Excerpt from todays work…

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Here’s the rough draft of the article I worked on today. No title as of yet…

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Heb 12:11

It’s been a rough afternoon.

Videos are scattered, books are down from their shelves, pages are torn and strewn about, and in the center of this mess is my two-year-old daughter. I only stepped from the room for a couple of minutes and, when I returned…chaos.

She looks up at me guiltily. She should.

Gracie knows that the movies are off-limits. She knows that the books are “no touches.”

Her understanding is given away by the tears that well in her eyes when I walk in the room and stop to survey the damage.

You see, she knows the right from wrong that exists in her own little world, and she knows the consequences. I know them too…I just hate enforcing them.

I don’t want to give her a swat. I don’t want to make her cry…I just want her to be happy and I want to love her.

Still, she must learn disciple and self-control, and if not now, when? Do I really want to be dealing with this four years from now? Eight? Do I want to wait until she’s a teenager and try to instill discipline then?

Forget about me for a minute…

What about her? I want what every parent wants for their children. I want her to have a happy and productive life. Can I name a single person, of all the people I’ve known, who has led an undisciplined life, a life without self-control, who was happy?

No.

I know where that kind of life leads. I’ve seen it at its worst, and experienced a little of it myself. The folks I know whose lives are the most joyous, ordered, and content, are those who not only know right from wrong (and really, who doesn’t) but, have also been taught to discipline their own behavior to do what is right.

I suppose I could just move everything she’s not supposed to touch to high shelves and make them inaccessible to her. Boy, that would make my life a lot easier! No more shredded novels, no more broken knickknacks, no more messes, no more tears. I could do that (and have been advised to, believe me) but am I willing to make her life harder just to make my own easier?

So…the swat, the tears and hugs, and then the clean up.

And, again, I get a vivid picture of my relationship with God the father, through my relationship with Gracie.

“Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.” Heb 12:10

You see, I know right from wrong. I know those things that are off-limits in my own life, the temptations that God has labeled as “no-touches” in my little world. I know it is sin even as I reach out my hand (…or eyes…thoughts…) and when God finds me sitting in the middle of my own mess, looking guilty, He loves me too much to not correct me, to not discipline me.

Not because he is the stern, unforgiving protector of the rules, but because He wants me to be happy.

If I, in my limited understanding, know what the future holds for an undisciplined life, how much more does my all-knowing Father? (Hebrews 4:13)

And so, the swat. My sins are brought into the light (Job 12:22), I am shamed and humbled, relationships are hurt, my trustworthiness is damaged. Maybe a job is lost, maybe a spouse is wounded. God doesn’t want to see me cry, so wouldn’t it be easier for Him not to discipline me? It’s not like my sin effects His ability to be God, after all. My actions aren’t going to cost Him the election…he’s already God.

He loves me, and he wants me to he happy, and so He disciplines me.

By the way, when I say happy, I don’t mean “lying on the beach sipping umbrella drinks and counting my money” happy. I’m talking about the true happiness, the contentment of the soul that comes with being aware of, and walking in, the will of God.

Luckily for me, there is also grace and mercy. Through the pain and the tears, my Father’s arms are always open to receive me and comfort me.

“Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.”
Job 5:17-18 (NIV)

Even as I suffer the consequences of my actions, He makes his love known to me, and He forgives me.

A lot of us stop there.

In my own childhood home this is where the cycle ended. I made the mess, I got the swat, I got the hug, and then mom cleaned up. Yet, that’s not how God does it, so it’s probably not how I should do it either. In God’s plan, restitution must be made. It took many painful years for me to learn that restitution wasn’t part of the discipline, or even part of the consequences for my actions.

Restitution is simply restitution. It’s the amends, the restoration of the damage I’ve caused.

The Bible makes this clear in Leviticus 6:4: “when he thus sins and becomes guilty, he must return what he has stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to him, or the lost property he found.” To put it in more appropriate terms, “when I sin and become guilty, I must make it right.”

It’s helping clean up the mess, not to punish me for being “bad” but simply because the mess has to be cleaned up.

For some of us, disciple alone is not enough. I was one of those kids that would weigh the action against the punishment, and sometimes decide it was worth it. (If you weren’t on of those kids, I’ll bet you know one!) Disciple was getting a spanking for stealing a candy-bar. Restitution was having to mow the neighbors lawn and then take that money to the store and give it to the manager while confessing and apologizing.

Sometimes I can take the discipline, but the restitution is nearly always more than the sin is worth to me. Simply the knowledge that I must make restitution is often enough to keep me from indulging in the sin.

Also, I say helping clean up the mess because none of us has, within our own selves, the power to make things whole again. (Romans 3:10) God makes things whole again, and we, in doing our part, get a glimpse at his character and a reminder of who and what we are called to be.

It takes a long time for a two-year-old to clean up a mess. One piece of paper at a time, one slow walk to the bookshelf and back, under constant supervision and directions. It would be a lot easier and quicker to clean it up myself. Also, just because she can get a book down from a shelf, doesn’t mean she can get it back up, so I hold her up and guide her hands as she restores order from chaos.

But I do it, because restoration is part of discipline, the mess has to be cleaned up, and I want her to be happy.

He does it because restoration is part of reconciliation, the mess has to be cleaned up.

He wants me to be happy.

-Gracie’s Daddy

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Happy Father’s Day, Coot!

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DadCloseUp

I must have been three or four years old…I’m taking a nap with my dad, resting in the crook of his arm. It’s a warm afternoon. I can smell the comforting aroma of old-spice, brill cream, and cigarettes…I’m dozing off to sleep.

It’s a sensory memory, triggered whenever I smell the combination of two or more of the above. Feeling safe…like my dad is the biggest guy in the world, and he’s watching out for me while I sleep.

It seems like too young to remember, but I do. I’m sure it happened before my parents divorced (when I was six) as I doubt we took any naps together after he moved out.

That means he was five years younger than I am now.

My next memory, probably a year later, is my mother crying, and me running out to the parking lot and screaming, “I hate you!” at my father’s retreating car. I didn’t hate him, I didn’t even know what was going on, I just wanted to help my mom.

How that must have hurt him.

It was never mentioned, so I guess I can live with the idealistic hope that he didn’t hear.

It’s amazing how memories can fade, but guilt lingers. Now that I’m a father, the idea of hearing those words from my own daughter makes me cringe, and I wonder what my girl will remember, thirty-eight years from now.

Those, of course, aren’t the only memories. I have a nearly endless parade of beach trips and camp-outs, movies and hamburger lunches. Though my father didn’t live with us, I know that I was blessed to spend more time with him, more quality time, than most of my friends who still had dads at home. He never missed a visit (twice a week) or a birthday, Christmas, school or scouting event, he was never too busy with work, or anything else, to be there for me.

The years passed. I grew up, got a job, got married, and Dad’s health grew worse.

He lived with us for awhile, until his nursing demands were two much and he chose to move to an assisted living facility. Then the years seemed to reverse, and it was me and my family visiting him every week, taking him for trips to favorite restaurants, shopping at the mall, and bringing him to our house for birthdays and holidays.

At sixty-eight, Dad was ecstatic to finally become a grandfather, and never hesitated to share new pictures and stories about his “baby Grace” with all of his friends and neighbors, often several times. He still loved to laugh, and she found it infectious, soon she was bursting in to a smile as soon as she saw grandpa wheeling out to meet us.

Gracie’s Grandpa Frank passed away in September 2008, when she was just thirteen months old.

This is our first father’s day without him.

We’ll miss him, of course, and while we grieve for the years that Grace will not know her grandfather, we’re comforted by the pride, joy and love he had for his granddaughter this past year. Grace will grow up knowing her Grandpa Frank through the love and stories that we will share with her.

If he were here now, I would thank him again for all the memories, and for all the lessons he taught me. I’d tell him that I hope I can be the father to my daughter that he was to me.

Dad, thank you…I love you…I hear you in my baby’s laughter.

“Fully Awe-some” Burgers

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Rhino2
Okay, if anyone likes gourmet burgers, I came up with this recipe this week.
 
Vic dubbed them, “Fully Awe-some Burgers” (we were watching Bolt at the time, lol.)
 
– Gracie’s Daddy
 

Fully Awe-some Burgers

The Patty
2lbs ground beef (15/85 fat)
1 lg sweet onion, diced fine
2 Tbs Montreal steak seasoning
2 Tbs fresh minced garlic
1 Tbs coarse sea salt
1 Tbs coarse black pepper

The Rest
6 Whole wheat burger buns (or your favorite)
1 cup simple guacamole (see below)
6 Tbs mayo
12 oz aged smoked white-cheddar cheese, grated
9 strips thick sliced bacon (I like maple) cooked and halved. (Kept warm)

Simple Guacamole
3 medium Haas avocados, ripe. Peeled and diced.
1 Tbs lime juice
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste.

Directions
Mix all “patty” ingredients together, form into six equal balls and fridge 4 hours – overnight, covered. Press into rounds slightly larger that the buns and freeze 3-4 hours between maxed paper.

Make simple guacamole and keep chilled.

Start coals or gas grill and heat to high, lightly grill buns (cut side only) and remove, then throw a small handful of oak chips on the fire, if you have them.

Cook bacon in pan, drain on paper towels and wrap in foil. These can be set on the back of the grill to re-heat just before using.

When grill is hot, place frozen patties evenly on surface and close the lid. Check occasionally for flare-up (these are high fat burgers) and perhaps have a spray bottle of water handy to keep the flames down. Cook 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prep buns with mayo and guacamole (see below.)

Flip burgers and place 2oz of grated cheese on top of each. Cover and cook 2 minutes. Check to see if cheese has melted, if so, place three half-strips of bacon on each patty and remove from grill.

Assembly
Spread 1 Tbs of mayo on each bottom bun, and 2 Tbs of guacamole on each top bun.

Place bacon cheese-burger patty between them, and serve immediately. (Best if patties are taken directly from grill and placed on waiting buns.)

Notes
A simple coleslaw and some cubed, chilled watermelon go very nicely with this dish.

For big eaters, use the same about of meat to make 4 patties. Change ingredients to:

4 Oversized whole wheat burger buns (or your favorite)
2/3 cup simple guacamole (see below)
4 Tbs mayo
8 ounces smoked white cheddar cheese, grated
6 strips thick sliced bacon (I like maple) cooked and halved. (Kept warm)
2 medium Haas avocados, ripe. Peeled and diced.
2 tsp lime juice
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste.

 

The Glamorous Life of a Freelance Writer

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If case you all picture writers as guys lounging about in smoking jackets, sipping sherry and perusing first edition classics all day, as classical music plays softly in the background…this picture is for you:

P1010110b

2:30pm on a Wednesdsay, 3 deadlines, 2 unfinished novels, a cup of cold coffee, and “The Wonder Pets” themesong in the background…

– Gracie’s Daddy

Wassat?

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BlueEyes1

An ode to Gracie’s favorite word…

Wassat?

Wassat? It’s the sunshine.
Wassat? It’s a drawer.
Wassat? It’s your Mommy.
Wassat? It’s a door.

Wassat? It’s your Daddy
Wassat? It’s a bear.
Wassat? It’s a bottle.
Wassat? It’s your chair.

Wassat? It’s your oatmeal.
Wassat? It’s your toast.
Wassat? It’s my coffee.
Wassat? It’s MY toast.

Wassat? It’s a washcloth
Wassat? It’s a show.
Wassat? It’s my laptop,
(And yes, that’s a no.)

Wassat? It’s your barnyard.
Wassat? It’s a cow.
Wassat? It’s your sandals,
well, one…anyhow.

Wassat? It’s the sidewalk
Wassat? It’s a tree.
Wassat? It’s a puppy.
Wassat? It’s my knee.

Wassat? It’s a bagel.
Wassat? It’s your head.
Wassat? It’s your peaches, don’t fling them, I said!

Wassat? It’s your naptime.
Wassat? It’s my grin.
Three quiet hours ‘till Wassat time again.

– Gracie’s Daddy

New Favorite Picture

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Uncle Dan took this one at Nanna Dixie’s house:

GracieGrandmas1

– Gracie’s Daddy

Awesome Soft Toys from SOFTOYS!

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Ark1

Hey all,

You guys know that I don’t often promote toys and such here, but sometimes you come across something so great, you just have to share it.

Last week, Vic, Gracie, & I wandered over to the Art On The Town event here in Wilsonville. It was hot…I mean blistering HOT, and all I wanted to do was walk the loop as quickly as possible, and then go find a Slupree.

Now, I’m glad I went.

As we were making out way through displays of jewelry, leaf-art, and Elephant Ear vendors, one shop caught Gracie’s attention, and nothing would do but to stop and look.

The table was manned by Del O’Shell of SOFTOYS, and on display were…well, soft toys.

These things are so cool!

Totally toddler friendly, and all hand-made by Del’s wife Eppie up in Shelton Washington. She’s obviously a very talented seamstress, and each of the little books and animals about peaked my personal cute-o-meter.

Gracie fell in love with the Noah’s Ark set (which, of course, we bought her) pictured above, which comes with 8 soft-sculpted animals.

Ark2

When I asked Del how much ol’ Noah and the gang were going to set me back, I was prepared for a fifty or sixty dollar price tag, and a disappointed daughter. But, the whole set was just 24 bucks! Again, this is all hand-sewn stuff, made right here in the Northwest, so I was pretty surprised at the deal.

I jumped over to the SOFTOYS website (only one “T”) and found that they have all kinds of great stuff there. You KNOW I’m going to have to get her the Fishing Game, lol, but the Safari Bag (below) is too cool to pass up as well.

Ark3

Here are my favorites:

Medical Kit
Dinosaurs
SAFARI BAG
Tool Box
Fishing Game

The hardest part was deciding which one to get, they’re all awesome!

The best thing (for Mom & Dad) about these is that each is self-contained. Each kit closes up and holds the animals, or tools, or “medical equipment” that goes with it, and they’re all in the $20-$30 range.

The best thing for Gracie, is that she LOVES her Noah’s Ark, and can’t hurt herself (or me) with it!

So, here’s a chance to pick up some great gifts for your (or others) little ones, at a decent price, and help support a local artist at the same time.

Del & Eppie O’Shell
SOFTOYS
1190 E. SHELTON SPRINGS RD.
SHELTON, WA 98584
1-888-SOFTOYS
http://www.softoys.com/default.htm

Oh, and they’re all machine washable, so those Slurpee stains will come right out!

-Gracie’s Daddy

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