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!

Moving

Just in the past month, we moved into a new house here in Amarillo and it got me doing some thinking. Thinking about the past few years in our old house and how moving to this new house is not only a new beginning but a closing to so many other things.

When we moved into our house on 39th 5 years ago, Garrett was barely a year old and Elisabeth hadn’t started Kindergarten. Now Elisabeth is headed into 3rd grade and Garrett into 1st. It’s amazing the changes over the years in the kids in that house.

But it’s not just the kids that changed over the past few years. We have also changed. As I look back at every move we’ve made in the past 15 years as a married couple, it’s been during a time of change in more than the literal sense of moving houses.

For many of us, moving is a headache. It’s a time of stress, confusion on where things are, packing up your things, selling some stuff, giving some stuff away and possibly just throwing stuff away. It’s a time when we can sit and think about this and that and memories come back, one at a time and rush through us like a strong wind.

Moving is hard but necessary at times. It can release us or bind us, depending on the situation. But it should always allow us to start again. To wake up in a new place, wether it’s across town or across the world. New people to meet, new places to get used to and remembering where to go, home, not a house.

But for us, moving this time seemed a bit easier. I’m not totally sure why but I do believe it’s because this time, it wasn’t us moving. It was God moving in us. Leaving our “dream” home behind wasn’t hard because of the freedom it is bringing us. Freedom for Christy to quit teaching and concentrate on her business. Financial freedom of no debt. Freedom to do what we need to do, not have to do for the first time in a long time.

As I think back and now that we have moved and with the closing of our house very near, our “dream” home brought us many memories. Garrett learned the joys of walking, talking and playing in that house. Elisabeth made many friends at her school and started growing into a young woman right in front of our eyes there. We saw people grow in our house spiritually and personally. We had many people bless our home in small groups and we will always remember those times. I was able to see a life transformed on my couch there as a young man went from at wanting to end his life, to accepting Christ in a few hours of prayer, talking, loving and sharing.

It was a great home but those things won’t stay. They’ll move with us to our new home. That’s what makes a home. It’s not the house but the memories within the walls.

I’ve been blessed so much during this move and I ask that you take a look at where you are. Maybe you don’t need a literal move but a move in yourself. Maybe it’s time to pack some of the stuff away or throw the crap out. Maybe it’s time to go through the dust and cobwebs of life to see the beauty that is beneath. Maybe you haven’t seen or used some of your stuff (talents/gifts) in a while and it’s time to use them again before you have to throw them away.

I don’t know where you are but wherever you are today, I pray that you aren’t there this time next year. Sometimes growth is hard and there are times we have to pack up and move to get where we need to go next. Are you ready to move? I was and I did. What a blessing!!

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!!

The Career Man – Part 3

As Carrie drove off from the airport, she was crushed. She thought John would change his mind and say he would be back in a couple of weeks, but it didn’t happen. On her way back home, she thought about what the future held for her. Could she really face the future without John?

She didn’t know if she could wait six months to talk to John but knew this is what he wanted. But in six months she’d talk to him again and then maybe she could tell him them. Or, if he saw her in six months, he’d know what she needed to tell him. He’d know just how much she needed him over the past few months and just maybe, he would then stay. Many changes were coming in her life and she had nobody to help her, she thought.

The change Carrie knew was coming started about two months prior on a trip with John. They had gone on a tirp to a remote island in the Pacific and they had a weekend of what seemed to be never ending love. They had not done this to this point in their relationship but with the beach in the background, they couldn’t help it. They had finally realized their love for each other and this beautiful moment was now more than that. It was a moment of change and Carrie didn’t feel she was ready now that John had left.

That weekend Carrie had gotten pregnant and now she was all alone being the care taker for her parents and for a baby that was due in just a few months. She really wanted to tell John but didn’t want to push him into a corner and make him feel as if he had to give up his dreams to tend to a family. She knew he would stay if he knew a baby was coming but she did not want that to be the reason he stayed. He needed to go and spread his wings and in a few months, maybe things would be so they could be together again.

Carrie loved John but just didn’t know what to think. She was beginnning to see a side of John she didn’t know was there. This man who she had fallen in love with was more in love with his career than her in her mind and just didn’t understand why he felt the need to try to advance rather than find something else. Even if it were with another company and starting over. She felt they were going to have to start all over in six months but she was trying to force herself to understand his reasoning. She hurt badly but told herself she understood. She was also happy with her career but knew she would have to change companies now because it would get back to John about her being pregnant.

Carrie had never started over but now she would. A new job, a baby on the way and her parents health badly diminishing. Carrie was lost in it all but knew things would get better. Or just hoped it would get better. Time heals all pain she thought and she wondered on her way back home what John was thinking on his flight home. Was he sad? Did he cry at all? Does he have a clue about her being pregnant? Could he go six months without her? Will he be back? And finally, does he really love her?

These thoughts went through her head and she couldn’t help but think her phone might ring and it be John asking her to come back and pick him up. But it didn’t happen. John boarded his Continental flight back to New York and was ready to face the next six months.

All he knew was he had left her heart broken and he would be back and things would be alright. But John had no idea what would happen once he arrived back in New York. His life was about to take a huge change and it would impact him forever.

To be continued…

The Career Man – Part 2

As Carrie drove John to the airport, there was complete silence. No talking about their decision and a bit of nervousness in both of them. They had fallen in love with each other but for now they have decided to put things on hold until something changed.

This decision was extremely tough but it was the one John thought was best. He really wanted to move to Houston, get married and start a family but didn’t see a way to make it work with his career. He was determined to make his career his main priority until he felt it time to make a change and until he felt he could find a job he thought fit him in Houston. He knew this was risky but John had always been a risk taker. And had never thought he would ever miss on a risk, especially this one.

Carrie on the other hand was hurt. Almost to the point of destroyed. She really thought John would rather start a family than a career and she was beginning to think if she really knew him at all. She had to stay in Houston to take care of her parents and there was no way she would move to New York with them still in Houston.

This decision was made and now both of them were rethinking what they, mainly John, thought was best. But in the end, John was ready to board a flight and not see Carrie for a while. It might be hard but he thought if he worked enough, it would ease his mind.

As they pulled up to the airport, John looked at Carrie and broke the silence. “I still love you Carrie, I just think this is the best way right now.” As Carrie looked into his eyes, she began crying and couldn’t say anything. She was crushed and just wanted him to get out of the car. She couldn’t look at him any longer.

There was more she wanted to say but couldn’t at this time. She had to let John go because she felt if she asked him to stay there would always be regret and it would hinder their relationship. John opened the car door and as he began to get out, he leaned over, gave her a kiss and said “I love you Carrie.” Carrie sat in cold silence, crying and wiping her eyes. As John shut the door to her car, a crying Carrie whispered, “I love you too John but you have no idea what the future holds for us.”

To be continued….

The Career Man

As John rolled out of bed and headed to get ready for the day, he couldn’t help but wonder if  this was it. It was not a typical Saturday for John but one that he had to get ready for anyway. As he stared at himself in the mirror waiting on the shower to heat up, he just couldn’t help but think about the past and future. But today was the day most on his mind and John wondered if he had done enough.

John was your typical high school student who played sports, studied and couldn’t help but get ready for the future. He was raised by his parents to be respectful and to prepare himself to take care of his family, no matter what the cost.

John saw his dad work 2 jobs at times and saw his mom clean houses and work other jobs to help pay the bills. This is what he did not want for his family so after high school, John attended college to prepare for his future career. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life but he was very smart and knew he could do anything. His life was on track and he was on track to graduate with his M.B.A. in only 5 years.

Upon graduation, John found a job that he knew would suit him best. He took a job with a consulting firm that promised to have plenty of room for advancement. Nothing had ever gotten in John’s way to his future once he set his mind on a career. He made it through high school in the top 10% of his class and finished college with an honors degree. John was sought after by many top American companies and he soon took a job with U.S. Consulting. They were young, energetic and ready to make a top executive out of John. John loved his job and worked hard as a 23 year old up and coming junior executive. He made it to where he wanted to be and was now set on his career, no matter what the cost.

John’s career was booming and on a business trip, his life would change forever. While in Atlanta for a conference, John met a “rookie” with U.S. Consulting named Carrie. She reminded him of someone from his past and was excited to see someone as excited about their career as him.

But what John didn’t see was a fire burning inside him and Carrie. At first it seemed to just be about business but soon, their relationship would turn to much more. But a couple of problems existed. He lived in New York and she was in Houston. And according to their company, they couldn’t get married and work together.

They talked about what to do and it just didn’t seem they could get something worked out. Carrie was alright with giving up her job but couldn’t move to New York because she was the caretaker for her parents. John didn’t want to give up his career but the company didn’t have a place for him in Houston. What to do was killing both of them because so badly they wanted to start a life together. But they just didn’t see a way, unless John was to quit and find a job in Houston. But after looking around at many companies in the Houston area, John just couldn’t find a job.

As they discussed it over a long weekend together, they finally knew what they had to do. They knew at this point there was no turning back from this decision. No matter how hard or how frustrating this would be, they knew this was the best decision for both of them at this time. But was it the right decision for their future? Only time would tell and they promised to have no regrets. It was easy to say but hard to do.

To be continued…..

The Journey – Hope Arises

After being back home for a bit over a week, Jack finally started to realize how special this place was to his family. The school was the place where he learned to read and started one of the most precious friendships someone could ask for. As a first grader, Jack met his buddy, Jose. Jose was someone Jack thought of often and never thought he would see again. After Jack left the village for America, he cried for and wondered about Jose.

It didn’t take long for Jack and Jose to reunite after Jack’s return. Jack always knew Jose was special to his family but in a new way now. Shelly took Jack over to Jose’s house one afternoon and she explained to him that they had been dating for about 2 years now. Jose wanted to see Jack because he loved and missed him but he also wanted to ask Jack if it would be okay for him to marry Shelly. Jack was taken by surprise but really couldn’t say no to his friend from so many years ago. His only reservation was this was defenitely going to keep Shelly here forever.

After talking to Shelly and Jose, Jack gave them the family blessing and they all started talking about good times from so many years ago. Jack wanted to know about everything that had happened since they last saw each other. Jose was nervous at first but as soon as he started talking, everything came out. He told Jack and Shelly about how after they left the leaders of the tribe who had taken their parents came back to search for them. They knew there were children to be found but could not find them.

Jose explained to them how the tribe leaders searched every home there and when they could not find the children they were looking for, they ravaged the village, especially the school. Miguel and Mary’s place was the hardest hit and that’s why they moved into Jack and Shelly’s old house. The tribe knew Miguel and Mary had hidden them and  had sent them to Amercia with family.

Then Jose started to cry. Jack and Shelly were confused and asked Jose if he was okay. Jose tried to talk but couldn’t. He was silent. Jack feared Jose had seen something or knew something about their parents. Jack continued to try to talk to Jose but he couldn’t talk. Or wouldn’t talk in Jack’s mind. Please he would beg. But it just wasn’t changing anything.

As Jack and Shelly left Jose’s house, Jack was even more confused than before. Why did he just go silent? Was there something he knew or was he just so shaken up from talking about the past? Jack just didn’t know what to think of his soon to be brother in law but one thing was certain in his mind. He was going to find out very soon.

Jack got back to the house and found Miguel on the front porch listening to music. Miguel tried to act as if he were sleeping but Jack just wanted to talk with him. He explained what had happened at Jose’s and wondered if Miguel knew anything.

After spending over a week here, Jack finally started to feel comfortable enough to search on his own and he told Miguel he would be gone for the next few days searching for the truth. Miguel tried to stop Jack but knew he was too much like his dad and there was no stopping him once his mind was set. “Please take every precaution you can Jack,” Miguel said. “I just want you to be safe. You and Shelly are all Mary and I have.”

With those words, Jack went into the house, went to his room and started packing for the search that would begin in the morning. Jack didn’t know if he would find the truth or more dead ends. But one thing was certain, he had 20 days left until he was to return to Kansas City. He was going to search for the truth but he had also made up his mind he wasn’t missing that flight.

Hope was really beginning to flourish in Jack’s life and he had 20 days to find what he had lost 20 years ago. He was back home and ready to find it. Finding family, friends and time lost was one thing. Finding the truth was another. Jack had no time to waste. The jungle awaited him and welcomed him after 2o years. But the question still remained. What would he find?

To be continued…..