These are just a few recent videos of the kids. Yeah – I’m one of those guys – the proud father who makes all his friends endure the antics of his children. Anyway, Kasen is learning to talk and some of his words are pretty funny. He’s very careful to speak words separately. “Chocolate . . .pause . . . Milk.” Kesleigh is so close to being able to walk – she’s got the strength and balance, but she just won’t do it. I’ll keep trying.
Last night I couldn’t sleep. I had my 40th birthday Friday and then Monday (yesterday) was told that my full-time ministry position would become part-time in January. They were clear that it was not performance related and this decision was also for all the other full-time programming people too. They said, “It’s the economy”. . . blah. . .blah. . . (After the original blow, I’m not sure I heard much more.) In the end, none of their reasoning (and by the way, I believe they have the best intentions) changes the situation my family is in. Bottom line: I would need to find another way to support my family by January.
So last night I couldn’t sleep. There were too many feelings, thoughts, prayers, and junk rolling around in my head. I just fiddled with the computer from about 3am ’til morning. Around 4am, Kasen (almost 2yrs) woke up and I heard him down the hall. He walked into our room to crawl into bed with Miranda and I. I wasn’t there. I was in the loving room “thinking.” I tracked him down and tried to put him back in his bed. He fought me on it and I was in no mood to fight back, so I brought him into the living room and laid down on the couch with him. He went back to sleep in my arms almost immediately. Then it happened. Was that a giggle? There it was again. Yep, it was a giggle. I can’t believe it. He’s giggling in his sleep.
My son was so comfortable in my arms that he could sleep deeply enough to giggle in his dreams.
Prayer: God, You are my Father. I know I’m safe in your arms. But I’m also feeling pretty vulnerable and insecure. Help me to trust in Your providential hands enough to sleep and giggle again. AMEN.
Tomorrow will be my 2nd official Father’s Day. My first with 2 children. Miranda was asking me what “Kasen and Kesleigh” could get me. (I put “quotes” around their names ’cause they have no concept of Father’s Day yet.) I really didn’t have a clue. I have everything I really need. I’m truly blessed beyond anything I ever imagined. I’ve been thinking about how I could answer her though. What do I want? Well, I’m not sure she can arrange for Kasen and Kesleigh to get it for me, but here’s what I want.
First and foremost, I want my children to grow up to be madly in love with Jesus.
I want my children to be “arrows” like Psalms 127:4 describes them – arrows attack the enemy in his territory and work to expand and advance the kingdom.
I want more time to be with my family and I want to have great experiences together.
I want to be able to provide for my family in physical, emotional, and spiritual ways.
I want to live as an example to my children by being a man of character who chases after God even if it seems crazy.
I want to laugh, play, and enjoy my bride and children by being truly present with them in everyday life.
I want my bride and children to know how much they are loved.
I want God’s grace to continue to grant me favor. I want to become an awesome husband and father and I understand that it’s truly a never-ending journey!
My list could go on and on, but I’ll stop here. I think I’ve communicated the main thing I was trying to say. Besides, I’ve gt the most amazing bride and children in the world. Is there really anything more I could want?
When I was a little kid, I remember my dad taking me to the beach. I wanted to go out where the big boys were in the “Big waves.” He took me. The water knocked me over and I tossed and turned in the waves, but dad held on to me when I couldn’t stand on my own. He was my strength when I was weak. Sounds a lot like God to me. Anyway, I have an old picture from those days. I love it.
I took my son, Kasen, to the beach the other day and we tried to capture the same image again with me as the father this time. I hope I can be the strength that Kasen needs as well as my dad was for me.
Philippians 4:7 says that the peace of God transcends all understanding. I don’t understand it either, but I’ve experienced it. First of all, you should know that the Hebrew/Jewish understanding of this word “Peace” ultimately comes from their understanding of the word “Shalom.” It was a word used as a greeting, but it was so much more than “hello.” (Shout out to my “Cardinal Rise” friends – they wrote a song called “more than hello”). Anyway, “Shalom” was not just “peace.” It was all-encompassing. It was like saying “God be with you!” – May God Himself, in all His glory, shadow your every move granting you His favor and blessing throughout your life. “Peace” was huge!! It was a colossal concept of walking in the constant blessing and favor of God.
OK – on with the story. Sept 11 was normally a happy day for me. Sept 11 is my birthday!! But Sept 11, 1996 was different. (So was 2001) That day I received a call from my mom wishing me a Happy Birthday, but there was another message too. She also said that my dad had been diagnosed with leukemia. I didn’t really know what that meant, but I knew it wasn’t good. I soon discovered that it was the most aggressive type of leukemia and that dad would be going through radiation and chemotherapy. They weren’t sure how long they could deter the disease. That year was strange. I lived 5 hours away but got to see him quite a few times. He was always the same dad I had always known except he didn’t have quite as much hair. Although I know he had his down times, he had a great attitude about it around me. He even wore a baseball cap with dreadlocks hanging out when he’d go the the hospital. Mom said the nurses always laughed.
The doctors arranged for dad to be on an uphill swing during Christmas break so we could take a ski trip together. We had a great time – like normal – but not so normal either. There was always something sort of hanging in the air. It seemed harder to breathe during those days – not just for dad, but for all of us. In June of 1997, my sister and I were with a bunch of youth on a houseboat in the middle of Lake Texoma, when the boat rental people radioed to us with the message to call mom. Dad was on his deathbed. We immediately drove to the hospital in Ft Worth.
When we arrived, dad was on the breathing machine. He had contracted pneumonia and they couldn’t treat it because his body was so weak. They had also given him medications to paralyze him so his body wouldn’t fight the breathing machine. We wouldn’t be able to communicate. . . well. . .we could talk, but he wouldn’t be able to respond. Over the next 3-4 days (It’s a blur – I don’t know how many it actually was. Some of my facts may be wrong, but this is how I remember it.) we took turns going in and out of his room – telling him the things we should have said long before or just sitting with him in silence. I spent lots of time in the hospital chapel. There were lots of tears, little sleep, phone calls from friends, and something else. Something surprising. It was peace. What?!?!? at a time like this??? Peace? Yes. . . .peace. Peace that passes understanding. I cannot describe it. I only know I experienced it. . . . well, I experienced Him. Jesus was with us – in the midst of the tears, the sadness and grief, Jesus was present.
Eventually the doctors came and said the time had come to turn the machine off. It would be his one last chance to fight and breathe on his own – a chance to live. I can still picture the scene so clearly (and it’s been 12 years). I stood at his side and held his right hand. I told him that I loved him and that this world had not treated him well. (There’s another long story there.) I told him that he should go and be with Jesus ’cause this world was just not worth coming back to. I said goodbye. And. . . . something I never expected. . .dad squeezed my hand. Overpowering the paralyzing medication, he squeezed. He heard me! He knew what I had said! He loved me back! He agreed! Dad was still with us. . . . moments later . . .
Today, he is still with me. As I father my children, I do so by the examples I learned from him. As I love my bride, I do so in ways that resemble his ways. My dad was my Indian Guide leader, my little league coach, the parent who yelled the loudest at the swim meets. He took us on vacations and spent hours teaching us how to play sports, how to build things, or just simply playing with us. He loved us by being with us. I want to be that kind of dad. One who will truly invest in the lives of his family.
The words “Rest in Peace” resonate within me in new ways today. Dad has found ultimate “shalom” – I hope to follow his example. I hope to find it too.
Lately I’ve been reading a book called “Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus.” So far, it’s a great book – all about the Jewishness of Jesus and the insights that come to the Scriptures when you understand Jewish culture. I’m loving it!!! (I’m hoping to write a blog later about the things I’m learning from it.)
Anyway, one of the insights that has jumped out at me is the relationship between a disciple and his rabbi. One of the sayings found in the Mishnah, Bava Metzia 2:11 is, “If a man’s father and his rabbi are both taken captive, a disciple should ransom his rabbi first.” – Now that’s amazing devotion! Disciples lived with their rabbis with the goal of becoming like them. They served them and attended to their personal needs with the goal of understanding not just the concepts that they taught, but the lifestyle with which they lived. A rabbi was once (recently) observed in Jerusalem walking in a bent-over position with a little shuffle. Behind him walked several other men (presumably disciples) in the same manner.
Earlier this week I was in the backyard watching Kasen as he ran around playing – pulling the wagon, collecting leaves, stooping down to pick up sticks on the ground or whatever he happened to notice, etc. (It’s a beautiful thing to watch a little boy discovering the world around him.) Anyway, as he played, I kicked at the ground – there was a specific spot where there was no grass and the mud had dried. Anyway, I was off in another world, kicking the ground, thinking about life and God and who knows what when I realized that Kasen had joined me to kick the ground. He was watching everything I was doing. He wants so desperately to be like his daddy and I must admit – that really scares me.
Scripture is pretty clear that Miranda and I are responsible for training up our children up in faith and teaching them. (Deut 6:6-9) Whoa! That means that for Kasen and Kesleigh – I’m the rabbi. What?!?! That’s crazy. God would put that kind of responsibility on me? I’m no rabbi. I haven’t had the training. I don’t have the knowledge. Or do I? I mean, it’s true I don’t have that kind of wisdom – but I have something better. The true rabbi, Jesus lived out the perfect example for me and for all His children (that includes my kids). The Holy Spirit also dwells within me and with His guidance. . . well. . . I’m hoping those are the things Kasen and Kesleigh will imitate – I’m hoping I can be better at modeling the behaviors that the Holy Spirit guides ’cause it’s definitely true. Kasen and Kesleigh will imitate me – even if all I’m doing is playing around in the dirt.
Prayer: Lord, I confess that I have played in the dirt for way too long. I don’t want to waste any more time though. Help me to build Your kingdom. Cover my children and draw them to Yourself so they can also join their parents and one day build Your kingdom too.
Here are some things I’ve written during
Kasen’s first year of life. If you wanna see more, just click on the links and they’ll take you to the original post. If you’re interested in a Pictorial Review click here: cornphotos.shutterfly.com
Nov 5 –Oh no! I don’t know the first thing
about raising a child. How could God
give such an incredible gift to someone like me? What am I gonna do? I’m not
ready for this. Tap. Tap. The nurse tapped gently on the glass calling me back
to the present. Beckoning me out of my imagination and into reality. She
mouthed something about giving him a bottle and I answered.
I realize now that I don’t have to know
everything. I just have to be ready to love him in the present. I’ll
figure it all out as I go along. I’ll trust God to help me be the father
He’s called me to be. It was just a tap on the glass, but it taught me
something. . . . something profound. . . . .something important about living in
the present and about trusting God.
Nov 6 – Prayer: Lord, show me how to “be” –
Who to “be” – and give me strength/courage/and whatever I’ll need to
“be” what you’ve called me to “be” in this role as
“leader” of my family and child.
Nov 19 – I wondered how I would communicate [Kasen’s] enoughness
to him. How could I communicate his value and worth? How could I show him that
God Himself thinks he’s worth dying for?
1 – He slept through the
night!!!! 10:31pm ‘til 7am!!
2- His umbilical cord fell
3 – He had his 2 week
Nov 26 –
As [Miranda and I] start this new part of our lives with Kasen, it kinda seems
like another dance. We’re still learning the steps, and how to move together,
but it sure is a fun song to dance to. And I’ve got the best dance partner in
the world. I feel like I’ve been writing and praying about the kind of dad that
I wanna be, while all along, Miranda is already everything a mom should be.
Dec 5 –
I’m turning into one of those guys who everyone dreads to see coming ’cause you
just know you’re gonna have to look at more family pics. Oh well – I guess I’m
Feb 4 – I
hope to instill a sense of calling, adventure, and courage in [Kasen.] And even
if I fail . . . it will still accomplish this: Kasen will have known a father
who eagerly and persistently pressed on to God’s call. And I believe that
will be enough to inspire and encourage him to chase his dreams and lions.
Feb 7 –
It’s my job to represent God to my son Kasen. I’ll never be able to fully do
so, but I will give my life to love him, protect him, care for him, and raise
him to know Jesus.
Feb 18 – I
never imagined that I’d ever find myself lying on the floor cheering for
someone to roll over, but. . .it’s me. . .I’m that guy! I try to celebrate it
Mar 1 –
Every day gets more fun. As he gets older and is able to respond more, my joy
is just magnified.
Mar 13 –
As the leader of my son, there are (or will be) times when it’s appropriate for
me to allow him to lead me. Of course I will only allow him to lead me to
certain places – it’ll always be within the boundaries that I set, but still, I
will choose to follow him sometimes so that he can grow into a leader himself.
Mar 27 –
My son was actually comforted by my voice and touch. What an honor and
privilege it is to be given that kind of influence and trust.
April 11 –
Everyone keeps talking about how much he’s grown. He still seems like the same
little boy to me, but when my new niece (Kallie Grace) was born a few weeks ago
and weighed almost the same that Kasen did, I realized how much he has grown.
April 17 –
Kasen wouldn’t sleep tonight. . . I walked him. It didn’t work.
With all the toys
surrounding him, [Kasen] still wants the remote.
[Miranda and I] talked about how we want Kasen growing up in a home where he
sees us studying the Bible together and that we want the Scriptures to be
clearly present in our everyday lives.
May 11 –
Kasen will grow up knowing that he is loved beyond measure, and he’ll also be
shown a beautiful example in his mother. She loves with all she has, and
will sacrifice her own desires to do what’s best for him. Even when it hurts
her, she will choose to love him.
May 20 –
We also got a little [bike] seat for Kasen and we’ve been having tons of fun
driving him around. The helmet doesn’t fit too well, but he still smiles and
laughs while he watches mommy riding beside us.
May 27 –
Miranda, Kasen, and I went camping this past weekend with my family. All the
Corns and Underwoods met together at Possum Kingdom Lake.
May 29 –
Kasen has started crawling. He’s coming up on his 7th month and now he’s
definitely got it down. . . Now we’ve gotta go through the house and kid-proof
Prayer: Empower and lead us to aim our
arrow (Kasen) correctly and guide him to take ground in advancing the Kingdom of God. AMEN.
June 22 –
Kasen, discovered himself in the mirror at the hotel. It was pretty funny
watching him laugh and giggle and dance and kiss himself.
July 28 –
It was also really cool to be able to take my son, Kasen, there [Meridian State Park – where I became a Christian]
for the first time. I plan on taking him back over and over throughout his
lifetime, but this was his first trip – unless you count when he went last year
inside Miranda’s tummy.
Aug 23 –
Kasen is walking a little better now. Still a little wobbly – but fun to watch.
I also can’t help but love the way he says “DaDa” while he walks.
Aug 27 – I
wonder if God looks over each part of me and rejoices the way I do over Kasen?
Sept 1 –
Prayer: Hold us all close and prepare
Miranda and I as parents. Give us special wisdom in understanding Kasen’s needs
in response to a new baby in the house too. Help our time to be multiplied so
that we can be everything You call us to be as parents.
Sept 21 – Kasen loved the stepping stones, but couldn’t
navigate them very well. . . He fell almost every time . . . but each time he
got up again and would clap for himself and say “Yeah.”. . . Each
time I’d join him in the applause and he’d continue. Whenever he made it
without falling, he also clapped and I joined him then too. . . As a father, I
loved cheering for him.
Nov 1 – Kasen was a dinosaur for his first Halloween.
He didn’t really trick-or-treat, but loved the candy he got from mama and
daddy. Dum dums are his favorite.
It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I stood outside that glass in the
hospital and wondered if I could really be a father. It’s been the best year of
my life though. Miranda has been amazing too.
No matter where you are in life, you can probably say, “Wow! I’ve never been here before. Life has thrown some things at me, but I’ve never felt like this before.” It seems that even in our “normal” everyday lives, there’s still always something new – something different that turns things at a new angle so it all seems new. Consequently, we’re always breaking new ground – walking into uncharted territory. New terrain is normal – it’s what we do, if we’re alive. This means we’ve gotta always be ready for the unexpected and it also means that life is truly an adventure.
During our time at my mom’s house for the hurricane evacuation, I was watching Kasen and learned something about new terrain. Let me explain: He has been walking for about a month, but he’s still working on it. He still stumbles around a bit when there’s an incline or a little step – or if he’s going from concrete to grass, etc. My mom has a concrete porch in the back of her house with stepping stones in the grass leading to another bricked area with a porch swing. The weather was beautiful while we were there so we spent quite a bit of time outside. Kasen loved the stepping stones, but couldn’t navigate them very well. They were too far apart for him to use them properly, and so he would step into the grass and then up on a stone, then down into the grass again. . . .you get the picture. If I walked all the way out to the swing, he’d just stop and cry for me to pick him up and take him there, but if I went a couple steps ahead of him. . .he’d give it a shot and walk to me. He fell almost every time he went from the stone to the grass, but each time he got up again and would clap for himself and say “Yeah.” (That’s something else he’s learned recently.) Each time I’d join him in the applause and he’d continue. Whenever he made it without falling, he also clapped and I joined him then too. He needed the encouragement either way – besides that, the applause is what made the whole experience fun. As a father, I loved cheering for him when he’d get up after a fall and also when he made the step and kept his balance. I know he loved it too.
I wonder if this hurricane and the new terrain that we’re learning to navigate is similar? Do we have enough people around us who will cheer for us whether we succeed or fall? Are we being the kind of people who will cheer for others either way? As we enter into this new terrain, will we continue to walk – taking one step at a time, or will we be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task? Do we have people in our lives who will go with us through it all without getting too far out ahead? Will we go through it with others?
For that matter – isn’t this the case with anything new in our lives? Isn’t it better when we do it together? When there are people to encourage us and walk through it all with us?