To Be Loved and To Love In Return

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Like many, I have seen this video a number of times. It’s heartbreaking, triumphant, and beautiful. What a beautiful story that is being told. Imagine the empathy these children will learn, and the change they might make in the world because they have known the love of a father.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 4 that there is a marked difference in the qualities of a worldly person and a Christian person, but in Epeshians 5 he makes it clear why this difference exists:

Therefore, let us be imitators of our God, as children who are dearly loved

-Ephesians 5:1

Christians don’t do good because we are inherently better. We were just like the world. We are guilty of the same greed, selfishness, and hardness as anyone else. The only difference is that we’ve been given an example of what real love looks like, and in our reciprocation of that, we live like the Father.

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Parents Are Crazy

Video

I absolutely love this video (and I’ve been sitting on it for a few weeks just incase that opinion changed). Yes, I know it’s a commercial. Yes, I know it’s for a soft drink. Yes, I know it’s supposed to play on my emotions as a father. Yes, I am strangely intrigued by the green label and “Coca Cola Life” bit. Setting all of that aside, though…

I love being a dad. My kids are messy, noisy, and absolutely needy in almost every way. And they’re the most awesome people I know. My wife and I could have easily told you this when we only had one child, but we were still thrilled to know that our second was on the way. My son is going to be five in eight days. My daughter will be two in twenty days. I wouldn’t trade either of them for the world.

Having kids makes you crazy. All of the fun stuff you enjoyed before is still nice, but all of the things you valued before become diminished in comparison to the crazy joy that ragouts introduce.

This video gets that. I mean, yeah, I was pretty cool before I had kids. My clothes were generally stain free, I had collections of cool things, and my house was clean and well furnished. But I wouldn’t take any of that back if it meant giving up even a part of my messy, noisy, needy blessings. Nothing beats coming home, stepping on a lego, being tackled at the knees, and having brutal tickle fights with my kiddos!

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5 Rules Every Dad Should Break While Mommy Is Gone via Insert Image

It’s important to teach our children the importance of self-discipline, responsibility, manners, and personal hygiene. We also need to demonstrate the value of spontaneity, fun, and a little mischief. Routines and structure enhance our lives, but they do not define our lives.

I’ve just started reading Wes Molebash’s comic, Insert Image. It’s often very funny, but I really appreciate the thoughtfulness that gets shared in the blog posts below the comic.

This one is especially great.

As a parent, I hope I’m teaching my kids how to behave, but I also hope I’m encouraging a joy for life.

Thankful Tree

Before my wife and I had children, I just didn’t get it. I mean, yeah, I like to watch It’s A Wonderful Life and go Christmas caroling as much as the next guy, but why does every holiday have to be so structured? Why can’t we have spaghetti and meatballs for Thanksgiving one year and have tamales and guacamole for the next? I’ve never been a big fan of routine, and I tended to associate tradition with routine. Then we had Micah, and I came to realize that traditions serve as landmarks in the mind of a child.

At (almost) five years old, my son associates certain things with the celebration of thankfulness. Turkey, stuffing, (my absolutely outstanding, whipped) sweet potatoes, and sparkling apple cider are a part of that, but more important than food is the activity surrounding a holiday.

At the beginning of the month of November, we hang up a tree that Lorinda sewed for the kids. It’s pretty bare and scraggly looking. There are no leaves, just bare branches. As the month progresses, though, Micah (who has enough words to meet the task, our one year old isn’t quite there yet) shares one thing he’s thankful for. We write it on a fall colored leaf and add it to the tree.

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That branch towards the top right side is where he puts things he’s especially thankful for.

Some of the things he includes are silly (play dough), some are thoughtful (being healthy), and some are just precious (my sister). What’s most exciting to me is seeing the progression from last year.

When we put something on the thankful tree, we talk about it. We compare why we are thankful for it compared to some of the other things on our tree. There are fewer toys included this year and far more people. I’d like to think that means he’s getting it.

Tomorrow, when we sit down around the table to share in a delicious meal, we’ll talk about the most important things to be thankful for. Yes, we’ll offer thanks for the food and talking about the fun things we did this year, but I hope to take a moment to remind my children of the greatest gifts that we are given. The gifts of our savior.

Next year, my daughter will be old enough (almost three) to be sharing more and more about the things she’s thankful for. I expect some pretty silly things to be on there. If I asked this year, ponies and Elmo would probably take center stage. I hope that in a few years our Church family and Jesus will take a more prominent place. For now, I’m content with my children recognizing blessings at all.

When the tree gets hung up, it doesn’t tell my children that now is the only time we are thankful, it tells them that, like the tree with no leaves, our lives without the gifts we’ve been given would be plane, dull, and lifeless.

What things would you put on your thankful tree?