Daddy, let’s talk

“Daddy, let’s talk.” Three little words from a young lady that will just absolutely make you stop in your tracks. One phrase said so simple and sweet you almost miss hearing it. Three simple words, said so boldly, you can’t help but wonder what’s wrong. Three words my daughter said to me one evening after a great day with her. One phrase every parent longs to hear but is scared when they hear it.

But as she said it, I could tell, there wasn’t anything wrong, it was all good. You see, it was right after our game at College Station and we had been together for the past 24 hours. Sleeping, eating, watching football, cheering on the Aggies and much more. I could tell throughout the day there was something on her mind. Something she wanted to say or do but just didn’t know how. And as we sat at the Cotton Patch restaurant in College Station, she simply said, “Daddy, let’s talk.”

I wasn’t sure what about but I was sure it was something. Could it be boys? It always seems to be boys. Could it be school? It never seems to be about school. As I looked into her eyes, I said, “Yes, we can talk.” There was time and that’s all we had that night. Nowhere to be and only about 2 hours ahead of driving for us. As she talked, I realized what she wanted. She wanted me. Nothing more, nothing less. She wanted time to ask her Daddy about growing up.

How were times “back-then” she would ask. All kinds of things she wanted to learn about and I was plenty happy to tell her about it. As we continued talking, I could tell she had a peace about talking to me. I could tell this was her first attempt at opening up and seeing how much she could trust me when asking me questions. I could tell this was the beginning, not the end.

Over the few months since this conversation, there have been countless times I’ve picked her up at school and heard, “Daddy, let’s talk.” We’ve talked about how dumb boys are and about how important school is. We’ve talked about problems with friends and who the best friends are. We’ve talked about God and His plans. We’ve talked about cancer, divorce and what hurts us. But mostly, we’ve just talked. Daddy and daughter talk. Things maybe she shouldn’t hear at times but at least she heard it from me. Time for us to grow closer together and build on what God wants us to build on. Talking. That’s it. No expectations, no demands, no pretending.

As I think about our conversations I can’t wait for Garrett to open up more and more. To me or his mother, it doesn’t matter. But I’ve also realized that I haven’t fully said these words all the time to my “Daddy” as much as I need to. Not my earthly Dad, we talk all the time but to my Heavenly Daddy. Why? I have no idea. I can talk about good things, bad things, dumb things or just nothing and He’ll listen. He won’t judge and I may have to wait to hear His advice. But through it all, He will listen. He cares more than I’ll ever comprehend and loves no matter what. He’s the One I need to say “Daddy, let’s talk,” a lot more often to. Three words, one short phrase we need to say more often. Daddy, let’s talk.

I love you all!

Two Different Men – One Common Theme

Being born into a very large family is a blessing but it’s hard at the same time. Having parents with many friends who love you like family is also a blessing but it’s also hard. It’s hard having to say goodbye and tomorrow, we will say goodbye to two men who mean the world to me.

Just about every memory I have has my Uncle Clark and Walter Johnson in it. These two different men, always treated me the same. Joking, laughing, loving and at times, correcting. 

Uncle Clark – Thanks A Million

Clark E. Wooldridge, had a way with me. I don’t know what it was but he could always make me smile and I especially liked getting to talk to him about many things. My earliest childhood memory of Uncle Clark came in Las Vegas, NM at the Hillcrest Inn Restaurant.

We were on our way to the mountains and I ordered french toast. (That was my favorite as a kid) When the french toast came, Uncle Clark told me not to eat it. It had powdery white stuff on it and he told me it was maggots. You can’t believe what that will do to a little kid. I not only freaked out and didn’t eat it then; I didn’t eat french toast with powdered sugar on it until well into my teenage years! That’s the kind of stuff Uncle Clark and I got to laugh about.

Uncle Clark was a great husband to my Aunt Barbara, a loving and correcting father to Ted, Tracey and Christy and a wonderful grandfather for his grandkids to look up to. He proudly served our country in World War II while in the Navy and loved being on the water. I can remember times at the lake in his sailboat and I always wanted to sail the ocean with him. What a time he’s having today sailing in heaven!

Uncle Clark also loved taking pictures and has quite a library of our family history in pictures. He and Aunt Barbara have so very greatly photographed our family and it has allowed us all to look back at easier times, harder times and loving times. Thanks for that Uncle Clark, you and Aunt Barbara have captured our family history forever.

You will never know how much you meant to me and those Yankee Dimes you and Elisabeth shared are still with her. As we told her of your passing, she, like all of us, was very sad. Elisabeth thought of you as more than an uncle. She and Garrett looked to you as a grandfather and someone who loved them very much. 

I will never forget our times together. Your pictures are here forever but more importantly, the lessons you taught us are with us forever. You’re already missed but we know you’re in peace. Thanks for everything and never forget we love you!

Walter Johnson – What A Damn Mess!

I was introduced to Walter Johnson as a very young boy and I was terrified of him. He was tall and had a deep voice that carried for miles. It frightened me and to tell you the truth, there was no reason for me to fear this gentle giant!

My earliest memory of Walter happened at Camp RYLA in Summerlife, NM. As we were leaving RYLA, Walter asked me what I had in my grasp. I had been given a ping-pong ball, I know, no big deal to you but a very big deal to me, by one of the campers. Walter took the ball from my grasp and put it in his mouth. Once again, I freaked out and as he gave me back a squished ball, he said, you’ll never forget this Denny. Well, as you can see, I didn’t forget it.

Walter was a jokester to all and always had a new story, new song to play on his harmonica or some sort of life lesson to leave with you. Walter was a sportsman and it still amazes me as to what he did in his life. He talked to everyone crudely and had a nickname for everyone. He called my dad Mudd, my wife, well, I won’t say and me, the ultimate rug rat!

He loved being around all people and it seems as everyone in the world knew Walter. He taught me life lessons and showed me enough love every time I saw him to leave my heart full. From frightful times like my dad breaking his neck and Walter driving 90 to nothing around the New Mexico mountains and just being there for my mom at times of need, we are forever thankful.

We will miss our friend but know he’s playing jokes up in heaven and walking from mountaintop to mountaintop he never got to walk here on earth.

Tomorrow will be hard as we say goodbye forever and celebrate the lives of these two different men. But my heart is full because these two men had a common theme in my life. Love, Love, Love. That’s all these men had and that’s all they leave with us.

Thanks Uncle Clark and Walter. This world has been forever changed by your lives and so I am. I love you both and can’t wait for our reunion!

I love you all!!

Curb Appeal or Real??

While cleaning up my yard last weekend, I began thinking. I know it’s scary when I start thinking about anything but here’s what I came up with.

I noticed when we were done cleaning up the yard I was more worried about the front being cleaner than the back. I noticed that there weren’t half the amount of leaves in the front as there were in the back. I noticed that I spent more time and energy on getting the front looking better than the back. After we finished, I sat and wondered why. I thought about it long and hard and finally God gave me something.

He showed me that our lives are much like front and back yards. The front yard appears to be clean and everything’s great. We make sure the weeds are gone, the grass is cut and we have fertilized enough to make everything look good. But in the back, there are weeds, missing grass, things out of place, trash and dogs and kids running wild. I finally started wrapping my brain around this and thought WOW, our lives are like our yards. The front is open for everyone to see. The back is guarded by a fence and in order to see what’s going on back there we have to allow people in. We can’t stop anyone from seeing the front but they have to be invited in or they have to invade our privacy to see what’s going on in the back.

I think this is how our lives are. We have a great showing on the outside (front yard) but inside (back yard), things are chaotic and weeds are growing. Things get out of place here but as long as we can continue having a front that is clean we think all is well. This is not the case though. Even if we have an appearance of the front being clean and perfect, deep down if things aren’t well, we have trouble inviting people in to see who we really are.

On this Thanksgiving, I urge you all to take a look at yourself, outside and inside. It’s easy to have the appearance everything’s good in the front yard but if you never let anyone in the back yard, you may never know anything’s wrong deep down.
Our lives are much like curb appeal. Curb appeal may sell someone to come inside but they may not buy it if you are not real. Are you real or do you just have curb appeal?? Happy Thanksgiving!

Love you all!!

Stand Up or Shut Up, Revisited

Well, thanks for the responses to the last posting, Stand Up or Shut Up. I did however have one question that seemed to come up and I promised someone I would answer it for them. That’s what I said I would do, so here it goes.

The question was; if you stand up for what you believe and you are told to shut up, then what do you do?

Let me start off by saying this actually crossed my mind and I wanted to include it in the previous posting but I wanted to make sure there were others this has happened to. I do find that no matter what you believe you will always have some that just blow you off for whatever reason. However, you MUST stand your ground. If there’s one thing I have learned over time is that people may not like it when you stand your ground but they will respect you for it, even if you don’t immediately know it.

Herein lies the problem. What if the people who are telling you to sit down and shut up are people who either don’t respect you or don’t really understand your position? For whatever reason they are always correct or they just feel as if you are overstepping boundaries or trying to make them look bad. This creates a whole new group of problems but you have to be ready for opposition. If you firmly believe you are correct, back it up with facts. If you have the facts and they still tell you to sit down and shut up, then please don’t get discouraged and walk away. Find someone to talk to this about and begin getting counsel from those you trust. Maybe it’s you who is actually wrong or maybe you are going about it in the wrong way. Whatever you do though, don’t ever jeopardize your faith or values. This will lead to people seeing you as a flappable person and it will be hard to ever gain the respect of those around you.

Another point is that your opinion can always be questioned. Remember that opinions are like buttholes, everyone has one and at times, they really stink. You have to allow yourself to be questioned on your opinions. There are times people question you only to find out more about you, the situation or to see if they can help. This also allows us to gain understanding and it also allows us to grow. Please don’t misconstrue your opinions for standing up for a known fact. And please don’t let anyone try to convince you of something that is against your values.

I know this is probably more than this question needed but I wanted to play a little CYA (cover your assets) with this one. Just know that when you stand up for your beliefs, there are people watching and admiring you. Even when you don’t see it or hear it, know the support is there. People can’t help but notice when the words that come out of our mouths match the way we live. Hang in there and continue standing tall and strong for your beliefs. But please do remember that if you won’t take the action, then don’t bring it up. That way nobody can tell you to shut up.

Love you all!!

Stand Up or Shut Up

So as most of you know, I’m a news and talk radio junkie. Over the past 6 weeks we have heard that our country is in the worst economic times in over 100 years. You hear that people are losing their jobs and homes at a record pace and the unemployment is at levels not seen in years (14 years to be exact). The dollar is not strong and consumer confidence is low. The media and many politicians, including President George W. Bush and President Elect Barack Obama, have said this country is actually worse off now that it was during the Great Depression.

Hearing all of this just pisses me off and here’s why. My Grandparents actually lived through the Great Depression and trust me, we are nowhere close to being where they were. My Granddad Rivers told me 4 days before he died as we went through some World War II stuff that he hoped and prayed that our country didn’t get into a war or go through tough economic times because we didn’t have the leadership to lead us or the desire to work through it. He also let me know we were the softest Americans in our country’s history.

When he told me this, my ears really perked up becasuse I was afraid he was right. At that time, we were not in the Iraq war and the economy was booming. He told me not enough Americans knew the value of work, love, giving or honesty. He lived in a time when people not only talked about change but they actually stood up to change things. And they also used to stand up for their beliefs and shared them with people.

This brings me to today. I can clearly see what Granddad Rivers was talking about. We do have the ability to change things. The American people are still the hardest working and brightest people in the world. The problem we have in America today is that we have all of these ideas and changes we believe need to be made but it seems people don’t want to stand up for their beliefs and actually make their ideas come to life. We talk about change as a slogan instead of a something to do. We throw it around and really can’t say what change we want, we just want change.

I for one, am guilty of this. I have become the “typical” American here in the 21st century and I know all of my grandparents would be disappointed. I have sat around and griped but done nothing. I sit and talk with friends and family about my ideas but don’t bother to call my congressman or senator about it. I see things at church I don’t agree with and until very recently, sat back and did nothing. I believe things at work should change but don’t feel I should say anything. This has happened to all of us and America has lost it’s mystic and respect the Greatest Generation and others fought for becasue of this.

My granddad told me we would fold up and just take it. He did not feel there was any way good people would stand up for their beliefs and we would coutinue taking our country and freedom for granted. We have become a very spoiled and soft country. We are the richest people in the world financially but have become the poorest people in standing up for what we believe in. We can’t take the bloodshed of war that is sometimes necessary. We can’t take it when the economy goes down and feel sorry for ourselves when we have to go and flip burgers or clean a toliet to pay the bills. We really have no idea what it means to do without. When times get tough would rather moan and groan than do something about it.

We have to remember that living in this country is a blessing and we have to respect those who have fought to keep it a blessing and free. Voting is not a right but a responsibility and so is knowing about every candidate, not just the one the media is in love with. We have to love our children and grandchildren enough to leave them the country our grandparents left us. They left us a tough, prosperous nation. They left us values and ideas and showed us it’s okay to stand up for what we believe.

Here’s what I ask. If you want things to actually change, will you as an American stand up for your beliefs? Will you raise your children as you were raised or will you do it like a book says to do it? Will you get back to the basic principles set forth throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testament, or just use the “feel good” Jesus churches want us to know? Will you and your family sit down at the dinner table and talk through the problems and triumphs of the day? Will you let your faith be passed to your kids or will you be the last generation in your family for the Kingdom?

We can all be part of the solution or part of the problem. It’s your choice. You can either stand up or shut up. Your country, family and God needs you to stand up no matter your beliefs. If you can’t stand up, then do us all a favor and shut up.

Love you all!!