I spent a bone-chilling evening outside last evening watching my son, Carter, play baseball. The temperature dropped down to the lower 40s but the windspeed picked up as the night went on. There were a handful of parents from our team in attendance and the home team from Burnsville was absent any parents who were not coaches for the team. There was a lot of complaining about the weather from our team’s parent — justifiably so. The ball team was not immune to the low temperatures either. Carter caught the three innings and all of us in attendance could see the struggle he had keeping his throwing hand warm. In fact, several moms commented on the deep red color of his hand — a result of the cold temperatures and the brutal wind chill.
In spite of the hurdles created by the weather, Carter played a very good game. He caught the first three innings with only a couple of passed balls (wild pitches in my humble opinion) and several good attempts at throwing out base runners. He had three plate appearances. The first was a hard hit ball to the backhand side of the short stop who made a great defensive play to range to the ball and throw out Carter by a step at first. The second at bat was a 2-1 fastball that Carter drove to left center resulting in a near inside-the-park homer in which he was barely thrown out at the plate. Carter says he was safe, my view was a bit obstructed, only the Lord knows for sure! His third and final at bat was a full count strikeout that he was caught looking. I keep preaching about the expanding strike zone and the need to be aggressive when he has two strikes, but I am a bit more forgiving in this kind of weather.
The last three innings of the game (a shortened six inning game due to cold and daylight), Carter went to the mound in his usual role as closer (can you call a pitcher throwing the last 2 -3 innings a closer?) with his typical “always-around-the-strike-zone accuracy. He made it out of the fourth inning with two strikeouts and a nice throw-out to first base from the short stop. The inning saw an inconsequential base hit and error to strand two baserunners. The bottom of the fifth was his best inning of pitching. He sat down three consecutive batters in a 1-2-3 strikeout pitching performance. The bottom of the sixth inning was the biggest challenge. He struck out the first batter on four pitches.
The group of parents were excitedly cheering him on — more in hopes of getting the game over and heading for their heated cars than for any other reason. The second batter reached first on an error and subsequently stole second base. The third batter, a young guy who looked like he could do some significant damage at the plate, topped the ball on a change up that Carter threw resulting in a slow short roller down the third base line. The catcher, Leo struggled to fight his way past the batter leaving Carter the only player able to make a play on the ball, He hustled in, picked up the ball, glanced at the play at first, but choosing instead to spin around and nail the lead runner at third. Now with two outs to go, all he needed was a strikeout to end the game. That is the point when it appeared that the “wheels might come off the wagon.” In spite of a first pitch strike, Carter three seven consecutive balls to walk the next two batters.
Our team still had a three run lead, but it was up to Carter to settle down and end the ball game. He was facing weather conditions that made it increasingly harder to get a good grip on his pitches. Gritting his teeth, he bore down and relied on his fastball to throw three consecutive strikes with the game-ending pitch an unhittable high and tight fastball in the up and away corner of the K-zone to send everyone home with shivers in their bodies and smiles on their faces!
My daughter is amazing!
I was thinking about her last evening. She loves children. My daughter, Emilee, has been working as a nanny for three years now. She has served the child care needs of five families; several of them with origins from other cultures. Prior to that and continuing still, she has a vast amount of experience baby-sitting for a score or more families. The families she has worked for love her and ask her back to watch their children.
I know the majority of these families and I know they are very conservative and careful about the care of their children. It speaks volumes to me that they trust my daughter with the little people whom are their most precious people.
Emilee is not just a “monitor” or “guardian”. She is deeply involved with the kids she cares for. She plays with them, she teaches them, she does activities and events with them. But most of all, she genuinely loves them. Children are not easily fooled about the feelings of adults – they can sense when someone really cares about them and the children under my daughter’s care know that she loves and cares about them.
My daughter struggled with a career choice after she graduated from high school. This prompted her to wait a little while before entering college. She had to explore career choices, shadow workers to eliminate options she did not care for, and finally make the hard but ultimately obvious choice: She would continue to work with children as an ESL teacher. What a perfect choice she made!
I am so proud of my daughter, not only for the beautiful young woman she has become, but for the unlimited size of her heart for people and particularly for children. I know that God will use her in great ways for His kingdom!
My kids need my time and attention. As I write this, I am planning to take my daughter out for supper. She is leaving for her second year at the university the beginning of next week. Fortunately for me, the school is not far away so I will see her occasionally during the next months before Christmas and she comes home occasionally on the weekends.
It seems harder at home to have those one on one talks than when we plan an evening out. Being purposeful can be a challenge and it won’t happen if I don’t make it happen. Not only will I have her attention, but I must make sure she has mine!
My boys also need my time both at home and one-on-one out and about at an activity or dining out.
How much time do you spend with each of your children? Do you ever take inventory of the hours you have dedicated to each child of yours? It can be a convicting activity and if you are like most dads or more specifically if you are like me, it will result in some feelings of guilt. Each one of your children deserve more time than you give them and no one realizes that impact more than you do.
Developing a Plan
Should the guilty feelings lead to paralysis? Should we succumb to the notion that we are too busy and there is nothing we can do about it? Not if we want to be the dad that our heart want us to be. The first step to take is to make a plan. Not a grand plan but a plan that we can succeed with. Begin by picking a simple and fun activity that you can do at home or close to home with each child. Maybe it is taking a son to a batting cage or mini-golf. Maybe it is a simple “date” with your daughter to her favorite fast-food restaurant. Perhaps it is picking out a book that both you and your child will enjoy and taking 10 to 15 minutes every night before there bedtime and reading aloud to them.
Those are some of my ideas, but your own ideas will be the most effective. The important thing is to commit to move from passivity to activity – and you don’t have to be super dad to do that.
Overcoming Our Incorrect Perceptions
I often feel that I have to achieve some lofty goal that my mind has pre-determined I must accomplish in order to be a successful dad. Frankly, that is wrong and will only serve to lead me to a passive outcome of doing nothing. Consistent little things are of great value. They don’t take much of our time, they don’t require much planning and perhaps even less execution, and they make a big impact – especially over time. I don’t discount the occasional “bigger event” planning like a vacation, a ball game out of town, a camping or hiking trip or the like. Kids need to have event milestones in their memories and “big events” are great for that. However, your children will also remember the faithful dad who took time regularly out of his schedule to give of himself to his kids: homework, doing chores together, a simple hug, a short walk, telling jokes, etc. You can add a lot of your own great ideas to the list.
Make a Commitment
Now the idea is planted in your head and heart, great! But it is time for both committment and execution. Do something very simple today and build momentum that will help you continue on and might even pleasantly surprise you child. Don’t let yourself beat yourself up for the past. Make a pledge to yourself and your children to give them your greatest resource – you!
Most dads who care about this sort of thing will agree that being consistent as a Father is a remarkably challenging thing to do. Sprinkle in the fact that grace should always be the mitigating factor, sometimes a dad feels like a yo-yo when dealing with his children. “Sometimes it’s a ‘yes’ and sometimes it’s a ‘no’ ” and to a child it may appear that it all depends upon what mood Dad is in. Unfortunately, mood sometimes plays a part, but even the most even-keeled dad may feel it challenging to make the right decision every time.
Taking a moment to weigh the request from my children for me is an effective way to reduce inconsistency in my response. In addition, removing prejudice to the best of my ability prevents coloring my decision because it came from Child A rather than from Child B. Don’t misunderstand, a child’s history and character, plays a part in the decision, however, a grace-filled response requires me to think carefully about all factors – not just past behavior.
Nevertheless, most dads will stumble at times with consistency. Don’t “beat yourself up”! Get up and keep trying – your children are worth all of your effort, and more!
Today was a big day for our family. Our oldest son proposed to his sweetheart and she said, “Yes!” We are so excited for him and for her and for their future together. I am glad this day has finally arrived and that I no longer need to keep the secret. I am also very thankful that God has brought His perfect choice into my son’s life. His sovereign plans for my son’s life, my future daughter-in-law’s life, and for both of their families have been known since before the foundations of the world. We welcome this very special girl into our family with great big open arms. And I no longer have to worry about accidentally “spilling the beans”!
Recently, I decided to allow a number of my GoDaddy domains expire. I had about 15 domains registered including my business domains for BZTech Solutions and my three personal domains:
I had a number of other domains that I previously registered with the intent of doing something special but never did. One of those was, heartofpapa, with which I had always planned to share my journey of being a dad. Being a dad is really the first and most important aspiration I ever had. My dad struggled with the responsibility and as a young man, that impacted me to want to break a cycle and be a different father in my genealogical line.
After five years of dormancy, this morning, I had a change of heart and decided to save the domain (7 days before it expired), move it to a different and less exploitive registrar, hover.com, and set up an inexpensive (read free) blog on Tumblr.
They say the “proof is in the pudding”, so now I have committed to posting real content – a journal of journey as a dad. I hope it is interesting. I hope it is worthwhile, but most of all – I hope it is real and I hope you’ll join me!