Sunday, August 10, 2008

Only One Life

Hi boys!

Have you seen this plaque hanging in the hallway at the top of the steps now. Mom put it there, and I see it every time I come home now.

It says:

"Only one life
Twill soon be past
Only what's done
for Christ will last"

Let me tell you about this plaque, and how it came to be in our home. It's an interesting story.

A long long long time ago I started dating your Mom when we were in high school. I was a shy goofy kid, but I really wanted your Mom to like me.

I also wanted her Mom and Dad to like me, so that they would let me keep showing up to date your mother. That's where this plaque comes in. When Christmas 1977 came around I bought a present for Mom, and also picked out a present - this plaque - for her Mom and Dad for their home. I thought that they would like the saying on the plaque since they were Christians, even though it didn't mean much to me.

They seemed to like it, and hung it on a wall in the back hallway.

Your Mom and I married three years later, and we made several visits to your grandpa and grandma's house. Everytime we went to visit, I would see that plaque hanging there on the wall. And every year, after I became a Christian, that plaque meant more and more to me.

Here's the thing: when you are very young, as I was when I bought that plaque, it doesn't seem like life will ever end. "Only one life, twill soon be past...." doesn't seem true. But it is. So, be careful how you spend your life. That's the point of the plaque.

What does it mean when it says "Only what's done for Christ will last"? This is an important question! It means that the stuff that we accumulate in life (cars, houses, TVs, video game consoles) don't matter much when you die. The things that we do for God (worship, taking care of your family, helping others as God asked us to do) matter. So:

- Spend time knowing what God wants for your life. Go to church. Read your Bible. Pray. Learn what God's purpose for your life is.

- Spend your life doing what God wants for your life. Be careful to become a Godly man. Be careful to choose a Godly wife. Raise Godly children. Give of yourself to help people.

Your Grandma knew this. She knew over the course of her life what the plaque said. She did a lot "for Christ", and it had a lasting effect on your Mom and me.

You know, boys, that when Grandma died and went to Heaven this year that we had to clean out their home so that Grandpa could move into his apartment. That was hard for your Mom. The brothers and sisters got together and decided how to divide all of the possessions that Grandma had accumulated in her life. They are good memories, but they are just possessions. Your Grandma's life was more valuable than just her possessions.

Your Mom called me on the day that your aunt and uncles were dividing up the possessions. Who would take what? Your Mom asked me what I wanted from the house.

"I only want one thing", I told her. "I want that plaque". It means a lot to me now, though it didn't when I first gave it as a poor gift.

Here's what I ask of you: every now and then, when you come home from school and walk up the stairs take a look at the plaque.

Only one it well.

I love you both.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Every Day is a New Day

Hi boys.

I woke up excited this morning! I'm going to China!

I didn't go to sleep this excited last night. In fact, I went to sleep exhausted and agitated and nervous. I was exhausted because I haven't had much sleep in the last few days. I was agitated because I had one of the worst travel days yesterday that I've had in my career of travel days. I was nervous about the long flight to China and how I will survive it.

But that was last night. Today is a new day. I woke up excited! My hotel was two blocks from the ocean, and I got to stop and take some sunrise pictures over the Atlantic Ocean- including this one. That made me feel good.

Life is like that a lot.

We have bad days in our house. Boy, do we! We get angry and frustrated about things. We say things we regret to each other.

We make mistakes, every day of our lives.

But, the good news is that every day is a new day. A new fresh opportunity to have a good day.

Make that your attitude. Wake up every day expecting it to be a good day.

Say a prayer to God as soon as you wake up to thank him for the new day he is giving you.

Say "Good Morning Mom" with a smile and a hug.

Every day at school is a new day as well. Go each day expecting to learn something new and to enjoy your friends and your teachers.

Life is good - mistakes and all. Enjoy each new day. And make the most of your opportunities each new day.

I'll be gone a long time - almost two weeks. But I love you and I'll be thinking about you each day as I travel. I'll have stories and pictures when I get home.

I'll see you when I get home.

Love you both. Dad.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Know when to Work and when to Play

Hi boys.

I was thinking about you this week as I was driving around the South for my business trip. As you can see by the picture, I had a rare treat this week in my rental car - a convertible sports car! I knew it was going to be fun sometime during the week, but not right away.

First, I had to make my sales calls and I couldn't arrive all windblown and mussed. It wouldn't be professional and it wouldn't help me in my job. So, I kept the top up and the windows rolled up during the day as I went about doing business.

But, when the sales day was done I put the top right down and hit the highway after hours. It was fun, driving with the wind blowing through my hair and feeling like I was outside. I could even stop and take pictures easier along the road with the top down. I had a lot of fun this week driving that convertible.

Having that car to work in reminds me of a good lesson in life. It's this:

You have to know when it's time to work and when it's time to play. It's a balance.

(Another way to say it is what you've heard me say all of these years: "You have to do what you have to do before you get to do what you want to do!")

Getting that lesson right is one of the keys to happiness in your life. Trust me on that.

You have to put this lesson into practice even now in your life. There is a time to work, and that is going to school, doing your homework, and doing chores around the house. And there is time to play: at recess, after school, and on weekends.

When you are young, as you two still are!, the balance is in favor of more time to play. Enjoy this time of your life, and play when you have the chance.

When you're older, as your mother and I are, there are more times to work than there are times to play. You will someday have more responsibilities and be the ones to raise your own families. It's a lot of work. And it helps a great deal in getting this right if you set the habits now while you are young.

Enjoy this time now in your life. Play, when it's time. But get your work done first.

I'll be home soon.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A Guide and a Map

Hi boys.

I was thinking about the two of you, and the lives that you still have in front of you to live, as I was driving today on business in New England.

I was driving up into some mountains. I love mountains. I've wanted to see these particular mountains for a long time now, and here I was with a chance to drive through and explore them. The thing is that the weather conditions were getting worse as I approached them. I could see a storm gathering in the mountains on the road ahead of me. (You can see it in the picture here that I took today.)

I had a choice.

Yes, I am an experienced traveler and I often go down roads that I am have never been on before. Yes, I have driven into hazardous conditions before - like slick snowy curvy mountain roads. I could just drive into them, and I probably would be fine.

Or, I could stop and ask for help from someone who has been on that road before, and may know some things that I don't. Things that could help me save time or that could help keep me safe.

I chose to stop and ask for help, at an information center in a rest area. They had a very helpful guide - a local resident - who knew the road very well and who showed me a route on the map that I had not considered taking. A scenic but safe route.

Not only did the guide help me with good advice, but she gave me a map that I could carry with me on the upcoming miles where she could not be with me. A map that marked the way through the hazards.

I made it safely through the mountains, by keeping the map on the seat next to me and looking at it several times and by taking the route that the guide showed me.

I was thinking that this experience is like the life that you have ahead of you.

It's your life. No one can live it for you. You have to live your life, and in doing so make choices.

Yes, you are smart and talented boys and you will probably make good choices in your lives. But......I want you to think of my story and understand two things:

1. You have a guide! Two guides, actually. Your mother and I are with you for that very purpose - to be your guides in life. Given that role by God, and by law. No one is better suited for that role. No one on this planet loves you two boys as much as your Mother and I. No one wants more to guide you.

I want you to understand one simple fact. We - your guides - have been down the road of life before you. We know what hazards are in your path. We are capable of guiding you safely, if you seek our guidance and listen to it. We know a lot about the way through the mountains.

2. You have a map! It's the Bible. It has the path marked out for you for a life that handles the challenges. Don't keep it tucked away, but on the seat next to you and refer to it often.

It's your life. Live it. Make choices. And don't be afraid of the hazards. Just know that you have a guide and a map to get you through.

I'll be home soon. :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Technology is a Wonderful Thing

Hi boys.

Wow, the technology that you have available to you today! As Mom and I often say, we didn't have most of it when we were growing up. But you do, and I am amazed by the barrage of technology at your fingertips. And technology in the news.

Two things today caught my eye.

1. A lunar eclipse, visible where you are but not where I was. Yes, there have been lunar eclipses ever since God created the heavens and the earth. What's new is this: not only do we know in advance now that an eclipse is going to happen - you can go on the internet and find the exact time to go outside in the yard to see it happen! Amazing.

2. The U.S. military, under orders from President George W. Bush, shot a missile at a failing satellite in space - destroying it in space before it fell uncontrolled to earth and hurt someone. It takes an unbelievable amount of math, and technology, to shoot a missile up into space and hit an object as small as a satellite and moving as fast as the satellite is through space. Cool!

The lesson here is to pay attention to math and science in school! It may come in handy some day if you get a job involving space. :)

Go. See this Amazing Country called America

Hi boys.

One of my regrets as you've grown up is that we haven't gotten to take you to see more of this amazing country we live in - America.

I get to see a lot of it as I travel. I'm fortunate in that. Your mother and I have been to some amazing places, and seen some amazing scenery, in our lifetimes.

We've seen the lush farmlands of the Midwest where we live. We've seen the rolling waves of the oceans. We've seen the country life of the deep South. We've seen the broad expanses of the West. We've seen the incredible mountain vistas of the Rockies and the Smokies. We've even seen the wilds of Alaska and the many shades of blues in the islands.
I wish that for you too. Go, as you live life, and see as much of this amazing land as you can.
See the oceans. See the mountains. See the woods and national parks. See as much of it as you can.

Whether you take pictures of it all, like Dad always does, or not. Go, see it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Honor Your Mother

Hi boys.

Here's what I'm thinking about today:
I want you to honor your mother, every day.


Well, for one, because it's one of the Ten Commandments, given to us by God in the Bible to teach us how to live. It's the Fifth commandment, and it says this:

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you." (Exodus 20:12 NIV)
That's a commandment with a promise - so that you may live long! One of the benefits of honoring your mother is that by listening to the advice and guidance of the people who God has given the task of guiding and protecting you - you may live longer (and healthier!)

Another reason to honor your mother is to make the most of the time that you have with her. You only have so many years to live in our house under our guidance, before you have to go out into the world and live on your own. You have a special situation with your mother working in the home and not out at a job. It's a choice we've made, a sacrifice for you. Make the most of that time at home with your mother. You will appreciate it later in life, trust me on this. I'm a Dad, and Dads Know Everything.

What does "honor" meany? Good question. According to the dictionary, it means:

"respect and esteem shown to another"

How can you honor your mother? Here are some ways:

1. Listen to her - she is very wise and loving and only wants the best in life for you. She can teach you a lot about life, and is in fact your very best teacher.

2. Help her - it's a big job raising the two of you. There is a lot of work to be done around the house each and every day. Help her. Pick up your messes. Help with chores. You honor her with every small job that you do in the house. Remember - SHE IS NOT YOUR MAID OR SERVANT.

3. Respect her. Every mean word that you say to her wounds her, emotionally. Every kind word and hug lifts up her spirit and makes her day. Speak to her with the respect that she deserves, every day.

4. Obey her. She has rules. They are for your benefit. You know what they are. FOLLOW THEM, every day.

5. Love her - she loves you. Love her back, and make sure that she knows that you do.

Boys - Honor your mother. Now, in the few short years while you are with her every day.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Boys, Listen to your Parents

Hi boys.

You know, and I know, that I don't get to be with you nearly as much as I would like to. To share life with you. To talk with you. To answer your questions and mentor you.

What I would most like you to know and understand about your mother and me is this:

Listen to us.

No one on this planet cares more about your well-being than we do. We love you. We care about what happens to you and about what kind of men you will grow up to be. We only want the best for you.

And one of the ways we care for you is to teach you by giving you advice. You should want and carefully consider our advice. We have lived a lot of life, before you ever even came along, and we have much to teach you. I know that you don't realize that fully. But, trust us on this.

Listen to us.

This blog will consist of letters to you from me. You get to hear Mom's advice - excellent advice that you should take fully to heart - every day at home. Not so much from me, because of my demanding travel schedule, which I deeply regret.

So, here is this blog is what I have to say to you, as it occurs to me. I hope it helps you in your young and precious lives.