You’re Wight Dere

(***Note: Now that the weather is getting colder, I expect I’ll be posting with more frequency. Between the weather and our daughters just handing me posts, it is difficult to not share some of these little moments. Of joy and otherwise…hehe.)

Listening to my 3-year-old discover the English language is one of the joys I have in life. The letters “r”, “l”, and the “th” sound are three difficulties at this point. Just listening to her attempt to say “parallel lava lamps” causes me to giggle.

A few weekends ago we took the girls to Chicago. One afternoon we took them right downtown. It may have been the last good afternoon of the season. We were very blessed to enjoy great weather. I couldn’t wait to get our 3-year-old to Millennium Park to see the Cloud Gate, otherwise known as “the bean”. This great reflective work of art is an attraction. And on a nearly cloudless day it is even more impressive.
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I didn’t realize getting from the parking ramp to “the bean” was to become a feat of endurance. For the first time we were going to have our 3-year-old walk instead of ride. That meant, in a time of poor judgement on my part, she would be walking the 8 block walk from the ramp to the park. Then walk through the park with us and walk back to the parking ramp. She started whining at the half block mark and I knew my patience would be tested on this trip. Seriously, a half block and she was already complaining about being (insert complaint here: I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’m sweating) that’s right sweating one half block into the walk. After a rest at block 4 things did get better.

If you haven’t walked on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago on a nice afternoon you may not realize it can get rather crowded. My wife is not a fan of crowds. Because of this I watched our 3-year-old even closer than I expected. Not only because of the crowd of strangers, but also just to make sure she wasn’t going to show signs of claustrophobia or problems handling crowds. The good news is she did great in a large group.

When we got to “the bean” I took the 3-year-old around it and underneath it. Those pics are fun to take as well.

While underneath I asked her how she was doing? I also asked if she was frightened. (Lately she has said, “I’m scared” a lot so I just wanted to be sure she was fine. I was just making sure.) Her answer, “Nope.” When I asked why she wasn’t afraid she pointed right at the reflection on “the bean”, “Because you’re wight dere.”
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To translate, “Because you’re right there.” It does a heart good to know she felt safe because I’m near.

My mind went right to our faith. What if we could always see God, “wight dere”? How much better would we feel? How different would we act?

It amazes me how sometimes a small sentence from a 3-year-old can get a mind going.

“Do not fear: I am with you;
do not be anxious: I am your God.
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Or, to quote the chorus of the David Haas song “You Are Mine” I had stuck in my head the rest of the afternoon:

“Do not be afraid, I am with you
I have called you each by name
Come and follow Me
I will bring you home
I love you and you are mine”

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Things The Bad Catholic Dad Does

At work I’m surrounded by a great group of Catholics. I love listening to the techniques employed by many of them in raising their children over the years. Plus, working with Father Rocky gives me an opportunity to listen to him speak. He has a particular talk where he encourages praying the rosary with your family. Even saying it is a great event to do with even the youngest of children. Although, recalling his words, it can be a “full contact” rosary with young children. The first time I heard him say those words. I thought, “That seems a little exaggerated. I’m sure if my time to be a dad ever happens it won’t be like that.”

Boy was he right and I wrong on that one. I have to admit being around an active 3 year old will keep me young well beyond my years. And going to Sunday mass has often become, to borrow Fr. Rocky’s words, a “full contact” sport.

I’m not complaining. I’m just realizing that the perfect dad isn’t the one that is comparable to Ward Cleaver. He is more like…well…a gifted verbal juggler. And sometimes a full on juggler. For my 3-year old daughter and myself, the verbal exchanges just keep coming. Plus, I keep getting reminders how even the most quiet of actions are always being recorded by a 3-year old mind.

We haven’t started praying rosaries with her yet. But we started from almost day one doing smaller prayers like the bedtime prayer, the prayer before meals, and the Guardian Angel prayer.

A 1 or 2-year old is easily distracted and that has caused me to occasionally reword a prayer. For instance if our 3-year old starts eating prior to everyone else sitting down I may reword the phrase, “which we are about to recieve” to, “which she is already eating/scarfing/inhailing”.

But the nighttime is sometimes “accidentally misworded” by me in order to distract her, get her to giggle, and refocus so we can say it correctly. The correct one we pray goes like this:

“Now I lay me,
Down to sleep,
I pray the Lord,
My soul to keep.
Guide me safely,
through the night.
Wake me with,
the morning light.
Amen.”

Well, when she is distracted, or not really ready to pray yet I may start her off with:

“Now I lay me,
Down to sleep.
A bag of peanuts/big ol’ pizza,
At my feet.”

The giggling usually starts followed by her saying, “That’s NOT how you pray it. Do it like this….”

Then she prays it the way we know.

A few nights ago I got up after going through out nighttime routine and a dresser drawer was left open just a little bit and I banged by foot against it. I only grumbled a little bit to myself and walked out of the room. (For those of you who really know me, you would be proud. No loud yell. No foul words. Literally just a grumble to myself and that was it.) I didn’t even think our 3-year old heard me. I was wrong.

The other night, my influence was heard by my wife. She went in to do nighttime prayer with our daughter. Our 3-year old improvidsed the following prayer. I think you will see my influences clearly.

“Now I lay me down to sleep.
A big ol’ pizza at my feet.
Guide me safely through the night.
Because a drawer is in my way. Amen.”

I wasn’t in the room to hear this lovely prayer. But I’m pretty certain the neighbors could hear my wife and daughter roaring with laughter followed by the real prayer.

I’m not sure my word substitutions would be given a Fr. Rocky stamp of approval, but I think my daughter watching out for our feet sure gets my approval.

And it is really important that I remember I’m being watched and listened too much more than I realize.

Just learning and living the #dadlife everyday.

Three Years Ago Today A Life Changing Event…

About five years ago I heard a great comment. I have to paraphrase it, but it went like this, “If you spend time dwelling on the past or worrying about the future you will most likely miss what is happening right in front of you now.” Those words stuck with me. They are the words that make me pause and take in what is happening all around me. Sometimes it is stopping to watch a sunset. Sometimes it is just enjoying a hug from my wife on a Sunday night when, in the past, I would normally have been feeling bad the weekend is coming to a close. Most of the time these are small moments that become larger moments because now I slow down and take those moments in.

So often I read about how single moments change someone’s life. Often that single moment has incredible circumstances. Circumstances like walking away from a car accident, or a powerful conversion of heart due to prayer.

I haven’t had one of those moments in my life. Not a powerful one. The closest I have happened three years ago today. It is the anniversary of my life changing event. The moment that stopped me in my tracks was holding my little daughter in my hands for the first time.

It took a little time before the real moment came to me.

First, believe it or not, I actually looked past this little girl and at her mom. A short time earlier I watched this women give birth. Watching the process of birth proved to me that all I can do is act “tough”. Giving birth, well that is the true sign of being tough.

Then my mind drifted towards the situation life just handed me. I’m in my 40th year on this earth. Forty years of looking out for pretty much myself and, for the last 20 years, my wife. Now, I’m looking at this little newborn. She is going to not only rely on me for food and shelter, but oh so much more. I didn’t know if I was up to that task. It was at this point the emotions began to swirl. I was completely overwhelmed.

As the emotions swirled the words at the start of this post rang in my head. Stop looking back. Stop worrying about what is to come. Just look down at this little girl in your lap. Those little eyes, that little nose, that bundle of life sleeping in my hands. Then came the moment, she woke up. She looked up at me and that tiny hand wrapped around my finger. Who knew a chilly little hand wrapped around my finger could melt a heart?

It was then the world not only stopped, but time didn’t matter, nothing mattered. There were only three things I was capable of doing; prayers of thankgiving, crying, and just being in the moment.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.”

Three years ago today a moment went from uncut to the most shining diamond I’ve ever placed my eyes upon.

Five Minute Friday–Join

This weeks topic is “Join”. Here goes:

To join means to become part of something. We join all sorts of groups, gatherings, what have you. Just thinking about the word makes me think of the groups/gatherings/people I have joined with for one reason or another.

Daily I join the workforce. (And I do mean daily)

I am a member of a few organizations that reflect what I do for a living. (various broadcaster associations, Society of Broadcast Engineers, etc.)

From there I think closer to my heart.

I have been a member by birth of my immediate family. (As a stunning son and brother….hehe)

The I moved on to become as a single “entity” until I met my wife. When she “joined” we started a family of two. And lovingly stayed that way for a long time.

Now another has joined our ranks. (Little Margaret)

Which gets me to thinking about the fact that from an early age I joined a faith. A faith I continue to practice and love.

And if you love something you have joined, you wish for it to grow. For it to grow you must share about it. WHich is also why I like Five Minute Fridays! I have joined it and continue to help it grow because it is a great writing exercise and it is great to read the various ways others look at the topic.

Ask me anytime and I will share about my faith. As we all should. (For those who read this saying, “I haven’t a faith. That is silly.” To you I say no-faith is a faith and you probably share that. So my statement remains true. Gotcha.)

Finally, as a memeber of the human race, I know there are groups I didn’t “join” but just “became a part of”. But even those are groups I wish to see grow.

(Ramble ended. And this felt like a ramble…hehe.)

You Have Two Options. You Can Get Angry Or Laugh

This post really has two parts to it. First a small story. Second, and I will leave this up to you to decide, coincidence or is there more than my imagination at work?

First, the story. I write this at we are just minutes into Father’s Day. And I want to wish a Happy Father’s Day to all the dad’s willing to take the time to read this post. Being a father can come in many styles and descriptions. The most common is biological. Yet many of us, mostly Catholic, are aware of another type of father. The priest. (Now those of you ready to stop reading, just sit tight. I promise this won’t get preachy.) Our family has had a friend in a particular priest for most of my life. His name, Father Frank Sanfelippo from Milwaukee. Father Frank wove in and out of most of our lives in various ways.

For me, he was as inspiration and someone who was willing to talk about the possibility of priesthood with me when I was giving that vocation a serious look. For several of us he also guided us in some laughable ways, when we look back at what happened.

Once example is when a few cousins and my sister went to mass. They were all young. Although I am not quite sure just how young. Young enough to be forced to sit in the front pew so that Father Frank could keep an eye on them during the mass. He also, on one occasion during mass, was gently waving his hand to signal the youngsters to sit down. You see, they were standing at a time when the rest of the congregation was sitting. We heard about this story often when Father Frank’s name came up. How embarrassed they were to be the only people standing in church. It was only through the gentle guidance did they figure out what was wrong. It is a story we all laugh now about, but it also makes us think of Father Frank fondly.

We weren’t really close to Father Frank but he did weave throughout our lives. His health in the last 7 or 8 years has been failing. And we found out early this week that he had passed away at the age of 80. The article online said the funeral was Friday. Some of us planned on going. We didn’t realize we had all missed one vital fact in the article.

Due to a last minute change, I decided not to go. Instead, when the funeral was going on I was going to go to our local church and spend a little time in quiet prayer for the repose of his soul. When I got back home I noticed my phone had 5 messages on it. All from a few family members that “should” have been at the funeral when they were leaving me a message. I knew something was up.

Within moments of getting home and checking the messages I was weeping. But it wasn’t from sadness. It was from laughing.

You see the “small” mistake we missed was coupled with a VERY poorly written obituary. The obituary ended by saying the funeral would be “Friday at 11 am at…”. The date he passed away wasn’t listed in the obituary, only the day of the week the funeral would be held. Instead it was a very small byline located above the obituary in the upper-right hand of the screen. Father Frank had passed away MAY 17. We all read this on JUNE 12th. There wasn’t a funeral when the rest of my family members had arrived. The church was empty.

You have two options at this point. You can gripe and yell and moan and whine about the poorly written article. OR, you can laugh at the mistake we all made by missing the byline of the article.

It is a good thing they all chose to laugh as hard as I was.

Now the second part. Some can say these items I am going to point out are coincidence or my imagination just going off to a strange hopeful area of faith. But I have found out two things that, to me, seem like more that great timing or a matter to laugh at.

This past Friday JUNE 15th was World Priest Day. And there I sat in my local church praying for a priest. Which eventually lead me to thinking about all men who have chosen this particular vocation. I know many people aren’t very charitable about men in the priesthood. But most are very caring, dedicated people who sacrifice much to help out all they come in contact with. Father Frank was one of those dedicated men. He knew about many of our struggles but didn’t judge us, just encouraged us.

The other thing that came to mind related to the first part of this post. We laughed many times about how my sister and two cousins were the only people standing in church. And only Father Frank knew how to help. What happened on Friday when they wanted to pay their last respects to Father Frank? They again, were the only people standing in church. I have to think Father Frank got more than a chuckle about that fact.

I know I did.