Posts Tagged With: children

THE MINE FIELD


I’ve had a chance to process more of what’s taking place AROUND me, but more importantly, what’s happening INSIDE of me. See, there’s been a shift of focus. Here’s what I mean…

In the past, I’ve been content to navigate life by trying my best to avoid instances of prejudice, discrimination and flat out bigotry. I call them racial land mines. Whether obvious or hidden, these land mines are a very real threat to me and others like me, in several aspects of daily life. It could be targeted discrimination on the job, excessive derision or bullying at school, false accusations by my neighbors, or undue scrutiny at the store.

LAND MINES.

Over the years, I’ve learned how to circumvent many of these situations by treading cautiously through life. A sad truth. I’ve done my best to teach these avoidance strategies to my two adult sons, and even my 13 year old. It absolutely kills me that this is even something that I have to do. But my hope was that having these tools might LESSEN the chance of them being injured, abused, or let’s be real… murdered. I say lessen because while prevention would be the obvious goal, there simply is no guarantee. I’m aware of the fact that when it comes to these land mines, prevention is not always possible, even under the best conditions.  One false step and it detonates. I NEED people to understand that I carry around with me the reality that there is no protected space. Anywhere. There is no guarantee of safety, even inside my own home.

I’ll be honest. In the past, when people asked about my experience in order to “understand what it’s like”, it was… frustrating. Not because they asked. But because I didn’t think they understood how much of an impossible request this might be. Why? Because there is no equivalent to systemic racism. It’s a different kind of beast. Nothing I described to them would come close to fully expressing the residual strife of a hostile environment built over hundreds of years. Even now, I can’t always articulate how I manage the haunting navigation of black life in America. The closest I’ve come recently is to say that my daily black experience can be summed up in one tormenting question…

AM I NEXT?

Imagine starting every day with this thought overshadowing every thing you do… every conversation, every activity, every interaction. Maybe that will give people insight into what it feels like to be black in America.

LAND MINES.

Because of their pervasiveness, I now know that it’s not enough to just AVOID them, we have to do the hard work and DISMANTLE them. I say WE because I’m convinced that we are far more likely to accomplish this united together than we ever could working alone. We start by having honest, uncomfortable, and sometimes difficult conversations with one another, so that we might understand the reality of the life we live, and how we affect each other. This is how we gain valuable perspective and hopefully, grace and empathy.

This also allows us to identify land mines that may not be obvious to everyone around us. Pointing them out is the first step toward disarming and hopefully destroying them. That’s not to say that I have all of the answers. But I do believe they can be found through our combined efforts.

So my focus has shifted.

I’m now at the point where I see the need and sincerely desire to have these conversations. As a matter of fact, I welcome anyone who wants to have genuine dialogue about our current conditions, the implications of this movement, the way all of this affects me and my family, how it might be affecting you and yours, and what can be done to move things forward.

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Lights Out


As you can imagine with six (6) children, my wife and I are no strangers to sudden, unexpected situations. Whether it’s a flooded bathroom, the smell of burning LEGOs, or the sound of shattering glass (and subsequent crying children), it usually means that we can pretty much forget whatever plans we THOUGHT we had for the day.😏

Even so, there are still those rare occasions that surprise us. Times when something really catches us off guard.

Such was the case yesterday.

Countdown Timer

As we prepared for worship at our 5:00pm main service, there were a few technical difficulties that, while not earth shattering, caused the service to be ever so slightly delayed. With the countdown timer nearing zero, we were all on stage awaiting the familiar sound of the tempo click in our in-ear monitors that signaled the beginning of the first song.

With enthusiasm and lots of energy, the team began to sing in earnest from the top of our lungs and the bottom of our hearts! 😃

Worship Team

And then, in what seemed like an instant, everything in the building shut down with a loud “THUNK!”. All the lights, monitors, microphones, computers, and instruments went dead. It was like someone hit the breaker and cut power to the entire building. We were plunged into darkness. 😳

What happened next was nothing short of amazing and awe inspiring.

The worship leader, thinking quickly, signaled us and had the singers continue singing the current song without missing a beat. He then encouraged the congregation to join in. Before I knew it, most of the musicians had left their instruments and joined us at the front of the stage. And without instruments or amplification, we filled the room with the sound of magnified worship! It created an atmosphere of immersive praise that emanated from every part of the room! 😍

Pastor on platform.

We finished a couple more songs a cappella as the operations team sprung into action and setup flood lights through the sanctuary. Once we had a decent amount of light, our senior pastor took the stage to address the congregation. He thanked God for those who were gathered in the sanctuary, for the church staff who attended to the children, insuring all security protocols were met, and for the willingness of everyone to help where needed.🙏🏽

He then encouraged the crowd to move forward toward the stage so that everyone would be able to hear him. and with none of the usual fanfare or elaborate video introduction that typically transitioned us from worship to the sermon, he began his message.

What followed was one of the most undeniably intimate and impactful moments I’ve ever experienced at our church.

We found out later that there’d been a car accident that damaged a transformer and knocked out power to the entire area. Our pastor prayed that everyone involved was safe, and before he was halfway done with his sermone… the lights came back on. 🤩

We ended the service with an original song that was written by our pastor and one of the worship leaders, appropriately titled, “Trust In You”. 

Categories: music, personal, religion, stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Refilling The Quiver


This is my entire nuclear family... my wife, my 5 boys, and my one daughter.

A Quiver Full

If there’s anything I’m certain of, it’s that there will be changes in 2020. I know that some will be amazing. While others will be completely unexpected. But with the passing of time, change is inevitable. Nevertheless, there is one change that I am particularly looking forward to… refilling my quiver.

See, my wife and I are multi-generational parents. Meaning that our six (6) children range in ages that cover two generations. Our oldest is currently 24 and our youngest is 6. It means that while we have several adolescent children at home whose very lives depend on us 😲!, we also have two adult children who are independent and fully capable of maintaining life without our intervention 😏. It’s a beautiful in-between season. I feel like we aren’t so old that we can’t relate to our adult children, and we’re still healthy and vibrant enough to keep up (most of the time 😉 ) with the younger ones.

A Crazy Quiver

These are my people… and by the end of this month, our oldest son will be moving to Phoenix, and the exodus from California will be complete. We are super excited about this upcoming season. Our older sons will be living (peacefully) together, and pursuing their dreams in careers about which they are passionate. Our younger children will be cultivating their talents, growing in their gifts, building new friendships, and giving back to others and to the body of Christ. My wife and I will finally get our grooves back with writing, singing, worshipping, and loving life!

I’m loving the outlook of 2020!

What are some of the things you’re looking forward to this year?

 

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Blinding Pain


Indulge me for a moment as I reflect on PAIN. The electric word, pain, it means forever and that’s a mighty long time, but… wait, no. Wrong lyrics. It’s more like I have stood here before inside the pouring rain. But it’s my destiny to be the king of pain.

(TANGENT: Over the years I have come to the conclusion that there is a song for every occasion. And my life is a never-ending jukebox of extended play soundtracks, product jingles and sitcom theme music. But I digress…)

Pain comes in various levels of intensity that I personally believe can be classified by the initial or ongoing reaction of the body. For instance, there is the OUCH variety. As a parent you become intimately acquainted with this type of pain, since it is usually the result of being caught in the crossfire of flying toys, or stepping on a Lego brick for the 2 millionth time. Then you have the NAG variety. This is pain attributed to something like a paper cut, or in my case, the silent and invisible slice of the skin that occurs when you’ve lost your patience while trying to open the 124 jumbo pack of size 4 diapers. After the initial intake of breath from the sudden sharp cut, this pain follows you around for a day or so as it reopens repeatedly because you’ve forgotten about it, and failed to take it easy on the tickle attacks. Of course, there is the THROB level of pain. Most of us are probably familiar with these dull waves of soreness that gather in your arms, feet and legs when you finally sit down after a long day of errands, decorating and playing host to a couple dozen tyrant gradeschoolers for a birthday party.

Why am I saying all of this? Because on Tuesday of this week I was finally at the point of no return with one of the more devastating levels of pain… which is BLINDING. Blinding pain is when the pain is so intensely excruciating that you squeeze your eyes shut uncontrollably. It’s the kind of pain that wakes you up from a dead sleep and laughs at your feeble attempts to ignore it for the sake of rest. It’s the kind of pain where panic sets in because you are quite certain it will never go away and you seriously consider the horrific thought of what it would mean to endure this kind of torture for the rest of your life. Yep. That was me. It was a toothache. And you can chuckle all you want, but when your head feels like someone is shooting bolts of electricity through the roof of your mouth and directly into your brain, no amount of head-holding, temple-massaging, hot packs, or acetaminophen is going to provide you any relief. It was the kind of pain that you can’t run from though you desperately wish it were possible.

(TANGENT: This is second only to MIND-NUMBING pain in which the pain is to the point where the body shuts off all sensory perception and you knock out. This happened when I was 12 and was hit by a car. You can read that story here.)

Fortunately for me, I have a wife that likes having me around and wants to keep me around for a bit longer. So she set up an emergency appointment for me with the dentist that afternoon.

A little background on my relationship with dentists… I’ve developed a bit of apprehension about visiting them. Why? Well, not because I’m the kind of person who’s afraid of going to the dentist’s office. But it’s more about how the dentist treats me. As a kid, if I had a cavity the dentist would say something along the lines of, “If you don’t lay off the sweets, all of your teeth will fall out.” Now I know that this approach works for some people, but for me it just felt eye-roll worthy. As I got older, the dentists I visited seemed to only get worse. Instead of a jovial “Lay off the sweets,” I’d get a more accusatory “You’re too young to have this going on in your mouth!” or something equally degrading. Their comments were the antithesis of encouragement. “Hey Doc, I’m fully aware of the crummy condition of my incisors. That’s why I’m here! Can we skip the personal insults and just cut to the part where you fix my teeth and take away the pain? Thanks.”

I was happy to find that my wife (you know, that crazy-beautiful lady that tolerates my imperfections) had let the dentist and office staff know of my previous experiences. Because of this, they were extremely gracious. The dentist who took care of me that day was not only compassionate, but genuinely concerned about my overall comfort level. God bless her. After an initial examination I was told that my wisdom tooth in the upper right was broken and infected. I was given antibiotics, pain medication, and scheduled for an extraction appointment in 3 days. The next few days brought my pain level down from BLINDING to NAGGING with the occasional BLURRY thrown in for good measure. In any case, I made it to today.

My appointment was at 7am, which allowed me to get up this morning a whole half hour later than usual. I pressed through the rain, into the car, down the street, and into the familiar strip mall that contains our dental office, along with a smoke shop, a juice bar, and a much-frequented 99 Cents Only Store. As before, the office staff received me with knowing kindness and before I knew it, I was in and out with a mouth full a gauze and one less wisdom tooth!

The cause of my blinding pain, now mercifully extricated.

The cause of my blinding pain, now mercifully extricated.

I’m still taking the antibiotics and the occasional pain pill. But the blinding pain is thankfully in my past.

Categories: health, personal, stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Forever Fortune


As a parent of small children (and big ones too), I’ve come to acknowledge and accept the slap-in-the-face fact that there are many things (many… many things) in my house that will be broken. Not “could” be broken, but “will” be broken. (Tangent: Prompting the creation of this Instagram account: Things My Kids Broke). Surely other parents will understand and sympathize (preferably with truffles and cream pies. Message me for an address 😉 ).

This realization caused me to really reflect on what I consider to be wealthy. It doesn’t exist as an expression of material things. They will come and go. But rather, those relationships can last a lifetime. Starting with my children… they are a treasure beyond price. My forever fortune.

LegoLand

 

Categories: family, relationships | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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