Dear Jack: You Now Volunteer to Say the Prayer before Dinner

6 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

You have made me so proud this week. Tuesday night as our family held hands at the dinner table, I was just about to pray to thank God for our food and for our family, when you stopped me:

“Daddy, can I say the prayer tonight?”

I was definitely caught off guard, but I replied without missing a beat: “Of course you can, man.”

You went straight into it…

“Thank You God for this food we eat. Thank You God for the birds that sing. Thank You God for everything.”

That instantly became one of my favorite moments of being your Daddy, so far.

I pray for your soul. I want you to truly know God and how much He loves you.

We read Bible stories together. Our family goes to church, which you always enjoy; they have a really good children’s program there.  The free donuts surely help, too…

I want you to fundamentally understand in both your head and your heart what it means to love Jesus. And I know how important it is that I lead by example.

So it really means a lot to me that with no prior discussion, with no pressure beforehand on my end, with no attempt to get you to pray before dinner, you decided on your own this is something you wanted to do.

You have also volunteered to pray for our meal for the past two nights as well.

There are so many things that go through my head when I think of all I feel responsible for in raising you.

I want to make sure you feel loved. I want to make sure you have fun. I want to make sure you get a great education. I want to make sure you’re an adventurous, yet disciplined boy.

But I especially feel responsible for you wanting to please God.

Seeing you want to pray for our family’s dinner gives me a special, priceless confirmation that I wasn’t expecting so early on.

Love,

Daddy

Preventing My Own Inevitable Death

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I’m constantly aware of all the ways that today could be my last day alive… each and every day.

So instead of sweeping those thoughts under the rug, I welcome them and keep my self aware of them, as doing so make me more prepared for them.

And by being more prepared for them, I can do a better job of preventing my own inevitable death; instead of just hoping I win the “long, healthy life lottery.”

Statistically, a car accident would likely be the easiest way for me to “slip into eternity”; as I have a 45 minute commute to work everyday in fast-paced Nashville traffic.

But I do what I can. While I’m driving, I always wear my seat belt, I stay off the phone, and I keep the radio’s volume at a low enough level.

I am aware that if I do my part, and pray daily for God to keep our family safe, then I’m doing everything I can in my control to prevent my inevitable death.

So that brings me to my next most likely way to go: heart disease or cancer.

I feel that the more I listen to men who are around age 50 talk, I hear phrases like “open heart surgery” and “stomach staple surgery” and “all my medications.”

So while my vegan lifestyle, which includes running and mountain biking, may sound extreme, I would say the other things awaiting me if I don’t live this way now are actually more extreme.

Granted, I’m only 34, so I still have some time before my body really becomes susceptible to going on “auto pilot to self destruction.”

But the way I see it, I actually do have a decent amount of control over my ultimately preventable death.

It could all end today, or tomorrow, for me- I realize that. However, I choose to focus on the parts I do have control over; not the other way around.

I don’t want to work hard my whole life, only to get cancer the moment I retire. I want the quality of my life to good the whole way through; not have to hurry up and try to fix things once it may be too late.

In the end, I won’t have any regrets about my crazy vegan lifestyle if it means I get to spend another healthy day with my family.

Dear Jack: The RV That Exploded In Casino Beach Parking Lot/Highway 98 Bay Bridge Crash

4 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack: The RV That Exploded In The Pensacola Parking Lot

Dear Jack,

We definitely had a lot of fun during our Pensacola trip, but there was also a string of weird, potentially dangerous events in our near proximity.

Here’s my video I made for this story today:

For example, when we first arrived at in Pensacola, at Casino Beach, after our 7 hour road trip, you and Mommy ran for the water. As I was several steps behind as I was carrying our belongings, I heard an explosion behind me; from beyond where we had parked the Sienna.

I turned around to see a black pillar of smoke rising in the distance behind me; but not the far distance.

My initial concern was to make sure it wasn’t some kind of terrorist attack. So I did what any dad would do: I begin running as fast as I could towards the smoke.

If I needed to help us escape from the chaos in the Sienna as our getaway vehicle, I needed to be able to do so as soon as possible.

As I ran closer, I began hearing from other people who were running alongside me that an RV had exploded.

Dear Jack: The RV That Exploded In The Pensacola Parking Lot

Another explosion occurred, inviting more sirens and smoke.

I decided from there that there was no need to evacuate the beach, as I began to be able to see the flaming RV.

After an hour or so of hanging out at the beach back with you and Mommy, we decided to drive by the scene on our way back to the hotel.

The firemen were packing up and the policeman continued to keep a presence as curious onlookers like us visited the aftermath.

As you can see from my pictures, there were only charred remains of the RV. Even the car parked next to it took a major hit.

And that wasn’t our only brush with danger during the trip…

Dear Jack: The RV That Exploded In The Pensacola Parking Lot

Later the next day as we were in the middle of the Highway 98 Bay Bridge in Pensacola, over the water, a 3 car pile-up occurred just a quarter of a mile ahead of us. We were stuck there in the middle of the bridge for an hour before the crashed cars were towed and we were able to move.

And on our final day, we had arrived back at our hotel to see dozens of people standing outside in the parking lot; along with a fire truck and policemen.

Dear Jack: The RV That Exploded In The Pensacola Parking Lot

There was apparently some sort of gas leak scare that had occurred in the kitchen. The hotel had to evacuate everyone.

We had arrived about 45 minutes after the evacuation. We watched and waited from the Sienna. About 20 minutes later, they allowed us back in.

I can’t help but point out that we made sure to continually pray for God to keep us safe in our travels; from the moment we left our driveway.

And I believe our prayers were answered. Not to mention, to my knowledge, no people were seriously hurt during any of these events. So God wasn’t just answering our prayers, but others’ too.

Love,

Daddy

A Parent’s Prayer For Wisdom, Humility, And Grace

July 26, 2013 at 1:18 pm , by 

2 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

I’ve written before about how I pray for you. Today, I want to tell you about how I pray for myself, as your dad.

First, I pray for wisdom, more than anything; because if God grants me wisdom, I am better prepared to handle any future blessings or challenges that come my way.

I pray for wisdom to guide me in life, as a husband, a daddy, as a steward of time and money, and as I attempt to be a decent human being in general.

Life would be so much easier if things were predictable; if life came with a literal play-by-play instruction manual. Instead, by praying for wisdom, I hope to gain maturity to know how to handle each situation; as I build upon what humility as taught me in the past.

Therefore, I also pray for humility.

Though there are many wise sayings about pride, this one by Yogi Bhajan is currently my favorite:

“When ego is lost, limit is lost. You become infinite, kind, beautiful.”

When I think of that quote, I think of my own dad, actually. When I think of a person in my own life who I never have a memory of being prideful or selfish, but instead, who always put others first- even in regards to his own feelings- it’s my dad.

The older I get, the more I realize what really matters in life… and that’s serving other people.  Like I wrote you yesterday, I am now very consciously aware of not letting my own specific beliefs on politics, religion, and even food, get in the way of that. So when I speak of what I’m passionate about, I want to be inclusive, not exclusive.

Plus, on the flip side, I figure that the less people in life I give the authority to hurt my feelings, the better. It’s like that great quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Which brings me to the last element of the trifecta of my daily prayer, as a parent:

Grace.

Every day, I expect for situations in life that will force me to choose to put my wisdom and humility to the test. If there’s not something new I can learn about myself in the process, and if there’s not something new I can learn about overcoming my pride and helping others, it’s then that I should be worried.

Therefore, I need grace on a daily basis. I need grace to land the falls that are sure to come.

I believe that God passionately opposes pride, but gives grace to the humble. Without wisdom, I wouldn’t desire to become humble. But if I am humble, I want grace, God’s favor, along with the humility.

That’s all I’m going to say about wisdom, humility, and grace today… otherwise what I am saying could come across as being prideful.

So I will end with this.

These three things I pray for are also what I hope to share with you on a daily basis, from father to son.

I want to share my wisdom by teaching you, my humility by serving you, and my grace by giving you mine.

After all, if I’m asking these things from my Heavenly Father, I must be wise, humble, and graceful enough to give them to you first.

 

Love,

Daddy

A Family That Prays Together… Ah, You Know The Rest

April 2, 2013 at 10:42 pm , by 

2 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

You started noticing that Mommy and I hold hands and pray before we eat dinner every night.

It’s not some beautiful, poetic thing. We let our words be few: “Dear God, we thank you for this food today and all you have blessed us with. Amen.”

Last week you started wanting in on the action. You smiled at us and lifted your hands out for us to hold them.

So now before dinner, and at night as we’re putting you to bed, and before our family leaves the house for our separate ways in the morning, we pray together.

And you now not only expect it, but I can clearly see you like being a part of it.

I actually think you’re pretty aware of what’s going on. You know who God is from yourBeginner’s Bible, as well as from church.

Tonight as I sang “Away In A Manger” as part of your bedtime routine, you stopped me in the middle of the 1st verse and said, “Jesus makes!”

I asked you what Jesus makes and you responded:

“Jesus makes oatmeal… and beans and rice!”

My immediate uproar of laughter pretty much killed the mood for helping you get to sleep. Mommy later explained to me you were referring to the 2nd verse, which she sings to you: “No crying he makes.”

I think it’s really cool that you want to be a part of our family’s prayer times throughout the day. I figure at best, what you gather from us praying is that we not only believe in God, but we trust him.

We have no idea what’s in our future, five minutes from now or five years from now. But we want to be in God’s favor and we know that means loving others as ourselves.

I know that’s a very simple way of explaining our faith to you, but I think if I as your dad can remember that much of it, I could have the faith of a child.

From what I understand, that’s actually a good thing.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

 

 

 

Praying For Your Young Child, Beyond Their Safety and Future

December 15, 2012 at 11:08 pm , by 

2 years.

Dear Jack,

I recently realized something: I haven’t really been prayingspecifically for you. Instead, I’ve been mainly just lumping you in with our family.

Subconsciously, I keep asking myself, “What else should I pray about aside, from his safety and that he will have a bright future? He’s only 2 years old.”

That’s pretty much all my prayers for you have been about: Your safety and your future.

But beyond that, on a daily basis, what else do I want for you? What should I ask God for on your behalf?

I’ve been thinking about this all week and I guess the thing is, until I take the time to write it down, I won’t know the answer.

It’s like I get so used to the habit of praying ad-lib style, that I hardly take the time to map out my thoughts and translate them into prayers.

So while this prayer will surely evolve as you grow older, here’s my prayer for you for right now:

“Heavenly Father, thank you for my son Jack. Please protect him from harm and give him a bright future.

As for his interactions with others today, I pray that in his young age as he is developing his skills to communicate and share, help him to love others as himself.

Let him be a friend today to those who need a friend. Let him be encouraging, strong, and yet still humbled.

Bless him as he learns today about colors and shapes, words and numbers, and all Your creation in between. I pray He will see Your truth in this life and that he will see Your love through me.

Lead me today, as I lead him. I pray in Your name, amen.”

The obvious thing I can’t help but think about as I see this prayer, is the last line. Jack, it’s true you are both a gift and a responsibility.

Sure, the older you get, the more responsible for yourself you will become. But as for now, I am overly mindful of the role I play in your life.

I don’t take my role as your dad lightly. Therefore, I’m very deliberate in how I raise you. That includes how I discipline you, communicate with you, entertain you, engage you, and teach you both small and important lessons in life.

The light doesn’t just one day switch on, and suddenly, what I do as your dad suddenly starts really mattering.

I’ll do my best for you, Son. So help me God.

 

Love,

Daddy

Funny Prayers: A Hedge of Protection and Traveling Mercies

Certain things I consistently pray for and receive. These are usually the things I take for granted, like travelling safely on a road trip. I often forget to thank God once I get back home safely. When I do finally remember, I often laugh because it reminds me of two hilarious cliché catch phrases that have shown up and become popular, especially in the last decade in modern Christian vocabulary. It goes something like this:

“Lord, we just pray that You will put a hedge of protection around us and bless us with traveling mercies…”

Hedge of protection and traveling mercies. Honkin’ hilarious.

When I think of the word “hedge”, I think of either a perfectly trimmed row of bushes in a yard or Marge Simpson’s hairdo. So why pray for a hedge? Wouldn’t a stone wall with barbed wire be a lot more efficient here? Who was the person that thought that a hedge would be a good thing to protect someone with? Throw him into a tank of sharks surrounded by a hedge and see if he changes his mind.

And traveling mercies. Sounds like a silvery pixie paste a person would have to spread over their body to make them invisible. Or candy. Like the Christian version of Reese’s Pieces.

Here is the way we shall pray for safe travel:

“Lord, we pray that You will surround us with an army of angels wearing laser shooting body armor while holding a chainsaw in one hand and a machine gun in the other, all while riding pterodactyls.”

Amen.