Why I Left, And Why I’m Back

It’s been a long time since anything has been posted here. Looking back at some of my old posts, it’s easily apparent how much I, my wife and my daughter have all changed. No longer is my little girl a baby – instead, she is a fully opinionated, long haired, vastly undersized almost three year old. Time moves more rapidly than ever before.

Taking a break from writing was never an intentional decision – rather, it was a biproduct of a life continuously changing, of my energy and efforts being steered in a multitude of other directions. Through it all, through the constantly changing landscape that I have been navigating as a husband and father, I have come to realize that not writing, that not prioritize putting my thoughts on paper, has caused a part of me to get lost. There is dearly important part of my mind that only seems to come alive when I use my creative side. Writing is one of those mediums that brings out that passionately creative side, and I have been missing it.

That aside, I have also come to realize that these posts, that this snapshot of my current life and the challenges and victories and joys and sorrows that we face as a family, is deeply important. This blog is more than a hobby – it’s a diary, a chronicle of the growth of myself, my wife, my daughter, and our family as a whole.

So that being said, I am back. I hope that in some way my writing can provide some level of entertainment, joy, and those moments that make you as a parent feel like you aren’t alone. Our lives are not always the highlight reels that we convey to the world. Life is sticky, messy, smelly, frustrating, exhausting, and occasionally highlighted by a moment of unparalleled love, joy, peace, perfection.

But most of the time, life is just life. And I love my life.

4 Reasons I Strongly Dislike”Frozen”

A few weeks ago, I got laid off from my job. It was a terrible circumstance, left me feeling basically incapable and like a tremendous failure to my family. Since then, I have been able to land a fantastic new position that will be a great blessing, and it has given me more time with my little girl.

I have an interesting dilemma on my hands three days out of the week (the other two, my daughter is at day care). In order to start my new position, I must take a state licensing exam that requires me to study. On the other hand, my cute little girl is here and I would much rather play with her, take her to the park, go to the zoo, etc. Since I have the studying to do, what can I do with my daughter when she’s awake? Needless to say, she’s been getting a little more screen time than I would love, but I don’t know what else to do about it.

In the last three weeks, I’ve watched Frozen at least 50 times. I’m not even exaggerating. Since I’ve watched this movie so many freaking times that my eyes are about to bleed, I decided to write a lovely ode to why I loathe this movie. Anna, you’re stupid. Here are four reasons why I most certainly do not want to build a freaking snowman.

  1. The music is unbearably repeatable. I can’t stand it. Other than the opening scene with the song “Frozen Heart” with the burly outdoorsmen cutting ice and hauling it back, the music should and will make most men pull their hair out. The music behind “For the first time in forever….” plays – AND I HAVE COUNTED – four times. FOUR TIMES. One song, in the same movie. Oh, and just to rub it in, they’ve gone as far as to make it the background music on the menu page as well. So it plays four times during the movie, then once on an endless loop when I’m too busy to turn the stupid thing off. Also, I know it won an award an all that stuff, but “Let It Go” is actually terrible. Stop it Elsa, I don’t care if you’re letting go of your troubles. Find some other words to express yourself.
  2. Anna is a crazy impulsive teenager. Considering Elsa has just come of age, which presumably means 18, Anna being her little sister must be somewhere in the 16-year-old range. She’s a 16 year old that is entirely fixated on finding romance, so much so that she is willing to marry literally the first male she has ever met, the same night as meeting him. If she were my daughter, I would probably lock her in her room and throw away the key until she’s 30. Have some common sense, dear.
  3. Why is Hans left in charge? Seriously, there is no other qualified authority in all of the kingdom to watch over it during the blizzard than a foreign prince with no leadership skills? The power structure is literally Elsa and nobody else? This seems to be quite the vast oversight in the plot line. Surely there is somebody else – an adviser, something – that would have been better suited.
  4. Elsa’s makeover bugs me. I know I might be prickling some hairs here, but bear with me. Elsa climbs the mountain, realizing her own powers, emphatically casting her gloves into the storm so as to never hide her powers again. That’s all fine and good, and I understand that it’s a critical moment in the plot line, but why did we have to go to “that perfect girl is gone” as she struts out on to the balcony, transforming Elsa from a well-meaning princess to a girl that is identifying with her rebellious side? I don’t see how this moment is critical to the plot. Elsa could very well have continued to develop her powers, realizing her own potential, without having to change her appearance. I hope my daughter does not glean from this movie that self empowerment and self actualization must come with a scandalous makeover.

Please, I beg of you, take this all with a grain of salt knowing that I am a battered and tortured father of a toddler girl. I’m sure the movie isn’t as bad as I say it is, if I would have only had to see it once – maybe twice. But 50 times and counting is wearing on my good senses.

Send help soon.

Why Do I Always Quit?

This is a little outside the typical scope that I write about here, but I decided that vulnerability is never a bad thing. I know, typically my ramblings on here highlight my adorable, opinionated little toddler of whom I am quite strongly endeared, but today, it’s a little more personal.

I’m a quitter.

Yikes. Not fun words, are they? Something about that word has an incredible haunting ability capable of crippling the strongest of men. “A quitter? Me?! NEVER,” most men proclaim. From the outside, it appears that most of them are right. I mean, when I stack myself up against other men I know – my father, my father-in-law, friends, cousins, etc., – it appears that most are driven, hard working, capable men that have substantially more character than I do. They decide to do something, and they do it. They create a plan, and they see it through. I don’t stack up. And quite frankly, it sucks to see myself in such a way.

There are many things I care deeply about not giving up on. My family deserves better than a quitter. I work two jobs and I’m in school, so from the outside, by most accounts, I appear to be a hard worker. But from the outside, people don’t see my routinely bleak evenings of eating crap food, drinking beer and binge-watching Netflix.  They don’t see the empty promises and goals I proclaim to the world, and to my wife, like a man on a mission that meekly fall, like a shell without a seed, by the wayside without so much as a passing glance.

You see, I talk a big game. Something catches my interest, and for about 5 seconds, I’m all about it. “I’m going to write a book!” I said. “I’m going to get healthy!” I said. “I’m going to read my bible every morning and work out every night!” I said. Yet here I stand – or rather, sit – not doing any of the above. Not writing a book. Not changing my diet. Not reading every morning and not working out every night. I sit, eyes fixed to the TV screen, mindlessly shoveling chips into my face, instead of actively taking charge of my own identity, my own life, my own possibilities. Basically, I’m acting as a bystander to my own story, a victim of perfectly and wholly avoidable circumstance in my own life, and it is driving me absolutely mad.

So, why do I quit? Why do I give up on things that clearly matter to me? Perhaps it’s from a fear of failure. Perhaps I’m just lazy. Perhaps I put too much stock on the “now” instead of the “then.” But something seriously, deeply, profoundly must change in my approach to following through on the goals I have set forth.

I’m done quitting. Time to start doing.

 

7 Promises I Always Make And Never Keep

Ever since the birth of my daughter about a year and a half ago, I feel as though I have been hurtled into the passenger seat of a Ferrari. It’s really fast, I am in no way in control, and everything is flying past me in such a blur that I can hardly make out what I’m passing.

This is the time of year for resolutions. Yes, a vast majority of individuals will excitedly rush to the gym for about six days before falling back to their Netflix binge-watching habits, and parents everywhere will tell themselves that they will get it all together. I’m going to cut through the crap, though: I am most certainly going to continue to fail

in my next year as a father. Despite my best efforts, here are seven promises I will end up not keeping… (Continue reading at Scary Mommy here.)

Simple Joys of a Father’s Christmas

There is something utterly captivating, magical and nostalgic about Christmas. Hands down, above anything else, it is my favorite time of the year, and it always has been. Ever since I was a child, I could feel that holiday magic – that indescribable warmth that consumes us all from the inside out; a joy, love and peace that spreads to all that we are near. To this day, I still feel the embrace of that same warmth at this time of year.

But now, enjoying the second Christmas season of my daughter’s life, Christmas becomes a little bit more. It has morphed from simply a magical holiday into a true honor and privilege to be in some small way responsible for the manner in which my daughter feels that same magic that I always felt as a child. Christmas as a father means having the tremendous blessing of developing and creating life-long traditions, memories, and a tone for the season that my little girl will carry with her always. This season has so many joys, but here are five of the most wonderful simple pleasures that this season brings to me as a father.

  1. Decorating the Christmas tree. Is there a more splendid representation of this magical time than a tree, trimmed with elegant decorations on every bow? Taking the time to put up the tree, to string it with lights that set the whole tree a-glow and gently, strategically, hang ornaments from tip to trunk sets the entire season into motion. It’s the first thing we do in my home – it’s the symbol that the season of Advent has arrived.
  2. Turning on the Christmas music. I have always believed that music sets the tone no matter where you are in life, and with Christmas, it is no different. Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como – they provide the soundtrack to the season. The music is nostalgic and brings back that familiar feeling, and having the opportunity to give daughter memories of the same music from year to year is something I cherish.
  3. Wrapping presents for my family. On a fundamental level, I absolute hate wrapping presents. It always takes me too long, I’m terrible at it, and I feel like my gift looks like a wad of crumpled up newspaper. Putting all of that aside though, it feels absolutely wonderful to wrap presents, knowing my wife and daughter will rip into them on Christmas morning. Wrapping presents, in a sense, is setting the table for the opportunity to bring happiness to their lives in some small way.
  4. Christmas dinner(s). My wife and I are so greatly blessed for the closeness of our families – every year, we cram three elaborate, delicious and entirely fattening Christmas dinners into three days in one week. Coming together, giving thanks and sharing a delicious meal with family gives me a chance to deeply reflect on just how lucky I am for the family I have.
  5. Christmas morning. I’ve heard it said that “to awaken on Christmas morning is to awaken the child in all of us,” and I simply could not agree more. I still wake up and smile, the joy of the day in my heart, but now for many different reasons than when I was a child. Now, even better than all those years ago, I have the joy of brining happiness to my own child on this day. Waking up, carrying my sleepy toddler downstairs as she rubs her eyes and teaching her all about what Christmas morning means, I showed her to the tree and my wife and I taught her how to unwrap presents. This year was wonderful. I will always love Christmas morning.

I’m a blessed man for the wife and daughter that I have the joy of loving, and at no time throughout the year is love better shown than at Christmas time. It’s the little things that make this season so merry and bright.

In the immortal words of Charles Dickens, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

Why Being a Great Father Has Nothing to do With Being a Great Father.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. I’ve been thinking about what fatherhood means, who I want to be, what I want my daughter to see me as, and how I want my wife to see me in my role as a father, husband and leader. First and foremost, I haven’t been living up to any of the ways in which I have been wanting them to view me, but more importantly, I’m realizing that it isn’t about me at all. Being an amazing husband and father isn’t about trying to be amazing – it’s about being humble, gracious, kind, generous, and pointing my family to Christ. It isn’t about me. It’s about Jesus.

I have made my entire life has been about me. It’s been about trying to earn people’s adoration, about fitting in, being liked, being talented. This frame of mind that has been so highly consumed with self promotion and self image has led to me telling people what I thought they wanted to hear out of me instead of telling them the truth. It turned me from a kind-hearted person into a selfish, lying jerk.

Is this who I want my daughter to see? Is this the character of a man that will set the tone for what she is to look for in a man when she gets older? Absolutely not.

It has been a startling realization lately as to how out of control and rampant I have let my fixation on myself and my own image run, so much so that it has been at the expense of my family. I’m ashamed of the character I have developed, and am eager to start anew.

Fathers, please listen carefully here – your job is not to focus on how well you are doing your job. It isn’t to try to appear to be something you aren’t, or to focus on being better than the other person. The best thing you can do for your family is to seek first the kingdom of God. Pursue Him, learn His character, embrace His grace and know that you don’t have to pretend to be perfect, because God loves you for exactly who you are. Once you have truly experienced His grace, knowing you don’t have to try to earn his (or your family’s) love, life just becomes more simple.

So, you are fourth in line in your own life. God first, then your spouse, then your children, and then yourself. This is what I am learning in my own life, and by no means do I have it all figured out. I fall short of the glory of God each and every day. But the greatest news I have for you is that God loves you.

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I Refuse To Let Fear Dictate My Daughter’s Life

Fear sucks. I absolutely hate the emotion. It’s one of the only emotions I have encountered in my life that has the ability to haunt you, stay with you, and cling on for dear life no matter what you try to get rid of it. Fear manifests itself in many ways—some helpful, some crippling—and has a profound ability to impact the choices we make. (Continue reading at Scary Mommy here.)