11/16/2017

It’s late. Well, it’s 10:00 p.m. and I’m 25 years old with a son, a wife, a house, and a full-time job that supports all three. I wake up at 4 a.m. to pull my son out of his crib because he doesn’t like to sleep alone and every morning I think, “I should stay up and write and pray and not crawl back into bed,” but I crawl back into bed anyway.

Sometimes my son wakes me up to say, “Hi dad” in a soft, scratchy, high-pitched voice that I wish he would keep forever. Sometimes I press the sleep button on my alarm so I can lay next to him longer, my hand on his stomach, his body close to mine.

Love is a tree that climbs tall and roots deep.

Love is a little boy and a wife and a home and waking up at 4 a.m. and realizing how lucky you are. Even though you are just 25 and life just started.

3-13-2017, A Lesson about Giving Grace (to myself)

Days can be full of the most mundane things. More often than not, we let the mundane become our focus and lose focus on the extraordinary things that exist around us. For example, doing laundry = mundane. Allowing your baby son to destroy your perfectly sorted laundry pile = extraordinary.

Why is that extraordinary? Because it breaks up the mundane. We need both. If we didn’t have the mundane we wouldn’t know about the extraordinary. But if we lose sight of the extraordinary, we will never find lessons in the mundane.

I think Gillian shares that so beautifully below. Grace can be found in both the mundane and the extraordinary. But we need to open our hearts to both so that we can find it.

3-13-2017

The to-do list is long and the done list feels very short.

I reflect on my day and wonder how late I can stay up…
…to switch the laundry (but the shirts in the dryer are wrinkly again)
…and fold the towels
…I should pump and study.
…Help jumpstart tomorrow. Prep lunch. Make coffee.

I think about all of these things and about how much I stressed today,
and how I didn’t just take a deep breath and find joy in the moment,
and how much I fretted about being too tired and was too impatient,
and how often I cursed the time change.

I think about how my day needed a little bit more love and grace,
because I think when I talk to Jesus about my day, he doesn’t see my to-do list,
He sees my done list, but it looks very different from my own.

He sees how I loved my child and gently washed his hands after each meal.
He sees how we clapped hands a million times today,
and that we laid down and took a nap together.
He sees that I called my friend just to see if she was okay,
and spent a little extra time listening to a new game invented by a most creative 8-year-old.

So maybe my lesson for today isn’t what I did or didn’t do,
(yes, maybe I looked away too long when Simon spilled coffee on the carpet)
but that I tried to love today – that’s the takeaway.
I hope tomorrow I can give a lot more grace to myself and just as many kisses to Simon.

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Cat Videos, Pope Francis, and Lessons Learned from my Cell Phone

Pope Francis recently said that when people don’t put down their phones in the home, it is the start of a war. “When there’s no dialogue at home when we’re at the table and instead of talking everyone is on their phone … it’s the start of war because there is no dialogue.”

Lately, I’ve been privileged with the opportunity to put Simon down to sleep at night. He is nine months old so this usually involves changing him into pajamas, letting him play for a bit, and then feeding him a bottle while rocking him to sleep. This was usually Gillian’s domain because she loved nursing him to sleep. But, a couple weeks ago we decided it was best we share that responsibility.

Honestly, I’m very glad we decided to do that. Like most, I’m gone at work for the majority of the day, so the only time I can hold and interact with Simon is at bedtime. I’ve noticed, though, that once he is dozing off I reach for my phone because what else am I supposed to do while sitting in the quiet?

The other night I was holding Simon in such a way that prohibited me from grabbing my phone. I was left with two options. Either I move him into a more conducive position at the risk of waking him or I sit in the dark holding him without reading my phone.

No one will deny the enticing prospect of scrolling through your Facebook feed when it is quiet and there is seemingly nothing else to do. Nevertheless, I didn’t move him and I didn’t reach for my phone. In the words of Robert Frost, I took the road less traveled, and that made all the difference.

As I sat lamenting about all of the cat videos I could be watching, I started down a dangerous path of thought. Why is my urge to look at my phone so strong? Why can’t I just sit here in the quiet? Is Facebook more valuable to me than enjoying these few precious moments with my son?

Pope Francis recently said that when people don’t put down their phones in the home, it is the start of a war. “When there’s no dialogue at home when we’re at the table and instead of talking everyone is on their phone … it’s the start of war because there is no dialogue.”[1]

But how can cat videos start a war? Surely Pope Francis is not looking at my Facebook timeline!

The heart of Pope Francis’ comment, of course, is that we should intentionally engage in the reality around us before losing ourselves in the digital reality of our phone. He reminds us that being human is a real experience and not a digital one. If we lose ourselves in the digital world, we may forget the common humanity we all share.

After coming to terms with sitting in the quiet of my son’s room phone-less, I leaned my head back and closed my eyes. I became aware of my son’s soft breaths, the creaking of the rocker every time I leaned back, and the cold air on my feet as it was the only part of my body not covered in a blanket.

As I rocked back and forth, I heard Gillian working on the dishes then a little later start her homework. I thought of all those nights she sat in this very chair listening to me clean the kitchen then move to other chores. There was an intimacy in that as I became aware of our shared experience.

It is possible I would have heard all of that while I was scrolling through Facebook on my phone but so often, our phone is what we use to hide away from the sights and sounds of daily life. They can also, unintentionally, pull us away from ourselves to a point where in those quiet moments it is uncomfortable to simply sit and be.

What happens when we stop talking with ourselves? Do we become unaware of the struggles that rage within? Or of the greatness that lies within? As I mindlessly scroll on Facebook and compare my life to my friends’ lives, do I become ever more detached from the beautiful life I do have?

I won’t promise that every time I put my son down to sleep I won’t reach for my phone. But, before I do, I will try to sit and listen for a little while. The voice of my heart, the sounds of my home and the soft breath of my baby boy teach far greater truths about this human experience than my Facebook feed ever could. Even if those cat videos are really cute.

-Christian

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/17/using-mobile-phones-dinner-table-start-war-says-pope-francis/

Simon’s Thoughts

After all of that, I sat down to process. I ended up with a poem that brings me joy every time I read it. It may not end up in the anthology of the world’s greatest poems, but if I were to compile a collection of my own, this one would certainly be included.

I like to think of myself as an aspiring poet. Although, ‘aspiring’ is a bold word but I certainly would never claim that I am a poet. Perhaps, it is more accurate to say that every so often I write down words that may pass as a poem if you stand on one foot, close your left eye and look at the text from an angle.

A couple of months ago I was throwing Simon up in the air and finding great joy in the way he laughed. It caused me pause. I wondered what he was thinking and feeling in those moments. Did he know just how much I loved him and how much I loved being with him in that moment? Was he enjoying my presence as much as I was enjoying his?

I gather from other parents that these questions are common for our kind. I suppose we all ask them in our own way.

After all of that, I sat down to process. I ended up with a poem that brings me joy every time I read it. It may not end up in the anthology of the world’s greatest poems, but if I were to compile a collection of my own, this one would certainly be included.

Simon’s Thoughts

Peek-a-boo just one more time!
I’m still learning how to smile!

Where’d you go mom?
There you are! Giggling away.

Lift me up! I want to fly!
Daddy don’t put me down!

I love to fly high toward the sky!

I love how you catch me
before I hit the ground.

At nighttime when I miss you
I snuggle in your breast.

I love to hear your heart beating
As I fall asleep nestled in your chest.

When I wake up in the morning
I love to find you looking back at me.

I like to smile big and bright
To welcome in all the sunlight.

I like to stretch and reach out for you.

Now throw me up! It’s the morning time!
We have some playing to do!

-Christian

 

 

 

 

10-10-2016, Goodnight Simon. I love you my son.

Oh my gosh, Simon. One of my favorite moments of ours just happened. It’s late at night, 11:41 p.m. to be exact. I just turned in an assignment for school. You woke up. You don’t typically cry, just gripe and grumble through sleepiness. I could hear your dad shushing you through the baby monitor. Ha! I went back there and your eyes were open and you were excited to see me!

You kicked your legs and flailed your little arms in your fleece polar bear pajamas. I’m so glad you sleep in our room. I don’t even mind getting up with you. You’re amazing.

Anyway, you grumbled through your diaper change but I got you to smile a few times once your eyes peeked open. You made a bob-bob-bob sound, seeming to say mom, please come on and feed me I’m so hungry!

As I nurse you, sometimes you pull off, lean back and smile. Wow, does that melt my heart. You show me your sleepy, toothless grin and laugh. I can’t help but laugh out loud too. You go back to eating, but I’m still laughing, so you do it again. And again. And I can’t stop laughing!!

And we are just staring at each other laughing. I see it in your face, a sparkle of myself. I see your personality and your light shine through. I feel our bond grow before my eyes.

Now you’re asleep again. Nestled right across my whole body, your head bobbing every now and then and milk trickling out of your mouth.

I’m not in a hurry to get to bed. This peace is the perfect rest. I’ll nod in and out of sleep; finally let the pillow drop from my lap and place you into bed. Your pack and play next to me. Until about 5-5:30 when our tiredness is too much, and I’ve already gotten up 2-3 times, so I’ll remove all the pillows from bed and place you in the middle.

Goodnight Simon. I love you my son.

-Gillian