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!

The Journey – Back Home

After Jack gained his composure, he asked Miguel where Mary and Shelly were. “That’s why I called you to come down here,” Miguel said quietly. On the phone, Miguel told Jack Shelly was in need but wouldn’t tell him what she was in need of. Jack was a bit discouraged and very much wanted to get on the next plane to Kansas City because he felt Miguel brought him down here for selfish reasons.

Miguel promised Jack’s dad many years ago he would take care of Jack and Shelly if anything happened. Although he didn’t fulfill this promise, Miguel hoped Jack had a bit of his dad in him. Miguel was in need of Jack’s help to take care of him and Mary. Miguel went on to explain to Jack that Shelly was back at the house with Mary. Mary’s health had declined and there was nothing the doctors could do for her. Mary had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Miguel knew he needed help with the school, Mary and the farm. Shelly requested Miguel call Jack to come down and use any story to get him to come. She knew he would come but just didn’t know how he would react once there.

Jack couldn’t believe how much he remembered of the village as Miguel drove him to the house where he lived 20 years earlier. They passed the courts where some kids were playing dodge ball and basketball just as Jack did in his early years. There was a baseball diamond, the lot, where Jack learned how much fun one person could have for an entire day playing baseball. They also passed the school where he learned to read and where he knew Shelly taught. As they passed the school, Jack couldn’t help but tear up thinking about his parents. Behind the school was the jungle. This is where Jack would go and think when he was younger and the place of refuge with his dad. They spent many days out there but after he lost his parents, he didn’t go back.

As they pulled in front of the house, Jack couldn’t hold back any longer. He burst out in tears and told himself this was a good thing. Shelly was in there and now life could start over in the same place it had ended 20 years ago. Shelly greeted him as he came in and as they hugged, he thought back to the last time he hugged his sister in this house. It was the night his parents were taken by the men at gun point. Mary & Miguel had hidden the kids from the tribe leaders so they wouldn’t be taken. Jack never thanked Mary & Miguel for hiding them because he really just wanted to be with his parents.

Shelly and Jack were able to talk and as they did, Mary came into the room to see who was there. She couldn’t remember Jack’s name but she did call him John, Jack’s father. This brought a whole new level of pain to Jack and he just wanted to run far away. But he knew Mary needed help and knew by trying to help her, he would be helping himself. As the four of them talked, Jack and Shelly were able to find out so much about their parents they had never heard. The good times, the bad times, the people they taught, the people who taught them. So many names and so many people who missed them. But none of them more than Jack and Shelly.

Talking to Miguel and Mary was good for Jack. For him, it was a time to heal he thought. But he had no idea what the next days would bring. The hope of healing his heart is what he had but the promise of finding something lost so many years ago was emerging.

To be continued…..

The Journey Continues

As Jack flew, his stomach began knotting up. He couldn’t sleep, drink or eat. All he could do was wonder why at this time he was headed back. Would it be different this time or would he again be very disappointed? Jack was still in awe of the phone call. For the first time in a while, Jack had hope.

Shelly had been gone for 4 years now and she hadn’t talked to Jack except at Christmas and birthdays. But this call was different. It wasn’t Christmas or anyone’s birthday and it wasn’t Shelly. Jack was continually worried about Shelly but knew no news was good news. Well, that’s what he thought. But when the phone rang and he answered it, he had a felling something was wrong.

The person on the other end was Miguel, his dad’s best friend who he hadn’t talked to since he left 20 years earlier. Miguel and his wife Mary had taken Shelly in when she moved back to teach. They were the only stability Jack and Shelly had after their parents were taken and they looked after them until their aunt came and brought them back to the states. But Jack couldn’t believe what Miguel was saying.

Miguel and Mary were also teachers and Jack blamed Miguel for him losing his parents. Jack felt Miguel didn’t look hard enough for his parents and felt he could have done more to get their release. But Miguel sat back and and told Jack and Shelly it was out of his control. Forgiveness for this was not something high on Jack’s list.

Jack really never wanted to head back to this place. He never wanted to see Miguel and Mary but knew his dad would be disappointed if he went on with life without searching for the truth. As the pilot asked the flight attendants to prepare for landing, all he wanted to do was head back to Kansas City instead of getting off the plane.

Will Miguel recognize him or will he recognize Miguel? Will Shelly ever be able to forgive him for the way he acted when she left and for the words he spoke? Will the memories be too much to handle? Jack knew he had to but he didn’t want to get off the plane. But as the entire plane emptied, Jack decided to take the first step to recovery and walk off the plane.

As Jack walked off the plane, he noticed Miguel and collapsed in his arms. Jack was back home and now the recovery was to begin, thus beginning all over again. He knew what he had to do this time but he was skeptical. Jack had a return ticket and was not going to stay more than 30 days. Miguel talked him into staying a month on the phone but Jack had no idea what he would find in these 30 days and how his life would change.

To be continued…..

The Journey Begins

Jack’s curiosity and wild spirit drove his actions but this time he was reserved. He couldn’t even think about going but yet something inside was telling him to go. It was miles away. Another country, another culture, a much different language. But still he wondered why he got the call. Why not someone else? Do I seriously need to go? And with that thought, Jack’s decision was set. He would go and see but didn’t think he would stay long.

There was so much to do to get ready. His passport was ready but had never been stamped, well, not since he last saw his parents. Jack was born in the remote jungle around the Amazon and came to the states with his sister, Shelly, and aunt when he was 8. His parents were captured and presumed dead. The only family he had was Shelly and and their aunt who didn’t want to raise kids. They came back to the states and began a new life. One without stability, parents or a clear future.

That was then and not much had changed over the years.  Jack often wondered about his parents. Why did they want to raise a family there? Why were his parents always having people over? Why did they have to answer the door that night? Why is all that went through his head for the last 20 years.

Jack’s parents were teachers in the Amazon. They spoke 3 languages and had the respect of most of the tribes. But there was one tribe, the most feared tribe, that didn’t want them there any more. Jack and his sister wondered why they stayed but their dad always said it was their calling. “We’ll stay here forever kids, however long that is,” he would say.

Jack wondered about them often and said he’d go back if he had the chance but once before, he said no. But Jack’s sister always wanted to follow in her parent’s footsteps. So after college, only 4 years ago, Shelly went back to the Amazon to teach. Jack was furious with her decision but like their dad said, it was a calling and there was no holding her back.

But this time it was different. The voice on the phone was too familiar and coudn’t believe who it was and what they were saying. Jack got everything he needed in place for the journey. Tickets were purchased, good byes to his friends were said and Jack was on his way. Leaving Kansas City was easy, the hard part would be getting off the plane. Going to a place with lots of history and bad memories. But he knew this would be different.

To be continued…

The Journey

After he folded his last shirt, Jack opened his bag to put his shirt in and thought about how he had gotten here. He thought about the good and bad. He knew he had grown but he wondered exactly how much. Jack knew everything he had been through since he got the call and knew it was worth it. But as he packed his bag, he couldn’t help but think back to the day it started and wonder, “What if I hadn’t come?”

It was a typical winter day in the Midwest. Cold and blustery with snow covering everything. The day turned from typical to extraordinary though when his phone rang. Jack answered the phone and on the other line was a voice from his past. A person who he hadn’t talked to in a while but someone he missed greatly. And with one question, life as Jack knew it would change, no matter what his answer.

Jack was a good guy who had many friends but always felt something was missing in his life. He had tried going to school and working but just couldn’t find what he wanted to do. Jobs led him nowhere and his friends was all he had. He enjoyed life but knew there was more. More that he wanted to do and more he knew he was supposed to do.

Being an outdoors man, Jack always seemed confined in the city but the city is where he thought he would find his true life. He thought this was the only way he would ever be able to get back what he had lost so many years ago. Being in nature was his release but the pain from the past hindered what nature could now provide him. Nature was where he used to think about the past, present and future. It was a time to think about the meaning of life and about his friends. To think about his family, who he hadn’t seen in years and just wonder why things had turned out like this. But mainly, it was a time for him to get right with who he was and who he badly wanted to be. But Jack hadn’t allowed himself to be in nature for quite some time and he was in need of time in nature.

But when the call came in, Jack realized there was more. More to life, love and happiness. More than  just living. Finding out there is a calling.  His quest for a career wasn’t important any more. He just wanted to know why he was being called to this place at this time.

It wasn’t the first time this call had come in but it was the first time Jack acutally listened to the person on the other end. It was the first time he had acutally thought about the call in perspective to life. This time it was different and he wanted to know why.

To be continued………

Life has no Easy Button

I read a question someone posed this week and it made me think and pray.  It was “Why can’t everthing just be easy?” I know life is rough. School, relationships, home, bills, church, groups, siblings, parents and just searching for God’s provision.

It’s at this moment that you realize, life has no easy button. And to me, that’s okay. It’s okay as long as you are growing in the direction God wants you to grow. Grow in Him, not without Him. Listen to what He’s saying and don’t worry about what others think or say. Get rid of any influence that his holding you back.

This is something I’ve had to deal with recently and ya, I wish there was an easy button at times. Because then there would be no pain, no hurts, but there would also be no growth. So I can deal with the pain and hurt. It’s in the pain and hurt that we grow the most. Just remember that.

God loves you and wants you to grow in Him. So take the hard times happily. Learn from them and move where God wants you to go.

Love you all!

Fall from Grace

Over the past few years, we have seen pastors, political leaders and companies go from the top of the world to a bad name everywhere. This has happened since the beginning of time but has become a part of everyday life now. I bring this up because just like Jimmy Swaggert, Enron and many others quick and improbable crashes, I have seen this in my life very recently.

I saw a company go from the top to what seems to be almost inevitable bankruptcy in less than 1 week. This puzzled me at first and to be honest, I smiled because of the circumstances I guess. I am not totally sure what happened but as more pieces of the puzzle get laid out, just like in the Swaggert and Enron cases, I see a pattern that I want to try to avoid. Pride and greed got the best of a man. His desires, not God’s calling was at the front of his life. This not only has ruined a great business but many people have been hurt because of this pride and greed. Over 150 people are now looking for jobs because they lost theirs. While I know 150 is nowhere close to Enron, Tyco, WorldcomMCI or others, this is huge to me because it’s a small community and I know many of them.

The inevitable finally happened last week and while it was hard to see, it had to happen because in this day and time, pride and greed must be destroyed. I have been a prideful man at times and for this, I am sorry. I have also been greedy. Greed of money, time, and knowledge and in so many other areas. For this, I am very sorry. I have tried to give up the pride and greed but it’s just so hard. But seeing the state of people and the problems that can arise from this, I am begging to be released from myself. So, if you have problems letting go of your pride, greed or anything else, I pray that you allow God to release the bondage you put yourself in. It’s amazing how we can get ourselves into messes like these but God can and will totally free us from them if we ask and believe.

Love you all!!