Dear Jack: Tonight was the Night You Prayed to Jesus to Tell Him You Believe in Him

7 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

Today has officially become one of the most important days of your life. Just less than an hour ago, you prayed to Jesus, officially telling Him what you’ve been growing to understand and believe for these past couple of years:

That you believe Jesus is God’s son and that He died on the cross for your sins and came back to life to give us eternal life, and to give us hope in this life on Earth in the meantime.

You prayed to God telling him you want to life your life to please Him and help other people.

I will never forget this day. This means so much to me.

Though I knew you have been heading towards to this moment for the past year or so, I had no idea today would be the day. I felt it was important that this was your decision, not mine that I was making for you.

You and I had spent most of the day together, as we made the trip to Nashville to go see the monster trucks at Monster Jam. It was funny because for a nearly hour-long drive, we didn’t say a word to each other.

We just contemplated life and enjoyed the lack of responsibility or conversation, as I played Dierks Bentley’s Riser CD through the stereo. (You had requested Johnny Cash, but my iPod battery was dead.)

But by the time we got to the monster truck show, you came alive. We started talking and enjoying our time together one-on-one.

By the end of the day, I think the fact we had our quality time together as father and son made somewhat of a special impact on you, because you specifically asked me to read to you from your children’s Bible when it was time for bed.

After I read to you the story about how Jesus explained to Nicodemus he must be born again, it led to you asking a series of seemingly random questions about God and Jesus and good people and bad people and what Heaven will be like for people who believe in Jesus and who live their lives for Him.

Then I immediately felt compelled to say to you, “How long have you known and believed that Jesus is God’s son who died for us?”

You just smiled and shrugged, saying, “I’ve just always believed that, haven’t I? Just maybe not when I was a baby…”

Right then, I knelt down at your bed and explained, “The Bible says when we believe, we should say it out loud. I can help you pray that right now if you want me to.”

(I was referring to Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”)

You seemed grateful for the offer. You smiled and said, “Sure!”

So I guided you through a simple prayer and then answered a series of legitimate follow-up questions like, “Do I have to be baptized, though?”

I then explained that it’s the way you officially share with the world what you believe, but that when you are ready, to let me know and I’ll get it all set up with our church.

It’s interesting how you’ve made this decision almost exactly 30 years after I did. For me, it was just a few weeks before Christmas 1987, when I was in 1st grade myself.

This night has instantly become one of the most rewarding moments for me as a parent.

Years of bedtime Bible stories and Sunday mornings at our church and praying before our meals and having unscheduled conversations about God has finally brought us to this fateful point in your life.

Oh, and a monster truck show, too. I guess that somehow set the course of events, as well.

This is your story.

I love you so much.

Love,

Daddy

How Southern am I? You Decide…

How Southern am I? You Decide…

I have lived my entire life (35 years) in the South. Sure, I’ve traveled the world, spending weeks at a time in Thailand, South Korea, New Zealand, Trinidad, and Equator… but as far as permanent residence, I was born and raised in Fort Payne, Alabama; and only lived in the South.

After I graduated high school, having just turned 18, I went to college in Hudson, Florida and then Lynchburg, Virginia. Then I moved to Nashville, Tennessee; where I’ve been for over 11 years now.

The very first “record” I ever heard was by the Country group, Alabama (who happen to be from my hometown). It was their 1984 Roll On album that I would lip sync to as I walked around on my parents’ bed, pretending it was my stage.

I am a Southerner. It’s true.

But… how Southern am I?

Here’s the evidence I’ve got going against me.

First off, I don’t have a strong Southern accent. It’s there if you’re looking for it, but it’s never been enough to convince anyone I’m actually from Alabama.

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Then I explain to people: My mom moved from Buffalo, New York (which is near the Canadian border) when she was 15. Eight years later, when she was 23, I was born. In other words, I was pretty much born to a Yankee mother; at least, she was at the time.

Plus, her parents were the grandparents I was around the most, as they only lived a few miles away: A full-blooded Italian grandfather named Alberto Victoro Metallo from Kenosha, Wisconsin and a full-blooded Mexican grandmother whose maiden name was Delores “Lola” Gonzales Mendez from Buffalo, New York. Growing up in proximity to such Old World influence and foreign culture, it undeniably watered down the sweet tea of my Southern raising.

It ultimately gave me the ability to hear everyone else’s Alabama accent, which I likely disassociated myself from, subconsciously.

The Southern Accent became as noticeable to me as the Midwestern Accent, like I had heard on TV; meaning it sounded theatrical, not natural, to me.

But it’s not just in my more neutralized accent, it’s also in my detachment from Southern culture. I didn’t grow up watching sports, since my dad (who actually is a full Southerner himself) was into karate instead. Therefore, I wasn’t too interested in playing sports. Admittedly, I barely understand the basic rules of football.

Instead, I was interested in exploring the woods and riding my bike. I grew up in the mountains of northern Alabama, surrounded by DeSoto State Park, DeSoto Falls, and Little River Canyon.

However, going back more the way of the Southerner, I regularly attend monster truck shows. If I could own any vehicle, I would either choose a Toyota Tacoma or a Jeep Wrangler.

I’m in the midst of a minor identity crisis. How Southern am I?

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

6 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Dear Jack,

Just a few weeks ago, you and I had our first official Weekend of Manliness when we ventured to Monster Jam, saw Rogue One, and went sledding in the snow. Fortunately, with your Grandma visiting from California to help watch your baby sister, you and I got to spend plenty of time together again; aside from spending last weekend together at the Children’s Hospital for your near-bout with surgery.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

We started out our 2nd Weekend of Manliness on Saturday morning by putting on our special father and son socks by Pair of Thieves, which included a matching pair for both the kid and the dad. Mommy got them for us at Christmas, and I figured this event one be the best event to try them out.

You and I both agreed they are the most comfortable socks we have ever worn! In fact, this morning when I was getting you dressed for school, you insisted on wearing them for the 3rd day in a row. (Shhh… we won’t let Mommy know about that.)

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Our journey began when we took off in own beast-on-wheels (my 2004 Honda Element, which I’ve now officially owned for 11 years!) to go see the Monster Trucks movie. You have been wanting to see it ever since last summer when we saw the first trailer for it while watching the newest Star Trek movie.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

We enjoyed it so much we both agreed that we already want to see it again!

I left it up to you where we we’d go for lunch. I shouldn’t have been surprised- you decided on your favorite: Moe’s. You admitted to me that you chose it because you knew you’d get a juice box and a cookie with your meal. I’m always happy to go there because, as a manly vegan, I can get plenty of healthy veggies and protein when I order their “Earmuffs with tofu.”

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Afterwards, we headed home for a Netflix movie of your choice: To my surprise, you choose an old American classic from 1975: Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. I feared it would be too slow of a pace for you, but you loved every minute of it; just like you loved Jurassic Park.

I was amazed when they caught the shark they thought was the culprit, and you immediately blurted out, “Hey Daddy, that’s a tiger shark! I can tell because of the stripes!”

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Just moments later, Richard Dreyfuss’s character (Hooper) confirmed you were right; when he explained to the other characters in the movie that a tiger shark could not be responsible for the attacks because its bite radius wasn’t big enough.

Seriously, you are such a smart kid! I understand that perhaps Jaws wouldn’t be most 6 year-old kids’ first choice for a movie to watch with their dad on a lazy Saturday afternoon, but it’s clear that your fascination with science (and animals, in particular) led you to be glued to this movie. You loved watching the 3 main characters hunt for the killer shark.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

On a related note, your glow-in-the-dark dinosaur fossil decals arrived: Your bedroom has a new, relevant look to match what you’re into these days.

It had been a few hours since our manly meal on Moe’s, soo I made an executive decision for us to swing by Jamba Juice, which was about half-way (and right off the Interstate) to downtown Nashville, where we would be experiencing ArenaCross for the first time.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

When we arrived, I realized our seats were indeed right next to my co-worker Stephanie’s family; who won the giveaway tickets on my blog a couple of weeks ago. Even though her daughter is a 4th grader and you are a Kindergartner, the two of you quickly became buddies!

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

We watched the motorcycles fly high into the air as they raced around the track. I learned over and asked you, “Jack, do you ever want to ride one of those bikes?”

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

You shook your head “no” but I’m not convinced. I could tell you thought it was really cool.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Our 2nd Weekend of Manliness was a success, as we knew it would be. We shall be ever ready for our next special father and son weekend!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Dear Jack: Monster Jam 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 2/3)

6 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack: Monster Jam 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 2/3)

Dear Jack,

The next stop of our Weekend of Manliness! was Monster Jam in downtown Nashville. We loaded up in my salty and dusty 2004 Honda Element (which doesn’t even have cruise control) and made our way through 40 miles of country roads and interstate to the Bridgestone Arena.

Dear Jack: 1st Snow of 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 1/3)

We thoroughly enjoyed seeing Monster Jam this past summer at Nissan Stadium when Papa was in town. Fortunately, we got to see those monster trucks just 6 months later- this time along with their dune buggy and ATV counterparts!

I have to say; there is definitely something therapeutic about two guys- a father and son– sitting up in the nosebleeds watching beastly trucks fly into the air. It was like we were sitting on top of the world, watching the monster trucks race around the truck, secretly hoping to see them roll over- especially if it wasn’t one of our favorites, like Zombie or Gravedigger.

Dear Jack: Monster Jam 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 2/3)

During the show, we didn’t have much to say to each other… we didn’t need to. For us, watching the monster trucks at Monster Jam, over these past 3 years I’ve been taking you to Monster Jam, has become like seeing art.

We soak it in. We appreciate it. We become one with the monster truck experience.

As I expected, the moment we got home that day, you immediately ran upstairs and got your toy monster trucks. All your indoor playtime then revolved around monster truck competitions: The twist was that your toy dinosaurs got involved and caused some additional chaos.

Dear Jack: Monster Jam 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 2/3)

It’s a given: Boys like monster trucks.

Therefore, it was very important for us to attend Monster Jam as part of our Weekend of Manliness! I was so proud to share that experience with you.

Granted, that wasn’t our last stop on our Weekend of Manliness! tour. After Monster Jam, we made our way to the Green Hills Mall to see what we already knew would be an amazing movie: Rogue One!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Monster Jam 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 2/3)

Weekend of Manliness! January 2017 Series:

1st Snow of 2017

Monster Jam 2017

Rogue One Star Wars

Upcoming Monster Jam Event: January 7th-8th at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena

Upcoming Monster Jam Event: January 7th & 8th at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena

Yep, it’s that time again! We’re going to the upcoming Monster Jam event in Nashville at the Bridgestone Arena; taking place January 7th and 8th, 2017.

There are 3 shows:

The first is on Saturday, January 7th at 1 PM.

Then the next is that night at 7 PM.

And the final show is the next day on Sunday, January 8th at 1 PM.

For years now, we have been attending Monster Jam. We are huge fans, as you surely know by now!

And today, thanks to the folks at Monster Jam, I am able to give away 4 tickets to giveaway away for the show of your choice!

The winner is Adrianne Smith, who was the first to leave a comment here on this blog (not on Facebook) asking me if you just won tickets to the upcoming Monster Jam event.

Maybe you’ll see us there!

Upcoming Monster Jam Event: January 7th & 8th at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena