Future Generations

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As my children grow older, I find more and more reflections on my own childhood occupying my mind.  My childhood was wonderful, great parents, family and friends.  We never had a lot of money as a kid, yet my parents always found the money to take us somewhere every year.  These memories create an immense desire to give the same to my children.  I wonder often if they will reflect upon their childhood with the same fondness that I do on mine.

As I ponder what was important, what has left the largest impact upon my life and what memories I hold dearest I have learned that:

  1. Money never created the happiest memories of my childhood
  2. The trust of my parents and their approval was of tantamount importance
  3. Time with my family and relatives was deeply important and infuential
  4. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was taught and lived in my life, creating an anchor for me in this world.
  5. A Child’s needs should always outweigh a parents
  6. Fidelity, and trust and love are required in a happy marriage
  7. Time with loved ones is far more important than careers
  8. The greatest bonding moments in our family happened in two places:  our home and nature
  9. Hard and meaningful work as a child makes successful adults
  10. True Love within a family provides a refuge from the pressures of this world.

There are many more lessons that I have learned at the hands of my parents, this is not all inclusive and could never be interpreted as such.   My humble parents taught and raised 6 successful boys who became successful and great men, wonderful fathers and husbands.  Men who understand how to work to achieve success in life. 

I hope that I can be as successful a parent as mine were.  I hope to leave that same legacy for my children and grandchildren.

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The Roadblocks of Life

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Life often seems like we are taking one step forward and two steps back.  The roadblocks we run into can seem overwhelming and extremely difficult to overcome as we continually battle to get ahead.   These moments when life hands us the setbacks we all to often encounter it is easy to become disheartened and discouraged. 

Many times these setbacks are caused by others whom I have let into my life at one point or another and whom I can never seem to eradicate them from interfering in my life today.  I tell myself often that time will correct these situations, yet each time another roadblock is thrown at me it seems as though it’s not two steps back but a hundred.

It is in these moments, when anger and frustration seem to want to take over my emotions when I must pause, reflect and recognize the many wondrous blessings with which I have been given. While the roadblocks are still there before me, I am more closely able to recognize that the times I do move forward in my life’s goals and direction that it is not simply one step but thousands.  I look at where I am and what I have been given and realize that more often than not, the times I have had to take steps backwards in reality brought me closer to the more direct path that I had missed the first time.

I resolve the roadblock and setback only to find the direct route I had been searching for all along, one that takes me towards my destination in a timelier and more direct path.  There is much to be discovered when we pause upon encountering the obstacles of life.

Childhood games and the Old Ice Box

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The games of childhood can bring back wonderful memories.  Times gone by in a world that too has changed drastically.  It is amazing at times how any of us survived those days, when children ran and played without much supervision at times.  Our childhood weekends were spent with our cousins who were most certainly also our best friends.  Those days were filled with love, laughter and games of hide and seek, kick the can and tag.

The games provide wonderful memories, yet also moments of protection from guardian angels watching over us.  I remember vividly, one such game of hide and seek.  I must have been around six years old at the time.  We were happily playing in our yard and finding new places in which to hide from my brothers and my cousins as they searched for us.  It was a sunny summer day and I remember the excitement as I most certainly found the best spot ever in which to hide.  Surely no one would ever find me.

As my cousin started counting we took flight to our destinations.  Excitedly I ran as fast as I could around the side of the house and into our back yard.  Under the tree sat our tent trailer and I was headed straight for it and close on my heels behind me was my twin brother whom I grabbed and asked for his help with my hiding spot.

Quickly I climbed up on the front of the trailer, lifted open the door to the ice chest and raced inside.  I knew this would be the best spot that no one would find me in.  As I lowered myself in the ice box, I saw my older cousin Donald look my way as I climbed in.  Donald must have been ten or eleven at the time.  As I slipped inside, my twin brother quickly shut the lid behind me as he then raced off to find his perfect spot to hide.

Excitedly I sat in that dark, hot ice box outside listening to my brothers and my cousins run around it looking for me.  No one could ever find me!  I won!  I listened as they gave up searching for me one by one and the game ended. 

Minutes passed away as I pushed up on the lid to get out and revel in my victory.  My enthusiasm quickly vanished as fear flooded over me, the door would not open!  I was trapped!  Anxiously I began pounding on the lid, sweat dripping down me as I sat crying and alone in the dark, trapped and unable to leave.  No one heard me and they had all gone off to play something else.  I was left behind and alone in that ice box as fear washed over me of being trapped inside.  How soon I regretted this choice to hide in as I could hear my playmates running around playing something else, yet realizing none of them could hear my cries.  Sobbing, I sunk into my resting place certain I would never escape.

After what seemed hours, yet in reality was only about twenty minutes, to my surprise, the lid opened and I saw Donald’s face staring down at me as he reached to lift me out.  Overcome with relief and joy, I grabbed a hold of his hand and climbed our as fast as I could.  I was soaking wet with sweat and tears yet so overcome with emotion I could only cry. 

Apparently my mother had begun asking everyone where I was.  My mom had noticed that I was missing and began looking for me.  When she asked my cousin Don if he had seen me, he said that the last place he had seen me was  awhile ago climbing in the trailer.  He ran and lifted open the door to the ice box and found me crying in the dark box.

The ice box had a latch on the door that prevented me from opening it on the inside.  That ice box latch was removed that night, never to be used again. 

This event has altered my life forever.  I am certain beyond any doubt in Guardian Angels and the daily involvement in our lives.  I am forever indebted and grateful to my cousin for him being there for me.  I am also claustrophobic as a result of that hot dark ice box.

Conquering the Abuse, A Fathers Legacy!

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You fought and fought forever

as a child torn apart

the life that you were given

was so difficult at the start

you overcame the challenge

and the obstacles in your way

you conquered the abuser

and those who hurt you everyday

you swallowed all the poison

and hid the pain within

you created your own family

and showed us how to win

so thank you for the lessons

and the legacy left behind

you broke the abusers cycle

so the light upon us shines

now your children and their children

have a life to call their own

for none of us will suffer

the pain that you have known

the gift that you have given

to those you leave behind

a gift of live and happiness

you’ve left for us to find

Wind, Storms, and Rainbows

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The howling wind ripped through our neighborhood last night as the storm front blew in bringing with it the anticipated rain and cooler temperatures.  As the fierce winds blew they left behind a trail of damage to homes, property and nature.  Tree branches broke in the storms onslaught, power lines fell and homes damaged in the storms path.  Then came the heavy rains leaving behind not only the much needed moisture, but the corresponding flooding that usually follows such a storm.

It is ironic that our need for life sustaining water is accompanied by the raging storms leaving at times a trail of destruction behind them, yet they are always followed by a uniquely peaceful calm and the beauty of the rainbow sent from God.  After the storms, the sun shines brighter, the birds sing and the air is clean and clear.   Blessing in each of our lives as a result of the storm we just encountered.

Our lives resemble much of these storms. While in the midst of the tremendous obstacles and at times fierce opposition in life that we all too often encounter we can at times become discouraged by the winds of change raging uncontrollably in our lives as these personal storms press on.  The darkness swirling around us can be disheartening as we try to stay balanced and centered while all else rages out of control.

Just as these storms in nature are followed by the gifts of God in the unique calm and beauty of the rainbow so too are the storms in our life.  As we stay centered and focused upon our God and our Savior, the storms in life will pass and are always followed by a deep personal calm and peace from God.  It is through these moments as we hold tight to our faith that result in greater strength and understanding of the tremendous love and personal relationship our Father and His Son have for and with each of us. 

When we abandon our belief and attempt to weather such storms alone we refuse the outstretched arms of our Savior to bring us back to safety.  It is our unwillingness to reach out and take his hand that leaves us wandering in the darkness overwhelmed and feeling alone.  The calm and peace we seek during these storms of life are there for us when we accept the help patiently waiting for us to grab ahold of.  The choices are ours and our happiness and peace are directly proportionate to our willingness to accept the outstretched hand in our lives.

Childhoods Lost in an Everchanging World

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Freely we roamed the neighborhoods as little boys.  We spent many hours chasing frogs, catching snakes and jumping our bike across the canals.  We were free to roam and explore with little risk.  The weekends we would spend with our cousins chasing through the fields for miles on end, walking to the local movie theater and climbing trees.  Life was simple, grand and quite the adventure.  Our lives were much like the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.  We were always exploring and finding new adventure.  We would be gone from sunup to sundown.

Now as my children are of similar age as I was during those youthful adventures I find myself reminiscing much about those wonderful days full of innocence and filled with adventure.  I look at the dramatic change in the world we live as the freedoms we enjoyed as little children have been lost for this generation.  Gone are the innocent days of adventure.  Our children’s childhoods have been replaced with an ever increasing vigilance to protect them from the harm that others would do to them. 

As I reflect upon these days for me, I am reminded of the joys I found while exploring and roaming.  I search for ways to provide these same opportunities for my children while balancing the increasing need to protect them.  In many ways, in this world we live, the innocence of childhood has been lost. The repercussions of which we may not know for generations to come.

Lost Holidays – A Fathers Heartache part 16

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As a child holidays were sacred family time where all of our relatives would gather together to celebrate.  We were surrounded by love that permeated every part of us.  These were special occasions for our family that all of the cousins looked forward to in great anticipation.  Magical moments in life that carry vivid memories now as adults.  These opportunities for family to get together created a strong sentiment in my life for the magic of each holiday and corresponding celebrations.

As I grew older and began my family I yearned to create that same magical experience for my children as I was given growing up.  I desired to create those same wonderful memories with my little ones and make each holiday special.  As a parent, these days became even more special and wonderful as I watched my little ones eyes light up with each passing holiday.

As many know and painfully experience, life brings about changes for each of us, many beyond our ability to control.  While we adapt and evolve with each change, many of them bring with it much heartache and sorrow that repeats often throughout the years.  Many holidays for me no longer carry that magic and wonderment I felt as a child, they are replaced with sorrow and loneliness as my soul hungers and aches to see my dear children on these days that were so magical for me as a child.

While I am grateful to be able to rotate holidays and that my children are able to spend some with me, the residue of pain from these lost holidays remains and creates a chasm in my heart that I am unable to fill.  Despair washes over me each time I suffer another lost holiday.  Many of these holidays I swallow hard the bitter pill of loneliness that accompanies this gulf of sadness that comes with each missing heartbeat of my children.  My mind plays silhouettes of my children running, playing, and laughing in places I cannot watch. While I am surrounded by others whom I love and they love me, the chasm between the emotions runs deep.  I smile, laugh and play on these days while on the inside my heart is breaking for each lost day of magic with my children.