their personalities are so uniquely woven from their individual  lives but find that common place they can go to be so engaged with each other. Yes, there are times of tears of frustration but in the main, from our eldest, Logan, down to the little pepper pod, Ms, Hope, they make it work.  They are at times loud and at times gently quiet.  They are at times yearning for a hug and at times do not want to be touched in any way by any one.  They are at times wanting to be the center of attention and at times to be a part of the whole.  They are always hungry. They are always energized. They are always simply amazing to watch and always so easy for me to just watch and begin to tear up at this amazing sight before me in the craziness of the moment. They are truly the joy of my life but it has taken a week with them to realize the gravity of that statement.

I must add that many times this week I have quietly held Ms Hope or watched her unbounded energy and glowing personality and found myself wanting to just hold her to my heart or just begin to cry thinking about how blessed she is to be living in America and not Ethiopia in a family that fully and completely loves her and her phenomenal, engaging manner.  She is healthy, safe, protected and loved beyond measure by our entire family. She can work a ropeline like no child I have every seen. She is  happy and can always make those around her happy. She  is  strong, agile, always smiling, has a vocabulary for a nearly three year old that astounds us all.  Her skin is like soft velvet and she never just stops until that magical nap time when all our world is quieted for that precious hour or so. I have come to realize in my own heart with this time what the beauty of a blessing really is and so happy my son and his bride had the foresight and courage to fight the process and the adoption system to finally bring her into our world. She has changed our world in ways none of us could have imagined. She makes me a better man, father, grand father; yes, she has that gift and we all get to unwrap that gift of unbounded energy each moment she is with us.

So as I live and breathe in the dawning outside our window of a day that will again be filled with next experiences with these precious children. I can but bask in the reality that they will be loved, respected, appreciated, fed, cared for and feel that love in a most unique way. Yes, as I live and breathe this breath of family, it thrills me that God has given me this joy on a scale I still marvel at and wonder just what the next minute will bring. We have them through the weekend and I am already dreading giving them up; yes, that is true!

If you have small children or grandchildren, this day, find ways to love them and show them that love in a very special way.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Joy of Children

What a gift to be around children!  My son and his wife are in the Dominican Republic this entire week on a mission team trip so we are keeping their three for eight nights plus, beginning this morning, our daughter's two today all day; that equals FIVE kids ages 9 down to 3! So our lives are somewhat upended but I have come to realize what a precious gift it is to be around small children. The energy, the joy of each other and watching the DNA you created flow in so many ways in the children astounds.

Yesterday I realized all over again how vital the role of the mother (in this case grandmother, aka Grammy) is to this whole venture and a major venture it is.  Getting three small children up on Sunday morning, feeding and dressing them and then bringing to church, registering them for Sunday School and then the church experience begins; wow!  Yesterday I, aka Poppy, had to be at church at 0800 for Praise Team practice so Grammy was faced with the mission of feeding, dressing, transporting these three gifts to church and, oh by the way, in time for her, aka Grammy, to get to her Children's Ministry teaching role of 1st & 2nd graders by 0900.  Yep, it got done with almost no real help from Poppy, aka, me.

What a wonderful experience it was though in listening to their reports on how much they loved Sunday School, their water bottles filled with stuff, getting to be in Grammy's Sunday School class and all the time worrying about Ms Hope in her totally new environ that began with her melting down when Grammy took her to her new class.  As it turned out, she, Ms Hope, recovered immediately and apparently charmed, as only she can do, the Nursery ladies and then proceeded to work the rope line as only she can do as Grammy walked the three of these treasures through the hallway to link up with me.  And then I got to see that joy of three brightly smiling faces blaring up at Poppy as I kissed and hugged all three as they linked up with me before exiting the church. I love the graciousness of my church's people you could see in the smiles, twinkling eyes, touches. BLESSING!

I will close as I look at Ms Hope with pacifier plugged helping Grammy vacuum the floors while the rest are downstairs watching a movie.  I realize in just three days how much of my children's lives I missed due to long hours at my work.  So I get another chance and I am loving each increment of that new chance.  I keep thinking of Proverbs 22:6 as we seek to raise these children in the few days and times we have them to know that God loves them for we know that if they are trained in that reality, in their lives, they will return to it. So very True!  And to know they get to to be reared in their own homes by parents that are so invested in their spiritual lives and churches.  JOY!

Tiring? yes!  Worth it? Beyond measure.  Additionally, my wife, Grammy, is simply amazing in her organizational skills, her ability to connect at each age level in an amazing way, stays calm, cooks, cleans, sings, reads,, simply amazing. My role, as Poppy, is the be the cat herder but I also get to listen to Ms Gracie read avidly, do math facts, watch baseball with Noah and pitch with him and just smile at the things Hope says and does. TREASURE.

Well, time to start the lunch process now that the house is cleaned up from breakfast for the seven of us! And then it will be time for supper! 

The joy of children is in them being the joy of their grandparents! I understand it better now more than ever before.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Role of a Dad Today

Good morning and the cool morning air is wonderful as the sun blares across the hardwood floors and the smell of coffee begins to wafting to my needing nostrils this morning.  This has been a uniquely busy week and this will be a busy day as we look toward a busy Sunday; Father's Day.  I rarely do not get all misty nor reminiscent of past holidays and I must say, especially say Father's Day but my family always makes it special for me so on this morning, I have awakened with this gnawing at the vital nature of a father in a family as our new century painfully unfolds.

As the father of a daughter and of three beautiful grand daughters but as point of influence to thousands of women either as students, inmates, friends, relatives, the role of the male in the role as father is under challenge and threat as never before in my life time.  On these pages and on ranting flows on FB posts is evidence of the sensitivity that exists today on this very topic. You may call it same-sex but that final point of focus is the role of a father in male form. It is ludicrous to even write something like that to me but alas, that is the politicized fury that has been ushered into the lexicon of today; the role of the male in a marriage!

Yes, I grew up with a father in the house. Ideal would certainly not define nor describe that reality for there are not warm and fuzzy remembrances of that living situation.  I have no recollection of wisdom transformed and implanted into my in word nor deed from my father.  My father was a strong man, a smart man, a hard working man, a WWII decorated combat veteran. For all of that I can be and am quite proud of my father. He provided financial means for the family. I will keep this on the positive side and not venture to the liability side of the balance sheet. But he was there!. 

One thing I have come to realize in the last decade is that a man in a house with a group of people, "being there," does not qualify as providing what a family needs so desperately from a man, a father and a husband.  There is a distinct, established, tested, Scriptural role for a husband and a father in a family and those roles are irrefutable and unchanging in a normal family if that normal family hopes to produce normal offspring and start the cycle again in a next generation. It really is that simply. To morph, to abuse, to upend a principle of life always creates angst and disarray. I believe none can argue that the level of angst and disarray that abounds in the name of EQUALITY is at fever pitch. I will take more grief for even writing this but frankly right is right and wrong is always wrong and no wrong will ever be make right until the light of right is shown on the wrong.

The role of a man in a family is to provide stability, direction, nurturing, example, protection and a shared love with the mother.  My entire life I have heard and now fully concur that a girl learns her value system toward men, a mate, from what she sees in her dad and will seek her spouse using the compass learned in the home from watching and interfacing with her father to commit her life to that spouse and future children Absent that male and influence and compass, how can you expect anything other than the chaos we are witnessing on every hand, right?

There are many gifts and rewards on this earth a man can compete for and attain but to have your daughter respect you, seek your counsel, want your opinion, love you, comfort you, make things special; there is no greater reward for a father. Then to have your grand daughter want to love you, brush your hair, read to you, pitch with you, want you at their games, recitals, baptisms, sit in your lap, kiss them, hold them; yep, that is the reward of being a father.  I did not get to experience that in my home as I grew up for that was not the nature of the culture of the family nor did my two sisters and it leaves a gap and a void into the future.

Daughters want to be special, feel protected, shown attention and given the opportunity to grow under the protection of the Tree of Fatherhood. Daughters that are not afforded this look for it as they mature and too many times they search in the wrong places and find the wrong results that taints a lifetime and a generation. That is the reality of our world today and this whole same-sex marriage thing is perfect example of aberrant behavior run out of hand due to the very points above I believe.  The thousands of women I have met and spoken with in jail worship services further attest to the longing of a young girl to have a father that is there in every way and if not, finds solace in the wrong places. It is just so sad and frankly, angering to me to see myriad examples.

Our family is close and we work at pulling the boundaries of that closeness more tightly all the time especially with our five grand kids and most especially our three beautiful grand daughters.

On this Father's Day, it takes more, so much more that just a man in the house. It takes a man and a woman as a husband and a wife together committed to weathering the storms of this life, and surely they come, for those jewels of children are watching and listening and will example how you, together, navigate those storms.  Then they have a reservoir of traits, memories and values to tap into as they assume their rightful role as a parent with a husband and a wife that yields children.

So it is far more than just being there! It is about being there fully engaged and committed to the journey through the good times and the bad, the highs and the lows for as my mother used to say, "little eyes are watching."  What are your little eyes getting to see for the tape recorders for the future are running 24/7 and yes, it is a daunting task but what a blessing!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Kite of Many Colors

As week when the weather finally cleared, there were a few men with kites on the beach flying them. In my whole life I have nerve been able to life a kite to flight status and believe, me, I have tried. I watched the technique in the ocean driven winds and cross winds. Generally the kits were small and seemingly inexpensive but I saw the methodical easiness of the kites using their wrist moments to slowly bring the kite to differing heights. I was mesmerized with the gentle dips and pulls of the kites controlled by the kiter on the ground so easy and gentle in the maneuvering.

In watching these successful listings I found myself captivated with the metaphor of kiting to life.  A little wind to lift the sales of the kites, a small, light cord that connects the kite to the kiter but also the skill of the kiter wrapped with patience as he maneuvered the winds and cross currents of the wind to see his handiwork begin to elevate. It was really a spectacle of craftsmanship unfolding before from my balcony peach.  When the kite reached it apex, I like the kiter, seemed to really enjoyed the gentle manipulation to exercise the airborne flight. It was really an exercise in beauty and gentleness. I found myself comparing the work of the kiter and the work of the human caught in the strong cross currents of life.

The tether holder is our Lord and Savior and the umbilical cord held gently by the kiter is our Lord and Savior. As the kites, we ebb and flow at times even crashing into destruction. But even then the kiter steadily picks up the kite, repairs any damage and back to the windswept beach to get that kite airborne once more; the place where the kite is designed to be.

Yesterday I attended a Catholic funeral a the loss of a very dear friend, then sat for a few hours a the hospital of a friend undergoing potentially harsh surgery and then into over three hours of musical practice; yesterday was mentally and physically exhausting but I kept having this ensure that I was that kite and the string was the people of my life including family but the first hand on that string was my Jesus so I know I was in great hands.   Staying with the metaphor, it was, after all, a really great day for I landed safely, accomplished my agenda and finish well in preparation for another day of being knocked around by the winds of this life.

As kites, and we are, who or what is our tether. Who is the one manipulating the tether cord to get me to the heights God has for me today?  For me, those answers are easily to provide. I suggest you taking a few minutes as this day begins to unfolds to assess the players in your daily kite flight this day."and it may surprise what the Lord has done."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Joys of this Life

This has been a really good week for me. There are many contributing factors to that equation as I sit here in the cool morning air, just getting up, waiting for the smell of that addictive drug called coffee and facing a really busy day, the Lord's Day.  This week my wife and I spent nearly a week at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where we were met with heavy rains the first two days. Nothing much worse to me than being stuck in a hotel room on a beach in a heavy downpour with no laptop and seven channels on a small TV screen. But the drive to Myrtle Beach last Sunday was a capper to a really great day in so many ways and I realized in the rear view of the week that that was the beginning of a whole array of factors that has landed this early morning.

One thing that really stands out to me was looking out on the empty South Carolina beach many times during the day of June 6, the day of the Normandy Invasion in 1944.  Beaches do that to me ever since I walked the landing beaches at Normandy a few memorable years ago.  Remembering the still present German bunkers, machine gun and field gun emplacements, holding the sand in my hands, feeling tears well up many times, strolling the gentle quiet of the hallowed ground of the American Military Cemetery on Omaha Beach all melt into a mental place that is inescapable and a beach will always take me there. So as my wife sat on the balcony of our room, I wiped many tears that day while residing in that place cast from my time at Normandy.

Another, and probably even more moving experience for me this week, was sitting in a nice restaurant across from a young family with two small children. I become affixed on the interface of the young mother and dad as they taught and corrected and coached and laughed and scolded their two offspring. So there in that large, crowded restaurant watching this ebb and flow I was yet again moved to tears with the reality of life. Alicia, I am sure, felt I had finally crossed over into Nutdom as we ate, I quiet, with tears warmly streaming watching this family but thinking of my own family.

So many times we had sat in restaurants doing exactly the same back and forth. I found myself transfixed with the passage of time, the value and worth of parenting and the touch parents have on children that manifests when they have children and start the cycle of teaching all over again but with different DNA, a new culture but values are built by and within families.   So when I start my daily readings from newspapers around the world and am hit with yet another round of the politics of same-sex marriage, I find my stomach churning at how vital it is for a male and a female together to instill the traditions, the boundaries and the values that comprise a culture of a family unit as time passes and maturity sets a pace for the next generation.  The same-sex issue framed on "equality" is simply absurd to me as a Christian man for it runs against everything I believe is given us Scripturally and philosophically on what a marriage is and is supposed to be. Some will again not like my thoughts but that "some" chose to read this so that "some" will just have to know where my heart resides clearly on this topic.  Children need a mother and a father; not a man and a man or a woman and a woman!

Another phenomenal experience for me this week but the drive home from South Carolina as we traversed the breathtaking beauty of West Virginia. It was like seeing it for the first time for me. The mountains and lush, rolling hills of vegetation with the blue haze wrapped around it always takes me back to the maneuvering of the Civil War combatant forces of the North and the South. I easily can envision horse cavalry slicing through those same hollows or horse drawn artillery moving to the front or the thousands of men sweating but ever pushing toward winning a cause, a cause they themselves believed in enough to die for. I wonder, today, how many causes I would choose to fight for enough to give my life for?

Which takes me to conclusion for that got answered last evening as my son and his family sat in our basement watching the NBA playoffs between Miami and Boston.  To be able to sit on that sofa and hold my grandson, Noah, close to me, rubbing his belly, kissing him endlessly, running my hands through his hair, explaining parts of the game to him, watching his young mind drink in a game he loves; PRICELESS.  In that nearly three hours we spent together with our son, Taylor, and his beautiful wife Joanna, Ms Gracie and her new found hunger and excitement to do math facts, Noah drinking in that game and then Ms. Hope; oh, Ms Hope! What a precious, spirit-filled, blessing she is to my family with her engaging, fun-filled nature and the energy she brings to us all, MY FAMILY. 

That same family that began with a mother and a father that yielded a son and a daughter and now that same son and daughter 

Yes, this has been a great week and each Joy loaded into the equation has yielded yet another span of a week to look back upon in amazement at how a million little things can mean to very much in so many ways. This will be a very busy day with singing, a wedding, a worship service but at the aggregate, I know now this will be another great day. How do I know that? I know that God has sanctioned and ordained the families of this family to nurture and to have our children and grandchildren in a church with the Bible is taught in its purity.  Alicia begins teaching a class of young children today at our church and I know she will be a blessing to those young minds for generations to come.

I will close with this simple truth; right is always right and wrong is always wrong and no wrong will ever be made right by joining with another wrong.  Families are the unit God created between a man and a woman to weather the storms of life. With each storm, wisdom and honor are honed and integrated and then readied to be passed onto a new, next generation. 

Be blessed this day! Love YOUR family!

Saturday, June 2, 2012


After nearly forty-two years of marriage, two children, two wonderful spouses for our children and five phenomenal grand children, you would think there would be no new plateaus of loves or realities uncovered; but I was wrong!  Yesterday, my wife was feted in a tremendous way by a large group of her peers and leaders at a faculty and staff recognition breakfast at her school, Lake Center Christian School, from which she has now retired. 

We gathered in familial secrecy to surprise Alicia (which she does not like to be surprised) but mission was accomplished as we gathered around her at the round table for us, our family.  As we sat there watching a video made specifically for Alicia's tribute, listening to person after person offer comments of her love, her caring, her touch on their lives and the lives of countless children, I found myself becoming absorbed in an amazing way with the power of family; my family.

The day was simply beyond anything any of us could have or would have thought about for the event was well planned, sincere, low profile, loving, respectful and wonderfully stressful in all of us striving to hold back tears of joy. By the way, I did a terrible job of holding back those tears for the harder I tried to restrain, the more my whole body was pained with the effort.  But I looked around our table many times looking at my children, my son-in-love and daughter-in-love, my grandchildren and I kept having these waves of warmth wash over me at what family really means; it means life during and legacy after this life!

All afternoon after we finally returned home I was basking in how much I love my family with the many personalities, loves, ages, intricacies, hopes, drives; the threads of a woven DNA from two people that met when we were twelve years old at a pee wee football game. To see Alicia, that cheerleader, honored in such a hallowed way was such an uplifting, joyous experience for us all but I will say especially for me for as the husband, the father and the patriarch, I had never felt more special and more loved than sitting around that table watching the whole process unfold.

In the work that I now do, I see so much distress and void from dysfunctional or nonexistent families in my students and therefore I can easily take my family for granted. I do plead guilty to that and I seek God's forgiveness doing that. My family is, well, special. We are close. We are respectful. We can laugh at each other and at each other. We can cry, we can laugh, we can poke, we can be quiet and the threads of love are always evident. As we all pitch in to raise and nurture and just enjoying getting to experience our precious Hope, our grand daughter from Ethiopia, I realized all over again what a phenomenal stroke of blessing God delivered upon our family with her place now in the family.

Yesterday provided me a step ladder upon which I could lift higher than normal to view across the horizon of the reality of how much family is and means as the years flow and meander toward that time of departure from this stage of life.  My heart swelled with pride in my children and the words my son offered to the gathering about his mom.  Listening to the flow of compliments and loving testimonies about my wife from so many others lifted me higher and higher.  Yesterday was a day of renewal, the beginning of reinvention, the precipice of the next step of life; and it feels really good this beautiful Saturday morning.

My family is much larger than just who sat around that table.  My family encircles thousands of students that I have come to know so well in the good times and the not so good times.  My family is stronger as the bonds of realizing how much we need each other's special touch is needed.  My family respects each other.  Families are a future built on a past.  Families are God sanctioned, set apart, sanctified for His Glory if committed to His Word.

This morning I am still tingling in the afterglow of a wonderfully stressful day of recognition, celebration and outpouring by so many about a member of my family which means my whole family was the recipient of all the words, expressions, gifts, testimonials and, well, unbounded, undeniable love focused on a woman that deserved every increment of the outpouring. 

So to my pretty little cheerleader from Elliot Grammar School, I could not be more proud nor any happier as my wife and as my friend than I was yesterday.  As the newness of days now come and reinvention of each other gets carved into our new lives together, I look forward to each new sunrise and sunset.

I do love my family! I love my family for God resides as the centerpiece of our existence and in all we do or will do. We are blessed and we know it!

Friday, June 1, 2012


I seem to have met several people yesterday out of my normal band of acquaintances but there was a common aura and essence surrounding these three people.  In our individual times together, the conversation happened upon the term, "reinvention" of themselves.  I found that intriguing and thus my brain, with all the phone calls, moving around, etc, of yesterday, delved into what "reinvention" means for the human being. 

Reinventing something or someone is a very powerful force.  It relates to taking a normal, functional process, ceasing it thus yanking that process from a zone of established comfort, reordering the components of that process and then rejoining old and new components into a whole new configuration.  That is a very interesting prescription for change!

Today is June 1. Everybody loves June 1 for an array of reasons. For young children, it means the ending of a school year.  Many corporation wait until June 1 to move employees to new location for it seems a natural payroll cut off date to make such a change. Many fiscal years begin this day. New life, new opportunities, new dreams, new adventures; the list could go on and on. 

But today at my house a new chapter is launched that is quite daunting, rather powerful, much hoped for, not fitting into the "normal" convention of our lives so I guess that leads us back to the concept of "reinvention."  See, today is my wife's last day to teach as a lifelong career and adventure.  Yesterday was filled with much recognition and much deserved praise for she is truly a dedicated, God-blessed teacher of young children which she has done all over the world. Today, June 1, will be yet another round of recognition for her by her peers and superiors and by a special surprise joining of we, her family, into that recognition at her school this morning.  She does not do well with surprises but I thought this day was unique and special enough that we, as a family, would enjoy becoming part of the joy of her recognition which is the opening salvo of her own reinvention of herself.

At sixty-four years of age, both of us, we go all the way back to our childhood at age twelve as she was this cute, dark haired sixth grade cheerleader and I was a tall skinny pee wee football player but I still have vivid memories of watching her covertly. We went to different schools but that was the root structure if a later friendship, then dating in high school, the a courtship, then a marriage, then a family, then a career together, then my retirement and thus "reinvention" and now, today, June 1, ends the beginning and begins a new chapter in our lives together as a family.  It is, well, daunting, when I really think about it.

I think the genesis of my blog this day began about 0300 when I awoke and began thinking of this person, this woman, this mother, this grandmother, this teacher, this wife that has journeyed untiringly and unceasingly for now over four decades alongside me. We have seen much joy, much blessing, much experience, much travel, much concern, much hope accomplished and much dashed together; always together. We have been blessed beyond measure. We have so many people we know in so many places around this world.  We enjoy each other; that is a blessing in and of itself but in that enjoyment, the tether is a God we know loves us for who we are individually and corporately.

As this day moves forward with family and friends, smiles and tears, stories and questions about the tomorrows, recognizing the freshness and newness of each new tomorrow does create a sense of excitement and joy with, of course, some reservation about how will it change both our lives. It is a chemical reaction but still, it will trigger a true reinventioning of both individually and as that "one" God sanctioned many years ago but seems only yesterday in so many ways.

So on this day as the strands of our lives are rearranged into something new, my prayer is that the emulsion of the new blend will be potent and powerful in our chosen ministries upon which we are dedicated.  I covet your prayers for the "nouveau Williams" couple for in anything new, the organism must be allowed time to learn, to prepare, to stretch, to test until the newly arranged components reinvent into a new, paradigm shifted being.  Yes, been thinking a great deal about this.

I could not be more proud of Alicia Williams than I am this day.  For those of you that know her, you know what a unique, special person she is. God has a greater plan for her life now I believe in her new invention that He will sanction. It will be fun to watch and to be part of it I know.