Members of the military return home to reunite with their families:
A letter from a father to his special needs son. Powerful.
… Every day there are small reminders, and here was one: Julia would hang the ornament because her father, Lt. Col. Paul J. Finken, died in Iraq six years ago, killed by a roadside bomb on the final patrol of his yearlong deployment.
The moment capsulized one family’s self-guided journey through loss. Over six years, Mrs. Finken and her daughters, ages 14, 12 and 10, have struggled through different phases of mourning, sometimes together, sometimes on individual calendars. But the one constant has been their determination to remember, without letting memory become a millstone.
“I don’t want to squeeze the life out of the memories, because I want them to still be precious and mean something,” Mrs. Finken said. “I also don’t want the memories to drag us down. Because memories can do that sometimes.”
Since 2001, about 4,800 children have lost a parent and 3,650 adults have lost a spouse to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For most, finding that balance between holding on to lost loved ones — and releasing them — will be the key to recovery…
Read on in the NY Times here.
A truly heartbreaking story broke over Christmas. A British consumer agency released a survey that showed that the tenth most requested gift from Father Christmas was “a dad” (coming in just behind “snow”). The first choice was a baby brother or sister, which is a heartening sign that materialism hasn’t quite claimed our souls yet. But the stand out figure is one that shows that a growing number of children see a father not as a “given” but as a “blessing” – as precious and elusive as a Nintendo Wii…
On Christmas Day, the Washington Times published some sad facts about the changing face of the American family:
In every state, the portion of families where children have two parents, rather than one, has dropped significantly over the past decade. Even as the country added 160,000 families with children, the number of two-parent households decreased by 1.2 million. Fifteen million U.S. children, or 1 in 3, live without a father, and nearly 5 million live without a mother. In 1960, just 11 percent of American children lived in homes without fathers.
Heartbreaking indeed. But it is more than just a cultural war. It is profoundly spiritual.
My son, who turns 13 at the end of next month, drew this illustration a couple of years ago. (Traditionalists please forgive the orientation). I keep it in my Bible and it serves to remind me of my responsibility towards him and his sister.
The other piece I keep with it, tucked in the Bible, is by Dr James Dobson:
Through the Darkness
I’m told that when I was a very small child—maybe two years of age— my family lived in a one-bedroom apartment, and my little bed was located beside the bed of my parents. My father said that it was common during that time for him to awaken at night to a little voice that was whispering, “Daddy? Daddy? Daddy?”
My father would answer quietly, “What, Jimmy? And I would say, “Hold my hand!” My dad would reach across the darkness and grope for my little hand, finally engulfing it in his. He said later that the instant he had my hand firmly in his grip, my arm would become limp and my breathing deep and regular. I would immediately fall back to sleep.
You see, I only wanted to know that he was there! Until the day he died, I continued to reach for him—for his assurance, for his guidance—but mostly just to know that he was there.
Then, so very quickly, I found myself in my dad’s place. And I wanted to be there for my children—not just a name on their birth certificate, but a strong, warm, and loving presence in their lives.
You see, a dad occupies a place in a child’s heart that no one else can satisfy. So to all the men out there who are blessed to be called fathers: I urge you to be there for the little ones in your life who call you “Dad.”
So if you are a Dad, then please, just be that, and be there! Christlike, and faithful.
Growing up, I never had tan lines. Want proof? There’s a color snapshot on display in my parents’ home: a naked 2-year-old is shown from behind, climbing up a bathroom counter. For as long as I can remember, a framed 3×5-inch print has sat next to the sink where it was taken. My dad doesn’t carry a copy in his wallet. My mom hasn’t distributed it to family or friends. Up until now, unless you were invited into my childhood home, you never would’ve known this cute little portrait even existed.
Proud parents have been perfecting this genre for decades. While the intimate moments themselves remain largely unchanged, how we choose to share them—much like the tools for capturing them—has evolved dramatically since my parents first became parents in late 1979.
Today, the default is, of course, Facebook. Although privacy settings allow us to control which circle(s) of friends has access to parts of our profiles, many people either don’t understand how to use them or prefer not to. Plus, like record labels and print publishers, parents are discovering that once content becomes digital, it can be easily copied and redistributed willy-nilly (hello, grandparents!). The result: photos of kids in compromising, colorful circumstances, and status updates recounting even more compromising, colorful circumstances, intended for a select few, are now spread out over the Web for everyone…
I would never tell anyone how to raise their kids. But I’ve decided to draw a line in the sand with mine. When it comes to my son, who is 3 months old, I am doing away with privacy settings altogether—by abstaining. That means my wife and I won’t be posting photos or discussing him online publicly (more on that later). Like a kid born into a vegetarian or Amish family, that is just the way it will be.
This hasn’t been easy…
You can read on here.
And for me, it’s a ‘blog-free’ son and daughter. Most people just don’t get the great risks that exist to themselves, their family, and their friends.
It’s more common than adultery and potentially as toxic.
Any guesses as to what it could be?
You can find out in the Wall Street Journal.
Steve Job said: Having Children is 10,000 times better than anything he’d ever done.
Steve Jobs and his wife Laurene
Which would you rather have in your lap right now: a baby or a new iPad? If the answer is ‘iPad’ then you need to keep reading.
There are likely hundreds of CEOs and thousands of people in the world who wish they could be “as innovative and successful as Steve Jobs.” In the days following the death of the Apple genius, a story caught my eye about his perspective on father in the shadow of death.
Dean Ornish, quoted in the New York Times, said of Steve Jobs: “I once asked him if he was glad that he had kids, and he said, ‘It’s 10,000 times better than anything I’ve ever done.’”
To better appreciate this, let’s just take a quick look at some things that Steve Jobs did:
- Macintosh (including the computer “mouse” and the “windows” style operating system – My family had a Mac IIsi when I was middle school – I was the only kid printing out pretty book reports – my English teacher always admired my fonts)
- iPods (do you remember the first time that you saw one?)
- iPhones (with touch screens)
- iPad (with touch screens)
- iTunes (the popularization of mp3s and podcasts)
- Apple Store
- Apps (yes “apps” is now an English word)
- Pixar Studies (Toy Story, Cars, etc.)
- a billionaire at least 6 times over
What a list. Yet Steve Jobs says that having children is for him “10,000 times better” than all these accomplishments combined. He had one child in his early 20s out of wedlock and later three more children with his wife.
As a father of six, I also know that having children is a blessing and a test. There is nothing so difficult and nothing so rewarding. You probably have not heard this Jobs quote because it is precisely what America and the West don’t want to hear. Having a family is more rewarding and a greater accomplishment than anything that even the best inventor/CEO/billionaire can accomplish.
Jobs’ epiphany reflects Odysseus’ decision at the end of Plato’s Republic. Happiness is not found in being famous, royal, or rich. The wise man, like Odysseus, knows that contentment is found in being a simple man with a simple life. Death is the app through which we can see what is most important: being a spouse, parent, and friend.
“Behold the inheritance of the Lord are children: the reward, the fruit of the womb.” (Psalm 126:3, D-R)